teacher crisis

(227 Posts)
supplysam Thu 31-Mar-16 11:30:03

New name, I have been reading threads in education for a long time, and really want to put across to some parents what is really going on in our schools.

I've been in schools for 30 years. Not all teachers will have witnessed what I've witnessed, or experienced what I've experienced, but many will have.

I taught for decades. I resigned because the "profession" is now nothing more than slave labour. The normal day is 15+ hours, and many days are longer. fulfilling all the requirements of being a full time teacher simply do not leave time to sleep and eat. Not only that, but you are held over a barrel by ofsted (and school managers) who blame you for the behavior and attitude of students and parents, when you have no control over either. I am not blaming school managers, buy the way, they are often under insane and ridiculous pressure themselves.

As a supply teacher, I walk in at the stat of the day, and walk out at the end, with my job done, and no pressure or expectations at all. The pay is good, and there is no shortage of work.

I am often asked back, I am often BEGGED to take long term positions. This is what happens. I take it, on a day to day basis. When the work load starts piling up, when I find I am spending my family time on irrelevant and rubbishy non educational paperwork, when the attitude of any student becomes something I don't want to listen to, I leave.

The next day, I am in another job, being begged to stay!

supplysam Thu 31-Mar-16 12:02:14

Here is my message to you.

I see complaints from parents on here about supply teachers, and about non specialists teaching specific subjects.

Well, that's the situation. If teaching was an attractive, or family friendly career, this wouldn't happen. As it is, it is an impossible struggle, some days, for schools to even get a body in front of the classroom, prepared to take a register, and tell the students which books to answer questions from.

And you would not believe the number of times a parent complains about fast turn over of supply teachers when it is their self centered, arrogant entitled child who has been such a PITA the previous day that the supply teacher decided not to return.

If your child is having a large number of supply teachers, maybe you need to look at their attitude and behavior!

I see complaints about target grades, predicted grades, working grades, etc,

REALLY? who cares? Do you ever stop to think how those grades are settled on? Many are automatic, and teachers have to find them and copy them out, and refer to them, and calculate with them, and enter them into formula over and over again. Completely meaningless, and waste of time. Others are given by the teachers themselves. How long do you think it takes? A good teacher , who is going to want to be spending time marking and planning, isn't going to bother, to be completely frank. If these grades are accurate, that is a fairly reliable sign that the teacher has their priorities wrong.

I see complaints about marking.

Again, parents rarely have any idea. The specifications about how, and how often work is marked, are now often so stringent, that no one has the time or the energy to mark outside of the rules, never mind that they may be forbidden too, never mind that they could get into trouble for marking "casually" and not fulfilling the criteria.

And marking a piece of work takes 10 times the length of time it did a few decades ago. Everything has to be recorded, it all has to go onto spread sheets, and into records, and be statistically analysed, and measured against targets......the marks on the actual work are the very least of it.

I see complaints about "needs not being met"

A lot of SEN equates simply to academic weakness, and is dealt with most effectively as such. Most "special" needs, are not in fact particularly "special"/ And the demands from (some!) parents that there child needs hours and hours of special consideration from a teacher already working up to 100 hours a week is a contributing factor to many teachers leaving the profession, and supply teachers choosing to move on.

I see complaints about "gifted" children being "bored"

And this does go for other children too, teachers are there to offer education, not to entertain. Students who are not able to mature, and develop intrinsic motivation will be bored, yes, but this is often down to expectations that the teacher is supposed to be doing the education, rather than the child. Children need to learn to work hard, that is how they will find satisfaction and fulfillment, no other way. Unfortunately, there are 17 and 18 year olds currently in our schools who, throughout their entire school careers have had teachers who felt obliged to dance around them, spoon feeding and indulging them, rather than training them to put their own sweat and tears into their learning. This is down largely to ofsted, one of the thousands of ways ofsted have let our young people down, but it doesn't help when parents don't support their children in developing a mature attitude either.

I see "threats" to report bullying to the police

Really, please do! we are not law enforcers. If I get assaulted in M&S I am not going to expect the shop manager to impose justice, am I! If a crime is committed against your child on school property, it is a police matter, not a school matter.

I see endless complaints about teachers.

