Life lessons, fear of failure and why I left teaching.

This morning, I found out an excellent teacher, someone I respect and look up to, received a Requires Improvement from an Ofsted QA Inspection. Needless to say, she’s gutted. I’m furious for her. Not just because she blatantly does not Require Improvement (and any idiot who spent more than 20 minutes observing her would realise this), but because this is the reason I decided to take a break from teaching.

I loved being a teacher. I loved the buzz of the classroom, and teenagers are the most inspiring, frustrating, wonderful, bonkers, infuriating and downright excellent people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. The workload was hard, but a lot of the time it felt…, well, not fun, but certainly not boring. I loved designing lessons, trying to bring in new stuff as and when I could. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but I never once felt like I was wasting my time.

Then things changed.

All of a sudden, I wasn’t allowed to judge my own classes and make planning decisions on what I knew they would enjoy and engage with. Instead, I had to shoehorn in a load of gimmicky nonsense that they believed to be ‘outstanding practise’, like asking your class what would happen if the world ran out of coffee, or making them write down endless reams of feedback (written in red, or teacher is, yep, RI), or stopping them every ten minutes to ‘check their progress’ by asking them to stick their fingers up their noses if they understood or their thumbs up their arses if they didn’t. You also had to stop the lesson the minute anyone higher up the foodchain walked into your lesson and ‘go through the learning objectives’ no matter what they were doing, even if you’d just gone through them 2 minutes before and the kids were working brilliantly. Because teaching is now less about teaching and more about proving you’re not letting them doodle flowers in their books whilst you read Heat.

But I could have coped with all of that. What I couldn’t cope with was the toxic culture of fear that now pervades the whole profession. People no longer talk about ‘what this brilliant kid did’ – it’s always about who had a drop in and what grade they subsequently received. As a profession, we have been reduced from largely innovative, invested individuals to a bunch of approval-seeking junkies, because we know we’re only as good as our last Ofsted rating. Forget what the kids think of you; forget what the parents think of you, if Ofsted say ‘nope’, then that’s it. You’re not good enough (although in my case, Ofsted rated me Good, but that still wasn’t enough, but that’s another story for another time).

This culture of fear doesn’t just stop at the teachers, though. No, the trickle down effect on our kids is something that really, really scares me. Not only do kids pick up on stress when their teachers are stressed, but what does this constant climate of assessment and judgement teach them? Well, as a life-long member of the ‘Pathological Approval Seeker’ club who bases her entire self-worth in the opinions of others, I know exactly what it teaches them. It teaches them that nothing is worth doing unless you’re being judged. That being judged and the arbitrary approval of people you’ve never even fucking seen before is more important than your own instincts. Forget cultivating independence of thought; all this does is teach kids that unless that stranger says you’re Good, you’re a failure as a human being.

What happened to doing something for the sheer joy of doing it? Or discussing something because it’s important, or simply interesting? Or encouraging kids to take risks, where they very well may fail or make mistakes but that doesn’t matter because it’s better to have the guts to give it a go than be terrified of the failure that inevitably comes with constant and relentless assessment against an increasingly narrowed set of markers? Because THIS is what we’re teaching our children right now – that the grade is everything. Forget the journey, it’s all about the destination. You are nothing more than a number, a grade, a set of statistics – and if you EVER deviate from the path laid out for you by people who don’t know you, then you are a failure. And even if you’re not this time, you will be. Oh, you will be. Because you’re being assessed again tomorrow, and who knows what tomorrow brings?


96 thoughts on “Life lessons, fear of failure and why I left teaching.

  1. Iankos says:

    Very apposite and thoughtful, I know several teachers who are in/have been in similar positions and many more parents, governors and other school staff to whom this is an all too real problem with little sign of relief on the horizon for an embittered education service

    • One thing I just don’t get (beyond sheer willful ignorance) is how those in charge – and I don’t just mean Gove – can’t see this. Who on this good green Earth can honestly look at this situation and say ‘oh, yes – stats are sooooo much more important than people’. It’s borderline sociopathic.

  2. Gerry Fenge says:

    Gradgrind was doing pretty well when we left the profession, but it looks like his empire goes wider and deeper than ever. Artificial Intelligence used to be for robots…

    • It has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime, Gerry – when you can have your lesson downgraded by someone who wasn’t even observing you simply based on the boxes ticked on your observation sheet… wrong. Just wrong.

  3. Peter says:

    No wonder approximately %50 of teachers leave within 5 years of service. It must be a nightmare teaching in England.

