Creche bid to keep staff

21st September 2001 at 01:00
Teachers will be able to have their children looked after in low-cost creches in their own school, under a scheme revealed in this autumn's education new White Paper. The Government hopes this will help ease growing teacher shortages by encouraging staff with young children back to work. Heads will be able to employ child-minders and offer inexpensive daycare for parents and teachers, before, during and after school hours. Under the changes, to be introduced next year, schools will turn increasingly into community centres.

However, according to a hard-hitting research report from the left-of-centre think-tank Demos, far more will be needed to halt the crisis in recruitment and retention. The problem, Demos says, is long-term.

The report, Classroom Assistance: Why teachers must transform teaching by Matthew Horne, says: "The most influential factors, alongside pay I are the perceived quality of (teachers') working conditions and their opportunities for professional creativity and autonomy." Schools need to be more appealing places to work and teachers must be actively involved in shaping the future of education, the report argues.

Demos conducted detailed interviews and workshops with more than 150 teachers, and found that most accepted the need for reform. "However, most teachers argued consistently that centrally driven education reforms meant that they experienced change as a never-ending barrage of externally imposed, randomly timed and badly managed initiatives that they had little constructive role in helping to shape."

They warn that "the profession could be locked into a spiral of decline" because staff shortages place an increasing strain on serving teachers. Continuous learning must become "the central characteristic of teacher professionalism". In order to thrive on change in schools, teachers must be able to help shape it. The report's recommendations include: ncutting unnecessary workload ngiving every classroom teacher a dedicated teacher assistant nallowing inspection on demand and linking findings to school improvement nall inspectors should teach for at least 65 days a year ninvolving teachers more in testing and shaping the curriculum nunions and professional associations should become the leading providers of lifelong learning and professional development.

The report is published by Demos in association with the NUT, available from Central Books on 020 8986 5488 price pound;8.95

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