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AIBU?

Not enough teachers are leaving

216 replies

sharptoothlemonshark · 23/01/2024 17:29

Listening (again) to teacher friends (again) and school children (again).

Anarchy in the classroom, shouting, swearing, children walking out and running around the school, back breaking workload, constant, contradictory criticism, abuse from parents ( and from managers - many of whom are not teachers) no resources, children destroying the resources that do exist, heating / lighting/ IT continually failing, marking too heavy to carry...constant pressure to "achieve" results that are not in any way under your control, low pay, children who want to learn being denied the opportunity to......

Surely these conditions would not exist if teachers didn't collude with keeping them in existence - not all schools are like this. Why don't teachers simply refuse to go along with it? The children that are stuck in schools like this are not being given a fair chance in life, even the really naughty ones are only children, and deserve to be in a system where they can be disciplined and trained, and educated.

I know its hard when you are working 80 hours a week and have no time to think about it, and when you have a mortgage to pay. I've been there. But with hindsight, I should have simply refused to put up with it, long before I did.

More teachers should leave!

OP posts:
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Am I being unreasonable?

587 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
57%
You are NOT being unreasonable
43%
LambriniBobinIsleworth · 24/01/2024 01:04

TotHappy · 23/01/2024 20:24

I feel there should be more the unions could do.
Each burnt out teacher moving schools is too hard, but collectively, it feels as though we should be able to demand more.

I left 7 years ago, after 5 years in the classroom. It was bad then but unions were weak and turnout in union issues very low. Scabs were the worst- I hated fellow teachers telling me, when the union had voted for strike action, that they wouldn't be striking because 'its the kids who suffer '. GET OUT OF THE UNION THEN! If you're not prepared to stand with us, don't pretend! As if we're not all striking for the kids, and the whole future of the sector. As if one of your chemistry practicals stands between these children and an empty future. I don't think so, Mr Glassman.

Scabs can get to fuck.

When we had the rolling strikes last year there were so many people at both mine and DHs school saying they wouldn't strike because "it's the kids that suffer". Hugely insulting to those of us who did withdraw our labour (as well as many, many thousands who also went on marches and picketed schools) because clearly doing those things showed that we didn't care about the kids suffering. There were also a few comments about how it didn't "feel right" to strike over pay*, when this government have made it very hard to take industrial action over anything but pay. Also, the attitude that the education system is somehow the charity sector in this country and that it's unseemly to want to be paid fairly for the job we do and to strike over shitty wages (that haven't risen with inflation and the cost of living and which mean that I'm worse off now, pound for pound, than I was as an NQT in 2008) is a whole other fucking candle for a whole other fucking cake.

To be honest I think that the truth was more that the scabs didn't want to lose the money for the strike days*. Now I'm not underestimating that; as DH and I are both teachers we lost double pay each and every time there was a strike last year (meaning we lost 16 days pay in total, which I conservatively estimated was about a £6k loss to our household in 2023) and yes, people's mortgages have gone up massively and food costs more and all sorts of totally valid reasons for not wanting to lose a days pay several times over a period of just a few months. However when the chat with the scabs would then inevitably move onto lost wages, and you'd mention the unions hardship funds, the scabs would say something along the lines of "oh no, I couldn't apply for that, I don't want to take it from someone who really needs it". And if you then said "oh okay, so you don't need the money you'd lose from the strike day, you're just coming in to help the students... that's really noble of you. Here are all the details of how you can donate that day's pay you don't need to the various union's hardship funds" whilst handing them a flyer with the particulars of the schemes, you'd just get a nervous laugh and they'd quickly change the subject. Also, as someone who picketed every strike last year at either mine or DH's school, it was quite astonishing how many (ie almost 100%) of the scabs I encountered chose not to cross the picket line at the main school entrances, but instead scuttle in through little side entrances or propped-open fire doors that aren't the customary way to enter the building. Almost like they weren't proud of going in and standing up for the kids, but embarrassed about being confronted with a load of their colleagues waving placards and waving union flags, reminding them that they were doing the morally dubious thing.

Sorry, that turned into a bit of a rant. But TL;DR is basically: teachers who take industrial action care just as much about the children we teach as those who don't exercise that right. And whilst nobody should be forced to strike (and you could easily join a non-striking union or just not be in one**) if you're choosing not to, be upfront about your motivations and don't claim it's because you just gosh-darned care about those kids so damn much, it demeans us both. You care about the kids you teach and I care about the kids I teach: that's a given, that's why we do the fucking job.

