Barriers teachers face
Barriers preventing this from happening among teachers universally appeared to be time and a lack of training and consistent approaches due to an already full curriculum and a lack of confidence in ability to teach skills.
A further barrier stemmed from wider policy restrictions with regard to the value placed on essential skills and the ripple effect this causes.
The main policy barriers emerged as teacher performance and student attainment measures, the current knowledge-rich curriculum and the reduced scope for collaboration between educational institutions.
The way forward
Identifying the barriers which exist as part of this research helped to identify how to overcome them and unleash teachers’ enthusiasm. Teachers and sector leaders put forward some possible solutions:
- Increased teacher training in pursuit of a consistent approach underpinned by a common language and expectations in relation to essential skills
- A redesign of the curriculum
- A review of accountability and assessment systems
- Capitalising on the current flexibility in the system, particularly in light of two significant steps in the right direction; the Gatsby Benchmarks and the new Ofsted framework.
The Skills Builder Partnership can be seen to support schools and colleges to capitalise on the flexibility of the system, with teachers involved in this research recognising the clarity the Universal Framework can provide and the benefit of following six principles of best practice. The Partnership also provides modelled resources to build essential skills and tools for assessment. Teachers spoke of the benefits that access to Skills Builder expertise, the Partnership network and alignment to other platforms and systems can bring.
What still needs to be done?
Change is needed at a policy level to move towards a more supportive education system which places higher value on the teaching of essential skills. But there are teacher motivations to be tapped into until that happens. The Skills Builder Partnership will work to:
- Continue capitalising on research demonstrating the value of these skills
- Grow the range of employer partners adopting the Skills Builder Framework, its language and outcomes to support a coherent approach between education and the world of work.
- Extend access to training, tools and resources for individual teachers to be able to confidently teach essential skills for their students
- Create a growing bank of best-practice examples that can be used and adapted by schools and colleges to achieve essential skills outcomes within the existing policy and environment.
- Work with aligned partners to encourage policy changes, particularly around teacher training, broadening curriculum outcomes and encouraging wider forms of assessment and accountability.
- Expand work with employer partners which will be crucial in creating disruptive noise that policy makers will struggle to ignore. The creation of the Universal Framework not only allows educators to understand and witness the value a common language can have on their learners, but also allows employers to understand the value it can add to their settings too.
If these steps can be made, enthusiasm and passion of teachers can be better capitalised to ensure that one day, every student will build the essential skills to succeed.