Are the staff in your school really stressed?

(188 Posts)
christinarossetti Fri 15-Feb-13 22:49:48

A question for both teachers and parents/carers.

I've had a number of conversations today with parents and teachers from different schools and realised that there's been a reoccurring theme of teachers saying how stressed they are and parents saying how stressed the teachers seem to be.

Ofsted will be in our school next half-term, so obviously people very stressed.

Is this normal in education at the moment, or is it just the people I know?

PastSellByDate Sat 16-Feb-13 01:34:52

Hi christinarosetti:

I'm a parent, but yes - I think staff are very stressed.

Let's see:

Pay is frozen (

Strike action is in the air (

performance related pay is on the cards (

The national curriculum for primary and secondary schoools is being rewritten and will be implemented from September 2014 and the draft has only just been realised (which is still somewhat vague):

schools are being left to determine for themselves what their homework policy should be (

Recent OFSTED verdicts in our LEA have been generally viewed as tougher than previously. There haven't been major changes, but it is no longer possible for a school to just pull out all the stops the week of the visit and then return to normal operating procedure. The arrival of no-notice OFSTED inspections has also caused quite a bit of stress:

As a parent, I think the thing I wasn't prepared for was what a political football primary education would be. Although I welcome raising the standards (I personally had issues with our school being content for children to still be learning their times tables up to Year 6 and not teaching division at all), I do feel that without support and training for teachers at the coal face they can simply find this all very overwhelming. Worse yet, as a parent, although I can understand their predicament, I can't help but be concerned by the daily proof of low standards, wasted opportunities, and poorly thought out delivery of curriculum.

My DDs' school is very uninspiring (same field trips year after year, not taking the opportunity to see anything other than the Panto or a film, even though they could see orchestras, ballet, opera etc... and these theatres/ halls have children's events or teaching 'The Jungle Book' by watching the Disney film rather than reading the Kipling classic). I can see eager and fairly clever kids gradually switch off as they progress through the school. The ones that do well at our school are the ones that get extra support at home or through their foreign language schools (Chinese, Korean, Indian) at the weekends. Children without that kind of support just slip further and further behind.

Euphemia Sat 16-Feb-13 08:04:01

I teach in Scotland, so most of the issues detailed by the previous poster don't affect me, but teachers are stressed nonetheless.

The main sources seem to be initiative after initiative which leave us feeling inadequate. We are constantly being told we don't do things right, or well enough, and that we need to improve.

I've only been teaching for five years, but I see real disillusionment among my colleagues who have been teaching for 20+ years. They have seen countless initiatives come and go, and are fed up.

Loveleopardprint Sat 16-Feb-13 08:34:48

I have just gone back to work in education as a teaching assistant. I am a trained teacher but I decided to earn less but have less stress. I actually have time to talk to the children and spend time interacting rather than worrying about the next task or assessment.

LePetitPrince Sat 16-Feb-13 11:18:44

We have recently moved schools and that was one of the most notable things - teachers who aren't stressed, seem to enjoy their jobs and as a result, will have genuine fun with the kids as well as covering the academic side. The atmosphere is so different.

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 11:55:58

Yes there are times I feel stressed (usually when I pup myself under pressure) but I can't imagine a better job.

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 11:56:10

put rather than pup

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 12:17:37

Teachers who are poor at time management, or those who follow 'directed time' schedules too rigorously can also become stressed because of the inevitable accumulation of paperwork/marking, etc.

eviekingston Sat 16-Feb-13 12:44:27

I think it varies enormously from school to school too, and depends very much on the attitude of the Head/senior management. The staff at my (primary) school are all very stressed most of the time, mostly due to the ever increasing workload but also because of immense and constant pressure from the Head to maintain our Outstanding status. She rarely praises or thanks her staff, and approaches running a school very much as a business with the staff as a resource much like the photocopiers. I also think that because of budget cuts many schools are having to manage without additional support staff, and this has a massive impact on how stressed teachers feel. I disagree that stress is a result of poor time management though - most teachers that I know have very effective systems in place for organising their workload, there is just too much to do!

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 13:12:42

I disagree too, and think that's a very unfair comment - a person without good time management wouldn't even make it past a teaching qualification, it's vital for the job.

50% of the profession leave within 5 years, citing workload as their main issue.

Agree with eviekingston re management - our Head was very reasonable but in his push to move us from good with outstanding features to outstanding has turned into a total arse. The best time management in the world couldn't withstand it at the moment - I have counted one new intiative a fortnight since September, and two very good members of our teaching staff have already gone under this year. It's never happened before. sad

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 13:32:08

Why unfair? We had just that situation in our school. The teacher's intentions were good, but she was unable to prioritise her workload. It therefore got too much for her, and she was off for a while with a stress-related illness. She is now back, doing a 50/50 admin/teacher job which she does very well.

orlakielylover Sat 16-Feb-13 14:17:30

The teacher's intentions were good, but she was unable to prioritise her workload - how do you know that? Did she tell you that?

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 14:18:41


Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 14:57:37

Unfair because it has to be a very rare teacher to not find out they were poor at time management until they were teaching. As I explained before, it's so central to the role that most people wouldn't be able to cope with the training, and would have dropped out long before.

One thing the majority of primary school teachers are good at is managing their time. We have to be! That's why I think it's an unfair criticism to level at most, as opposed to unacceptable workload.

christinarossetti Sat 16-Feb-13 15:13:33

Is that true? 50% of teachers leave the profession within 5 years?

That must be a recent phenomenon, surely, or there wouldn't be very many teachers in their 40s and 50s?

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 15:21:20

I disagree with ipadquietly too as feenie says increased workload and unnecessary paperwork on top of a full time classroom teaching commitment would test the best "time manager"

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 15:25:32

Another interesting statistic is that male teachers who work until 65 often only live for 2 years and women teachers 4

noddyholder Sat 16-Feb-13 15:28:21

I am not a teacher but have a couple of fairly close friends who are and they have been increasingly stressed and under pressure the last 5 yrs or so.

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 15:29:03

The fact that the children are still the same children but that the results demanded from them have just been raised, yet again, in a totally arbitrary manner, has a lot to do with stress. Everything is blamed on 'insufficiently high teacher expectations'.

JakeBullet Sat 16-Feb-13 15:58:29

I think this is the norm n schools at the moment. I am not a teacher but am a parent governor and see teachers at evening meetings who have been there all day.
Add to their workload all the changes going on, the cuts to the education budget and I can understand why they are so stressed. It's half term this week and I am hoping our teachers HA e a good rest.

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 16:15:31

<Eyes the bag of 124 books to mark in the hall>

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 16:16:42

Well, Feenie and mrz, disagree or not, it is a fact that my colleague is a poor time manager by her own admission. The HT has been proactive, and has adapted her job to suit her needs following her return to work.

It is absurd to say that all teachers are good time managers! Each individual teacher takes a different amount of time to fulfil a range of duties and has to adapt work/life balance accordingly.

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 16:25:28

Are you a full time primary teacher with other responsibilities ipadquietly?

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 16:27:43

I left mine at school feenie but I'm going in next week hmm

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 16:28:27

Are you a teacher, ipad?

GingerbreadGretel Sat 16-Feb-13 16:29:33

ipadquietly, your colleague may be a poor time manager. But this thread is looking at general trends and your first post implies that it is ONLY those poor at time management or following directed time schedules who are under stress.

The reaction you are getting is because that fails to recognise many other stresses that teachers are under, which other posters have eloquently listed and that in many cases sometimes just too much is asked - more than even a magical conjuror of time could manage.

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 16:29:41


ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 16:32:35

You misread ginger. I said that poor time management and unwillingness to work outside of directed time can also lead to stress.

GingerbreadGretel Sat 16-Feb-13 16:35:53

I see the "also" now but I admit I missed it the first time through. I think maybe others have too, looking at some of the responses.

I think in the current climate if you are not a good time manager, you would be almost doomed - so many other pressures.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Feb-13 16:37:14

It depends a lot on the Head- poor ones make the job very stressful.

