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Roland Martin - Issue #8

The teaching crisis ... a reflection on the year's coverage of recruiting, training, retaining the be

Roland Martin

January 26 · Issue #9 · View online
Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

The teaching crisis … a reflection on the year’s coverage of recruiting, training, retaining the best teachers.

A fortnight ago, I was fortunate to be included on the guest-list at an Education Recruitment and Retention Event in Parliament, hosted by the charity, The Education Support Partnership, the only UK charity offering support to everyone working in schools.
  • “We believe everyone working in education deserves to feel at their best so we’re dedicated to helping organisations and their staff to boost health, happiness and wellbeing through individual support and great management.”
Seems more than reasonable; I believe the same. But why then, does it seem that this is too much to ask, to the extent that we need a charity supporting teachers?
There is a shortage, not only of graduates entering the profession, but also of trained professionals sticking with it. There are too many skilled and excellent teachers leaving teaching, nationwide. 
UKed magazine has recently published an interesting visual infographic on what it sees as the problems.
UKEd Magazine on Twitter: "10 Reasons for the teacher recruitment/retention crisis. Read: [Leader page 12] #ukedchat"
The crisis hit national headlines just short of a year ago: an open letter was sent to The Independent detailing why so many are quitting. Here’s a variety of newspapers’ thoughts on the issue since then. It’s not new news, but it’s still current.
First up, The Guardian covering Mary Bousted’s rousing speech to the ATL conference last year - the teaching union to which many independent teachers align themselves:
Four in 10 new teachers quit within a year | Education | The Guardian
Next, coverage of the open letter sent to The Independent last year, with a tidy ending, the letter quoted in full, with its closing remark: ‘Teachers love to teach. Give them the autonomy, freedom and support to do so.’
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable' | Education News | News | The Independent
The Telegraph presents a number of statistics, based on a 2015 survey of 3,500 members of the NASUWT teachers’ union, which revealed that stress and poor mental health were very live issues. “76 per cent of teachers said they are ‘seriously considering’ leaving their job in the last year, compared to 69 per cent in 2014. Separately, 68 per cent said they considered leaving the profession entirely”. There are more, unnerving  percentages towards the end of the article …
'Stress pushing teachers to leave profession,' figures show - Telegraph
More recently, some high profile personalities have been adding their name to a petition to Nicky Morgan to sort out the workload for teachers. It’s certainly getting noticed.
Literary stars horrified by 'tears in the staffroom' join campaign to cut teacher workload | News
The following from the ESP - starting with The Guardian’s take that there is a ‘perfect storm’ of 'teacher shortage and pupil surge’ making us sit up and think - might illuminate further why we - leadership teams in schools;  Ofsted; the Department for Education; the Government - need to work harder for the sake of our teaching population, primarily because this is the best thing for the young people in our care:
Solving the recruitment and retention crisis in teaching - YouTube
It’s always been a draining profession at the start of one’s career, but hopefully a vehemently rewarding one too. In my first year of teaching, I do recall feeling quite overwhelmed at the end of a particularly trying lesson with a year 9 group. Girls, incidentally. They took me to pieces. I remember having to steel myself to get back into the classroom. I’m fiercely glad that I did. 
The ESP has recently garnered more press coverage - the following explains just why it can be such a necessary refuge for teachers - a Samaritans for staff - not so much a hotline bling, but rather a lifeline for when school ‘got [you] stressed out’ and you truly need someone to call on your cellphone. 
Inside the 'Samaritans for teachers' hotline that shows just how stressful the classroom can be | Education News | News | The Independent
Rather than simply paraphrase the discussions at last week’s event from my point of view, it’s probably better to post a link to the charity’s video of the evening:
Education Recruitment and Retention Parliamentary Event 12 Jan 2016 - YouTube
So what’s to be done?
I can report from the frontline that there is hope. I’ve been well aware of ESP’s #notquittingteaching posts on twitter this week. I used it myself, and was very proud to be able to do so in a positive light.
Roland Martin on Twitter: "Have seen not 1 but 2 NQTs absolutely nail respective lessons and engage learners today: a great feeling for any Head. #NotQuittingTeaching"
We all ‘get’ this: 'Teachers love to teach. Give them the autonomy, freedom and support to do so.’ On Friday I was delighted by the lessons which I saw from two NQTs in my school. In one respect they could not have been more different - a Physics lesson and a German lesson - but both were delivered with passion (love) and flair (autonomy). For now, I’m breathing a sigh of relief personally that I work and recruit in a part of the country where there is still some competition for teaching jobs.  But there are subjects in which it is difficult to recruit whatever the geographical area and whichever the sector. 

I sincerely hope that the problem recruiting and retaining excellent colleagues across Britain, and across sectors, is solved: a generation of children need this matter to be a priority.

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