Letters extra: Teachers' confidence
As a teacher of twenty-five years' standing, I have been following your pieces on people leaving the profession to take up jobs in which they are happier with great interest. I am currently on long-term leave of absence and I doubt I will manage to return to a job I have thoroughly enjoyed.
Teachers are no longer able to enjoy their time in the classroom because they have been swamped with other demands that in the main are trivial, time-consuming and entirely irrelevant to the welfare and academic progress of pupils and students. Along with this there is a growing sense that children often present a greater challenge, in terms of behaviour, than they have in the past. These two elements seem to add up to a situation where there are few teachers around the age of fifty who enjoy the job as they used to and are often longing for the day they can escape.
Given that these teachers, with all their experience, form the very backbone of the profession, it is tragic to see that all their commitment to children and sense of vocation has been driven out of them. I can't help noticing that everything I have read about the so-called 'Fast Track' makes no mention of these two qualities that used to be seen as quintessential to the make-up of a good teacher.
31 St Peter's Footpath
Kent CT9 11TL
California, here I come . . .
So there we have it: "one schemenbsp; in California retained 90 per cent of new staff" (Briefing, 2 Feb) whereas in Britain only 18,600 of the 20,000 who started teaching in September 1999 were still there at the end of the year. And in the same issue, an article about how good at maths, teachers need to be!
9 Greenfield Road
Bristol BS10 5NAnbsp;nbsp;
Surprise, surprise - the new OFSTED Chief Inspector reported most recently on the increase in poor behaviour in early secondary classes. In the same breath on the radio he was reported to be concerned about the recruitment crisis in teaching generally. I wonder if he is making the connection.
Some of the most talented and caring teachers have left or are already leaving the profession, as it is no longer the job they came into. It resembles, more and more, the factory floor where the whole country is told to do page 6 today and 7 tomorrow. Never mind that they did not understand it, that they were inspired by something that we could follow through or that they know page 6 standing on their heads. Of course those of us who still regard ourselves with some professionalism go ahead - placing page 6 and 7 neatly in a work of fiction (called planning).
I think the present ethos of curriculum centred education and pushing children to do more (because we want more level fours of course) is setting an emotional time bomb. Children are not seen as people any more and perhaps the inspector is just beginning to see the results the system is reaping in early secondary classes.
I go into schools as a teacher and also as a drama therapist. For so many schools however drama therapy and the like is the icing on the cake that they think they can do without. However, it is through such interventions I believe that the children and staff, who have never been more stressed than now - might find a space and help to avoid the lighting of the fuse.
Roding Primary School
Roding Lane North