Teacher recruitment was a political concern across the board in the most recent election. As a trainee myself, I wanted to share my views on what could change ahead of the next election in order to attract those who are less optimistic than me. The bottom line is: I just want to teach. Logic would say that -one way or another- something will give soon enough to make our education system improve (hopefully…).
As an avid daily reader of Twitter and blogs, too much of the rhetoric surrounding all areas of teaching tends to be negative. Whether it’s Gove, the new curriculum, new GCSE grades, “no excuses”, schools not being able to coast, free schools, teacher qualifications or not having the time to top up your stapler, the internet agrees that the political influence on every aspect of our classrooms is not working.
I do not pretend to be experienced enough about education holistically to be able to debate the intricacies of policies. However, I am an example of what many parties want to attract to the profession and retain: an enthusiastic graduate with a good degree and a desire to stay in teaching beyond 5 years. Here I am, nearing the end of my PGCE and halfway through Teach First’s Leadership and Development Programme. I am naturally a very optimistic person so I joined the profession to teach and genuinely believed I could do that without being bogged down with red tape and pessimism. For the past year, I have just about managed to dodge red tape and sift out the doom and gloom. However, now I am on the cusp of qualifying, I am looking towards taking on positions of responsibility in my school but am finding I am second guessing political policy to try and work out which route appeals to me, features less turbulence, is likely to stay with a defined direction for me to grasp and what qualifications I need in order to succeed. Therefore, I find myself tied up with red tape and developing into the pessimistic teachers I see all around me.
Surely that is not the future for our schools? Why can’t I just teach? Why do politicians rule schools from their offices and wonder why schools in disadvantaged areas struggle when they are the areas with minimal funding, maximum wider issues (EAL, behaviour, SEND, Pupil Premium etc) and are struggling to recruit? My vision is to help students. This is most likely to be the same vision as every reader of this blog. Therefore, the party which allows me to do that is the party I will support. Engrained pessimism, red tape, whizzy overhauls and cuts are not conducive to attracting good graduates away from the private sector. As soon as Parliament realises this, they will face a surge of new recruits and -hopefully- even a glimpse of optimism in the old dogs who have been holding our education system together for the past 30+ years.