My friend Dan posted this link on Facebook earlier this evening – I thought it so good that I should share it here. It’s someone’s response to another ridiculous statement concerning teaching and education in the UK.
Some of you will be familiar with Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted – Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools. He’s the author of statements such as ‘teachers should be stressed’…I’m a fan, as you can imagine.
Ok. This isn’t a sob story. Really it isn’t. I’ve been lucky to experience many different kinds of jobs – full time careers workers whilst also working part time as a youth worker; minister of religion with the Salvation Army; youth work consultant for the Anglican church and now teacher. I know the huge challenges of maintaining a healthy work life balance that virtually everyone faces in the UK. I know about unpaid overtime. I know about performance related pay. I’ve worked in a job where my only annual increment was barely in line if not below inflation. Working life in 21st century Britain is tough.
I know that teaching has some great deals – holidays not least. It’s also an incredibly rewarding and challenging job. I love it.
However, the suggestion that if teachers want pay increases they should work longer hours is simply nonsense. Here’s my week: arrive at school at roughly 8.05. Leave school at 4.45 (we finish at 3.30) to get home and spend about an hour an evening with my daughter before bedtime. After the bath and bed routine it’s laptop on and planning or marking or data crunching roughly from 7.45 until bedtime…say 10ish? Weekends are a little different, but certainly see Sunday night devoted to prepping Monday and beyond.
It could be just my first year of teaching, but then I look at Kay – she’s doing exactly the same after 8 years of teaching. In fact I look around me at all the teachers I know and I see the same.
Most of us give everything we can to make sure our pupils are getting the best learning experience they can. We give up our breaks and lunchtime to support our learners, in fact we only stop when holidays arrive for a breather before giving up some of that to make sure we’re on top of everything.
But that’s the job. It’s tough and for some it’s gone too far. I understand that. I also know we should be accountable and that ‘bad apples’ should be dealt with (primarily by trying to help them, not simply dismissing them without any due process).
But to suggest ‘teachers’ should “work harder” to a public who often don’t see what goes on beyond and behind the school gates is simply irresponsible. A bit like saying exams are getting easier without producing any real, firm evidence other than that our wonderful children couldn’t possibly be getting brighter because schools are doing something right.
Again, no sob story. I understand the teaching deal. We all do. And to be honest, it’s not even about the money. It’s just as much about whether we respect those who pour their lives into our young people or not. I’m not asking for special treatment, or to go back to an age when teachers were some sainted part of the establishment. I’m asking that those making statements like this (including a certain Mr Gove) simply listen to those they’re talking about.
Sir Michael and the Right Hon Sec of State know exactly what they’re saying and people are hearing. That’s part of the political game. But education and our kids’ future is not a political ball to kick around.
Give us teachers half a chance and you’ll be amazed at what we can do.
Go on…be nice. It doesn’t cost that much.