The education secretary faced discontent from headteachers in England over school funding as he sought to win over the profession by promising to reduce their workload and avoid introducing new exams or major reforms. The Guardian reports.
In his first major speech since taking over the role in January, Damian Hinds acknowledged to the Association of School and College Leaders annual conference on Saturday that funding was tight for schools, but his efforts to blame staff turnover were met with rumbles of disbelief.
“It has been tough, funding is tight, I don’t deny that at all. I know there have been particular funding and cost pressures as well over the last couple of years. But one of those cost pressures, of course, comes from staff turnover, where you’re having to replace members of staff who have left. That incurs recruitment costs as well as the general upheaval that comes with that for the school or college.”
Hinds’ answer was greeted by calls to answer the question, to which Barton, a former headteacher, replied: “We know there is no magic wand to find funding, we know the Department for Education is in a bind.” He urged the audience not to make the focus “headteachers shouting things out”.
Most of his address concerned the workload imposed on state school teachers, which he conceded was partly the result of government policies.
“I do want to acknowledge the government’s part in this – because the pace of change has been fast these past eight years, as indeed, to be fair, it was pretty quick in many of the preceding years as well,” Hinds said.
“Too many of our teachers and our school leaders are working simply too long hours – and too often on tasks that the evidence shows are not helping children to learn.”
The DfE published research on teacher workload in advance of Hinds’ speech, with more than half of teachers interviewed for one study saying their workload pressures were “driven by high expectations set by members of their senior leadership team”.
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