Crisis Management

What a week it’s been. On Monday I published my article outlining the reasons I have decided to walk away from the teaching profession. I posted it on this website which anyone can see is not finished. I’m still very new to WordPress and I had intended to become much more proficient before the site was viewed by so many people. Since Monday evening, the website has been visited more than 120,000 times after the article went viral on social media, shared tens of thousands of times by people for whom it struck a chord. On Thursday it was published by the TES and on Friday I received an email from the deputy news editor of the Independent who intends to publish it on Monday. I set up this website with a view to making a living as a freelance writer when the curtain comes down on my teaching career (now somewhat famously) at the end of the academic year. What an irony (notice I’m following the DfE’s new exclamation mark guidance here) that my reflections on my old career should provide such a shot in the arm to my new one!

While it’s been exciting to see the enthusiastic response to my writing, I’ve been dismayed to read the countless emails and comments that have come my way from other teachers and ex-teachers with similar stories to tell. I’ve heard stories about successful teachers whose self-confidence has been utterly shot to pieces by the system we work in; of fellow professionals who have had to seek counselling or medication for depression or anxiety and even marriages torn apart by stress and workload. Compared to some of the stories I’ve heard, I have it easy. As I said in my article, my head teacher is one of the good guys. A number of people commenting on the TES Facebook announcement of my article remarked “55 hours a week? I work more than 70!” Well I don’t and at my school we don’t encourage our staff to either. So while I stand in solidarity with all those who are being pressurised to work a 70 hour week in other schools, for me the problem is not about the workload but the about the depressingly narrow offer we’re forced to make to our pupils.

I had been planning to write a wider range of articles in the coming weeks. There are all sorts of other interests about which I wanted to express my thoughts but, given the incredible response to my previous article, I think I will focus for now on trying to speak up for the teaching profession, especially in terms of the primary system from which my experience stems. I’m escaping from the education system’s clutches but I have no intention of giving up the fight. The best way to push back against what is happening to our schools, whether you’re a teacher, a parent or just a concerned citizen, is to unite, to share our experiences and to keep insisting to anyone who will listen, in one voice, that our children deserve better than this.

Thank you for all your support over the last few days and please keep the emails and comments coming. In my first article I signalled my retreat but the fightback starts here. Watch this space.

 

 

6 comments

  1. Congrarulations Tim, well deserved! (not sure about that exclamation mark, but don’t really give a ****!). Anyway, as you say we must fight back, not that I like the phrase, smacks of violence, I guess but it is essential that these stories are heard. As you say, there are many teachers suffering more but the real ones suffering are the children, although they probably don’t realise it as this is their first and only experience of schooling. I heard from a headteacher colleague this week, who has or rather had a lovely Infant school in the south. An excellent school, recognised by the O team, even and renowned for the outdoor provision it gives to children, despite its small physical space. That space has been eroded over the past four years as the roll has expanded from 90 to now well over 250 and set to top 320 in the next two years. All this because the LA can’t afford to build a new school or, rather, if they do it has to be either a free school or an Academy run by other than the LA. So the children suffer, losing their beautiful green space, despite the best efforts of the head and staff. In this country we no longer value education, as we once did. Now we slavishly follow government dictats and strive to lower costs. We know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Fight on!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good luck. I have read several very eloquent essays from disillusioned young and youngish teachers over the past year, which is depressing becasue the profession can’t afford to lose them; but energising because if we are to survive then sooner rather than later all this garbage has to be thrown out. I stated teaching in 1977; it wasn’t Nirvana but compared to what we have now it was close. When I see and hear what ex colleagues and other friends of mine in the profession have tio endure it makes me want to weep. Almost everyone connected with education except the fools that make the political decisions can see where it’s going wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s the Anglo-American system which is failing – it’s precisely the same with health services : billions poured into “administration” and “surveillance” : you can thank big brother America for this crap.
    The systems have long been destroyed by this US model of “teaching” – by the time these students arrive at University level they are unable to focus, to write essays, to ‘think”, as they have been churned through a system which does not work. The European system is so much more advanced, intellectually, I should never advocate study in UK/US or other English-speaking countries (Australia, Ireland) – they’re all working from the same model, and their cultures are violent cultures.
    General remarks you might say – yes – because I have given up on the whole American “culture” which has eroded and corroded all other English-speaking cultures – it is destructive, violent and vacuous and your schooling methods are reflected in this. Surveillance of teachers – are you surprised ? It’s little wonder they haven’t positioned the army in your classrooms – it’s coming !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great article (Independent). Some shocking (and some quite looney) responses to what was a very well reasoned explanation of your position. My wife (a top performing teacher in a state primary school) has also handed in her notice and for reasons which are very similar to yours. I wish you you all the best in your new career Tim.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Tim, I can’t thank you enough for your blog post, which a friend shared with me via TES. I have three children at neighbouring local schools. One of these lost the most inspiring teacher I’ve ever come across last year – also a deputy. The children she had encouraged over the years were devastated, as were us parents. All three of my children have had their confidence knocked and become negative towards school because of constant pushing, setting, homework and testing. One is now showing worrying signs of stress at school, even though we tell him to just have fun. Another (predicted to achieve A*s in GCSE) feels whatever he does is not good enough. The saddest thing is that some parents seem to want more of this – more homework, more pushing, more setting. And now today’s announcement on academies! I feel very afraid. Us parents must use every opportunity to show our appreciation for good teachers and we must all stick together to stop the terrible impact on the genuine education (a lifelong confidence and desire to learn, question and create) of our children. I wish you and your colleagues all the very best xx

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