So, yesterday I went on an outreach day. Since having attained AST status in 2001 I have been to dozens of schools and worked with many different teachers from trainees, returning teachers, teaching assistants, classroom teachers, middle and senior leaders, advisors, tutors- oh yes, and children; lots and lots of them!
It was with great sadness that I drove away from the school I worked with as this was the last outreach I shall do as an LA AST.
One word- funding.
Funding for ASTs ceased three years ago, the end of the year marks the end of my role. My LA safeguarded until the end of the year and I have continued to support schools across the area during this time.
I think of the schools I have worked with; would they have paid independent consultants ? Probably not with their ever diminishing budgets.
So, there must be something new to replace ASTs? Yes, of course- excellent teachers. Oh, no, they aren't funded for outreach work.
What about leading practitioners?
No funding for those.
Ah, SLEs, that looked promising; but they are to support school leaders. what is an SLE?
So, who is out there to support classroom teachers now? The LA? Hmmm, perhaps not...
Of course, we are all supporting each other now in our clusters/federations/academy chains.
Or are we?
I became an AST as a career choice; I love being a teacher and don't want to lose sight of that. Becoming an AST has given me the opportunity to develop my skills as subject leader, as teacher, coach and mentor. Each outreach role I have undertaken has been successful. I am sure that my experiences are replicated across the country by many other ASTs. And now, with a new curriculum and assessment without levels, no one out there to offer support. Publishers clamouring to sell their wares. The strength of ASTs was in their classroom role. Teachers doing the job with the understanding to offer support realistically. To say that ending this role is to miss a trick is a massive understatement.
So where next? Well, I am looking into seeing if I can continue to offer support to schools I have built links with; not as a consultant, but as a class teacher, doing the job, but keen to work with others as well.
I'd live to hear from teachers (ASTs or others) who have managed to continue their role creatively. I'm fortunate that in working part time I have some flexibility to not affect my class time ...
Watch this space!