Curriculum and assessment in chaos: a survey of NUT secondary school members

26 March 2016

NUT Conference 2016

Curriculum and assessment in chaos: a survey of NUT secondary school members

All figures are from the results of an NUT survey of secondary teacher members completed by 3,785 respondents between 16 and 20 March 2016.

The lack of school places and the impact of cuts are having real effects on education. Six out of ten teachers said average class sizes are increasing in their school and 59% said there were fewer resources and materials for pupils in their school.

The closure of the essential children and family services that schools need is a source of consternation and unresolved pressure. Over three quarters (78%) of teachers in this survey believed that child and adolescent mental health issues were having a negative impact on the educational achievement of the students that they taught. Yet, 71% said that they didn’t think the services available to their school matched the level of need for counselling or mental health support for students.

Similarly, 65% of secondary teachers were frustrated that the lack of specialist services for SEN was having a negative impact on the achievement of students with SEN.

Secondary teachers feel strongly that the educational experience and curriculum opportunities for their students are narrowing. When asked about the Government’s Ebacc measure, 77% of teachers did not think it was flexible enough to meet the range of learner needs in their secondary school. 60% held the view that it had already decreased learning opportunities in their school.

Teachers want every child to reach their potential but don’t want schools turned into exam factories. An overwhelming majority (85%) of respondents reported that current Government accountability measures are harming the self-esteem, confidence and mental health of their students. 91% argued that the effect of accountability on assessment is undermining good teaching and learning. The same number, 92%, agreed that accountability measures reduce the quality and time for teacher-pupil interaction, because of the way these performance indicators and metrics drive behaviour.

The frustration about class size, funding cuts, loss of specialist services and a narrowing curriculum explain the current teacher retention fiasco in secondary. The Government must understand that this is a multi-sided crisis. In this survey, almost two thirds (61%) of secondary school teachers said they are thinking of leaving the teaching profession in the next two years. Such a ticking time bomb simply can’t be ignored.

Commenting on the survey findings, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“The survey results confirm that secondary education is experiencing a multifaceted crisis. Teacher workload is rising, while morale is falling. Cuts are biting, while the mental health of students is under increasing strain.

“Changes to curriculum and assessment have brought no relief; they entail extra work for teachers and – for many students – a programme of learning which is indifferent to their needs. The evidence is stark, yet Government ministers remain detached from the realities that teachers face every day.

“Amid denial and neglect from on high, the Union will continue to highlight these worsening problems, and to hold government to account for its failure to provide the support and the resources that our school system needs.’’

The NUT’s Annual Conference is taking place this Easter weekend in Brighton. For the Final Agenda, please click here.

Secondary survey report198 KB
Secondary survey chart115.71 KB
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