A labour to love or loathe

21st October 2005 at 01:00
Remember Bruce Balden? OK, let me add a few more names - Tony, Jackie, Symon, Andrew, Sue, Neil. That's right. It's that Bruce, from 49 Up, aired in September, the seventh in the award-winning series of TV documentaries that started in 1964 with 7 Up.

Bruce is the teacher who, aged 42 seven years ago, was working in an inner-city comprehensive. Now 49, he's in a posh fee-paying school, wearing a gown and looking frankly fabulous, every inch the part, like a character in a Terence Rattigan play.

I mention him because he's brought to life what for many people is a recurring "second half" dream - that perhaps, having laboured in the heat and dust, you might now reward yourself with a less demanding job in another sort of school. A secondary teacher might fancy a primary class, for example, or a primary teacher might think it would be easier to teach one subject all the time in secondary, or either of them might think of joining Bruce in the private sector.

Be assured, they're normal feelings. You can read them on The TES website's staffroom forum, and we've all been there.

That said, there are some things to bear in mind. First, Bruce didn't leave the comprehensive because he couldn't hack it. On the contrary, he left because the continuous effort of successfully hacking it was wearing him down.

So, be brutally honest about why you're unhappy where you are. Face the fact that if it's because you've never actually been all that good at the job, then moving on won't help. Better, perhaps, to acknowledge and tackle your own issues, among friends and colleagues, with good professional support, before seeking greener grass. There's never been a better time for this. One largely unsung effect of the current huge emphasis on school improvement has been to lift and rejuvenate the professionalism of many colleagues who have been underperforming for years.

Secondly, don't run away with the idea that Bruce's job is a sinecure.

Every school and department has its own brand of pressure. No teaching job, taken seriously and done well, is easy and worry-free.

Finally, if you've considered my first two points and are still bent on change, then go for it. Bruce, presumably, got his job after sending for a form and filling it in. That's the necessary starting point, and it's open to all.

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