Advanced Skills Teachers

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1 Guidance Teachers & Staffing Advanced Skills Teachers Promoting Excellence Headteachers, Teachers, Chairs of Governors and LEA co-ordinators Published: October 2001 Ref: DfES 0755/2001 Related Documents: Document DfES 0255: The Standards Fund Current School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document and Guidance

2 Contents What is an Advanced Skills Teacher? 3 Why do we need Advanced Skills Teachers? 3 What are the signs of excellence? 4 Who can become an Advanced Skills Teacher? 5 ASTs in action 6 What does being an AST involve? 7 ASTs in action 8 A commitment to Outreach 9 ASTs in action 9 How does Outreach work? 10 ASTs in action 10 When is Outreach not compulsory? 11 What is the Pay Scale for ASTs? 11 What are the Conditions of Service? 12 What are the steps to becoming an AST? 12 Contents of a Portfolio 13 How are AST posts funded? 14 ASTs and the Performance Threshold 14 1

3 Advanced Skills Teachers: WHAT IS AN ADVANCED SKILLS TEACHER? An Advanced Skills Teacher is an excellent teacher who achieves the very highest standards of classroom practice and who is paid to share his or her skills and experience with other teachers. Growing numbers of Advanced Skills Teachers are working in schools around the country, helping established teachers as well as those new to the profession. WHY DO WE NEED ADVANCED SKILLS TEACHERS? We need to recognise and retain the best teachers. Until recently, promotion into management has been the typical career route for many of them. The Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) pathway offers teachers who want to stay in the classroom a new career route. AST posts concentrate on good teaching and benefit the profession by helping to raise standards more widely, both within and beyond the teacher s school. Colleagues will have an opportunity to learn from best practices, build on strengths and look at areas for development. With this new career pathway it is now possible for excellent classroom practitioners to progress as class teachers without having to take on management responsibilities and to be rewarded accordingly. Together with the performance threshold and the new fast track initiative, it means more career progression opportunities for the best teachers. 3

4 WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF EXCELLENCE? High level skills in teaching, classroom management and maintaining discipline. Quality of planning, assessment and evaluation. Command of subject knowledge. Understanding of pupils. High expectations of themselves and their pupils. Excellent progress. Ability to give high quality advice and support to other teachers. The national standards which all Advanced Skills Teachers must meet are described in more detail in Supplement 2: Advanced Skills Teachers: Assessment. 4

5 WHO CAN BECOME AN ADVANCED SKILLS TEACHER? Teachers in maintained schools who want to stay as classroom practitioners and can meet AST assessment standards. This includes part-time and peripatetic staff and those currently holding management responsibilities. Existing heads or deputies can also apply. The key requirement is for excellent teaching practice and credibility with a wide range of colleagues inside and outside the school. The AST grade will not normally be compatible with an existing management post, as it is not intended for those with responsibilities for staff and resources. We would expect ASTs to be allowed to concentrate on their new role. Teachers who become ASTs must move to the AST pay spine. 5

6 ASTs IN ACTION... Christine works in a first school in a rural authority where she specialises in literacy. She has taught for over 25 years, has worked in several schools and at one point in her career was a headteacher of a primary school. She moved from headship as she recognised that her real enthusiasm was for classroom teaching. Once appointed as an AST she provided demonstration lessons and other support for her colleagues. Christine also assisted in a school in Special Measures and worked in this school for one day a week as part of her outreach work. She was supervised by a project leader of the LEA, who was based in the school as part of its recovery programme. On any particular day Christine typically supported the teaching of three lessons and discussed them with the teacher concerned. The work provided a high degree of professional challenge. Christine had to simultaneously provide a role model for other teachers, teach the pupils a topic, establish appropriate levels of discipline and control, and get to know the names of the pupils. She was easily able to rise to these challenges. Christine found her experience of outreach very rewarding and it gave her confidence for other work she might do in her role as an AST. Her own school welcomed the opportunity to deploy one of it s staff in a wider context as it recognised that it would benefit in that Christine would have the chance to discover and share the best practice of partner institutions. The headteacher was keen to give other teachers similar opportunities. 6

