In my career I have worked with many consultants and I will outline my experiences in the following post.
- Offered training that was useful. Provided resources that were useful. Did demonstration lessons and offered useful advice. Clearly a good teacher and manager. It was no surprise to me that she went on to be a successful Headteacher.
- A decent, solid teacher. As Head of Department constantly had NEW ideas and regularly changed things. Rarely followed changes through. Lost interest when things weren’t NEW any more. Results improved by 30% in the 3 years after she left to become a consultant. As a consultant was completely unrealistic about workload and what was achievable. Developed selective memory loss with respect to how much work teaching actually involves. Constantly whining to Senior Management if people didn’t kill themselves following her unreasonable diktats or treat her every word as if it came down from a mountain on tablets of stone. Untrustworthy. Co-ordinated several borough wide initiatives which created quite a lot of work without achieving a great deal. Eventually lost all credibility with our SLT.
- Would teach well in a school with well behaved, motivated children. Nice. Provided useful advice and resources for teaching KS5.
- Good teacher. Nice person. Good sounding board for ideas. Provided some useful training.
- Became a consultant because they couldn’t cut it in the classroom. Arrogant, irritating, unpleasant, dishonest and provided nothing of any use. Generally used by schools to do hatchet jobs on disliked staff. Insisted on observing me on a Friday afternoon when I had returned from a week long residential on Thursday night. Told me it was “informal” and then wrote it up so negatively
Consultants employed by schools directly:
- Paid to come in before OFSTED to rubbish the staff in an attempt to make them work harder. This worked on some staff. Simply made me ignore all her feedback or advice on anything from that point forth. Didn’t know very much about teaching outside of her own subject. Offered advice that would only work in certain subjects and would be disastrous in Maths. Refused to demonstrate or even team teach with anyone. I suspect not very good at teaching.
- Employed to improve AFL in the school. Paid £700 per day. Dreadful. Aggressive, defensive, rude and not very bright. Spent an entire day training me in how to plan a lesson before telling me I was good at planning lesson and had no need for training in that area. Most of her advice would have made my teaching worse if I had followed it. Criticised one of my lessons loudly in the lesson while she was doing a joint observation. Then denied it. When a pupil said “We’ve done this before.” she believed them without checking and went straight to the Headteacher. I then produced my lesson plans that showed I had ended my previous lesson with an exercise preparing pupils for the observation lesson which was entirely legitimate and she was wrong. No apology was forthcoming. Her return to working for a school as a Deputy Headteacher was an epic failure resulting in a swift return to the money for old rope game.
- Observed us and gave useful feedback. Gave us practical resources and revision materials that were very useful. Came on revision residential with us. Team taught with us and was clearly a very accomplished teacher. Good but didn’t do anything we couldn’t have done ourselves given time. Getting a supply teacher to cover my lessons while I did what she was paid to do would have achieved the same thing at a far smaller cost.
- Observed and gave useful feedback. Gave some decent advice to those who like discussion based teaching and group work. Did some good work on scheme of work development. Provided some very good resources and advice on KS5. Was happy to team teaching and was happy to show people how to do what she was suggesting. Went on revision residentials. Was very pleasant and good with pupils. Clearly an excellent teacher.
These are just descriptions of the consultants I have worked with quite a bit. There have been an army of consultants washing around the schools and LAs I have worked in. They have been of hugely variable quality. Some have been excellent, some have provided a valuable service or filled a skills gap. I am fine with that and I don’t begrudge them all of their money (although it seems to me they are rather over paid for what they do so I do begrudge them some of it).
What I can’t understand for the life of me is why the dreadful ones continue to be employed by schools or LAs.
My last school spent £50000 on Maths consultants alone in 2 years and that’s a fraction of the total they spent. They were paying a HR consultant nearly £1000 per day because they didn’t want the free LA consultants as there were certain practices they were engaged in they didn’t want the LA to know about. This went on for almost an entire year.
Now I would hope that the ridiculous expenditure above is not the norm but it seems to me that every school I have worked in has employed some useless consultants and for the most part have not stopped employing them despite their uselessness.