I am the eldest daughter of a teacher. She didn’t want to be anything else. She worked hard. She grafted and she finally made it. She is regularly graded as ‘Outstanding’, the children in her class always adore her, the parents often tell her and the Headteacher that they want her to teach their children in the next school year and her work ethic is well-respected by her colleagues.
This doesn’t mean to say she is perfect. She isn’t. She struggles day in and day out with lots of health problems. She is completely wiped out by the end of the day. No she doesn’t leave work as soon as the children are out. She often gets home after I do and I usually won’t leave work until 6pm. She brings her work home with her and works weekends. Tired as she is, she will sit with her laptop and work for hours on end. It doesn’t leave her much downtime at all. On the rare weekends (two this year) she doesn’t have to bring any work home she feels guilty about it and is restless. She has experienced some conflict with her colleagues that she has done her best to resolve. Sometimes parents will dislike her for whatever reason. She remains professional and continues to ask her pupils to work hard regardless.
Being a teacher is one of the hardest jobs out there. It’s not just about teaching, and even that isn’t easy. You have to deal with the children’s family lives, their emotional development, their physical development, their overall learning both academic and moral, taking into account how they learn, the unbelievable amount of paperwork, I could go on. There is also the impossible data and rules and regulations from the government that teachers must go by. These targets and constant changes to the curriculum and expectations are difficult to navigate. They cause stress to pupils and to teachers. So it really isn’t surprising to me that we are seeing such a high percentage of teachers leaving the profession altogether. There is very little structure and everything is about numbers. It doesn’t leave any room for pupils who have special circumstances. No one child is the same. To the government they are just a number on a piece of paper. To a teacher who genuinely cares they are the difference between that child becoming a success or not. To getting a good job and contributing to our society or to doing nothing with their lives.
The Warrior thinks she is a terrible teacher sometimes. She will look at her data and think that she has failed her class. She loves these pupils. They are sweet, funny, kind and hardworking. They also drive her crazy some days but I know she wouldn’t change it for the world. She can’t go a week without having at least one child asking to stay in at lunchtime with her so they can finish their classwork or putting one of these children on her lap and rocking them as they cry into her neck. It breaks her heart when this happens and she takes their pain home with her and worries about their happiness long after they have forgotten about what it was that made them cry in the first place. They tell her they love her. They call her their friend. They call her beautiful and draw her pictures, which she displays near her desk. She is beautiful to them, even when they are in trouble, because they trust her with their feelings. She shows them kindness and safety.
My sister will be a trainee in September. She has always wanted to follow in The Warrior’s footsteps. But it is now more than that. She has been working as a Teaching Assistant since the beginning of the year. There are teachers in some schools who are literally the worst teachers in London. Their incompetence is shocking and the management of some schools is such that they are able to get away without being observed at all, data is never questioned and some even stretch to bullying children. It angers her that this is allowed to happen and she doesn’t want to be the kind of teacher that fails children, makes them feel stupid or unwanted.
The point is that there are good teachers, there are bad teachers, there are truly amazing teachers and there absolutely horrendous teachers in our education system. Nicky Morgan has failed to work with the actual professionals who know what they are doing and what needs to be done to make it so that we have more good teachers staying in education and bad teachers not being allowed to continue on. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for her to understand that retaining and attracting the best teachers gets you pupils who have had a good education. They are the future of our workforce, our economy and they have a right to a good education. It’s not rocket science. It’s not about data or ticking a box. It’s about rolling up your sleeves, opening your eyes and ears and admitting that what you have done so far isn’t working and asking those who know better than you what needs to be done to fix this.
She won’t do this though because she doesn’t want to admit she is wrong. She continues to let down millions of children each day because of it. She doesn’t care. Her pride is worth more to her than actually making a difference. I personally would love to know why Nicky Morgan wanted to go into politics in the first place. I don’t understand how our political system allows for someone to hold a post of such importance when they are neither qualified nor good at their job. If many of us outside of government were to be as bad at our jobs as Nicky Morgan we would surely get the sack.
But then, it’s only children who are the most helpless members of our society, that she is ruining. What does anyone in government care about them anyway? They can’t speak for themselves and teachers who strike to be heard are still ignored.
I guess keeping the good education for those that can afford it is more important than advocating for those who deserve it just as much but cannot afford it. Another tick in the box for the haves. Clearly that is what Nicky Morgan wants so in that respect she has done a marvellous job.