Teachers’ workloads need to be cut to compete with China, says head

Julian Baldwin with maths and science students in China.

Julian Baldwin with maths and science students in China. - Credit: Archant

A BACKWELL teacher will be recommending to the Government that teachers’ workloads are halved so they can prepare better lessons and help struggling pupils.

Julian Baldwin visitng students and teachers in China to learn more about teaching methods.

Julian Baldwin visitng students and teachers in China to learn more about teaching methods. - Credit: Archant

Julian Baldwin, Backwell School headteacher and a national leader in education, was one of 30 experts chosen to visit China to find out what Britain can learn from its teaching practices.

Julian Baldwin on a fact finding visit to China to improve maths and science lessons in England.

Julian Baldwin on a fact finding visit to China to improve maths and science lessons in England. - Credit: Archant

Statistics show that schools in China, particularly Shanghai, are the best in the world at teaching maths and science.

Julian Baldwin talking to students from China about their maths and science lessons.

Julian Baldwin talking to students from China about their maths and science lessons. - Credit: Archant

The Department for Education arranged for a group of primary and secondary headteachers to visit six schools in Shanghai and Ningbo, as well as a teacher training university, to talk to students and headteachers about the subjects.

Mr Baldwin said: “The aim of our trip was to bring back ideas we can introduce into our own schools.


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“As a group, we will submit a report that will end up on Mr Gove’s (education secretary) desk suggesting ways forward and whether anything can be applied successfully in this country.

“If I had to make one single recommendation for change, it would be to give schools enough money to reduce the teaching load on teachers.

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“In China, teachers teach much fewer lessons during the week – about half the amount teachers in Britain do.

“This allows them more time to plan and prepare really good lessons and to provide extra help to students who are struggling and also to improve themselves.

“They also provide a lot of extra catch-up classes outside of lessons, not just during exam time.

“To do this, we would need to have more teachers and the Government would also have to recognise that teachers would perform better if they were not as stretched all the time.”

Headteachers from China will be visiting schools in England this summer to find out what they can learn from the UK, and Mr Baldwin is hoping they will visit Backwell.

He said: “The Chinese educators recognised that in our country we do a lot of things very well, including encouraging students to be creative and learn independently, and they want to learn that from us.

“I’ve brought back lots of ideas that we could apply to our local schools, for example, introducing Mandarin Chinese to our young people - China is such an important global power, we need to speak their language.

“Perhaps the most important message I learned was that, while Chinese and British schools do some things differently, what we have in common is a determination to do the very best for our young people.”

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