This blog summarises a meeting between members of the National Teacher Enquiry Network (NTEN) and the Secretary of State, Michael Gove. This is one of the articles in the TDT October Newsletter (sign up here).
Six representatives of members of the National Teacher Enquiry Network were fortunate enough to be asked to share their ideas with the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, followed by a meeting with Tom Shinner, the Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State at Department for Education.
The conversation was dominated by two key points. Firstly many schools, our members included, have taken the opportunity of recent policy developments to innovate and explore new ideas in their schools. However, it is not easy to either share findings around innovative practice, nor to learn about other initiatives that other schools are engaged in. Our NTEN members feel that there should be a national database where schools and other organisations can both find and share innovative and effective practice taking place in schools.
Secondly, there was a great deal of discussion around evaluation and innovation in schools. Our members advocated a change in culture from ‘performance management’ and judgement, to ‘performance development’ and effective CPD. Trying to balance accountability and innovation has meant that many schools are not innovating and engaged enough in developing professionally. As such, there needs to be an alternative way to evaluate practice. If schools were engaged in evidence-informed evaluation, and capacity was built for that within schools, then the judgemental aspect of accountability as it is currently in many schools, would be removed; teachers would be actively involved in evaluating and improving their own practice.
These themes were explored further during a meeting with Tom Shinner, Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State at Department for Education. It was suggested that the superficial culture of judgements based on short observations needs to be replaced with a deeply reflective culture. To encourage schools to engage in innovative practice, innovation should be something that they need to demonstrate; they should be held accountable for their innovation.
Our NTEN members, whilst wishing to maintain accountability, overall wish schools to invest in professional development that puts innovative, evidence-informed practice at the forefront, and allows teachers and schools to both evaluate and improve themselves. Michael Gove suggested a follow up meeting with himself Charlie Taylor, Chief Executive of the National College for Teaching and Leadership.
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