Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Why I'm leaving teaching...and why you should care

This is my last fortnight as a teacher. I’ve been doing this job for just over ten years but at Christmas, I will leave the profession to take up a job with an exam board. But what’s this to you? What difference does it make to your life if one more teacher jumps ship? Why should you care?

If you’ve read articles like this before, the reason behind my decision will not be new to you: the unsustainable workload that the job now demands of you. I am the Head of English at a mixed comprehensive school and an Associate Member of the school’s Senior Leadership Team. I line manage a team of 15 and am responsible for the progress and achievement of more than 1200 students.

Not only are more and more of these students expected to ‘achieve’ and ‘progress’, there are now many more yardsticks against which they (and therefore, you) are measured: A*-C (soon to become 1-9), 3 Levels of Progress, 4 Levels of Progress, Achievement 8, Progress 8, EBacc, ALPS for Key Stage 5. There is hardly a child left in British education that isn’t significant in one or more of these measurements, meaning that everyone’s results are now critical and appropriate interventions need to be planned, implemented and tracked. And that’s before we even think about closing the Pupil Premium gap, the Special Educational Needs gap, the English as an Additional Language gap, the gender gap – all of which has to be done with less support as there is no money to recruit TAs. I once looked at the Pupil Achievement targets in my workplace’s School Improvement Plan and realised that of the eight ‘top priorities’, three had a bearing on my department, but all three referenced different measurement targets and therefore related to three different cohorts of students. When I asked which of these three targets was my main priority, I was simply told, ‘All of them’.

The squeeze on budgets has seen my teaching hours increased by 20% from last year, which means 20% more planning, marking, tracking and reporting, and 20% less time to do it in. The high turnover of staff has also meant that there are seven new starters in my team this year, all of whom need support and guidance while they find their feet. There is no longer any admin support within my department, meaning that, on top of my existing workload, I am responsible for all departmental logistics and tracking systems, communication with parents, stocktaking, ordering and resource allocation. At the end of the last academic year, I was also told that I was to be given the school’s ICT support network to line manage.

I work past midnight three or four times a week, in a way that has become completely normalised to me. Except that it isn’t normal. It can’t be considered standard working practice to leave the house at 6:30am and still be working in the early hours of the following morning.

I have three young children and I am no longer prepared to miss them growing up.

Right, so far, so predictable. You’ve heard this all before. Oh, poor lamb…are the 13 weeks of paid holiday a year not enough for you? Fine. Move over. We’ll get someone else. Someone with more stamina, more dedication, someone who really cares about this job.

Will you? Really? Are you sure?

There has been plenty written about the recruitment and retention crisis (and that’s not a word I use lightly) in the teaching profession at the moment. You’ve heard how the government has missed its recruitment targets by a country mile, how people are leaving the profession in unprecedented numbers. So, if all these people are leaving, who is teaching students these days?

The answer to that question will be depressingly familiar to teachers, school leaders, parents and students alike.

First up are supply teachers, now found en masse in nearly every school in the country, either plugging gaps left by long-term staff absence (stress, mainly) or where schools have failed to recruit a suitable candidate for a job. These teachers have no long-term contract, nothing invested in the school they work for or the students they teach. More often than not, they are not contractually obliged to prepare resources, plan lessons, mark books or assessments, report on student progress, liaise with parents, manage behavioural issues or be in any way accountable for the performance or progress of students in their care. If too much is asked of them, they can leave without giving notice, safe in the knowledge that some other school will happily take them fill a hole of their own. (This happened recently at my daughter’s primary school: a teacher jacked it in on Friday, leaving the school to find someone by Monday. Any takers?)

The second option is to shuffle the staff that you have got, asking effective teachers to operate outside of their specialism. Drastic teacher shortages across a number of subjects means it is already totally commonplace to have teachers delivering subjects they didn’t even take themselves at A-level. This is not a dig at teachers that do this, quite the reverse: many are chosen precisely because they are good teachers, are the kind of people that ‘step up’ in a crisis and know how to handle a classroom. But being a really good History teacher doesn’t make you a really good Geography teacher, any more than being a good pianist means that you can paint or sculpt. The Sutton Trust report, an international, research-based investigation into what factors make effective teaching, listed subject knowledge as the key determiner in successful teaching. Asking a teacher to operate outside of their area of expertise not only punishes them for being good at their job, it also punishes the students who are given a classroom teacher who is a very good round peg being forcibly hammered into a square hole.

Whether it's supply staff or non-specialists, the burden of ‘facilitation’ falls on experienced teachers and subject leaders. They are asked to ‘support’ by constructing lesson-by-lesson Schemes of Work that don’t require detailed subject knowledge to deliver, they co-plan teaching, provide resources, help with marking assessments, whilst all the while fielding parental complaints about the education their children are receiving. Most of the time these complaints are fully justified but what can the person bearing the brunt of the blame do about it? If they had a teacher that was better suited, they’d be using them!

All of this massively increases the workload strain and stress level of our most important asset: experienced, effective teachers. These are the people that are now leaving the profession. And every time one of them goes, it means one less specialist in that subject area, and so the vicious circle continues.

And who is replacing them? The shortfall in teacher recruitment is well publicised but it isn’t just a question of quantity, there is also a very serious quality issue.

The standard of teacher training applicants in the last few years has dropped alarmingly. Training providers are under enormous pressure to fill teacher training vacancies, which means the vetting process is now less than cursory. People who wouldn’t have got near a PGCE course five years ago are now being snapped up before they can change their minds. Or pushed through Teach First or Schools Direct programmes, designed to get them into classrooms as quickly as possible, often without the skills and experience they need to survive or do the job effectively.

It is also an open secret that nobody fails teacher training anymore. We have regularly reported serious concerns about the qualifications, subject knowledge, classroom management and basic professionalism of the interns in our department. In every case, they were told that they just needed more time, more support. This was true even as interns approached the end of their final placement.

And don’t for a second think they won’t get jobs. When I first took over as Head of Faculty, we would get 20-30 applications for each vacancy, which we would whittle down to a shortlist of six, and then spend a full day interviewing them, including a full lesson observation. In recent rounds of recruitment, we have had fields of two or three, many of whom were simply not employable. The Maths department at my school recently advertised for a classroom teacher and didn’t get a single applicant – and we’re a ‘Good’ school in a pleasant cathedral city. Schools are so desperate that teachers are being employed based on half-hour Skype interviews. I know one Science teacher who was employed on her CV alone, without teaching a lesson, having her references checked or speaking to a single person at her new school – they were simply so desperate to get her to sign a contract before some other school got her first.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying for a moment that all new teachers are poor: there are many highly intelligent, highly professional, highly skilled people becoming teachers every year, and I am pleased to say that every single member of my department fits this description. But how many of them will be prepared to stay? If you’re bright, hard working, dedicated and creative, why would you stay in a job that obliterates your free time, leaves no space for friends, family, partners or hobbies, and isn’t even that well paid? And if you’re really good, you are punished: forced to bail out the system by either covering for teachers who shouldn’t be there in the first place or teaching a subject for which you have no relevant skill set. And don’t even think about bringing up the holiday myth. How much of that time ‘off’ do we spend running extra revision sessions and coursework catch-up workshops, planning new Schemes of Work, preparing data analysis overviews to present to Senior Leadership and governors, responding to parental emails and any number of other ‘responsibilities’ to which there is simply no end?

People are sick of hearing teachers complaining and I don’t blame them. I’m sick of hearing me complaining. I want non-teachers to start complaining too. This isn’t just our fight; this is an issue that affects our entire society. To compete in the international marketplace, we need young people who are educated, qualified and can think for themselves. Good teachers are essential for this to happen. But only if they are willing to do the job.

Why should you care? Because who do you want teaching your kids?

110 comments:

  1. As an ex governor at a comprehensive I concur with everything you say, People in this country need to wake up and realise that it is the government deliberately wreaking havoc in our public services. Not inadequate teaching practice but a full blown agenda to dismantle the state.

    There is also documentary evidence to back that up: https://skwalker1964.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/cab-129-215-6.pdf

    It is all in here and the greatest service we can offer at this present time is to circulate this document far and wide.


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    1. As a recycled science teacher always rated good this rings so true. Work life balance does not exist to allow family time and spouse time, hence I got out. Having seen so many excellent young gifted teachers giving up on the job makes me dispair. I worked as a lab tech in a state school for 3.5 years a dept of 10 saw 15 teaching staff change in that short watch!

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    2. I rest my case..I also concur.. I am on supply ..my specialist subject withdrawn and my 2nd specialist changed every year ..I want to teach but find I am not allowed to be creative..I have to teach to get students to pass exams. I won't do that..I teach students to learn and retain not to just pass parrot fashion

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    3. I gave up finishing my PGCE mainly because of the way the children were treated as well as all the pressures and work load teachers have to bear. So many teachers warned me off the profession. I thought; nievely, I could change things once on the inside, but the system is broken and government adverse to listening to educators, parents and teachers who really know and understand what the children need. No wonder we rate low on pupil happiness in this country and childhood depression and anxiety are on the increase. I home educated my children for five years and I recommend parents consider doing the same. For your child's sake.

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    5. My first job in education was at a high school, after watching cuts eat staff moral I moved on to a uni, just before cuts had me tuped like I was equipment to a college then I was restructured and doing the same job with a 7k cut now I'm a part time lecturer being told to deliver the same level as a full time one or else, on all 3 levels same problem education is being thrown overboard by the government, pity were not a bank we would have our institutions needs met years ago.

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    6. Interesting, I agree with so much. I qualified in 2001 and there were 125 applicants for the 25 N.Q.T. places. When it was no longer fun three years ago I planned my escape. I still loved teaching and I still loved students so I went on supply. I take umbridge with her views on supply - we do mark. We do discipline. And we do care. Very much. Because you can take the teacher out of the school but you can't teach without caring any more. Yes, it's great only working 30 weeks a year - but you're screwed financially. I'm lucky I'm 59 and was able to take my pension because otherwise the salary drop would not have been possible.

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  2. I completely concur. Very well written. Furthermore, when public services and public service jobs come up in any discussion now it is always in thd context of poorer service, increased workload on staff and fewer resources. Sad

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  3. Did exactly the same in December 2015, after 29 years in a job that I loved. And, what's more, for the very same reasons. My passion was eroded and so I no longer felt I could remain in post to pursue, ironically, a moral purpose

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  4. I work as a SysAdmin/IT Tech at a school, and I also agree with everything you've said. We've had more and more damn good teachers leaving. Some leave for better jobs at other schools, some leave for private schools, and others are just leaving...

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  5. I can add agreement from the Primary sector. I retired from Primary teaching at 60, grateful that I'd reached that milestone without my capability being called into question, although I looked over my shoulder every day, expecting the heavy hand of 'performance management' to deliver a knock-out blow. I am now a lay-caseworker for my union, the NUT, supporting teachers who contact the Union, usually at the end of their tethers. Nearly all those that I support are women primary teachers with 15 - 25 years of successful teaching behind them, who suddenly find themselves faced with informal capability 'support' (what a misnomer!) or off work for weeks with work-related stress and then facing the Absence process. Too often, these teachers feel they cannot ever reach the targets set for them and I manage their exits from jobs they have loved. Not only is this a personal crisis for each teacher, it is a crisis for each school, who will have lost a wealth of experience and knowledge and who will have to cast around in an ever-decreasing pool to find a replacement. Parents and children lose out as well - with very young children often suddenly finding themselves without the reassuring and competent presence of a person they can trust to make the world safe for them. That is not to say that new teachers cannot do the job - many are natural educators and brilliant adaptors - but teaching is a complex business and it takes years to gain the depth of experience necessary to be able to excel. And that's the experience schools are losing by pressurising their older (and more expensive) teachers into leaving. The crisis is further compounded by the knock-on effect at leadership level: just as it is becoming increasingly difficult to find quality NQTs, those promoted into leadership positions are often ill-equipped to do a very difficult job. They may have been excellent class teachers but managing budgets, curricula, staff, children and parents, at CEO level in some cases, proves their undoing - and who often suffer most? Teachers.

    I am fearful for the future of children's education and teachers' livelihoods. This is too big a fight for educators alone to win - it's parents' and employers' fight as well. Without a well-educated workforce, we are facing a downward spiral towards mediocrity and increasing mental health issues. I wish I could find a silver lining to the present cloud I feel we're under, but I'm struggling.

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    1. When I got out in 2001, the rot already setting in, I was losing my joy in teaching after 28yrs full time - not because of my age but because the freedom to teach and nurture was being eroded by endless targets and league tables, and I predicted it was likely to get a whole lot worse. So I got out and became a driving instructor. Now I can nurture and support those with learning needs to achieve their goal of a driving licence. So many are undiagnosed dyslexics and I''m able to give them the support they've never received in school because, in their words, they've been taught by numerous supply teachers! It horrifies and saddens me reading yours and Mr K's accounts, Gini. In 2001 I saw it would get worse, but I never ever thought it would get this bad!

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  6. Many thanks for sharing this document. We talk about this daily on UK Column News: www.ukcolumn.org or search YouTube.

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  7. My good friend has recently started teaching on a Primary school and spends all her time working, or in tears and feels she is failing, when actually the system is failing her. It's a scandal that we are losing quality experienced teachers who want their life back.

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  8. It's so true. I have taken both downwards moves and gone part time to try and make sure I actually get to see my sons childhood - seen as a failure by many, to which I simply don't care. I would rather he looked back and cherished his childhood than look better working all the hours god sends to impress others. Smarts a bit sometimes but I know I have made the right choice, just a shame my career is considered over because of it.

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  9. I am on a supply contract but I work directly for the local authority on a temporary contract which pays me on a UPS pay scale. I have the same responsibility as the rest of the teaching staff and put in 60 hours a week. I left teaching to take carry of my Dad but I would never go back on a permanent basis. This next contract will be my last as I only have one life and at 59 I have had enough.