  4. I managed 8. Seven of them I loved. The last year though… yeesh. I will say the main reason I gave up was because I have 2 kids (5 and 2 and a half) and was being forced to choose between them and work. Well,sorry work, but family wins every time for me. I did notice that as soon as I made that clear to the powers that be (before I handed in my resignation), I might as well have painted a target on my back. Out of 9 members of a well performing inner city English department (we averaged a good 60+% A*-C rate – we managed 73% this year, and I personally achieved 78% with a mixed ability group), 6 of us left. Six. I think that tells you all you need to know.

    • Ginny says:

      Sorry struggling with this. You have very generous school holidays and before you get all defensive consider this. I am a nurse and work a mixture of early late and night shifts. Ask you can imagine, arranging childcare round this is tricky. There are several of us on the ward with young children and only two of us can be on leave at any one time. I appreciate your difficulties _ I am married to a teacher. But hey, get in the real world – most of us would kill to have your flexibility with childcare.

      • Linda Collins says:

        There is always someone who immediately leaps onto the long holiday thing. Those of us in the job are sick of being hit over the head with the …. ‘Well you get long holidays,’ argument. Listen – we work through most of it, and I am not going to go on any more as you surely must have realised all my defences as you are married to a teacher. As for flexibility with child care… I never saw a sports day, an assembly a prize giving, I needed a child minder every morning and evening, and had to pay a retainer for her over our ‘long holidays’.
        Now, back to the original argument. It wasn’t about child care or what a luxury it is to have good holiday breaks, it was about being battered at every opportunity by judgements about our capabilities. Having to prove ourselves to be excellent all the time. It is so sad to see wonderful, bright enthusiastic young teachers being beaten down and eventually leaving the profession. I daily thank the God or Godess that I am at the very end of my professional years and close to retirement. I am ready to go. I certainly wouldn’t have stayed if I could see 20 odd years or more stretching out in front of me.
        Remember in all this, in the long run, it is the children who will suffer.

      • Also, I never mentioned holidays, childcare or working hours. Simply that the culture is unhealthy. I don’t want to get into a ‘my job is harder than yours’ argument, especially with anyone working in the NHS, who have their own set of horrendous work conditions to contend with right now – I can’t hep feel that we should be supporting each other rather than sniping at each other… 😦

      • Nurse and Teacher says:

        I am a nurse and a teacher and have done both with young children. Despite the heavy workload of nursing, when your job is done you go home and leave it. It may be on your mind but there’s nothing more you can do til you go back. With teaching, you finish your day to go home and plan your next day/mark your previous days work. There’s no other profession where every hour of the day has to be planned out before you can actually deliver it and where someone can effectively follow you round at any point to make sure you’re doing a good job. Yes we all get observed in some shape or form – feedback from patients/students, CQC, 360 degree reviews etc but you wouldn’t have someone follow you around in a hospital and without warning observe you doing a wound dressing, (bedbath, drug round or such like), to make sure you have followed correct procedures, communicated effectively, completed the necessary admin, reviewed the wound, reviewed the dressing, reflected on your processes etc etc.
        I once calculated the amount of time I spent working evening, weekends and holidays planning, marking, completing reports etc etc and it left me with 4 weeks holiday a year – far less than you get as a nurse. This argument makes my blood boil. Seriously, don’t you think that all the teachers complain about the hours they work for a reason?

      • Woo says:

        This isn’t about the hours. This article is about the demoralising judgement, that stops us from valuing what is important; the child. Nurses work very long shifts and work very hard, as do fire service and the armed forces. No one is saying anyone has a more important job that demands more. Just that teachers are under constant judgement that actually stops them from doing their job. As you are married to a teacher your childcare, probably, isn’t as much an issue for you, then? Or is it? Because teachers have to also find childcare for several out of hours school evenings/trips/events too. Also being married to a teacher you are fully aware of exactly how much holiday we actually receive – that is we get ill during our holidays and/or continue to mark, plan, research etc. We don’t really have a home life and work life ; (you know switch off from work. Not bring it home with you) they blend into one – witnessing all this with your other half. I worked out recently, that I earn below the minimum wage with my annual wage (we don’t get over time) and the amount of hours I put in.
        Anyway, it’s all relative. But the article is about Ofsted ruining education. Not time, effort, work or holiday.

