I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve got a little bit of a teacher recruitment and retention crisis on our hands. When you listen to everyone from the Secretary of State, to ITT providers, to NQTs, to long-serving teachers, there are as many causes to this crisis as people willing to offer their opinion. Generally I pin it down to fewer graduates in the system due to the tuition fee hike, the lowering reputation of the profession, and sheer exhaustion caused by workload, changing goalposts and football-manager-type accountability.
Being a headteacher, I am often one of the last people to notice anything changing in the education landscape but even I have noticed this crisis. Therefore, I assume other headteachers and senior leaders have too and would be trying to reduce the impact of the crisis on their school.
So why am I hearing such awful accounts of how people are being treated in schools – and I do include some headteachers and senior leaders in this as well as teachers, TAs, support staff and student teachers. How does ANY of the following make staff feel valued, secure, positive and willing to stay? When the relationship between staff and their line managers are so crucial to success, are some out to make that relationship more akin to upstairs/downstairs at Downton Abbey? Why would tired, miserable, cowed staff work harder for children?
I hope these things are uncommon (and I know many people don’t moan about lovely things) but recently I have heard about…
- An NQT locked in staffroom so the deputy headteacher could shout in her face about missing a deadline;
- An Experienced teacher shouted at in his classroom full of children about sitting on his desk, not a chair;
- An experienced leader reduced to tears by her line manager because she’d filled out a form properly;
- Triple marking;
- A female teacher being told she didn’t get short listed for a promotion because the head thought she’d be having babies soon;
- A teacher being told he couldn’t be covered so he couldn’t go home when he felt ill – turns out he was having a heart attack;
- A brilliant headteacher called to a meeting with governors and effectively sacked and put on gardening leave despite no discipline issue and improving results.
I wouldn’t want to stay either.