February 22, 2004

Education on the Cheap

The Goverment has come up with a way to save lots of money spent on education. They could save as much as £2.2 billion by increasing class sizes. Forget that old target of reducing class sizes to improve the quality of teaching and learning. That's yesterday's wisdom. Now they want to increase the size of secondary school class to as large as 90 pupils.

Now I know you are think that 90 teenagers is a lot for a teacher to control. Don't worry, the Government has thought of that. They are doing away with teachers. After all school are only legally required to have one person on staff with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). That could be the headteacher (as school principals are known in this country).

Before they get to that point, they will have one teacher over each of these mega-classes with cheap unqualified teaching assistants helping out.

The report by Sir Peter Gershon, head of the Government’s efficiency review notes: “Gone are the days of every school having to have a full ‘complement’ of directly employed QTS teachers. Staff could be bought in from agencies or come in on secondment.”

Even though it is a report from a Government-appointed review body, ministers were trying to distance themselves from it. This is a bit disingenuous, given that Education Secretary Charles Clarke already signed an agreement on workforce reform with most school unions last year that included a provision for teachers to supervise classes of up to 60 pupils.

Posted by david at February 22, 2004 02:41 AM | TrackBack

Thirty students bordered on the unmanageable when I was assisting an art teacher last year. I couldn’t imagine ninety. Surly the teacher’s union (is there a teacher’s union?) would protest this move. If not, maybe some other voice of reason.

Posted by: Josh at February 23, 2004 05:37 PM

There are two main teachers unions in England. They agreed to 60 in the latest workforce agreement with the Government. They also agreed to freeze salaries.

The Government has even removed the top two levels of the upper pay scale, which drops the maximum salary for a teacher by £2,400. They raised the full pension retirement age for teachers from 60 to 65. What they are hoping teachers will still be burnt out by 60 and retire anyway, accepting a reduced pension and saving the Government more money.

They, and the rest of us, have learned that it is pointless protesting anything with this Government. The Government has plugged its collective ear to any voice of reason.

Posted by: David Holford at February 23, 2004 11:38 PM