      • David Armstrong says:

        And, Ginny, how much work do you do at home every night and weekend? Plenty of the children’s holidays are filled with planning, assessment and prep for the upcoming term…and our ‘shifts’ usually begin at 8am and go on until 6 at school, before the marking begins. The hols are there for the children; on my pay, great hols abroad are usually out of reach. I won’t go on about the 3 years without any pay increases, but pension contribution cuts and extended years of service to qualify for them. Don’t bash others who are overworked, underpaid and taken for granted…save your bile for those who pay 10%tax and spend the day losing our hard earned pensions.

      • Lea McDonald says:

        Yeah so childcare can be flexible … if you are lucky enough to have the same holiday pattern as your child … However in an average week I’m lucky to spend an hour a day with my son every day except Saturday (when I have to get all my household jobs done) due to the amount of work I have to do outside school hours. As for these generous, flexible holidays that people always have to go on about – yes I get to spend more time with my son as I generally only work 6/8 hours a day at this time and have Sundays off. All in all I have 4/5 weeks a year not thinking about or doing work – no more than anyone else but as I tend to work an average of 70 hours a week the rest of the time I think I bloody well deserve the flexibility! And I’m only a ‘good’ teacher … which isn’t good enough!

      • Yvonne says:

        You should try it then if you don’t understand. It is quite horrific and I have not only left teaching but am leaving the country. I am appalled that my grandchildren will go through this ludicrous system they call education in this country. You need to go right in there and see for yourself.Holidays?? most of that time is spent going in to plan assess or just sleeping it off.

      • Cat clifford says:

        But the 12 hour days we work five days a week – some of the weekend too (and we do actually work in our holidays too) doesn’t really fit in with having children.

      • Sue says:

        As a nurse do you also take home work to do in your own time? The average teacher does between 30 -35 hours unpaid work each week.that equates to at least another 25 weeks per year.Therefore if you take the school holidays out of the equation that still leaves 15 weeks unpaid labour.

      • Mick says:

        I’m a male teacher. This isn’t about childcare and getting into the “real” world (I don’t even know what you mean by this). It’s about the toxic system that has been created. Working 70 hours a week and giving up 50% of your holidays to get up to date. Teaching is supposed to be one of the most humane professions out there, unfortunately the teachers themselves get treated so inhumanely. I really don’t think it’s worth it, you have to marry the profession and subscribe to the didactic bullshit from above.

  5. Franni bee says:

    Very very sad but true.
    I taught for 37 years in 4 very good schools.
    Towards the ‘end’ the whole ethos had changed dramatically and it did not feel like an interactive ‘people’ job any more…..It had become very prescriptive and overly analysed…..not much room for intuition and spontaneity……as these deserving qualities were too difficult to be measured.
    Very very sad but true. Fran b xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

    • I know exactly what you mean. I was criticized for my lesson being ‘too focused on being creative’. I taught English. I thought creativity was at the core of my subject. Silly me – it’s all about teaching grammar and language techniques now.

  6. This is exactly why I have stopped teaching after ten years – I have had my confidence and enjoyment ruined and even though I now live abroad, I can no longer face getting into the classroom.

    • So sad to hear that – but I totally get it, too. I wanted to be a good Mum to my daughters and so when the job effectively said ‘it’s me or your family’, I said ‘family’. I Intended to go back once my youngest was in school, but now I’m having second thoughts (and I still have 18 months to go before she starts!). I have no idea how I could even begin to think about putting myself through this again. But on the other hand, I absolutely love being in the classroom, and unless I’m offered some ridiculously huge book deal, there’s no other job I’d rather do. I’m just hoping all of this calms down before I have to think about what to do next… :-/ xx

    • Yvonne says:

      Me too – can’t face visiting my old buddies.

  7. David Makepeace says:

    Yeah it can get that bad, but there are still schools where the management do a great job of supporting you and where morale is still good. I am one of the lucky ones I guess still loving it at 62.

    • You certainly are – and I bet there’s loads of people out there wondering where you work and can we please work there, too!! Another friend of mine (and former colleague) is also still loving it, but in order to do that, he had to go over to the dark side and teach in a private school. I hope your school continues to be a place that values you. πŸ™‚

  8. Lambie says:

    Reblogged this on Lambie Runs and commented:
    Just something to consider – totally unrelated to running though, but work related.

  9. Andrea Stone says:

    Cant fault the teachers I had or the teachers that are helping my daughter through her gcse years, they take time to help her and encourage which is what teaching should be, be able to approach the teachers if help is needed.

