Shortage of teachers – It couldn’t be due to the draconian government policy, could it?


You can’t attract keen, bright, capable staff when you don’t pay them enough, you have a horrendous workload and enforce boring teaching by numbers to make it all incredibly boring.


As a Headteacher I caught the beginning of this government’s disastrous policies regarding education. Mr Gove sent us careering back to the 1950s with an outdated knowledge-based approach. The curriculum was narrowed, syllabi limited and children put through a narrow range of tests like pegs in a slot. What comes out the other end are sausages out of a machine. Forget skills and qualities. Forget values. Forget the whole child. All that matters are crude exam results.

Teachers were reduced to cogs in a machine. They were trained to teach in one way only. All flair, individuality and enjoyment went out the window. The three part lesson was raised on the altar and worshipped with the clipboard.

Then the pressure was put on. Pay was cut, conditions of service worsened and pensions slashed.

The workload was made monstrous. The marking regime created hours of extra tedious work. The average teacher is swamped with work. They are trying to cope with sixty hour weeks where their whole life is consumed by work.

I have relatives in teaching. They either are reducing their hours, giving up responsibilities or looking for a way out (abroad, part-time, private schools, or early retirement).

They are worn out, fraught, demotivated and see no satisfaction in the career.

It is an unmitigated disaster.

a. When we look back at the teachers who inspired us they were the ones with flair, eccentricity and who were interesting. The ones with time for us. That is being battered out of teachers in the modern military style, one size fits all.

b. No two children learn in the same way. The uniformity of the teaching mechanism will fail them. What we need is variety. More of the same is boring.

c. What society needs are skills and qualities. The modern world has knowledge at its finder-tips. Knowledge has been downgraded (it is still important but nowhere near as important). We need to train students to cooperate, work as a team, use IT, develop technology and scientific skills, value creativity, be tolerant, be trustworthy, caring and tolerant, be good at solving problems and be great at lateral thinking. Our strength as a nation lies in our inventiveness and skills.

d. The international education (PISA) tables used to bludgeon us are so narrow as to be ridiculous. Why cram kids, like Japan and Korea, to memorise pointless facts. That is not education.

This rigid 1950s model is a disaster.

Teachers have been castigated by the Tory media. I despise the lies – no child left my school unable to read, write or lacking in basic maths skills, no matter how disadvantaged they were.

It is no wonder that teachers feel unloved and morale is through the floor. What is there to attract anyone in?


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