*although, of course, now it's been won by all those strikes, they're quite happy to take the pay rise.

**what's that? You want the protection a union affords? Probably join in with at least some of the fucking strikes then!

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Palindrone · 24/01/2024 01:23

My DH is a teacher in an inner-city school where they spend more time dealing with behavioral and safeguarding issues than delivering the curriculum. He's been there 12 years and during that time they've had a complete turnover of staff, the majority leaving due to burnout.

He sticks at it because despite the poor pay for hours worked, the pressure of intense scrutiny, and marking & planning dominating weekends, he feels he's truly making a difference in children's lives, many of whom don't have any other positive male role models. Plus he's thick-skinned and stubborn, so refuses to quit.

Several of his colleagues who left returned to teaching albeit in more salubrious catchments, after some time out. Working in call centres and the like didn't bring the same job satisfaction, despite the reduced intensity. Plus if you're employed outside the profession you're qualified in, the pay is considerably less, unless you're like my dad who took early retirement from his head teacher position and secured a lucrative role as an education consultant with his 40+ years experience.

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VashtaNerada · 24/01/2024 04:18

Those of us working in those types of schools deserve a bloody medal, not criticism!
I work in a primary school with horrendous behaviour from some children and it’s worth saying that there is a 100% correlation in my class between violent / extreme behaviour and either SEND or serious social issues at home. For me, it’s not a crisis about behaviour per se (I am perfectly capable of dealing with simple naughtiness) but a crisis of rising SEN and social crises in my local area.
Not all children with SEND misbehave of course, but it can be a much more complicated situation than simply telling a child “no”.

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GnomeDePlume · 24/01/2024 08:34

HarlaEB · 23/01/2024 18:25

I'm going to turn it back.

Why are parents not campaigning and complaining? Why do they accept poor education provision for their children?

Come on, stand up, complain, protest, vote differently. This is your precious child and their education.

As a parent, my experience was that we were shut out from school.

I was a governor at DCs' primary school. Governing body was largely ignored, and I felt, lied to.

At secondary school we had all the latest fads in education. The school was in and out of special measures. We had more Heads than years we were involved with the school including an extended period with no Head at all.

We had the Head who brought in a 'smart' uniform then lead a black polyester clad charge to the very bottom of the school leagues tables. This was caused by incredible levels of SLT incompetence resulting in almost all Y11 students not getting a full English GCSE.

The school got cackademised. We had the PE teacher Head: lots of pointless rules. The Academy Trust failed so the school got thrown back to the state.

How much of this was properly communicated to parents? Sweet FA. We only found out about problems at the annual parents' evening. Then you get 5 minutes to discuss any issues but only on a subject by subject basis.

We did by chance get a very short meeting with the 'smart' uniform Head (discussing post GCSE options). I pointed out to him that the English GCSE fiasco was a failure of his leadership. He had nothing useful to say.

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Madsciencecovid2020 · 24/01/2024 18:04

I can into teaching after working as a biomedical scientist and an industrial chemist! I have taught for 23 years in comprehensives , grammar schools and a top independent school. It is tough in all school types and I stay because I love teaching science!! I love making a difference and seeing that light bulb moment.
Yes I work long hours and yes I do spend my own money on resources , Stationary etc ( even in a private school I purchased resources!) but if it makes my lesson more exciting or if it supports a child I will do it. I get paid well but I have a policy of I do not work on a Friday or Saturday evening at all and I refuse to work during school holidays except for the last night before term starts.
I have been threatened, had 18 months of intimidation from one family and have been called every name under the sun!! I still smile, get up and go in every day to make that difference. There are lots of kids in the system struggling from families that are also struggling and at times the system fails. Most schools have supply teachers - some of which are bloody useless!! I rarely get my timetabled planning time as I regularly have to support supply or other teachers in dept but I do It!! I have seen my own children go through the system with varying success including my youngest who was failed by his primary school. I understand the kids and try to support them - for some of them the fact they are even turning up in the classroom every day is a huge achievement given their lives! If as child swears or abuses me I know its not personal- it is the child's response to their stress at that moment in time. They are swearing at me because at that moment in time they are not coping!
I also support the placement trainee teachers as their subject specialist mentor in school! So that's more planning time gone! The new teachers entering the system have completed degrees via teams video during covid , have no life experience or practical skills and are offended by way too much!! The reason they struggle to teach is they do not take on board advice and guidance and struggle with time management. They stay up for hours planning lessons etc and need to works smarter. Those that balance the workload from the start flourish . Teaching is hard and I understand why people leave but I am staying! I have more job satisfaction and every day is different

