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Schools impeded by a ‘three-headed dragon’ of difficulties, headteachers warn

Workloads, unaccountability and insufficient funding has turned teachers' jobs into a ‘nightmare,’ the National Association of Headteachers said

SCHOOLS face having to fight a “three-headed dragon” of workload, accountability and insufficient funding that turns teachers’ jobs into a “nightmare,” the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) warned today.

The union’s president Andy Mellor urged the government to be more aware of how the pressures combine to form a barrier to recruitment and retention of staff.

Speaking at the NAHT’s Primary Conference in Birmingham, Mr Mellor said: “On a good day, teaching is the best job in the world. The trouble is, there are not enough good days.

“As a result, too few graduates are choosing teaching as a career and too many experienced professionals are leaving the profession prematurely.

“The joy of teaching is still burning, but the current climate is much too cold, and only the government has the power to make the big changes needed to improve things.

“Nine out of 10 primary and secondary schools are facing real-terms funding cuts. An overhaul of the way Ofsted plans to inspect schools is being rushed through. And workload has never been higher, thanks to year after year of government changes.”

Nearly 80 per cent of school leaders in the NAHT said that they found recruitment to be a struggle last year and 67 per cent said their staff left for reasons other than retirement.

Potential solutions for the difficulties were largely reported as better work-life balances and a less punitive accountability system.

Mr Mellor added: “The school funding crisis is something that school leaders cannot solve alone. We have done what we can by making savings, but now there’s nothing left to cut. Only new money from the Treasury is going to make a difference.

“The new Ofsted inspection framework, due in September 2019, is in real danger of causing chaos throughout the system.

“As we have recommended in our Improving School Accountability report, changes are necessary but Ofsted must pause rather than rush the framework through without properly involving schools in its design.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said it is determined to ensure teaching “remains an attractive and fulfilling profession” and is currently developing a recruitment and retention strategy.

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