Stop jibes and listen to our SEF worries

8th October 2010 at 01:00
Unions hit back at minister's `whinge' slur

The education minister has come under fire from teaching unions for dismissing concerns about the school effectiveness framework (SEF) as "baloney".

Leighton Andrews denied there were genuine concerns about SEF and said he would not put up with any "whingeing" about the attainment-raising policy.

Writing in today's TES Cymru, the minister called SEF a "route map to better performance" and told detractors to "get used to it".

Leading academics, union leaders and teachers have expressed concerns about the direction of SEF, which is the Assembly government's over- arching policy for educational improvement.

They say its aims are vague and confusing.

Last week, a survey by heads' union NAHT Cymru found that half of heads did not believe SEF will increase standards, and more than 50 per cent of classroom teachers did not know what SEF was actually about.

NAHT Cymru acting director Iwan Guy called Mr Andrews' response to the survey "disappointing".

"This is certainly not the language we would expect of a minister," he said.

Phil Dixon, director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru, said: "These comments aren't helpful. There are genuine concerns about SEF.

"Those who have come across it are keen on its general direction, but there's still a great deal of confusion.

"I hope we are not getting to the stage where any criticism of the government is perceived as negative.

"It is important the minister listens to genuine concerns and realises they have to be taken seriously."

David Evans, secretary of NUT Cymru, said Mr Andrews should now take a "long, hard look" at SEF.

"Teachers still don't necessarily understand what SEF means to them," he said.

"We know the government has put a lot of time and effort into explaining it, but maybe it's targeted the wrong people?"

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Jenny Randerson said it was a mistake to "dismiss" the concerns of those in the classroom who "know what they are talking about".

Writing in today's TES Cymru, Mr Andrews admitted he was not a "natural convert" to SEF as he dislikes jargon, but was persuaded of its importance by an enthusiastic head and by seeing it in action.

He said SEF is firmly in line with his mantra of better implementation, fewer initiatives and keeping it simple, but warned there would be "no quick wins".

He also invited practitioners to contact him directly if they had any ideas as to how things could be made simpler.

Despite the criticism, the Assembly government claims there has been "great buy-in" to the SEF and all local authorities have given a "clear commitment" to take it forward at a local and regional level. Recent conferences for 860 practitioners received "extremely positive feedback", it said.

  • Original headline: Stop jibes and listen to our SEF worries, say unions

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