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.