Today’s letter discusses teachers’ inability to provide the standard to care and eduction we would like to and highlights how many teachers feel about this failure:
Getting it right for every child?
It’s now 23:46 on a Tuesday night. I’ve just stopped working. I was in my classroom at 8am this morning and left the school building at 6pm.
I came home, made dinner then started working again at 6.50pm.
I’d loved to have watched Bake Off, played with my children, gone for a walk or even done some ironing. Perhaps tomorrow.
That’s a working day of approx 14.5 hours. This is the norm for me, as I’m sure it is for people in many types of workplace. Teachers aren’t alone in being asked to do more for less money. It seems that every workplace is similar. What makes us different though is who we work for.
I’d love to say I spent hours today planning an amazingly exciting science lesson or an outdoor learning afternoon or even a class assembly.
No, I was simply doing what I need to do to get by.
I don’t want to just get by and I don’t want the children in my care to just get by.
I have a class of 18 children. A relatively small class you might think.
It is, I’m used to having 33 primary 7’s.
What you need to know is that out of those 18, all 18 children have additional needs of one form or another.
18 GIRFme Plans to be written, reviewed and evaluated.
18 sets of complex needs to be met.
18 vulnerable children to care and worry about.
18 children with a huge “attainment gap” to close.
18 children who learn “differently”.
18 children our system has failed along the way.
And one of me.
I have the most supportive and helpful management team. My colleagues are fantastic.
My concerns and my inability to ‘get it right for every child’ aren’t down to a lack of support or poor management.
It’s the fault of the shambolic system we find ourselves working with and in.
Policy after policy, initiative after initiative thrown at us to implement, embed, moderate and evaluate without any thought to ask us, the professionals what we may think about its appropriateness.
Added to this, we never seem to get to the embed and evaluate part, because we’re so busy implementing the next new thing before we’ve figured out what the previous thing was all about.
I fear we’re all very busy doing lots of things but none of them very well or very beneficial to the pupils or to us.
Meanwhile, I just want to teach, guide, support and help grow the children in my care into the happy, confident, successful next generation.
I desperately do want to get it right for every child.
From my perspective, the job has lost any resemblance to what it was when I started teaching 13 years ago. Teachers were respected as was our education system, worldwide. That seems to have disappeared now, along with the budget to run a school effectively.
Something’s got broken along the way and it’s time to fix it before it’s too late. I lie awake wondering what other job I could go and do. Many friends have left or are trying to leave teaching as it has simply become “not worth it”.
As a third generation teacher that makes me sad. I certainly won’t be encouraging my children to become teachers! Our government need to help fix this crisis.
Pay us accordingly so that we can attract a high calibre of dedicated people into the profession.
Sort out the unmanageable workloads and bureaucracy and, perhaps, ask us for our professional opinions from time to time before implementing yet more useless initiatives.
Give us the resources we need and a stable, fit for purpose system to work in.
Maybe then we can start to think about getting it right for every child.
Isn’t that what all of us want?
Mr Swinney spoke recently about GIRFEC and the SNP party conference.
“I apply the same rationale to Primary One assessments because I don’t want it to be on my watch that the need and interests of young people are not being adequately identified – not because I want to paper the walls of this room with a league table, I’ve no interest in that whatsoever. But I want to make absolutely certain that every child in our education system is getting what they need in helping them progress.