Tags: Headteacher | School Leadership & Management | Staffing Structures

Time to review the school staffing and pay structure is fast running out. Former headteacher Roger Smith looks at what needs doing and how it can be achieved before the deadline for completion arrives.

Few headteachers will need reminding that the review and future planning of their school’s staffing has to be completed by the end of December. Time is disappearing fast!
In summary, this is what has to happen before January 2006 in the new planning structure:

  • management points will cease to exist and new posts (if this is what is wanted) for teaching and learning responsibilities will start
  • every part of the planning has to relate to teaching and learning and raising standards – which will mean balancing the plan against documents such as the school improvement plan, post-Ofsted action plans and school evaluation plans
  • the whole staff – both teaching and non-teaching have to be involved
  • a wide range of people has to be consulted and involved in the planning process.

This is planning for the future in a serious and committed way. It is planning that can take immediate effect – except for the safeguarding of management allowances – but it is also possible for the transition period to run until 31 December 2008 as a way of safeguarding an individual’s salary.

What are the key points?
The review will obviously be time-consuming and involve many meetings and discussions. It will also be necessary to understand that how it is done and when it really has to be completed are not completely fixed. There is some leeway which, in terms of the speed at which the term is disappearing, means there is a small chink of light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Although the review has to be completed by 31 December, there is no need to implement it immediately
  • Implementation may be phased, eg large departments by September 2006 and smaller ones, where you are moving to more of a faculty structure, by September 2007
  • During the phased implementation, teachers holding safeguarded management allowances can be required to take on additional duties during the period of safeguarding.

However, delaying the implementation of any new staffing structure has to be backed by solid reasons. After all, the restructuring has been agreed because everyone who has been consulted, staff and governors, has agreed that the new structure is the strategic way to drive the school forward and to maintain and improve teaching and learning. With this in mind, the sort of reasons for delaying the implementation might include:

  • making the changes coincide with the budget cycle
  • rather than implement anything mid-year make them coincide with the school year
  • creating a transition period that gives time for making any new appointments and allows time for training for any newly created roles
  • avoiding any double costs of TLRs and safeguarded allowances.

The step-by-step process
So what’s the plan? Here are some suggestions matched to dates. I have started from September to indicate what should already have happened. If it hasn’t yet started in your school, don’t panic – you can still do it.

  • By the end of September – you should have briefed governors and held a staff meeting to tell all staff, both teaching and non-teaching, what the restructuring process actually means.
  • By the end of October – you will have prepared a draft staffing structure, including new job descriptions and how the plan will be implemented. At this stage the governors will need to meet to discuss, amend and agree the plan as a basis for further consultation.
  • By the end of November – you will need to consult with staff and any appropriate union representatives. This might lead to changes and amendments to the planned restructuring.
  • By the end of December– the final draft of the plan has to be approved by governors ready to be implemented on 1 January 2006.

Making the process fair and transparent The bottom line of the whole process is that some teachers may feel let down and will see themselves as losing status and power. Remember, the review has to be a strategic restructuring of the school and not just a shuffling round of staff. In reality everything should work out OK because schools will already have a staffing structure that works now and will work for the future. But with the loss of management points and the higher cost of TLRs there may well be some teachers who lose out and will feel left out. So how do we make it fair, transparent and all above board?

So… Let’s get the information out to the right people:

  • Communicate each stage of the process clearly to all staff with extra copies to union reps.
  • Whatever documents and information the staff receive – so should the governors and vice versa (this may seem like a lot of repeated information but individuals can choose whether they read it.
  • What is important is that they all have all the information that is available).
  • The time scales and dates of meetings must be given to everyone well in advance so that no one has any excuse about not being able to make a meeting because of lack of information about it or too short notice etc.

We need to involve all the interested parties (there may be a lot or very few):

  • All staff, governors and trade union reps should be able to voice their opinions and have their views taken into account.
  • All parties who need to meet to discuss relevant issues should be provided with both the time and space.

Consultation and discussion are important:

  • None of the consultation processes should place an unreasonable workload on any school staff – or on those governors who are overseeing the review.
  • Both headteachers and governors should make it obvious that they are considering the points raised during discussions.
  • Where necessary there should be further meetings to clarify important points and outcomes.

