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  • Writer's pictureTom Hopkins-Burke

The Weekly Review on Teachers Talk Radio: 25 February 2024

Missed the Teachers Talk Radio Weekly Review - the show where we review the week in education? Catch up with the headlines and the discussion here...


The Weekly Review returned after a week away with Lucy Neuburger in the chair, joined by a panel of Christopher Vowles, John Gibbs and Kathryn Taylor to review the week in education. Unpaid overtime, teacher pay negotiations and canteen queueing were on the agenda this time.

The Teachers Talk Radio Weekly Review panel of Lucy Neuburger, Christopher Vowles, John Gibbs and Kathryn Taylor

A tired teacher marking a pile of books

"Teaching is one of those professions where you can't perform your job if you haven't prepared properly" Kathryn Taylor on the Weekly Review

Friday was the Trades Union Congress's 20th 'Work Your Proper Hours Day' - when workers are encouraged to take their lunch break and finish on time. Yet teachers were more likely to work unpaid overtime than any other profession, with 40 per cent of the profession reported to be putting in more hours than their contract stipulates.

These teachers worked an extra 26.3 hours per week on average beyond their working hours, with over 5.5 million unpaid overtime hours for the teaching profession as a whole - making an average annual loss of £15,047 for teachers.

Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: "No teacher wants to be topping the charts for unpaid overtime, but this, sadly, is the point the profession has now reached."

Some teachers felt the TUC underestimated the number of teachers putting in unpaid overtime...

What did our panel have to say?

Kathryn Taylor

"Teaching is one of those professions where you can't perform your job if you haven't prepared properly. Experience helps... but I've just written myself my to-do list for today so I can teach on Monday."

Christopher Vowles

"I wasn't particularly surprised by the report... workload increases every time a new statutory duty is invented. 16 years ago I worked in a state secondary and I would be working on a Saturday afternoon regularly. Now I work in a boarding school, including on Saturdays, but I have a summer holiday pattern that reflects where my 195 days fall."

John Gibbs

"The trend in my career was increasing workload - we expect more of teachers. I have winged a few lessons - some of the best lessons were like that, but most were not. How many schemes of work have I produced that I've never looked back at again? There's an element of the iceberg about teaching - the lesson is above the surface, the rest is underneath."


Check out the trade union and professional support Collection!

Teachers on strike for more pay and increased school funding

Collections are groups of four shows from the TTR archives grouped around a particular domain specialism. Our Collection on trade unions and professional support contains the following:

Should teachers join unions? Yasmin Omar is joined by Reem Ibrahim and Alex Thompson to discuss the pros and cons of union membership.

The NEU Leadership Debate: in this exclusive TTR special, Daniel Kebede and Niamh Sweeney go head-to-head on Ofsted, workload, school exclusions, negotiating with government, antisemitism and international solidarity.

NASUWT on strike action and behaviour: Tom Rogers interviews Darren Northcott from NASUWT and asks him about criticism of NASUWT inaction on teacher pay, how NASUWT is helping members on behaviour, and how the union aims to help teachers stay in teaching.

Supporting teachers and protecting careers with Edapt: Why do school staff decide not to get protection? Tom Hopkins Burke discusses this question with Edapt CEO Alistair Wood. They also explore five tips for teachers to protect themselves and their careers, the pros and cons of NDAs, and the services and opportunities Edapt can offer.


A table showing teachers' pay for the 2023-24 academic year compared to 2022-23

"It's difficult for schools to set their budgets when they don't know how much they will be paying their staff" Christopher Vowles on the Weekly Review

The DfE has missed a deadline to submit evidence to the School Teachers' Review body on teachers' pay - in a move that has led to "serious frustration and disquiet" from teaching unions.

Three of the four major education unions (NAHT, ASCL and the NEU) and Community have written to the STRB to voice their dismay at Education Secretary Gillian Keegan going back on her word to "do everything possible to deliver a timely pay settlement this year".

This is not the first time this academic year that Keegan has chosen to delay the teacher pay review process. The DfE had issued the STRB's remit letter - required to begin the process each year - just days before Christmas.

The unions have also told the STRB that they "do not give permission" for their own evidence to be published or shared "until government has made its own submission".

