I have been a teacher for 29 years, a Headteacher for 14 years and, at the age of 53, this much I know about how, as school leaders, we have to solve the recruitment crisis ourselves.
No more blame game. It would be easy to bewail the fact that the teacher recruitment figures are down by a third on last year, but I don’t see the point. I have already written at length about the teacher recruitment crisis and concluded that help from government to address the problem is unlikely to be forthcoming. What we have to do is help ourselves. And one of the things School leaders have to do is address the teacher workload issue.
Senior Leaders can choose the culture they create in their schools. We have to stop implementing policies which make the life of a full-time classroom teacher unbearable. Before any policy decision is made, ask three simple questions:
- Is this new policy primarily concerned with improving students’ progress?
- Have we got compelling evidence of the effectiveness of this new policy?
- Will this new policy add to the workload of full-time classroom teachers?
If your answers are YES; YES; NO, in that order, you should then consult with colleagues about implementing the policy. If the answer to the final question is YES, then identify what you stop doing as a school if you want to pursue the implementation of the new policy.
Remember the joy of the job. Geoff Barton published a great piece yesterday about reclaiming ‘the career of teaching for what it can be’, of remembering to value ‘the arts, the sport, the modern foreign languages, the extra-curricular experiences that will help our young human beings to become ever more distinctively human’. Geoff’s rallying cry is no flimsy, liberal nonsense; the essence of what Geoff says is at the heart of the solution to the recruitment crisis. If we, as school leaders, cannot make teaching an attractive, deeply satisfying, joyful job then our children will never have in front of them the high quality teachers they deserve.