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 16:37:24

I don't know a single teacher who doesn't work outside directed time!


rabbitstew Sat 16-Feb-13 16:37:44

One person's poor time management is another person's perfectionism, it just depends on how much stress you can cope with and how much of a life outside of school you expect. Just because someone says they think they are a poor time manager, that doesn't make it a fact that they are. If a teacher tries to be the teacher parents expect all the time, I suspect she or he will be a perfectionist who might well have to give up with stress in the end, because he or she cannot live up to her own expectations. People less good at their jobs might well be able to go on for longer, even if they do piss the parents off more and differentiate less well for the children than the perfectionist did. So, good time management can really just mean knowing your own limits and not trying to be the best you can be all the time. A shame to say someone was a poor time manager if actually they just tried too hard to be perfect and in the end decided it was too stressful and would rather give up than not be the perfect teacher they wanted to be.

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 16:37:44

Which is why my colleague went off with stress.........
Which is why her job has now been adapted to suit her needs......

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 16:40:59

I'm not sure how classroom teaching can be "adapted"

rabbitstew Sat 16-Feb-13 16:42:07

Because she was a perfectionist? Or because she wasn't good at her job as a result of poor time management? I don't think the two are entirely the same thing, albeit they have considerable overlaps. The former doesn't cause problems until the person gives up as a result of stress, the latter is noticeable because the person doesn't get their work done...

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 16:43:13

Mrz. Several years ago I worked with someone who wouldn't work outside of directed time. Her marking, planning, etc piled up (we had to hide unmarked books in an Ofsted inspection), and she couldn't keep up. She then had a few months off with stress, and unions were involved because of the implication that we were demanding more of her than the directed time budget. It was a gruesome time.

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 16:44:18

I am totally mystified as to how you could teach in primary and not work outside directed time.

christinarossetti Sat 16-Feb-13 16:46:44

Yeah, I don't get the sense the problem is individual 'time management', more like it's actually impossible to do what is required to do the job properly in term of preparation, marking, assessing etc without working lots outside school hours, and at times eg Ofsted, end of term, SATS the pressure becomes even more intense.

cumbrialass Sat 16-Feb-13 16:50:17

Teacher's contracts say "directed time plus the additional hours required to fulfill our professional duties" so there is in theory no limit to the hours we are required to work!

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 16:53:21

OK thinking about it .. some years ago I worked with a teacher who didn't work outside directed time (didn't do much in directed time to be honest) and he was the most chilled out person I've ever met. He left with the children and spent evenings and weekends enjoying his passion ...the rest of the staff were stressed until he left

slambang Sat 16-Feb-13 16:54:11

I've taught at 3 different primaries and my dcs have been to 2 others.

Stress was a serious problem in all 5 schools for many reasons (poor manangement, good management with unrealistic expectations, Ofsted, behaviour issues, changing programmes, dcs with SN in mainstream classes without enough support, massive class sizes etc etc etc).

I've seen teacher suicide twice sad, multiple marriage break ups, long term sick leave (often) and many very good teachers leaving or desperate to leave the profession because they wanted a life or just couldn't do it any more.

It could be summed up as trying to do everything for everyone all the time and having nothing left for yourself. It needs to change.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Feb-13 16:55:16

You wouldn't survive if you didn't work outside directed time! It is not surprising that many are keen on a job share- I think you will get more and more of them in the future.

tethersend Sat 16-Feb-13 16:55:53

"If anyone says to you that 'staff morale is at an all-time low' you know you are doing something right."

When this is the head of Ofsted's take on the matter, you've got to wonder...

rabbitstew Sat 16-Feb-13 17:06:32

The head of Ofsted clearly doesn't care as much about high staff turnover as parents do, then. If it were only poor teachers leaving, that would be one thing, but when the best staff leave and are replaced by a succession of newly qualified teachers, you would surely know that staff morale being at an all time low has nothing to do with someone doing something right.

MariusEarlobe Sat 16-Feb-13 17:14:07

My dd s teacher is very stressed , the other teachers seem to be too.
Dd s teacher ever time we are waiting at home time can be heard absolutely bawling shouting at the kids, it's not a nice environment for anyone tbh.

Arisbottle Sat 16-Feb-13 17:14:51

I don't know any primary school teachers who are not stressed.

Seconda school teaching, for me has moments of stress, as does any professional job. But it rarely lasts and is usually explained by my own poor time management.

hermioneweasley Sat 16-Feb-13 17:18:45

My FB feed is full of "hurrah - half term, no work fr another week" type status updates. I guess it has its compensations.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Feb-13 17:20:16

I know 2 schools where new heads caused every teacher to leave within 2years- very sad for the school because they were largely very experienced teachers who voted with their feet. A sign of a good school is one with a low staff turnover.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Feb-13 17:22:34

Don't take that as what they really mean, hermione!

exoticfruits Sat 16-Feb-13 17:23:57

When I was teaching full time and was feeling the stress every single teacher made the same comment - which was 'tell me about it!'

cumbrialass Sat 16-Feb-13 17:24:06

Butthis week I have to re-write all my IEPs and intervention maps, mark 90 maths papers, 30 reading papers and 60 writing papers, complete a unit analysis of all these, complete next terms medium term plan and literacy, numeracy and topic plans for the first week back, organise the events for world book day, timetable all the collective worships for next term and probably 101 other things that crop up! I'm having today off and starting tomorrow!

NobbyClark Sat 16-Feb-13 17:26:29

Yes it is very stressful. I do more and ordinary the evenings now, most nights till ten at night. And I work three days a week.

The pressure to be a outstanding teacher is unbearable at my school. Our HT is brilliant but has no kids and is just a dynamo so gets everything done double quick.
Most of the teachers are ok and just manage somehow but a few of us have had some stress issues. All related to Ofsted expectations I have to say. And as above, we are an outstanding school, results going up each year and trying to maintain that is really tricky.

I do love the job though and love the kids. I do get stressed though, and at school sometimes as well as at home. It impacts on my home life too and my children do suffer a bit.

But then the holidays come and I feel much better! grin

auntevil Sat 16-Feb-13 17:29:49

Whatever happened to employing teachers that were good at the job of teaching?
If schools want managers, statisticians, pen pushers, therapists, social workers, display artists, cleaners (sore subject! grin) then they should employ them too.
As a parent, I want the best teacher for my child. Am I particularly worried that her 'time connectives' weren't displayed effectively? Not really.
I digress, yes, most of the staff I know are stressed.

bluemintygel Sat 16-Feb-13 17:33:26

I think most public sector workers are stressed at the moment.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Feb-13 17:35:13

I think that most teachers will tell you they love the classroom,auntevil, but that is only about half the job (or less)- it is the rest they have the problem with!

ninah Sat 16-Feb-13 17:38:21

the school I am in has a low staff turnover (teachers) but high turnover of HTs. Loads of long term sick, stress and other. Teachers want out but have been there so long they don't feel confident of getting another job. It is a horrible working environment, because of the lack of leadership.
The last school I worked at was very different, there was stress around Ofsted etc but positive stress, with everyone working together and SMT supporting teachers by critiquing plans in a really positive way, was a lovely school.
So yes, stress is normal but good stress is tolerable, and can be productive - bad stress is just demoralising.

ninah Sat 16-Feb-13 17:38:56

how come you got so much notice of ofsted, op?

MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Feb-13 17:52:53

As a parent, it frustrates me that the so-so and frankly inadequate teachers stay in the profession, and the best teachers end up leaving after a few years.

The teachers who put the effort in to effectively differentiate for the highest achievers AND the DC's with SN's are the ones that give up with stress.

The ones who teach to the middle, ignoring pupils like my DS1 who is working on Lvl 8 Maths in Y6, ignoring pupils like my DD who was still working on p-scales in Y6, are the ones that are still working at the school.

The teacher that tore up a DC's Maths book in front of the class, whilst shouting at that DC that they were being 'deliberately thick' is still there and now teaching my DS2 FFS, yet the one who took the time to give up every break time for a term and a half to teach my DD to write using cursive writing has left the profession through 'stress'.

As a parent, that pisses me off massively.

The best teachers can't do their jobs properly without excessive amounts of stress and no personal life, IME. And it causes them to eventually leave.

The inadequate teachers that just turn up, teach to the middle, never bother to actually mark the home works (frequently happens with certain teachers at my school, half a term with weekly homework can pass before they bother to mark ONE homework) end up being the only ones left.

soimpressed Sat 16-Feb-13 17:54:44

I recently gave up my teaching job because of stress. I was teaching in an outstanding school and the HT was determined to maintain that status no matter what the cost. Our Ofsted was long overdue and we were on 'high alert' for one and a half years. There are now no teachers at the school who were there this time last year.

