2024 Summer Term

The know zone

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  • All pain, no gain?
    Carl Smith highlights what more productivity gains school and college leaders might make to make life easier for hardworking politicians. More
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Carl Smith highlights what more productivity gains school and college leaders might make to make life easier for hardworking politicians.

All pain, no gain?

I’m all in favour of banning mobiles in schools. Teaching in proper classrooms is much better. I’m far more productive in a room where I don’t have to wear my coat all the time and I think most kids are the same. Get rid of the leaks in the roof and the odd spot of RAAC and my productivity knows no bounds.

Which is why I’m sure you were all delighted when the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, told us at ASCL Annual Conference in March that while there may be no money for schools and colleges, if we can make some more productivity gains, everything will be fine. If only we could stop wasting our time on paperwork like err… planning and marking, then there should be no problem.

Always looking for a challenge (who isn’t?), I wondered what more productivity gains might look like in our schools and colleges, just to make life easier for ordinary, hardworking politicians like the Secretary of State:

  1. Add another three grades to GCSEs so we can reserve the bottom three grades for kids that were never in school: a Grade 3 for those who popped in every other week, a Grade 2 for those who we only saw in September and a Grade 1 for those who never even made it for the photos on the first day. Not so much the forgotten third as the third we never saw at all.
  2. Abolish the 1847 Ten Hours Act and lengthen the school day. Teachers could work in 12-hour shifts on an eight-week cycle, a bit like they do on the oil rigs. Build dorms for the staff so they don’t have to waste time going home, and provide meals on a conveyer belt, so they don’t waste time cooking.
  3. Introduce a football-style winter break across the whole of December and January to reduce heating bills. We could then work through the entire summer and reduce the cost of holidays for hardworking families in the process, by not providing them with any holidays at all.
  4. Use CCTV to ensure staff aren’t wasting their time talking to one another or making unnecessary trips to the toilet. Staff could wear a registration plate round their neck so that each time they wandered off course, it could be logged and deducted from their pay.
  5. Double teacher recruitment overnight by making all undergraduates teach primary children as part of their degree. If they refuse, triple their fees, and cap their final grade at a 2:2.

When you get going with this sort of thing the ideas just keep coming and I am sure you will have some of your own. Maybe ASCL should introduce a ‘productivity gain of the week’. They could call it ‘Pepe’s Productivity Gains’ and award prizes for the best suggestions, such as free counselling or a month’s worth of anti-depressants.

Now, I might be missing something here, but according to GCSE business studies becoming more productive means getting more out of the resources you have, as opposed to continually reducing those resources. I think that’s called making savings, or spending cuts if you prefer, which I believe has a tendency to make us even less productive.

Looks like we’ll just have to keep the mobiles after all.

Carl Smith is Principal at Casterton College Rutland (CCR)

Want the last word?

Last Word always welcomes contributions from members. If you’d like to share your humorous observations of school life, email Permjit Mann at leader@ascl.org.uk ASCL offers a modest honorarium.