"In arrogant denial…”

Written by: Chris Keates | Published:
Chris Keates, general secretary, NASUWT

The government is in arrogant denial of the crisis it has caused in teaching. Chris Keates calls for proper investment, action on workload and better support

It’s a simple fact that with good teachers, recognised and rewarded as highly skilled professionals and with working conditions to enable them to focus on teaching and learning, children and young people will receive their entitlement to high-quality schooling and education provision.

Sadly, this is not the environment being created for teachers.

Since 2010, there have been relentless attacks on teachers. Year-on-year real-terms cuts to teachers’ pay, workload spiralling out of control, deprofessionalisation, demoralisation and denigration.

And when faced with deep cuts to their salaries, increased pension contributions and excessive workload blighting their working lives, health and wellbeing, is it little wonder that teacher resignations are up and applications to join the profession are down.

It is troubling that these resignations are not just from those who have served the profession for many years, but a growing number are from young teachers who have qualified in the last few years.

Young teachers are the future of the profession; a future which is being severely compromised by this government’s failure to encourage and secure employment practices which nurture and value teachers.

At a recent conference organised by the NASUWT, the union heard how the majority of young teachers are not convinced that they will still be in the profession in five years’ time.

During a poll at the event, more than six in 10 said that they either definitely will not remain in teaching or were undecided about remaining in the profession over the next five years.

Furthermore, only 23 per cent said they would recommend teaching as a career to their family or friends.

More than a third told the NASUWT that they felt generally or very pessimistic about their future in the profession.

In fact, just five per cent said they felt optimistic about their future as a teacher.

While young teachers are absolutely and fully committed to being great teachers and serving the children and young people they teach, it is deeply worrying that many do not feel confident of being able to remain in teaching in the longer term. Furthermore, they would not recommend a career in teaching to others.

One teacher shared their experiences with colleagues at the conference. She told us: “I was hospitalised with stress last year. Trying to fit everything in, plus worrying about pay and behaviour, it all mounts up.”

Another teacher told colleagues that he “went to a staff briefing before Christmas and we were told – don’t phone in sick”. He continued: “If anyone phoned in sick with flu-like symptoms it would lead to a record on our attendance.”

And despite the ever-growing mountain of evidence, the government remains in arrogant denial about the crisis it has created within the teaching profession. Teachers, parents and pupils deserve better.

It is about time ministers faced up to the chaos and crisis that they have created, admit they got it wrong and start to value, support and invest in the teaching workforce. Otherwise this feeling from young teachers that they are unable to commit to a career in teaching will continue, and will undoubtedly have negative consequences for the quality of education available for our children and young people.


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