Mystery teacher: ‘There are draconian cuts to teaching staff and a lot of redundancies’

Children at work in a classroom. Picture: Archant Library

Children at work in a classroom. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

A retiring teacher has shared their thoughts after 40 years in the classroom, in the first of our Mystery Teacher columns.

'A lot has changed in teaching since I started almost four decades ago – at that point it was still blackboard and chalk.

'Apart from that – and trying to keep up with the changing technology – it has changed massively. The role has become data driven, with relentless marking and assessments, so much management and a target based approach.

'We're asked to set pupils aspirational targets, and the onus is often on the teacher to make sure they achieve it.

'Though I was already near retirement age, I've now chosen to go earlier for a variety of reasons.


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'One, for example, was physical – I have a lot of back problems because of the hours spent marking – while another was stress levels, which have grown over the years.

'Teaching is relentless – looking back over the years there's been no social and work life balance, even the weekends are spent marking and a teacher is never finished.

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'While we've been aware of the funding issues for the last few years, it's been the last year that it really kicked in.

'It's been a stressful time - there are draconian cuts to teaching staff and a lot of redundancies, and while support staff have been hit recently, it will be teachers next.

'I was starting to become aware that I would be facing larger classes and little in the way of class support, and it made the decision to leave slightly easier.

'Teaching is becoming more and more of a performance-related job. There's an awful lot of pressure to meet targets and I do think that, to some extent, is narrows the focus of what we are doing.

'Having said that, while I won't miss the hours and hours of marking, the assessments or the targets, I will dreadfully miss my students and my colleagues.

'I had the most amazingly supportive, enthusiastic and professional colleagues to work alongside – and I couldn't have done the job for so long without their support.

'I'll miss teaching my subject and being in front of the class – as a teacher, you love your subject and you want to convey that to pupils.

'There's plenty of it that I'll be looking forward to waving farewell to, but not the students.'

• If you work in a school and would like to write for this column, email mystery.teacher@archant.co.uk

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