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Education

Secondary schools missing out on teaching expertise

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Chris Keates: Teachers being denied rights to flexible working

THE NATIONAL Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has called for those engaged in the secondary sector to urgently look at identifying ways in which more and better part-time working can be accommodated in secondary schools, a new report recommends.

Researchers at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) found that secondary teachers who are employed part-time tend to have higher rates of leaving the profession than part-time primary teachers, as well as full-time teachers.

The Teacher Retention and Turnover Research: Interim Report, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, also found that primary schools seem to be better able to accommodate part-time employment than secondary schools. There is a considerably higher proportion of part-time teachers in the primary sector compared to secondary schools. This gap persists when comparing teachers by age, gender and the number and age of their children. One in four teachers in the primary sector is part-time compared to about one in seven in the secondary sector.

Additional teachers will be needed to cope with the rising number of secondary school pupils, at a time when retaining teachers is one of the top challenges faced by schools. With workload cited as one of the reasons for teachers leaving the profession, greater flexibility over working patterns may incentivise former teachers to return to work part-time. Part-time opportunities may also encourage current teachers who are at risk of leaving the profession to stay.

NFER Chief Executive, Carole Willis, said of NFER’s findings: “For many teachers, balancing a demanding work environment with a personal life can be challenging. As our report suggests, one solution to this issue is greater flexibility. Identifying ways in which more and better part-time working can be accommodated in secondary schools could help to alleviate teacher supply challenges in England. Offering part-time opportunities to teachers may not only improve work-life balance but also attract back former teachers into the profession.

“We recognise there could be logistical challenges faced by schools in accommodating more part-time teachers, but finding a way to overcome these difficulties may provide a major boost to teacher supply.”

Using data from the School Workforce Census, the report explores factors associated with teacher retention and turnover and offers recommendations for policymakers with an emphasis on retention. It is the latest paper in a programme of major research funded by the Nuffield Foundation to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the teaching workforce. Other key findings with recommendations from the report include:

The Government should explore why the rate at which older teachers have been leaving the profession increased between 2010 and 2015 and explore whether they could be incentivised to stay in the profession longer, particularly in subjects with specialist teacher shortages.

Policymakers should look at how policy interventions, such as housing subsidies, could help to retain teachers in high-cost areas.

Josh Hillman, Director of Education at the Nuffield Foundation said: “The shortage of teachers and the fact that they are increasingly likely to leave the profession is one of the most serious problems facing our education system, particularly in a context of rising numbers of pupils. We welcome government plans to offer more financial incentives for teachers in shortage subjects, but this new evidence from NFER shows that non-financial benefits, such as part-time and flexible working are also important for retaining good teachers in our schools.”

This research is already having an influence. NFER’s first working paper of this series reported that some subjects are more affected than others by teachers leaving the profession, with science and modern foreign language (MFL) teachers most likely to leave.

Commenting on the report, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said: “Improving flexible working opportunities in teaching is certainly important in supporting teachers at all stages of their careers to remain the profession. NASUWT research and casework shows that too many teachers are being denied their rights to flexible working. Spurious arguments, feeble excuses and blatant discrimination are being used to turn down requests.

“Even when teachers are granted flexibility, there are countless cases where unfairness and exploitation flourishes, with many teachers still expected to undertake work-related activities on days they are not supposed to be working, invariably without payment.

“However, addressing this discrimination is only one part of the solution to the teacher recruitment and retention crisis. Effective action to support flexible working must also go hand in hand with measures to drive down the excessive workload which is affecting all teachers and which is at the heart of why rising numbers are leaving the profession.”

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Education

New independent sixth form opens in Haverfordwest

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A NEW independent sixth form is set to open in Haverfordwest in September 2021. The latest addition to Castle School, which relocated to Haverfordwest in 2020, the new sixth form will offer 20 different A Level subjects and a BTEC in business through bespoke study programmes that include options to study online or in the sixth form. Students will also get the option to complete work and study placements abroad.

The launch of the sixth form comes after a busy year for Castle School, which relocated from Narberth to Haverfordwest in September 2020, taking over and refurbishing Glenover House, a beautiful old ‘gentlemen’s residence’ that had been empty for five years. The move enabled the school to expand and increase its educational provision.

In addition to its main building, the school has a cookery school and performing arts facility in Snowdrop Lane, and a further site on Snowdrop Lane which is being specially converted to create the sixth form centre. The site will also include an indoor sports facility for whole school use.

The sixth form is designed with flexible study in mind: as well as offering a broad range of subjects and the ability to study online from any location, it will provide instant access study support as well as face to face teaching. In addition, students will get the option to study for one of their A Levels at Pembrokeshire College, in order to experience a different learning environment.

Other milestones for Castle School this year include the opening of a second independent school, Westward House, in St Clears and the purchase of a narrow boat, which will be moored on the Avon and Kennet canal. This will give pupils opportunities for short residential trips to Bristol, Bath and beyond.