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  10. Agree with every word, although would say that not all supply teachers are uninvested fly-by-nights as this piece seems to imply. I give my everything to the schools I supply teach at, often working just as long as permanent staff (last week, I was in school for 54 hours - that's before I add the 12 hours I spent working at home at the weekend. I was paid for just 25 of these hours.) I plan, I mark, I teach, I attend training, I get observed and performance managed, I take my place on the detention and duty rotas, I plug the gaps in and get involved in extra curricular provision, I tutor, I mentor, I manage behaviour through report cards, I call parents and I do parents evenings (And I don't take pay for these as I feel it is nice to make a goodwill gesture to the school and kids.) I also do all the same paperwork - the reports, the data input, the grade predictions, that regular staff have to do. My take home pay is less than £1400 a month - a permanent teacher of similar experience/service is on more than £2000 a month. And I have no right to PPAs and just have to hope that I'm not needed for cover some days - there is nothing to stop the school demanding I cover 25 lessons a week without a break. Nor is there anything to stop the school terminating my contract at a moment's notice the minute they are able to fill the position I am covering - one school gave me half a day's notice to pack up and bugger off. There are bad supplies out there, but many of us want the same for the children as the permanent staff, and contrary to popular belief, we do feel a loyalty to the schools where we work. We'd have to... cause we don't do this lot for the money or an easy life - as anyone who's ever covered a lesson will know.

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    1. I agree too - lots of excellent supply teachers out there but loyalty to schools not always reciprocated.

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  11. Hi, I'm from Italy, and we've been going into the same situation for approx ten years now.
    This hasn't anything to do with the word"crisis", but has a lot to do with the word"investing"..!i'd like to link you this article also: http://www.right-to-education.org/blog/invest-future-invest-teachers-0
    I am very sorry to hear today that another teacher like Mr. Hopkins decides to leave his loved job..Any school shouldn't let this happen, instead should invest more in the right person who will build the next youth generation..good luck Neal��

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  13. Hi, I am from India and a mother of a 13 year old who is driven by the spirit of enquiry and learning. We see the same trend here even with the international schools where the fee is escalating but the quality of the education is impacted by the lack of good certified professionals. No doubt , students and parents are effected by this trend but I do believe that the field of education is slowly going through a change. Schools will give way to boundary less education and break away from the factory like existence typically run for industries. More and more parents are opting out of the rat race and thinking of homeschooling where the balance of life and learning takes place in a value oriented and respectful environment with hands on education. I choose to pull my child out of this failing school system and hope to link up with the true professionals who care for their expertise and who are now free of the shackles of performance driven and unethical school systems and are ready to reach out to teach the many children out there needing their guidance. Therefore, although it looks dismal right now, I do feel the fall out will give birth to a new order in education where a huge segment of learners are reaching out to the true professionals like you , who are willing to participate in this stress free boundary less learning which respects and upholds the quality of life and balance above everything else. As a parent , I must add it breaks our heart when systems cannot support true professionals. I wish you luck and I know a teacher will always remain a teacher and like water, your wisdom must take on the shape and transform itself to the new order of things to come. :)

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  14. I completely agree. I moved back to the UK in 2010 after living and teaching in the Netherlands for 21 years. There, I was the head of Cambridge English in a grammar school. I had 40 contact hours in a 4 day week, on the fifth day I was going to university to do an MEd. The last school I taught at in the UK was a grammar school and it ended my teaching career in this country. The problems you outlined mirror my own experiences, minus the fraud I was expected to commit to achieve the targets based on incorrect data. Targets that included children who were incapable of writing complete sentences being 'predicted' an A at GCSE.
    As you state above, this is not new. I've watched documentaries that are a carbon copy of what went on in the last school I taught at. I loved teaching. I was passionate and committed to my pupils. That is until the pressure to commit fraud and the expectation of this led to a nervous breakdown. I will never go back to teaching in this country.
    A grades based system instead of a child based system is not the kind of system I want to be associated with.

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  15. I left the teaching profession after 10 yrs in July 16. I had spent the majority of the school year either off with stress or depression (diagnosed March 16). I made the decision to leave due to all of the company strains listed here.

    I now work a 'regular' job with 'regular' hours and I'm a lot less stressed and an awful lot calmer.

    Good luck with the exam board job. I hope it works for you

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  16. Whilst much of what you have written rings true, I take personal offence to your comments about supply teachers. I care deeply for and invest my time and energy in the children I work with on short term contracts (and as if I had the security of a permanent contract). I am professional, just like you.

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    1. How do you even begin to say that this person is the exception. I now do supply after 20 years killed off my enthusiasm. I get to teach kids and support them without the hassle of paperwork, which I refuse to do. My students perform and I have a good work-life balance. Brush tar same don't. Rearrange. I've yet to find a supply teacher on the circuit in my area that isn't totally committed. Perhaps I live in an atypical area. I agree with the poster's other remarks.

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  17. Teaching nearly killed me literally after 15 years and I now work as a coach to teachers. I urge any teachers who feel low and stressed to seek support, it is out there

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  18. It is no better in private schools. We are going down exactly the same path. Sick to death of targets, grades, paperwork and added pressures of contributing to extra-curricula programme (one of our USPS apparently) and parents who think that paying fees means that their child should get all As, all the time. Add to that a culture of blame, bullying and replacing full time with part time staff and experienced teachers with just graduated staff to generate higher profits and you have schools heading for meltdown - and that will be the teachers fault too.

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  19. Understand but what would you suggest the sympathetic general public do?

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    1. Support teachers when the strike, and put pressure on your local MP in regards to education.

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    2. Teaching was a c**p job 20 years ago, and teachers being low paid, working long hours in bad conditions isn't exactly a new thing. My mother retired early from teaching because it had made her unwell, and she begged me not to go into teaching. You've outlined the problem, and most people with any level of awareness would likely agree with you. But what's the solution?
      'Support us when we go on strike'. We do.
      'Put pressure on your local MP'. We do.
      Seriously. What does a one day strike achieve other than 'sending a message' which we all know won't be listened to? What tangible results will putting pressure on your local MP actually garner?
      You're trying to re-negotiate terms from a standpoint of morality, after you've signed the contract, with a morally bankrupt opponent who isn't listening and doesn't care. You think there's still a conversation to be had, when the only leverage you have is your presence in the classroom and the influence (or lack thereof) that you have over the kids in that classroom.
      Walking out isn't a last resort. It's your only resort.

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    3. Good question. How about using Parents' Associations and social media to organise a mass walkout of the students? Keep your children at home. Show that you understand it's about THEM much more than it's about the teachers. PARENTS have far, far more power than teachers do in this situation and yet you leave it up to us. I realise that keeping a child at home may require childcare and is inconvenient. But older children can stay at home alone safely enough. And for younger children, it might just be worth spending a few days having to take them to work with you or having to stay at home with them in order to send a huge and powerful message to the Government. After all, your children are the 'customers'. They (and you) need to make the complaint that the service isn't good enough.

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  20. I agree. I'm a primary headteacher. I love my job with the children but every day I'm looking over my shoulder waiting to be told I'm not good enough and my children aren't achieving highly enough. We're a good school in London, but we work in challenging circumstances. 50% of our pupils are EAL and they make great progress but we can't reach floor targets! Every ofsted we're at the mercy of the inspector-will they or they won't see beyond the data?
    We struggle with recruitment and last year I spent most of the year teaching a class covering for a member of staff on long term absence. Why did I do this? Because it wasn't fair on the children that their education was being disrupted, our budget was dire, and my deputy head and assistant head were already teaching classes. It was a nightmare year- we got through it because that's what we do. However, I am seriously considering leaving the profession I love because my own child and husband are suffering. My experienced leadership team all feel the same. Where wil that leave the school and so many others in the same position?

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  21. Thank you for this! My husband was a headteacher of a junior school and the stress lead to nearly a year in hospital and permanent disability. He gave his heart and soul to teaching only to be criticised and beaten down by Ofsted and forced academisation. I would say to anyone with the pressures you describe to get out now before its too late because in our case it was very nearly a matter of life and death.

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  22. All you say is true. For me the lack of quality Head teachers and senior leaders is a worry. I work in a school were a teacher has been appointed to the SLT after 4 years of teaching with no managerial experience whatsoever. Hopefully an extreme example but the dearth of good teachers has led to some woeful Head teacher appointments, never mind the academy CEO bods.
    Good luck in your new career,

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  23. Very sorry to see that you're leaving teaching. I failed my PGCE in maths some years ago, which I was sad about at the time but frankly there is no way I could have coped with what teachers have to do nowadays.

    I don't know who's going to do it, but this nettle (really it's a whole thicket of them) must be grasped. This simply cannot go on.

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  24. I became a teacher nearly thirty years ago, just before the first version of the national curriculum was introduced. For me, it has been a labour of love - for the job and for the children. There have been endless changes and the workload is unreasonable, but that isn't why I've reached the end of the line. Morally, I can not be part of a culture that no longer sees children as anything other than a set of data. The current culture in schools is cruel, unnecessary and severely damaging to children and those who have their best interests at heart. There will ultimately be a price to pay for neglecting the child in favour of political box-ticking. There are disillusioned, disenfranchised young people who know from a very early age that what they can offer and what they do well will never be valued.

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    1. Kas, I would agree. I gave up teaching last Christmas, having been in the same cohort of new teachers as you were. The problem is that a good teacher can make SO much difference - not just to the education of the child, but to the stability of their life. Teachers can, and do, lift disenfranchised children from "can't do" to "will try" and if I can't succeed, I will feel pride and be be positive about myself in another area of the curriculum. However, the narrower the curriculum comes, the less opportunity those great teachers have to do that, and the more drained those teachers are, the less they have to give. The whole system is wrong. I miss teaching, and had some life coaching before I got out, because I was desperate not to give up my lifelong ambition to teach but wasn't coping. In the end my coach said I should be proud of what I'd achieved, and should move on. Good luck to everyone wanting to go into teaching, it's a fantastic job, but don't burn yourself out.. it's not worth sacrificing your own family.

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    2. I see these disillusioned, disenfranchised young people on a daily basis as a driving instructor. It's got worse over the years since I walked out of the classroom in 2001. So many young people with low self esteem and lack of confidence!

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  25. It saddens me deeply to read all these comments. Sad because I am teacher. Sad because it reminds me why I swore many years ago that I would never teach in the UK again, and I wouldn't want my children to be educated there. I now work in Australia, and love it. I am a Head of English in an independent K-12 school where my children attend; and where they are nurtured, cared for and flourish as learners. We follow an IB curriculum and the nature of service and support is strong in both the staff and student body. Yes, the hours can be long and, as an English teacher, the marking sometimes is overwhelming; but (most of the time!) I love my job and feel very lucky to be able to be the difference, however insignificant it may seem, in the life of a young person. Teaching is who I am, not just what I do. If I didn't teach in a school I'm pretty sure I would be doing it in another capacity; it's a vocation and I probably wouldn't be able to help myself! My heart sinks at the message I hear in posts as I believe being an educator is a gift which should not be so easily discarded by society. Teachers are those who have the capacity to shape our children's future, and if we do not treasure them who will treasure our children? And who will encourage them to go out into the world, change it and make it a place of hope, if not a teacher?

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    1. Wow! All said in a nutshell. The government should be reading, and crucially listening to all these comments, and especially ones like this where we have clearly lost an excellent teacher to another country!

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  26. My happiest memory of primary school, if not my only real memory, was being taught Nature by a lovely old man (probably younger than I am now)Mr Wiseman. I will always remember his nature table, walks around the grounds and rushing in to school with some obscure 'nature item I had found to have him identify for me. I was a bright pupil and went on through school and later Uni and have had two good jobs, the second being the one I am in now in an 'outstanding' primary school. I have been here for 16 years and watched how teaching has changed. Sixteen years ago we had time to do creative things; arts & crafts, drama. Creativity has been squashed out of our children now. There is no time for 'fun' subjects which are so important to children especially those who may never achieve in the more academic ones. A year 6 English class was recently asked to write a story forgetting about all the technical stuff; colons, adverbial phrases and the like. The children couldn't do it. They were so concentrated on getting in a hyphen or a relative clause there imaginations had gone. Such a crying shame. I used to write pages and pages at primary school. In later life I have had poems and stories published. I didn't have to worry about the technical side of writing at primary age but it didn't stop me succeeding as an adult. Let our children be children and et our teachers teach.

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    1. 😪😡 Happy for you Annabel but sad for our education system and angry for the children in it!

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  27. Why do you imagine that the private sector is any less demanding? After midnight only 3 days a week!? Yes please; where do I sign......?

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    1. Here: https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/

      Best of luck!

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  28. I totally agree, i left my post after 16 years, deciding that my daughter was more important along with my sanity and health. My school in hampshire decided i was not meeting the standards and put me through absolute hell for nearly 2 years, which in the end forced my hand to resign. i feel very bitter still because it forced me into making a decision about a job i loved, whats more what would become of my kids i taught.

    I became a supply teacher which allowed me to be in a school environment and do the job i loved without the stress. i still very much care about the job and the kids i teach. but after being pushed by the incomprehendable management i experienced i am doughtful i will ever return to the profession.

    So without even a thankyou from my school after 16years stuff them i am doing ok

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  29. I would love to repost this at schoolwell.co.uk. Would you consider it? Hello@schoolwell.co.uk. Sam

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  30. Not sure why you're so appalled that ALL children shouldn't be expected -indeed, entitled - to make progress but yes, as an English teacher with some twenty years' experience, I am struggling with all the same pressures - and thoughts myself. However, as a woman-of-a-certain-age (and being at the top of the pay scale) I suspect my alternatives are limited. I wish the writer success and sanity in their new role, and time to enjoy the family.

