The many ways Welsh schools main­tain teacher stan­dards

South Wales Echo - - YOUR VIEWS -

OC­CA­SION­ALLY I’ll have a con­ver­sa­tion with a par­ent who has raised a con­cern about the ac­tions of a mem­ber of staff and wants to know what I’m do­ing about it.

Most of­ten my re­ply is, some­thing along the lines of: “You have to trust that we’ll look into it and if we think it’s nec­es­sary we will take ac­tion.”

99% of the time the par­ent is sat­is­fied with this and trusts the school to fol­low up the con­cern.

It’s hard for par­ents – they leave their chil­dren with us ev­ery day and trust that we are ed­u­cat­ing them ap­pro­pri­ately, look­ing af­ter their wel­fare and en­sur­ing they are safe.

They do this be­cause they trust us as pro­fes­sion­als, there­fore if we are to call our­selves pro­fes­sional, then it’s vi­tal we are con­sis­tent in what we do to en­sure a strong trust­ing re­la­tion­ships be­tween teacher and par­ent.

So how do we en­sure we are pro­fes­sional in all we do and earn the trust that par­ents ex­pect?

There are many dif­fer­ent checks and mea­sures to en­sure the pro­fes­sion main­tains its stan­dards, meets ex­pec­ta­tions and con­tin­u­ally eval­u­ates and tries to im­prove, the qual­ity of pro­vi­sion. These can be di­vided into ex­ter­nal checks and in­ter­nal checks.

The Welsh Gov­ern­ment re­cently re­leased new stan­dards for teach­ers in Wales (you can find them here: www. learn­ – look for workforce devel­op­ment and then pro­fes­sional stan­dards).

These are new stan­dards which lay out ex­pec­ta­tions for teach­ers and lead­ers in schools across Wales.

As a head teacher, I wel­come them as very clear and easy to fol­low guid­ance which if ad­hered to will en­sure con­sis­tency and qual­ity across the pro­fes­sion.

Although writ­ten for the teach­ing pro­fes­sion, the doc­u­ment is fairly jar­gon-free and worth look­ing at if you are a par­ent in­ter­ested in how teach­ers are de­vel­oped and held ac­count­able. The doc­u­ment looks at five ar­eas: Paed­a­gogy – This is the big­gest sec­tion, es­sen­tially cov­er­ing the meth­ods teach­ers and schools use when en­abling young peo­ple to learn ef­fec­tively, for ex­am­ple, the prac­tices teach­ers use in the class­room to en­sure all learn­ers can ac­cess the curriculum.

Col­lab­o­ra­tion – How teach­ers and schools work with oth­ers to en­hance learn­ing, for ex­am­ple, other schools, busi­ness or par­ents.

Pro­fes­sional Learn­ing – En­sur­ing teach­ers and schools con­tin­u­ally de­velop their own prac­tice and re­flect on the qual­ity of their prac­tice.

In­no­va­tion – Which pro­vides teach­ers and schools with op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop and share new prac­tice which could im­prove the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences for all young peo­ple.

Lead­er­ship – Pro­vid­ing guid­ance for those in lead­er­ship po­si­tions within schools and en­cour­ag­ing a cli­mate of self and cor­po­rate re­spon­si­bil­ity.

All newly-qual­i­fied teach­ers must meet these stan­dards be­fore they can progress on to a sec­ond year of teach­ing.

All other teach­ers are ex­pected to meet these stan­dards which are ex­plored within schools through an an­nual per­for­mance re­view.

The Ed­u­ca­tion Workforce Coun­cil (EWC) is the pro­fes­sional body for Welsh schools, which all teach­ers and train­ers in ed­u­ca­tional set­tings must reg­is­ter with.

The coun­cil “seeks to raise the sta­tus of work­ers in ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing by main­tain­ing and pro­mot­ing the high­est stan­dards of pro­fes­sional prac­tice and con­duct” (See: www.ewc. wales ).

The coun­cil also pub­lishes a code of con­duct and prac­tice that it ex­pects all reg­is­trants to ad­here to. In its own words: “The coun­cil has le­gal pow­ers to in­ves­ti­gate and hear cases of al­leged un­ac­cept­able pro­fes­sional con­duct, se­ri­ous pro­fes­sional in­com­pe­tence and crim­i­nal of­fences in­volv­ing reg­is­trants.”

The code is de­signed for par­ents to eas­ily ac­cess and is jar­gon free. You’ll find it on the web­site.

Estyn is re­spon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing the qual­ity of prac­tice in schools. It not only in­spects the qual­ity of teach­ing, learn­ing and stan­dards, but also how well the school is be­ing led and man­aged, the well-be­ing and safety of chil­dren and how well we care for and guide young peo­ple (like ca­reers ad­vice).

Schools are in­spected reg­u­larly, and if not meet­ing ex­pec­ta­tions, the school may be put in spe­cial mea­sures which re­sults in very close su­per­vi­sion to en­sure the school meets its ex­pec­ta­tions.

Within schools, all teach­ers have for­mal per­for­mance re­view in­ter­views ev­ery year, with in­terim re­views dur­ing the year.

As part of this teach­ers are ob­served teach­ing for­mally and given feed­back which may in­clude ar­eas for im­prove­ment.

At their in­ter­view, they are nor­mally also given the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss an area of pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment they would like to pur­sue that year.

The per­for­mance man­age­ment process can af­fect pay pro­gres­sion for teach­ers, if they are not ful­fill­ing the teacher stan­dards men­tioned above, or the tar­gets/stan­dards spec­i­fied at the school and agreed at the meet­ing.

All schools are ex­pected to con­tin­u­ally look for ways to de­velop their staff. At East­ern High, for ex­am­ple, we pro­vide weekly train­ing and coach­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for staff.

This also in­cludes all our heads of de­part­ment fol­low­ing a course which will lead to ac­cred­i­ta­tion towards a mas­ters de­gree.

Cardiff coun­cil, along with sev­eral other coun­cils in South Cen­tral Wales, formed the South Cen­tral Con­sor­tium (SCC) which pro­vides all the train­ing and devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for all schools in the re­gion.

Much of this is pro­vided to schools free of charge and schools can choose to opt into the var­i­ous pro­grammes that ex­ist. They also pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for schools to work to­gether.

This is just a quick snap­shot of the checks, mea­sures and devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties schools have to en­sure we main­tain high stan­dards and de­crease the like­li­hood of us not meet­ing parental ex­pec­ta­tions.

Oc­ca­sion­ally some­thing will go wrong and very oc­ca­sion­ally this can be very se­ri­ous, but when you con­sider there are ap­prox­i­mately 80,000 reg­is­trants with the EWC, the pro­cesses we have in place en­sure your child is in safe hands.

I fin­ish many of my ar­ti­cles telling par­ents to talk to their schools if they have any con­cerns re­gard­ing their child’s ed­u­ca­tion and well-be­ing. This ar­ti­cle is cer­tainly no ex­cep­tion.

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