True, some are useless, and know nothing about their subjects. Some are freeloaders, who have realized schools will now pay ANYTHING more or less, for someone to turn up. Some, I suspect, have faked their qualifications.

However, many more are hard working, dedicated individuals, attempting the impossible, while being abused by students and parents, who are expected to deal with appalling behavior on an hourly basis with no recourse to any real sanctions at all, and who work all hours, and frequently end up burnt out, with physical and mental health problems that last a life time.

And if these gems were treated better, they would last longer, there would be more of them still in teaching, and the other sort would not be freeloading in schools.

So if you actually care about education in England at all, I suggest you support schools, support teachers, and complain to your MP about the time wasted on statistics, performance related pay, target setting, data entry, analysis, recording, and all the other crap.

As far as performance related pay goes, no, you cannot judge the performance of a teacher. You can judge how well they manipulate figures, statistics, classes and records, and that is all performance related pay does. Nothing more, total waste of time at best, and EXTEMELY detrimental to education at worst.

And take time to go through school work with your child. That is the second biggest indicator of how well your child will do. Did they get support for school work from home? The first biggest indicator is natural intellect, but you can't do anything about that!

Most children in England get every opportunity to learn, if they take it, and their parents support them.

( and no, it isn't any different at all in the independents!)

I will be returning to this thread, but going camping for the weekend, so Monday at the earliest.

JinRamen Thu 31-Mar-16 12:26:11

Sen does not equate to academic weakness.

colander1 Thu 31-Mar-16 12:27:01

Well said. Nothing to add really, but as a teacher who is counting the years until I can quit (financial reasons) ...just...well said!

PurpleDaisies Thu 31-Mar-16 12:28:20

A lot of SEN equates simply to academic weakness, and is dealt with most effectively as such.
Seriously? hmm

AugustaFinkNottle Thu 31-Mar-16 15:19:53

And the demands from (some!) parents that there child needs hours and hours of special consideration from a teacher already working up to 100 hours a week is a contributing factor to many teachers leaving the profession, and supply teachers choosing to move on

Parents of children with learning difficulties are in general simply asking that their child receives they help they are entitled to by law. They are not demanding that it comes from a teacher already working up to 100 hours a week. That is down to the way the school is organised. Please don't blame children with SEN and their parents for lack of adequate staffing in school.

merlottime Thu 31-Mar-16 15:22:16

I am so glad you are not teaching my children with that attitude to SEN.

DoctorDonnaNoble Thu 31-Mar-16 15:26:32

I cannot agree with your attitude to SEN. It's just plain wrong.
I work in a super selective and we still have students with SEN. It does not mean academically weak!

NickiFury Thu 31-Mar-16 15:28:39

Yeah parents are all selfish, ignorant arseholes who don't appreciate you.

There look I said it all in one sentence.

PolterGoose Thu 31-Mar-16 15:31:44

Don't teachers have to have a basic level of SPaG?

HonniBee Thu 31-Mar-16 15:41:20

I'd be interested to know if the posters commenting on the OP's attitude to SEN are teachers, or parents of children with SEN?

From what I read, the OP said most are simply academically weak, but did not at any point say there are not many cases where students require, and are entitled to specific support to meet their needs.

augusta. I think that's precisely the point the OP is trying to make! The demands put on us by the way the education system is currently organised means we are being pulled in a million directions at once, trying to meet the demands of leadership, ofsted, parents and children.

I often spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to deal with parents who think their child is particularly special, and end up fighting the LA (via the school) to have their child statemented as such. It certainly adds to the ridiculous workload we already have.

This does not mean I blame all children with an SEN for my workload. There are plenty that I work with who absolutely need support, and thrive on it. I also work with plenty that have SEN status but don't present differently to others in the same class, and are perfectly happy to and able to get on with it in lesson. These are the students OP is referring to.

On the other side of the coin are the parents who refuse to acknowledge that their child needs support and will not get involved no matter what I do.

All the OP is saying is that teachers need your help. We are not going to make it if we don't have the support!

I've been teaching only for 4 years, and started taking anti-depressants pretty early on. Despite the ups and downs, I have been a dedicated, hard working and successful teacher. I'm due to go on maternity soon, but will most likely not go back simply because I am sick of the demands, which are accompanied by abuse from parents and students (and occasionally colleagues, unfortunately!)