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  31. Last year I became a cover supervisor at my old secondary school to see if I had what it takes in the classroom. I only lasted 5 months (which my colleagues said was pretty good going) but doubt I will ever return to teaching. I could see how drained the teachers I worked with were and don't think I would be able to handle the ridiculous amount of stress and hours they have to put in to be the fantastic teachers they all were. It's such a shame cause I loved being in a classroom but teaching at the moment isn't the worthwhile profession it's supposed to be. Something really needs to change to stop passionate young people like me from ruling out teaching as a viable career option.

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  32. I hear you too and experience similar in my own school. It's no different in Wales, just even less money here than in England. I was talking with a fellow Science teacher who is the holy-grail of all Science teachers - she's a physics teacher and a damn good one at that and she was talking about the same things, that she is so over-worked that 'there must be something better for us out there' was what she told me. She wants her life back. The workload with 'marking policies' that are just a way of checking on the teacher is unbearable. What used to take me an hour to do with constructive comments and praise, will now take me around 3 - 4 hours. I have 11 classes that require me to mark in this way, plus 3 A'level classes too who also have their folders 'monitored' by management. It is impossible to keep up and to mark to a standard that I am satisfied with. My classes have always achieved well in exams and made good progress in the 17 years that I have been in the classroom, but this, it would seem is not enough. Believe me, if I could find a job that paid well enough in this area, I would also seriously consider leaving a job that until the last couple of years, I love.

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  34. I've been teaching for 23 years. I teach music at 2 primary schools.
    I am only employed as a supply teacher in one of them, because the school is unsure of their finances and cannot commit to giving me a contact.
    In the other school I am simply on a temporary contract for similar reasons. I work just as hard in both schools.
    Either school could get rid of me on a whim, as 2 schools have in the last 3 years.
    The only reason I would leave is if I was offered a similar job on a permanent contract. Not very likely.
    Don't knock supply teachers!

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  35. I agree with most of what you say - I left my primary deputy headship almost 5 years ago for a large pay cut and a job that allows me to live a balanced life.
    However I have a friend who works in ITT and I know that certainly at primary level not all students make it to QTS.

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  36. I have been involved in teaching since 1976 and have recently retired to work just two days a week. The profession has been persecuted and bullied for years because standards have fallen. Why? Because so many parents are feckless and do present their children to the system fit to learn. Discipline is a dirty word- you have to manage behaviour. Bollocks.Standards would soar if teachers were given classes that behaved as if they valued education. The problems are many but mostly to do with a society going to hell in a hand cart. And those in senior leadership teams are scared of standing up to parents and of punishing those who merit it either exclusion. It may involve breaking the rules but rubbish rules deserve to be broken.

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  37. I'm in my third year of teaching, but I left the UK in August to teach abroad. In the U.K., I didn't have a social life. I hated being a teacher. The intense workload, unsupportive senior leaders, constant changes in expectations from the government and poor pupil behaviour pushed me out. Now teaching abroad, I have 20% non-contact time and rarely do any work outside school hours. Management are supportive, pupils are incredible and I finally have a work life balance. I'm not sure I'll ever return to teaching in the U.K.

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    1. Where is this teacher's dreamland? As I would love to move there too...

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    2. Shanghai, China. I have been here for nearly three years, I will not return to the UK unless we are shown the respect and gratitude we deserve. I have time to focus on my classes and get to help my students individually. My kids aren't numbers they're my kids.

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  38. I hope you do not mind me asking: where you teach, @Caits? - I mean which country? Cheers :-D

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  39. Hey great read if not a little sad . I'm looking to get into teaching myself but I am worried I will just become a stress filled crowd control robot. I like the idea of going on supply to help me find my feet, I have spoke to a few 'agencies' that help you in your induction year? One of which is https://www.justteachers.co.uk , they seem really friendly can anyone recommend any to me? I'm looking to teach computer science :)

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  40. I completely empathise will all that has been said, in this article, and also, here in the comments. For twelve years I have been a secondary school teacher; my specialism is English Literature, meaning as a specialist I can teach English Language up to GCSE level, and English Literature up to A Level. Over the twelve years I have been asked also teach other subjects at times, like drama and Media Studies. Drama has always been at KS3, Media Studies is a different story though! Media Studies is not a specialism of mine, or a chosen avenue to persue. Instead, approximately 10 years ago, I was chosen, by the school I worked in at that time, to teach this as a gap needed to be plugged. Hence forth, at all secondary schools I've worked, I have found Media Studies added to my timetable, this is regardless of the fact, I always stress, right from interview stage, that it isn't a specialism, I do not wish to teach the subject and I do not feel it is fair on the students at A Level to have me teaching them!
    If I just look back over this past week, a supposedly, 'chilled' one without a parent's evening, it is clear the current situation is simply not tenable.
    I arrived at approximately 8am, I worked at school for the full day, drove home and restarted work as soon as I got home. I then worked straight through until bedtime. This is what the week looked like:
    Monday 3.00am bedtime (Dinner: microwave meal with marking)
    Tuesday 2.30am bedtime ('early' to bed as I had to be in the next morning an hour earlier than normal) Dinner: frozen pizza)
    Wednesday (Required to start 1hr earlier than normal) 4.45am bedtime. Dinner: no time for dinner
    Thursday: 5.30am bedtime. Dinner: no time for dinner
    Friday 4.30am bedtime. Dinner: no time for dinner
    - this job, a job I used to love cherish, is killing me.

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    1. I hope you're exaggerating the bedtimes and lack of food! If not, and this is all accurate, you will die so stop this now! No job is worth your health and your life. Find another way to continue educating because this is not the way!

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    2. I can't believe there's someone who works hours like me! I have some nights I just don't go to bed but work all night and am knackered the next day of course. Most days are get in 4.30 pm (if no pointless meetings) and work till 1am or later. Weekends marking too but I have about 6 hrs sleep. Meanwhile "managers" earn double my pay for less than half my hours. My purchae of Lottery tickets grows exponentially!

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  41. Totally agree and the fact that anyone wishing to invest a creative or maverick approach to their teaching and lessons...just forget it! It is a sad fact that the current system will leave us with young childless graduates fast tracked into classrooms "educating" our children to a daily dose of mediocrity and pedestrian banality by uninspirational generic individuals. Hopefully it will be AI Computers doing the educating and kids just sat infront of monitors/tablets with headphones on being taught to pass a pointless test that everyone passes!

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  43. Do you have a twitter handle, Mr K?

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  44. You're Head of English and your blog post starts with "This is my last few weeks as a teacher."?

    Aside from that, you make very valid points. These learned and wise people in offices have no clue about the damage they're doing.

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    1. It doesn't says that, It says: 'this is my last fortnight as a teacher'?

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  45. Good luck! You deserve a WHOLE life. We're dealing with the same issues in the US. I don't know if it's comforting to read that things are the same in so many other countries, or if it makes it that much sadder. Either way, I wish you the best.

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  46. My personal life has taken a turn for the worse. I have no longer got that robust character that enabled me to do this impossible job. Game over. What a shame, I love teaching the kids but can't cope with the constant bollocks.......Tumbleweed.

