NAHT life members' newsletter - summer 2019
Welcome to our summer newsletter
A message from Steve Iredale, NAHT past president and chair of the National Life Members Committee (NLMC)
Dear fellow Life members
Welcome to our July 2019 newsletter which, as ever, has a diverse number of articles from a variety of sources. A massive thank you to all contributors for taking the time to share.
I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank Mike Wilson, who is stepping down from his National Life Member Committee role as communications and development officer after three years of great work. Mike has been the driving force behind many of our recent developments including the newsletter which currently has an open rate of between 53 and 57%. Considerably higher than other NAHT emails!
The work of newsletter production will now fall to our newly constituted NLMC Reference Group of which Mike will be a key player.
It’s also interesting to report how hits to the Life member pages on the NAHT website increase considerably around newsletter publication times from an average of 160 to an average of over 1,600 a month.
As many of you will know, the majority of NAHT regions and devolved nations will be holding their AGMs next term so at some stage we will provide an updated list for your information of who your local NLMC representatives are. This will also be updated on our web pages. I can confirm that at our recent meeting earlier this month I was re-elected as NLMC Chair for a period of 12 months with John Killeen being appointed Vice Chair.
As ever any thoughts or comments on this newsletter would be welcomed by the new NLMC Reference Group.
A message to Life members from NAHT national president, Judy Shaw
I’m the head teacher of a small Infant and Nursery school. A towering Victorian building, 140 years old, high on a hill above a former mill town in West Yorkshire. From my office window, I see streets of stone terraces, crumbling mill buildings and the beautiful Pennine Hills beyond. It’s not an academy or MAT, a free school, or a part of a teaching school alliance… and it’s not outstanding. It’s good. A good place to be a child and a good place to be a teacher.
I’m delighted to be NAHT’s national president because I’m proud to be a head teacher and proud to be a member of a growing trade union which has a clear voice and influence. These are changing and unsteady times for school leaders and in the face of many challenges, we have never needed our trade unions more.
Funding for schools is not keeping up with the expenditure they face. It is time the government stopped seeing education as a cost but instead, an investment. The cuts being made are damaging.
The struggle to source support for children with special educational needs is heart-breaking as local services disappear and waiting lists grow.
We see the impact of austerity on our children, families and communities every day. Schools are picking up the pieces as they always do and although we are moved by their response, we should also be outraged. We may work in Victorian buildings, but this is not Victorian Britain. It’s the 21st century and our children deserve better.
There are difficulties in recruiting and retaining talented teachers into what was once a valued and sought-after profession.
Our accountability system is working against us, not with us. We know there must be a system in place to ensure that every child receives a good education. That is their right but it must be a fair and proportionate accountability system, a force for good, challenging underperformance, acting as a catalyst for improvement.
How can we stay positive and optimistic in the face of challenges?
By remembering that schools are such special places full of activity, creativity, optimism and positivity. As school leaders, we have the privilege of watching a lot of teaching and learning. Great teaching is a beautiful craft. When you see that moment, just the right moment, the words, the explanation, the demonstration... and then the child speaks, reads, writes, counts, jumps, sings, paints with more confidence, more skill and more knowledge ...a life has been changed forever. It is powerful, and it never fails to move and inspire.
And by drawing support and confidence from our NAHT community, using our voice and influence to challenge those who do not value our profession and our professionalism and to make those who hold power listen to our collective experience and wisdom as they shape policies that affect us all.
I should like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support of the NAHT and NAHT members across the regions and local branches.
NAHT national president Telford 2019 conference speech on You Tube
Judy Shaw, NAHT national president 2019-2020
A message from the membership services team
We wanted to say a huge thank you to the Life: Task and Finish group who has worked alongside us to spearhead the development of a member savings platform. We’re pleased to introduce NAHT Extras which will give all members of both NAHT and NAHT Edge access to discounts from hundreds of retailers. You’ll be able to make savings on items such as your morning coffee, right through to your weekly shop. We’re launching to all members and staff on 5 July! Look out for the email inviting you to access NAHT Extras. You can also find out more information in Leadership Focus magazine.
Head of Marketing
Health and well-being update - mental health employee anxiety peaks despite the government’s pledge to uphold workers’ rights post-Brexit
The Myers-Briggs Company encourages businesses to pay closer attention to their teams and consider how Brexit uncertainty is affecting individuals
Despite the government's pledge to keep and strengthen workers’ rights in a post-Brexit world, research from the CIPD has revealed that over a quarter (26%) of British employees have expressed job anxiety. Simultaneously, a recent article from the Guardian also states that 64% of people believe the stress caused by Brexit is bad for their mental health.
