Page 1

Head, Heart & Hand Giving students more say in what they learn. See page 12.

The Interview College wins lesson observations dispute. See page 16.

NEU Leadership

The magazine for NEU Leadership members

Summer 2019

John Bryant

Heads are voting to boycott toxic tests See page 8

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Get in touch To see your advertisement in the leading magazine for head teachers contact us today: Leanne Rowley 01727 739 183


Head, Heart & Hand Giving students more say in what they learn. See page 12.


The Interview College wins lesson observations dispute. See page 16.

NEU Leadership

The magazine for NEU Leadership members

Summer 2019

John Bryant

Heads are voting to boycott toxic tests See page 8

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29/05/2019 14:46


Summer 2019 John Bryant, head teacher at Arthur Bugler Primary School. Photo: Kois Miah NEU joint presidents: Kim Knappett & Kiri Tunks NEU joint general secretaries: Mary Bousted & Kevin Courtney Editor: Sally Gillen Administration: Sarah Thompson

WELCOME TO the second edition of Lead, the National Education Union’s (NEU) magazine for all our school leader and college manager members. In this edition, Kevin Courtney, our joint general secretary, writes about the NEU’s campaign to boycott current national assessment in primary schools, including key stage 2 SATs. Kevin explains why the time is now right to say ‘no’ to tests that narrow the curriculum and drain the joy out of learning. By contrast, we interview teacher Joe Pardoe, head of curriculum at School 21, which allows students more say over what they learn, realising that guided choice brings commitment and engagement. We also speak to post-16 NEU exec member, Jean Evanson, who has successfully settled a dispute over graded lesson observations at her college, a battle that lasted over a year, with eight days of strike action. And we feature a masterclass on the Shared Headship Network, which was set up last year by four aspiring female head teachers, frustrated by the lack of opportunities to share a headship. Lastly, I give my verdict on the new Ofsted inspection framework. In my view it is a huge missed opportunity.  Leadership has never been more challenging. One in three leaders now leave their posts within three years of being appointed. No education system can succeed with this rate of burnout. We need radical change to our system so that professionals have the resources to fulfil their responsibilities to their students. Enjoy this edition of Lead. Mary Bousted Joint general secretary National Education Union

Contents nationaleducationunion

Published and printed by the National Education Union Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD To advertise contact: Leanne Rowley t: 01727 739 183 e: leanne@centuryone Ad artwork coordinator: Caitlyn Hobbs





High-stakes testing

The system is broken. Help us fix it.

12 How I...

Gave students a say in their learning.

16 The Interview Except where the NEU has formally negotiated agreements with companies as part of its services to members, inclusion of an advertisement in Lead does not imply any form of recommendation. While every effort is made to ensure the reliability of advertisers, the NEU cannot accept any liability for the quality of goods or services offered. Lead is printed by Walstead.

Supporting strike action.

19 Campaigns

Vote in our ballot.

20 Masterclass

How to co-head.


Balloting on toxic testing and preschoolers march against Baseline.

15 Leading question How do you make sure LGBT+ staff feel safe at your school or college?

22 Final word

Testing failing? Don’t blame schools.

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Union launches ballot on high-stakes primary tests THE NATIONAL Education Union (NEU) is urging school leaders in England to vote in the indicative ballot on primary assessment and deliver a message to Government that the system needs urgent reform. The ballot, which will run until 2 July, was launched last week following growing concern within the profession that high-stakes testing in primary schools is putting too much pressure on staff and students. A YouGov survey of school leaders earlier this year found that 96 per cent are concerned about the effects of the tests on students’ wellbeing. The ballot asks for your views on primary testing and the campaign to reform it. The union is also asking whether you would be prepared to carry out a boycott of all statutory tests during

the next academic year: KS1 and KS2 SATs, the year 1 phonics check, and the multiplication tables check in year 4. Electronic ballot papers have been sent to leaders, teachers and support staff in primary schools. NEU policy officer Ken Jones urged school leaders to vote in the indicative ballot. “Even Ofsted is now critical of SATs, and it is plain that the days of our present primary assessment system are numbered,” he said. “The union urges school leaders to throw their weight behind the campaign, and to vote a resounding ‘yes’ in the ballot.” Delegates at this year’s annual conference, in April, passed a motion calling for a boycott of the tests, following a lively debate where members spoke about the damaging impact of testing their pupils. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and

Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran told conference their parties would scrap SATs, with Ms Moran condemning “toxic high-stakes testing” in schools. NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said the resolution reflected members’ “deep unhappiness” with the assessment system. The problems of children’s wellbeing, teacher workload, curriculum narrowness and teaching to the test will not be solved unless the assessment system changes, he said. “The tide has turned against the Government,” Kevin added. “Its assessment policies are increasingly rejected by parents, by international organisations like the OECD, and by political opinion.” See feature page 8, campaigns page 19 and final word page 22 for more.

Four-year-olds march against Baseline HUNDREDS OF pre-schoolers travelled from across the country to march on Downing Street in protest at Government plans to test four-year-olds just weeks after they start school. Joined by parents, teachers and MPs, including shadow early years minister Tracy Brabin, the children delivered a petition against the Reception Baseline Assessment, which has more than 65,000 signatures, to Number 10. Baseline will be piloted from September and rolled out nationally in 2020, despite opposition from school leaders. Three quarters of school leaders surveyed earlier this year said it is not possible to reliably test four-year-olds, while 79 per cent said the Baseline assessment is an inefficient way to measure a child’s future progress. Research by an expert panel, published in the BERA journal, concluded that testing four-year-olds is “flawed, 4

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Pre-schoolers help take the campaign to Downing Street.

unjustified, and wholly unfit for purpose”. The Department for Education wants to use Baseline results as an accountability measure, but the panel found that pupil mobility, teacher turnover, and the likelihood of a change of head teacher “will muddy the issue of accountability” because pupil data will be missing or schools may be held to account for pupils they have not continuously taught. “Ultimately, the Reception Baseline Assessment will do

PHOTO by Tom Nicholson/PinPep

little to help secure positive outcomes for pupils, teachers or parents either in the short or long term,” it concluded. Head Helen Longton-Howorth said: “The proposals are unfair on teachers, parents and – most importantly – very young children at a critical time in their education. It’s time for the Government to start listening to education experts and call a halt to this fundamentally flawed programme.”