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DrFosterWentToGloucester23 · 24/01/2024 18:09

@HarlaEB
I’m a teacher and that’s what I do every evening! This week has been mock marking, parents evening, data entry, meeting with Senco about a girl in my year group, plus usual parent phone calls and general planning…

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Daisyb1080 · 24/01/2024 18:10

I am currently following a teaching group in which teachers are desperate to leave but many feel trapped by their pay, they would have to take a pay cut just to start somewhere new. For some of them teaching is all they know so are worried about making the move but one thing is for sure teachers have had enough and to be honest with the attitude of most people towards them and the clear feelings about how rubbish they are, most teachers don’t feel valued. To be honest I don’t blame them and then what will happen to education?

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Coffeemaniac · 24/01/2024 18:23

I’m a teacher and each school I have supplied at have a different culture to the next. One thing that they all have in common is children are incredibly anxious and that makes them ”kick off”, school leaders then try and put plans in place for each child and end up overwhelming the teaching staff. School leaders SLT are either very young and unexperienced or mature and out of touch with classroom teaching. It’s a complete mess and I’m glad after 20 years to just supply and not have to have a contract in one of these places.

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Caffeineislife · 24/01/2024 18:26

I have a couple of friends in schools like you describe OP.

They are stuck, they have huge mortgages, childcare to pay (both have 2 preschool children), cars to pay off and Cost of Living has gone up. They have both got a good arrangements with their schools (3 days) that fits with the days their childminders/ nurseries can offer. Both have elderly, unwell or far away grandparents who are unable to help with childcare. One has a partner who works 12 hour days and the other's partner works for the NHS on shift.

To find something 3 days for the same pay is like hens teeth round us. Even moving schools is hard as most schools want a full time member of staff. Both are counting down the years until the kids are in full time school with access to wrap around and holiday clubs. One only has this year to do.

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Dacadactyl · 24/01/2024 18:32

I'd like to know why some state schools are fantastic and are able to exclude kids who behave badly, whereas others i know make the teachers put up with racist abuse?!

I mean in a school I know, the racist child would've been excluded for a week (if not expelled), but in the school he is at, he just got moved to another class. Totally unacceptable.

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MigGirl · 24/01/2024 18:37

sharptoothlemonshark · 23/01/2024 17:42

That is what I said, not all schools are like this. But far too many are. Teachers should be refusing to work there, and walking out.

Edited

Teachers are though, we have quite a few staff vaccines and 2 of our cover teachers just left as the conditions are to difficult. I don't blame them I wouldn't want to be in a classroom right now either.

Due to general teacher shortages it's easy for these members of staff to find jobs in better schools.
It's making it more difficult for the school to get a handle on things though. As it's hard to improve a school when you don't have a good consistent teaching staff.

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MalcolmsMiddle · 24/01/2024 19:06

I agree to some extent with the sentiment, I posted on another thread last night about how much more hours (mainly meetings!) the staff at one of the schools in the trust I work for do.

But

I think some teachers are painted into a corner financially so can't leave. Once you move off that bottom rung you can be into the high £30k's and picking up something like arranging cover, organising the trips or looking after the ECT's and arranging mentoring for them you can be into the £40k's by your early 30's. Whilst they're great at what they do, no chance they could leave teaching if that's been their sole career and walk into a similar salaried job. I think thats why there's a lot of ECT's leaving. They get both shitty ends of the stick re workload and salary, plus all the conditions you've mentioned.

