Efficiency Savings eezy peezy – don’t know what the fuss is about. Here are my five (tongue in cheek) suggestions to help, whatever government gets in, apply some efficiency savings in education – specifically Further Education, but all teachers will recognise the targets.
1. Cut Parents’ Evening
If ever there was an event that was in need of a bit of blue skies thinking, it’s parents’ evening. Some schools and colleges go as far as wasting money on biscuits, and tea for staff and parents! Support staff is needed to serve the parents as they come in, in FE some of those are hourly paid, and for what? The usual scenario is that a teacher talks for 3 to 4 hours solid, the same thing over and over again: work a bit harder; learn the terminology; so and so is fine. The ones who really need to be there, have made a false appointment or haven’t bothered at all. The ones who are there, are probably at their best (wherever that is) and there is little to be added. There is the occasional bout of excitement when families argue, and of course there are always at least two – who declare that it is the teacher’s fault. I particularly like the ones who say the teacher should be “firm” with their child – like they are at home. Yeah – right – that’s worked a treat so far hasn’t it? A scared child, taught to be devious to survive and who regards all adults as the enemy – super! In short parents’ evening is almost useless for all concerned – my solution – electronic of course – hey I’m a blogger – what do you expect? Anyway, an individual link for each student, progress, grades, behaviour recorded and emails sent to parents straight away (letters generated if broadband is a problem – never forget equality and diversity). This should be possible – I get an email every time I forget to fill out a register – what’s sauce for the goose is ….If a parent wants a meeting they have to submit a request justifying it – problem solved – next!
2. Cut Holidays and Teaching Hours
Obviously, everyone knows that teachers/FE lecturers are lazy slobs, who only do the job so they can go on long holidays at peak season – ‘cos hey, who wants to go when it’s cheap – the beaches would be deserted – that would be hell! Teachers also complain that they do too many teaching hours in the week, there is not enough non-contact time for marking, enrichment and planning. Okay let’s cut those big holidays then and make teachers and, of course, the students, come in 9 to 5 with only 4 weeks -ish holiday (with of course the suitable pro-rata pay rise). There would be appropriate breaks in the day, no more comforting upset children over a sandwich and cup of coffee before the afternoon session. No more evening work unless, of course, it’s done on double time and let’s say 12 hours teaching a week, with the rest for planning, marking and the occasional enrichment. The space and time that teachers would have – non-contact hours would make for delightful lessons, individual students would be given attention, staff would have enough time to eat and, of course, all that would reflect in retention and results. Anyone could go on holiday any time, regardless of the effect on the curriculum and the fact that travel companies could no longer squeeze those tied to the academic year for their holidays – tough!
3. Cut (kinda) Class Sizes
It is an abiding conflict between staff and government that class sizes must be reduced to increase efficiency, but government can’t afford it and claim that if teachers taught better then it would not matter – so here’s a radical solution – no classes. Yup, electronic again, but how about a huge warehouse classroom, managed by invigilators (possibly ex bouncers), each student with a laptop and a connection? Staff could be in a nice comfy, empty classroom (everyone knows how lovely it is to be on site when the students aren’t) web cam, skype and interactive software and teaching. Admittedly, it might be a bit sterile, but everyone could meet up for arranged enrichment and tutorials, in the end all you would need would be a warehouse building and mini classrooms (there are loads of empty office buildings that could house the whiteboards and software). At last teachers and lecturers could have a bit of individual space!
4. Cut Buildings
Actually, come to think of it, if all the students are in one big building – why not the teachers? How about a teachers call centre? Each teacher could have a cubby hole, with computer, whiteboard and connection, classes could connect and when they need individual attention. Obviously this call centre would need an appropriate staff room, a good comfort zone, to cater for all those statutory breaks that the teachers would now have – a sort new employer ethos, flexy working and good food on tap –there you go, no more classrooms just a hub, and a connection.
5. Pay Parity – to cut or not to cut!
And this is the clincher! In the bad old 90s Mrs T decided that FE lecturers were not as valuable as school teachers, so she hived them off to independent budgets, new contracts, longer hours, less holiday, less pay – that sort of thing – because – obviously teaching post-16 and adults was easy! Most of them were only doing crafts anyway, or some of those essential things like plumbing, but the teaching, that wasn’t proper teaching and you didn’t have to have a proper qualification! That was then, now FE lecturers, have to have a PGDE or PGCE, they are Ofsted inspected, they need lesson plans, schemes of work, they have retention and results targets, and internal inspection (painful!) Besides teaching A Levels, doing uni references and inset training, they teach GCSE and, more and more the under 16s are sneaking in – so now they do the same job as school teachers! Efficiency savings – eezy peezy – pay parity – make school teachers’ pay and hours and holiday the same as FE Lecturers – there’s the savings – sorted – comments?