Memorandum from the National Association
of Head Teachers (TU 03)
NAHT RESPONSE TO PROFESSIONALISM AND TRUST
THE FUTURE OF TEACHERS AND TEACHING
1. THE SUCCESS
1.1 The means by which the PWC study is
translated into action is critical. Reference to the STRB after
initial discussion implies that STRB will not be presented with
any agreed proposals. This would be a mistake and place STRB in
the position of having to rule on a number of disparate views.
Surely we ought to be able to devise a programme
provides for intensive discussions
leading to as much agreement as possible, on STRB issues;
recognises a timescale that enables
STRB to work both pre 31 March 2002 and post 1 April 2002, so
as to take into account the July timing of the CSR; and
supports the dire need for a comprehensive
package and action plan, covering all the PWC issues, both "macro"
and "micro", both "expensive" and "inexpensive".
Certainly the NAHT is not prepared to support a "twin track"
1.2 The reference to performance management,
outside the threshold, is somewhat optimistic. There are real
concerns about management of the process. The government is well
aware of NAHT's views on the funding arrangements and the potential
they have for undermining the whole process.
1.3 Our response to the White Paper outlined
our worries about the "autonomy" agenda. The definition
of "success", the need to get permission to be more
autonomous and the neglect of primary and special schools are
all in need of attention.
1.4 CPD needs thrown up by the Performance
Management System, must be addressed. We are not convinced that
the Standards Fund can cope with the demand.
1.5 The comments on pay flexibilities for
recognition of excellence via a pay structure do not fully recognise
the management challenges involved, nor do they support the need
for a simpler pay structure. The existing structure is too complex
and accompanied by too many separate allowances and other pay
1.6 Heads are only too ready to help teachers
focus on core teaching but need a post PWC well funded package
if we are to turn this into reality.
1.7 Reform is possible: change is necessary:
challenges will always be with us. But reform and change have
to be based on well-founded arguments, not on preconceived notions.
1.8 The arguments surrounding teacher supply
are somewhat defeatistthe suggestion that extra staffing
is an inappropriate response to extra resource is quite extraordinary.
Just when some schools are making a start on moving towards decent
PTRs they are told that the government wants to "change tack".
Please note that many schools have not been able to start improving
their staffing at all.
Of course the use of more support staff and
better ICT will make a significant contribution. But the pamphlet's
key message will be rejected by the vast majority of school leaders.
It will lead to a number of highly undesirable conclusions:
an abandonment of any attempt to
reduce class sizes, not least at Key Stages 2 and 3;
an approach to CPD that is misguided.
Overtime payments do not reduce workload. If schools were staffed
up to proper standards, they could cover CPD from their own resources;
a failure to look at the true "cost"
of supply cover. If the millions spent on supply staff were spent
on recruiting and employing permanent staff, there would be a
a description of the teacher's role
that hardly does justice to the need to recruit and retain teachers
with flair, capable of delivering stimulating lessons to their
pupils. To single out target setting and pupil progress, and to
then use these arguments to support classroom assistants as teachers,
NAHT believes strongly that the 10,000 recruitment
figure was always too conservative. Our own paper, submitted to
PWC and DfES, showed that the demand was likely to be for more
like 40,000 teachers, as the graph shows.
The argument that the profession needs to be
"remodelled" to fit a preconceived notion that teacher
numbers can never meet demand, is highly questionable. The five
reasons for the mismatch between demand and recruitment have been
known for years. They result from a consistent failure to deploy
sustained and coherent recruitment and retention policies at national
level. To admit "defeat" now seems to be a particularly
retrograde step, just as we seek to tackle the real staffing needs.
2. LOOKING TO
2.1 We can share a great deal of the vision,
save where it supports "education on the cheap". In
particular its attempt to use teaching assistants in a teaching
role will make no contribution to raising standards.
There can be no doubt that the greater use of
teaching assistants, bursars and other support staff will free
up heads, other school leaders and teachers. So will more integrated
use of ICT. But this will not diminish the need for many more
2.2 The comparison with consultants/junior
doctors/nurses is largely flawed. The core function of the vast
majority of teachers is to teach children of all abilities well.
There are tasks that teaching assistants should perform and this
needs to be examined in detail. But the consultant/junior doctor
image is not replicable across most teaching situations.
Teaching must be a function for those with QTS.
Any dilution will lead to a lowering of standards and will send
a wrong signal to both existing and future members of the profession.
Heads are more than happy to drive necessary
reforms but they do not perceive there to be a partnership. There
is too much prescription and too little regard for self-management.
There is not enough real autonomy; only autonomy that is over-regulated.
Extra resources that lead to implementation
of the PWC Study and to real management time for Leadership Group
members are vital to leadership and management needs.
The GTC does not have any role to play in giving
practical advice. This is quite outside the remit and should be
left to those who already give advice to school leaders.
3.2 Organising and Managing Support Staff
There should be no attempt to do Pathfinder
work until a comprehensive PWC package and action plan has been
agreed by all parties at national level.
The reference, again, to teachers concentrating
on "more difficult matters" has to be challenged. What
does this mean? The hospital/GP analogy is by no means replicable.
We doubt if these ideas will help to recruit and retain if too
big a role is given to teaching assistants.
3.3 Rewarding Excellence
The government's over-reliance on PRP is highly
dangerous. Its policy is made more risky by its grossly inadequate
approach to funding pay discretions.
Whilst we are pleased that the government does
not rule out further investment, our view is strongly that such
investment will be needed. All the ambitions in the pamphlet will
need substantial extra resources.
Reference to the STRB without substantial agreement
between the key parties nationally is a recipe for disaster.
See earlier comments on Pathfinder projects.
See earlier reference to GTC. This is simply
not a role for the GTC. Nor do we think that the NCSL is in a
position to give advice.
We are ready to work in partnership with government
but our real concerns set out above must be met.
National Association of Head Teachers