New inspection framework a “woefully missed” opportunity DESPITE ITS promise to move away from a focus on data, Ofsted has not proposed to abandon it as a key factor in its judgements. That is NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted’s verdict on Ofsted’s new inspection framework, which was published last month. Mary said: “Inspectors will still arrive at secondary school armed with data on Attainment 8, Progress 8, the proportion of pupils entered for EBacc subjects and the percentage achieving level 4 and level 5 grades at GCSE English and maths. “And inspectors will still arrive at primary schools armed with data on KS2 SATs results, the phonics test and, in time, the times table test and Baseline assessment.” She added that under the framework, schools and colleges will not be able to contextualise their data in conversations with inspectors, meaning they will effectively be judged against national attainment scores that bear little or no relationship to their own school or college’s student population. The framework, which will come in from September and includes a new quality of education judgement, was published following a three-month consultation.

Ofsted received more than 15,000 responses – the highest number to any of its consultations. Two other new judgements will also be introduced – evaluating learners’ behaviour and attitudes, and one on personal development. To reach a judgement on a school or college’s behaviour and attitudes, inspectors will assess whether leaders are creating a “calm and orderly” environment, where bullying is tackled effectively. Overall, inspectors will focus more on curriculum. However, Mary said Ofsted does not have the capacity to quality assure its own judgements and the union does not have confidence in the capacity of inspectors to make such judgements. She described the inspectorate’s decision not to remove its four-grade system of judgements as a “woefully missed” opportunity, arguing it should have been the first step of its framework overhaul. “That would have made space for proper professional conversations about curriculum, and provided helpful information to support school improvement,” she added. “We believe that schools and colleges will still not be evaluated accurately or be provided with worthwhile feedback.”

College funding down by a quarter COLLEGE FUNDING has dropped in real terms by 24 per cent since 2010, according to a report by the Education Policy Institute. National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “This comprehensive and important report exposes the reality of Government cuts to 16-19 education. The consequences are dire, with the number of teaching hours students receive falling by an average of 65 hours per year over just four years.” The largest cut in teaching hours was in

9,000 8,000 7,000 6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 _ 2010/11





n Programme funding [excl disadvantage] n Student support





n Disadvantage and High Needs n 16-18 Apprenticeships

Total 16-19 funding by stream, 2010/2011 to 2018/19 (2017/18 for apprenticeships), 2018/19 prices (£m)

science and maths, the report found. It also shows that the cuts have fallen hardest on the most deprived students. “The situation is unsustainable and must be

addressed immediately,” said Kevin. See page 16, for an interview with NEU post-16 executive member Jean Evanson.

Number of schools signing up for Baseline plummets THERE HAS been a 23 per cent drop in the number of primary schools prepared to take up the Baseline assessment, Government figures show. Last year, 16,766 schools registered to undertake the assessment. That number has fallen to 9,600. National Education Union joint general secretary Mary Bousted said: “This is a significant setback for the Government’s test-driven approach to primary education. In 2015, more than 80 per cent of schools signed up for the Department for Education’s Baseline assessment pilot. “This time round that figure has fallen to 57 per cent. There is evidently a widespread scepticism in primary schools about the value of Baseline, and a concern for its impact on pupils and on the early years curriculum. Educators do not want new tests in primary schools – they want an end to the current system of primary assessment.”

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Report fails to acknowledge drivers for exclusions and off-rolling

PHOTO by Kois Miah

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney.

THE TIMPSON REVIEW on exclusions does not recognise that the high-stakes accountability system contributes to exclusions and off-rolling, says National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney. The review, published last month, makes 30 recommendations designed to address off-rolling and make schools accountable for the number of children they exclude. Figures for 2016/17 show wide variations in the number of exclusions, with 85 per cent of schools not permanently excluding a single child, while 0.2 per cent excluded more than ten pupils.

The report concludes there is no optimal number of exclusions but that they should only be used as a last resort. It also found that a small minority of schools off-roll. Under the new Ofsted inspection framework, which will be introduced in September, inspectors will instruct schools to report where pupils have been taken off-roll primarily in the interests of the school rather than the pupil. Review author Edward Timpson said: “We expect school leaders to make sure all children are getting a good education, but we must equip them with the skills and capacity to do so. We need to reward

schools that are doing this well and hold to account those which are not.” Responding to the review, Kevin said: “Ultimately we need to tackle the high-stakes accountability system and allow all schools to teach in ways which best suit their pupils. At the same time, all schools should be brought within local accountability mechanisms under the local authority, and schools need to be properly funded and supported to ensure all children get the education they deserve.” He added: “Timpson hasn’t thought hard enough about the system-wide drivers that are making inclusion harder and harder, including the serious special educational needs and disability (SEND) funding cuts. “To support schools to ensure all exclusions are appropriate, we need to be honest about how funding cuts make it much harder to meet young people’s individual needs. Preventing exclusions requires intense individual support for young people, and schools collaborating together within a geographical unit longterm. The Government’s decisions on funding and academisation have directly reduced both. “We know that the vast majority of schools want only the best for their pupils, and the minority who engage in poor practice in relation to exclusions and offrolling are not typical of the majority.” However, he said the rising rate of permanent exclusions and off-rolling have been a cause of concern for some time. The NEU published a report earlier this year on the practices.