7 WHAT DOES BEING AN AST INVOLVE? The main duty of an AST is excellent classroom teaching. ASTs spend 80% of their time teaching their own class(es). The aim must always be to preserve the AST s commitment to their own teaching and high standards. But they will also undertake a range of additional responsibilities to share their good practice with other teachers and support wider professional development. They provide this support not only in their own schools but also through outreach. ASTs focus on helping colleagues to raise teaching and learning standards in their own and other schools. 7

8 Activities can include: leading professional learning groups; advising other teachers in classroom organisation and teaching methods; providing model lessons; spreading good practice based on educational research; producing high quality teaching materials; advising on professional development; establishing professional learning teams in schools; helping to support performance management of other teachers; supporting teachers experiencing difficulties; helping with the induction and mentoring of newly qualified teachers; participating in initial teacher training. ASTs IN ACTION... Sue s role as AST in a large secondary school involves contributing to the school s School Centred Initial Teacher Training programme. Her background in technology and ICT means she acts as a consultant to the Design department. She provides weekly advice sessions for newly qualified teachers (NQTs) within the department, as well as delivering training sessions within the school s NQT training programme. Sue also delivers master classes for those pupils of Design who are in the C/D grade range. Across the school, Sue is supporting the development, implementation and delivery of video conferencing, particularly as a means of using external providers to support learning. Sue is developing a curriculum link with a cluster of schools so that they can benefit from the school s development in Computer Aided Design and video conferencing. 8

9 A COMMITMENT TO OUTREACH An AST is responsible for activities that take place not only within their own school but beyond in the wider educational community. Outreach enables classroom teachers of proven ability to have an influence beyond their own school through imaginative and innovative ways of sharing good practice. New communications technology will play an important role in these developments. ASTs IN ACTION... Paul works in an Technology College and was previously Head of Technology. As an Advanced Skills Teacher he plans to share his work in curriculum development with other schools and other teachers. He is particularly concerned about the need to promote aspects of computer control technology. AST He has a continuing role in the local feeder primary schools and developing the expertise of the primary teachers. His experience has already been shared with other teachers in his own school and is helping to improve the continuity of experience of pupils from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3. Planning meetings are also being held with all the primary technology co-ordinators in the other feeder schools. A more challenging task will be to outreach to other secondary schools. Paul has also been able to provide support to teachers in other subjects and the quality of his work is widely appreciated. He focuses on generic aspects but also helps where teachers have had difficulty with ICT and other aspects of technology. 9

10 ASTs are expected to spend 20% of their time working with other teachers to raise teaching and learning standards. Normally an Advanced Skills Teacher will spend the equivalent of four days a week working in their own school and one day working with teachers from another school or schools. Initially some of the 20% might be spent working with teachers in the AST s school but in time we would expect ASTs to be spending the whole of this time working with teachers from other schools. HOW DOES OUTREACH WORK? The LEA or other body supporting the AST post will have a key co-ordinating role, ensuring that outreach is planned, delivered, monitored and assessed. This ensures that the AST post can support the priorities identified in the LEA s Education Development Plan to raise standards in its schools. ASTs IN ACTION... Keith works in a small school support project in a rural authority. The project comprises a cluster of five schools each with two or three teaching staff. Keith has extensive experience of teaching mixed age classes. When the schools held a common professional day this enabled him to hold in-service training for all staff in the cluster, concentrating on effective strategies for mixed age teaching and the particular challenges of addressing the needs of pupils with special needs. This expertise has now been used more widely by the LEA where he has held a similar session for NQTs working in small schools as part of their induction programme. For more information see Supplement 1: Advanced Skills Teachers: Role and Outreach. 10

11 WHEN IS OUTREACH NOT COMPULSORY? If the AST is employed in a school subject to special measures or designated as having serious weaknesses and where the AST activities are related to the school s or LEA s plans for removing the school from this category. However, some outreach work is recommended in order to extend and develop the AST s skills and confidence. Where the school is funding the post from its own budget outreach is encouraged but is not a requirement. WHAT IS THE PAY SCALE FOR ASTs? There is a separate pay spine for holders of AST posts which runs from 27,939 to 44,451 (from 1 April 2001). ASTs do not receive management allowances, recruitment and retention allowances or SEN allowances. They are eligible to receive applicable London allowances. Governing bodies or LEAs will select a five point pay range within the overall 27 point spine which will allow for appropriate pay increases. For example, an AST starting at point 5 on the AST pay spine has the opportunity to progress to point 9 on the AST pay spine. Pay progression is based on sustained high quality performance against agreed performance criteria. For more information about pay and conditions and the full pay spine see Supplement 3: Advanced Skills Teachers: Pay and Conditions. 11