According to John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at the business psychology organisation, The Myers-Briggs Company, employees’ concern is made worse by businesses holding off on people development while they tackle the more pressing issues of how their organisation will operate logistically post-Brexit. However, failing to recognise the value of equipping their people to navigate these periods of change and uncertainty is exacerbating the situation for many. Instead, organisations should look at this as an opportunity to lead the way by upskilling their workers to recognise and counter the stress they may be experiencing.
Read the full article on the Online Recruitment Resource
A cautionary tale…from not so long ago! Part two
Part two Summer 2019 - NAHT Past President, Chris Harrison
In the NAHT’s charter for assessment and accountability, we set out why we acknowledged that it is entirely right that schools are accountable for the huge level of trust placed in them by their parents and local communities and for the funding levels of public money spent on them at both the local and national level. We set out where and why we think that the present financial settlements to schools model remains seriously flawed and how a far better ambition can be achieved through consensus to build an investment approach in the future if we focus on supporting the best of teaching practice in understanding and engaging with pupils and their learning. We, in schools, are not against testing or exams, rather we are committed to a beneficial form of assessment and tests where we can enhance and rely on their validity and use in the classroom by teachers.
At the core of the problem lies the present system where SATs (Standardised Assessment Tests) are increasingly ‘used’ for multiple purposes of assessment and evaluation, as follows:
● to give parents the information they need to compare different schools, choose the right school for their child and then to track their child’s progress
● to provide head teachers and teachers with the information they need to assess the progress of every child in their school
● to allow the public to hold national and local government (and governing bodies) to account for the performance of schools.
Additionally, there are three key problems associated with tests and the testing process itself:
● the assumption that scores in tests are completely accurate
● that a short test can accurately judge performance in a multi-faceted task eg writing
● that tests can in themselves drive up standards in learning – and, odd to have an indicator that learning has occurred with learning itself. If the original purpose of the design of tests is to confirm what it is that a pupil knows, understands and can do and then for those results to become used as proxy measures of the quality of teachers, head teachers, schools, local authorities, the government and (ultimately) the nation itself must continue to be questioned. Such high stakes cause the misinterpretation, misuse and number-crunching games by all participants, resulting in schools spending a disproportionate amount of time and energy devoted to improving performance by drilling learning to achieve small percentage gains at the expense of teaching for deeper learning and understanding by pupils.
So, if we want an assessment, testing and accountability model which is fit for purpose, we shall need to develop professional competency against the following criteria:
● Classroom practice which enables a teacher to fully recognise, value and use formative assessment to support learning at all levels without a focus on ratcheting up scores at borderline levels by teaching to the tests.
● Confidence and professional understanding of the tests themselves, including the measurement error of the test itself.
● Reflection of test validity of measures themselves eg is the use of specific punctuation an accurate definition of whether an 11-year old can write?
● The overall cost of testing for external purposes needs to be assessed in terms of value for money – is the money well spent? What else could it be spent on to greater effect?
● A system of national summary data collection (sampling?) to provide a measurement of trends over time within the education system and one which, therefore, cannot be gamed and conflated between political, professional and public demands.
In essence, I suggested that if we are entering a period whereby public sector services move from a period of sustained increases in funding to a future which will place far greater emphasis and pressure on all resources, then questions arise about what should be measured, how it should be measured and by how much the state should devote its total resources to their measurement. The costs of measurement systems themselves have increasingly come under scrutiny within the value for money (VfM) agenda, particularly when answering the basic question of ‘which other front line service(s) could the money be better spent on? Spending in UK schools still follows a three-year cycle with the current cycle seeing insufficient financial growth being maintained to schools. In retrospect, the years of plenty within the system have undoubtedly been replaced with the clear need to demonstrate where and why funding is required in frontline services such as schools when wider demands for NHS, social care, transport are clamouring and controlling the current agenda. And, don’t we all know that Brexit has and will dominate the big picture for some time to come, with the education voice far from singing from the same song sheet given changes to school structures since ever-widening academisation. The recent system-wide move towards new structures brings great risk to the traditional career progression pathways for school leadership – just as a few years ago it became the ‘norm’ for a school leaders to demonstrate that they could manage more than one school at a time we now see these same expectations for undertaking multiple roles as CEOs. This has to be a high-risk development for school leadership as we are already beginning to support CEOs of small MATs becoming absorbed into larger structures with the resultant loss of posts due to ‘economies of scale.’
