UKEdMag: Now, more than ever, we need Bravery by @ConorHeaven

Mention assessment without levels, reception baselines, a new curriculum and new end of Key Stage tests and Teacher Assessment and any teacher will inevitably tell you the biggest impact of all of these changes: bigger workload. What else did the government expect?

We would like you to completely change the curriculum.

Does anyone remember any training, resources or planning?

We want you to find the time and resources to test all four year olds, plus you can choose which provider.

Should we even do this?

Do we agree with it in principle?

Well, if we must… oh, they’ve been scrapped!

We would also like you to not just change your assessment systems but create your own. Pardon?

Finally, we are going to drip feed information slowly, confusingly and terrifyingly late and send positive messages through from the DfE about it informing you that you are great but you’re wrong.

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In a world of high stakes testing and accountability, and with the threat of inspections around the corner, a range of initiatives and administration can be introduced with the aim of chasing an outstanding grade. We need to be brave leaders, schools and teachers who truly reflect on our moral compass when decision making. If you need to talk about inspections when doing this, you’re on the wrong track. I hear of so many teachers drowning in their workload. Workload created from policies aimed at pleasing the Inspectors. Please, have some serious discussions in your school if you find yourself on the end of some time consuming paper trail, especially if it is not for the children.

We need some deep discussions going on in schools about what will benefit the children and their learning. What is your vision for education? How do we get there? On this journey, workload is only created when it is needed and we can make the right choices for the children and their learning. Empower your staff with decision making policies. Give teachers a stake in what will benefit the pupils in their class. Mark when it will correct misunderstanding. Speak to children when they need to be told immediately about their misconceptions. Don’t just impose onerous policies – it won’t benefit the children or teachers.

An opportunity

Now we can’t ignore the issues mentioned at the start of this article. The new curriculum is mandatory by law in local authority schools. Yet actually, we currently have an opportunity. Rather than thinking about the negatives facing us, we must take the steps forward for our children’s sake. We have spent hours as a staff creating new topics, units of work, lesson plans, ideas and resources for the new curriculum. We have improved them in their second year, and now we are definitely delivering more exciting topics than the old units.

We had incredible discussions about testing and our views on baselines for reception and the current end of key stage requirements. We decided on daily 10 minute SPaG sessions and this decision has paid dividends as our children have a much deeper knowledge of the spelling and grammar sections of the curriculum. What seemed scary at first turned into a perfect opportunity to reflect, adapt and improve what we were currently doing.

Be Brave

Grasp the opportunities. When I hear teachers currently getting stressed out by all of the changes at the minute including exemplification mess ups, I sympathise. At first, I wanted to get out of the classroom!

Having worked with a brave leader, who decided that we knew best for the children in our class and took the pressure off from us has allowed us to do our job, and do it better. We are free to choose what works best, with positive, supportive accountability in place to make sure we still do our job. At the same time, we got over the fear of change and used it to reflect on current practice and seek ways to improve it. At the end of the day, change and uncertainty will ultimately impact on the children in our school. It is up to us to stand up for what is right for them and in doing so, it might even ease our workload.

Now more than ever, we need bravery.


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