COLUMN: Teaching is as hard now as I've ever known it

A little while ago, a video of 22-year-old newly qualified teacher announcing that he was quitting the profession went viral.

Friday, 5th January 2018, 4:41 pm
Updated Friday, 5th January 2018, 4:45 pm

He said he‘d been worn down by long hours and unrealistic expectations, but was still labelled by some as a member of the snowflake generation – the spoiled young people lacking backbone when the going gets tough.

Certainly, very many other professions are extremely hard work and I have in the past told unhappy staff to imagine life working down the pit.

But everything is relative and teaching is certainly as hard as I have ever known it.

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Twelve-hour days are the norm at our school and teachers are scrutinised by and answerable to everybody – the Government, Ofsted, parents, other staff and the students.

In the current climate, teachers are expected to resolve issues like cyber bullying, we provide services such as mental health care, the curriculum is forever changing and that’s not even including the classroom teaching which, while rewarding, is also challenging.

It is akin to somebody in a different profession giving an hour long presentation at their work in front of 30 people, some of whom won’t want to be there and who will seek to disrupt them. Yet engage them they must, and they have 22 of these presentations each week, as well as marking work and giving feedback on all of the above.

If this sounds like a whinge, then the statistics tell their own story.

Seasoned professionals are being blown out of the profession alongside the ‘snowflakes’ – 35,000 teachers quit for reasons other than retirement last year.

We do what we can to ease the burden on our teachers, but there is a growing crisis in teaching.

Yes, it’s their choice to stay or go, but the queue of people waiting to take their place is getting smaller, less qualified and less experienced.

If they were doctors at your local hospital, you’d be worried – but it’s going on in our schools, and the real casualties are the young people whose ambitions and prospects depend on getting a decent education to send them on their way.