'I'm trying hard to be positive about the state of teaching. Really, I am'

The teachers, kids and governors are great. But this is far outweighed by funding cuts, workload, stress and the endless, endless testing

Colin Harris

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Spurred on by recent criticism of this column as too negative, I decided that I needed to work out all the reasons to be positive about being a teacher in 2017. After all, I generally consider myself as a positive person – there must be lots of good stuff.

So, here goes. Reasons to be cheerful... 

  • The quality of the teachers we now have in the profession is, in my opinion, at an all-time high. This is despite the fact that their responsibilities have increased at an exponential rate over recent years.
  • These teachers are the reason that we still have a school system that can be regarded as world-class.
  • On the whole, the children who come to our schools are wonderful – and so are their parents.
  • The excellent governing bodies who give up so much of their time to make our schools better places.


Um, that's it. Sorry, dear reader, I've run out of positive thoughts.

So what are the things that I'd like to be positive about but that in fact make me sad? The list is long, but here are a few choice items: 

  • Funding. Schools are skint. Our schools being unable to meet the needs of the pupils in our care. The secretary of state may say we have more money than ever, but the truth is in recent years schools have had to take up the slack when it comes to the health and social care our pupils need - and that costs money.
  • Pay is far too low for all school staff. This is especially outrageous when one considers the salaries being picked up by too many multi-academy trust bosses
  • I would also like to be positive about the proposed changes in Sats, but I can't. They should be consigned to the scrapheap now – along with the plans for the new baseline and multiplication tests. All schools have the data needed on each individual, these tests are purely for the use of the government and Ofsted to compare us as schools.
  • Nor can I be positive about the government's concerns about teacher workload and work-life balance. There has been rhetoric yes but the reality is that a teacher's job gets harder every single day. 


I would love to tell you that I thought these many problems faced be teaching would be addressed by the powers that be – but I'm not. Nonetheless, I promise here and now that I will fight to maintain my positivity while I try to encourage others to find theirs. How else will we convince young adults into the profession? 

Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsted reports were "outstanding" across all categories

To read more of Colin's articles, visit his back catalogue

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Colin Harris

Colin Harris

Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsted reports were “outstanding” across all categories.

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