“With a floating hotel licence, our newest acquisition will enable small groups of pupils to take their studies further afield and benefit from enhanced learning, extracurricular boating skills and a look at the wider world,” said Harriet Harrison, owner of Castle School and Westward House.

“Things have been tricky over the past year, but along with many others we have seen the difficulties of a world of Covid not as an opportunity for excuses but as a time for stepping up, working harder and making things better and stronger wherever possible. Our schools are thriving, and despite being desperate to get back to normal, we have used this time to improve our facilities for all the children in our care who are coming back after these long periods of lockdown and remote schooling. We can’t wait to see everyone.”

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Education

U-turn on compulsory lifesaving lessons in Welsh secondary education

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SCHOOLS in Wales will now teach first aid and lifesaving skills as part of the new curriculum.

Wales will join England and Scotland by introducing first aid and lifesaving kills to their national secondary education curriculum.

Kirsty Williams, Education Minister had previously rejected the calls for emergency resuscitation skills to be compulsory in school.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was introduced in the secondary school curriculum in England in September 2020.

Local authorities in Scotland have also committed to introduce lifesaving skills to their secondary education curriculum.

The British Heart Foundation had backed the campaign for CPR to be taught in schools.

In a long fought battle, Suzy Davies, a Welsh Conservative Member of the Senedd for South Wales West, secured the commitment from the Welsh Education Minister in the course of debating amendments to the new Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill, which will make sweeping changes to the way Welsh children are educated.

The new curriculum for Wales is planned to come into force from 2022.

Children, parents, families and medics have long argued that regular teaching of CPR in particular will raise our children to have the skills and confidence to step in and save the life of someone in cardiac arrest if they encounter them outside a hospital setting.

The commitment was included in the Welsh Conservative manifesto for the Assembly election in 2016, and Suzy Davies, the Shadow Education Minister, said:

“After 10 years campaigning for this, I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen.

“From securing cross-party support for this in my early days as an Assembly Member, through several debates and pitches to different Ministers, on to my own proposed legislation which found favour among Senedd Members, it was difficult to understand why Welsh Government was so resistant.

“In this country, our chances of surviving a cardiac arrest outside hospital are as poor as 10%. In countries around the world where teaching CPR and defibrillator use is compulsory, those odds improve dramatically. These skills are quick and easy to learn and easy to remember.

“ Alun Davies MS – himself a cardiac arrest survivor – has rightly argued that we should be able to learn these skills at any time in our lives and that defibrillators should be a commonplace feature of our public landscape. I couldn’t agree more – but how simple it is to ingrain these skills from an early age and raise generation after generation of lifesavers.”

Under the new curriculum, teachers must follow statutory guidance made by Ministers to support various aspects of the new way of teaching. After changes guaranteed by the Education Minister, this guidance will now instruct teachers that they should teach lifesaving skills and first aid: It is no longer optional.

The mandatory teaching of life saving skills and first aid (not just CPR) has been supported by the medical profession, including paramedics and fire service co-responders, as well as charities like St. John’s Cymru, British Heart Foundation, Calon Defibrillators, Cariad and the Red Cross.

It is taught through many youth groups, including Torfaen Sea Cadets who trained Aneurin Metcalfe, the young man who saved someone’s life only this week.

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Education

Styling their way to the top

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FOUR hairdressing learners: Holly Mathias, Jenna Kilgallon, Helaina Thomas and Leah Rees, recently earned themselves a place in the next stage of the Concept Hair Magazine Learner of the Year Competition.

The candidates were invited into the College to show their fully presented entries as evidence and then submitted them remotely to the Concept Hair Magazine judges in December.

The categories for the competition were: Festival Hair, Red Carpet, Old School Barbershop, Celebration of Colour and Safari.

The unique styles allowed the learners to show off their creative hair styling skills from plaits to updos, to bold colour creations.

Charlotte Jones, Hairdressing lecturer was over the moon with the learners’ success; “We were all so impressed with the creativity, dedication and enthusiasm of all the students who took part in the competition. Also, the students who supported the entries during the day and the models who gave up their time to be involved. They should all be very proud of what they have achieved. The results were amazing!”

The students worked to COVID regulations ensuring all the correct PPE and procedures were followed.

Finalist, Holly Mathias entered three categories which included; Styling Level 2 – Festival Theme, Hair Up Level 2 – Red Carpet and Avant Garde – Safari.

Holly shared her experience; “Taking part in the Concept Hair competition, has really boosted my confidence and proved that hard work really does pay off. The support from the staff at Pembrokeshire College is outstanding. I would recommend everyone to take part in this competition as not only is it an amazing experience, but it really allows you to think outside the box and be as creative as you can! I would 100% take part in this competition again.”

Holly plans to go into full-time employment when she completes her course and hopes to one day work on cruise ships or even own her own salon.

The next stage involves the candidates submitting photographic entries on the 12th March where six will be shortlisted for the national finals which is set to take place virtually in April.

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