Setting, student loans and supply: what teachers are talking about this week
Will paying off student loans tempt more graduates into teaching?
At a conference earlier this week, James Darley, recruitment director at Teach First, suggested that paying off teachers' student loans might increase the number of graduates choosing to enter the profession.
However, responses on TES Community show teachers are far from convinced that such a scheme could work. Many raise the point that although the cash might tempt graduates into the profession, it is not a way to retain them as teachers. User needabreak writes, "Sooner or later public sector employers will realise that to retain good staff requires improved motivation that is not simply monetary."
Meanwhile, foxtail3 worries that a commitment of five years to the profession would increase the number of teachers with workplace-related mental health issues, adding: "Why low-income areas? Is that now being equated with 'difficult' schools?"
And hermitcrabbe points out that while such a scheme may well attract graduates, there's no guarantee that they would be the right kind of graduate. "It's happened before when 'golden hellos' have been given out. I have seen the quality and type it attracted (and there was certainly a type). It was not good."
Term-time holidays and 'exceptional circumstances'
TES Community user nomad draws attention to a story in The Telegraph, highlighting a school that rejected an in-term holiday for one of its students, despite it being the only time that the family could go away. The mother was being treated for cancer and only had a week's break from chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
The shortest response, and possibly the only response needed, comes from TheoGriff, who asks: "Is this head not in the real world?"
Where are the limits to 'exceptional circumstances' when granting term-time holidays? Join the debate on TES Community
To set or not to set?
It's a debate that continues to rage through the education sector: is setting by ability at all beneficial to students? It's a question posed by user derbydek, whose headteacher has requested that Year 6 maths lessons are split into top, middle and bottom sets. Asking for users' opinions, derbydek writes: "I don't see the need at the minute for this as I feel I am meeting the needs of all within my group."
SchoolBoyError admits favouring sets, but also notes: "The research shows that it only really benefits the higher-ability children and does nothing for the middle/lower."
Vince_Ulam says that primary is too early to be setting, arguing that, "the larger part of [Year 6] should be spent consolidating, with significant levels of direct instruction, the skills and knowledge students will need in Year 7".
Many teachers advocate reading the research, including Scintillant, who concludes: "Setting is clearly largely irrelevant to what effects learning. I am surprised it still exercises teachers so much."
Is setting a good idea at primary? Put your argument to fellow teachers on TES Community
How did we ever learn anything?
It seems apt on Back to the Future Day to draw attention to this post by Doitforfree, who is looking into the past to judge the present. Referring to the government's most recent reforms and comparing them to the 1950s, Doitforfree writes:
"I know education wasn't perfect, but at my comprehensive there were not masses of children leaving unable to read. We learned things and we were expected to do things for ourselves, and if we didn't we might (gulp) fail. And it would be our own fault. So mostly we did our best. And when we didn't the world didn't end.
"I've been reading so many heart-breaking threads about good, conscientious teachers who would love to just teach. Don't any of the idiot powers that be ever look back, and realise that without their bonkers ideas people still mostly learned stuff at school?"
The TES Community responded with their own nostalgic rememberances of yesteryear, including cuteinpuce, who reminisces: "I remember reports being on one side of A4 and mostly being a series of sarcastic remarks."
However, thewalrus says that the past isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be. "People tend to look back with rose-tinted spectacles don’t they? I had some appalling teachers back in the 70s when I think about it. Bullying ones, sarcastic ones, can’t be bothered to teach properly ones and some of them were violent and threw things at you."
Was teaching better back in the day? Put your point across on TES Community
What to do when the passion for the job is gone
Over at the secondary forum, julianamrose explains they have fallen out of love with teaching and asks whether supply teaching might be a better option until they find a school that appeals to them.
Twinklefoottoe advises, "You already know the answer. It's time to start looking for another job, with the experience and opportunities you are looking for."
Could you give advice on teaching matters? Join TES Community