Why can't UK schools be more like Abu Dhabi's?

17th July 2015 at 01:00

The steps to get into teaching are straightforward: you complete your training, qualify and successfully pass your year as a newly qualified teacher. You overcome the obstacles of being a newbie and remain excited about your new career.

Your dreams of inspiring future generations for years on end are still intact - but not for long.

As soon as I became a "proper" teacher, the reality of the lifestyle suddenly became clear. I was now experiencing the staffroom tales of woe that are told by many in the profession. And I didn't like it.

So I jumped at the opportunity to teach in the United Arab Emirates. I know most people will assume that the attractive salaries and inclusive packages were the draw. These may have had pulling power, but they weren't enough to compel me to stay, and I returned to the UK.

Although I have chosen to teach in this country again, it has been hard - and my biggest gripe is the lack of work-life balance. In Abu Dhabi, teachers get out on time, there is never an expectation to stay behind and no real need to either. When I was there, it didn't matter how busy my day was or what classroom challenge I was facing, I knew I would still leave smiling. The end-of-day bell became a symbolic reminder to renew and refresh.

But teaching in the UK has always felt like the opposite to me, no matter what school I have worked in.

My free periods are hardly ever free and I find myself planning and marking until there are no hours left in the day. Family and friends take a back seat and I don't even have time to inform them that they've dropped down the list of priorities. And then, when you think you've finally mastered it, a memo arrives stating: "All planning must be revised to show evidence of the latest."

The impact on the health of teachers worries me. The pressure coming from every angle makes it increasingly hard to draw a line between work and life. Many schools abroad seem to understand this - so why don't schools here?

The writer is a teacher in London

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

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