Union urges end to framework 'confusion'

2nd July 2010 at 01:00
With just two months to go before implementation, ATL calls for minister to clarify priorities

Assembly ministers have failed to "clear up the confusion" surrounding the school effectiveness framework (SEF), a teachers' leader has said.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has demanded greater clarity about the project, which starts in just two months' time. The union is concerned that education minister Leighton Andrews has yet to say how the framework will be funded or identify clear aims for teachers to follow.

The SEF is the Assembly government's key policy for reform, aiming to increase pupil achievement and well-being by improving the quality of teaching and leadership in Welsh schools and local authorities.

In a statement to Assembly Members (AMs) Mr Andrews announced further training before the framework begins, but he said key priorities were yet to be decided.

He also failed to confirm how many inset days teachers would lose next year. The Assembly has said previously it wants to cut them from seven to five because of the loss of teaching time during bad weather over the winter, but unions say they are essential to prepare for the SEF. Mr Andrews said he would make an announcement later this year.

"There are many challenges ahead, but (it) is vital that we take this work forward relentlessly so that we make a significant and sustainable improvement for all children and young people, especially in relation to literacy, numeracy and in reducing the link between poverty and educational attainment," Mr Andrews told AMs.

Phillip Dixon, director of ATL Wales, said the statement didn't "clear up the confusion".

"There are lots of welcome proposals, such as more training, but we were expecting more detail," he said.

"Ideally we were looking for him to describe the focus of the scheme in two to three sentences. He is also going to have to give us more detail about how this will be funded - he should not think this can be done on the cheap or through goodwill."

Gareth Jones, ASCL Cymru Secretary, said he had hoped the minister would announce cuts in bureaucracy.

"We need a far more effective system of monitoring and support. At the moment heads involved in the SEF pilot schemes have to have three separate conversations - about performance management, with their local authority and with their SEF associate," he said.

"For the SEF to be effective, we must reform this."

School inspections will be overhauled to take account of the framework. Unions heard more about this at an Estyn conference this week.

The introduction of the framework will be one of the biggest changes to Wales' education system in decades. There will be SEF launch events this week.

Based on a partnership between the Assembly government, local authorities and schools, SEF aims to reduce variations in attainment between schools, and even between individual classrooms.

  • Original print headline: Union urges end to efficiency framework `confusion'

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