Teaching has always been a demanding job. Some think it is easy working with children. Some think and treat teachers as glorified childminders, while the parents go to work and do the important roles. What can be difficult about working with little children, entertaining them for five hours a day?
What seems to have been overlooked is over the past few decades of successive Governments with their different short term agendas, hundreds of curriculum reforms and initiatives; school performance and accountability has confined teaching to the classroom. Now it is about teachers spending a minimum of 55-60 hours a week lesson planning, marking, meetings and admin to create evidence trails to prove that they are good teachers and they teach in a good school.
The impact of this accountability is having its impact on the profession. The workload survey 2016 shows the number of teachers considering leaving the profession has increased from 17% to 23%.
A negative impact
What is evident is that the rate of change has had a negative impact on the teaching profession. Recruitment and retention of staff is becoming an increasing issue. The OFSTED inspection has evolved from looking at what they see during an inspection, to gaining a bigger picture by making a judgement on how well the leadership understands and leads a school. For a headteacher to show their knowledge and direction, they will need to back up their words with monitoring evidence. Evidence requires paperwork. The more paperwork, the more evidence. The more evidence, the more that an inspector is reassured that the headteacher knows what is going on in their school.
According to a report from the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), there is no evidence that all these Government strategies, OFSTED inspections and relentless paperwork has impacted on improving pupil performance.
It is time to make a postive change
Change has to come from school leaders since they have created this audit culture. The new breed of school leader has got to reverse years of educational policy, without any guarantees of protection from inspectors demanding evidence from audits, monitoring and data reports. School leaders need to realise that everything in school can't be evidenced and to stop asking for lesson plans, writing urealistic unmanageable marking policies and collecting tracking data. Successful leaders are the ones who are willing to challenge the rules of the system. The ones that trust in their teachers and give their pupils the skills, attitudes and aspiration needed for a successful future, even though it may cost them their jobs, requiring considerable bravery.
Teachers don’t join the profession for the salary and the holidays
Teachers join the profession to make a positive difference to children’s lives. They have a ‘calling’ and passion to do what is needed. To prepare our children for a world that has yet to be invented. To provide our children with the skills for successful lives and to develop a successful society. All we ask is that our teachers are treated with the respect that they deserve. They are appreciated for the contribution they are making to society and they are not taken for granted. Workload, recruitment, retention and conditions are taken seriously. What would we do without teachers?
Once upon a time teachers had spare time to spend with their families, friends and hobbies. Parents became teachers because the job allowed them to see their family – the long term-time working hours seemed like a fair trade-off for the longer holidays. Now new parents give up teaching because they perceive the hours to be irreconcilable with raising children.
Teaching is suffering from a workload crisis that nobody seems to want or will take responsibility for. It is in everyone’s interest that we sort it out, for if we fail, then schools will become overwhelmed by chronic teacher shortages and educational standards will fall.
And while no single person, government or establishment should take the blame for the current workload crisis, we all have a responsibility to step up and make teaching a job worth doing again.
You can read more from our experts regarding our views and opinions on education right here on the InfoMentor blog. You can also find out more about InfoMentor which is a teaching and learning resource that has been specifically designed to make life easier for schools by reducing workload for the modern teacher. You can download white papers, view case studies and request a demo.