What keeps me awake at night

6th June 2014 at 01:00
Preparing for the worst when an inspector calls

I teach English, employability skills and arts and crafts to 16- to 19-year-olds. In the dead of night, my thoughts turn to whether any students will show up in my lessons the next day. Attendance is erratic. Lessons planned for seven or eight students sometimes have only one or two in the session.

Life would be easy if they were all motivated, ready to learn and eager to attend. Unfortunately they are not. My students have challenging behaviour, broken homes, drug and alcohol problems and homelessness to contend with. Many have been moved from pillar to post for their education and have been told that they are stupid. Some have also been through the youth justice system.

They have a tendency to show off for a day or two when they arrive. They find it hard to concentrate for more than 10 minutes and have difficulty sitting still. Keeping them engaged and on target is a nightmare.

We were recently inspected and found wanting so we are due for another inspection very soon. We were told that we needed to create a student profile to attach to each lesson plan - a job that takes a while to get your head around.

The inspectors also said that our building was not conducive to learning, so we have moved premises and been donated an interactive whiteboard. My colleague and I have not received any training for this - we only know how to switch it on and use it as a computer, playing YouTube videos and PowerPoints.

It is hard to make sure that the students are on track when most of them can't remember what programme they are on. Their milestones are things such as using their mobile phones less often and taking their hats off in lessons.

My thoughts frequently wander to the next visit from the inspectors, the limited support from our management team and the constant paperwork that has been appearing over the past few weeks, just to make sure that "we are all singing from the same hymn sheet". I fear for my students and I fear for our school.

The writer is a teacher in the East Midlands

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tes.co.uk


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