Having just survived the reign of the tyrannical Michael Gove, for teachers it may have seemed that the worst was over.
However, with an NUT survey revealing that over fifty per cent of teachers plan to leave their profession in the next two years, it seems that they are under no less stress than before.
The survey showed that of the 1,020 primary and secondary school teachers who were questioned, two thirds believed that morale had decreased in the past five years. These five years suspiciously coincide with the rule of the coalition government.
The Tory-led coalition appointed Michael Gove as Education Secretary for four of those years, leading to a tumultuous rollercoaster of ill-fitting changes to schools that were largely unpopular among those in the education sector.
The fact that education policy is written by those whose experience in schools consists of gurning for cameras means that real life issues are not taken into consideration.
Anyone can postulate on what they think makes a school succeed, but it is only those who face a classroom full of bored teenagers on a daily basis who are capable of deciding what works.
The infamous Gove started his career as a journalist before becoming an MP in 2005, leaving his CV bereft of any educational experience. Yet he went on to spend four years fundamentally altering the education system of the UK in a way that will undoubtedly damage the experiences of both children and teachers alike.
Gove’s successor Nicky Morgan had a career in law before becoming an MP, similarly missing out on important firsthand experience of working in schools.
Changes to GCSE and A-Level curriculums have meant that massive overhauls of teaching methods have had to be implemented in order to adapt to the new regime.
Often the changes do not seem to take into consideration the realities of teaching, and particularly with the new GCSE English syllabus, there appears to be no discernment in regards to ability and the needs of individual students. The changes are sure to prove difficult to manage in the classroom.
Teachers are also dogged by a certain stigma surrounding their careers. The announcement of teaching strikes is often met by complaints that they already have an easy job, and “aren’t the six weeks summer holidays enough for them?”
As someone whose parents both worked as teachers while I was growing up, I’ve seen firsthand the effort and hardships that go into their profession on a daily basis.
Hours are dedicated to marking, planning and preparing for the next day. Teachers may enjoy an unusually long break for the summer, however the innumerable unpaid hours that are dedicated to their work more than compensate for this elongated summer holiday.
While TV shows such as Educating Yorkshire are currently managing to win over the public and demonstrate the realities of working in schools, there is still an overwhelming public opinion that teachers don’t actually do that much work. Add to this the constantly changing plans for the curriculum, and it’s no wonder that teachers are turning away from their profession in droves.
Until decision making bodies are truly representative of those who are affected by what they dictate, decisions will still be made that are detrimental to teachers.
When such an important demographic is threatening to be halved in the next two years, it’s imperative that action is taken to stop this, and to restore the depleted morale of those working in schools.