I took the decision to leave after a very fit teaching friend had a stroke at 43, a teacher from a nearby school took her own life and a non teaching friend had a fatal heart attack at 38. Life is just too short.

I feel wonderful since I left. I loved teaching and was supposedly an outstanding teacher, but I hope I never have to go back.

Arisbottle Sat 16-Feb-13 18:45:26

I have posted a " yeah it is the holidays " post on FB.

I mostly plan to do bugger all this holiday other than plan my next holiday!

eviekingston Sat 16-Feb-13 18:54:35

I hope this thread doesn't disintegrate into a "oh you teachers, always moaning but you get such long holidays" type of affair. Very grateful for holidays of course, it's a massive perk, and I certainly don't spend all of them working, but even knowing you've got a them coming doesn't always compensate for the daily stresses of teaching.

Merry, exactly. sad I have tried both approaches - overstressed perfectionist with v high stress and several MC, then the teaching-to-the-middle-no-marking route (in my defence I did have a young baby then, but it was sooo depressing to work like that). Now I work pt in a job share and I still work every evening and will be planning for several hours every day during half term. But I can be proud of my work (some of the time, OfSTED and parents permitting).

MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Feb-13 19:08:59

I can just about see how job share teachers do it - by working the rest of FT hours at home - but FT teachers? There's not enough hours in their week!

Arisbottle Sat 16-Feb-13 19:09:30

If my holidays did not compensate for the daily stresses of teaching I would leave. In fact if I was stressed daily I would leave . Why would you do a job that made you regularly stressed?

Misssss Sat 16-Feb-13 19:18:28

Because I'm stuck. There are bills to pay and I'm not really qualified/experienced enough to do anything else. I'm working as hard as I can to pay off debts and then I'm going to get a job in Tesco or McDonalds. Anywhere where I don't have to take all my work home with m

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 19:21:10

Because I am the main wage earner in the household - dh earns 10 grand less than me in FE. My salary ensures we have a nice holiday and Christmas. And because, despite the stresses, I really do love my job; I love the teaching part, and I am very good at it.

It's all the other crap that gets to me increasingly these days.

Feenie: "Because I am the main wage earner in the household - dh earns 10 grand less than me in FE. My salary ensures we have a nice holiday and Christmas. And because, despite the stresses, I really do love my job; I love the teaching part, and I am very good at it.

It's all the other crap that gets to me increasingly these days. "

Apart from the fact that I am now pt and we therefore don't have nice holidays or Christmases ... are you me?? Why FE is so appallingly paid is another thread, perhaps.

eviekingston Sat 16-Feb-13 19:30:35

Lots of people have to stay in jobs they find stressful unfortunately. I stay because I think I'm a good teacher and I hope I am making some positive impact on the children I teach. Although I only work part time DH is freelance and often only has short contracts so my regular salary is essential, and it would be hard for me to find another part time job for which I am qualified that doesn't involve some sort of pay cut. I also have a stupidly idealistic mentality that makes me want to "make a difference" (cringe).

exoticfruits Sat 16-Feb-13 19:31:23

I know teachers who now work in supermarkets because they can just go in, do the work and go home and forget it. I know lots of teachers who work as TAs because they work the hours they are employed for, get breaks, lunchtime and the holidays. I now go in for a charity, in a voluntary way. I turn up , work with the DCs and go home. The other volunteers are ex teachers - what other profession do you get people working for free because they love it,but don't like what goes with it?! I have written lesson plans out in triplicate in the past and I doubt whether anyone ever read them! All my friends who were Heads have left early - they were stuck in the office 'number crunching'.

noddyholder Sat 16-Feb-13 19:33:58

Yes I know someone who was head of year and now works in a book shop which she loves and salary not massive drop and she loves the stress free existence! It is a really huge responsibility and it does floor some people

Arisbottle Sat 16-Feb-13 19:55:34

That is so sad, you are much better off doing less and then staying in the career longer.

I am not the major wage earner but hope I would not stay in a job that made me feel stressed over a long period. I have odd periods where I get stressed but often the stress is coming from elsewhere and it manifests itself at work.

I get that it is different for primary.

noddyholder Sat 16-Feb-13 19:59:23

She isn't sad has come back to life smile

Arisbottle Sat 16-Feb-13 20:10:13

That is good for her, but it is sad for the children in schools who need a mixture of talented new staff and talented established staff.

partystress Sat 16-Feb-13 20:29:29

Yes, almost all the teachers and the HT v stressed. Half term is a break from the relentless build up of backlog. Chance to catch up and regain some sense of control before it starts again. I'm in my 3rd year of teaching and it is not getting any easier. I am both stressed and distressed - distressed that the impact on my family is just as great as it was in my NQT year. Before moving into teaching I had 30 years experience in a lot of different very senior international roles - I never felt as stressed as I do now. Finding it hard to be a good parent, teacher or partner and thinking hard about whether to stick with it sad

Arisbottle Sat 16-Feb-13 20:42:47

IMO you should try another school and if that is no better quit .

Being stressed is bad enough but distressed is more than a job should demand of you .

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 20:47:52

party what is getting you down most? What sector are you in?

shebird Sat 16-Feb-13 20:51:00

I do not think work related stress is exclusive to teachers. I think working people in general are stressed. Employers expect more for less in the work place and we are all desperately clinging to our jobs and trying to juggle busy lives. It just takes its toll, we are only human.

Arisbottle Sat 16-Feb-13 20:52:30

I agree shebird, although I do not think that anyone has said just teachers are stressed .

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 21:15:42

Apart from the fact that I am now pt and we therefore don't have nice holidays or Christmases ... are you me?? Why FE is so appallingly paid is another thread, perhaps.

smile And indeed. It is shocking!

storynanny Sat 16-Feb-13 21:35:22

It's a very very stressful job, but so are lots of other professions. Teaching jobs, however, have 30 unpredictables all day to cope with. I've loved my job for 35 years but can't do it everyday anymore due to the continuous new nonsense teachers have to cope with. I used to think that stress levels varied from school to school, but having been a supply teacher for the last 12 months in a wide variety of schools, have come to the conclusion that it is wide spread and common to all schools. Every school I work in I am observing teachers under increasing pressure and stress- it makes me very concerned for their well being and that of the children they are teaching.

Startail Sat 16-Feb-13 21:42:36

Yes, we could really really really have done without Ofstead.

Once upon a time they were a necessary evil, DH and me both went to very sleepy lesson plan free primaries and some of my secondary staff were beyond useless.

However, that is no longer the case, teaching and schools have improved hugly.

The new Ofsted frame work is just Evil.

tethersend Sat 16-Feb-13 21:47:37

I went from HoD to an advisory teacher role. It was a revelation.

You know that stuff that teachers do in between teaching? The stuff you do in the evenings and at the weekends?

Most other jobs call that work. They do it ALL DAY.

christinarossetti Sat 16-Feb-13 21:50:35

I pretty much agree, startail.

I hope that teachers are no longer able to get away with teaching the incorrect exam syllabus or setting work such as 'For this lesson, copy out pages 1-5' as they did in at my school (went to secondary during early 80s - lots of strikes and work to rules etc), but can't see how the degree of stress that they're put under these days is helpful to anyone.

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 21:51:17

That's how I feel about the holidays - brilliant, can get all that evening stuff done at a normal pace for a bit.

That's real life, isn't it?!!

noddyholder Sat 16-Feb-13 21:58:02

The 2 teachers in my book group are by far the most stressed. We always meet on a friday night and they are always so knackered and seem to have more stress and anxiety than the rest of us. It is such a shame as they are good at their jobs but I can't see them lasting until retirement.

mousebacon Sat 16-Feb-13 22:18:58

I feel physically sick reading this thread. I've been on mat leave for about 9 months now and I'm returning to work after half term. Reading this thread is reminding me of what I'm going back to.

I've been teaching for 12 years. The recent changes to ofsted criteria and the already mentioned quote about low morale are making things worse and worse. Not sure I'll manage to maintain this till I'm 70.


Tethersend grin

ravenAK Sat 16-Feb-13 22:43:08

Heh, I posted on my FB yesterday:

'In bed by 4pm on a school day! Result!' because our Head had, most uncharacteristically, let us all knock off at 3pm from INSET when a speaker finished early.

