Back in 2003 I went through the (rather gruelling) process to become an Advanced Skills Teacher. The idea was to give teachers the opportunity to stay in the classroom doing what they love plus work across a range of schools. Also for their salary to be enhanced and their school to have extra funding to allow this to happen. RESULT!
(HERE is some information about the AST role also here .)
I had decided that I was not looking for a management position so I was very excited about the prospect of outreach and working on collaborative projects. The idea of making a difference beyond my school was an extremely attractive one.
So began a series of requests and work in schools across the county. Somewhat hit and miss with some ASTs being used extensively whilst others were used less widely and a strategic long term plan did not materialise.
Fast track to 2014, a new curriculum starting in September. Funding cuts across local authorities have led to the cessation of the AST scheme. (read more here ) and there are fewer and fewer subject advisors across the country. I'm one of the fortunate ones in so far as my LA agreed to safeguard my salary until the end of this year. And I have NEVER been busier with outreach work than at present. Funny that!
Few courses being offered by the county, no subject specialist at county level. Just me. Since becoming a member of the pstt (www.psst.org.uk) I have been lucky enough to receive some valuable CPD which I have been able to cascade to my school and others. But what about all the schools who don't have access to this?
How short sighted is the present system? Teacher training in schools, teachers teaching teachers- this is what the DFE are telling us should be done. (lots of details here ) but WHO is going to train the teachers ? The government have said how important it is to have good CPD , the opposition have muted their ideas (here) but nobody is saying who will provide the CPD (or who will pay for it!?)
Or is this part of the plan to kick teachers out after a few years (see here and here ) I'm all for getting new teachers into the profession- I love working with trainees and NQTs and they have heaps to offer a school, and can certainly provide up to the moment advice , but what about the teachers who have been in the profession for a long time (+20 years = me. Still loving it)
How are we meant to be trained? It's all very well expecting us to train each other- but exactly how and when?
Oh yes, silly me- in our own time of course. Well, that's what a lot of teachers already do- twitter has certainly helped with that- teachmeets growing in popularity.
BUT why oh why end the AST scheme? Other than to save money.
BOOM , without wanting to sound cynical, why else?
And, how short sighted is that?
There is a new scheme to "replace" ASTs- see here
but there is a problem with that...MONEY!!
ASTs could have (should have) been an incredible support across the country which should have been better managed, better publicised and continued. Excellent teachers supporting others, learning form each other, working together
I'm not bitter about it, I always suspected that it would be a finite thing (there's that cynicism again) and it was good while it lasted. I can't help but think that in the future, someone somewhere will come up with a fantastic idea. "Let's give great teachers the chance to share good practice with others and work together, and let's help to facilitate that by giving schools funding to allow that to happen."
It IS possible to make these schemes work, just need to be well managed and have a purpose. What a pity that this did not happen. But, the future is not set and I shall certainly continue fight for such roles to be values and continued. How about a secondment basis? One per cluster? See, not that difficult at all, just that little problem with the funding. Ah well, back to the drawing board.
"Opportunity, sooner or later, comes to all who work and wish."