‘If schools stop teachers fleeing the profession, budgets will look after themselves’

Schools continue to feel the pinch in terms of both financial and human resources, and fear the imminent bulge in the secondary school population. It is natural to focus on short-term cutting. In the 80s one way of achieving this was through flatter hierarchies cut beyond the bone, with some management duties devolved to classroom teachers. With today’s teacher working an average of 54 hours a week, this is not an option.

No one would deny that now is a good time to review policies and procedures to avoid incurring unnecessary expense. Staffing inevitably absorbs most of a school’s budget because of the intensely human nature of its core business. Schools and trusts that see staff as a cost will suffer the consequences of a deficit model, namely being stuck in a constant recruitment drive. Those who see the professionals in their employment as an investment will enjoy the benefits of a more constant talent pool.

With increasing class sizes almost inevitable, the clutter will need to be removed so that teachers can fulfil their primary purpose of educating children. Teachers are not afraid of hard work. Liberated from counter-productive additions, they can spend more time honing their practice. Ditch the multi-coloured marking, excessive data collection and micro-detailed planning. Teachers are far more engaged by their subject and their pupils than by the minutiae of the paperwork. Those who are administratively inclined have already found more lucrative posts for their bureaucratic talents.

The pay-off for schools would be improved staff morale. Teachers are more productive when they know their time is valued and their direction is aligned to the most effective practices. They are more loyal and long-serving, so easier to retain.