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  47. 20 years of dedication to teaching, never been so utterly depressed by the job and what it's become. The data driven measuring stick is so ridiculous that many teachers are completing work for students to enable them to pass coursework and exams. That's a fact. A colleague only this week shared his fear of competency procedures based on results. Living and working in fear is no way to improve but he's re-writing course work as we speak.
    There's a definite move by the government to reduce the cost of the system by driving out experienced staff who ask questions. If you're a do as your told and ask no questions type you'll thrive in education. Replacing experience with younger people, who they then burn out within a few years, saves costs at both service and pension level. Those who are driving this policy are called super-heads and they run or hope to run academy chains. They are benefitting massively financially and are being rewarded with knighthoods!
    Personally I'm not prepared to sell out my principles like so many seem to be, so I'm out too. If you're prepared to stay then good luck to you.
    I've never been shy of hard work and long hours, I'm just going to do it for myself in my own business away from the madness.

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  48. I work for private training provider and face very similar workload problems. There needs to be change and soon with all aspects of our educational system.
    Good luck in your new role and another sad loss to front line education.

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  49. So true! The pressure is also being felt by Teaching assistants,who are constantly covering for teachers.We are not Teachers! We also don't have any other support in the classroom,as teachers do! We therefore not able to do our own jobs, meet our own targets We are often working with Children with special needs,who need consistancy and continuity,also those children with pupil premium,who are not getting support!Ta's are not able to work towards their own targets.Also working as dinner ladies too!!!! Education at the moment is a total disgrace!

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  50. I took early retirement in 2011 from a job I loved, travelling 27 miles to work and 27 back. I have been teaching since 1975 and taken on roles in both curriculum management and pastoral support,taking students abroad on educational trips, outward bound, theatre visits school productions and more; you could say I have been a dedicated teacher. Exhaustion, feeling unable to keep up with everything education was beginning to pay its toll. Still needing to pay the mortgage and bills I took the supply route only to find I was in popular demand, never out of work.I am in the group of people who now cannot take the state pension until I am 66, so I have to work.The supply work became positions where I have covered teachers who have become ill, unable to cope, had family issues.This is not a sob story for me in any way, but a realisation of the cancer in education which affects the whole community, a recognition of the excellent individuals who strive in every way to provide a happy,education for young people as well as a good family life. I could write an epistle....but every teacher out there needs time to breath and time do the job well......time to have the balanced life they desire.

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  51. Hi Mr K,

    I'd like to contact you as I'd be interested in hearing more of your views to help inform a book I'm writing. Send an email to contact.schoolsout.book@gmail.com and I'll reply with more details.

    Thanks!

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    1. Your book definitely needs writing! The content is in this thread and must be widely read. Good luck with it Phil.

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  52. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I have been teaching for 10 years in a primary school and used to love my job. However, I will be leaving at the end of the term to do supply. We had a wonderful headteacher, who respected us as professionals and encouraged us to facilitate creative teaching and thinking. Our last Ofsted inspection acknowledged this with a 'good' result. He has left and been replaced by an interim headteacher that believes we have the potential to be outstanding. Our creative philosophy has now been squeezed into a corner and replaced with a more dogmatic and corporate style of delivery. We are burdened with heavy 'colour' marking and book scrutinies, intense staff meetings and data galore! I am aware that our school needed to make some good changes but it's gone from one extreme to another. My job now, is to create 'little machines' so I can tick boxes. These children are our future generation. We owe them a more rounded and creative education to promote independent thinking. It goes without saying!!

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    1. Obviously free-thinking individuals with a well rounded education is not on "the agenda", which says a lot.. and is extremely sad!

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    2. Totally agree with a well-rounded education but successive education ministers, irrespective of their political colour, simply want to stamp their mark and they only consider exam grades as the. benchmark. Therefore constant targets and testing are the diet children are fed!

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  53. Very rarely do I comment on blogs but Mr K has said everything that has been thought, felt and sometimes said by teachers, every teacher if they are honest unless they have progressed into SLT where one of the pre-requisites is to undergo a morality lobotomy. Although my comments are unlikely to be noticed among so many other articulate responses I feel the need to add to them, if only to exorcise my own frustrations.

    I left a permanent role teaching ICT in September 2014 as nothing I did was good enough for SLT, even though one member of that SLT had only been teaching for six years but knew it all. That SLT as a whole was so good that that school has subsequently been closed down and the SLT have moved on to wreak havoc in other schools. I had handed in my notice without anything else to move to and became one of the army of supply and have been in six schools since doing long term supply of one or two terms covering all of the situations Mr K mentions, long term sickness etc and even though I am often covering in a school that can't get permanent staff the school still give the impression that it is they who are doing me the favour and expect me to jump through hoops as if I am after a permanent position. Supply staff are treated like Sh**, at the bottom of the pile of priorities behind the Headteacher's ego, SLT's egos, the schools finances, academic results, the students and then permanent staff in that order.

    Every school I have been in for the past two and a half years have, just as the agreed contract period is coming to an end phoned the supply agency that Mr C will not be needed anymore, having just spent a whole term without criticism I am dropped at 24 hours notice as if I have some form of disease. No opportunity to say farewell to students with whom a relationship has been built up and for why? Probably just to save a few hundred pounds, without any consideration for the feelings of those students who lose another teacher to whom they may have just become accustomed, and heaven forbid, even got to like. Students who like their teachers are more motivated to learn. Although I have just had a message this last Wednesday that I was no longer needed at a school I was supposed to be in until Christmas I have just been taken on by another school (no doubt desperate for a Maths teacher) until Easter but this will be my last school, for similar reasons to Mr K I am no longer prepared to be treated as a second class citizen by any more schools. With long term supply I am still expected to prepare lessons etc and will not miss sitting with a laptop on my lap all evening until the early hours preparing lessons for ungrateful schools. So after Easter or probably earlier when this next assignment ends prematurely the education system is going to lose another teacher who the kids get on with and whose lessons are "the first time I have enjoyed Maths" to quote a few recent year 7s.

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  54. I have not read the whole article. I have just completed an education degree with incorporated teacher training year (secondary) which I did not complete. I did however leave with the degree and am now also completing a masters in SEN. I honestly believe that there are too many issues at the moment including a slighlty low initial pay, questionable policies/pointless paperwork, unachievable targets. I also question some schools that are rated 'good'. I have been to many schools that are good but I thought they were pretty bad - as a viitor. I do think if you work in a right school for you then it can be good. I also welcome harder GCSEs and curriculum but would add to pressure. I am glad that have all of the qualifications but I am going back to my previous job and teaching part-time only after I retake a PGCE.

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  55. I thought that I would add also, that I felt the work in personal time is also too much. I currently work as cover supply, and I enjoy just being normal after work.

