Primary Musings

thoughts of an every day teacher

Everyone’s a winner

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Dear Justine,

You might have been hearing that teachers are pretty demoralised at the moment. I’m not going to lie to you, the pressure to get better and better results with less and less resources, in a nation where education, health and social care are all at breaking point, is pretty tough.

But as I know you are responsible employers, who care about the mental health of your staff, I’ve been thinking up some ways you could encourage our profession.

    • Cancel student loans for every teacher who has been teaching for more than five years. A golden ‘thank you’ for staying in a tough profession would be really welcome, and might be a nice draw for people considering leaving.
    • Push the pause button on SATs until the inquiry into primary assessment is complete. No one’s education will be ruined if they don’t sit a SATs test, and teachers are quite capable of doing their own assessments anyway. Once you’ve got it properly sorted and put assessment back in its box, let talk again.
    • Stop announcing education policy in the press. Talk directly to us, instead of through journalists.
    • Please, oh please, send Nick Gibb on a managing change course. Even if you completely agree with all the changes made in education over the last few years (I don’t) you have to admit they’ve been handled in a shambolic manner.
    • Talk to real teachers. No, not just the ones who want to kiss your ass further their own careers by agreeing with you. Talk to the real teachers actually doing the job. You must know some of them. Or some of your friends must. Ask them what they need to help their children succeed in the classroom. Then really try to do it.
    • Think through the impact of your policies on the people who will actually have to implement them. It would be so nice if we could stop expending energy fighting the next ill-thought-through policy announced in the papers, so we can actually get on with our jobs.
    • Stop the ‘there’s no problem here’ approach to education stories in the news. I’m tired of DfE spokespeople constantly denying there are any issues in the press. Perhaps the official line could be ‘we’re working with teachers and unions to solve these problems.’ It would at least make us feel you’re taking our concerns seriously.
    • Raise the status of the profession in the press. You could tweet or publish regular success stories, or thank yous to those working in education. Again, not just those who want to kiss your ass  further their own careers by agreeing with you, but those ordinary teachers who are committed to children, sometimes really difficult to work with children, day in, day out.
    • Fight for us in the budget. Be on our side, take your job to support and fight for our children seriously. Persuade your colleagues that we need enough resources to do our jobs properly. And while you’re at it, push for CAMHS to be funded properly. It’s shameful and heartbreaking that children in great need have to wait 18 months to access the help they need.

So those are my ideas. I’m sure you’re listening because you realise that the biggest impact on children is the quality of their teacher. A demoralised, exhausted workforce with a high turnover rate doesn’t benefit anyone. And I know you care about that, don’t you?

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