An opportunity to be heard at the DfE

It’s an odd business, this teaching malarkey, isn’t it? We spend a lot of time telling children how important what we’re teaching them is, but we never really know how much difference it makes. Was it that key lesson that helped them reach level 4 “the expected standard”? Did your inspirational teaching lead students to study your subject at university? Might you have been the person that changed pupils’ minds about some big issue? We just have to hope that among the thousands of children with whom we come into contact, that somehow, somewhere we’re making a difference.

My year working on the DfE Teacher Reference Group was very similar. I have no idea if anything I said in those hallowed halls made the slightest difference to what happens inside the department. I couldn’t say whether the collective wisdom of some excellent classroom practitioners shared with the civil servants and ministers helped to save us from an erroneous decision, or persuaded the minister of something key. I just have to hope that the convening of the group at all was an indication that the DfE was at least interested to hear teachers’ views, even if they don’t always like them. (And I’m quite certain that they didn’t always like the views expressed at the meetings I had with some great teachers there).

I like to think that they disbanded the last Teacher Reference Group just to get rid of me, but the truth is that the initial incarnation was not built from a fully open competition for places, and it does make sense for that to happen.

The DfE is now looking for an unspecified number of classroom teachers to offer an ear and some wisdom to the great and the good at Sanctuary Buildings, and they’ve only given you a couple of weeks to get your application in!

You must be a practising classroom teacher – not a member of any senior leadership team – and teaching a timetable of at least 60%. Other than that, it appears to invite applications from a cross-section of school types, sectors, regions and even urban/rural settlements. Supply and travel costs are covered, just so long as your headteacher is happy for you to take up to 5 days absence in a year to attend the meetings.

So go on – I urge you to put in an application. If only for the fact that if you’re reading my blog, you’re quite likely to be the sort of person who’s interested enough in the big picture of education to be a valuable voice that the DfE would benefit from hearing!

Application details and forms are here:

Closing date is the 22nd of January, so don’t dilly-dally!


10 thoughts on “An opportunity to be heard at the DfE

  1. cazzypot2013 6 January 2016 at 7:34 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  2. annahalford (@anhalf) 6 January 2016 at 9:30 pm Reply

    Thanks for highlighting this, I’m applying … Great opportunity!

  3. joiningthedebate 6 January 2016 at 11:07 pm Reply

    thanks for the heads up
    How many people tend to get selected?
    Obviously with the time spent on an application it’s good to have a rough idea of one’s chances eg is it 10 out of 1000 …. 20 out of 500 ? etc
    If no-one knows, I’ll ask them direct

    • Michael Tidd 6 January 2016 at 11:08 pm Reply

      There were 10 of us on the original panel, but that wasn’t created using the same process. There’s no knowing how many will apply, really.

  4. paulmartin42 7 January 2016 at 3:41 am Reply

    I think you have to be optimistic. A civil servant´s skill is listening to a broad set of inputs at a meeting and conveying the tenor of that particular channel up the chain. The overall aim must be to maintain (some) confidence in democracy otherwise we will end up with something akin to the current Labour party.

  5. David Jones 8 January 2016 at 6:49 pm Reply

    I wanted to apply but it needs headteacher approval. My headteacher has told me by email and without discussion that she will not approve it. Can she do this? Probably yes!

    • Michael Tidd 8 January 2016 at 6:51 pm Reply

      How very short-sighted. Yes, she can do that, but she’s a fool to do so.
      Did she realise that all cover is funded? Or give any reason why?

  6. David Jones 8 January 2016 at 7:07 pm Reply

    funding – yes she knew this. Reason? perhaps she thinks the group is pointless and won’t be listened to?? She could have just let me apply (I don’t know what my chances would have been low probably) rather than abused her authority in this way. I’m not sure why so much relies on headteacher ‘reference’ in this and other processes. Surely the application process would spot any dodgy candidates anyway (I am not a dodgy candidate by the way)
    Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

  7. julietgreen 8 January 2016 at 9:04 pm Reply

    “You will be expected to demonstrate high standards of corporate and personal conduct…”

    I thought that probably precluded me. I don’t want to have to justify the language and conduct of my fellow musicians in the rock band for whom I play bass.

    Things are getting prissy, aren’t they?

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