Travelling Light?

We all understand the expense of excess baggage is to be carefully avoided when flying. When planning ahead for the return journey, we all consider allowing space in the case for those holiday gift purchases to give our friends and family upon return. So we take it into account when travelling on modern efficiency conscious carriers.

Recently I saw this analogy become clear when discussing staffing profiles with a colleague in running a curriculum and staffing review. This school, like most secondary schools across the country in recent years, has adopted the strategy to ‘over-staff’ core delivery subjects. To be truthful what Headteacher would interview a field of maths or Science teachers to appoint one, discover two that are eminently appointable and not move hell and high water to find some way of appointing both!

I have used this example before, but it stands well here again, the Primary schools with a PAN set at somewhere between a factor of 30, 72 as a common example. The number of classes to be structured into the school’s class model? Is the answer 2 groups of 36 or 3 groups of 24? The former is untenable the latter an similar inevitable excess that costs the school an additional 9.8 teachers on average. (7 classes of 1.4 teachers with an average contact ratio of 76%)

It is only when we start to see the system wide impact that we begin to see the wider system challenges it creates. At an extreme what if every secondary school took on an extra maths teacher? It would require an extra 3200 plus extra maths specialists. Do that in English and Science as well, as I have seen across over 120 primary and secondary SMARTcurriculum®️ reviews over the past two years and we need 10,000 more teachers within the English system.

If this is replicated across the curriculum model design by increasing numbers of classes as a delivery strategy, it does not take long to be looking at more significant numbers of teachers across the system. The impact of this increase; the system becomes unmeasured and focussed on single institution strategies and we suddenly discover the teaching need is something over 25,000 teachers above what is calculated as a basic provision. Is there any surprise that the system is struggling to cope financially or from a teacher supply perspective. Finding specialists, reducing the reliance on temporary staff and reducing the agencies searching for other nationals becomes something of the past? The transfer and introduction fees alone bring stresses to the system, I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve talked of the ‘licence to print money’ created in the current culture by some of the less principled teacher supply agencies!

Equivalent 320 schools of teachers

Within the school I started discussing this post, we postulated that in the local area, known for being one with specific difficultly in finding specialist teaching staff. We were looking at 5-7 FTE extra teachers within their school, so if we looked at the same style across their trust of 5 schools (and it is real because I work with all of them) then upwards of 35 teachers over the curriculum size, allowing for designed in 3 – 8% Curriculum Enhancement! Consider two small trusts in this local area that operate the same practice and could have 50 to 70 over staffed teachers in 10 schools – enough to staff an 11th school! You can argue the over simplification maybe but consider this possibility, in the secondary world, that of the 3200+ schools there could be up to 22,400 excess teachers that is potentially 320 schools worth of teachers available just from this over staffing methodology, my earlier extrapolation was not that far out.

My question?

Is this a strategy we can afford or sustain? I believe not unchecked. I might add a number of school leaders have said to me recently that they have operated this practice over a number of years and it has had absolutely no impact on results but thats another blog!

So what to do?

  • Understand the principle of a basic curriculum provision and how it relates to the primary, secondary and post 16 environment.
  • Be clear about what curriculum enhancment is needed over this amount In the context of each school and hold a rationale as to why it is effective.
  • Carefully manage the staffing profile and appointment strategy.

One of the major benefits of the Academy Trust system freedoms was to have develop efficiencies from group mindset rather than a single school mindset, many are not embedding this into system dynamics.

Staffing profile management and curriculum model design were the main reasons Behind the creation of SMARTcurriculum®️methodology and the online application. Over this next few months we will be introducing management tools to be able to maintain the conversation across a Trust or group of schools with a Group dashboard as well as the ability to compare datasets within a single school to show how the journey is forming.

Our strapline- SMARTcurriculum®️- To understand.

Get in touch to explore for your school or trust, call 02037012854 or