EDUCATION LEADERS URGED TO IMPROVE TEACHER ENGAGEMENT LEVELS OR FACE CRISIS
The Teacher Development Trust, a charity founded by teachers to improve the educational outcomes for children by ensuring they experience the most effective learning, has today (3rd July 2013) warned that the rising disengagement of the country’s most experienced teachers is putting the profession and importantly, the outcomes of the young people it serves, at risk.
Responding to recent OECD findings that highlighted the high levels of young teachers in UK schools compared to our European counterparts, David Weston, CEO of the Trust and a former maths, physics and ICT teacher says: “There is an urgent need to encourage longevity in the teaching profession. We need to motivate, inspire and empower our teaching staff to be the drivers of improvement rather than mere delivery mechanisms. Whilst it is fantastic that the UK attracts a young and talented workforce, we need to be equally good at retaining experienced staff if we are to improve the sustainability of our schools and colleges.
“School leaders are under constant pressure to get their staff to ‘perform’ in certain ways and to use their resources to satisfy central priorities; so much of their time is just spent on navigating the education system. Instead we should be fostering teachers’ altruistic desires to help pupils learn and achieve and develop a sense of joint responsibility and mutual support amongst the teaching profession.”
Research has shown that in contrast to the view that salary and the controversial plans for performance related pay are the factors forcing teachers to reconsider their future, workload, stress and poor pupil behavior are the biggest areas of dissatisfaction within the profession.
Focusing on professional development has been shown to be the most effective way that leaders can improve outcomes for children and young people. Yet despite the strong evidence of what works well for improving teaching and learning, the habits of disjointed, one-off training, insufficient evaluation of impact and lack of robust research evidence has proven hard to shift. School and college leaders have struggled with the challenge of profoundly changing their model of professional learning into one with much greater, positive impact for teachers and learners.
Weston continues: “With the reduction in power of the Local Education Authorities there has been an ever-growing emphasis on central measures of accountability, which isn’t seen at the same level in other countries. League tables are driving organisational behaviour more than ever; increasingly, schools and colleges are also being held to account for their ability to narrow the gap in outcomes between those children from disadvantaged backgrounds and others.
“Inspections are focusing on the quality of teaching and the allocation of resources as well as the effectiveness of leaders in improving both of these. Endless changes to the examination system result in continual upheaval to teaching schemes and parents are relying on inspection and accountability data to make informed choices. All of these pressures have led to an explosion of training that is ‘done to’ teachers, a reduction of professional autonomy in the classroom and growing frustration. This frustration has been felt both by leaders who are struggling to juggle so many competing agendas, and by staff who are struggling to deal with ever-changing demands.”
The comments come ahead of the launch of the Trust’s National Teacher Enquiry Network (NTEN). NTEN is a collaborative partnership of schools and colleges focused on innovation and improvement through highly effective and evidence-based staff professional development and learning. It has been developed alongside schools, in consultation with experts, through a series of pilots supported by the National College for Teaching and Leadership and the National Union of Teachers.
The launch event, which will be held at the House of Commons on 11th July 2013, will feature a number of speakers including: Dr. Ben Goldacre, Academic and Author of Bad Science and 2013 evidence paper ‘Building Evidence into Education’; John Stephens, Director of Teaching Schools & School Improvement at the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) and Philippa Cordingley, Chief Executive of the Centre for the Use of Research & Evidence in Education (CUREE).
For more information on NTEN, visit http://www.tdtrust.orgtrust.org/teacher-enquiry-network/
 Robinson, V.M.J., Lloyd, C., & Rowe, K.J. (2008). The impact of leadership on student outcomes: an analysis of the differential effects of leadership type. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44(5)635-674