What information will help the process? As there is no single staffing structure that will fit the needs of all schools, it is difficult to suggest exactly what documents will help the process run smoothly and effectively. Each school will have to consider its own particular needs and specific circumstances. Having said that, there are certain key documents which will be essential sources of useful information. The school improvement plan and the priorities it sets out should suggest not only how the school will move forward, but, who will play a leading role in raising standards. Most SIPs also match costs against the changes that will be made. This may well be useful when taking decisions that are related to teaching and learning responsibility payments (TLRs).

The most recent Ofsted reports and the post Ofsted action plans will also be useful in making the case for school priorities whilst the school evaluation form [SEF] will identify or has already identified areas of strengths and areas where more development is needed.

Will we have to consider any financial implications? One of the key documents that will inform the staffing restructuring debate is the SIP and as has been already suggested, this will have financial implications. Governors will also have been involved in the workforce remodelling process that has taken place over the last two years. This will have established the cost of increasing the numbers of both teaching and non-teaching staff as well as any changes to leadership teams. This information will help in the effective costing of the revised structure. It will also be important to take account of and understand the financial implications of the number and types of posts that the school needs in the future.

There are a lot of decisions to be made. How many teachers will be needed on the leadership spine? What will the TLRs do? Do we need advanced skills teachers? TLRs, for example, will cost a minimum of £2,250 as TLR2, which is more than the cost of the disappearing management points.

Who will be my TLRs?
Many schools may well seek to reward their teachers by introducing TLR posts. The criteria for making these appointments is as follows: The TLR payment must only be made to a teacher who is accountable for a significant, specified responsibility focused on teaching and learning that is not required of all classroom teachers, clearly defined in the job description of the TLR payment holder. On top of this definition of eligibility, there are other key factors such as:

  • impact on educational progress beyond the teacher’s assigned pupils
  • developing and enhancing the teaching practice of others
  • having some accountability for leading, managing and developing a subject or curriculum area
  • having a management responsibility for a significant number of people.

What else needs doing? This whole review process creates a chance to revolutionise how both teachers and non-teachers are deployed. It also presents the opportunity to develop a structure that has a range of posts in a much broader sense. However, there is a problem. No one should make the assumption in the new structure that teachers who have done all kinds of important teaching and learning jobs without any extra pay will continue to do so. For example, in small schools a teacher who has been an unpaid literacy coordinator may now consider him or herself hard done by if, after a headteacher has been given the opportunity to reward this valuable post, there are no rewards forthcoming. It seems to me that if there is a continuing need for extra input from staff – as well as any new needs – they should be rewarded in some way within the new structure. This will mean it is even more important that it is seen to be based on a clear and transparent rationale which is fair for those who currently hold management allowances and also those who do not.

Job descriptions – each of the posts within the staffing structure will need a job description. This will demonstrate why the job is important and should include:

  • the purpose (the rationale) of the post
  • who the person reports to – ie who is their ‘line manager’
  • the general responsibilities of the post
  • the specific responsibilities of the post.

Recruitment to new posts – you now need to indicate clearly which of the posts as defined by the job descriptions are ‘new posts’, which are largely unchanged and match existing responsibilities and which are ‘new’ in the sense that they are a combination of several different responsibilities. For ‘new posts’ an open and normal recruitment process should be followed. Where a post is largely unchanged, then the existing teacher should be slotted into the post. If a job becomes a combination of several responsibilities it should only be advertised to those teachers holding the ‘several’ responsibilities and an appointment made following the usual recruitment process and interview.

Internal appointments can create a minefield of clashing egos and personalities, so it is useful to remind internal candidates of the importance of handling disappointment professionally.

Back to the timescale…
The new staffing structure cannot be regarded as final until it has been read, considered, discussed and ratified by the governing body. This has to be seen as a well informed discussion so present the following:

  • draft structure and implementation plan
  • comments received from staff and trades unions
  • any formal written submissions from staff and trade unions
  • any changes and amendments taken on board as a result of the consultation process.

Once adopted, it is all systems go and a structured plan to move the school forward will be in place. You might think that if Columbus had been subjected to such a process he would, during endless discussions with his first mate and cabin boy, have zigzagged his way across all the world’s oceans and discovered the Isle of Wight.

Nevertheless, in theory, all headteachers will be in a position to enjoy Christmas with only such matters as implementing the new planned structure, phasing out management allowances, safeguarding an individual teacher’s salary, etc, to occupy their minds. Then, in the freshness of the new year, the valiant efforts to raise standards and improve teaching and learning opportunities continue. If there’s time, that is…

This article first appeared in Secondary Headship – Nov 2005

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