You know what would really help teachers, parents and children?
Doing inset differently.
So many schools stagger their inset days through the year but that is
a) a bit old-fashioned
b) not very helpful
c) a bit of a nuisance
If it’s a good one, Inset can leave staff feeling a bit shell-shocked. That’s a good thing. Inset needs to move people out of their comfort zones. But it can often be a bit hectic and you get the feeling that five days is being crammed into one.
Ah, there’s an idea.
Instead of an ‘inset day’, let’s go for an ‘inset week’.
A whole week devoted to professional development sounds wonderful because we could learn so much and spend some quality time together doing and discussing a range of things. Trying to do everything in one day can leave you feeling frazzled and fried even if the day has been ‘inspiring’.
So change it.
5 days of inset would allow schools to really attack and reflect without worrying about the next day’s lessons and the 101 things to do. The time could be spent with a national speaker or workshop leader on one day, visiting other schools on another, a couple of days of Year group or Key Stage DIY inset, and another day focused on wellbeing.
Inset spread over days rather than one day would also allow staff to bond and get to know each other far better. Why not turn it into a residential and do the inset week at an activity centre?
But there is another great reason for doing a 5-day inset and that is to help the families we serve. If the inset week was organised towards the end of a half-term then families could actually go away and enjoy a holiday at a fraction of the price.
Balance this with a report from The Times which talks about Lancashire county council issuing £1000 fines and you do the maths.
Holiday prices during holiday times are scandalous and it is the poorest families that suffer. Schools could be far more strategic and decide on a week that the holiday industry isn’t ready for and that way families wouldn’t get fleeced. Why not let children and families go away during term time? As long as it was during an inset week, there’s no problem. This could also curtail the awkwardness surrounding fining families when they are ‘forced’ to holiday before the official holiday period.
Back-to-back inset makes far more sense for teachers and families. Consolidating teacher training days isn’t just an attack on the travel industry but would be better for the CPD and wellbeing of teachers too.