ASCL Blueprint


Leaders, teachers and support staff in every school and college who have the expertise and capacity to develop and expand the core national curriculum into a high-quality local curriculum, and to provide the broader support children and young people need. This expertise is developed through strong initial teacher education, ongoing and effective professional development, and the sharing of knowledge and effective practice. 

Teaching is seen as a prestigious and highly respected profession. All school and college staff are appropriately remunerated. The role of business leaders and other support staff is clearly recognised and valued.

All school and college staff are effectively supported, with appropriate and manageable workloads, commitments, and responsibilities. Teachers are not over-burdened with administrative responsibilities, to ensure they can focus on their core role.

Flexible approaches enable people to enter or remain in teaching and leadership whatever their personal circumstances. There are clear career structures in place for everyone working in our schools and colleges.

There is a national commitment to ensuring teachers and leaders can continue to develop their knowledge, skills and practice throughout their careers. For teachers, this includes the time and capacity to engage in research and development around curriculum design and implementation.

All teachers and other staff are able to work effectively with colleagues within and beyond their school or college. Everyone has the opportunity to plan collaboratively, and to share knowledge and expertise.

There are no disincentives to working in less advantaged schools or areas. On the contrary, the greater challenges involved in working in some schools or areas are fully recognised, and people taking on this challenge are incentivised and supported to do so.

Teaching is not seen as a prestigious profession in England8 . This lack of prestige has a number of problematic consequences. It makes teaching a less attractive career to high-performing graduates – particularly in maths and sciences. It diminishes teachers’ self-esteem and professional identity. And it can lead to government over-reach – emboldening politicians to direct education practice at a level of detail that would be inconceivable in other professions, such as medicine or law.

The problem of prestige is compounded by long-term issues related to the pay and workload of teachers and leaders. The government’s commitment to increasing the teacher starting salary to £30,000 is welcome, but its delayed implementation as a result of the public sector pay freeze is extremely disappointing. We also continue to have a damaging disparity in the pay, conditions, and recognition of business leaders, for whom seniority is too often not accompanied by commensurate pay9 . And issues related to workload and stress for all teachers and leaders continue to be a major concern10.

Until recently, England had experienced a progressively worsening teacher recruitment and retention crisis. Teacher training applications had dropped, targets had been missed, and teacher exit rates had increased, particularly early in teachers’ careers. Worrying numbers of headteachers and other school and college leaders are leaving the profession after only a few years in post. The number of teachers leaving after around five to seven years is particularly concerning, as this is just when many are thinking of moving into middle leadership.

The pandemic has affected teacher and leader recruitment, retention, and workload in a number of different and complex ways. The resulting recession is leading to more people entering and staying in the teaching profession. And the Covid crisis may (despite what has too often felt like a barrage of negative messages from government and the media) have led to a greater recognition of the role and importance of teachers and other staff in our schools and colleges. But it’s also possible that the increased stress associated with working in schools and colleges over this period may lead to more teachers and leaders leaving11.

There have, however, been a number of extremely welcome recent initiatives to tackle some of these deep-rooted issues. The establishment of the Chartered College of Teaching as the professional body for teachers has the potential to raise the status of the profession (although it is still relatively new, and its long-term impact as yet unknown). We strongly welcome the introduction of the Early Career Framework, reformed National Professional Qualifications (NPQs), and emerging thinking about the development of a coherent professional development ladder for teachers and leaders. And we hope that the new Teaching School Hubs will evolve into effective mechanisms for encouraging collaborative development and the sharing of expertise.

But there remains far too little recognition in the English education system of the additional challenge of working in some schools than others. On the contrary, our accountability system actively rewards teachers and leaders working in more advantaged areas and penalises those working in more deprived areas12. This makes it harder to recruit teachers and leaders in disadvantaged areas, meaning disadvantaged children are more likely to be taught by less experienced teachers, or teachers who aren’t specialists in the subject taught, or in larger classes.

An increased commitment to ensuring all teachers and leaders have access to, and time to engage in, high-quality professional development.
This should be achieved through ongoing support to enable all schools and colleges to embed the Early Career Framework, ongoing investment in the development of NPQs, and encouragement for every school and college to have at least one member of staff who has undertaken the new NPQ in leading teacher development.

We would also like to see the implementation of a pilot to ring-fence 20% of staff time for collaborative planning, coaching and CPD, to investigate the impact of this on pupil performance and teacher recruitment and retention, particularly in schools serving disadvantaged areas.
An acceleration in the development of clear career pathways for teachers and leaders.
This should include a framework and accompanying support for new leaders, to mirror the Early Career Framework for new teachers (including for business leaders transferring between phases and structures, or from outside of education). These pathways should include a strong focus on coaching and mentoring. It should also recognise, and seek to address, the additional barriers faced by some aspiring leaders, including women and those from BAME and LGBT communities.
The honouring of the government’s manifesto commitment to raise the teacher starting salary to £30,000, and for this to be matched across all pay ranges to maintain the current differentials between points and ranges.
This should include a review of business leaders’ pay to ensure their crucial role is appropriately recognised and remunerated. It should also include a review of pay levels in FE colleges, which are often significantly lower than in schools. As a principle, the government should commit to ensuring the pay of all staff in schools and colleges at least keeps pace with inflation.

A shared commitment, across government and the profession, to support and encourage more flexible working practices in schools and colleges​.
This should include strategies to make teaching and leadership more attractive to people with young families or other caring responsibilities, to those nearing the end of their career, and to those considering moving into education from other careers. It should include research into how more flexible working can be introduced with no negative impact on pupils.

(Changes related to minimising teachers’ administrative burden, reducing teachers’ and leaders’ stress, increasing collaboration and the sharing of expertise, and encouraging strong teachers and leaders to work in challenging schools are included building blocks 4 and 5.)

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  8 The OECD’s most recent Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) reported that only 29% of teachers in England ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with the statement that their profession is valued in society. While this number is marginally higher than the average across participating countries (26%), it has been falling over the five years preceding this study.

9 See Layout 1 ISBL and Survey of School Business Professionals, 2019

10 The TALIS study cited above found that teachers in England reported significantly higher levels of stress than those in most other participating countries. Teachers in England also report spending significantly longer on administrative tasks than those in many other countries.

11 A recent ASCL survey, for example, found that over 50% of headteachers, deputy heads and assistant heads are considering leaving their role, with 28% of heads considering leaving education for either a role outside education or early retirement. 71% of respondents reported working additional hours than pre-Covid, and that this was a contributory factor to their desire to step down.

12 See Our latest statistics: a first look at the EIF - Ofsted blog: schools, early years, further education and skills
ASCL Blueprint