Therefore, if for no other reason, league tables, rankings, output scores and similar exercises will in themselves come under increased scrutiny and questioning in the future – whilst, interestingly, school leaders remain in the highest category of trusted public sector employees by the public at large with confidence levels consistently placed higher than doctors and hospital consultants.
We can all learn from comparison. But, if a comparison is to be effective (believed with confidence) there must be commensurability of the indicators used across the world of public services – especially for commensurability of indicators between countries. A developing culture of identifying, sharing and promoting the best of practice was the key element behind the vision for ESHA in the future. Sharing what works well in schools and school leadership across Europe may not necessarily provide any ‘quick wins’ for politicians and individual governments today, but the longer-term benefits and payoffs for the wider world of education could still prove to be substantial. We need to think carefully about which performance indicators are used and for what purpose in managing and measuring systems, ranking organisations, targeting standards and how to make use of professional ‘intelligence'. The risk of not using data more intelligently to identify how to improve/maintain performance at a time of continuing funding austerity is to lose trust and confidence from those leading and managing schools today.
NAHT past president and Eastern region
Original article compiled on June 6 2010, with updates in 2019! (Part one Spring 2019)
Pension news update
A report from the House of Lords Committee on intergenerational fairness and provision has made wide-ranging recommendations on benefits for the elderly, calling for much of the help for older generations to be curtailed. It has called for the free TV licence for over-75s to be phased out, and for the state pension triple lock to be ditched.
The report has also criticised winter fuel payments and older person’s bus passes, calling for both benefits to be only made available five years after state pension age, and treated as taxable income.
The committee has also attacked the National Insurance system as unfair, and says individuals over the state pension age should pay.
It also makes recommendations for reform of council tax, stamp duty and inheritance tax.
The committee has published these recommendations as part of a wide-ranging look at government rules and policies in order to "deliver a fairer society" and support younger generations better.
The chair of the committee, Lord True, comments: "We found that intergenerational bonds are still
strong, and the evidence suggested both young and older people recognise the contribution the other makes and the challenges they face.
"However, there is a risk that those connections could be undermined if the Government does not get a grip on key issues such as access to housing, secure employment and fairness in tax and benefits."
Read the full article on the Moneywise web site.
‘All at sea - with Charles Henry’ by Marilyn Downs
When I retired in 2012, finding ways of filling all those spare hours was absolutely no problem at all. It meant that I was able to concentrate on lots of enjoyable activities that had necessarily taken a back seat while the business of running a school was the main priority 24/7.
So, as I’m a fairly ‘outdoor’ girl, once I was retired, I was able to develop the allotment and garden, take on some rescued chickens, explore the world.......and go to sea in Charles Henry Ashley historic lifeboat.
Charles Henry Ashley is a beautiful 38ft Watson Class pulling and sailing RNLI lifeboat that was built in 1907 at the Thames Ironworks on Bow Creek, London. She was stationed at Porth yr Ogof, Wylfa Head, glesey until she was taken out of service in 1932.
I first became involved with Cemaes Boat Club a few years before retirement and my first introduction to Charles Henry Ashley was with the rescue and refurbishment of the original boat that was in such a poor state of repair that she was almost burnt on a bonfire!
However, a major fund-raising exercise and some expert rebuilding meant that we were able to re-launch Charles Henry Ashley (CHA) in 2009 in Cemaes Harbour, where she is now kept on her mooring during the summer months for all visitors to see.
Regular sailing and rowing days are organised throughout the summer season and we welcome all keen sailors who want to experience the thrill of being out at sea in one of the original RNLI boats. Since her re-launch, CHA has sailed around the island on two occasions.
One of our main aims as a club is to try and engage with the local community and to develop sailing and rowing skills - particularly with young people. We have a very willing team of volunteers, but as with many voluntary organisations, although we have quite a strong older group of active retirees from many walks of life, attracting the youngsters is quite a challenge!
Over the last two years, we have developed a link with Hafal (a Welsh charity that helps young adults with mental health difficulties) and it has been an absolute pleasure to take these youngsters out on sailing trips and give them the confidence to take part in these activities. The teamwork, discipline and camaraderie of sailing Charles Henry Ashley where you are reliant totally on oars and sails is quite an adventurous challenge!
I have to admit that rowing under the bridges in the Menai Strait (quite a difficult and dangerous stretch of water), was a very memorable occasion for the crew.
Now that I’ve got more time, I’m the secretary of Cemaes Boat Club and also help to run the website (www.cemaesclassiclifeboat.org.uk) and manage the Facebook Page.
