EA and WD committee update December 2016

Educational Achievement Policy Committee and Workforce Development Policy Committee

The Workforce Development Policy Committee (WDPC) and the Educational Achievement Policy Committee (EAPC) held a joint meeting in London on Friday 23 September.

The committee welcomed representatives from the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) to discuss the national initial teacher training policy and the sufficiency of teaching staff in light of the growing number of school-age children, increasing churn in the profession and a fall in trainees in recent years. There is a growing shortage of staff specialising in science, Maths and computer science; a range of NCTL campaigns and projects addressing these issues are currently in train. During a wide-ranging group discussion the growing number of entry routes into teaching was raised as was the need to more clearly articulate the benefits and rewards of working in the public sector. Many local authorities have developed workforce strategies but there are challenges beyond their control that significantly impact progress e.g. the cost of housing in local and regional areas, particularly greater London and the south east. The group also reflected on growing pressures in recruiting and retaining middle and senior school leaders, in part due to increased accountability, and difficulties in recruiting to the assistant director of education role for local authorities.

The Restorative Justice Council (RJC) attended the meeting to discuss the work they are doing with schools to promote the use of restorative approaches over short-term sanctions to help students to better understand the impact of their actions. Restorative practices place relationships at the heart of the educational experience, this fits with schools of all denominations and faiths (or none). The group reflected on the value of shifting thinking from behaviour management to behaviour development and were keen to hear about successes in other areas of children’s services e.g. using restorative practices in residential homes. The RJC are involved in a new study with 40 secondary schools to pilot action groups with students and staff to promote restorative approaches. This is a three year study and the results will be published in early 2018.

The committee also considered the government’s new green paper, ‘Schools that work for everyone.’ While much of the media focus to date has been on the expansion of grammar schools, the group expressed concern that some of the other, and arguably more controversial, proposals might receive less scrutiny e.g. allowing existing schools to adopt selective practices and the suggestion that independent schools should sponsor or even open their own state schools. Other points of interest raised during the discussion included the acceptance of an increasingly narrow definition of success and the benefits of a truly comprehensive education. This conversation will feed into the development of the Association’s formal consultation response.

Members of the EA and WD Policy Committees took part in several workshops at the recent National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester.

The Educational Achievement Policy Committee is scheduled to meet in Manchester at the end of January 2017 in conjunction with the Resources & Sustainability Policy Committee. The Workforce Development Policy Committee is due to meet in London in early February 2017.

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