Before teaching, I spent two years working for a French company. It was an interesting, brilliant experience; I even took a trip to Barcelona to negotiate with some clients. But it was not what I wanted. I didn’t want to spend my life in the commercial world, doing little good for anyone apart from the company boss.
I have since spent 24 years teaching and nearly always love it. That is until recently when aspects of my job have resembled challenges on the Apprentice. Welcome back to the commercial world!
This brings me to last Monday afternoon. I found myself “selling” my school to people from the local area interested in teaching. I don’t have a problem with promoting my school. Due to the hard work of many and in particular @MarkQui12591531 , our school was recently awarded a Gold Quality Mark in Professional Development. It is a great place to learn for all of us. My problem was the fact that there were about 25 of us, from about 12 schools, in a school Learning Resource Centre, wasting one of our most precious resources – time! Many of my colleagues there were Heads, Deputies or Assistant Heads. We were there for 3 hours. So we are looking at 75 hours. Should this time not have been better spent improving teaching and learning in our respective schools?
I understand the logic. We rationalise that in order to recruit the best in an uncertain market, we need to be involved from the start. I am quite new to the world of teacher training and possibly don’t understand all the reasons behind the move to School Direct, but it all seems rather irrational to me. Lots of teachers around the country are spending time navigating the UCAS website, producing publicity materials, answering email enquiries about whether a degree in African Studies is acceptable to be able to teach Geography. Lots of teachers rather than a few expert admissions officers in universities?
Moving on from Monday, I get back to a few days doing what I’m quite good at – teaching. Thursday evening is spent catching up with Monday’s marking and then – midnight strikes – “ping” – an email. I open it, “Stop recruiting to school-led fee PE postgraduate ITT courses with immediate effect”. It goes on to tell me how I will be punished if I do not do as “instructed”.
Friday morning, partly recovered from being shouted at by email, I begin to wonder about these wonderful new PE recruits. I am sure many of them are going to be brilliant teachers. I then think back to the PE trainees we have had in our school, and wonder how many of them had been accepted by the start of December in previous years? Is speed of recruitment the best criteria for ensuring the quality of trainees?
I sent an email to my line manager saying, “I don’t want to play this game anymore!” Unfortunately, it is not a game. I just hope that these new rules, in this mad game, do not mean that we have lost the best contestants.