I’ve swapped the helm of a school for the tiller on Charles Henry Ashley and it’s such a privilege to take her out in the same seas that she patrolled over 100 years ago. It’s also a reminder of the brave crews who went out in the most dangerous times and risked their own lives to save others.
So, if you ever get over the water to Ynys Mon (Anglesey), don’t hesitate to get in touch via the website - and if you’re interested in boats, pop down to Cemaes Harbour. You never know, there may even be an opportunity to come out for a sail or a row.
Marilyn Downs, 15 June 2019
Change is as good as a rest - fact or fiction? - Nick Dowler
You may recall I wrote an article for our newsletter a couple of years ago on adventurous gardening, in particular, growing your own loofah. I'm now focusing on growing my own sheep.
A few years before I retired from headship, I'd had a hankering to try a spot of farming. To that end, I bought a piece of land and a few Longhorn cattle. On retirement, I expanded this enterprise with sheep being brought onto the farm and thus began a rather time-consuming hobby/job.
Now many of you will be fully aware of the support the NAHT provides newly-appointed school leaders and the organisation certainly helped me when I first became a head, so I thought I'd better join the NFU as I was new to farming, I might need some advice.
I do not just join an organisation and then do nothing; I prefer to be an active member, so I began attending meetings of the NFU and before long it was noted I knew very little about farming but I could talk the talk and represent the views of my fellow members quite well. This was partly through my NAHT experience where I'd been branch then County Chair as well as thoroughly enjoying my time on national executive. Therefore, eighteen months ago I became Lincoln and Gainsborough Chair and in February, Lincolnshire vice-chair with the plan to be Lincolnshire Chair in a year or so. Now the question is: has anyone ever been the Chair of Lincolnshire NAHT and the Chair of Lincolnshire NFU before? Possibly not!
Many of you may want to know if running a farm is anything like running a school? The answer is yes, there are similarities. Firstly, government interference, that is, ministers new to their post telling experienced professionals how to do their job (Michael Gove for one). Secondly, unnecessary paperwork collecting data nobody uses. Thirdly, government inspections. I don't, however, hold open evenings, any misbehaviour may result in a trip to the abattoir and staff meetings are very brief.
Now the question of workload. At lambing time it can be stressful and time-consuming, the rest of the year varies but not as long as a day in school might be. The one problem is holidays, in livestock farming, there aren't any! Actually, there are no days off at all and no morning lie-ins either but there are rewarding moments. Showing some of my rare breed North Ronaldsay sheep at agricultural shows around the country is usually fun and I've met some very interesting people at these events. I've also had some success at these shows which helps when the sales come around price-wise.
In summary, therefore, when you leave those school gates for the last time, don't pop your slippers on and watch daytime tv all day - try something new! Old dogs can at least try new tricks even if they struggle to learn them
Photo taken at lambing time - obviously!
BETT 2019 Visit
Many thanks to Peter Gordon for the following article. He was inspired to get in touch after our last newsletter!
A visit to BETT 2019 (British Education and Training Technology)
In January, I set out for ExCel London in the Royal Victoria Dock, for the BETT exhibition. I like to go every year to see what is developing in educational technology and am always impressed by the range of interesting exhibitors and the growing number of small companies/individuals who have new ideas to promote.
I’ve always been a bit of a ‘techno-freak’ and began my days of computing with a Sinclair ZX81. At one point I had a position of responsibility within my primary school as the Computer Coordinator. At that time our 500+ pupil school had one BBC micro which lived in a box in the stockroom!
Through my engagement over the years with resourcing technology in schools, I’ve always felt that there is a certain amount of hype around the selling of hardware and software. This was certainly true at BETT. Everyone seemed to be providing ‘solutions’. Whatever your need, there was a ‘solution’ to satisfy it. There were pedagogic solutions, planning solutions, assessment solutions, communicating with parent solutions, setting homework solutions, display solutions, pastoral care solutions, school admin solutions, senior leadership team solutions, school dinner money collection solutions, printing (2D and 3D) solutions, recruitment solutions, special needs support solutions, security solutions, storage solutions, solutions for finding solutions … When I reflect back on my years of teaching children and students, and of running a school, I think “If only life was that simple!”
There were four aspects of BETT this year which I found particularly notable. Firstly there was the number of foreign exhibitors. I saw stands from Israel, Finland, Germany, Spain, China, United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Egypt, Korea, Singapore and even the city of Moscow! Whatever they were selling or promoting, they claimed enormous success in their own countries and they could, therefore, share their services with us.
