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  • Writer's pictureTom Hopkins-Burke

The Weekly Review on Teachers Talk Radio: 4 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...


This Sunday on the Weekly Review, John Gibbs discussed ITT reform, school starting ages and CEO pay with Hannah Wilson, Brent Poland and Christopher Vowles.

The Teachers Talk Radio panel of John Gibbs, Brent Poland, Hannah Wilson and Christopher Vowles.


The University of Cambridge from a birds-eye view

"How do we ensure that the programme does not become lots of tedious online training after the working day?" Christopher Vowles on the Weekly Review

A Schools Week exclusive has revealed that the University of Cambridge 'lacks confidence' in the government's new teacher training framework - and wants its rollout delayed by at least a year.

The DfE's new Initial Teacher Training and Early Career Framework (ITTECF) combines and replaces the existing Core Content Framework (CCF) for initial teacher training and the Early Career Framework (ECF) for teachers in their first two years in the profession after attaining QTS.

Clare Brookes, professor of education at Cambridge, told Schools Week that the revised framework was "just a tweak on what the current framework is and it's not going to make it any better, it's just a wasted opportunity". Furthermore, the faculty of education claimed that the evidence base for the ITTECF was "incomplete and thin".

Elsewhere, James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), said that the framework "should be developed by relevant professionals from across the education sector rather than being imposed by government."

Our panel shared their thoughts on the 'new' ITTECF...

Hannah Wilson

"It's more changes and a lot to get your head around... so I agree with the delay to the framework. The communication and the standards are so vague, and the level of trainees isn't as good as before [because of a lack of consistency in training]. The new teacher apprenticeship programme is great, but it needs to be delivered consistently so our trainees aren't burning out too quickly because they're not being trained well enough in the first place."

Brent Poland

"This is fast food teaching, marketisation - get them in, get them out. We talk about how the profession is being hollowed out and this is another example of that. We want people to be in teaching for generations, to be the best in their profession, and that takes time. You don't get to be a good teacher after you complete your course - you constantly update your knowledge through CPD."

Christopher Vowles

"There is some significant training enhancement in terms of SEND support that would be valuable, so long as it can be delivered in the time available and can be transferred to classroom practice. How do we ensure that the programme does not become lots of tedious online training after the working day? Teachers want online training to run alongside face-to-face opportunities to discuss with colleagues."


What's the current state of Initial Teacher Training (ITT)? We have a Collection for you...

Two circles that say "Initial Teacher Training" and "Early Career Teacher"

Collections are groups of four shows from the TTR archives grouped around a particular domain specialism. Our Collection on Initial Teacher Training (ITT) contains the following:

Beginning Teacher Training: Samuel Lickiss is joined by Daisy Turner to discuss issues for trainees at the beginning of their teaching journey, such as safeguarding, lesson planning and social media usage.

Managing workload and well-being in ITT: Hannah Wilson is joined by Farzana Akhtar to discuss managing workload, building resilience and finding help and support, to thrive - not just survive - in your IT year.

Reflections on ITT: Kathryn Taylor discusses ITT and the challenges of workload, recruitment and retention with Rachel Hill-Kelly, who shares her experiences of joining the teaching profession and then making the decision to leave.

Are we preparing trainees well enough? Hannah Wilson asks to what extent trainee teachers are prepared for the realities of teaching? What do you wish you knew before? How can we change teacher training for the better?


The Herald: Bid to raise Scotland's school starting age gains cross-party support (£)

A child's hands playing with magnetic letters on a magnetic whiteboard

"How would [raising the school starting age] affect mothers who wanted to go back to work? It could be another year where outgoings are cut to pay for childcare" Hannah Wilson on the Weekly Review

Eighteen members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) from three different political parties have signed a parliamentary motion to raise Scotland's school starting age.

SNP MSP Kaukab Stewart, who was a primary school teacher for nearly thirty years, submitted a parliamentary motion calling for an increased school starting age and the establishment of a universal kindergarten system in Scotland. The motion is explicitly backed by the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Lib Dems.

Stewart argues that the existing school starting age makes Scotland an "outlier in Europe". Children start school as young as four and must do so by the age of five, while the UN defines early childhood as "birth to eight years old".

In 2022, the University of Cambridge published data that suggests play-based learning can be just as effective as teacher-led lessons in growing pupils' literacy and numeracy skills. It also found that young people might develop maths skills even more quickly through guided play.

Our panel shared their thoughts on an increased school starting age and what this motion in Scotland might mean for education in England...

