Wednesday, 29 July 2015

On teachers and teaching

It is been controversially said that teachers are grossly underpaid as child minders, but grossly overpaid as educators. Food for thought?

Some of the most unpleasant people that I have encountered were secondary school teachers. I've worked in a factory, in a hospital, in banks, and for many years as a civil servant in the Home Office, Cabinet Office and Ministry of Justice, but when it comes to nasty individuals then secondary school teachers take the biscuit, the awards for unpleasantness and underhanded behaviour.

I studied at ULIE and gained a PGCE, but that did not prepare me for the teachers I met in staff rooms in secondary schools. What a cynical, mendacious, mean spirited bunch they were! I thought it would be a most noble profession, full of dedicated and vocationally minded folk. How wrong I was!

It came as no surprise to me that when I left teaching to return to the Home Office, there were more trained teachers outside the profession than in it.  Today many teachers are leaving in droves for a number of reasons.What a waste of talent and training. One of the factors I would humbly submit is the pressure of teachers to work long, exhausting and too often unrewarding hours for poor pay.
In terms of the hours worked the pay is pathetic. It's peanuts, and when you pay peanuts to good workers you get monkey business!

Some of the teachers in positions of responsibility for staff and career development are clearly not up to the job.  Some heads of department may have good classroom skills, but when it comes to staff management then they are often ill equipped and out of their depth. Some them may be able to handle kids, but they cannot handle their own staff. They fall and fail woefully. This can also apply to head teachers, who may have been, once upon a time, good class teachers, but when they are expected to be budgetary, staff and facilities managers they are well out of their comfort zones and they often struggle to do jobs that they are not suited to do.  Good teachers have been promoted out of the classroom and into desk jockey jobs as bureaucrats and bad bosses.

Every secondary school needs a good administrative system, but putting good teachers into it is not the answer. It just perpetuates the painful problem.

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