INSET days – 7 reasons to scrap them
Parents get pretty annoyed every time an ‘INSET’ day comes along. What other organisation simply closes shop and refuses to deal with all of its customers or clients five days a year? Imagine phoning up the school and saying, ‘Listen, my work is having a training evening next week, could you look after my kid for me, until I get home?’
Here’s seven reasons to scrap them:
- Organisations don’t throw customers out of the door for an entire day of training
- Extra cost/load on parents in terms of childcare is significant
- Kids lose about a week of schooling a year
- No convincing research evidence that INSET days have any beneficial effects
- Some are not training and used as catch-ups for work
- Many are hotchpotches of faddish, non-empirical training
- Many are ill-planned, dull and irrelevant
Other organisations don’t throw customers out of the door for an entire day to do training
Imagine banks, hospitals, shops, police forces, fire services – almost every other service, closing down for five days a year with a simple notice saying ‘staff training’. It’s unimaginable.
The extra cost/load on parents in terms of childcare is significant
People don’t find it easy to cope with teacher training days. Additional childcare, often at a cost that huts people on low pay, is the cost to the community.
Kids lose about a week of schooling a year
Schools have 5 INSET days a year, resulting in a significant amount of lost teaching. Imagine the fuss if parents suggested that we should be allowed to take our kids out of school, for five separate days, of our choosing.
No research evidence that INSET days have any beneficial effects
Prof Dylan Wiliam, from the Institute of Education thinks that INSET days are largely a waste of time as there’s no real evaluation of their effect and no conving research showing they work.
Some are not training and used as catch-ups for work
INSET days are not supposed to be work catch-up days, but are often treated as such. This is clear from teacher forums.
Many are hotchpotches of faddish, non-empirical training
INSET days are used to introduce theories from outside ‘mom and pop’ training companies that are often out of date, untested and nothing short of snakeoil. Brain Gym, Mozart Effect, L/R brain theories, Gardner’s MI, Learning Styles….the list is huge.
Many are ill-planned, dull and irrelevant
“We have to go to stupid, boring, meetings that last all day and often are a total waste of my time” (from teacher’s forum). This sort of reaction is not unusual from teachers.
And why not simply latch these days on to the start or end of holidays? Why pop them into the middle of terms? The problem here is that the timetabling is at the discretion of the school. What’s not generally known is that, the regulations state that attendance outside the regular required hours at INSET days is not obligatory. In other words, they needn’t attend at all!
Who knows? It seems to be a pretty scrappy affair but evidence from teacher’s forums is pretty disturbing. Here’s the first post on the subject from the TES and there’s lots like these in teacher forums:
“I am just looking to get a feel for what other schools do with support staff on inset days. Until recently we were left to our own devices which was great as we were able to catch up on work but under a "Whole Staff" ethos we are "invited" to attend training. The problem is that we do not find the training offered to be relevant to our job roles and, at times, is completely incomprehensible to us! We are also informed that failure to attend our allocated training session is a disciplinary issue which does wonders for the morale. We would be happy to attend targetting training but curriculum INSET is a nonsense for us and we'd rather be clearing the decks!”
Online CPD is the way forward. Encourage teachers to join professional networks, especially on social media. They'll see the flourishing communities of Teachmeets, ResearchEd and so on. Go one step further and do a MOOC - there's lots in this area. Anything but those awful round table and flipchart sessions.