Teacher Retention | @JulesDaulby

unknownJules Daulby is an advisory teacher for SENSS (SEN Specialist Service) in Dorset. Originally a Secondary English and Drama teacher, she has also taught in Further Education, Higher Education and for Parent Partnership.

I wasn’t sure what to write for Labour teachers this week so I asked Old Andrew and he suggested teacher retention.

In some ways I’m not the best person to write about this as at 46, I’m still teaching. My husband however, the most brilliant English teacher, left teaching 15 years ago. He had a terrible experience and never went back. When we returned from The Falkland Islands, I was 6 months pregnant and he had found a short term contract to cover a long term illness. The job was awful and he had no support from his managers. Jonny came home at lunchtime one day announcing he’d left and he never looked back. Supply teaching in the wrong secondary school could put anyone off teaching for life.

So why am I still in it? Partly I’ve been lucky – I missed brain gym and VAK but I’ve also missed book scrutiny, learning walks and triple marking.  I have never had to show my weekly lessons plans to a line manager or been told to teach in a particular way. I’ve had great bosses and, when I haven’t, I’ve left before it got ugly.

I’m now teaching students with speech and language difficulties in a mainstream setting. This gives me far more freedom than many teachers are afforded. Yesterday I went to the local college with some of my students and made reindeers in the carpentry workshop. A mistresspiece I’m sure you’ll agree.

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I feel privileged in my current job and sometimes a little guilty as I know so many unhappy teachers. Teacher retention is quite simple if the following list exists:

  • Autonomy;
  • Trust;
  • Non-Teaching time;
  • Support, not scrutiny;
  • A decent salary.

I get all of these so I’m happy – mark the ones you don’t get and if there are more crosses than ticks you’ll leave – I guarantee it.

I do blame the government; the obsession with getting schools to prove they do a good job has created, for some, a miserable existence of data and number crunching. I believe it is the ‘requires improvement’ schools who suffer the most – when you work in an outstanding school you’re pretty much left alone. The government need to realise that in their drive to raise standards they’re driving teachers out. The standards, in my opinion were/are fine if you have an effective head and happy teachers.

I adore teaching and like most teachers I know, despite the long hours and exhaustion by the end of term, we do it because we love getting kids to learn.

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