Who cares about school leadership and governance?

What’s happening to both the Teaching Schools programme and the idea of National Leaders of Education and of Governance? The DfE faithfully reports the numbers in each of these categories https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teaching-schools-and-system-leadership-monthly-report with reports from September 2019 back to June 2018 on the DfE Website. Earlier reports seems to be archived and are not easy to find.

The DfE notes that Designation rounds for National Leaders of Education and teaching schools closed in May 2018 and designation rounds for National Leaders of Governance closed in May 2017.

The DfE is currently reviewing the current structure of system leadership to ensure the quality of system leadership remains as high as possible. The teaching school hubs test and learn phase, launched in May 2019, builds on the success of the teaching schools programme and is the first part of the department’s plans to review system leadership.

The number of system leaders who are currently designated is actively managed and the department keeps these matters under review.

As a result, it is perhaps not surprising to find that numbers in the different categories have reduced across the board between June 2018 and September 2019 as presumably few new additions have been made to replace those lost for various reasons.

June 2018            September 2019               Change                                 Percentage Change

Teaching

Schools                 668                         618                                         -50                            -7%

Alliance

Teaching

Schools                 835                         734                                         81                           -10%

National

Leaders of           1319                       1087                                  -232                            -17%

Education

National

Leaders of           442                          363                                       -79                         -18%

Governance

Source DfE publications for relevant months

Probably most worrying is the reduction in National Leaders of Governance. With an education system where governance is a muddle and different schools operate under vastly different rules depending upon whether they are Maintained, Voluntary and Maintained, Stand Alone academies or Free Schools or members of Multi-Academy Trusts, there is a need for leadership that NLG can help provide.

Without the backing of the National College, now fading into little more than a memory, there is a need to provide support and development for leadership and career development the system. It is not clear where the impetus is now coming from. Perhaps the Secretary of State might care to make a keynote speech about this? However, I suspect nothing will happen this side of a general election and it will be anyone’s guess who might be occupying the Minister’s Office in Sanctuary Buildings then.

When I started in teaching in the early 1970s, there was little support for leadership, but it became an issue as the decade progressed, so much so that in 1978 I ran my first leadership course for middle leaders in schools. Sometimes it now feels as if the whole of the work undertaken since then has been discarded, and we are back to a free for all with no clear direction of travel for leadership training, development and support.

No doubt the review of the present structure will make suggestions: they cannot come soon enough in my opinion.

 

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A new source of teachers?

How much appetite do teaching assistants have to become a teacher? Might this be a way of solving our current teacher supply crisis? The DfE has just published some research it commissioned to answer the first question. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/exploring-teaching-assistants-appetite-to-become-teachers

Some 64 people, mostly women, working in 51 schools, and with various job titles, were interviewed for the research. Most didn’t already have a degree although a small number that took part did have a degree. Most were also working full-time, and this may have been a factor in their answers.

Some, took on their current role wanting to progress to become a teacher. Most of the others hadn’t started out with that intention, but some were open to the possibility. Not surprisingly, how to train without losing income was a factor in the responses. How big a factor isn’t clear, as respondents don’t seem to have been asked to weight or rank the various factors that might prevent them training as a teacher?  That seems a drawback with the research.

Those with a long memory will recall that there has always been a route from the role of assistant to that of a teacher. Indeed, there is a post on this blog from 2015 https://johnohowson.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/congratulations-mrs-clarke/ congratulating a head teacher on her appointment. Mrs Clarke had started as a as a volunteer and worked through a range of posts including lunch-time supervisor, teacher, deputy head and twice acting head teacher before becoming the substantive head teacher of a first school.

When I was leading a School of Education, in the early 1990s, there were courses at the local further education colleges that provided a foundation route for undergraduate teaching degrees: some attendees were already working in schools.

In this research, commissioned by the DfE, the participants were broadly split between primary and secondary schools, with a small number working in the special school sector. I am not aware of any major teacher supply issues in the primary sector at present, so it would have been interesting to know whether interest in becoming a teacher differed between those working in the different sectors. At least the sample was weighted towards the parts of the country where there is more of a teacher supply issue, but less so among those working in the secondary sector than those working in the primary sector.

Perhaps the DfE might want to push the apprenticeship route and possibly even recreate the Queen’s Scholar title for such trainees, to provide a sense of status. It would also help if the DfE would make the term teacher a ‘reserved occupation’ term as this would also enhance the status of the profession, but cost nothing.

At the same time as commissioning this research, I hope the DfE is also looking at ‘keep in touch’ schemes for teachers that leave for a career break and also making sure teachers working overseas can access teaching vacancies through a single site. TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk has lots of visitors from around the world.