Get a life and ditch paperwork

16th March 2007 at 00:00
Estyn recommends that the Assembly government should send out new guidance to headteachers suffocating under mountains of paperwork, advising them on how to achieve that elusive worklife balance (see page 1). How bizarre.

I wonder what the recipients of this intended life-changing document will do with it when it lands on their desks. Will heads take the advice of the school work advisory panel and the Association of School and College Leaders and bin it? Surely this is one document that can be put on the back-burner, waiting for some downtime that never arrives.

In the meantime, heads will continue to look on in secret envy at their teaching staff, who appear to be reaping the awards of PPA time. Where did the well-intentioned aims of workforce remodelling go wrong? The introduction of teaching and responsibility payments has only served to muddy the waters, hitting many where it hurts - in their pay packets - and adding to the workload of heads.

Maybe you can't please everyone. But, while Estyn inspectors talk up the positives of workforce remodelling for our teachers, there are many negatives. There has been a reduction in field trips in 10 per cent of schools. And in a quarter of primaries, heads report declining standards of behaviour as they resort to using support staff.

Worse still, 20 per cent of schools have reported seeing no positive benefits at all.

But what has been the ultimate cost of workforce remodelling? It appears that children may well be getting less then they deserve. Anna Brychan, Welsh director of the National Association of Head Teachers, also said it could affect adversely the future recruitment of heads. Who would want to take on such a job?

It seems the root of the problem lies not in the merits of these well-intentioned reforms, but a fundamental lack of cash at the chalkface to back them up.

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