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  56. Left teaching Chemistry after 35 years in 2011. Loved the classroom, but so much to do outside those hours, following up student performance, preparing for next day, the day beyond. Non-stop. New teachers have huge workload because they have so many classes with large numbers. A-level teaching is demanding, but not as intense.
    Senior staff walking to their cars with handbags at the same time I leave with 30 or even 60 books is unbelieveably demoralising, and a totally uneven distribution of work/life balance. Richard Biddle

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  58. Not at all for me to say but it strikes me reading your thoughtful and sobering post that you are precisely the kind of teacher that our godforsaken system needs to retain. I am not a teacher, I am a parent, and therefore the *only* skin I have in this game is my children's future. But I would like them to be taught by teachers who love the job and have time to do it to the best of their ability. Sadly this appears now to be a distant dream.

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  59. SLT are terrified of not ticking every single box. INSET sessions are peppered with "this is good practice". So what do they do? Incorporate new polcies and i itiatives ON TOP of everything else, not instead. If every policy and initiative had a "costing" included that estimated the amount of time required to complete or deliver, then these ideas might be junked. Teachers need to deliver to their own structure, plan adequately (not extensively) and assess with simple feedback. That's it. Anything else should be paid for, pro rata.

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  60. Strike action! Here in British Columbia, Canada the teachers were on strike for a number of weeks at the beginning of the 2015/2016 school year. The reason for the strike was similar to the long list of issues you describe. I think the intended short term outcome was achieved however there is still a long way to go. Yes, there will be public resentment towards you, and those that stand behind you, but it will bring the problems into the public eye and the government will have to take heed otherwise the country will descend into chaos. Unfortunately, with the pressure you are put under and the stake of your health and welfare of the children in the present landing term, drastic action needs to be taken to set the future of the country back on track. I chose to leave the UK to give my kids a better shot at a productive and successful future. In doing so the UK lost my engineering expertise as well as the future potential of my kids. The country's loss and unfortunately highly skilled people are leaving every week, and I know lots of them here. Good Luck.

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  61. Since I retired 6 years ago my former colleagues never fail to tell me I made the right decision. I have plenty of energy - been doing teacher training in Africa and lots of voluntary work in UK, but I am sickened by politicians and civil servants who simply don't "get" what teaching is about. I loved my job most of the time, but the paperchase of targets, plans etc etc has left less space for good teaching.

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  62. What will you do at an exam board? Is it just another cog in the broken system? It seems to me the revolution must come from the teachers - to take back their classrooms - to teach from their hearts, their flow. I teach in a private school where I get to do just that. So, I don't make a lot of money, but one day I hope to connect with other like minded educators and parents and energize a movement to get away form all this craziness, testing, paperwork and reporting nonsense. The children of today need a different system which supports their natural growth and life skills.

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  63. Very sad state of affairs. My 23 year old daughter has just quit her pgce after the first term as she has found it way too stressful. She has a good Maths degree and really wanted to make a difference. But the hoop jumping and beaurocratic approach to the job has put her off.

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  64. I'm out after over twenty years in the profession. The hours are relentless if you want to do a good job and nothing is ever good enough. All the enjoyment has gone out of it and it has made me ill.

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  65. Hi, I'm a trainee Maths teacher in a Further Education college in London, teaching 19-20 hours a week (sometimes more to cover as they refuse to get in supply), and on a salary at £20,000 a year (this went up from £18,000 at the start). This is my second and final year to complete my ProfGCE, and I am already at breaking point and considering another career. I agree with many of the points in the article, though disagree about the way supply teachers are presented.

    I live with someone who has been a secondary supply teacher, and have worked with supply and hourly paid lecturers at the college I work. Not only are they fantastic teachers, with a huge amount of commitment, but they are expected to do the work of a full time teacher for very little reward. My colleagues have been expected to attend training sessions with no pay, and are expected to complete admin tasks on a basic rate which does not cover the hours they work.

    In terms of teaching in FE, a common misconception is that we are entitled to holiday time off. This is not the case, and I receive 31 days of annual leave. Whilst this is comparable to non-teaching jobs, we are forced to take these days off within holiday time, meaning I am unable to afford the luxuries like going on a holiday, as prices are ramped up. This point is just a minor point in the stresses we are expected to deal with.

    In the Maths and English department in my college, more than half the teachers are graduate trainees - the college will not advertise for/cannot find full time teachers. I have been expected to help main grade lecturers out with lesson plans, despite them being more qualified and experienced than myself. Recently, one of my colleagues was signed off sick for a week with what is likely exhaustion, and instead of employing supply, the college expected us (the other maths teachers - 4 of us for a college with multiple campuses and where all 16-19 year olds are required to attend maths lessons unless they have a C at GCSE - this is most due to the nature of FE) to fill in her hours, and did not arrange for any cover in that week. She then came back to work due to pressure to be in, and collapsed after a team meeting.

    I have an ongoing medical issue, declared to the college and was given OHT recommendations which the college are legally obliged to put into place so that my workplace is safe for me and will not cause me further pain, however these have still not been put into place after more than a year. This is partially due to funding, and due to the college being forced to cut corners in areas they deem unnecessary. Unfortunately staff welfare is included.

    I could go on and on about the flaws in FE but won't, as I need to try and be optimistic to carry on and finish my training.
    This has simply been my experience for more than a year now, and it sadly does not surprise me that you are leaving the profession. Good luck in your new role!

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  66. Really sad to hear about this. I home educated my daughter for 5 years. She has joined school now in year 9 and she is doing very well academically. She likes all her teachers, they are all very good at what they do but you can still see that they are being overworked. For what she says, it seems that many children are exhausted after so many years of school, alienated and disillusioned, with behaviours that are shocking to her. I also agree with one of the comments, the parents have a big part too. I am Spanish and am shocked about some of the kids' behaviour, which is probably a healthy reaction to their perception of a threatening environment. My perception is that if my daughter continues in school for a long time, all her creativity and enthusiasm will be gone too. She is not only 7 hours away from home every day (like an office job) but she is also continually bombarded with homework and bloody ILT's. And of course, tests and exams as well. She hasn't been able to have a weekend for herlself since she started in Sept. The point is, the teachers are being made to achieve unrealistic goals but also the children. This system is utterly cruel to both. My daughter also knows or has heard of children that are depressed, cutting themselves, having eating disorders, getting into drugs, etc. I am myself applying for a PGCE in Modern Languages and very worried about this state of affairs.

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  67. Hi Mr K,

    I'd really like to reblog this excellent piece on the TES website, please can you let me know if you'd be happy for me to do so? You can email me at chloe.darracott-cankovic@tesglobal.com

    Thanks,

    Chloe

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  68. I was also ready to leave teaching three years ago. I then went and worked abroad in an international school and got my love for the profession back - to say that it saved my career is an understatement. I am since back in London and would not touch a state school with a barge pole. The expectations, as you write about, are ridiculous given the time we get to do it in. I am now in a private school and it is entirely different. And I have stepped down from any responsibility role because of how unhappy it made me (and this was the condition my husband made me agree to as the long hours were affecting our marriage). Maybe some people think I'm a sell out for going into the private sector. I see it as saving the career I worked so hard for. Am now happy teaching again, and hoping it will last.

