A recent survey by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) found that around 61 per cent of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) are considering leaving the profession, with workload overwhelmingly cited as the cause. Amidst a worsening time for recruitment, what can schools do to maintain an effective and happy teaching staff? Keren Prior, head of education services (regional and overseas) at EES for Schools, discusses the ways in which schools can focus their leadership and ethos to support teachers, including investing in leadership distribution, training, and workload management.
While there are many things that make an effective school, teachers are, unsurprisingly, the most prominent force in producing the best outcomes for pupils. With this in mind, ensuring that teachers are performing well and are happy in both their role and in the classroom is crucial.
Sharing the workload
Schools are highly reliant on the production and use of information. This includes learning materials, pupil attainment and attendance records, evidence of teaching practice, administration processes and much more. Managing all of this can place a great deal of additional pressure on teachers; especially on top of planning, marking and the core business of teaching. Schools need to make these processes as simple as possible, and the introduction of technology and the use of appropriate resources and applications are making a substantial difference to support learning in the classroom and reduce the workload of the teacher should be explored and implemented where needed.
Leader of the pack?
Enabling teachers to take on more responsibility is a great way of reinforcing their value within the school. This could be on a short-term project with a time-defined output, such as adapting to new guidelines or, for example, on a more organisational level, taking on responsibility for a recruitment campaign to attract other new teachers to the school. It allows teachers to shape their working environment and make changes; as well as using their experience to improve whole-school outcomes. For senior leaders, a distributed leadership model also ensures that everyone is working towards the same objectives.
Train to be the best
Evidently, making sure that teachers have all the resources, skills and support they need is essential. When a new staff member joins the team, give them plenty of time to settle in to school life, and check that their induction plan explains everything that’s expected of them in the role, as well as what is provided to them. With the ever-changing nature of education, it’s important to offer teachers access to continuing professional development (CPD) over a sustained period of time to improve their knowledge and practice. Having regular one-to-one discussions with your teachers will ensure that they have everything they need and raise any issues to be immediately addressed.
Positivity is key!
Schools should approach their outcomes and performance with positivity and high ambitions for success, both for pupils and staff members. This can be achieved and maintained through an open line of communication between teachers and the leadership team to set viable goals, discuss accomplishments and improve whole-school confidence. Feedback is important, and underperformance should be addressed to maintain a commitment to outcomes, but true successes can only be achieved through the continued motivation and commitment of all staff, both individually and collectively.
Keren Prior leads the EES for Schools teams that provide training and development opportunities for the whole of the school workforce, from recruitment and initial teacher training to leadership and governor development. Keren, a qualified secondary teacher, has been involved in a wide range of innovative projects such as the development of the Essex-Jiangsu China Educational Links Programme.