Nikki Benjamin

Director of the Deepings SCITT

Every leader, in every tier of education, finds themselves grappling to establish a work-life balance which works for everyone. However, if we cut the requirements of trainees, will Ofsted still be satisfied by the quality of evidence on which we base our final assessments?

The publication of ‘Addressing Teacher Workload in ITT’ in November 2018 prompted us to tackle this issue and we started with a consultation. Whilst making no promises, we spoke to our trainees and then surveyed for responses to questions which probed aspects such as average working hours, the main pressure points so far, and the elements of the programme which most contributed towards workload.

There were some interesting responses. It transpired that our primary trainees work slightly longer hours: 10.8 hour-days compared to secondary’s 10 hours, and an average 6.7 hours at the weekend compared to secondary’s 5 hours. Understandably we felt that we needed to reduce these hours for both teaching phases.

The burden which came up again and again was the hours spent planning and resourcing lessons. Like many SCITTs, we have a lesson planning document designed to steer trainees towards delivering high-quality lessons. This includes all of the aspects you might expect: learning outcomes, key questions, success criteria, differentiation, timeline, assessment…we recognised that this was a big ask for every lesson.

Feedback from Headteachers across our association of schools also suggested that planning could be an issue for some trainees as they moved into their NQT year and found the challenge of planning for a full timetable even more difficult because ITT lesson plans did not prepare them for the real world. So we were torn: on the one hand we had a lesson planning document which worked, forced trainees to consider every aspect and produced great outcomes; and on the other hand it was clear we needed to streamline the workload.

Our solution was to differentiate for our trainees, just as we teach them to do for their classes.  Once operating at a ‘good’ standard (assessed half termly with a focus on standards 2, 4 and 5) then only the weekly observed lesson need to be planned on the SCITT document. The trainees’ challenge is then to find streamlined ways to do their ‘real world’ planning, guided by training input as well as mentors sharing their own planning. NQTs and experienced staff will share their tips and tricks, and we hope this will address Headteachers’ concerns too.

One finding which surprised us was the discovery that too many primary schools did not share planning as a matter of course so we have clarified this expectation with our schools, and trainees now have access to everything the schools can offer. We did examine every aspect of our process and have also reduced the portfolio requirement, streamlined key tasks and also some aspects of the record-keeping.

Are we staying upright on the Ofsted tightrope? This is a big question, of course, and one that we should be able to answer by the end of 2019 as we are approaching six years since our last inspection. Watch this space…



Website: http://www.deepingscitt.org.uk

Facebook: The Deepings SCITT

Twitter: @Deepings_ITT



For further reading you might be interested in viewing NASBTT’s Member Case Studies

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