12 WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS OF SERVICE? ASTs are expected to work flexibly under the direction of their head teacher. This includes commitments outside normal school time the working time provisions for classroom teachers in the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document do not apply. Full details of AST pay and conditions can be found in the Document. ASTs should not normally have management responsibilities over and above those of classroom teachers but will work with existing school managers. WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO BECOMING AN AST? AST posts are created by schools who believe that a teacher with excellent classroom teaching skills can not only raise the level of achievement of their own pupils but those of their colleagues and the school itself. Schools are encouraged to advertise AST posts externally to ensure a wide selection of candidates but, potential ASTs can also be identified by internal selection. 12

13 The LEA agrees to fund the post through the Standards Fund (unless the school is to fund it from its own budget). Candidates for the post then have to pass a national AST assessment procedure. This is carried out by outside assessors who evaluate evidence of how the candidate meets AST standards. It involves looking at the candidate s application and portfolio (see below), observing their work in the classroom and interviews in the school. Contents of a Portfolio The purpose of a portfolio is to provide the best examples of evidence for each of the standards, in a form which is succinct and easily accessible to the assessor. Portfolios are arranged in different ways, but the most successful are arranged in sections, one for each standard. Within each standard, there may be sub headings. A clear index, allowing easy access to each section is also useful. Portfolios work particularly well when the candidate has collected relevant documentation and recorded relevant activities over a period of time. Teachers who pass the assessment are then eligible to be shortlisted for an AST post. Teachers who are shortlisted but not appointed can apply for other AST posts in other schools without having to be reassessed. The original AST guidance stated that reassessment would be needed after five years in an AST post or for a teacher applying for an AST post after a period out of the grade. The requirement for reassessment was intended to ensure the continuing quality of the AST grade. Following the introduction of performance management procedures for ASTs, the need for reassessment and the form it takes is to be reviewed. 13

14 HOW ARE AST POSTS FUNDED? The Government is committed to the long-term future of the AST grade. Funding is available to all maintained schools through the Standards Fund. Support is allocated to LEAs for each financial year. Schools are able to claim the additional costs of placing an AST at an appropriate point on the AST pay spine and 1500 per term towards the costs of outreach work. DfES provides just over half of these costs while LEAs provide the rest through matched funding. A school can fund AST posts using its own budget provided all ASTs have been successfully assessed by the national assessment agency. For more information see Supplement 4: Advanced Skills Teachers: Appointment and Funding. ASTS AND THE PERFORMANCE THRESHOLD There is currently a requirement that from 1 April 2002 that AST applicants should have passed the threshold. This condition is currently under review and may be removed in next year s School Teachers Review Body recommendations. ASTs do not receive a separate threshold payment as the AST grade provides access to a higher pay spine. Governing bodies will, however, wish to take account of the threshold payment available to other staff in determining individual AST pay ranges. 14

15 ASTs who leave an AST post to revert to classroom teaching should be deemed to have crossed the threshold and will revert to the first point on the upper pay range. A teacher who has been successful at AST assessment but who has not taken up a post will be deemed to have passed the threshold if or when they fulfil the other threshold eligibility criteria (i.e. they reach point 9). Want to find out more about becoming an Advanced Skills Teacher? Contact the AST Co-ordinator for your LEA or school, or ring the DfES Public Enquiry Unit on or access the website: For more information see Supplement 2: Advanced Skills Teachers: Assessment and Supplement 4: Advanced Skills Teachers: Appointment and Funding. 15

16 Copies of this publication can be obtained from DfES Publications PO Box 5050 Sherwood Park Annesley Nottinghamshire NG15 0DJ Tel Fax ISBN Crown copyright 2001 Produced by the Department for Education and Skills Extracts from this document may be reproduced for non commercial or training purposes on the condition that the source is acknowledged

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