Thursday 14 November 2019
The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture hopes to work with teachers to reduce unnecessary workload for the profession as part of the new 'one school in two colleges' model of secondary education.
One teachers' union has said that two-thirds of its local members who responded to a survey have considered leaving their job in the past year. This figure is broadly in line with national figures published recently in a teacher wellbeing index. Teachers who have considered leaving their jobs regularly cite workload as a major reason.
However, the Committee is reassuring parents and the wider community that in practice there is not an increasing trend in teachers leaving their profession - indeed the number of resignations in 2018/19 was down on the number of resignations in the previous year.
Deputy Matt Fallaize, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:
'We are confident that as we work with professionals in schools to implement the new model of education agreed by the States in 2018 and 2019 we can do more to address many of the concerns currently being raised by teachers and support staff. For example, the preferred operating model for the new colleges, which requires further discussion with staff, includes changes to marking policies, the curriculum and investment in digital technology, all of which could help to reduce any unnecessary aspects of teachers' workload.
'Many of the issues raised in the unions' recent surveys are about the operation of the new colleges and require further discussion between school leaders, teachers and support staff before anything is finalised. The surveys also reiterated something we are fully aware of, which is that our engagement with school staff needs to improve significantly. This week we have been in all secondary schools meeting teachers and support staff to talk about issues of concern and where there is still scope to influence the future operation of the colleges and how we can begin to improve communication and engagement.
'There are some elements of the new model which are fixed. For example, secondary education being delivered in two 11-18 colleges and the footprint of the new buildings because these are determined by the budget limit already set by the States. However, many of the issues raised concern matters which are yet to be finalised. I am certain that one of the main issues causing concern is the transition of staff from four schools into two colleges. Months ago the Committee made a commitment that there will be a teaching job for all existing teachers who want one and we have since appointed the principals of the two colleges, but we are as eager as staff in schools for officers and school leaders to start making the rest of the appointments of teachers and support staff. The sooner this can be done the more staff will be reassured about their important places in the new model.
'In the preferred structure for Lisia School, time staff spend running enrichment activities would be included as part of their standard teaching allocation rather than being voluntary. This would ensure a fair allocation of workload across all staff and reduce workload for those who currently offer students additional opportunities, for example after school. Students and teachers would continue to benefit from relatively generous staff ratios by continuing to operate a policy of smaller class sizes than is typical in England. They will also benefit from the greater flexibility available to larger schools.'
Liz Coffey, Executive Head Teacher of Lisia School, said;
'It is a priority to help teachers and school leaders reduce their workload and we have taken a number of actions to do this.
'At the same time, a People Working Group which includes representation from the unions has been formed to provide the resources and support for the transition of staff. The senior leadership team will determine the future staff structure of the new school and its two colleges. Any application process for roles in the new colleges will involve full and proper discussions with unions and professional associations and will use established and fair procedures. The appointment of teachers to roles will be phased. This work will commence as soon as possible and be concluded as swiftly as possible.
'There are a range of possible reasons that contribute to people's decisions to move or change roles and capturing this information is an important part of running a successful school with an established culture of continuous improvement. From 2019, all of our secondary schools have conducted exit interviews and analysis of this information helps our leadership team to identify possible improvements, consider feedback alongside understanding the decisions our staff have made to leave or change roles.
'We have developed a Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing policy for use in schools to promote positive mental health and wellbeing of staff, including the impact of workload on wellbeing, and creating an environment in which staff feel safe, respected and able to share concerns with school leaders.
'The States of Guernsey provide to all staff free and confidential access to the Employee Assistance Programme which provides counselling, advice and support, in addition to Occupational Health which provides advice on a wide range of work related issues.'