Sunday, September 21, 2008

ed balls


I’ve written to Ed Balls (Secretary State for Children, Families+Schools).
This followed an encouraging interview he gave to “The Guardian” yesterday in which he vowed to win the “hearts and minds” of school staff. He pledged to ensure that schools and education authorities guaranteed that teachers spent 10% of their time outside the classroom (preparing+marking) and to roll out a system of masters for teachers to give them the same professional status as doctor and lawyers. Crucially, from a personal perspective, he also vowed to create a statutory independent chair to ensure that more than 300,000 teaching assistants and support staff are paid fairly.
As many of you will be aware, I work in a secondary school as an Assistant House Head. The scope of the role is wide-ranging and carries a high degree of responsibility – we are dealing with staff, pupils, parents and outside agencies as well as liaising with individual teachers, departments and faculties in relation to behaviour and learning for both individuals and groups of pupils. As non-teachers, we represent the key point of contact for parents throughout the school day.
This new role at our school has been very successful (I would say that wouldn’t I!) - it has been readily welcomed, respected and appreciated by all tutors, teaching staff, pupils and parents alike. Critically, one of the key benefits of the role has been its effect on the teaching staff – it has certainly enabled “teachers to teach”.
I am convinced that this type of role in schools is absolutely crucial – and will become increasingly important over the coming years. As things stand, with the job’s current low level of pay and high levels of responsibility, it will become impossible to attract suitable candidates for the role. At present, there is no career structure for this or similar positions – all too often (and exactly the same comment can be made about jobs for teaching assistants and support staff), non-teaching roles in schools are regarded as being for the “secondary earner” in a partnership (even an appalling assumption that it will be mainly mothers taking up such positions “so they can look after their children in the school holidays”!)!
Clearly, I did not take up my present role for its financial rewards (my current salary represents just over one third of the money I was earning when I retired from my architectural practice in 2005)! However, for the sake of people taking up similar positions in the future, it is absolutely essential that such roles are properly recognised and that schools+education authorities do not continue to see them as “enabling education to be provided on the cheap”.
Here ends this morning’s sermon…..

1 comment:

just Gai said...

Amen!