Tags: G&T Coordinator | G&T provision | Gifted & Talented | School Leadership & Management | Teaching & Learning Coordinator

Tim Dracup of the DfES’s Gifted and Talented Education Unit explains what this means for G&T coordinators.

Schools are currently reviewing their staffing structures. They need to prepare an implementation plan by 31 December and full implementation has to be achieved by 31 December 2008.

These reviews allow schools to consider what mix of teachers and support staff is appropriate and to determine an effective allocation of responsibilities. They provide a focus for the introduction of teaching and learning responsibility payments (TLRs) from 1 January 2006 and the Excellent Teacher Scheme from 1 September 2006. They also provide an opportunity to consider the other matters such as the size of the leadership group.

Guidance emphasises that the review should not be seen as an assimilation exercise, enabling schools to translate the old management allowances into the new TLRs. In recommending the new arrangements, the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) took account of research that found no clarity or consistency in the way management allowances were awarded: some were used as incentives supporting recruitment and retention; others were used as performance awards.
The review process invites schools to consider what structure will best enable them to focus on teaching and learning to raise standards. The guidance therefore encourages schools to ensure that their new staffing structure is designed explicitly to achieve improvement priorities.

G&T coordinators
So what does this mean for G&T coordinators in schools? Well, there is evidence to suggest that some are vulnerable to local interpretation of the guidance on TLR payments. There are two particular issues here.

Think creatively for the future But schools need to look beyond TLRs and think creatively about how the whole staffing structure can be used to support G&T education. They might choose to retain it as a distinct responsibility – and to support it through the leadership group, through an AST or an Excellent Teacher, through dedicated support staff, through TLR payments, or through a combination of these. And schools also need to look beyond their own walls, taking into account the potential for collaboration with their neighbours.

Although the emphasis on G&T education remains, the schools white paper carries within it the suggestion that schools might look beyond a coordinator function, towards an approach that relies more on ‘expert, leading teachers’. This role has yet to be defined with any precision, but its existence from 2006-07 will have clear implications for staffing decisions.

Some existing coordinators might prefer to take on this different role which, especially in the primary sector, will almost certainly involve working across several schools. Arguably, many of the remaining functions of a coordinator might be undertaken by a non-teaching member of staff.

Schools might opt to support G&T education as part of a broader responsibility for personalised education – that too would be consistent with the broad approach taken in the white paper.

So coordinators who feel vulnerable to staffing review decisions do have other routes open to them – and we cannot afford to lose their expertise as we begin the major action programme set out in the white paper.

And schools that are taking decisions now for the purposes of the current staffing review may well wish to revisit their structure in future, not least to reflect the emerging role of expert teachers. There is no expectation that the structure they agree for 31 December will be set in stone. Schools will always wish to make adjustments to their structures to reflect other developments, which now include those arising from the schools white paper.

Tim Dracup is head of GTEU.
tim.dracup@dfes.gsi.gov.uk

TLR payments: potential problems for G&T coordinators

1 TLR payments cannot be awarded on a fixed-term basis, and can only be awarded for undertaking a ‘sustained additional responsibility’. The guidance advises schools to look beyond specific funding streams when determining their staffing structure. They should plan a contingency strategy should the funding cease. Although the guidance also suggests that ‘sustained’ should be regarded as meaning the responsibility lasts for at least a year, some schools in Excellence in Cities areas – including those in excellence clusters – are reportedly taking a narrower view.

They are reportedly arguing that EiC funding is fixed-term funding, even though we know it is still available to schools – though no longer earmarked – until the end of the current three-year funding period in 2008. Some seem to be taking the view that G&T education is no longer a priority for the government and that they can turn their attention elsewhere.

But schools need only to read chapter 4 of the new schools white paper to know that the opposite is true. With large-scale funding earmarked within the Dedicated Schools grant (DSG) for 2006-07 and 2007-08, plus a major new action programme, G&T education can only be set for further growth.

In short, it would be a mistake for schools to see their G&T work solely in relation to EiC funding when we are about to embark on a major new thrust to improve G&T education nationally.

2 While the criteria for the award of TLR payments would appear to fit the role of G&T coordinator admirably – being focused on teaching and learning; requiring the teacher to lead and manage pupil development across the curriculum; involving leading, developing and enhancing the teaching practice of other staff – there may be an obstacle to the award of the larger payments.

While the role of gifted and talented education coordinator will typically meet the basic criterion for the award of a TLR and the specific factors for the award of TLR2 payments (from £2,250 to £5,500), TLR1 payments (£6,500-£11,000) can only be made where the teacher has ‘line management responsibility for a significant number of people’. Although it is for the school to define ‘significant’, some coordinators may not meet this requirement.

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