Knocking on fifty and too expensive……where are all our talented, experienced teachers?

Knocking on fifty and too expensive……where are all our talented, experienced teachers? For me………it’s back to the classroom.

So finally the government in its recent new launch has finally admitted that there is both a teacher retention and recruitment problem.  Their solution is not going to help. Focusing on recruitment at the expense of retention will not provide us with enough teachers for the 10% increase in secondary pupils coming through the doors in the next few years. Yet again, the government does not have a firm grasp of the issues at the chalk face.

So what is going on at the chalk face with staffing?  Well we know the following is happening across the system:

  • Heads and CEOS are complaining about not having enough funding for staffing but at the same time a significant number are awarding themselves huge salary and pension pots.  The moral compass gone.
  • More and more students are having unqualified teachers teach them key subjects or endless supply.
  • Young teachers after 2-3 years are leaving the profession  in droves
  • Older teachers on UPS3  and experienced leaders are being pushed out for those younger, cheaper teachers who then leave after a few years
  • Mental health issues amongst teaching staff are at record high levels with absenteeism at record levels
  • School leaders under enormous pressure and football manager  revolving door mentality now exists in the profession.
  • Staff live for the next Ofsted inspection or framework with the pressure always there to have incremental, yearly improvements no matter your baseline.
  • In  secondary context, we are now in the busiest time of year with extra classes popping up here there and everywhere for year 11. Some call these extra classes the revision cafe??? Teachers are simply too knackered to do their jobs effectively.

Schools are under the most intense pressure I can ever remember in my 27 years of teaching.  As I approach half a century, I know that my experience does not count for much for some schools. The rejection letters, polite as they are  tell a story that you are too expensive. Just recently, I was told I didn’t have the right secondary experience?  27 years too much? Having been a secondary and special school Headteacher for six years, I am now embarking shortly on a professional goal- to be a primary teacher – a  teacher that shapes lives, develops skills, knowledge and understanding. A teacher that will have fun with young minds and propel them forward in their learning. That’s how imagined teaching 27 years ago when I started.  The language for teaching has been lost to spreadsheets, data and targets. I am hoping in the next 5 months in my new fixed term role to make a difference to children’s lives.  After that, I have exciting plans  to develop as a teacher and leader  but more about that nearer the time.  Next month I will be fifty years old and pleased to be doing the job I love –  transforming life chances with children through teaching and being at the chalk-face.  Children deserve the best teachers and I will do my utmost with this enormous responsibility. This is why I chose this career nearly 3 decade ago.


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