What did our panel have to say on the teacher pay review process?

Christopher Vowles

"The DfE has not been under-burdened with work in the last few years. There's quite a lot of civil servants feeling the pressure - but the DfE does need to sharpen up its act. It's difficult for schools to set their budgets when they don't know how much they will be paying their staff! We need something better than guesswork - we deserve a higher standard of efficiency from government."

John Gibbs

"I shouldn't be surprised - but am - that after last year's pay dispute, here we go again! But we are in the dying embers of government, the pre-election period where things are being put on standby for the next government to deal with. I sympathise with civil servants - this is a problem of political will, not workload."

Kathryn Taylor

"It frustrates me that nothing really seems to change. It conveys the value that is placed upon the profession - we're not the only profession that's being devalued - but this idea that it's the wind-down [is wrong], it's business as usual really. It's quite insulting when you work and pay your taxes to be treated by government like this."


Check out our latest show on teacher pay...

A post-it note with the word "salary" on it

Listen back on demand to Education Tonight from 18 February as Brent Poland and Adam Spence explore whether the recruitment and retention crisis means teachers now have more power than before to negotiate better pay, terms and conditions.


Brighton and Hove News: School criticised over learning-ranked canteen queue

A sign saying "Welcome to Dorothy Stringer School: education for life", headteacher: Mr M Hillier

"Daft stuff that well-intentioned people do - that's what this is" John Gibbs on the Weekly Review

A Brighton school has been criticised for introducing a new school canteen queueing system which gives priority to pupils with higher attitude scores.

Pupils in Year 9 at Dorothy Stringer school have been given a photo ID card with an attitude to learning (ATL) score between 1 and 6, following a trial with Year 11.

However, parents have criticised the school for failing to consult the wider community on the policy and for the potential for the policy to exacerbate eating disorders.

The school's headteacher Matt Hillier said, "The new pass system was introduced as a trial for Year 11 to improve our queuing system and ensure that all students can access the canteen safely in an orderly and timely manner. It only applies at breaktime and not at lunchtime.

“The new system has had a hugely positive impact with Year 11. It has removed any poor queuing behaviour, and all students gain access to the canteen quicker than they did with the old system, regardless of their Attitude to Learning (ATL).

“The system also recognises and rewards students who demonstrate a positive ATL in school.

“ATL is a score calculated for students across all of their subjects. Teachers take into account students’ SEN needs when allocating ATL and it is not linked to ability.

“The ATL is therefore not limited by a student’s SEN needs, and lots of our students with SEN needs gain high ATL scores. A small number of students with a specific need linked to canteen entry already have passes that allow them to bypass the queue.

“As the trial has been successful, we are now expanding the system to Year 9.”

Teachers on X/Twitter shared their thoughts on the policy...

What did our panelists say?

John Gibbs

"Daft stuff that well-intentioned people do - that's what this is. It goes in the same category as students writing target grades on their books, wearing badges indicating high or low prior attainment, and must/should/could objectives. The school should be regretting it. Lots of comments from parents were positive, saying this was all about teaching responsibility and real-life. But this isn't real-life, except for one thing - that life is unfair."

Kathryn Taylor

"If the queueing system's more orderly and no-one's missing food then that's positive. But this system relies on the subjectivity of the teacher [awarding Attitude to Learning scores]. Different teachers have different standards."

Christopher Vowles

"The canteen queue is always a potential flash-point. As a schoolkid I remember reading accounts on issues like this in books about school children! I wouldn't like to see ID cards with Attitude to Learning in my school. What else might work - serving by house or by tutor group? The actual experience of life is that everyone is used to being first or last."


How do policies like this affect school attendance? We have a show on this coming up...

The Psychology of Attendance: the Late Show with Nathan Gynn and Naomi Fisher

Join us on Monday 4 March as Nathan Gynn and Naomi Fisher discuss The Psychology of Attendance. Tweet us your questions for Naomi during the live show, 7.30-9pm!


Want to listen to the discussion in full? Catch up with the full show, plus a message from our sponsors John Catt Educational, here.

A graphic for our sponsors John Catt: educational publishers since 1959.

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