Education reforms hit teachers' morale, TES survey finds

The Welsh government said more support would be offered to teachers

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Education reforms have "decreased morale and motivation" among school teachers and heads, a survey has found.

Almost three-quarters of the 941 respondents said recent changes had not been for the best and cited extra pressure and increased criticism.

Meanwhile 62% of teaching staff and 75% of heads said a new banding system had not improved standards in schools.

The Welsh government said changes can "take time to bed in" and more support would be offered to teachers.

Start Quote

It does not seem like a fair system that fully reflects the efforts and capabilities of pupils”

End Quote A teacher's view on the banding system

The findings published on Monday in a poll for the Times Educational Supplement (TES) come as teachers and pupils return to class this week for the start of a new school year.

The results show that 73.2% of teachers and 75% of heads said they felt the changes had decreased morale and motivation following the introduction of new programmes such as national reading and maths tests designed to improve standards.

The survey asked specifically if the new banding system which puts secondary schools into five bands based on factors such as GCSE performance and attendance had led to improvements.

A total of 62.2% of teachers and 75.4% of heads said it had not.

Respondents complained the system was divisive and of little benefit to schools or parents with one head saying banding was "worse than a waste of time".

"It does not seem like a fair system that fully reflects the efforts and capabilities of pupils," said another teacher.

Support package

The survey also revealed varying levels of support for schools from Wales' 22 local education authorities (LEAs).

While over half of school heads said their authority was supportive, 10.8% said they had no relationship with their education authority.

Darren Evans, the Wales reporter for the TES, said the results indicated it was the amount and pace of the changes that was causing the problems.

"Time and time again the responses said 'too many reforms in too short a space of time', as it's difficult to get to terms with the next reform because they are trying to get to grips with the previous one," he said.

"The teachers say they are feeling they have too much on their plate and so are overwhelmed and under pressure.

"Looking outside Wales too there are changes to pay and pensions instigated by the Westminster government which is also having an impact."

Mr Evans added the "overwhelming message" from the survey was "listen to us, trust us, we're the experts - just let us teach".

David Evans, Welsh secretary of the NUT teaching union, told BBC Radio Wales: "This bears out our concerns.

"Morale is down. We need to start trusting, valuing and respecting our teachers."

'Improvement agenda'

Huw Lewis took over the role of education minister in June from Leighton Andrews, an architect of the reforms, who has said previously that there were too many LEAs.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: "We have put in place a package of support for teachers to help them take forward our school improvement agenda.

"We understand that introducing any new process to the education system can take time to bed in.

"Adapting to change can prove difficult in most spheres of employment and education is no exception."

The spokesperson explained that the banding process had introduced a "constructive evaluation process" to give targeted support and help schools improve performance. 

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