“The most fulfilling thing about being a headteacher is being entrusted by a community for the life chances and wellbeing of their children. It’s repeated 1,000 times: seeing someone walk out the door being the better for having been at the school – and it’s not just the kids, it’s staff too.”
The words of Jim Thewliss, School Leaders Scotland general secretary, in a recent interview with Tes magazine, neatly summing up the power and the influence that the role of the headteacher has in shaping the lives of children. And yet while there is now more support for headteachers, he also went on to mention that the role was “becoming increasingly more challenging and more demanding” and that was before the advent of COVID. In fact, the 2022 Teacher Wellbeing Index findings revealed that one in three senior leaders are looking to leave the profession given the pressures.
In this article, we look back at some of the key challenges and developments in 2022, including government funding plus the impact of tech in education and in the recruitment of supply teachers.
Greater government support
The current economy isn’t just impacting headteachers. The cost of living crisis, the demands of the new curriculum and longer hours are all factors that have led to many teachers leaving the profession. As has also been widely reported, there is a real dearth of teachers across many state schools around the country, particularly teaching assistants to support the 1.5m children with special needs, such as those with autism or dyslexia. In this tough environment, staff are struggling. There will be a national teacher’s strike in Scotland early in the new year with Unions also balloting their members in England and Wales as unrest spreads across the workforce.
However, the positive and welcome news is that the government has responded to the challenges of the sector concerning pay, training, retention and recruitment. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in November’s Autumn Statement that education would receive a funding boost of £2.3bn for the next two years, taking the total to £58.8bn by 2025 – equating to an average increase of over £1,000 per pupil by 2024-25. The government pledged that starting salaries for teachers would reach £30,000 and that the current pay deal would see teachers get a near 9% rise in salary.
Speaking to The Guardian, Education Minister Gillian Keegan remained optimistic that her government’s measures would avert any possible strike action. “The support we are providing is significant. It recognises the immense value of this profession and the challenges it is currently facing. Given that, I look forward to seeing a de-escalation from unions, many of whom are balloting. As a government we have listened and are continuing to listen.” She stressed her desire to “continue conversations [with union leaders] about how we can address these issues”.
The rise of Ed-Tech
The rise of Education Technology or ‘EdTech’ has also been another major trend in 2022, ushering in major changes in the way technology is being used. Many of these developments were of course accelerated as a result of the pandemic as schools used interactive platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms. And despite many students now back to classroom learning full time, the risks of local outbreaks and the need to self-isolate means that schools must have the capacity to offer remote learning. Some pupils of course might not be able to attend school for a variety of reasons – and as December showed, that can even include snowfall!
The latest findings from the ‘Capabilities for Success: What’s Working in EdTech Today’ report published by SMART Technologies revealed that almost two-thirds (64%) of schools have transformed the way in which their students learn by embedding technology into the classroom. The majority (55%) of parents of children in the 4-19 age group are also fully on board in supporting their children to embrace technology and have been given the training and tools to do so. Interestingly, over a quarter (26%) of parents are actively involved in technology planning.
Furthermore, despite the return to a predominantly in-person teaching model, almost 4 in 10 (39%) schools are continuing to develop content that can be delivered remotely. The adoption of technology is having a very real positive impact on learning outcomes for pupils, boosting engagement as they are able to learn in a variety of different ways, via for example game-based, collaborative and assessment software as well as social media. Technology not only enables students to assimilate but helps build and strengthen relationships between educators, pupils and parents.
Tech in education recruitment
Cutting-edge technology also holds the key to more effective and cost-efficient outcomes for the education recruitment sector and the sourcing of supply teachers, using state-of-the-art online platforms to connect schools, recruitment agencies and education professionals. From vacancy creation, job postings and timesheet approval to invoicing and billing, you’ll be able to match the right candidate from your database to fill your supply teacher vacancies quickly and effectively. You’ll also be able to generate all the management information (MI) and reports you need.
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