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Could more teacher involvement improve your school strategy?

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The role of an educational leader is both rewarding and challenging in equal measure. There are a number of goals to achieve throughout the academic year, like meeting the needs of pupils and the curriculum, and raising attainment. Having a clear strategic vision, however, can significantly help SLTs, and the school as a whole, reach their objectives.

According to last year’s The State of Technology in Education report, 70% of educators believed that their school had a clear strategic vision for the coming academic year. But according to this year’s report, that figure has reduced to just over half. So, what has changed?

The survey highlights that, of those schools that identify a lack of strategy, there is an opportunity for leadership teams to work more closely with their teaching staff to improve their vision.

Of those schools that identify a lack of strategy, a failure in leadership is blamed by 40.9%—with teachers and IT being most critical of school leaders.
The State of Technology in Education report 2019/20

So, could more schools make greater use of their most valuable assets? Here we examine some possible obstacles in rolling out a strategy, and how to overcome them:

  1. Teachers could have more say when it comes to formulating school strategies

    Over the last 12 months, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of educators taking a key role in their school’s strategy, particularly business managers and headteachers. Everyone, in fact, except for teachers.

    Just 7.4% of teachers take a key role in their school’s strategy
    The State of Technology in Education report 2019/20

    So, when it comes to strategy formulation, the majority of teachers remain an untapped resource. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and with increased collaboration, teachers could provide much-needed support to heads.

    What’s more, by bringing them into the strategic process early on, educational leaders could help to ensure a higher level of buy-in from all stakeholders — making sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to school objectives and improvements.

  2. Teacher workload is reaching critical levels but are SLTs taking this problem seriously enough?

    According to the latest findings, 81% of teachers believe workload is contributing to high levels of stress in schools. That’s up almost 20% from last year. But, with only 66% of educational leaders in agreement, there is a significant perception gap between classroom teachers and school leaders.At the same time, while more than 30% of educators think staff retention is a challenge, fewer than 4% believe their schools are addressing the issue.

    “What’s causing the most frustration? Workload, long hours, pupil behaviour, lack of support from SLT.”
    TA/admin/support staff, Local Authority Secondary, West Midlands
    The State of Technology in Education report 2019/20

    Without putting more emphasis on the real pressing issues that teachers face, it is unlikely that their strategies will come to fruition or address these problems. And, rather than working together to solve an issue that is undoubtedly damaging the sector, there is a risk that more teachers will simply leave the profession. Find out how schools can help to retain teachers.

  3. SLTs and teacher priorities are not always aligned

    Most educators agree that the needs of pupils should be at the heart of any school’s strategic vision. But, our research has found that there is less agreement over what else needs to be a priority.

    For example, according to The State of Technology in Education report 2019/20, 86% of SLTs agree with their school’s strategic training priorities compared to just 58% of teachers. Also, SLT members are almost two and a half times more likely (49%) to say that the training budget is at the right level, compared to teachers (20%).

    Of course, budgetary pressures have made it increasingly difficult for head teachers to deliver the depth and breadth of training that they would like. And it is simply not possible to allocate the funds needed for every type of training. But there are ways that schools can improve teacher training on a small budget. For example, by ensuring teachers understand how any particular training can help them and their pupils, by making time available for training, and by sourcing and providing free access to training resources wherever possible.

    “There’s no time off allowed to attend training.”
    IT / Network Manager, Multi Academy Trust, North East
    The State of Technology in Education report 2019/20

  4. Is there a failure in communication?

    In some cases, a lack of support for a school strategy can be down to a failure in communication. And, when you consider that head teachers have to deal with a weighty inspection regime, changing goalposts, a recruitment crisis, and significant budgetary pressures, it’s perhaps no wonder that they don’t always find the time to secure teacher buy-in.But, a disgruntled staff can be a real impediment when it comes to realising a school’s strategic goals. So, SLTs must do more to share their vision, and communicate why they have focused on the priorities they have.

  5. Give teachers the tools they need to do their jobs to avoid unnecessary frustrations

    Today, almost all educators believe that modern technology helps them to do their jobs better, engage students and improve behaviour. So, it’s no wonder that they are seeking to use technology to engage and educate students.

“I would be lost without it nowadays.”
Teacher, Local Authority Primary, Wales, The State of Technology in Education report 2019/20

But, despite recognising the value of technology, 53% of teachers think that too little budget is spent on it, according to The State of Technology in Education report 2019/20. And, they are likely becoming increasingly frustrated at not being given access to the tools they need to succeed in our digital world.

Of course, the majority of educators recognise the financial pressures faced by schools, and they understand that funds aren’t available to invest in all the latest tech. But, there are many different (and innovative) ways that schools can maximise their IT budget, and educational leaders must adopt these if they want to keep teachers onside. Find out how to make the best use of your school’s ICT budget.

A collaborative approach from school leaders and teachers is vital to ensure strategic buy-in and maximise staff retention in schools. And that requires a deep understanding of the issues faced by everyone in the sector. For more insight into the views of classroom teachers and educational leaders, download the latest The State of Technology in Education 2019/20 report.