What keeps me awake at night - So much is lost when goodwill turns bad

6th September 2013 at 01:00

When I started my teaching career it seemed that goodwill was the currency that made schools function. It allowed teachers to explore passions, run trips and provide untold hours of additional education. The extra efforts were valued by parents, colleagues, school governors and, most importantly, students. We all remember those teachers who made a difference to us, who went the extra mile and inspired us.

But times have changed since I began teaching seven years ago: fewer and fewer teachers have the philosophy that education is far more than a curriculum. This is because the conditions we now work under do not reward those who inspire outside the classroom.

Today, school leaders and "business managers" too often run schools as if they were businesses, forgetting that schools are all about relationships and that they run on goodwill. There isn't a performance management target that can quantify what many of us do on a daily basis. Helping out a child in your tutor group with some homework over lunch does not show in any data sets - other than perhaps for the subject you were helping them with, which is, of course, taught by someone else.

Equally, where does the weekend spent running Duke of Edinburgh awards, transporting students to a rugby match or helping out at a fundraising event pop up on the graphs that school leaders seem to rely on?

If schools are run like businesses and driven by targets, those who go the extra mile will feel undervalued and dejected. As a result, the inclination - or, rather, the goodwill - to run events or provide experiences that support students and expand their horizons, disappears.

It's already happening at my school. Some of my colleagues are refusing to provide these invaluable opportunities and, most worryingly, are failing to support the efforts of others. The reaction from above has been silence. It has proved what most thought already: that those at the top truly do not understand what those of us on the ground are doing and how valuable extracurricular activities can be.

I'm not one of those opting out completely yet, but I'm worried that one day I will be.

The writer is a teacher in the South of England.

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