    • At the end of the day, despite what the press says, 99.9% of teachers in my experience are in it for one reason – the kids. Yes, there are a few who need a rocket up the jackse, but they are far and few between. There is no greater buzz for a teacher than to see a pupil succeed.

  10. Meg says:

    I know of two excellent teachers who left the profession because of near mental breakdowns. The British education system used to be the best in the world: now look at it. It makes me want to cry.

    • So sad, and all too common. I sometimes wonder if this is all a big conspiracy to get the old guard out – get rid of all of those trained under Labour, indoctrinate the new ones to this new culture (and have no older teachers to contradict them) and, in turn, cut the teaching budget (after all, anyone who has been in for any length of time is expensive). It’s a mess all right…

      • Rob Barratt says:

        Yeah, that’s how it looks and it’s what happened at my last school just before I retired. As NUT rep and aged 57, I’m sure the new Head was glad to see the back of me!

  11. I have no idea who you are, but this is exactly what is going through my head. I have had enough of waking up at 3am in a cold sweat terrified that I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

    • I know this feeling only too well. Even though I’ve been out of it since July, I still have nightmares about it all and when former colleagues tell me about what they’re going through, I actually feel my chest clench. I’m only planning to take a couple of years out to raise my young daughters (since teaching is no way compatible with family life now), but there are times when I look at everything that is going on and think ‘I simply couldn’t do that – can I ever go back if this is how it is going to be?’.

      • Mandy Huegel says:

        It is a really sad state of affairs when so many teachers are constantly thinking ‘ I’m not good enough’. We all know that we can always strive to do better, but despite 15 years experience, over the past few years, that thought seems to have been with me far too much. However, what keeps me going are 2 things – the first one is that I no longer intend to be a teacher until I retire. This has subsequently allowed me to realise the second, which is that I have made a conscious decision not to be judged by something over which I have no control – Mr Ofsted. The success and engagement of my pupils is now my gauge. If I go home at the end of the day knowing I have inspired even 1 of them, then I have succeeded. I used to be in the enviable position of being able to tell people that I loved my job, but for quite a while that changed. Thankfully, age and maturity has now won through and I can now focus on my strengths rather than worry about not measuring up to Mr Ofsted. I am a bloody good teacher, working with many other bloody good teachers and although I may be upset if Mr Ofsted were ever to judge me as lacking, I would get over it, because the kids I have taught over the years and inspired to go on and use their languages are a testament to the quality of my teaching, not a piece of paper from Mr Ofsted with a number on it.

    • Lisa Wallace says:

      Completely understand and agree! I’m exactly the same boat as you! We are having a ‘mock’ OFSTED inspection on Monday. You would think it was the real thing the way we are being spoken to! People seem to have forgotten what this job is about. I only now have some comfort after coming to terms with that fact that my best will never be good enough. Doesn’t matter how many late nights I pull or how many times ignore my husband to work, it won’t get better. So sad. I always saw myself as teaching forever but now after having my 1st class at 21, at the grand old age of 27, I’m looking for other avenues of work. Makes me sad as I used to love my job.

  12. In my fifth year of teaching, and have experienced this all ready. I lilke my job, it’s the best job in the world. Except when people tell you that you are useless and its all about targets and grades,

  13. Rob Barratt says:

    I totally agree with this writer. Towards the end of my 34 year teaching career this was happening and in my local NUT role I see this situation getting worse. Teachers, Children and parents know if a teacher is good or not without the intimidation of the OTT lesson observation system. I wrote a piece about it called “The God of Data” which is on Youtube: Please share if you agree with it. Thanks. Rob Barratt (Plymouth NUT)

  14. Reblogged this on undertherowantreesblog and commented:
    An interesting if depressing read.

  15. Jay Gardner says:

    After retiring, going back and retiring three times .. I have finally given up … I cant face all this judgmental stuff that ALWAYS finds you wanting as a teacher no matter what you do. (I once had consecutive lessons observed by two different OFSTED Inspectors … the first was (I quote) one of the best lessons I have ever seen, the second was deemed to be unsatisfactory – for exactly the teaching methods that the first lesson was deemed outstanding.)

  16. Andy says:

    As a teacher, I absolutely agree with the majority of comments left here. Education is clearly a political ballgame with no consideration for those actually engaged in the profession. I myself have experienced the highs and lows of the current culture both first-hand as well as through the experiences of colleagues. However, it is clear that this will not change if we are not willing to fight for change. I have seen pitifully little evidence of this thus far. One day strikes are not the way forward. Dare I say they are a waste of time and a day’s wage. If striking is the way forward then at least make a statement with it and not just a grumble. Maybe we should, as a profession, have the conviction and courage to stand up and say no to this policy.
    Just a thought.