Primaryteach87 Thu 31-Mar-16 15:46:36

Aside from the SEN comments, which I don't agree with at all, this paints a very realistic picture.

DoctorDonnaNoble Thu 31-Mar-16 15:51:39

As I said, I teach in a super selective. I've been there over ten years. I do not resent time spent helping SEN students, or indeed anyone who asks for help.
I do resent parents saying I haven't helped their sixth form student enough when said student fails to attend any help sessions.

sassytheFIRST Thu 31-Mar-16 15:56:06

As a teacher of similar longevity, I agree with much of what has been said above. (Not the stuff about SEN though). Teachers have always been champion whiners and others have possibly become immune to teachers complaining because of this. BUT right now the profession is in crisis and the ones who will suffer (as well as the teachers themselves) is the children.

HonniBee Thu 31-Mar-16 16:00:33

doctor I was writing my diatribe when you posted so I missed your comment.
I totally agree with you- no resentment for the students that need and/or ask for help. I think it is more that parents push so hard for a diagnosis to explain their child's lack of progress or poor behaviour. We end up labelling kids when with a bit of combined support from parents and teachers would be all they really need? Maybe this a completely different discussion though!

NewLife4Me Thu 31-Mar-16 16:10:44

it is totally different in independent schools.
Well, it certainly is at my dd school and the others I read and hear about.
They have subject specific teachers, always, and never supply teachers at all.
The kids are well behaved, mostly and dd said there's no disruption at all.
Compared to the state education our other children received, her school is heaven.

I do think that teachers in state schools get a terrible rough deal and sympathise wholeheartedly and supply teachers seem to get the roughest deal of all as many kids play up when a supply is used.

My dd gets all the support help and encouragement she needs and teachers have the time/ make the time to see her 1 to 1 for anything she may be struggling with.
She hasn't a diagnosis but struggles with Maths and Science.
With this extra help she is progressing really quickly and doing really well in tests now.

Our other children were left to it and no support given as the teachers didn't have the time and classes were full, compared to either 10 and 21 in dd school, depending on whether full year class or split year class.

MrsGuyOfGisbo Thu 31-Mar-16 16:27:53

Parents are completely unaware of it, many smugly assuming that cannot be the case in their naice leafy school.
I am also a supply teacher, do only daily supply no long term and go back repeatedly to the same few schools so I know them well, but no intention od getting dragged into perm role.
Near me is a school that parents are desperate to get their kids into. One of my friends DTs are there.
Some time ago I was sent there to cover German ( not my subject, but the school could not get a German teacher to replace one on long term sick.) Prob with long term sick when it is week to week the school is stuck re recruitment.
The kids had had a succession of non specialist, were bored to death with worksheets, posters, Christmas Card ( in Year 10!). Two of the kids in one of the classes (Y10) were my friend's DC. She was surprised when I told her, because
a) she had no idea there were a succession of supply teachers
b) she knew I know no German, so how could I possibly be teaching in their naice school?
Her kids when questioned said they hadn't told their parents 'cos they thought their dad would go to the school and make an embarrassing scene ( tbf - he has form for this)
But these were GCSE kids with no proper teacher for months and parents completely in the dark.
Until I did teacher training (and most of my supervision in one school was via supply teachers hmm) I had no idea there was such a thing - in my own kids indie they don't have them, as the teachers have a reduced timetable and don't have endless meetings in school hours.
If schools had to report to parents/Ofsted how many teaching sessions are taken by either non permanent staff, and/or no subject specialists or even Cover Supervisors' ( unqualified babysitters supervising worksheets or DVDs) it would certainly separate the sheep form the goats...

IHeartKingThistle Thu 31-Mar-16 16:40:13

I'm a teacher. It's tough at the moment and I got out of school teaching a while back. I'll defend teachers until my last breath.

But I don't think you're doing us many favours with this post.

EvilTwins Thu 31-Mar-16 17:07:42

I have been teaching for nearly 20 years and am boringly evangelical about how much I love it.

At least, I was, until fairly recently.

