'I now know I am not alone, so perhaps we should all acknowledge that our profession may well be broken'

13th October 2015 at 16:06
Colin Harris
A headteacher's open letter to his MP prompted a huge response. Here he urges teachers to stand up to an 'uncaring' government

I recently sent an open letter to my MP and it seems it has struck a chord with the education community. 

Since it went live on TES, it has been viewed thousands of times, picked up by national media and shared on social media. What has really struck me are the personal responses from teachers.

One said: “On behalf of the thousands of teachers who remain in teaching because they believe in the real values in education, thank you for making your stand against those who are only interested in their own careers.”

Other comments included the phrases “principled stand”, “brave act” and “carefully intentioned”. 

Teachers clearly feel they have no voice at all at the moment. And these comments also show that they feel the strain of imposed targets set by Ofsted, local education authorities, governors or headteachers. 

One person wrote: “I despair for my girlfriend (a deputy head) who is working more hours and trying to achieve in so many different fronts, I do fear for her mental health.”

It is a sorry state of affairs to have reached this point. It would appear that we no longer champion our quality teachers and system. Instead we are driving people to inevitable departure from the profession, or worse. If I have touched a nerve regarding the present education system, why can't we start a true debate on the issues?

We all consider one of our main strengths to be ensuring that the pupils in our care feel secure and valued, and we genuinely want each child to achieve his or her potential. Is it not within the realms of possibility that successive governments could share a similar desire for the teaching community, rather than driving them into the ground?

I now know I am not a lone voice. Perhaps we should all acknowledge that our profession may well be broken. However, by utilising the strengths of every teacher working as a team for all of our children, we will succeed and not remain the puppets of an uncaring government.

Colin Harris is headteacher of Warren Park Primary School in Havant, Hampshire

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