ACTION THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION WILL TAKE IN RESPONSE TO THE TIMPSON REVIEW Making early intervention the norm Bringing together education providers and councils so that schools are better equipped to take action early and provide the right support for children at risk of exclusion. Calling on leaders to work together School leaders, governing bodies and directors of children’s services should collect and share data to help understanding of how exclusion is used in local areas,


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assess and act to reduce disparities, with particular reference to certain ethnic groups, those with special educational needs, or those who have a social worker. Making sure exclusion is the start of something new and positive Plans will be published later this year to improve outcomes for children who leave mainstream education and go into alternative provision.


NEU Leadership

Moving into management THIS one-day workshop focuses on supporting and helping new and aspiring leaders to develop their understanding of leadership and management. It offers a practical and theoretical introduction, leading to improved learning and communication skills.

School Cuts Cymru arrives THE NATIONAL Education Union launched the School Cuts Cymru website at the Urdd National Eisteddfod in Cardiff Bay on 27 May. More than 800 supporters signed up to the campaign. Together with ASCL, NAHT and UCAC, the union is calling for an end to funding cuts in Wales. The claim is that Westminster is failing to commit adequate funding for schools across the UK. In Wales, 942 schools have suffered cuts to per-pupil funding since 2015, amounting to a loss of £58 million.

To sign up to the campaign, head to Write to MPs and ask them to lobby chancellor Philip Hammond for more money for schools in Wales. You can also write to your local AM to ensure they ask the Welsh Government to commit to passing on any extra money from Westminster to education. The School Cuts Cymru stand was at the Plaid Cymru, Welsh Liberal Democrats, Welsh Labour and Welsh Conservatives conferences, where over 100 supporters signed up for the campaign.

Supply teaching rate changes SUPPLY TEACHERS in Wales will now get a minimum rate of pay under new arrangements that will be in place from August. The National Procurement Service has agreed a new contract with 30 suppliers across Wales. Head teachers will still be able to use other suppliers from outside the new framework. The National Education Union (NEU) would always prefer that supply teachers

are hired on School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions, via the local authority. However, the new framework is a step in the right direction. It includes minimum pay rates for qualified supply teachers, free training, and fixed and transparent agency rates. In a report last year, the NEU found that more than a quarter of the 4,500 supply teachers in Wales were paid less than £100 a day.

Outstanding teaching and learning THIS practical one-day course will address this area of crucial importance for all those who occupy leadership or management roles: how to lead outstanding teaching and learning. The course will look at how to put student experience, development and progression at the heart of teaching in your school or college, and how to create a strong vision and climate of outstanding teaching. It will also look at how to build and manage successful teams, including developing colleagues and ensuring high standards and expectations for all. Save the date THE first NEU Leadership conference will be held on 21 September at Hamilton House in London, 10am-5pm. Speakers will include NEU deputy general secretary Avis Gilmore and NEU national campaigns manager Henry Fowler. There will be a panel Q&A and a range of CPD workshops: difficult conversations, ethical practice for middle and senior leaders, and restructures and caring for staff. For more details on all courses, including ways to book, go to

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Campaigns Professionals, parents, pupils and politicians agree: children are harmed by high-stakes tests. Vote to boycott them next year and help end toxic testing.

It is broken. And you can help fix it Words Sally Gillen HOWEVER THICK YOUR SKIN – and every head teacher needs a thick skin to survive – the comments made by Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman last month are likely to have infuriated you. In the middle of SATs week, amid the now expected reports of crying and stressed children, Ms Spielman chose to point the finger at school leaders.   Heads seeking to reassure children ahead of the exams increase their stress, she said.   If ever there was a case of firing at the wrong target…  And many parents know it. In recent years, more and more have been speaking out against SATs, rightly concerned that the high-stakes tests place far too much pressure on their children and deny them access to a broad curriculum in their last year of primary education.  

Members at conference voted to ballot on a boycott of primary assessment. 8

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As every school leader knows, when the Government decides to introduce high-stakes testing, the result is stress – for you, your staff, and for the children. There is plenty of research to back this up.  Dylan Wiliam, one of the world’s leading experts on assessment, said in 2011: “In every single instance in which highstakes accountability systems have been implemented, adverse unintended consequences have significantly reduced and, in many cases have completely negated, the positive benefits.” The OECD in 2013 stated that evaluation and assessment systems can distort how and what students are taught, and gave examples of teachers being forced to ‘teach to the test’, focusing solely on skills that are tested and giving less attention to students’ wider developmental and educational needs.   Yet a stack of research evidence showing how flawed and damaging high-stakes tests are hasn’t, it seems, been enough to persuade the Government that they need to go. In fact, the Government is adding more. There is a phonics check and, from September, a new multiplication check in year 4. A Baseline assessment of four-year-olds weeks after they start school will be introduced in 2020 at primaries in England.   “The problem is it’s just something every year now. When is it going to stop? It’s relentless,” says head teacher John Bryant, who has voted in our ballot to boycott the tests next year (page 11).   The National Education Union is proposing a system based on teacher assessment, supported by light-touch tests drawn from a national ‘bank’ and used at teachers’ discretion to benefit teachers, pupils and schools alike.   It is up to us now to push for this. Nobody is arguing against assessing children, but as leaders explain here, for a whole host of reasons the system we have simply does not work. Vote in our indicative ballot and help drive that message home to Government. Yvonne Craig is head teacher of Ewanrigg Primary School in Cumbria. “We assess children all the time, so we can do our best for them, but we don’t need to use those results to judge schools. You can have children in difficult circumstances who make massive progress but don’t hit national expectations, and if that’s not handled carefully they can feel a failure. Even though they might have made better progress than those children who hit national

Yvonne Craig

Russell Stevens

expectations and haven’t worked as hard. There should not be this huge pressure put on children to perform on one day. We don’t do practice papers, but we extract questions from papers to use as teaching tools. The stance we take is that we do what’s best for the children. This year we had a little boy who’s dyslexic. We spoke with him and his mum and asked which tests he wanted to take and which he didn’t feel comfortable taking. He chose not to do the reading test but said he would do the maths one. Our stance is about doing what is best for each individual child. To put that little boy through sitting for an hour, barely being able to put two words together, wouldn’t have been good for his mental health or his self-esteem, and I’m not having it. I’ve been a head teacher for 20 years. If I have to take a bit of flak, I’ll take a bit of flak.

