‘Ditch interventions, just focus on quality-first teaching’

Schools are obsessed with interventions to boost their data - but it is the teaching that matters, writes Michael Power

Schools should focus less on accountability and more on promoting top-quality teaching, argues Michael Power

Performance measures such as Progress 8 have led to a culture of intervention within our education system. The focus for teachers has shifted from providing quality-first teaching to implementing intervention measures at every turn.

In a significant number of schools, this takes the form of extra lessons every evening for students preparing for examinations; breaks and lunches taken up by catch-up sessions; and school holidays mottled with revision sessions.

This disproportionate focus on intervention and "showing" that you are trying to tackle underperformance detracts from the great work that could be happening in schools.

Ofsted's new framework

Will Ofsted’s new inspection framework solve the issue? It will pass judgement on the "quality of education" rather than focusing incessantly on outcomes. The new framework will look for a broad and balanced curriculum, something that should provide us with a good opportunity to break away from this culture of intervention and reset the system.

And yet, league tables and performance measures are not going anywhere. This means schools will still look to do anything they can to gain those extra grades – any deviation from this could leave schools designated as "failing" and therefore vulnerable to "intervention" themselves.

How can you balance the two? If schools work to appease both Ofsted and the Department for Education’s performance measures, school leaders will find they are adding to the workload demands on staff and diminishing what can actually be construed as a well-rounded education.

Brave leadership

The only solution is for school leaders to take the decision to stop playing for league tables, protect their staff wellbeing and bring the focus back on to their overall curriculum offer and quality-first teaching – interventions provide a distraction from what teachers do best and add exponentially to teacher workload. If the focus shifts back on to quality-first teaching, the outcomes for students will improve.

The future of education needs to be far removed from the current culture of intervention and those brave enough to make the changes needed first will reap the rewards.

Michael Power is a head of year


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