Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Sunday, 20 September 2009 14:43 UK

School proposals: Teachers' views

Ed Balls, the schools secretary for England, has indicated that education spending could be cut by £2bn by axing thousands of senior staff and with "discipline" over pay.

Teachers have been telling the BBC what they think of this proposal.

SIMON LOWE, RELIGIOUS EDUCATION TEACHER, LONDON

Simon Lowe
Simon Lowe: "schools cannot be run like businesses"

There is no way this idea of sharing heads across schools could work. I am a classroom teacher, yet I know how difficult and essential a job our head teacher does. The workload of a head teacher is phenomenal; they're expected to be experts in half a dozen different fields from finance to building maintenance, food hygiene to health and safety and, obviously, teaching and learning.

Head teachers are the figureheads of a school. When there are behavioural issues - say a new teacher isn't trusted and respected by the pupils - mentioning the head teacher always resonates with pupils. If head teachers were absent, this wouldn't be the case.

The Labour proposal seems to view head teachers as project managers and completely ignores the role an established head teacher plays in the life of the children they lead. It seems to me that Ed Balls is trying to run schools by spreadsheets, discounting the human element. Schools are, in fact, deeply embedded in the community and cannot be run in the same way as businesses are.

ROBERT DEWICK, SCIENCE TEACHER, NOTTINGHAM

Robert Dewell
Robert Dewick: "We need more senior teachers teaching"

I'm actually with Labour on this one - merging schools into federations could work, but only if done properly.

I've got friends who are teachers and emigrated to New Zealand in part due to the increasing amount of bureaucracy that the Labour government has brought in. Teachers are more respected in New Zealand and there isn't the 'top down' approach there is over here.

In the UK instead of having well qualified teachers in classrooms, they're walking around with clip boards monitoring other teachers. It defies logic - there should be more experienced teachers in the classrooms.

I have worked in a school that became part of a federation as a cost-cutting exercise. This was an ineffectual waste of public money, because instead of removing layers of management, they got rid of the Music and Drama department in one of the schools. What do you think matters more to pupils and parents: a music department or a manager?

We need to cut back on red tape in order for it to be possible for one head teacher to be across more than one school. It's farcical that schools should compete on league tables and there should be less promotion of individual schools.

Then, the paper-work could be shared across a federation of three or so schools and teachers - including senior ones - could be left to teach.

MORE COMMENTS

Thanks Mr Balls. After spending 15 years to get to senior management level, I now understand that I may lose my job to deal with your political party and their immense financial mess. Yet again the education sector is being overhauled by someone that has no idea about the pressure that school staff are under. I imagine that these changes will not impact on his own children's education, just everyone else's.
D Jones, Cheshire, UK

I have just retired from teaching. Over the past decade the number of senior posts and the remuneration for senior posts in education has ballooned unjustifiably. At the college I worked at, the Chief Executive's pay (used to be called the Principal) rose from £65K to nearly £165K. In the same period a teacher's pay rose from £25K to £35K and a load of intermediate 'managerial' post have been created in between. Ed Balls has identified a valid problem (of his own government's making).
Colin, Lincoln, UK

Pupils benefit most from having a head teacher visible on site, who knows them and spends time with them. A team of heads and deputies covering several schools would not get to know pupils very well or, for that matter, the staff.
JH, Manchester, UK

Great idea to demoralise a work force: tell them we'll hit them when it comes to the next pay review and to any teacher who dreams of one day moving up the managerial ladder, that you're culling those positions. I thought there was a problem with recruiting head and senior teachers in schools. This seems like a great way to solve that problem, just get rid of the positions in the first place.
Simon, Stoke, UK

After giving up a well paid job working as a manager in the chemical industry, I decided on a career change and became a chemistry teacher. I was fortunate to be recruited into teaching on the government's fast-track teacher scheme, which was meant to address recruitment problems for senior posts in schools. As an ambitious professional, with plans on becoming a senior leader, I am somewhat concerned with Ed Balls' comments about the removal of senior leadership posts in school. This seems to be a paradox, after the government have been actively advertising and spending money on attracting people into teaching.
John Carroll, Bournemouth, UK



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