Cue lots of (generally good-natured) comments from friends calling me a lazy cow.

I did actually sleep for a couple of hours until CM brought dc home, then zombied my way until their bedtime - & then went straight back to bed.

I never realise quite how exhausted/stressed I am until half term actually arrives & I just keel over.

Today was all about deep-cleaning the house, so will tomorrow be, & then I'll be spending most of Monday-Friday marking & planning, although I've promised myself to work online & not actually go into school. Next weekend is theoretically going to be work-free.

I don't think I'm any more stressed than usual; I'm quite used to it, & tend not even to notice until someone else points out the weirdness of my sleep patterns or shortness of my temper...

allchildrenreading Sat 16-Feb-13 22:56:27

The teachers in the school I worked in in the early 2000s were enormously stressed - all the reasons cited above. Earlier, the teachers in the school my dc attended weren't so stressed - HT knew exactly where he was going, what his expectations were, clarity of purpose, strong ethos, no dumbing down in spite of large, multi-racial intake. He knew what was best for children and led from the front.
Trouble is, as I see it, is that HTm SM,Senco's, bend with the wind - it's a bit like 'Simon Says' or is that unfair? I've onlly been doing one-to-one tuition for the last 9 years and following what's happening isn't the same as being at the coal face.

exoticfruits Sat 16-Feb-13 22:58:35

Very true storynanny- I was a supply teacher in a wide variety of primary schools - all staff are stressed.
I think that we are moving away from the days where someone started as a teacher straight from training and worked to retirement. People are coming in later, after doing other things, or starting and then changing to something different. Job shares are very common with teachers with young families and becoming increasingly popular with older teachers getting near retirement.
I think that for every hour in the classroom you need an hour out for planning, preparation, marking etc- in addition there is report writing, parent evenings etc. There are not enough hours in a day. I don't think it can go on at that level and needs to be more creative than one teacher and a class - team teaching would be a way forward - and more job shares for those who don't mind earning less if they work less.

MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Feb-13 23:12:31

thing is, though, job shares are TERRIBLE for those parents with DC's with SN's - especially those of us who have DC's with Autism in MS. Because there is such a lack of continuity for the DC's.

What do I want, as a parent? I want a FT teacher, who is there EVERY day (no half day for PPA etc, get some other poor sod to do the paperwork!), who is good at what they do, who can differentiate effectively for both the highest working pupil in their class AND the lowest working pupil in their class, who isn't stressed out by stupid Ofsted targets etc, who hasn't got work encroaching on their private lives, as then they won't be as stressed in class while teaching...

not much then!! grin

CailinDana Sat 16-Feb-13 23:17:27

I trained as a primary teacher in Ireland and worked there for a few years before moving to England. I loved teaching in Ireland but since moving to England I've quit, I just can't stand it here. In Ireland there's very much the atmosphere that you're a professional, you know what you're doing and while there's a degree of supervision for the most part you're trusted to teach a class well and you're left to it. It's up to you what way you want to teach things, there are initiatives but they're not set in stone and the attitude is as long as the children come out at the end of it with the skill you wanted to teach, any legitimate way of getting it into their heads is great. It was a bit of a shock coming from that to be told that I could only teach long division one particular way regardless of whether the children got it or not.

Even as a student teacher I felt I was I was given more scope and responsibility in Ireland than I was as a fully qualified teacher here in England. Here I felt that someone was constantly looking over my shoulder, checking my work, monitoring whether I was following the current gospel, seeing if I'd produced "outcomes" and "evidence" and "proof" of every twitch the children had made. It got the point in one school where we were photocopying the children's hand-held whiteboards to "prove" we had worked on mental maths. I mean FFS!!! What a fucking waste of time! On top of that we were expected to spend hours on gaudy displays all over the classroom, "generate statistics" for every single thing the children thought or might think, mark work in books in three different colours (WTF??) add a comment and a follow on task to every single piece, create, type up and photocopy reams of "lesson objective" sheets for every lesson, etc etc. So much pointless busywork that takes hours and hours for absolutely no reason. When you spend a whole evening agonising about how to teach division to a class who just aren't getting it, and they finally do, it makes you want to just jump off a bridge when the work is criticised because it doesn't have a lesson objective or because you forgot to write the date on the board that day. So many irrelevant details have taken over in teaching here that trying to keep on top of everything is just too difficult.

If I ever move back to Ireland I might go back to teaching but I definitely won't here. I can earn a lot more in a much less stressful job and get a bit of respect while I'm at it.

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 23:18:04

MerryCouthyMows for Education Secretary, please! grin

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 23:19:44

It got the point in one school where we were photocopying the children's hand-held whiteboards to "prove" we had worked on mental maths.

Since around September we have been well beyond that point confused - you are right, it is insane.

CailinDana Sat 16-Feb-13 23:23:09

Feenie, it just seems to me that it doesn't matter what you actually do in the classroom day to day as long as you have a pile of paperwork that looks right. It's just all about the paperwork.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sat 16-Feb-13 23:24:21

Poor, disruptive behaviour of children used to stress me out most.

Dealing with that at the same time as being expected to deliver all these targets was impossible.

I left.

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 23:31:35

No CallinDana, that's just it - your progress has to be spot on, on top of paperwork. That's what is so frustrating!

shebird Sat 16-Feb-13 23:31:49

CailinDana I think you have just summed up the madness that us our education system and the reasons why we have stressed teachers. I was educated in Ireland and my DCs attend primary here and I really struggle with the system. I feel anxious that they are missing out because their teachers are busy ticking boxes. I am frustrated by the fads and levels and obsession with OFSTED. I do not want to be told off by a stressed out teacher for teaching my DD how to do maths so she gets it. Can't we just let teachers teach?

CailinDana Sat 16-Feb-13 23:43:14

The slavish devotion to initiatives drove me bonkers. In Ireland, for example, the approach to reading is to just do everything to get the children used to words - so you do a mixture of phonics, whole word reading, letter work etc. The attitude is that everything that exposes the children to words and reading is good, and then if a certain child shows a preference for one type of teaching, you focus on that with them. It's sort of a scattergun approach to begin with and then you hone it down to suit your particular class for that year. It means that you'll rarely have a child not reading by the end of their first year of school (barring SN). Here in England the message I got was "phonics or nothing." Not only that but there seems to be an attitude that doing anything other than phonics is actually damaging in some way confused. So feck the children for whom phonics is gobbledegook, they just miss out. There's no sense of adaptation, no sense that you're a professional who can judge for yourself what the right approach is - it's just "You are a robot who must teach like this, end of story." So all the creativity and mental challenge is taken out of teaching.

And levels - good fucking lord. I was teaching a group who were with me specifically so I could move their level from a 3 to a 4 (for SATS of course). HT observed a lesson where they were comfortably working on level 5 triangles, which I had taught because they had grasped level 4 stuff easily and I was keeping pace with the other two year 6 classes who were still on triangles (so I couldn't use the time to move on to something else). HT praised the class but then expressed concern that I was "above their level" - ie I was supposed to only bring them to level 4 and no further. How fucking crazy is that? In Ireland when I've had a very good class I've taught them quadratic equations and vectors, because if there's time it's worth expanding their knowledge. And nothing at all would be said about that, why would it? Yet I was actually pulled up over teaching the children too much here. About making them too good.

I'm not saying the Irish system is perfect, it definitely isn't, but it's a far better place to be a teacher, that's for sure!

storynanny Sat 16-Feb-13 23:47:03

Merry, I want to be that teacher too, you have hit the nail on the head. I would want my little grandson to be taught by that teacher as well. Re whiteboard phôtocopying, I've had to do that too and had to stop myself screeching don't rub it off before we get to the photocopier.I have also had to follow 4/5 year olds around with a clipboard asking them what they could do to get better at ....( whatever activity they were involved with, eg sand, water, role play area).

shebird Sat 16-Feb-13 23:54:25

It must be stressful to be a teacher and be so constrained to 'one size fits all' approach to teaching. Its simply crazy to think that there is only one way to teach a subject but don't get me started on thatangry

MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Feb-13 23:56:04

When you have a DC that leaves Y6 STILL not knowing their number bonds to 10, because the school 'are not allowed' to take her right back to the beginning and work from there onwards, you realise that something has gone very wrong with education.

As soon as She went to Secondary school, and they DID take her RIGHT back to the beginning, she started making progress after not having made ANY progress between YR and Y6.

