Sunday, 8 July 2012

Warning: This blog post contains pictures of both Michael Gove and Toby Young

There are two weeks left  in the UK's school year and, for me, these two weeks will be my last. After ten years in the job, I'm leaving teaching. I've taken time off in the past (I had a year's sabbatical two years ago, which probably marked the beginning of the end) but I'll soon be completely out of the educational loop, except as a supply teacher, tutor and (I hope) a visiting writer.

 How does that feel?


There are many things I will miss about teaching (OK, let's make that "some things") and there are some things I won't miss (OK, let's make that "many").

Right wing? Moi?
But now that anyone with the proper right-wing credentials can get state funding to open their school, and many parents think they can do a better job at educating their children than teachers, and the current education secretary has decided to re-make British schools according to his whims andd fanciful notions, I might as well throw in my comments about education, too.

 So, here are some of the things that teaching has taught me...

1) Teachers (at least every one I've worked with or met) are dedicated to their students and are good at their jobs.  

2) Teachers work harder than anyone who's not a teacher will ever know. The UK holidays do not compensate for the extra hours and the unrelenting stress. They don't even come close.

 3) Most of this hard work is unneccessary. The crippling workload serves no purpose.

4) Before I started teaching I thought that schools were like prisons. I still feel that way, although much of the "imprisonment" is internalised by both jailers and jailed (as a teacher, I felt that I was both). In such a pressurised (and politically volatile)  environment, it's almost impossible to think creatively or imagine a more effective way of doing things. At least it was for me.

5)Teachers who work in difficult or challenging schools should be rewarded with smaller class sizes and higher pay, not derision.

6) Everyone involved in education should be part of the national "debate" on education--students of all ages and abilities, teachers, TAs, SEN co-ordinators, admin staff, libarians, technicians, parents.

Know-nothing? Moi?
 Leaving important decisions to experts and academics alone is silly; leaving them to know-nothing politicians who use education as a convenient stopping point on their path to world domination is criminal. 

7) League tables have caused immense damage to education, and warped educational priorities so that results have become the only things that matter. This has set school against school, parent against teacher, teacher against student.

 More importantly, the very existence of league tables suggests (and not too subtly) that a student who isn't an academic high flyer is less valuable or important than one who is.    

8) Every year when GCSE and A level results are announced, there is an outcry about standards and dumbing down and blah blah blah. There will be one this year, too. I think some newspapers just run the same item with the percentages tweaked slightly.

They print the same picture every year, too. Those girls who are jumping into the air with glee? They are actually 38 years old now and are getting tired of this cruel reminder of their more energetic and agile youth.

7) Everyone over the age of 25 thinks that they were much cleverer and hard-working than the students of today. They weren't.

 And finally...

8) Having children dress up in suits and ties to go to school is creepy. Wrong on SO many levels. What's wrong with you people?


  1. I am sick of people telling me that school uniform is essential for discipline in schools, and this has somehow been proven. How do they think schools in most of the rest of the world manage?

  2. Love your comments. My parents were both teachers and through them and the amazing staff at my son's primary I have seen how dedicated and hard-working teachers are. As you say they need support, adequate resources and then being left alone to get on with it.They get exactly the opposite.

  3. True. Every word. I'm always amazed at the assumptions made about teachers. Like you, I've never worked with a teacher who wasn't hard working and dedicated.

  4. Well said. Although I dislike Mr Gove though I have to admit that my daughter's school experience is probably much improved by not having to decide which outfit to wear in the mornings.

  5. I'm not against uniform per se, Candy. In fact, I think it's a great equaliser and should make life easier for both parents and teachers. It's the rigid tie and blazer stuff that gets me. Something comfortably and wearable and age-appropriate makes sense.

  6. fulfill your dreams (11589)
    we gives you the easiest way to increase income
    For more details visit: