36 suggestions to transform the teaching profession!

Business Coaching, Education, leadership, mental health, motivation, staff wellbeing, teaching, team building

These 36 suggestions have come out of lots of years working in and with schools. The teaching profession is haemorrhaging teachers at an unprecedented rate: 20% plan to leave in the next two years, 40% in the next five years! Lots of these suggestions would apply to any place of work but some are specifically relevant to the teaching/ school context. One way or another we MUST transform the teaching profession into one which is sustainable, healthy and rewarding.

In no particular order…

  1. Clarify your purpose/vision as a school; do this in consultation with the whole staff and review it every year with the whole staff. It needs to be owned and reiterated regularly so that it permeates the culture of the whole school/organisation. Do not assume it is a given!
  2. Establish your core VALUES as a whole staff and live them. Hold yourselves to account on these in every decision you take. These are the bedrock of your community.
  3. Nurture a culture of trust not distrust – distrust debilitates & generates performance anxiety. Trust people to do their best. Tell them that you trust them. No-one wants to do a bad job.
  4. Devote one training day per year to innovation – when every department works developing a new way of doing something. Take this seriously.
  5. Absolutely no numeric targets – teaching a person CANNOT ever be reduced to a single measure of success.
  6. Abandon formal lesson observations – don’t judge: teach, train and learn from each other.
  7. Make ties optional – end the symbolic noose – look proactively to move towards greater informality. The formality of our schools is out of step with the work culture in most job sectors.
  8. Whenever possible, encourage (don’t just allow) remote working /late start/early finish. The more autonomy the better.
  9. Utilise your best communicators with live video lessons: look for ways to deliver content more efficiently. Play your staff to their strengths. There’s no need for everyone to be reinventing/regurgitating the same thing all the time.
  10. Additional to usual sickness absence policy, allow up to 5 Mental Health days a year which can be taken at any time, no questions asked
  11. Work towards no teacher having more than 80% contact time – no teacher can sustain quality output for a full day of back-to-back lessons
  12. All frees are free. Introduce voluntary cover which staff can ‘buy back’ time from. Autonomy.
  13. Challenge the ‘busyness badge-of-honour’ culture at every level: it is not ‘admirable’ to be working at midnight or emailing on the weekend. Judge by impact not time.
  14. Provide a subsidised lunch for all staff. This is more important than interactive white boards!
  15. Invest in your communal spaces – coffee machines, newspapers, comfy chairs. Your staff rooms are the hub of the whole school. They should be the nicest spaces in the school.
  16. Ensure that your school day timings allow adequate time for staff to use these areas.
  17. Appoint a staff social coordinator as a paid responsibility.
  18. Count extra curricular involvement as contact time or offer other ways to acknowledge this time. This is not additional to the ‘real work of teaching’, this IS the real work of teaching. Aim for every staff member and every student to be involved in extra curricular activities.
  19. Timetable regular line management meetings, make them immovable and count them as contact time – these are the single most important meetings in the school day.
  20. Encourage individuality in the classroom. Limit one-size-fits all policies. Don’t micro-manage.
  21. Invest in a whole day’s staff wellbeing INSET at least annually and lay on staff motivational/wellbeing provision each term.
  22. Offer a counselling service for staff on request.
  23. Offer time in lieu or payment for evening school commitments.
  24. Judge every request from staff on its individual merits and resist the fear of ‘setting a precedent’.
  25. Adopt a flexible approach to staff who have children/special circumstances – we recognise the need to differentiate for students, in the same way there will be times when we all have ‘special needs’. Build a culture that says, ‘We’ll help you out when you are struggling.’
  26. Be absolutely transparent about policy decisions and reasons for decisions. Nothing kills morale quicker than the suspicion of unfair treatment or unscrupulous actions.
  27. Have a weekly SLT drop in slot at least every week for anyone to come and raise anything.
  28. Give time to devising new and innovative ways of measuring progress that acknowledges the complexity of child development and holistic education.
  29. Ask your middle leaders what they think at least once per fortnight.
  30. Carry out a whole staff engagement survey and ask for feedback on the leadership at least twice per year – and report back to them every single time.
  31. Sharing planning, sharing resources and sharing marking must become the norm. Collaboration is everything.
  32. Train your middle leaders in people skills, management skills and effective leadership. Nothing is more important than this!
  33. Provide team development training for leadership using a team development tool like the GC Index: https://www.beyondthis.co.uk/training/the-gc-index/
  34. Sick days are sick days. Sending in lesson plans when you are sick is ridiculous. If the department is well-run then this shouldn’t be necessary anyway.
  35. If someone phones in sick believe them, don’t question them and give them a questionnaire and an interview. If they are unhappy or struggling their line manager should be on it enough to know that anyway.
  36. Find out about and register for the Unicef Rights Respecting School Award. This is the single best vehicle for whole school improvement I have come across. https://www.unicef.org.uk/rights-respecting-schools/


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