These children are in my care. Obviously being a child down will affect the results; I might be asked some questions by the local authority about why the decision was taken, but you must have the strength of your convictions. Children come first. The SATs don’t tell us anything we don’t already know. We know our children very well. No results that come back are a surprise generally, and if we do get one that is and goes over onto the next bracket that’s a fluke, then we tell the secondary school that the category isn’t correct. We don’t define our children by their SATs results, we define them by the little person we have seen grow, day in and day out, over the last four years. I’m voting for the boycott, and my message to others is: use your vote and protect your children.”

“We don’t define our children by their SATs results, we define them by the little person we have seen grow, day in and day out, over the last four years. I’m voting for the boycott, and my message to others is: use your vote and protect your children.” Yvonne Craig lead. The magazine for NEU Leadership members


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Campaigns for secondary school. That’s the bottom line. The other issue is there is so little of anything other than English and maths in year 6 that children are further behind in other subjects when they arrive at secondary. They have spent all their time getting ready for SATs.” 

John Bryant

“Something needs to change – for the good of the children.” John Bryant Russell Stevens is head teacher of John Hanson Community School in Hampshire. “The problem is that because the stakes are so high, many children are hothoused to within an inch of their lives. They arrive at secondary school with an inflated SATs score, which then sits with them. We have students saying, ‘There’s no way I was ever going to get grade 7, 8, 9. I did really well in primary school because that’s all we did in year 6’. Year 6 is just about preparing for SATs.    The students we get don’t have the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to be secondary-ready. Being secondaryready is not just about getting a high SATs score. It is about having the knowledge, skills and understanding to access the secondary curriculum. The pressure of accountability on SATs needs to be brought into question. Ofsted can make or break a school. We need to ask what that assessment at the end of year 6 is actually for. It should tell you if that child is ready

John Bryant is head teacher of Arthur Bugler Primary School in Essex.   “One of the saddest moments of my career – apart from any safeguarding cases I have dealt with – was in 2016. We had moved to the new SATs tests and we didn’t do much to prepare. A child came out of the reading paper crying and I said, ‘Which one are you stuck on?’ and he just said, ‘All of them’.  The problem is we are not using these tests to identify gaps in children’s knowledge and then doing something about it. The tests are being used to compare schools completely out of context and to judge a school on everything it does. You cannot judge my school based on the test results we get every year. They don’t get into the fabric or the environment or the ethos or the values or the type of children we are sending onto the next stage of their education.   A well-designed assessment at the end of phases of education could be incredibly useful but we know secondary schools don’t pay a blind bit of notice to the year 6 SATs. Assessment that supports a child’s transition from one phase to another and supports the next teacher or school in getting it right for the pupils is beneficial, but that doesn’t happen with this system.   I have had to make some choices at the school that I morally and ethically disagree with, and that I don’t feel comfortable with, but I have had to make them otherwise there could be a negative impact on the school as a whole. For example, I had to do an Easter school one year, which I completely disagree with. We don’t do that now.   As teachers we assess every minute of the day. As a teacher you get information, you adapt what you are doing, and you’re doing that all the time. This information from year 2 and year 6 SATs isn’t being used to adapt. It’s just being used to compare. There is no focus on the learning.  Baseline, the multiplication test. The problem is it’s just something every year now. When is it going to stop? It’s just relentless. I don’t understand why anyone would want to test a child six weeks after they have started school. Where is the research showing that’s a good idea, when we have countries leading the way that don’t even send children to school until they are seven? We need a reasonable assessment system whereby the information gained would be used to pass onto the next school or next teacher.  I am voting in the ballot because something needs to change – for the good of the children. This assessment system forgets that the whole point of teaching children is learning. If we can get an assessment system that is focused on what the children can do and what they can’t do, then that is only going to help our children make the progress they deserve.   The more people who are making a noise about this, the stronger the argument gets.” To find out more about the ballot see page 19 and go to and #toomuchtesting. lead. The magazine for NEU Leadership members


Head of curriculum Joe Pardoe explains how his school gives students a say in what they learn, boosting engagement and getting great results.


“Too often schools see students as blank books.” Words Sally Gillen SCHOOLS OFTEN APPROACH the curriculum like a 100-metre sprint, says Joe Pardoe. “There is a rush along a straight line, in which each student has to follow a set course. But the curriculum should be a different sort of journey. A set start and end point, with rules and check-ins, but much more like an adventure with lots of options for detours and chances to admire the view.” At School 21 in east London, where Joe is head of curriculum, he and his colleagues work to deliver a curriculum for their students aged 4-18 that offers variety and nuance. The school’s Head, Heart and Hand framework (see box, opposite) combines learning subjects in a traditional setting with time on projects students have chosen themselves, and coaching sessions. For year 7s the split is: 60 per cent of time in traditional lessons, 25 per cent working on projects, and 15 per cent in coaching. It’s an approach designed to give students more agency over their learning and the development of the curriculum. “What some schools do is control students by creating rules for as much of school life as possible, even break times and lunch times and transition between lessons,” argues Joe.