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Combattingthemoaners · 24/01/2024 19:14

Madsciencecovid2020 · 24/01/2024 18:04

I can into teaching after working as a biomedical scientist and an industrial chemist! I have taught for 23 years in comprehensives , grammar schools and a top independent school. It is tough in all school types and I stay because I love teaching science!! I love making a difference and seeing that light bulb moment.
Yes I work long hours and yes I do spend my own money on resources , Stationary etc ( even in a private school I purchased resources!) but if it makes my lesson more exciting or if it supports a child I will do it. I get paid well but I have a policy of I do not work on a Friday or Saturday evening at all and I refuse to work during school holidays except for the last night before term starts.
I have been threatened, had 18 months of intimidation from one family and have been called every name under the sun!! I still smile, get up and go in every day to make that difference. There are lots of kids in the system struggling from families that are also struggling and at times the system fails. Most schools have supply teachers - some of which are bloody useless!! I rarely get my timetabled planning time as I regularly have to support supply or other teachers in dept but I do It!! I have seen my own children go through the system with varying success including my youngest who was failed by his primary school. I understand the kids and try to support them - for some of them the fact they are even turning up in the classroom every day is a huge achievement given their lives! If as child swears or abuses me I know its not personal- it is the child's response to their stress at that moment in time. They are swearing at me because at that moment in time they are not coping!
I also support the placement trainee teachers as their subject specialist mentor in school! So that's more planning time gone! The new teachers entering the system have completed degrees via teams video during covid , have no life experience or practical skills and are offended by way too much!! The reason they struggle to teach is they do not take on board advice and guidance and struggle with time management. They stay up for hours planning lessons etc and need to works smarter. Those that balance the workload from the start flourish . Teaching is hard and I understand why people leave but I am staying! I have more job satisfaction and every day is different

You sound like a saint! Fair play to you.

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60PercentClub · 24/01/2024 19:25

I think a lot ARE leaving. I work in a field completely unrelated to education and 3 out of our last 10 new recruits have been ex-teachers, absolutely unheard of a few years ago. They've tended to come in at lower grades, so I imagine are taking a pay cut to be here as well.

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HarlaEB · 24/01/2024 19:39

GnomeDePlume · 24/01/2024 08:34

As a parent, my experience was that we were shut out from school.

I was a governor at DCs' primary school. Governing body was largely ignored, and I felt, lied to.

At secondary school we had all the latest fads in education. The school was in and out of special measures. We had more Heads than years we were involved with the school including an extended period with no Head at all.

We had the Head who brought in a 'smart' uniform then lead a black polyester clad charge to the very bottom of the school leagues tables. This was caused by incredible levels of SLT incompetence resulting in almost all Y11 students not getting a full English GCSE.

The school got cackademised. We had the PE teacher Head: lots of pointless rules. The Academy Trust failed so the school got thrown back to the state.

How much of this was properly communicated to parents? Sweet FA. We only found out about problems at the annual parents' evening. Then you get 5 minutes to discuss any issues but only on a subject by subject basis.

We did by chance get a very short meeting with the 'smart' uniform Head (discussing post GCSE options). I pointed out to him that the English GCSE fiasco was a failure of his leadership. He had nothing useful to say.

And you complained to who?…( your MP, your local councillor, the trust board, the Regional Schools Commissioner…)

You protested where?

Or as a large group of parents you just accepted it?

I think that was my point, as very large group in this country, parents can demand more for their children. Education and the services supporting children and families are just not acceptable under this government.

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HarlaEB · 24/01/2024 19:46

DrFosterWentToGloucester23 · 24/01/2024 18:09

@HarlaEB
I’m a teacher and that’s what I do every evening! This week has been mock marking, parents evening, data entry, meeting with Senco about a girl in my year group, plus usual parent phone calls and general planning…

And my ‘every evening’ too!

I’m not sure why that upsets you. The point is as a headteacher there is a role to carry out, full-time, a job description to meet, targets and standards to achieve. I am responsible and accountable, the buck absolutely stops with me.

It is a fulltime job ( which is why legally schools cannot have a part time head) yet in addition, I am doing a teaching job too.

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bellocchild · 24/01/2024 19:48

It would help if there was a way to make pupils realise they are destroying their own future, but there isn't. Also, so many kids genuinely have special needs but there is no separate provision for them. They need appropriate learning environments, not to play up in frustration and wreck mainstream lessons. I left secondary school teaching because of behaviour.

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Hagpie · 24/01/2024 19:59

I’m not a teacher just a (gentle) parent. What do we do to support you?

My kid’s school is phenomenal and my children love their teachers. However, I get the feeling they are trying to put on a little facade like everything is fine, when it’s not fine. They didn’t strike but they can’t fill several spots and there have been quite a few teacher swaps.

Honestly what can I do right now?