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  69. All I can say as someone who has seen over the Years how hard you worked. Your leaving will be great loss to your Students and the Education Sector. Good Luck in your new Role. Ben Boyle.

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  70. Don't knock supply teachers. We are just as good as permanent teachers but decided to get out, just the same as you are now doing. We'd already had enough of the pressure and no work/life balance. We might be able to walk away at the end of the day, but we still ensure that the children we teach get the same care and teaching as if they were our own class.

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  71. Some of these comments makes very depressive reading! I'm disgusted with what has been going on for years in this country within schools. What about our poor children that this all impacts on? No wonder the mental health of our kids is suffering terribly when they're being taught by exhausted, resentful, unhappy and depressed teachers, who are all too often taking their frustrations out on our kids and abusing their rights to be treated with respect and not being given encouragement in a stimulating environment nor nurtured to achieve, what about their rights? All you teachers can get out if it gets too much, so please do our kids a favour and walk away! I've had enough of our so called education system, it's so very damaging to the young developing mind and causes life long difficulties for their future. I'm now home schooling and trying to undo the damage that their teachers have caused them over the years through their own selfish and unprofessional behaviour. At the rate parents are pulling their children out of school and home schooling must be raising alarm bells somewhere, what about the poor kids whose parents can't? My heart goes out to them!

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    1. Please don't blame the teachers for the pressures in school. Bear in mind that the government appointed a mental health czar (Natasha Devon) to look at precisely this issue. When she started to tell them some of the things you're reading on this blog they got rid of her, the political equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and going la la la! I can only speak for my school in recent years but I know how much time and effort goes in to supporting and encouraging ALL our students. But we (the teaching profession) are frustrated. We are also human. Sometimes it is hard to be all sweetness and light when a pupil disrupts a carefully prepared lesson.
      Don't wish too many people out of the classroom. As this article makes plain schools are struggling to put staff in front of classes as it is. Any staff, regardless of qualifications.
      Good luck with the home schooling, as someone who only had to get their head round one new GCSE syllabus I can tell you you'll need it.

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  72. I agree with most of thisexcept that in some areas it's not so easy to find a job!! I am an English teacher and having to do supply work because there are no jobs in the area. Schools have a tight budget and employ NQTs on a short term
    Contract in order to get in another after that contract ends as NQTs get less pay. It's better not to get teacher status for that reason.

    I would also like to take exception to the bit about supply teachers who appear to be scorned... it is the hardest job I have ever done.. the pay is around 200 a week lower than a teacher's wage, zero hours contract and having to pay a lot of money to agencies to find you work. I would love to be able to prepare work, get to know pupils, mark their work etc. But, despite the fact that I am often in a school full time, they lack the staff to be able to make a proper timetable that allows me to do that and I cover different classes every day. Behaviour management is a nightmare as pupills take advantage of the fact you don't know their names and there is often no work prepared ( and I don't know until the day what class or subject I will take.). There was a programme on Radio 4 about it all recently. I am a mother of three young children, one of them is ill today so I am unable to work, and have no idea if I will have work tomorrow. Supply is not as easy as you make out.

    So I truly understand your plight , I know exactly why you are giving up teaching, but different areas have different problems , and different staff have different problems, but one thing that appears to be the same across the board... schools are in a mess !!

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    1. Forgive the grammar... this blogspot is not so easy on a phone !

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  73. I thought this might be a good place to start, I'm researching into why staff members leave and how leaders can affect turnover of staff for my dissertation. Mr K if you should be interested I would if interested to question you further. If anyone else has left recently or is currently leaving and you are in the London area I would/could be interested in interviewing you also. For the record I myself am changing schools this christmas and I have a good insight into the changes in the last 8 years. If anyone is interested or wants to help my research please email me at tim_k75@hotmail.com

    Thanks in advance.

    Tim

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  74. So agree... I've carved out a career for myself now semi-teaching but still in education so I could stay in the profession I love and not be crushed under the workload, as was happening, I really do think the answer is all teachers to quit their jobs and go supply, only then can you be in charge of what you will and won't do again... It worked for me...I know it sounds crazy but crazy times call for crazy measures... See this article: www.commonsensible.org/educationalism/educational-articles/not-just-a-supply

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  75. I worked as an HLTA and left the local secondary school in July because my contract was not renewed - lack of money being the reason and reallocation of resources. However, over the last 12 years I have seen everything the writer talks about in and have seen it get so much worse over the last 2-3 years. I feel sorry for the teachers at my last school because I have heard through ex-colleagues that they are indeed having to teach more classes, not only in their specialist subjects but in other subjects as well; they have reduced the 1-2-1 support that I was employed to provide in English and are now asking 6th form students to provide, presumably before school. I thought I wanted another job in education when I left but actually I don't think I would want to go back to that environment, which is a shame as I have loved being able to enthuse pupils during my time as an HLTA in a variety of subjects which I love.

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  76. Beat you to the escape door by a few months. I was 'only' a classroom teacher, having turned my back on seeking promotion in 1994 when I moved to the rural comprehensive school I worked in until July. At that point I was already disillusioned with the way teaching was changing and the need to spout 'management-speak' to progress. I have seen so many colleagues rush up the promotion ladder beyond their levels of competence and new appointees arrive who clearly interviewed well but couldn't deal with the demands of their management role. I STILL enjoy teaching but now have the luxury of doing it on my own terms privately. I am also rediscovering the joys of learning having embarked on a college course. Like you I fear the steady exodus of experienced and competent teachers. I have also noted the decline in the standard of new entrants, too much 'teaching by numbers' and not enough feel for the job. But that's what you get when people are rushed into the classroom with minimal training. You and others here have also highlighted the erosion of funding, something felt keenly here in Devon, I'm just glad my children are grown and won't have to go through this creaking system which, I fear, will fail unless circumstances change.
    Good luck with your retirement. I hope you find a way to continue to use your undoubted skills to help those being failed by the system you leave behind. Somebody has to!

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  77. I totally agree with everything you've said. Add to the mix, however, the funding crisis. I have been forced to take early retirement because my school can no longer afford to fund minority subjects like mine (Latin) and I have been unable to secure a full-time post because, being expensive to hire as a result of my 36 years' experience, every time I am invited for interview (a rare occurrence these days), I am up against PGCE and School Direct candidates at half the cost, one of whom always gets the job. In many ways I am glad that I have made the decision to retire (all of which you have listed), but I have bills to pay, and am forced to keep working part-time and in far flung places where a school is desperate to find someone willing to do two days here, a day and a half there, just to keep my head above water. It is a sorry state of affairs that experience counts for nothing and that the cheaper and more inexperienced you are, the more likely it is that you will be employed. It is no wonder that one of the schools in which I am currently employed (until next August when Latin is dropped) saw 26 staff members leaving in the summer (over 50% of them leaving the profession for good).

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  78. Once I complete my UK based PGCE I'll be returning to Hong Kong to teach.
    The hours vs pay in the UK is a joke.

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