In the last year, Joe has been at the centre of refining the curriculum so, at as many points as possible, students have an opportunity to give their thoughts and to make choices about what they are learning. “Too often schools see students as blank books that need to be built up into something,” he says, “but my view of education is that is, as teachers, we are interacting with students as whole people, who have their own histories, thoughts and ideas.” At School 21, there are curriculum tuning meetings, where teachers present their curriculum plans to students and other members of staff for feedback. As a concept, some teachers may have their doubts about allowing students such a say. It has not proved a problem, however, says Joe. “Teachers are professionals and they are paid to do a job, so we aren’t saying a student voice overrides that,” he says. “Every time we have tunings where students give feedback to projects or regular subject curricula, it’s always been very helpful. I don’t think I’ve ever had a time when I’ve thought, ‘This is completely rubbish, I’m never going to use it.’” Similarly, with the project element of the curriculum, where students get to state a preference for a project from a list drawn up by the teacher, they are given the opportunity to feed back on it. From next year, they will be invited to suggest ideas for projects. “The students really like

“There’s always pressure to conform to the norm in  education.”


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How I... Education of the head This element of the framework ensures students leave school with a good knowledge around subject domains. There are scheduled meetings – ‘curriculum tunings’ – that allow teachers and students to give their feedback on what is planned.

Joe explains the school’s Head, Heart and Hand framework

Education of the heart This is our coaching programme that focuses on values and wellbeing. Coaching time and assemblies at School 21 take place in circles to encourage students to discuss important issues. We also have portfolio presentations, which are yearly student-led conferences,

instead of parents’ evening, where students talk through their story of learning and aims for the year. Education of the hand Teachers put together a list of projects and then students have an opportunity to list their preferences. Teachers make the final choice, but the aim is to give students their first choice. The focus of these projects is to create something that has value. This shows students they have agency in the world. If they see a problem, they can try to solve it. They don’t have to wait until they have finished their education to make a difference in the world.

“Teachers are professionals, and they are paid to do a job, so we aren’t saying student voice overrides that.”

the projects,” says Joe. “Because they have chosen something, they feel more buy-in, and there are fewer behaviour problems on our project days than there are on our regular subject days.” Teachers also enjoy planning projects because it gives them the freedom to work with students on a topic that may not be on the curriculum. One of the things the school tries to do with projects is to make sure students get out into the community, so they can see how they can make a difference. Year 7 students are working on a drama project, involving children with severe special needs who attend the school next door, finding out what the students need. Then they walk around east London and find out where those students might find it difficult, like no ramp on the kerb, for example. Finally, they will make a speech about how the council could improve it. For the coaching, or heart element of the curriculum, a teacher works with 15 students covering topics such as sex and relationships. School 21’s three-pronged approach to learning can be quite overwhelming for new teachers joining the school, Joe admits, because they aren’t used to combining teaching of their subject with planning projects and coaching. “Most teachers say

it takes a year to really understand our school. After that, they are flying,” laughs Joe. Training begins at the start of the year with a week-long INSET, which provides an opportunity to induct new staff into the school’s way of working. Then there are weekly CPD sessions on a Wednesday afternoon, when students finish 20 minutes early. Joe says that while his school’s Head, Heart and Hand framework has attracted interest from other schools, there is nervousness about the perceived risks of such an approach. “You could see what we are doing as giving up 25 per cent of our curriculum time in every year up to year 11, and some may think that could be time better spent doing more maths or English,” he says. “There’s always pressure to conform to the norm in education.” Then there is potential pressure from Ofsted, which will launch a new, curriculum-focused inspection framework in September. “I shoulder this quite heavily,” Joe adds. “But when you speak to students and see the work that they produce, how much they are proud of at school – beyond exam results – it feels worth it. We can justify what we do here.” lead. The magazine for NEU Leadership members


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Leading question

How do you make sure LGBT+ staff feel safe at your school or college? National Education Union LGBT+ and race equality policy specialist Camille Kumar looks at how to ensure safety and dignity for staff. SEXUAL HARASSMENT is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. This includes behaviours such as unwelcome verbal sexual advances, unwelcome ‘jokes’ of a sexual nature, unwelcome questions and comments about sex life, and/or comments of a sexual nature about gender identity. LGBT+ leaders are as likely as anyone to experience this. Covert LGBT+ harassment is still, unfortunately, very much part of many workplaces. It is important that staff have time together where they can relax and have a laugh. But if you overhear conversations, as a leader you must ask: is everyone feeling comfortable with this conversation or are the laughs at the expense of another’s safety and dignity at work? Are these comments indicative or causative of a homo, bi and/or transphobic workplace culture? And how can I address this issue? What does research say? The recent TUC report Sexual harassment of LGBT people in the workplace makes for disturbing reading. The report finds that seven in ten LGBT+ workers experienced sexual harassment at work and almost one in eight LGBT women reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work, with women, disabled, trans and Black LGBT+ workers experiencing disproportionately higher levels of sexual harassment and abuse.   It is important for leaders to understand how homo, bi and/or transphobic comments or stereotypes can escalate into bullying, abuse and assault at work. Ignoring homo, bi and/or transphobic comments, or worse, dismissing them as banter, could contribute to a workplace where harassment, bullying and assault

policy for sexual harassment and abuse, you may consider creating one or expanding existing policies. For support with policy development, contact local NEU officers. n Train staff: Equalities training, sexual harassment training and bystander training are all good starting points, but you should consult staff to see what training they would find most beneficial. If you have identified an issue around homo, bi and/or transphobic harassment, you may consider accessing training from the NEU or an LGBT+ specialist organisation. As a minimum, ensure all staff receive training on relevant policies to understand their role in creating a safe workplace, and the procedures followed for policy breaches. The TUC’s recent findings highlighted troubling levels of harassment and abuse.

of LGBT+ people is permitted. Sexual harassment of LGBT+ people at work can significantly impact workers’ confidence, productivity, mental and physical health, and sense of belonging. It could even lead to them leaving their job or profession. Many people won’t identify their experiences as sexual harassment and even if they do, two thirds of LGBT+ workers are unlikely to report them for a variety of reasons, including fear of being outed and fear of negative impacts on their career and/ or relations at work. It is critical that leaders take a proactive and preventative approach to addressing this issue. What can you do? n Review and update policies: Liaise with workplace representatives to review bullying, harassment and equality policies to ensure they are LGBT+ inclusive, using appropriate language, examples and case studies. If you don’t have a zero-tolerance

n Respond appropriately: If you have overheard or suspect harassment, be clear and vocal about zero tolerance, ensure your policies enable a proactive response, commission tailored training, and create opportunities for potential victims to report harassment and abuse. If a staff member reports harassment or abuse, responding with empathy and genuine care is essential. NEU guidance on LGBT+ harassment can be found at and n Advance equality: Employers must comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty to eliminate discrimination and to advance equality. Having a clear and detailed equality strategy, including celebrating Pride season, engaging with LGBT+ history month, and teaching about inclusion will help you meet this duty. To get in touch with the LGBT+ organising forum or Leadership organising forum, please contact lead. The magazine for NEU Leadership members


Jean Evanson, a post-16 teacher for more than 20 years and an NEU executive member, tells Sally Gillen how it took eight days of striking to end a long-running dispute at her college.

