I have been trying not to blog about the state of the teaching profession but for me the last week has really hit home how bad things are. I had my own horrible experience in the profession that I love this time last year which really hit me hard and made me think about my role as a teacher and school leader. It eventually led to my side step out of the classroom and into other educational work.This week I have had several conversations with ex colleagues who are all looking to leave as soon as possible. Even without another job to go to! These colleagues are currently in schools from a cross section of OFSTED ratings so this tells me that the reason people are leaving the profession in droves is not solely down to working in schools in pressurized environments. Through these discussions the three main reasons why teachers are leaving came across to me.
1) Teachers feeling like they are constantly under the microscope in being observed on a daily basis (or more).
2) The constant drive for data, progress, testing and re-testing of students is stifling the creativity of teaching and making teachers fall out of love with the job. It should also be noted that this is stifling the creativity of students.
3) Teachers working 14-15 hour days and not being able to create a reasonable work life balance to spend time with their own families.
How has the profession got itself into such a mess? The Secret Teacher in their article for The Guardian (14th February 2015) gives a really interesting account of where education is. Interestingly it also now looks to have finished that person with the profession. Their version seems to concentrate heavily on workload and behaviour. In many ways the former is what I am suggesting within the reasons I have given.
Workload certainly seems to be the crucial element. The DFE recently felt that a Workload Challenge Survey was required which identified Ofsted, marking, data, lack of PPA and meetings as the main contributors to an unmanageable workload. These are the things that my ex colleagues talked about. Its really sad that even with government promises that this will be looked at Teachers are still saying enough is enough. This tells me that the situation is very serious. In the future who will be there to teach our young people and support their development? I assume that there is a new bunch of super human teachers who are being trained? People can only take so much. They will then, like what my experience from the past week is telling me, just leave. Just like I did. Its unsustainable! Constant Ofsted and ‘Mocksted’ inspections, testing and retesting, marking of testing and 14-15 hour days. Whats the point? That’s what teachers are asking themselves now.
This is what the problem is. It starts with the National PISA Scores. Our government are transfixed with making sure that our educational system is comparable to other nations, based on test results. Have we lost sight of the point of education here? My answer is yes! Education is about teaching the child about a subject, set of skills, their holistic development or more than likely all three. Please note, not one mention of constant testing. While we are talking about testing, testing leads to additional data and scrutiny on every individual young learner. While we are talking of data, every observation is done with data in mind and how the lesson is put together based on each learners data. All this increases the workload that a teacher has. Government policy seems to have created a vicious circle.
We seem to have lost the point of learning. Learning is about the enjoyment and the engagement in the subject, skill or specific development need. This goes for both the teacher and learner. So my view is to forget about constant testing and re-testing. This would then lead to less data, happier learners, happy teachers, less marking, less extra hours through intervention classes and ultimately a happier workforce. My recent blog at thiseducation talks about testing and exams in more detail, making suggestions about how make our education system better.