Planning Workload: Ask A Teacher!

@TeacherToolkitIn 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the ‘most followed teacher on social media in the UK’. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the ‘500 Most Influential People in Britain’ by The Sunday… Read more about @TeacherToolkitIf you wanted to help improve lesson planning and reduce teacher workload, who would you ask?In my last post, I said that ‘we live in a time, where teacher workload operates at a frenetic pace.’ Last week, Nicky Morgan announced the chairs and members of 3 new workload review groups. These working parties will look at teacher-workload in 3 key areas; marking, planning and data-management.I will state again, that from each of the working groups, I am keen to see each committee go beyond case-studies and exemplar documents, and actually change policy. I’m not sure if this process will actually change anything. Any proposals will be fruitless unless schools start trusting teachers to plan lessons over time. That is, from curriculum plans and schemes of work, and not via mindless requests from school leadership teams to insist that teachers produce reams and reams of one-off lesson plans.It was only last week I discussed this in our leadership team meeting. I reminded my colleagues, that we do not want teachers to produce lesson plans for observers, OfSTED or for appraisal purposes. We want to believe that our teachers are planning their lessons – in whatever form – and that we can trust them to do this. This negates the need for mindless lesson plans produced for observations; scripted with intended learning outcomes prescribed by lessons objectives.Lesson Planning Review Group:Take a look at this photo published by Schools Week on Friday 9th October. The image shows that number of people belonging to each of the working parties across England.Image: Schools WeekNicky Morgan revealed;… the 41 people she has chosen to form three working groups to reduce teachers’ workload. The 28 people who represent schools come from six of eight English regions. (Source)Group Objectives:Each of the 3 working parties are due to report back to the Secretary of State in late spring 2016; publishing useful case studies, written by serving teachers, showing what’s working well in other schools.I do not want to regurgitate the details already shared by the DfE, but a brief summary will prove useful; the group will consider how effective lesson planning and use of resources can raise standards without creating unnecessary workload. The shocking news – in comparison with the other steering groups – is that there is just 1 (ONE) classroom teacher on the review group.The group’s aims are:develop a set of principles for planning and use of resources in schoolsmake recommendations about planning policies and practiceconsider if guidance on effective practice about what works in schools might be necessaryI am not asking that I be on the panel, or that I am unhappy with those that are on the review group. However, I would like to question why there is a significant absence of classroom teachers on this panel and I would also like to question the transparency of how each steering group is curated. Knowing that I have been partial to a steering group or two, I do know that these groups tend to be designed on the basis of ‘who you know.’Please can we ask the DfE to publish how these groups are generated.Smart Planning:With the 100 teachers I work with, we have re-focused our lesson planning and can define them into these principles shown below. We believe that “planning is a process not a product. It has one purpose, to enable high quality delivery which meets the needs of all students. We do NOT ask our teachers for lesson plans, we simple ask teachers to;Be clear and precise about the knowledge/skills you want students to learn, not what you want them to do.Do the ‘so why?’ Activities, including homework, must be designed to facilitate learning and not to keep students busy.There must be evidence of long-term planning, in schemes of work, and short-term planning in the planner.Differentiation should be planned over time to ensure a ‘quality first’ approach which meets the needs of all students and groups and maximises the use of any additional adult(s) in the room.Every class must have a seating plan on MINT class that accounts for their profile including the various groups (e.g. gender, ethnicity, SEN, PP).All lessons must get off to a flying start, with students purposeful from the beginning.Consider timings to ensure appropriate pace for the intended learning.(Our Learning Policy is found in this blog).”Solutions:Recently, I’ve blogged about lesson planning topics that have resonated with teachers all over the country.It may be worth you and your senior leadership teams reading/sharing these blogs to help cut this workload nonsense; or better still, share this article with the DfE. If you have any solutions, email the working part here.I will report back; and also blog shortly about the final working group, data management.TTRelated

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