    • Ezzie says:

      I agree that one day strikes are not the way forward. Unless the media gets behind the teachers and clearly explains why teachers are striking they don’t achieve much. In fact, they play into Gove’s hands. I wish all teachers could find the courage to resign. All of them, on the same day. They could do it in May and state that they will not be returning in September. That would make one heck of a statement. No teachers means no schools and finally the country will wake up and realise it’s about time the ongoing teacher bashing stops. Teachers could all agree to return if politics and government are kept separate. I dream….

  17. Andy says:

    An additional thought…. I every school and OFSTED inspection I have experienced, we as teachers obediently jump through the rings, roll over and run for our ‘reward’ (feedback) like we are expected to, thus giving this system credibility. When we are told we are good or outstanding then we don’t question it, when our feedback is less than complimentary then it’s a different story. We legitimize this system through our compliance. As someone said in a previous post, we all know the good teachers, and also when we ourselves are on or off form. Too many good teachers have already been been sacrificed for the political gain of one politician or another.

  18. Bex says:

    I love my job. Is it what it was 13 years ago ? No. I work with some of the most inspirational teachers who would have been successful no matter what job they chose and would be should they choose to leave. As has always been the case though we all stay for the future. The children we teach deserve the best. Should we be held accountable for the children we educate not making adequate progress? Yes. Should we have an open door policy? Yes. Should we view each child as a statistic? No. By all means, observe me, interrogate my data and even compare my children to the national average if you must, but talk to me. Let me tell you about the child who never knows who is picking them up from school and has huge insecurity issues. The child who cares for their Mum and little sister since her parents got divorced. Let me tell you why I taught that lesson the way I did, why we have strayed from the set path to investigate the questions that have come from these amazing minds. Let me tell you where I need money spent to help these children access resources they need. Let me teach. Let me do my job and support me as I do it. Most of all remember every child matters, every child is unique and that is at the core of what we do every day. For those of you who are near breaking point all I can say is believe in yourself you can bet that every child in that room does and it is them that matter.

  19. Kitty says:

    As a mature person, new to teaching, I agree with all of the above sadly. I enjoy most parts of the job and find I have many transferable skills. However, in my limited experience, I find management poor and children treated like robots assuming one size fits all. I find, having had a good career already, that I don’t really care what ousted thinks of me. It’s not going to make a difference to the children, neither am I going to be paid more! I always do the best I possibly can for the children because I want to help them learn. I also want them to enjoy learning. I will definitely leave teaching, which is a shame as I think it could probably be an interesting job but only if the environment changed drastically.

  20. Gmmf1 says:

    What are teachers that have left the profession doing now? I am a Secondary English teacher desperate to the the job I used to love after just 5 years. Any advice gratefully received.

  21. Caroline Saunders says:

    I happened upon this post because a former colleague shared the link from their facebook page. I left teaching in Britain in 2011. This was just at the beginning of the new government. There were some rumblings about Gove then, but nothing like the constant tirade that populates my facebook feed. That said, all of the criticisms that you levy at the current state of teaching in Britain have been brewing for some time. I started teaching in the U.K. in 2001. I had taught in the U.S. prior to this, and the mood was markedly different. I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but in the U.K. there had been a constant, steady move to the climate in teaching that you currently describe. It was one of my main reasons for leaving the profession, as many above have echoed. The school at which I taught received a “Good” from OfSted each time they came to visit, but ‘Good’ was never good enough. On the day of my leaving ‘do a respected colleague told me that I was jumping ship at just the right time. I agree that it was time for me to move on; however, this horrible state of affairs has been a long time coming.

  22. Phil Butterworth says:

    A very sad thread indicative of the undue pressure created by school leaders being fixated with OFSTED. Schools should be focusing on what their pupils need, how everyone’s learning can be better and their own vision. Have belief and confidence in what you believe in!

    Credible Heads don’t judge teachers just on occasional lesson observations, indeed they don’t even grade them. Respected Heads ensure values are shared and have a moral purpose that creates commitment to the pupils. Wise heads know OFSTED is no longer fit for purpose and if anything is failing and requires improvement it is that organisation

  23. The observation process, whilst part of the larger quality assurance and is required has lost meaning, value and respect. It has become an end in itself rather than a means to an end.

