At the chalkface: Statistics

Written by: Ian Whitwham | Published:

Forty-three per cent of teachers plan to leave in the next five years and early retirement will increase. Good riddance. I was teaching at 100. Some of my best friends are posthumous and they’re still in the classroom – as good as ever.

There are, as we well know, lies, damned lies and statistics – and the latest grim statistics concerning teachers are pretty big fibs. As any fule – and Nicky Morgan know – “the education system is in much better shape than it was five years ago – the evidence speaks for itself”, says she.

Indeed. Absolutely. So why are we fed such gloomy statistics by whingeing unions, pinko liberals, and the pernickety National Audit Office? It is surely time to refute them.

A Guardian survey finds that 98 per cent of teachers are under increasing “pressure”. What a nebulous term! We are all under pressure. Man up! And what about the other two per cent getting on with it quietly? The survey reveals that 82 per cent of teachers find workload “unmanageable”.

Unmanageable. Vague. Meaningless. Seventy-three per cent are conking out and 75 per cent going bonkers. Weeds and wets. Even marking causes them distress. An NASUWT survey says 76 per cent are driven to distraction by it. Well don’t set the work then.

Forty-three per cent of teachers plan to leave in the next five years and early retirement will increase. Good riddance. I was teaching at 100. Some of my best friends are posthumous and they’re still in the classroom – as good as ever. Does nobody have the right stuff anymore?

Another NASUWT survey says that teachers are drug-crazed. One in 10 is on anti-depressants, 22 per cent have increased their booze, 21 per cent their caffeine, five per cent their tobacco, and seven per cent are on prescription drugs. Pathetic. In my day we often got plastered and did the odd hallucinogenic if the lesson needed perking up.

Some teachers even seek out shrinks. Wimps. Fourteen per cent have undergone counselling, five per cent have gone to hospital – and two per cent of teachers practise self-harm. Well, 98 per cent do not.

And 93 per cent of school leaders don’t like academies, says an NUT survey – unwashed Trotskyites I shouldn’t wonder. Well, that’s seven per cent who are in full support. Stalwart fellows only too pleased to toil in schools sponsored by the Cayman Isles.

Another NASUWT survey tells us that 75 per cent teachers are depressed by hungry pupils. Well, it saves them from getting fat. Teachers are also dismayed when they have to mend clothes, wash uniforms and supply equipment for those whose destitute parents can’t pay for a pencil. Superfluous empathy! We’ve come a long way from Dickens’ paupers.

Statistics eh? The only thing being measured here is weakness, pusillanimity. Nicky Morgan’s bracing optimism is most welcome: “The evidence speaks for itself.”

  • Ian Whitwham is a former inner city London teacher.


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