OK, she is still behind, working on Lvl 4 (just) in Y10, but she is at least FUNCTIONAL.

She may have been far better than that if the Primary school had gone back to the beginning in Y2, when I first asked them to, than leaving it for another 5 years, which was 5 years of progress lost because they had to follow some arbitary, frankly STUPID box ticking exercise that said that they had taught every DC in the class to multiply 2-digit numbers.

Which is of precisely FUCK ALL USE to a DC that can't yet work out that 1+2=3!!

If teachers were given more leeway to teach in the way that suited their individual pupils best, maybe far LESS pupils would be leaving school illiterate and innumerate.

I'm not saying teachers shouldn't be monitored - far from it. There ARE rotten teachers out there, that really SHOULDN'T be teaching. But it needs to be made easier for HT's to actually get RID of useless teachers, rather than them just being 'moved on' to yet another school. Which DOES happen.

But the current type of monitoring is all wrong.

What do parents need to see? That a DC that starts the year on a lvl 1c can end the year on a lvl 1a, that the DC that starts the year on a lvl 7a can end the year on a lvl 8b. Nothing more. The parents ONLY want to see that their DC is making PROGRESS, regardless of their starting level.

And IMO, it's quite easy to measure PROGRESS, without forcing teachers into the frankly ridiculous situation where they are photocopying whiteboards to prove that they are doing mental maths with a class.

(BTW, the preferred method for that at my DC's Primary is for the class teacher to turn on the camera on their laptop and record the class doing Mental maths. We all had to sign forms to say that we would be OK with them filming occasional lessons for 'teacher development')

It's just bloody DAFT.

I don't care about the teachers PROVING they have done mental maths with my DC. I care that my DC can now add up 1+2=3, AND 2+2=4, when last week they couldn't.

CailinDana Sat 16-Feb-13 23:57:18

Sorry I'm a roll now! But it just seemed to me that in Ireland it was about the children - you get them to the end of sixth class (final year of primary) with a set of essential skills come hell or high water. How you get them there isn't really relevant (within reason!) - neat copy books with the date written in, shiny displays, "added value" bullshit, isn't relevant, that's just trimmings. If a child can read well, do a range of basic maths and has a starting knowledge of science history and geography you've done your job. You can use textbooks, you can teach the same thing 50 times till everyone grasps it, you can do extra drama with a very academic class who needs a break from the grind, that's your call.

Here in England it seems to be about the school, not the children. So the children are there to produce work where you are proving the school is operating according to a certain prescribed standard. It's important that the walls are covered in posters and displays. It's important that the children produce the right level of work at the right time in the right quantity to prove that OFSTED criteria are met. So in my triangles example it didn't matter to the HT that those children were going away with a bit of extra maths knowledge that might make the topic easier for them in future (plus they were enjoying it) it just mattered that I'd already produced the required level 4 and why was I going beyond that? I'd served the school adequately already. The children didn't matter.

Similarly I had a couple of children who couldn't grasp the idea of chunking for long division. In Ireland the attitude would be "a child can't leave primary without having some way of doing long division" and so you'd just try a few methods until they got it. Here, the chunking method is the approved method, and it serves the school to be able to show that they are using the approved method. So the child leaves school without being able to do long division, but who cares, you served the school's agenda.

MerryCouthyMows Sun 17-Feb-13 00:04:13

I wish I had moved DD to NI for primary!

The rigorous sticking like glue to a prescribed method of doing things REALLY harmed my DD's education (she has multiple SN's). It was only when she got to Secondary, and they didn't have to show things to the same n'th degree that she actually made ANY progress.

Why HAS education become like this? I only left Primary school 16 years before my DD did (yes, I was a very young parent...), and there was none of this nonsense that long division MUST be done by chunking, reading MUST be learnt using phonics, it was all about making sure that ALL DC's left Y6 with the ability to read and do long division, no matter how they did it, as long as they COULD do it!

What went wrong in between 1991 when I left Y6, and 2002 when DD started Reception?!

shebird Sun 17-Feb-13 00:05:58

It's all about OFSTED and getting or maintaining the schools desired level.

MerryCouthyMows Sun 17-Feb-13 00:06:17

And no, that isn't 16 years - I LEFT primary 16 years before DD LEFT - she started Primary school just 10 years after I left! Though I think it was actually 1992 that I finished Y6, thinking about it. I started Y6 in September 1991, so would have left in July 1992.

MerryCouthyMows Sun 17-Feb-13 00:06:56

Well Oftsed is a load of crap then!


(Not that I didn't KNOW that already, for many and varied reasons)

CailinDana, I think 'chunking' is now officially OUT?

Merry, you want a FT teacher with no time for PPA .... so that that teacher can support your child with SN - which I can understand.

I am a parent; I understand how defensive and anxious one feels about one's own children and how one's own child is the most important thing in the whole world.

But if I am to be forced to go FT, in school from before 8am until after 6pm and then working every evening, I might as well just have my own daughter adopted and be done with it; as it is I spend half my time at home just saying, No, I can't do that with you, I am planning/marking/reading initiatives/finding resources.

CailinDana Sun 17-Feb-13 07:23:44

Is it LaBelle? I'm out of the game two years so I've lost track of all that shit (thank fuck). What's the fashionable thing these days?

I am working on a day-by-day basis until the holiday comes when I can do some more indepth planning, so not sure yet, Cailin.

I just wrote a really, long, detailed post about all the extra things I have to do in my PPA time, which obviously so annoys some parents, which cannot be done by anyone else - if there were anyone else hmm - and then pressed the wrong button. [sobs] It totally proved that all planning and marking can only be done at home while my poor child sits white and neglected in a corner, begging for attention. Most of my attention, at home as much as at school, is focussed on my class. And then they talk about longer school days and complain about job shares and PT teachers. sad angry

CailinDana Sun 17-Feb-13 07:43:59

Well it's nice to know that a few of my lovely year 6 group left primary not knowing how to do long division because of a fad that's been thrown out two years later. Totally worth it I'm sure angry. I'm sure the next fad will be just as sensible.

MoppingMummy Sun 17-Feb-13 07:44:46

I am a part time teacher. I was feeling horribly, horribly stressed, so handed my notice in at Christmas. I left my primary school on Friday - best decision of my life!

In the past year, 4 teachers have been off with long term stress and then resigned. 3 others, including myself left the school the proper way grin. At least 2 others are actively looking & applying for other jobs.

The pressures and expectations are too much for anyone not to feel stressed and anxious.

CailinDana Sun 17-Feb-13 07:53:20

Mopping - two years after quitting I still feel a wave of relief when I remember I'm not going to back it smile I now work very part time in a great job that I love and that earns me far more per hour than teaching did. It fits in completely with my life and give me zero stress. I absolutely loved teaching children, but as others have said, that's just a tiny part of what teaching is about these days. With all the other shit the benefit of being with the children is totally cancelled out by everything else. I have dreams where I'm teaching and I miss it so badly I want to cry, then I remember that I don't have to make another display, or mark 150 books and I get over it smile

mrz Sun 17-Feb-13 08:01:52

Reading this I feel so lucky to work in a school where teaching comes first. Planning is a tool for the teacher and is not onerous. We don't have paper mountains to prove what we know and we do have a head and governors who support their staff.

Timetoask Sun 17-Feb-13 08:06:37

CailinDana: did you consider moving to the private sector? Is it different there?

goinnowhere Sun 17-Feb-13 08:13:41

Yes. And it is due to Ofsted. Nothing else. Everyone has days where a class might cause you grief. The constant grinding stress atm is Ofsted. And we don't even know when they'll descend.

CailinDana Sun 17-Feb-13 08:14:30

I honestly don't know Timetotask. I quit to coincide with maternity leave and wasn't planning on going back to work at all - the job I have now is one that just popped up by chance. I think in the future I'll consider doing some tutoring just to get my hand back in on the teaching side of things, which I really enjoy.

CailinDana Sun 17-Feb-13 08:16:12

Goin - I found that the stress caused by the children themselves was always fleeting, it never bothered me much. All the real stress came from the system. Which is stupid when you think about it.

Euphemia Sun 17-Feb-13 08:16:28

How often do Ofsted visit a school?

