Memorandum from the Association of Teachers
and Lecturers (SQ08)
As far as ATL is concerned there are four issues
which we consider would repay further discussion. These are:
teacher retention and the quality
of school staff;
curriculum breadth; and
assessment for learning.
1. TEACHER RETENTION
1.1 We are very much in agreement with the
Report's four-fold analysis of the factors that lead teachers
to leave the profession. Put together, poor pupil behaviour, excessive
workload, poor public esteem and a rate of pay insufficient to
cover the cost of living in expensive parts of the country all
conspire to create a worrying wastage rate. In his Report, the
Chief Inspector has made a helpful contribution to repairing the
damage done to public esteem for teachers, and issues of pay lie
outside the OFSTED remit. But the Annual Report is notably sensitive
in its description of the excessive impact disruptive pupils can
have and here the Committee might usefully explore further.
1.2 ATL is equally concerned about the effect
of sustained periods of excessive working hours of teachers. The
Report's cautions against over-detailed lesson planning were therefore
particularly welcome, as was the observation on page 20 that
The Government, its agencies and LEAs must strive
not only to reduce their requirements on headtechers and teachers
but also to provide more strategic planning across the various
In this area ATL is very much hoping that the
Select Committee will use its good offices to ensure that this
advice is taken to heart and, indeed, given official support.
1.3 It is sometimes claimed that the use
of teaching assistants can help to relieve pressure in schools.
Indeed this Report is generally positive in its comments on assistants.
But there is a striking omission. Whereas there is a section on
recruitment and retention of teachers, there is no similar treatment
of assistants. Paragraph 383 gives statistics on the qualification
of teachers; there are not statistics for assistants.
1.4 It is encouraging to read of the strength
of self-evaluation in some successful schools. ATL has traditionally
been very supportive of school self-evaluation. However, increases
in workload over recent years now lead us to feel concerned about
the impact of extensive self-evaluation on already high workloads.
The Chief Inspector may have views on how OFSTED could help to
ensure that school self-evaluation does not further burden an
1.5 We were concernedbut not surprisedto
read of schools' reluctance to allow ITT trainees to join them.
Concerns not to endanger SATs or public examination results are
understandable and we are well aware of how difficult some of
our student members find it to gain school placements. This is
an area where the Select Committee might wish to discuss possible
ways forward with the Chief Inspector.
2. EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES
Particularly welcome in this Annual Report is
its pervasive concern for equal opportunities and for ensuring
that marginalised groups gain the attention they deserve. It is
to be hoped that this emphasis will continue under the new Chief
One of the more worrying themes in this Report
is the way in which the curriculum is at risk of being narrowed
as a result of other pressures. As far as primary schools are
concerned the picture is mixed, with some grounds for optimism
as literacy in particular becomes integrated into subject areas.
The secondary situation is less healthy, particularly in relation
to the erosion of Modern Foreign Languages. In this case the OFSTED
plan to look at Connexions (and thereby at support guidance) looks
Both in the primary and secondary sectors it
is clear that teachers could make more use of assessment data,
particularly in relation to curriculum planning. What is less
clear from the report is whether it is predominantly SATs results
which are being disregarded or teacher assessment. If it is the
former, then the Select Committee may wish to consider the implications.
If it is the latter, then there are issues of professional development
which have yet to be addressed.
Association of Teachers and Lecturers