“Members felt very passionately about this.” “IT HAS BEEN a part of my life for so long that it’s only just sinking in that it is over,” says Jean Evanson. As a rep at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, where she is a maths teacher, Jean has been at the heart of a dispute for more than a year over plans to introduce graded lesson observations. It took eight days of striking by 70 National Education Union members, and the threat of three strike days a week until the end of term, before college managers eventually agreed last month to drop plans to grade staff. Instead of a numerical grade, staff will now get recommendations on their practice, which will be linked to CPD. “I think it was the threat of some significant, drawn-out strike action over the rest of the term that pushed them,” says Jean, who as well as being a rep for five years at her college was elected onto the NEU executive as the post-16 member last year. “The fact that action was so well supported by members – there was a solid number of members who went on strike for eight days – made a difference. “It is hard for members to strike; they feel it in terms of students, and they have to cover the work no matter what. But members felt very passionately about this issue, that gradings were subjective and unfair.” However legitimate those concerns are, it may not be immediately obvious why – in the context of a funding crisis, falling pay, bigger class sizes, and the rise of temporary contracts – this was the issue that members decided was a step too far. Graded lesson observations are, after all, commonly used around the 16

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Interview About Jean n Jean began teaching after completing a PGCE in

Leicestershire 31 years ago. For 21 of them, she has worked in sixth form colleges.

improved pay safeguarding. n Union involvement runs in her family. Her mother

n As a trainee in 1987, Jean joined the NUT, immediately

becoming active at branch level.

was a teacher and an NUT rep and her father, who worked in the export industry, was a shop steward.

n Five years ago, the rep at her college left, just as

a proposal for a massive restructure was published.

country – even though Ofsted has said they aren’t required. “It was a number of things,” reflects Jean. “There were staff who had been adversely affected by graded lesson observations in the past, and also a lot of members had experience in other institutions of being graded and of the pressure and the accountability culture being used against them, so they knew what gradings could do to people. “Staff told us that sometimes the graded lesson observations affected their self-esteem. Some people got a bad grade and then left in shame the following day because they knew there would be some capability things to follow.” Members knew grading was subjective and unfair. And there was research backing that up. “If you’re told you are a bad teacher, you’re not going to want to be a teacher anymore. That’s the effect it has on a lot of people – they just leave the profession,” says Jean. The dispute began following the merger of Shrewsbury Sixth Form College and Shrewsbury College in 2016. It was proposed that the lesson observation policy used at the latter college would be adopted. Staff – a mix of teachers and support staff – were immediately concerned. Talks with college management began, where Jean presented research showing gradings are unreliable, subjective, and likely to affect the mental health of staff. When these arguments were rejected, a ballot was launched, which led to a new management proposal to replace the original numerical grade with a category. Members rejected that too. “There was a long fight over that, and there was also a pseudo capability system – it wasn’t formal – where there would be a structured development plan if your lesson wasn’t

Six days of striking followed, and the union won

n In 2018, Jean was elected as the post-16 member on

the NEU executive.

“There are very strong arguments for keeping your staff happy and not giving them challenges you don’t need to give them. You want them to thrive and to stay.”

up to scratch. We said this was totally inappropriate on the basis of one lesson.” There were months of talks, before strike action began at the beginning of the year – a last resort. The policy now agreed is free from tickboxes, and the union will monitor how it is applied and review it after a year. The union’s success has attracted the interest of reps in colleges around the country. Timing and opportunity – the merger meant the policy was being rewritten – allowed members in Shrewsbury to push for a fairer approach, says Jean, but she hopes members at other colleges where graded lesson observations are in place will be inspired by the success achieved by union members at her college. “I am proud to have represented a group that has achieved better terms and conditions,” she says. “The dispute has brought the union together in such a positive way. We are based on three sites, and it has bonded us together as colleagues and union members. We have been standing side by side, shoulder to shoulder – teachers and support staff together.” Managers leading in a period of unprecedented difficulty in the post-16 sector may reflect on the outcome of this dispute. For Jean, the lesson is a simple one: “Don’t make people unhappy when you don’t need to. There are very strong arguments for keeping your staff happy and not giving them challenges you don’t need to give them. You want them to thrive and to stay. “It is great to see this resolved because it has been a very long dispute. We had informal meetings, meeting with governors and went through Acas,” Jean adds. “We did all of that before we went on strike. It’s been a hugely long process, so it was quite weird to wake up this morning and think, ‘Oh yes, it’s over.’” lead. The magazine for NEU Leadership members


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Campaigns NEU national campaign manager Amy Hunt explains why the union needs your vote for an indicative ballot on primary assessment.