Brent Poland

"I remember reading an article on this twelve years ago. All evidence suggests that we should raise the school starting age. Our children need play, they need fun. We're not just a national crèche. It's a monumental failure of social policy that children are in schools as young as they are."

Christopher Vowles

"The school starting age is a hangover from the 1870 Education Act. It certainly doesn't meet the needs of 2024. Kaukab Stewart's motion suggests compulsory kindergarten - if that helps students develop better motor skills so they can go into school holding a pen or pencil properly and form letters better, that's no bad thing. Clearly, the schools and Scottish government would need to invest in training for kindergarten staff for this to work."

Hannah Wilson

"As a mother of a seven-year old, seven is too late to start school - he's learned a lot in the last couple of years. How would [raising the school starting age] affect mothers who wanted to go back to work? It could be another year where outgoings are cut to pay for childcare. The financial difference of being able to send your child to school is massive. Is raising the school starting age the best for all children - not just those from a privileged background where learning is drilled into the home environment?"


Interested to find out more about play-based learning? Our show from last month will give you an insight...

Why Children Need Joy: concrete strategies for increasing the levels of joy in our children. With host Nathan Gynn and author Ben Kingston-Hughes.

Joy is one of the most undervalued aspects of childhood. Far from being an abstract concept, joy is one of the key motivators for every aspect of learning and development throughout childhood. In short? It's something we ignore at our peril.

Ben Kingston-Hughes' transformational book gives concrete strategies for increasing the levels of joy in our children, as well as highlighting the catastrophic damage that a decline in joy can cause in our children - especially in a post pandemic world. Read on to find out more about:

  • What is joy?

  • Who is joy for?

  • What is the science of joy?

  • What are the barriers to joy in our schools?

  • What are the social aspects of joy?


EDSK: Think tank calls for CEO pay limits and reform of the academies programme

20 years of muddling through: why it is time to set a new course for the state school system in England.  By Tom Richmond and Eleanor Regan from the EDSK think tank.

"When you are stripping away layers of accountability it's undemocratic. We elect politicians to make decisions - who chooses CEOs and trustees?" Brent Poland on the Weekly Review

The EDSK think tank has recommended that the system of academies and maintained school should be replaced by a single system run by school boards - with national banding limiting chief executive pay.

Its report, co-authored by Tom Richmond and Eleanor Regan, also suggests creating a new regulator to replace the Department for Education's regional directors with regard to decision-making over schools.

EDSK recommends the creation of three types of school boards to run all state-funded schools:

  • Single school board (SSB): a board that runs an individual school

  • Local school board (LSB): a new grouping of schools set up by the local authority

  • Independent school board (ISB): a group of schools operating outside of local authority control (like an existing MAT)

The report goes on to argue that LSBs could focus more on championing the needs of pupils who require alternative provision or SEND support - with local authorities taking sole responsibility for school admissions.

The EDSK has published its report in the same week that the news of Harris Federation CEO Sir Dan Moynihan's pay rise has been revealed.

Moynihan has been CEO of the federation since its establishment in 2006. His salary has risen by at least 6 per cent in one year, to a minimum of £485,000 in the last financial year - his first pay rise since 2018-19. Three-quarters of the chief executives of the 20 largest MATs were also awarded a pay rise in this time, but Moynihan's salary is nearly £200,000 higher than any other chief executive.

Our panel discussed the recommendations of the report...

Christopher Vowles

"I think it's reasonable to say CEO pay should be banded. It's unacceptable that state money is being thrown at CEOs - no-one in the public sector should be paid more than the head of the Civil Service (around £200,000). These are leaders of schools! The reason why we have pay bands across the education sector is to maximise the money going into the education of our children."

Hannah Wilson

"There should be limits on CEOs making new roles and jobs at the top of their Trusts. I'm sure the people in these roles are fully qualified, but that money could be going towards paying for mental health first aiders in schools. What impact are education CEOs having, and who is monitoring that? They should be scrutinised by Ofsted [like headteachers]."

Brent Poland

"I'm sorry - this is a pyramid scheme. CEOs are being appointed who haven't worked in the education sector. Are you having a laugh? CEOs have no business in education. Education is not a business, it's a fundamental human right. When you are stripping away layers of accountability it's undemocratic. We elect politicians to make decisions - who chooses CEOs and trustees?"


Here's a great show exploring trust leadership...

Marie Greenhalgh is joined by Cheryl Edwards, a CEO and chair of trustees, to discuss women in leadership. Is gender still a barrier?


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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