What keeps me awake at night - Show us a little respect, Mr Gove

16th November 2012 at 00:00

I am a newly qualified teacher, having made the move from a lucrative career in the City. Like many others, I entered the profession in the hope of having a positive impact on children's lives.

At my school, which is supportive and protective of teachers' health and well-being, many staff nevertheless feel they are under excessive pressure: from parents, understandably, to do the best for their children; from senior management, justifiably, to increase attainment; and from children, of course, to make learning fun and relevant.

The pressure I object to comes from the government. Michael Gove, if you are reading this, as education secretary you continue to berate the profession publicly, leading to a misconception that it is full of lazy, greedy slackers who joined only for the holidays. Teachers have become a national joke and, following your lead, the media and public feel that we are an easy target on which to pin everything from the childhood obesity epidemic to the rise in knife crime.

Announcing that academies are now free to hire unqualified teaching staff is yet another snub to those of us who have spent time and money training to teach. By doing this, you have further undermined public confidence in us, your staff. If you don't show us respect, how can others be expected to?

Many teachers continue to work in excess of 65 hours a week. Each day, I arrive at school at 7.30am, don't stop for lunch, leave at 6pm and work another one or two hours in the evening, not to mention at weekends and during holidays.

I come from a background of public service: two of my grandparents and both my aunts were teachers, and I grew up with great respect for their contribution to society. Yet, just seven weeks into what I had intended to be a long career, I already doubt my ability to continue. Or, rather, I doubt my ability to continue in this system. I am considering looking abroad for opportunities, as are many of my colleagues. Others are searching in the private sector for jobs in which they would feel valued, respected and able to retain a sense of self and achievement.

Mr Gove, you have been given a position of responsibility. It is within your power to make a real difference to the lives of children and those who dedicate their lives to teaching them. You have chosen to disregard the expertise of teaching professionals in favour of your own experience. It is time you listened, to avoid terminal decline in the system and the rise of disillusioned teachers.

The writer is a primary school teacher from Essex. To tell us what keeps you awake at night, email david.marley@tes.co.uk.

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