Do you know what you’ll be teaching in September?
The key word in any organisation is ‘communication’. However, this seems to be lacking in my academy. We have seen some huge changes this year to staffing: 10 support staff roles have been reduced to a handful of multi-role positions and many in-house services have been moved to head office and sold back to our academy.
The realisation of having to perform teaching and middle leadership roles without key administration support, has left staff feeling undervalued and resentful of the additional pressures next year will bring. This sets the context of what is to come.
It started with rumours …
Rumours started circulating late Easter 2017 of impending curriculum changes for next year. Subjects being dropped from both GCSE and A level options, subject leaders unaware of the changes until the option booklet was published – and parents and students asked you ‘why can’t I choose music?’ before you actually knew.
Drama, design technology, music were hit first. Any subject which couldn’t gain the numbers, wouldn’t be allowed to run. Then after children had chosen their options, senior leaders started to work on the timetable for subject leaders and their departments. There was no discussion.
Colleagues were aware they would have surplus time after the reduction in GCSE and A level options – coupled with the reduction of A level subject time from 5 hours per week to 3-4 hours per week – however, conversations between school leaders, middle leaders or other members of staff on ‘how and where skills and knowledge would be best used‘ were not materialising.
Gossip was rife within the academy, everyone second-guessing what they would teach as a second subject.
As I write this, we are now two and half weeks until the end of term. The teaching body are still none-the-wiser about what subjects they’ll be teaching next year. When questions are asked, leadership avoid answering: “Changes are still being made.” Middle leaders have had their timetable distributed for two weeks, but have been told not to discuss allocation with individuals.
The future is uncertain
A union meeting was held, which although allowed people to vent about ‘not knowing’ what and who they would be teaching in September, this didn’t really help the situation. Some middle leaders have let things slip, but this has only added to the uncertainty for most.
Currently only maths and science teachers are teaching one subject next year, subjects which have struggled to recruit are maths, science, geography, history, sociology, ICT. Staffing has been and continues to be a massive issue within the academy. Redundancies for some excellent teachers this year were due to curriculum cuts and decisions not to replace those who are moving on has left the academy with a mismatch of staffing versus curriculum needs.
The joke in the staff room this week is: “… they have used so many PE teachers to teach Science and maths, there’s no PE staff left to teach PE!
The uncertainty for the new academic year continues. It’s anyone’s guess ‘when will the timetable will be released?’, although some are certain it won’t happen until the last week to minimise difficult conversations.
It’s not that staff don’t understand there are difficult decisions to be made when faced with budget cuts, reduction in pupil intake and curriculum changes to reflect EBacc and Progress 8 weighting, but communication is key to reassuring and rationalising decisions to gain staff buy in.
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