  24. James says:

    Unfortunately this type of judgment of your worth is not only happening in teaching but in all areas of the public sector.

  25. Ginny says:

    Absolutely James. Nurses are being hounded in the press daily for supposedly providing bad care. Of course there are bad nurses just as there are bad teachers.
    Linda Collins – you are not the only working mother to have missed sports days etc. What I (and many others) get so sick of is hearing how hard done by you all are. Try managing on 6 weeks holiday a year and regularly working 12 hour shifts with scarcely a toilet break, never mind a meal break. Newly qualified nurses are being left in charge of wards with no probationary period. Don’t be so defensive. – you DO get long holidays and you are not the only ones in stressful occupations being constantly belittled from on high. Just remember, while you are at home with your families on Christmas day, many of us are at work missing ours!

  26. Kev says:

    Absolutely right. I teach 11 year olds English, and before they begin a piece of writing I hear the cry “are we being levelled on this?” They are absolutely obsessed with it. The bright ones are anyway: the ones who find writing a challenge are not so keen. It reaffirms their position in their perceived academic pecking order. They are 11 years old for god’s sake!

  27. amy hazell says:

    I totally agree with every word you say. I had a break from teaching for 6 mths and became a Ta for a while, however my teaching expirence then lead me to do more. Before I know it I was back in the saddle teaching a class fulltime which is making me feel very unhappy. We move in July to Woolwich and do you know what I am going to look into another career as this career is no longer for me. As you say it isnt even about the children its about levels and targets and that wasn’t why I fully went into teaching … Hope one day there will be another turn around for the better πŸ™‚

  28. ZK says:

    Teachers DO NOT GET PAID for ‘holidays’. Can we settle this once and for all! So for the snipier posts bemoaning this aspect of teachers’ lives, can you become aware that teachers are paid for 1265 hours per year (plus unspecified hours to fulfil other duties). These 1265 hours are divided over three terms. That means holidays are not paid, but the pay is salaried, i.e. divided by 12 months for ease. FOR EASE.

    If you are suffering in your own professions eg no breaks for up to 12 hours, then you need to get your unions involved in that one and get together as a profession…instead of sitting there moaning about teachers. Hey – feel free to become a teacher!

  29. Ginny says:

    You lot are so easy to wind up about holidays – I never said you got paid for holidays, I’m married to a teacher so know exactly how it works. As for getting the unions involved over our working conditions, it’s been tried many times but ultimately it’s the patients who lose out and nobody wants that. Anyway , not long now and then you can have a week off for half term. Followed by 2 weeks in April for Easter. Followed by another week in May for half term – get in the real world guys!

    • ZK says:

      Just to reiterate for recent posters who find things tricky to understand – for half term teachers will get an unpaid week and time away from school. During this time, many, many of them will be WORKING and preparing and assessing and marking. Either catch-up (as it is impossible to keep up with every bit of workload) or trying to get ahead.

      Ginny love, it’s down to you and your profession to change things. Clearly you are unhappy. That comes across loud and clear in your posts.

      And why would you want to ‘wind’ people up about holidays? Nice!

      • Sally Erkul says:

        Ginny – my half term will be spent writing 30 full length reports taking around an hour each, going into school to do admin and preparing materials for next term. Estimated hours: around 50

  30. Claire Cook says:

    Yup, it’s all about ticking boxes and trying to prove how good it all is on paper – phht! When will these people realise that they have got it all wrong?! I am taking my daughter OUT of school at the end of this academic year (she will do her AS’s), because the UK has lost the plot! She will be better off learning life skills in the African bush where she was born and raised and belongs. Let the teachers get back to what they do best – teach, not tick stupid boxes!

  31. As I neared the end of a 43 year teaching career a young man joined my department. He had a degree in Drama like myself but decided to do a part-time PGCE qualification. After six weeks he had his first micro teach. At the end, the tutor said it was one of the best first micro teaches she had seen. She gave it an A but then explained that she was downgrading it to a B because he hadn’t separated his teaching notes with coloured dividers!!!!
    This is the legacy left by MantraMan Blair and carried forward by Michael Gove. Is it any wonder young people either leave teaching early or don’t want to join it in the first place? Pete W

  32. Ginny says:

    And just for those who don’t read posts properly – I said I KNOW you are not paid for holidays . I’m not unhappy at all ZK so spare me the amateur psychology. I love, and am grateful for my job and I thank God every day that I have paid employment especially in the current climate. Which is why I (and believe me, many many others) get so fed up hearing teachers bemoaning their lot when actually compared to others they don’t have it too bad. As for the winding up over school holidays – do I detect a sense of humour bypass here?

