Time to pause and take stock- TES Article

2 Sep

Below is the article I wrote for TES Cymru following the survey they conducted with teachers in Wales recently.

TES Cymru’s survey of teachers has thrown up some very interesting talking points. While the detail of the poll opens up discussion on a wide range of factors, two things really stand out amongst the responses collated from the almost 1,000 members of the education workforce that took part. School banding as a policy has been almost universally rejected by the profession and the constant revolution that has been on-going within Welsh education over the past few years has had a noticeably detrimental impact on morale.

That only 10% of teachers in Wales believe school banding has been positive is not a shock. The evidence gathered here by TES Cymru is consistent with the high volume of feedback we at NUT Cymru have been receiving from our members since the system was introduced.

Banding has proven to be a divisive initiative that has caused widespread problems for teachers in their attempts to raise standards, with particular consequences in engaging parents and the wider community. The yo-yo results we have seen over the past two years have not only left teachers demoralised but caused confusion for parents also. When you see schools dropping from the very highest ranking in Band 1 to Band 4 over the course of one year; or a school placed in Band 3 in the same year it became the first ever to achieve outstanding scores across the board in its Estyn inspection, it is hard see merit in the banding process.

NUT Cymru has urged the Welsh Government to review the banding approach. No one is opposed to transparency or accountability, but the current policy is not working. This survey, as part of a growing body of evidence detailing classroom concerns, should help address the flaws that exist at present.

It is a concern to see the upheaval created by a convey belt of policies having a detrimental impact on morale. 73.2 per cent of teachers and 75 per cent of heads, responding to the survey, felt the changes had hit attitudes and motivation.

Teachers in Wales have seen huge numbers of policies, initiatives and programmes introduced in recent years. Often these have been seen as being imposed on schools rather than changes that have taken the profession with them. Sometimes the rush to make changes has led to a confused and conflicting pedagogical approach.

Wales has a new Minister in place and there have been a number of changes to leading officials in the Department for Education and Skills. It is an ideal time to pause and take stock of the current situation. There is a lot of upheaval that needs to settle to allow the policies that have been introduced to bed in before being reviewed. Then we can see what is working, what needs to be altered and potentially what needs to be scaled back or scrapped.

Hopefully those decisions will be taken with consensus that can ensure teachers take ownership of Welsh Government proposals and feel part of the process.

The origional article as published by TES Cymru can be found here.

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