Timetoask Sun 17-Feb-13 08:18:14

Cailindana: it just seems such a shame for you to give up a career you obviously love, I hope you don't regret it. Maybe you need a change of school.
So sorry to,hear about the stress that teachers are going through, and so happy that my dc are going private.

CailinDana Sun 17-Feb-13 08:23:30

Time - I did bouts of long term supply so I taught in a lot of different schools (none private though). The last school I taught in was the best by far, but I was only part time there which helped a lot. Even though that school was great, I still wouldn't go back to it. For me it wasn't really the workload that got me down, as I can work at lightning speed when I need to, it was more the pointlessness of it. I don't mind doing a lot of work when it's warranted, but trudging up to the photocopier with the whiteboards just made me die a bit inside. Plus the lack of autonomy and creativity and the constant target setting just took all the positives out of it for me. Unless that all changes I just won't go back to it.

DumSpiroSpero Sun 17-Feb-13 08:25:03

I work at a large maintained nursery school and our staff are definitely stressed although a lot of work is being done to sort out the issues and some of it is just 'luck' - lots of staff turnover for personal reasons etc.

DD is at our local primary and if the staff there are stressed they do a great job of not showing it - they are really great. That said, I've just been appointed as a parent governor so I might be about to get a rude awakening.

The political aspect of education is extraordinary and does detract a lot from the actual job at times imho.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 08:25:20

I read your post CailinDana thinking this is utter madness! Unfortunately I was nodding and agreeing with everything- every single thing!
I am a much older teacher and it is a different job from when I started. You were treated as a professional, once upon a time, and you could choose how you taught. You started with the children that you had and worked with what suited them. Now you start with the curriculum and the children have to fit it, ready or not. In maths, if they didn't get something you could spend longer on it. Now you get to the end of a week on fractions, they are struggling but the new week starts and you are onto 3D shape and it is 'never mind- they revisit fractions on week 5 of next term! I am positive that if they got more practise with things and experienced success they would be much better at it. At the same time, those that get a concept quickly don't need lots of practise.
Most teachers get fed up with the constant change. You get the latest idea, often one that you have misgivings about, but before it has had very long, the 'powers that be' think it wasn't working- and it is all change again.
Sometimes it is lovely just to get completely out of it. In one job I had a short term of just working with the 18 DCs who were top in Literacy in year 5 and they were great writers. I always hate the fact that anything in Literacy is in very short bursts. I asked the Head if we could actually write books, with chapters. She let me and it was wonderful! We didn't have to have an objective every lesson and the usual division of the lesson. They came in and wrote! They illustrated , they did the covers, they wrote the blurb on the back, etc etc- they were so excited they took them home to do some and the end products were if a very high standard. It gave me time to work with individuals. I bet they all remember it and I bet they all still have the books. It was the sort if thing that makes teaching so exciting and worthwhile.
Now it is so much the same. You all have to mark the same - it muddles me up when you have to use pink marker for the positive(tickled pink) and green for the mistakes ( room for growth).
You are also teaching for the test - in my final job I was doing one to one tuition for 'weak' yr 6 pupils (another example of waste of money) and it was very much -'to get a level 4 you need to do x,y and z'.
I wouldn't mind if it was better, but when I look up old pupils to see what they are doing now they all seem to be doing very well.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 08:34:35

It isn't the children that cause the stress. As a supply teacher the 'difficult' children were fine if the Head and SM had a system and stuck to it. The schools I loved were the ones with the friendly, supportive staff. The ones where you were 'the supply' and were left completely on your own - just to get the comment at the end of the day 'I see you met Josh'! We're the ones that I never went back to- you expect them to tell you about Josh at the start if the day- and more importantly how to handle him.
I would agree that it is the pointlessness of it. Why write detailed lesson plans when you know exactly what you are going to do and, at the most need a few cryptic notes,when no one is ever going to read them?

Euphemia Sun 17-Feb-13 08:35:06

I'm so glad I'm in Scotland. We have total freedom over how long to spend teaching a topic, and how to teach it.

We're currently teaching Time to P3: if we have covered the learning intentions by the end of next week, we'll move on to the next topic. If not, we'll carry on until the children have got it. We need to track learning, provide evidence, etc., but no-one's going to criticise us for spending longer on something than we originally planned.

We are also equipping the pupils with a Maths "toolkit" i.e. showing them various ways of solving problems. No-one tells us how to teach Maths, or rather how not to.

I'm not surprised you're all so stressed, in such a controlling regime.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 08:35:47

Sorry iPad has a mind of its own . Were not we're.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 08:37:45

It may have changed, Euphemia, but the unit plans for maths not only told you how to teach it but what to say!

Flojobunny Sun 17-Feb-13 08:39:04

No not stressed at all. We have lots of measures in place to help with work life balance.
Sure, its a busy job, always things to be done and just when u are finally on top of one thing there's always a dozen other things to be sorted.
Yes when Ofsted are due it is stressful, at it would be in any job if u had inspectors in and as I am in Year 6 it gets quite stressful around SATS time and the leavers production but like I said, measures in place to help.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 08:41:55

The Head should be easing the stress - many add to it!

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 08:42:31

Probably because they are stressed and pass it on!

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 08:43:34

The stress is piled on for SATs because the school (and the Head) are judged by them.

roughtyping Sun 17-Feb-13 08:44:55

Euphemia - do you not feel stressed? (Sorry, I've skipped to the last page!)

I'm also a primary teacher in Scotland. I feel like there is just more and more being piled on - one initiative after another, as well as normal stuff with the class, as well as being expected to produce brand new planners with no time out - I don't feel that anyone can actually do it well IYSWIM.

I didn't teach under 5-14, I only started training in 2009. I love teaching but it is very stressful. Seems completely different to the stress of English teachers though.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 08:47:14

My friend's DD was very stressed teaching in Scotland- she has left.

roughtyping Sun 17-Feb-13 08:52:26

Just now TBH my worry is permanency - I'm due to gain permanency at the end of next month but I'm having to cross my fingers and hope they don't 'break my service' - despite having my own class. They make you stop working so that you don't gain permanent employment rights. Supply teachers have been left out in the cold in Scotland. A short term supply teacher (working for less than 5 days in a school) works for £50 a day now regardless of how long they've been teaching. It's awful. One of my friends had a kid pulling up carpets and jumping off of tables recently while being paid the lower rate, SMT had to get involved.

Sorry - that's a whole other thread altogether. sad

Euphemia Sun 17-Feb-13 08:52:55

I'm stressed because I just started at a new school in a new authority in January, so a lot of initiatives to get my head round.

Nothing compared to what colleagues down south have to deal with though!

roughtyping Sun 17-Feb-13 08:54:31

True - it seems mental down there!

Euphemia Sun 17-Feb-13 08:54:43

Rough I was a supply teacher for four years until Christmas - now that's stressful!

roughtyping Sun 17-Feb-13 08:56:15

It is tough going. All schools seem to be struggling for supply (short or long term) now. I wonder why...

Euphemia Sun 17-Feb-13 09:06:21

They really shafted us with the supply thing. It didn't affect me as it coincided with me getting short-term contracts, so I was paid at the correct point on the salary scale. But lots of retired teachers didn't take supply as it wasn't worth it, and younger people couldn't afford to get by on rubbish rates.

I see the EIS has finally acknowledged that it was a mistake!

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 09:23:25

I wouldn't supply teach for £50 a day.

CailinDana Sun 17-Feb-13 09:25:47

God no, me neither exotic. When I was doing day to day supply I was on between £90 and £120 a day.

I'm not stressed, I love teaching smile Overloaded, yes, but not stressed usually. I teach 4 days a week (my own class), am SENCo, on SLT and also NQT mentor and training my TA on the job. We had ofsted less than two weeks ago too.

shebird Sun 17-Feb-13 12:57:11

It's so sad to hear so many say that it is the system that causes the most stress and the reason so many good teachers are leaving. I always imagined it was the children that caused the most stresssmile. Reading this post is very depressing and worried about what is really going on at my DCs school. Our HT has left and has yet to be replaced. The teachers are doing a great keep calm and carry on act but I'm not convinced. Lets hope for a lottery win and I can send them to a private school.

Arisbottle Sun 17-Feb-13 14:11:42

I do not see why private staff should be any less stressed than state school teachers. Unless it is linked to class size.

Again this may be because I teach secondary, but I do not recognize this picture of teaching on here.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 14:16:57

Private school teachers can be just as stressed - the parents can be a nightmare- they are paying for it and they are customers!

