Raising Standards with Technology

On Monday, when I wrote about Chromebooks being the ideal device for the UK classroom, I was hinting at wider issue about technology spending in education: wastage.

We waste a lot of money in UK schools on technology.

The EEF teacher toolkit is quite clear: spend your money on training teachers to give effective feedback. That is the best way to raise standards in your school.

You should purchase technology if it supports teachers giving effective feedback. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it. If you have any spare money left over, then maybe, you can spend some money on technology.

Raising Standards with technology is easy:

  • dont spend too much of your money on it;
  • don’t be distracted by it;
  • don’t waste time with it;

We have great resources in our schools – they are called teachers – if they are helped significantly by technology then buy it for them, but don’t make technology a barrier to their teaching.

Performance Related Pay

Like many teachers in the UK, I’m starting back this week under new legislation. One of the more significant ones is performance-related pay.

This year, UK state schools have to adopt a new policy that will set out how performance related pay will work. Up until September 2013 we have been working under a regime where teachers move up a national pay spine if they are successful in their performance management, but now schools have more flexibility – the pay spine has been replaced with a ‘pay range’, with the points on it being more for guidance than a yearly progression. In addition, a greater responsibility has been placed upon Governing bodies to make sure teachers are paid according to the policy that their school has adopted.

There are a wide range of implications with this new legislation, such as teachers not being able to guarantee their current pay when they move schools, or schools being able to offer more money to highly competent teachers irrespective of their years of service. I’m sure these implications will play out in big ways and little ways, in minor successes and personal tragedies over the next few years.

My main concern, however, is not the pay that us teachers get, but it is the impact on the education of our country. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education has put government money into the Education Endowment Fund. But it is the same Education Endowment Fund, hosting the results from the Sutton Trust report, that tells us that performance related pay has zero impact on education for a moderate cost. My question: why put money into something that has zero impact?

Moreover the implications on Governing bodies are serious. Most governing bodies are made up of well meaning private individuals who want to make a contribution to society. I can imagine many of these governors may have some serious concerns about taking over the responsibility for the pay of teachers – a responsibility that had previously been held nationally in the Teachers Pay and Conditions Document. My fear is that many of these well meaning governors will step aside over the next few years, leaving a governance vacuum. And who could fill this vacuum? Academy Sponsors are an obvious choice. So could it be that with this policy we end up with an education system that costs more, is less good but has more academies?