I seriously considered leaving education today. And if I had a viable exit strategy I might have taken it further.
Did I have a bad lesson? Was a pupil abusive, violent or threatening towards me? Not at all. I had the pleasure of my delightful Y7s, made a breakthrough with my Y8s, managed some productive revision and even had a pleasant time on a cover lesson.
What made me think about leaving was the agenda for Monday’s full staff meeting. Item 1? OFSTED. And pinned up next to it, the minutes of a recent Heads of Faculty meeting.
- In recent years we’ve been told our lessons have to be pacey.
- They have to help the students demonstrate independent learning.
- We have to give the students time to explore concepts and ideas.
- We have to demonstrate progress. From every student. Every 15 minutes.
- We have to make sure we build literacy explicitly into every lesson.
- We have to show an awareness of which pupils are FSM, EAL, EM, GAT, SEN, SA, SA+.
- We have to show how we make learning activities available to kinaesthetic learners, visual learners and audio learners.
- We have to differentiate our work for multiple intelligences.
- We have to aim for a 70:30 classroom.
- We have to assess every student every 6 weeks (that is, after every 6 hours – imagine having to assess every employee at work at the end of every day).
- When OFSTED show up I have to have a full suite of policies to show them
- When OFSTED show up I have to have detailed exam analysis to show them
- When OFSTED show up I have to have a detailed, evidence based SEF to show them
- When OFSTED show up I have to have marking that demonstrates progress to show them
- When OFSTED show up I have to have detailed lesson plans to show them
- When OFSTED show up I have to have detailed ‘narrowing the gap’ data to show them
- When OFSTED show up I have to have seating plans to show them
Via the minutes of the meeting I was informed that in my gained time I also have to arrange for a collaborative observation program for my department. Every member of the department has to carry out observations and also has to be observed. Each observation must be written up, objectives set, observations repeated and the whole process evaluated. In addition to planning new schemes of work, updating resources, rewriting lesson plans using the new double sided lesson pro forma, preparing book scrutinies… oh, and at some point teaching all of the Y7, Y8, Y9, Y10 and Y12 students.
At the same time I am told that I will have to work for another 36 years. That I will receive less pension than I was promised (despite the fact that the TPS pot has been overpaid for many years). That tests are too easy. That my subject is not good enough. That I need to solve gaps in parenting. That I should receive performance related pay. That teachers are paid too much. That public sector workers in the north are paid too much. That teachers ‘cheat’ when the watchmen come. And today I’m told that ‘teachers don’t know what stress is‘.
Three local schools have had the dreaded ‘O’ visit them in the last 3 months. Two were graded Satisfactory (which will soon be officially less than satisfactory) and one was given notice to improve. SLT appear to be living in a climate of fear that is pervading every meeting, every document, every decision and every discussion. It appears that my job is becoming more and more about pleasing our overlords (Did I say overlords? I meant protectors – Jonathan Coulton) and less and less about educating and enthusing children.
I’m not leaving teaching today, because there are still too many moments that I enjoy. The XKCD comic at the top of the post perfectly sums up the reason I became a teacher. The idea that someone can leave the room knowing more than they did when they went in has always fascinated me, and that I have the ability to be a part of that is wonderful. The fact that my AS Computing class is taught almost exclusively out of schools hours – when neither I nor they are required to be there – fills me with hope. TEACHING is a great activity. Teaching, at the minute, doesn’t always feel like a great job.