    • ZK says:

      Spot on, Claire Cook. It’s sad isn’t it? I wish you the best of luck with your daughter’s education. Don’t blame you one bit!

    • peter says:

      You don’t seem to appreciate that teachers WORK during the school holidays, though. It’s not time off for the vast majority of them. And incidentally, if I had a quid for every time I heard a nurse bemoan their lot I’d have BUPA cover by now.

    • David Armstrong says:

      If you weren’t an irritating, ill-considered know-it-all at school, trying to belatedly annoy the teaching profession, your contributions here have succeeded. I pity your hardworking partner, and have no doubt you are oft whinged about by your long suffering colleagues. Reply, and keep digging your way out of this hole of your own making. Sad you didn’t do well enough at school to be a doctor or vet?

  33. Cate says:

    Thank goodness in the private sector you aren’t forced to do all these idiotic things & that the ISI inspectors understand what truly makes a good teacher not just the current “fashion” for a good teacher. I feel privileged that I am trusted enough to be able to actually teach and stretch my pupils minds rather than having to pigeon hole them to narrowly fixed grades & categories. Gove wants to make state schools more like private ones? He needs to remove the beaurocracy

  34. Taken two years away from teaching, partly due to other inspirational opportunities in primary literacy and partly because I got kicked very hard by an Ofsted observation – cruel, unfair, unnecessary. I have missed teaching SO much and am venturing back in…tentatively…just for a small part of the week. Dipping my toe back in the water. Watch this space…

    • I really do wish you all the best in world. I miss the classroom too, and once I’ve finished following a few dreams of my own (and getting over a few things that I haven’t detailed here), I have no doubt I’ll be back πŸ™‚ xx

      • ZK says:

        mistress – please ban the passive aggressive troll. She just won’t take a hint!

      • I’ve asked for everyone to stop the sniping now. I understand that these topics raise taut emotions, but it’s getting silly now. (And I have tonsillitis, so trying to follow all of this is making my head throb!). So I’ll say it again – it’s all gone far enough now. I don’t want to block people, but I will. Even if someone says something so outrageous it makes you shout-at-the-tele mad, let me block them. And that goes for either side of the argument.

  35. Ginny says:

    Peter I would own Bupa if I had a quid for every time I hear a teacher bemoan their lot. I’m a specialist palliative care nurse and the courage, dignity & suffering I see on a daily basis puts it all in perspective really. I’m sorry you all have to work during your many weeks off, but hey, welcome to the real world.

    • David Armstrong says:

      Ginny – someone who did badly at school and didn’t get the qualifications to be a doctor. Blaming teachers for her own shortcomings. We, teachers, have met so many like you on parents evenings. Got to get back to planning and marking, while you iron your uniform in prep for your 8 hours of drinking tea, reading to pensioners and counting tablets.

      • Ginny says:

        Ok. No trolling on my part. Utterly amazed how many teachers have weighed in with out actually reading what I said. Frightening.

  36. Ginny says:

    David. I leave the house at 6.45 and get home usually between 7 & 8. Then have to type up notes which can take up to 2 hours depending on complexity of caseload. Plus evening and weekend on call duties. I’m not complaining , I love my job and feel privileged to care for patients during their final days, but teachers do not have the monopoly on having to work at home. And no, I cannot afford foreign holidays and likewise no pay increase for 3 yrs. Many nurses do agency work on their days off and annual leave just to make ends meet.

  37. Ginny says:

    Yeah yeah the old really wanted to be a doctor chestnut – how original!
    For your information 4 A stars in the sciences, so could have been a doctor! Don’t wear a uniform, wear civvies and if you bothered to read my previous post you,d see I work much longer than 8 hrs. It’s teachers like you that give it a bad name. Come and do a few consecutive late, early and night shifts in the nhs and I can guarantee you’ll be begging to go back to the safety of the school staffroom to continue the whingeing. Thank goodness my children’s teachers were more open minded and original than you.

