What keeps me awake at night - Unrealistic workload and unmanageable pressure

9th August 2013 at 01:00

I am a year out of teacher training college, having passed my exams and been considered fit to become a fully qualified teacher. However, I am not currently teaching in a school; instead, I am a freelance translator and part-time private tutor for languages.

The reason I have not followed the well-trodden path into a school is not for want of jobs, nor that I fell out of love with teaching. Neither is the cause related to students - I have no issue with children in whichever form they come. The subject or curriculum is not a problem either - I enjoyed the content I was instructed to teach.

The reason I have opted out of full-time mainstream teaching is the sheer workload and pressure teachers have to put up with, day in, day out. Teachers are now expected to tick every box in lesson planning, assessment, data tracking, differentiation, behaviour management, professional development and a whole lot more, too.

These are noble aims and I am sure that every teacher would agree they should aspire to perfection in all of them, but how on earth can teachers do it all? Even if you sacrificed your personal time, your social life and your sleep, you still could not fit everything in. With the constant fear of inspections also hanging over teachers' heads, it's a wonder there's anyone left in the profession, such is the ridiculous amount of work being demanded.

I am not alone in my view. Out of 10 trainees on my course, only five will still be teaching in September. Chatting about their motivation for quitting, most state the very reasons given above.

I know that all these teachers started out a year ago full of energy, passion and enthusiasm - and have gained so many skills along the way - yet now they can't wait for the end of term, and their teaching career with it. We were offered generous bursaries to attract us into a subject where there was a shortage of teachers - what a disastrous waste of money and time it has been.

Something needs to be done to make a teacher's workload not just more manageable, but more realistic. If my experience is a microcosm of the bigger picture, I fear for the future of our schools.

The writer is a teacher in the South West of England.

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