Arisbottle Sun 17-Feb-13 14:18:24

We all pay for our children's education through taxes, all parents have the right to expect the best education.

Feenie Sun 17-Feb-13 14:20:04

But parents are not customers in state schools - children are.

teacherwith2kids Sun 17-Feb-13 14:21:29


Like you, I am often somewhat overloaded.... but not usually stressed...

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 14:25:40

I know teachers in the state system who have moved from schools in very good areas to rougher ones because they can't stand the interference from parents!

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 14:26:55

It doesn't mean that children are not getting the best education - they get that without parents being continually on their backs about trivialities.

rabbitstew Sun 17-Feb-13 14:28:56

Arisbottle - do you think there is actually a lack of understanding in secondary schools of what is required of primary school teachers by the government and OFSTED? Do secondary teachers have to photograph evidence of everything they are teaching their children and get assessed by the quality of their displays of children's work? I have certainly noticed a hugely increasing trend in my children's lives of having photos taken of their work and of them working and of me coming in to enjoy working with them... I was hoping this would not continue in to secondary school, as I think taking photos rather than interacting with the children is kind of annoying. I am getting bored with all the photos and "evidence." Might as well just bite the bullet and film everything all the time, and have live streaming to the DfE of what is going on in every classroom in the UK every second of the day...

Arisbottle Sun 17-Feb-13 15:00:53

I considered going into primary teaching and every post by a primary teacher makes me breathe a sigh of relief that I did not.

There is no where near as much micro managing in secondary schools IME . I am just left to get on with my teaching and trusted that I am doing a good job.

CailinDana Sun 17-Feb-13 15:05:23

Arisbottle, in the last school I was in, I and all the teachers had weekly observations. It was a great school, and the HT was brilliant but needless to say being observed weekly was stressful.

Arisbottle Sun 17-Feb-13 15:26:46

I am observed by at least once person a week,but not as a part of performance management. In addition to that our student teacher is in my lessons observing most days. Never stresses me in the slightest,if it was done in a judge mental way I guess it would.

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 15:46:02

As a supply teacher you have people in your lessons all the time- you never know who you will have, TAs , parents, the Head- I even had the local MP once! It didn't bother me- not even when it turned out to be an Open Morning. It is very different from a lesson observation- they are stressful.

MerryCouthyMows Sun 17-Feb-13 17:09:07

Belledamesansmerci - the point is, I don't think you SHOULD have to be spending every evening doing this sort of thing!

The average working day is 9-5. If a teacher's day was 8-4, that would still give them 5 hours a week where there was time to do marking etc.

It should be at a level that us manageable in 5hrs a week, 1 hr a day, IMO!

Get someone else to do the admin. (I know that's never going to happen, but it SHOULD).

Leave the teachers to actually TEACH!

eviekingston Sun 17-Feb-13 17:37:32

I had a lovely afternoon with my Reception Class on Friday - they were playing outside and I had set a challenge of building a structure with a new bit of kit they hadn't tried before. They needed a bit of help to construct it not just use it as swords and beat the crap out if each other so I just sat on the mat with them and we did it together. I left my clipboard and camera inside deliberately. I found out lots of things about the way they approached problems and worked together, but all that information is now just in my head and I know from experience that it's 'evidence' that matters in this game. So we'll carry on photocopying whiteboards and frantically writing down every word the children say and taking/uploading/printing/sticking and annotating photos until someone sees sense.

Merry, it takes me at least an hour after school on each working day to put up/change my classroom displays so that they are current, there is a staff meeting of 1 1/2 to 2 hours on one day, then there are the books to mark, the photos to print out and file in my Subject Leaders' folders, the planning to annotate and file for each day and the planning for the week's CW to complete and email to the other staff, the children's respnse to this week's CW to print out and file and, yes, even the photos of whiteboards to print out and file.

Very little of the above seems to be connected with actual learning! hmm

HumphreyCobbler Sun 17-Feb-13 21:26:30

I feel lucky that I have been able to stop full time teaching. I hated the fact that I spent so much of my time working (every weekend, every night) instead of interacting with my own children. When I wasn't working I was thinking about working.

I think the SMT really make the difference between a manageable situation and an unmanageable one. My last post had a HT who only ever mentioned negative things. I bust a bloody gut for that man the last term I was there, worked throughout horrific morning sickness and a miscarriage, covered for ill staff, did everything he asked of me cheerfully. The only comment he made about my work was that I sat down too much when I taught. hmm I was SO glad to leave that place.

I now do a bit of supply in one school. This school got an Outstanding OFSTED a few years ago. It is a happy place to work. It is bliss not to be continually anxious about stuff not done.

partystress Sun 17-Feb-13 21:36:37

Want to teach in Ireland! Have been away from this for a day and reading thru' has made me reflect on what it is that is actually stressful, rather than simply overloading (although, of course, that in itself is stressful.)

For me there are two big sources of stress. The first, sadly, is 'leadership', which IME seeks compliance rather than commitment. We are told what to do, with no reasons given. Often one directive contradicts another. Working practices are changed with no consultation as to whether it will make life easier or more difficult. You dread being offered 'support', because it boils down to even more monitoring - scruitiny of plans which have to be handed in at such short notice that they can only be written overnight, more frequent observations and book scrutinies. (I have not had to go thru' this myself, but just watching it happen to others is horrible.) The fact that you are a graduate professional is ignored - primary schools seem to be horribly hierarchical and your view counts for nothing.

The second is that assessment of your performance is almost entirely subjective. You can watch a lesson and judge it outstanding if that is what you are expecting/want to see; the same lesson viewed by an observer who thinks the teacher is a bit crap could be judged RI. And although observation is not the whole picture as far as performance management is concerned, it will colour the way everything is seen. With PM being linked more closely to pay, it is just going to get worse, with SLT's having even more power to (mis)use.

MerryCouthyMows Sun 17-Feb-13 21:47:43

Belle, I'm not saying that you DON'T currently have all this to do (I have friends that teach), I'm saying that a lot of it is just not necessary.

Is taking photos of whiteboards totally necessary to teach Johnny how to multiply? Is making sure displays are current going to help Annie write using correct Grammar and full stops?

And if I remember rightly, it never used to be the TEACHER'S job to do the displays - it was always the Classroom Assistant's job to do.

The loss of Classroom Assistants has made a fairly stressful job an intolerably stressful job.

It's the lack of support staff that is causing this. Which pisses me off. We wouldn't lose the Country's best teachers to stress if they still had classroom assistants to do the 'admin' type jobs.

MerryCouthyMows Sun 17-Feb-13 21:49:33

Please excuse the capital 'G' in grammar there - I post about DS1 possibly heading to Grammar school, so now Autocorrect assumes that the word 'grammar' should always have a capital. I think Autocorrect needs to go back to school!

Arisbottle Sun 17-Feb-13 22:06:22

I do wonder if this is a primary/ secondary thing.

I am a member of the leadership team so I have additional duties, but in terms of being a teacher I do the following. I plan, I teach and I assess. I do not do paperwork ( unless you are including reports ), I don't tidy my room, my displays are changed in the school holidays unless the class are putting up something they have done.

I would not work in an environment that expected me to spend an hour every day photocopying, filling in forms and changing displays.

mrz Sun 17-Feb-13 22:17:34

I do think there is a definite primary /secondary divide.

It is becoming increasingly normal for primary heads to dictate how teachers plan (one school I know of asks for 5 sides of A4 per lesson with 5 way differentiation hmm ) then there is APP for every pupil for every subject plus observations/evidence /files/folders etc etc

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 22:18:52

The silly thing is that when I started teaching you didn't have a TA and you had to put up displays yourself, but it wasn't stressful - you just got on with it.
I hate to do without a TA these days and my first question on supply was always - have I got help in the classroom?

mrz Sun 17-Feb-13 22:24:22

I don't have a TA and I still put up displays myself

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 22:24:40

A draw back if the 'old' days of teaching was that it was possible to be very lazy and possible to miss out lots of things and repeat things they had done before. But most teachers were hard working, conscientious, very professional and good teachers. Unfortunately in trying to get good practice from all 'the baby got thrown out with the bath water' and everyone is made to conform- sometimes a brilliant teacher can be very different- but they are not allowed to be.