    • Okay, I think it’s time to call time out on this one. One, I never said anything about hours, wages or holidays in the blog, as these weren’t my issues. My own personal work/life balance was out of whack FOR ME. Other people might be happy palming their kids off to other people for hours at a time, but I wasn’t willing to do that. For me, family comes first, but that’s a by the by and not important here. What is important is this has gone far enough, and if anyone else carries this on, they get blocked. This has gone far beyond fair comment and into the realms of trolling, and I won’t have it. Now, everyone, do we have an accord?

      • Ginny says:

        Absolutely. What has worried me is the way people have responded without actually reading the posts properly . Frightening.

  38. Owenh says:

    Whether right or wrong, that level of scrutiny and judgement is part of everyday life for most professionals. Welcome to the party!

  39. Ginny says:

    David, if you think it’s only parents that come out badly in parents evenings then words fail me. Incidentally, my husband does the ironing – he has more time than me. Guess what he does for a living – you are so right , he’s a teacher! A very valued, experienced teacher with NO chip on his shoulder.

  40. *sigh*… Ever started something that you never, ever thought in a month of Sundays would interest anyone but your immediate friends only for it to blow up out of all proportion until you actually wished you’d never done it in the first place? Now if only all of the 30,000+ visitors would buy my book… ^^p

  41. Laura says:

    Couldn’t agree more. All I have ever wanted to do is teach but we can’t even do that anymore. All we can do is try and jump through hoops and perform like circus monkeys just to be told we are perhaps ‘good’ but of course not outstanding because it’s impossible to tick off all those boxes in 20 minutes. Sad thing is the children are being forgotten about and more and more teachers are walking out.

  42. Ginny says:

    You have all let yourselves down today. Not one of you had read anyone else’s post properly before replying. You just read couple of words and wade in with random ill-
    thought out comments. If you think a bit of criticism is “trolling” then you you really need to get in the real world. Dave , remind me of your level results , sorry you are too busy marking your books to be able to reply. Or have you gone to bed in preparation for your very busy week ahead. Lightweight.

    • Or perhaps he respected my request to stop with this nonsense and out of that respect, didn’t reply. Sorry, but I have been patient here, and in deliberately baiting people (as you have here in David), it is you who has let herself down. Now this is the end of it. Thank you.

  43. Ginny says:

    Sorry meant A level results.

  44. Ginny says:

    Just leaving to go and visiting a family whose relative is dying. Got to get through floods. Sleep right teachers
    David fancy joining me ? Still have to be on shift at 7..00. No , thought not .

    • signeduponlycosginnyisoutoforder says:

      For goodness sake. What a waste of time. Talk about not reading people’s posts. I am fed up of this and have read it all. You are picking and choosing what you take on board / respond to. You vome across as very aggressive. Try re reading the posts with a level head. Clearly too much time going out of your way to wind people up and be so negative to do many!

    • Alison says:

      I have read all the comments.
      I have been in teaching for 10 years now. I genuinely love my job, there are days when it is very frustrating and I think about different careers but I couldn’t really contemplate doing anything else.
      It is shocking the changes that they want to bring in and it makes you feel unappreciated and undervalued.
      I have tried to never judge anyone else’s job as I have never done them so Why is it everyone seems to attack teaching?

  45. Robbie says:

    I found this article very upsetting …… because its so TRUE!!! I have been teaching 12 years and its EXACTLY how I feel. As sad as this is, I feel encouraged that I am not the only one who feels this way but also angry because … I am not the only one who feels this way. Double edge sword!! Will all this every change? I hope so!

  46. yrellim says:

    I left primary teaching 4 years ago to go into FE Teaching. I am about to take up my first job as a careers advisor. It goes without saying walk throughs and yearly observation, plus Ofsted, paper work means I’m a teacher get me out of here.

    I am qualified to degree level- with level 3 and 4/5 qualified staff telling me I am rubbish (needing improvement) in the FE/Adult Ed sector. Just how would they know??? Honestly!

    My colleges if they were 5 years younger there would be no one left to teach!!

  47. yrellim says:

    Excuse the typos ect

  48. John Thompson says:

    I am glad I have retired and am out of it. I was told 40 years ago that inspectors were often failed teachers. I’ve seen little to change that view. They are a set of supercilious, arrogant prats who have been out of the classroom too long.

  49. Debbie says:

    I left teaching in 2009 after not being allowed to go part time to deal with my own kid who was ill. Everything you have said about my job there was true. However I recently got back into teaching and whilst there is a huge workload there is also the ability to be creative. For me it wasn’t the case of teaching that was wrong; it was the wrong school. Now I’m at the right one I couldn’t be happier

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