A piece by Rosemary Bennett, Education Editor, in today’s Times:
Teachers will be offered paid sabbaticals for the first time in the hope of making the profession more attractive and stemming the flow of departures from the classroom.
Damian Hinds, the education secretary, said that he wanted teaching to offer greater flexible working to compete more effectively with other graduate careers. [J4MB: If teachers will be adopting “greater flexible working”, will this require pupils to adopt greater flexible learning?] Although it is renowned for its generous holidays — 13 weeks a year — in other ways teaching is inflexible, with job-shares and part-time working slow to catch on. [J4MB: Possibly “slow to catch on” because they disrupt the smooth running of schools? Why is it that organizations must always cater for the wishes of female staff, rather than employing men who wouldn’t make such demands?]
The number of teachers leaving the profession has risen from 22,260, or 6 per cent, in 2011, to 34,910, or 8.1 per cent, in 2016. Secondary school teachers in particular are deserting in large numbers.
Under the pilot sabbatical scheme, applicants must demonstrate that their time off will complement their teaching role, either through studies or working elsewhere. Sabbaticals would last between a term and an academic year and only teachers with ten years’ experience would be eligible. The government has given the scheme £5 million, which will cover 138 year-long sabbaticals or about 400 term-long breaks.
Mr Hinds is to launch the scheme at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) conference in Liverpool today, where he will tell delegates: “All of us have a shared goal of making sure teaching remains an attractive, fulfilling profession. We will take an unflinching look at the things that discourage people from going into teaching or make them consider leaving.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “A fund for sabbaticals will certainly be welcomed and is exactly what we’re asking for at this conference, although we do also need to see basic pay improved and the 1 per cent pay cap lifted.”
As always, the elephant in the room is ignored. Which teachers want “greater flexible working… job shares and part-time working”? Female teachers, that’s who.
The feminisation of the state education system has been accompanied by the introduction of Teaching Assistants, who weren’t required when I was a lad, and most teachers were men.
You can subscribe to The Times here.