If Damian Hinds Were A Headteacher …

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What would it be like if the Secretary of State for Education were a school headteacher?

Let’s consider some of the policies published under Damian Hinds and the equivalent behaviour if he were the headteacher at your school.

1. Workload

On the 24th July 2018, after every school in England had closed for the summer holidays, the Department for Education published updates, resources, and advice for schools to support teachers with their workload.

This is like a headteacher …

… who shares a teacher’s timetable on the first day of term, or someone who keeps behind teaching staff for ‘directed time’ meetings just to fill the space. It’s pointless, poorly timed and it has little or no impact – but they still do it!

2. School selection

Beyond the pleasant ‘workload’ soundbites, the first telling sign of ‘no change’ from Hinds was only 6 weeks old. Hinds supported the expansion of Grammar schools despite research suggesting they do not have better pupil attainment than other state schools and should be closed for the negative impact.

This is like a headteacher …

… who is new to post and does not really understand the context of their position in the school or community. They ignore the warning signs and align themselves with those in power and plod along regardless of evidence and opinion.

3. Sabbatical

On Friday 4th May 2018, Hinds announced a £5 million sabbatical fund for teachers to have the opportunity to take a break from the classroom. Wait! Experienced teachers only … qualified and teaching for at least seven years. That’s not enough cash for everyone, surely?

This is like a headteacher …

… who says all teaching staff will have non-contact time and cover supervisors will be available to manage all cover lessons so that teachers are free to Mark. Plan. Teach. Once the term is underway, what was once said has long-been-forgotten when all options are exhausted (including the pot of cash); where there is a need, your timetable is adjusted and you are asked to cover for ‘planned’ absences anyway!

4. Teacher pay

The Department for Education announced a 3.5 per cent pay rise for some classroom teachers on 24th July 2018. This seems to be a date the DfE like to get their work done. There is a minority who wish to see national pay scales abandoned in return for ‘autonomy’, but this is simply destroying the collective profession at large.

This is like a headteacher …

… who gets down to business once all the pupils and staff have disappeared for the holidays. The only problem is, everyone needed the memo before they left the building. The decision is planned and deliberate to avoid maximum exposure.

5. Leadership

It’s not easy for anyone to take the helm and work with those already in positions of power. In this case, Hinds has had to work with Nick Gibb and is the classic example of a headteacher who allows their deputy headteacher to silence the assembly hall before walking in. They have forgotten how to crowd control. Gibb is fascinated by evidence and cherry-picking teacher blogs on social media that support Government ideology.

This is like a headteacher …

… who provides a consistent message publicly and privately, yet even when the evidence is staring the leadership team in the face, those around the top-table carry on regardless with rhetoric that undermines the collective good. This is simply a headteacher that lacks control and is not in the job for the long-haul.

Damian Hinds was appointed Secretary of State on 8th January 2018. Statistics suggest the average tenure is 801 days. Therefore, Hinds is likely to be long-gone on March 18th 2020 (or sooner).

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