Primary Musings

thoughts of an every day teacher

Playing the game


I have been a teacher for nearly eleven years. I love working with children. I love seeing light bulbs go on and little characters develop. I love how as teachers we are always looking for ways to develop and refine our practice because we want the best for our children.

But a lot of the self improvement recently seems to be motivated by SATs results and curriculum changes. We’ve  become focused on getting better at helping children to jump through hoops that get higher and higher due to the consequences of a set of bad results. ‘No excuses’ becomes important not because it’s right for the children, but because it buys us a few more minutes in which to teach them some more useless grammatical terminology. Independent thought and collaboration fall by the wayside, because you don’t need them for rote learning.

If I’m honest, I’m tired. I’m tired of ‘playing the game’ because ‘we have to.’ I’m tired of colluding in things I know aren’t right for the children.  I’m tired of having to shoe-horn fronted adverbials and subordinating conjunctions into children’s writing to tick a box. I’m tired of hearing about what the DfE wants and being judged on how well I follow rules that I never agreed with in the first place.

And I wonder how long I can exist in a system that I fundamentally disagree with. In truth, I’m not sure.



15 thoughts on “Playing the game

  1. Me too. I think we’ve gone along with a lot. Teachers do what we’re told. I wrote something very similar here:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Juliet. I completely agree with you. I’m fed up of doing what I’m told even though I know it isn’t right.

      Liked by 4 people

      • In theory being a professional means if you know something isn’t right you absolutely should not do it, whoever is telling you to. Try doing this though and ironically you will be called unprofessional.
        Last year I left teaching after 30 years – not retirement as some of my colleagues wanted to label it (to make them selves feel better about it probably, rather than me).
        I was labeled as unprofessional in a performance management meeting at one point – when it’s happening it’s hard to think straight. Took a lot of thinking to realise I had refused to do something for the exact opposite reasons – because I was making a professional decision.
        Good luck with finding your way through this. Leaving is a drastic step. Finding another job or just some like-minded colleagues helps. The unions are pretty good on what should be required and what really is not anymore, but some of what you describe is also this awful new curriculum.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for this. I’m sorry you did not have a good experience. My SLT are fortunately amazing. I just think the system is completely broken.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t give up! Push back on things you don’t agree with and if that doesn’t work, find another school. (Easier said than done, I know!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know exactly what you mean and how difficult it is to stand up for what you feel is right especially if you’re a lone voice. Hopefully the tide will turn

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on nearly 11 years teaching! I managed 11 years, then quit after being bullied by SLT & put on an “improvement plan”.
    It continues to sicken me that the quality of teaching is being continuously eroded as experienced teachers with their vast expertise & enthusiasm leave the profession in disgust and exhaustion.
    What we need is for the unions to get over their petty differences & unite for the good of education before the system become fully privatised!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. If your SLT is amazing they surely are the people who should be unpicking the ‘we have to’ line.
    I have more experience of primary Maths than English. It took a TA to ask me what is actually statutory. Well, a lot is but many strange practices, that have become the norm, are not required at all. I’m sure the same must be true in the planning, teaching, marking and assessing of English.
    I’m not sure I go along with ‘the system is really broken’ line – sorry! It’s too easy a response for an SLT to hide behind ‘requirements.’


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