My tweed-suited boss needs some alterations

2nd May 2014 at 01:00

Having escaped the loony leadership and tick-box regime of an outstanding state secondary, I recently started teaching at an independent school in a soughtafter location.

So far, I haven't had the pleasure of a single "learning walk" visit from the senior leadership team, a marking check or a new intervention strategy. In fact, I have simply been trusted to teach my subject. The students are hungry for knowledge and a delight to teach. They have been very complimentary about my teaching style and appear to have a refreshing enthusiasm for a subject I am passionate about.

Sounds perfect, so what is keeping me awake at night? Well, the head of department appears to have lost his passion for teaching, if he ever had it. The students seem to be put off by his slow, didactic and humourless approach and sit with glazed expressions, longing for the bell to end their misery. It has been known for this teacher to have forty winks as students copy notes off the board.

Discussions with other staff, students and even parents have uncovered complaints about this member of staff and I now know why students choose to go elsewhere to study my subject at A-level.

In all independent schools, recruitment and retention is crucial, even more so in the current economic climate. But although this weak link is common knowledge, senior management seems to be reluctant to act. After all, students pass the GCSE - perhaps not with flying colours, but they pass.

I feel I am lumbered with a department head who is killing off my subject and who shows no vision for the team. Apart from firing a rocket up the old tweed suit, it seems that there is not much I can do to make the school see what a rubbish education he is giving students whose parents pay substantial fees. It looks as though the teaching profession is still incredibly competent at glossing over incompetency in the workplace.

The writer is a teacher in the North of England

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tes.co.uk

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