“If I were the Secretary of State for Education, I would review how the education budget is spent. According to the Association of Colleges, “the Department for Education (DfE) will face a large budget shortfall after 2015 because there will be:
- More people of school age.
- Increased teacher pay and pension contributions.
- Costs associated with new policies.
This shortfall forecast will be £600 million in 2015-16, rising to £4.6 billion by 2018-19.”
The school budget (for 4 to 16-year-olds) has been ring-fenced by the Coalition Government between 2010 and 2015. Even with the absence of a national funding strategy, lack of investment will make it even harder for schools to address recruitment and workload.
Ignore for the moment, the undue pressure fashioned by Ofsted, or the rapid-pace of change instigated by the DfE; the full-time classroom teacher still teaches 90% of a 25 to 30-hour timetable day-in-day-out, every week. A mere 10% of time allocated to complete two, yet fundamental aspects of the role remain on the teacher’s to-do list: planning and marking. There is no time set aside for reflection, action research or professional development.
It will take a brave Secretary of State to revise funding in order to reduce time teachers spend in the classroom to one-third; or at least alter what is currently set aside to fund education initiatives. It will be expensive, but this is what teaching needs:
“a radical solution to stop the endless workload rhetoric and recruitment crisis.”
Current investment arrangements, contact-ratios and infrastructure place an incredible burden on the 10% of time remaining for teachers to plan and mark. This restriction ensures all these types of tasks are often completed ‘after-hours’. This is not sustainable if we wish to attract graduates into the profession and drive up standards of education to ensure all students leave school, literate, equipped with a range of qualifications.
If we wish to enable our students to become effective contributors in society, and if I were the Secretary of State for Education, I would lead government policy, tackling the workload issue sooner rather than later, using a systematic and current classroom teacher’s perspective. This would revolutionise the way teaching is currently structured and transform the profession overnight. It may not happen in my career as a teacher, but I remain optimistic that one–day, teachers will be free to plan and mark during their normal timetabled day.”