Ready, steady, teach - Take note, just not on paper

12th September 2008 at 01:00

I am personally responsible for the dwindling Brazilian rainforest. Over three years of teacher training I have single-handedly amassed folder upon folder of paperwork: plans, assessments, worksheets and things that might come in handy.

During my final teaching practice I had an epiphany. Picture the scene: it's the final Monday morning of a 10-week placement. It's 6.30am, it's raining and I'm at a bus stop. There are plenty of other professional people waiting, but I can tell you with some certainty that they aren't teachers. First, I am the only person wearing sensible shoes and a floral skirt. Secondly, I am the only one juggling four folders of paper, a tambourine and a model skeleton.

Was this going to be how I spent the next 35 years of my career? Three options presented themselves to me:

A) Give up a profession I hadn't even begun, but fallen in love with. Trade in my tambourine and skeleton for a nice briefcase and spend each day going slowly mad behind a water cooler.

B) Purchase a donkey. It would make an unusual classroom pet when not carrying my literacy plans.

C) Cut back on paperwork.

Option C is easier said than done. As a trainee teacher, you have a small queue of people demanding paperwork every day. Headteachers, class teachers, lecturers, parents, Ofsted . the list goes on. In a world dominated by assessment and statistics, how could I, a lowly trainee, justify a purge?

But then I considered one of those all-important statistics. After three years of training, 40,000 words of assignments and 960 hours of teaching practice, my university colleagues and I are one perm and an Mamp;S cardigan away from being real teachers.

Though mildly terrified, we are now out in the real world doing a job we are passionate about. Yet two out of five new teachers will leave by the end of the first year, driven away by repetitive hours of form filling.

I will not be in that number. I know where I want my energy to be focused - on exciting, fun, informative teaching. So, because some paperwork is unavoidable, I'm off to buy carrots for my donkey.

Jennifer Day is a new teacher at Bure Park Primary in Bicester, Oxfordshire.


Are you a student teacher or NQT? Tell us about your experiences, your thoughts, your highs and lows. We pay pound;100 for every one published. Email no more than 400 words


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now