Every vote counts FROM NEXT YEAR, with the introduction of the Reception Baseline Assessment and the multiplication tables check, primary pupils will face national standardised tests in reception, year 1, year 2, year 4 and year 6. Parents, politicians and school staff agree: there is too much testing. At the National Education Union’s annual conference in April, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Lib Dem education spokesperson Layla Moran said their parties would scrap SATs. And delegates voted to ballot all primary members in England on the issue of assessment and highstakes testing.   School leaders agree A YouGov survey – carried out for the More Than A Score (MTAS) campaign group, in which NEU is a partner – found 93 per cent of school leaders supported the view that the Government should review standardised assessment. In the same survey, school leaders were highly critical of year 6 SATs, with 98 per cent saying teachers are placed under unnecessary pressure and 94 per cent agreeing that pupils are placed under too much pressure. The other head teacher unions have publicly backed reform. Responding to Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said children’s progress can be measured through “everyday teacher assessment and classroom tests” without the need for high-stakes testing. And Julie McCulloch, director of policy for

the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), has called SATs “flawed” and said a change to the system is “long overdue”. It is against this backdrop that the NEU has launched an indicative ballot of all primary school members (leaders, teachers and support staff ). The ballot – which is being conducted mainly electronically (with paper ballot papers posted out only to those members for whom we do not hold a valid email address) – will run until 2 July. It asks two questions: 1) Do you support the NEU’s campaign for a sensible alternative to SATs and other high-stakes tests?  2) Would you be prepared to boycott activities related to high-stakes testing (eg, not participating in booster classes for KS2 SATs; not administrating SATs; not administering the phonics check)? Any boycott would cover all statutory tests during the next academic year: KS1 and KS2 SATs, the year 1 phonics check, and the multiplication tables check in year 4. The results of the ballot will be announced before the end of the school year and a decision taken after this about how to move the campaign forward into the autumn term. It is important that we have the biggest turnout possible – with a strong ‘yes’ vote to both questions – to show the Government that the whole profession backs Labour and the Liberal Democrats in calling for an overhaul of the system. Please use your vote.

Why is the NEU opposed to high-stakes testing? The NEU believes our education system is obsessed with league tables, denying children a broad, stimulating education at key stages in their development. We believe it puts an unnecessary burden on teachers, students and parents alike, as well as narrowing the curriculum. Does the NEU believe that schools should be accountable? Absolutely. But the high-stakes testing system holds primary schools accountable for narrow aspects of maths and literacy, the aspects that are easily testable. Of course, it is important that children learn to read and to work with numbers, but the accountability system is based on a belief that this can be used as a proxy for how good the school is. Noone is suggesting that teachers stop assessing pupils. But we must stop doing so in ways that do not support their learning, that risk harming their wellbeing and that do not provide primary and secondary teachers with useful information. What does an alternative to testing look like? Education Secretary Damian Hinds recently claimed that without SATs we would have no means of checking whether ‘our children can read, write and add up’. That, of course, is nonsense. We believe that teachers can and should use their professional judgement to assess children’s learning, and there are lots of examples where that is done very successfully without the need for high-stakes testing, which is damaging to education professionals and schools.

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Four aspiring head teachers who set up a network to help those, like themselves, looking for a co-headship share the secrets to the model’s success.

Heads together Words Sally Gillen WHERE DO YOU go if you want a job as a co-head? A search of the usual jobs boards is unlikely to yield much, if anything at all. Unless you happen to be at a school where the governing board is looking for two head teachers, and you happen to have a colleague who is also looking for such a role, and their values and vision happen to match yours – essential for shared headship – chances are you are going to struggle. That is why deputy head Hannah Turbet, along with another deputy and two assistant heads, set up The Shared Headship Network to link up people interested in co-headship and provide advice about how to make it successful. “We are all keen to progress to headship, but none of us look at it as it is now and think, I want to do that fulltime,” explains Hannah. “We are all people with established records as senior leaders, but we all have small children at home and we just don’t know how we would manage being a head and balancing that with time with our families. “With co-headship, all of a sudden the job looks more appealing, because it isn’t a 60-hours-a-week job,” she adds. Others clearly agree. A year after its launch, the network has 250 members, with more joining every week. Most are women who want to be heads but in a way that can be balanced with family life. With no data on the number of co-headships in existence nationally, for the last year Hannah and her three fellow co-founders have been researching co-headships themselves, in between work and family commitments. Interviews with co-heads at around 20 schools across the country have helped the network get more idea about what needs to be in place to make shared headship effective. 20

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“What we have found is co-headship can be a great model, but it requires a culture change.” Individuals and schools both benefit from the model, says Hannah. For the co-heads there is the mutual support – a great bonus when many head teachers describe the role as lonely or isolating – plus an opportunity to bounce ideas off one another. The shared accountability takes some of the pressure off and, of course, the huge workload and multitude of responsibilities is divided. Ways of working However, governors may be nervous about co-headships because of what they perceive as the risk of failure in such a

partnership, says Hannah, adding that, in fact, many schools benefit hugely from the combined experience of two strong leaders. Then there is the recruitment and retention crisis. It isn’t just classroom teachers leaving in their thousands. A third of head teachers quit within three years, according to Department for Education figures. So making the job of head teacher more manageable is a sensible step, which may reduce turnover and result in more stable leadership. Co-headship exists in a variety of models, the network’s research has found. In some schools, both heads work five

Masterclass What makes for successful co-headship? 1K  now from the outset what you want from the role and how long you see it lasting. 2M  ake sure you and your co-head share the same vision and values for your school. 3H  ave clearly defined areas of responsibility and communicate them to staff. Hannah Turbet