All around the exhibition there were doing words displayed such as “motivating”, “inspiring”, “creating”, “discovering”, “designing”, “making”, “monitoring”, “experimenting”, “communicating”, “playing”, “empowering”. Nothing here to suggest that there is anything passive about young people using technology. The language of the industry was also evident in the straplines of some of the companies. I saw “Drive the future”, “The sky’s the limit”, “Your partner for digital assessment”, “Advocating for child safety worldwide”, “Creator, empowerer, visionary”, “Enable outstanding parental engagement”, “World’s first collaborative coding platform”, “Passion made possible”, Positive projections for Teaching and Learning”, “Built on trust”, “Unlock limitless learning”, “Pioneering voice technology”.
Thirdly, there was the development of AI (artificial intelligence). Apart from the conversations with robots, on the Microsoft stand, I was invited to look at a series of pictures and my facial reactions were scanned. The Microsoft Azure Emotion Recognition software then turned my reactions into data and created “a juice that suits your mood perfectly.” I think that facial and voice recognition are both areas that are likely to be developed further in schools. I wonder how emotion recognition could change school dynamics …
Lastly, I was very impressed by the section called “BETT Futures” which comprised of several small stands which promoted the services and products of fledgeling tech companies, mostly started up by individuals with an idea. I had time to chat with a couple of the proprietors. My first conversation was with Deb Coggan, aka Mrs C, the author of a rhyming book, I don’t like vegetables, which she takes to primary schools and runs vegetable workshops. She is further developing the characters in the story with an individual book for each of them. In her workshops, Deb plants vegetables with the children and helps to set up a “Vegeta-Ball” disco where the children come dressed as vegetables. She has had some very positive reactions from schools to the book and has even got a very positive review from Alan Titchmarsh! We discussed the fact that her ‘product’ was very much hands-on and was not screen based like everything else at the exhibition. You can find further details about the book and workshops at www.mrscbooks.co.uk .
I also talked to Aneesh Bangia, the co-founder and director of Open Door, described as an IIT Madras Alumni Initiative. According to Aneesh, Open Door aims at developing the habit of ‘learning by understanding’ among school children. Its product, “Mastery Assessments”, helps teachers drive major improvements in students’ understanding in their classrooms. The system is used in over 100 schools in India. There is more information at www.opendooreducation.in.
This year, for the first time, The Education Show was on in tandem to BETT so I was able to pop in there for a quick look round. By this time, I was feeling a bit boggled so I sat in on a talk about Fake News and how to encourage children to question what they are reading and seeing. The presentation was very interesting and informative and it’s an area that many grown-ups could do with some input on! The presenters were from a charitable organisation called Newswise. There are more details at www.theguardian.com/newswise .
Judicium Education Clerking Service
NAHT has partnered with Judicium Education’s Governing Body Clerking Service. This partnership offers an excellent opportunity for schools to access a professional, external clerking service, which is designed to support school governors to properly discharge their statutory responsibilities and to operate an effective and efficient governing body.
The service provides:
● Advisory service on matters related to school governance
● DfE/Ofsted updating service
● Record keeping service
● Co-ordinating, drafting and circulating agenda
● Attendance at governing body meeting and committee meetings as requested
● Drafting and circulating minutes
● Accredited e-learning for all governors
NAHT Life members – governing body clerking opportunities
This partnership also offers the opportunity for NAHT life-long members to work as governing body clerks in their local areas. Working as a clerk will give members the opportunity to use all of their extensive experience to enhance the quality of support for the GB and therefore the level of support that GBs can then offer to their Head teachers and schools. The role is ideal for newly retired NAHT members; work is predominantly in the evenings.
Full training in clerking Best Practice is provided, with regular update sessions.
The role pays an hourly rate of £38, with a guaranteed fixed fee of £228 to be earned per school meeting. Travel is also paid at 30p per mile.
We are seeking clerks nationwide from Cornwall to Cumbria, and from Kent to Newcastle. We have demand from all phases and settings: primary, secondary and special – maintained, academies and MATs.
If you are interested in this exciting opportunity please send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
Helpful NAHT Life member online links
NAHT NLMC Future Meeting Dates & Venues
15.00 - 18.00
Clayton Hotel, Birmingham
11.30 - 16.00
Clayton Hotel, Birmingham
15.00 - 18.00
Clayton Hotel, Birmingham
11.30 - 16.00
Clayton Hotel, Birmingham
15.00 - 18.00
Clayton Hotel Birmingham
11.30 - 16.00
Clayton Hotel, Birmingham
15.00 - 18.00
Time to Remember - Recording the sad passing of NAHT members
Arthur de Caux