HumphreyCobbler Sun 17-Feb-13 22:25:03

We used to have to try and match INCERTS which we assessed to with the Skills Ladder that we planned to. They did not correspond. No one on SMT seemed to care hmm

We also certainly had a great deal of planning evidence to produce, although not quite as bad as 5 side of A4 per lesson shock

exoticfruits Sun 17-Feb-13 22:27:22

Of not if.

Actually I love displaying the children's work- it isn't something I would want to delegate.

ipadquietly Sun 17-Feb-13 22:33:56

Hmmm.... one of the comments from our recent Ofsted inspection was that we should be continuously differentiating within our differentiated lessons, constantly responding and adapting to each child's learning. So 5 sides of A4 sounds about right......

Arisbottle Sun 17-Feb-13 22:36:34

We have schemes of work which are produced as a department, each lesson will be a few bullet points.

I then write a few lines in my planner.

That is the extent of my planning documentation and we have made clear to staff that no more is expected when OFSTED come in.

Arisbottle Sun 17-Feb-13 22:37:27

I quite like doing displays. I do mine over the holidays or I pay my own children to help me do them one evening after school. I do not have to do them though.

donnasummer Sun 17-Feb-13 22:40:08

ofsted didn't look at my plans or workbooks
am constantly micro-managed about trivial issues but left bewildered about the bigger issues eg HT gave old TT to inspector and so was expecting a completely different lesson which I had to pull out of the hat

MerryCouthyMows Mon 18-Feb-13 05:10:45

The best teachers my DC's have had have either been the NQT's or those in their last year or two before retirement.

The ones that have been doing it for 5-15 years are the ones who look permanently stressed, tired, and worn out.

I don't know what the answer is, I just know what I want from a teacher, as a parent.

I don't care about Ofsted - out of the 4 Primaries my DC have attended, the best one for my DC's was the one that was never rated higher than 'satisfactory', as it was a school on an army estate with an exceedingly high turnover of pupils - by the end of Y6, you were lucky if one of your original 15-20 pupils from YR were left in the class!

The 'Outstanding' school my DC's currently attend is anything BUT.

They struggle to differentiate effectively for my DS1, who is working on lvl 7/8 in Maths, and lvl 6 in English, and they found it impossible to differentiate at ALL for my DD that was still on p-scales in Y6.

What matters to me, as a parent, when looking for a school is : How do they differentiate for 'high flyers', and how do they differentiate for DC's with SN's? Can they manage my DC's medical issues effectively? What do they do in the event of bullying?

Anything else is irrelevant, really. If my DC's all left Y6 able to read, write, and have FUNCTIONAL maths skills, I don't care about the displays, I don't want teachers doing paperwork instead of teaching my DC's, I don't want job shares because it is too stressful for my DC's.

That's all I want from a teacher, but Ofsted rules and sodding paperwork make that impossible.

MerryCouthyMows Mon 18-Feb-13 05:12:25

I remember at school helping the Classroom assistant pull the staples out of the wall so that she could put up a new display. We used to clamour to be given that job!

exoticfruits Mon 18-Feb-13 19:15:19

The best teachers my DC's have had have either been the NQT's or those in their last year or two before retirement.

The NQTs are all excited about having their own class and assume that they won't have to work so hard once they get used to it. Those in the last year or two know that they are almost free!
It is hardly surprising that after 5 years they realise that the workload hasn't diminished and after 15 years they still have a long way to go!

We do still have TA's in my school (quite lucky, I know) but they are all fully occupied running intervention groups, such as AccerlereadAccelerite, Springboard Maths, Wordshark, etc, with individual children or small groups, to make sure that every child makes the OfSTED-imposed progress target.

I do my own admin, displays, etc; sometimes I do her photocopying. My TA leaves at 3.15; I stay until I have finished, usually just after 6, so I actually have more time available for admin jobs.

MareeyaDolores Mon 18-Feb-13 20:37:48

Thanks very much to all the teachers thanks. And sorry your half-terms are ruined with stupid paperwork. Remember, the vast majority of dc and their parents couldn't give a monkey's about any of the rubbish you're made to do, so long as they're learning, happy-ish, and you know their names wink. And I say that as parent of 1 with significant SN, one whose teacher says she's the perfect student (verbatim, i didn't make it up wink) and one who I'll probably HE unless he calms down by reception age cos it's not fair on anyone cos he's not a whiteboard type

businessbunny Fri 07-Jun-13 20:07:51

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

spanieleyes Fri 07-Jun-13 20:39:00

When would I find 15 minutes at work when I will not be interrupted!!

I started today at 7.30 and finished at 4.30 and had 5 minutes in between to eat my lunch ( with the children!) the rest of the time I was preparing for the day, teaching, on playground duty, having a lunchtime social services meeting, teaching and then running a club! I didn't have 15 uninterrupted SECONDS let alone minutes!

businessbunny Fri 07-Jun-13 21:07:11

Hello Spanieleyes,

Wow, you do sound incredibly busy! Apologises if my post was insensitive, I did not mean it to come across that way and I appreciate teacher's have a very full workload. Is 5 minutes for lunch normal for you?

Jimmybob Fri 07-Jun-13 21:21:32

Yes, they are because of the number of targets and probably quite a lot to do with lack of appreciation, disagreement with Gove's egotisitcal plans philosophy. (I am a govenor at a school, with both a sister and niece who is a teacher).
Also, to get some perspective, probably no more than anyone else in any other public sector job or mostly any other job where there are pressures re funding or because of recession & I'm not sure teachers always get what is going in other fields - for instance I have to work quite hard with our teachers to get them to realise that governor's have a life outisde of being a govenor and have a lot going on and are subject to their own work stress. However, we have some really good teachers who do a great job and I generally couldn't appreciate our more and I think some of the stress in our school is caused by wanting to do the best job possible and being hampered from being able to do that.

spanieleyes Fri 07-Jun-13 21:39:25

Sometimes I don't get any! I'm SLT but also teach full time so anything that needs doing during the day has to be fitted in at lunchtime . I quite often have to pop out of the classroom to sign cheques so the bills can be paid! I teach in a small school and, whilst the numbers might be smaller ( although I have 31 in my class just like larger schools) the number of jobs to do is just the same. I'm also maths leader, RE and PE, Eco schools, assessment and EVC, plus probably a few other things I've forgotten!
It's also report writing season, residential next week and SATs results due back soon ( I teach yr 6)
Stressed, who's stressed grin

Ferguson Fri 07-Jun-13 22:46:48

Hi - retired TA (male) here :

businessbunny Not trying to be difficult, but I would suggest you contact MN HQ admin staff regarding this item (unless you already have, of course) as there is sometimes a charge for using MN in this way, rather than just for discussions between interested parties.

A similar item some months ago was DELETED by HQ as it should have incurred a fee (£30 I believe, but check it) and I would hate you worthy cause to suffer that fate.

I was a primary helper, then TA, for twenty years, but have been out of the classroom two years now. But, Yes teachers are under a lot of stress, but I think the best, most organised ones can still find it enjoyable. Mr Gove doesn't exactly do anything to make life any better for teachers, children, or parents, and in due course I think his term in office will be seen like Beeching was on the railways in the '60s.

businessbunny Fri 07-Jun-13 23:18:15

Hi Ferguson, thank you, I have a message about the research in the Media section however I thought I may try to find MNetter's who are teaching as I suspect the through fare in the other section is very very small sad (judging by the number of replies others received- 1-10). I need to reach as many people as possible as I need 60 plus participants

juniper9 Sat 08-Jun-13 03:24:57

It seems like a lot of time and hassle for the 'chance' to win a £20 voucher.

I have reports to write. And it's past 3am and I'm still awake!

Phoebe47 Thu 13-Jun-13 00:04:49

MerryCouthy - unfortunately it is not possible for another teacher to do PPA time for your child's class teacher. PPA time involves Planning (which only the class teacher can do effectively as she/he knows where the children are and where they should move on to; Preparation - providing appropriate and stimulating resources suitable for each level of ability in the class (again difficult for someone who does not teach the class to do effectively) and Assessment (accurately assessing where children are and when they are ready to move to the next level). My PPA teacher does a whole day for me. I teach in a special school for ASD pupils and they quickly become used to the fact that on MON/TUES/WEDS/THURS P is their teacher (that's me) and on FRI S is their teacher. It works very well for us.

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