4 Have a coach.

“We are all people with established records as senior leaders, but we all have small children at home and we just don’t know how we would manage being a head and balancing that with time with our families.” days, so there is no reduction in hours, but the benefit is that the work is shared. To pay for two heads, one school has cut a deputy post. Other schools have co-heads who work three or four days a week. In all models, there is some overlapping time to ensure effective shared leadership. The reasons that individuals have for taking on such a role are varied. For an aspiring head, a shared role can be a stepping stone, a gentle introduction into headship, allowing them to learn about the role while working with someone experienced who acts as a coach. In other pairings, the new heads learn on the job together. Heads who are near retirement and want to reduce their hours may decide to share the role with the person who will succeed them. Making a success of it Whatever the model, Hannah says the network’s research has identified some key factors that will influence whether co-headship is a success. These include: having a shared vision and values on how to run the school; having clearly defined roles and responsibilities – be that whether everything is shared and led by both leaders, or whether certain elements of the role are the responsibility of one

person; ensuring staff understand how the partnership works; gaining buy-in from governors/other leaders in the school; and an ability to resolve potential conflict. Above all, the support of a coach will make all the difference. “Having one for the two heads, especially in those initial stages of a co-headship, is really important, so if something is niggling you, you have the opportunity to air it,” says Hannah. Initial conversations should focus on establishing those ground rules, she adds. But even before that, it is important to establish how long each of the co-heads sees the role lasting. Where a co-headship has broken down there has been no coach offering support, and one of two scenarios: coheadship has been forced on the school, or there hasn’t been an opportunity for good dialogue between the two co-heads. In the latter case, the two people end up leading on things in slightly different ways or one person has taken the lead in a certain area and their style is different. “If these sorts of issues can be aired early enough it’s fine, but if not, difficulties can arise where, for example, one person might end up always delivering difficult conversations,” explains Hannah. Knowing more about what makes

for successful co-headship means the network is able to help its members with their applications to become shared head teachers, and the next step is to launch a pilot in London to match co-heads and place them in schools. “What we have found is co-headship can be a great model, but it requires a culture change,” says Hannah. When the availability of part-time roles in education generally is scarce, let alone headships, there is a way to go. “I know of lots of excellent team leaders who have had to give up their leadership responsibility as a result of going parttime. That means schools are losing really great, experienced leaders.” She adds: “As other jobs become increasingly flexible, schools will need to find innovative ways of supporting teachers to have their family commitments. “If not, more and more people will leave the profession.” Are you interested in taking part in a pilot to become a co-head? The Shared Headship Network plans to launch a pilot involving up to 30 people in London next year. If you are looking to take a step up, but want to do it with someone, get in touch. Go to lead. The magazine for NEU Leadership members


Final word

Testing system failing? It’s all your fault, say ministers and inspectors

Kevin Courtney Joint general secretary —National Education Union national education union NEUnion


SCHOOLS MINISTER Nick Gibb says SATs aren’t for children at all – so they shouldn’t get stressed by them. And chief inspector Amanda Spielman says Ofsted will now penalise schools that “teach to the test” and fail to offer a “rich education”. Mr Gibb makes his comments in a considered written parliamentary answer where he says: “The core purpose of [the SATs] is not to measure pupils, but rather to enable the Government to hold schools to account for the education they provide, and as such they should not be stressful for the children that take them.” He should talk to the children feeling that stress. And to their teachers. In The Sunday Times, Ms Spielman “hit out at schools that drill children for their SATs, and fail to offer a broader education including art, sport and music because of an obsessive focus on achieving high exam scores”. She made clear Ofsted’s aim now is to stamp out a narrow “teaching-to-the-test culture” blamed for making children anxious and even ill. She referred to one primary school surveyed by Ofsted, where children have practised SATs test papers in English and maths every week for two years. School leaders will be forgiven for thinking this sort of behaviour has in fact been encouraged by Ofsted and by ministers through their inspection reports, league tables, floor targets and academisation threats. The National Education Union agrees that our assessment system is failing. So do our school leaders. In survey after survey they point to: • rising stress levels; with teachers and children wrung out • pressures leading to a reduced curriculum and teaching to the test – in order to ensure their school doesn’t fail some accountability measure or another • arts, playtime, sports and music all cut back • a recruitment crisis – schools with disadvantaged children finding it even harder to recruit. But it really is unacceptable that Mr Gibb and Ms Spielman can claim to recognise the problems with our testing system but then propose no systemic changes to correct it.

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Instead they criticise schools and leaders. They say you should be brave and stand up to the pressure that they themselves are putting on you! Well, perhaps now is the time to be brave. We hope that you will encourage teachers in your schools to vote in the indicative ballot we are conducting on high-stakes testing. This is just the indicative phase – and we want it to be a referendum on SATs; a call for this year to be their last year; a cry from the profession that we need change. There are, of course, important questions that this call for an end to SATs raises. What’s the alternative? Will an alternative be even more work? Schools still have to be accountable, don’t they? It’s important to look at the big picture here. It’s not just reform of SATs that we need; if we don’t get to the root and change the fundamentals of the high-stakes accountability system then any replacement for SATs would stand a good chance of becoming similarly corrupted. But in that chance of big picture reform lies the possibility of winning our profession back. That’s why we are working with both the opposition parties on just such fundamental reforms. We are looking to the best in the world. School systems, like those in Finland and Ottawa, which build teacher professionalism. Accountability systems that develop and encourage teacher responsibility and professionalism, instead of being based on the assumption that teachers are failing or lazy unless they can prove they aren’t. We are arguing that if we are going to solve the teacher workload crisis, the teacher recruitment crisis, the mental heath problems facing so many of our young people, then Government and political parties need to work with the profession on the fundamental changes our system needs. Making progress And we are making real progress on that. When Lib Dem education spokesperson Layla Moran addressed our annual conference, she spoke of the abolition of Ofsted, SATs and league tables, instead building an alternative system that respects and trusts teachers as dedicated professionals. Labour has indicated similar changes in its thinking. We even have contact with Government backbenchers who see that change is needed. Now is the time to rise to the challenge. To assert that change is possible. To win back our profession, for our teachers and for the children they serve. We have never been closer to that goal. In the forthcoming ballot, you will have the chance to endorse the union’s campaign. Please take it.

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A day of celebration, campaign planning & rallying Key speakers

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Education spokesperson Liberal Democrat

Kevin Courtney Joint General Secretary NEU

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NEU Network

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Emma Knights CEO, NGA

Paul Whiteman General Secretary NAHT


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Lead Summer 2019