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LunaBear26 · 24/01/2024 20:05

Some of things OP mentions unfortunately happen at the school I work in. It wasn't like the 7 years ago when I started! Staff aren't listened to and if I just refused to do things, I'd be disciplined and eventually fired. I'm the main earner in the household and wish I could leave really (or ar least have the option!) but I can't. Bills still need to be paid!

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Startyabastard · 24/01/2024 20:24

VickyEadieofThigh · 23/01/2024 17:31

I suspect their need to pay their bills has something to do with it.

THIS!!!
Nothing is ever black and white.
Maybe they don't know how to work in another profession without a significant wage drop.
Some of them, I suspect, are toughing it out until they can afford to retire.
The behaviour of pupils is abysmal and I heard about a teacher recently who is being spat at and having chairs thrown at her at primary school level!!

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PastTheGin · 24/01/2024 20:31

Hagpie · 24/01/2024 19:59

I’m not a teacher just a (gentle) parent. What do we do to support you?

My kid’s school is phenomenal and my children love their teachers. However, I get the feeling they are trying to put on a little facade like everything is fine, when it’s not fine. They didn’t strike but they can’t fill several spots and there have been quite a few teacher swaps.

Honestly what can I do right now?

@Hagpie The best thing you can do is parent your child. You would not believe what difference it would make if more parents would simply parent a bit.
The second best thing you can do is tell teachers if they are doing a good job. Every teacher I know has a “bad day” folder with cards and emails from pupils and parents to remind them why they are doing the job. If you want to be extra helpful copy in the head teacher.
Thanks for caring.

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NeedToChangeName · 24/01/2024 20:46

MondieBee · 23/01/2024 20:07

Having to enforce a multitude of new, ridiculous rules must have an impact on the ability of teachers to do their jobs? Policing whether or not kids are wearing their blazers on the field on a warm day, chasing up detentions for any and all tiny infringements must be exhausting and distracting. I think this kind of thing is what parents are railing against, not so much ending nappies or dummies, which is more neglect/poor parenting and probably follows sure start centres closing.

The hyperbole around teachers jobs also does nothing for parents sympathy. It seems unlikely most or even many regular teachers are regularly working 80 hours a week. That'd be 16 hours a day over 5 days, 13.3 hours a day over 6 days or 11.4 hours a day over 7 days. Are you telling me there's teachers getting to school at 7am, leaving at 6pm with no break, and then working at home a further 5 hours, say 9pm to 2am, five days a week, every week? Or working 3 hours every evening, seven days a week and then just under 12 hours 5 days a week? There might be the odd day like that but not continually, or certainly not a single teacher I know.

The narrative that teachers have literally the hardest job in the world does nothing to increase respect. Every parent who is a social worker, police officer, nurse, healthcare assistant, soldier, etc just rolls their eyes internally - many of us have it tough at work.

Agree with @MondieBee I don't believe that teachers are routinely working 80 hrs per week, and many people work hard

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Jogreen · 24/01/2024 20:46

I’ve just finished parents evening and I got more support from the parents of the kids who are misbehaving, than I do off the school!

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Kerensa70 · 24/01/2024 20:52

I’m sorry that’s your experience but it definitely isn’t in the state school I work.

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Boomarang · 24/01/2024 21:01

HeddaGarbled · 23/01/2024 19:31

The conditions that you describe are not universal.

I’m always sceptical of those media reports that go something like: “80% of teachers/doctors/police officers/underwater-basket-weavers are planning to leave the profession”. They don’t, or not in those sort of proportions.

What they do is look for similar jobs in nicer workplaces.

If you ever wonder why you can’t get a GP appointment for 2 weeks, or begrudge seeing a nurse/ physio/ paramedic because you can’t get a GP… or are victim to a crime and wait 3 weeks to be issued an investigating officer, or send your child to a school in a less ‘desirable’ catchment and moan about the class numbers… you are literally seeing the direct result of the exodus. Retention is appalling.

Whatever the media reported numbers are re people ‘wanting to leave’, we can’t doubt more people are leaving that joining these thankless public services… at a time when demand is sky rocketing (another thread entirely).

Putting your fingers in your ears saying it’s not true because you haven’t personally been impacted by it is, in my opinion, wilful ignorance. Our public services are eroding due to conditions in the public sector and pretending it isn’t happening isn’t the way to go.

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