I had a year 7 parents evening recently. One mother laid into me (to the extent that the colleague sitting next to me had to intervene - the mother then laid into her) because I had given her DS a less that satisfactory mark for his effort. This was my fault, variously because he's bored, the subject is pointless, I can't teach, he's not interested (not bevsuse he's actually quite a naughty little boy) Her opening gambit was "how long have you been here?" Which continued to "there are so many supply teachers I thought you must be one of them". I've been there 12 years and also teach her older DS. The point is that the parent immediately placed the blame for her DS's constant low-level disruption on me. She was utterly vile.

We have a new behaviour policy. It's pretty rigid. Some kids are already complaining that it's "not fair" and that we're "spoiling their education" because they are removed from lessons if they step out of line. It means that those who behave well get fewer disrupted classes. But apparently it's unfair on those who prefer to disrupt.

I am actively looking for a route out of teaching in schools. I never thought I would.

minifingerz Thu 31-Mar-16 17:15:42

I was completely with you until your comment about SEN.

sad

MrsGuyOfGisbo Thu 31-Mar-16 17:36:47

The point is that the parent immediately placed the blame for her DS's constant low-level disruption on me
angry
Dh asked me the other day when I though the the tide had turned from parents supporting teachers to the entitlement attitude many kids and parents display and the contempt for teachers.
I have no idea...

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Thu 31-Mar-16 17:54:14

From the threads I read on here from teachers it's SMT expectations and bullying coupled with crazy hours to try and meet ridiculous targets which are shoving most teachers out the door rather than badly behaved kids or twatty parents.

There's always been badly behaved kids but teacher attrition is surely at crisis point and I don't think the finger can be generally pointed at the kids.

I'm a parent, not a teacher. Teachers at dd's school are handing their notice in by the bucket load. Kids in year 12 doing AS geography have been begged to drop it and not do a full a-level because they can't find a geography teacher for next year.

Dd is doing gcse geography and of course I'm worried. I'm also worried that she's making little progress in science but then she doesn't have a science teacher either so it's to be expected. Another school in town doesn't have an English teacher and has just sent all of year 11 on a week long residential english crammer course as they haven't been able to teach them enough/any English.

I don't blame the individual teachers. I realise the majority are doing the best they can, though you have to admit there's always the odd uninterested floater.

I think most parents are more than happy to realise that Gove and co have a lot to answer for.

But as a parent if your DC were being taught by a constant stream of different supply teachers you'd be very worried. Dd won't get the opportunity to repeat this stage of education and although I think will pass her GCSEs will by no means get as good grades as she would have done with more consistent teaching.

I say this as a laid back, non pushy parent. grin. I don't berate the school or the teachers for the situation, im resigned to it.

Dd is bright enough to do well in life even without fantastic GCSE grades. She will do well enough to go to sixth form and well enough to go to uni. And I thank God that she will then be out of the shitty, state school education system.

Gfplux Thu 31-Mar-16 17:59:31

To be clear I am not a teacher and do not have children presently in education.
I would like to ask those that are and have been if their school provides informative on each term on how many supply teaching hours are contracted. Or is this something hidden.

GinandJag Thu 31-Mar-16 18:02:45

Addressing early posts, Supplysam talks a lot of sense.

The unpleasantness of teaching is far more due to student behaviour than anything to do with recording data.

I won't teach in the state sector primarily due to student behaviour. I don't care if I am not the most robust classroom manager. I don't want to deal with guttersnipes. If this is a problem for parents, they need to review their parenting skills. OUtstanding schools are still rubbish, IME.

I have made a professional decision to only teach at small schools as I don't want students to be a cell on a spreadsheet. In a large school, this is a necessity, although not bad in itself.

FannyGlum Thu 31-Mar-16 18:05:51

I got well out of it. The pressure from above was ridiculous. And then there are the parents questioning your decisions. Like the mother who told me that her ds shouldn't have to do a detention be a use he hadn't been talking in lesson. She'd asked him and he said he hadn't. So that was that. Hours of my time chasing up one incident. Physical assaults on staff rocketed in my school in the last few years. This is in a 'good' school. Because little things were let slip. Arguments with parents over trainers, or homework or low level disruption.

I now work for a union and listen to teachers everyday describing these things. Many of them are experienced staff, 'outstanding' staff. I know 10 techers personally who have left the profession in the last 2 years. They were all excellent, inspiring teachers. Exactly the people you'd want teaching your kids.

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