Call for teachers' holidays to be reduced

10th June 2011 at 01:00
Use the time for CPD and curriculum and learning review, advises LTS chief

The head of Learning and Teaching Scotland has called for teachers to have their holidays cut by a week.

Teachers could use the additional week for curriculum and learning review, planning and continuing professional development, says LTS chief executive Bernard McLeary in the organisation's submission to the McCormac review of teacher employment.

He also says the differential in responsibilities between headteachers and deputes should be reduced.

"More should be expected of staff in relation to distributed leadership," he argues.

On the eve of the merger between LTS and HMIE, the bodies' submissions show evidence of common ground, particularly in their emphasis on the need for improved and more targeted CPD.

Both partners in the imminent educational marriage to create Education Scotland - as the agency is to be called, replacing its working title of SEQIA (Scottish Educational Quality and Improvement Agency) - agree that CPD needs to be more closely linked to professional review and development.

And both bodies suggest that the chartered teacher scheme has failed to deliver better learning and teaching across schools.

LTS says chartered teachers should have more responsibility for leading initiatives within and across clusters of schools and a stronger mentoring role.

HMIE argues that, because entry to the programme was by self-nomination, some teachers on it were "not capable of modelling the best of teaching practice". But it also makes an implied criticism of education authorities, pointing out that most have yet to carry out systematic audits of the impact chartered teachers are making and to develop their wider contribution to improvement in schools.

Despite the redesign of the Standard for Chartered Teacher in 2009, setting out clearer expectations, entry to the programme continues to be by self-nomination.

"Overall, there is not enough evidence to date that the chartered teacher programme has achieved what it set out to do," says HMIE.

The teachers' agreement has aided recruitment and provided a more constructive educational environment, adds the inspectorate.

It also calls for the job-sizing toolkit to be simplified and to measure the level of deprivation in a school's community - although it suggests that using free-meal entitlement figures alone may not be the most appropriate measurement.

Both bodies concur that the agreement has not done enough to deliver the change needed to support and deliver Curriculum for Excellence.

According to LTS, the agreement has:

not attracted the most skilled individuals to the profession;

not retained the most skilled individuals within the profession;

not recognised and encouraged excellence in the classroom;

and not contributed to the creation of a flexible, creative, learner- centred teaching profession that can support CfE.

Given the "multi-dimensional nature of the educational process", it would be "inappropriate for us", says HMIE, to draw conclusions about cause and effect.

"Nevertheless, we can state with confidence that there have been successes and improvements in outcomes for learners," it says. "We can also conclude that the implementation of the agreement, for all its successes, has not yet led to the changes in provision which will be required to realise 21st century professionalism and achieve in full the aspirations of Curriculum for Excellence."


Glasgow City Council's head of education services has proposed a method of making the postgraduate year and the probation year more closely linked - split the pound;21,400 salary of a probationer so that half of it is paid while they are at university and half while training in school.

The proposal would not only offer tax advantages to student teachers but ease the cost of their postgraduate training, suggests Maureen McKenna.

"This would improve the (student teacher) experience as they would be employed, and with it would come the responsibilities of being an employee. Better relationships would develop with schools and there would be stronger linkages between teacher education institutions and schools, with benefits for all teachers who would play a more integral part in the assessment process in partnership with TEI staff," she says in her submission to the McCormac review.

"Being an employee would also help `weed out' those probationers who are not wholly suited to teaching and would also allow more time for those experiencing early difficulties to be appropriately supported and improve," Mrs McKenna adds.

Original headline: Call for teachers' holidays to be cut short by a week

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