An open letter to Michael Gove

Dear Mr Gove,

As a teacher I feel it is my duty to educate you as to what exactly it is that we teachers do all day, since you seem to be absolutely clueless.

As your latest proposal to lengthen school days and shorten school holidays once again reveals, you seem to believe that teachers only work 9am-3pm, then bugger off home without a second thought for children’s education.

You are very much mistaken, Mr Gove, so let’s take your preferred method of learning – by rote – to instil a hard truth: TEACHERS WORK HARD. TEACHERS WORK HARD. TEACHERS WORK HARD.

Do teachers and students roll into school at 9am? Absolutely not. My day officially starts at 8:15am, with a staff meeting every morning, before students arrive for form time and registration at 8:30am. Does this mean I simply pull into the driveway at 8:14am? No! I have a whole host of tasks to complete before the day commences – setting up the classroom, ensuring I have all of the resources needed for the day’s lessons, reading and responding to the endless string of daily emails. And that’s all before I’ve even taught a lesson.

Do I pack my bags and head straight out of the door at 3:00pm? No way! For a start, school doesn’t finish until 3:20pm. Then there are revision sessions, after-school clubs, detentions, staff meetings, interventions, phone calls home to make, CPD training, INSET and classroom tidying to do (and don’t forget that endless string of emails). Every day of the week, at least one hour after school, but usually more, is taken up with such obligations. It is rare that I leave school before 6pm, and more often than not I don’t arrive home until well after 7pm.

All of that, and I haven’t even mentioned planning and marking yet. When do you think that gets done? PPA time? Ha! What a joke! I only get three hours of that a week, and it’s usually swallowed by meetings, intervention, dealing with student behaviour incidents or supporting other colleagues. No, ALL of my lesson planning and marking takes place in my own time, after 7pm in the evening or at weekends. And of course, I’m expected to teach outstanding lessons, so I can’t just pick up something I’ve used before and churn it out. No, I have to be creative, I must personalise the learning, I must make each task more engaging, more entertaining, more fun, more creative. I must mark in ever increasing depth, leaving more and more constructive comments in books, sticking in assessment sheets, covering work in various target stickers. It’s exhausting just to read about it, let alone live it. Goodbye social life. Goodbye, evenings. Goodbye, weekends. Hello work.

Well, what about the holidays? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful to have 13 weeks holiday a year. But do you actually realise how much of it is spent doing work? In an average half term, I spend around four full days working – catching up on marking (because, I’m sure you’ve worked out, it’s near impossible to keep on top of it during term time), completing long-term planning, sorting out classroom displays, running revision or catch-up sessions (yes, with actual students! All for free and completely voluntary, because surprise, surprise, I ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THEM!)

Among colleagues, we often speak of term time as ‘entering the tunnel’. We do not expect to see the light at the end – our friends and relatives – during term time. We do not expect to be able to engage in social activities. We do not expect to be able to spend quality time with our loved ones. Teaching is a demanding, challenging, draining, exhausting, all-consuming, self-sacrificing profession that we do because we whole-heartedly invest ourselves into improving the life chances of the students in our charge.

But there is a line that must be drawn. We are only HUMAN. We need rest, recuperation. We need time with our family. We deserve to live – and doing so for a couple of weeks at Christmas, Easter and summer is often the only opportunity we have to do this.

God only knows how colleagues with children manage. I barely manage, and I don’t have children of my own.

Which brings me to the heart of the issue: children.

Children – whatever their age, be they six or sixteen, are tired by 3:20pm. Learning is mentally challenging and therefore mentally draining. Have you ever tried teaching a classroom of boisterous 14-year-olds after lunch? It’s tough, trust me! Even the top set students will try every trick in their repertoire to deviate the lesson from its planned path by period 5. I can’t imagine trying to keep the momentum going for a further hour or more on top of it. Children need freedom. They need rest and recuperation, just like us. They deserve a few daylight hours in which to play outside, socialise, and let’s not forget, complete their homework – to learn independently, discover things for themselves.

Because, after all, children are just like us: human.

Are you?

So I say to you, with impassioned tears streaming down my cheeks, at the end of yet another exhausting week, with a day of planning and marking looming ahead: stop bullying us. Stop trying to paint us all as work-shy, lazy good-for-nothings. Stop trying to insinuate that we are all incompetent. Stop attacking the teaching profession.

Please, just stop.

Give teachers and students the respect and reward they deserve.

© The Uphill Struggle, 2013.

You can read more of my views on the uphill struggle that teachers face here and here.

Categories: Education, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

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833 thoughts on “An open letter to Michael Gove

  1. Great post, though Gove might not be overly impressed by your use of the word ‘dearth’, which I always understood to be a ‘lack of’ rather than an ‘over-abundance of’.

    • Thanks, have amended accordingly and changed the offending phrase! See how good us teachers are? Helping others to improve constantly, even when we’re not on the job!

      • lol – I’m a big fan of teachers. What this Gove(rnment) is doing to education is scandalous

      • Nice play on words there! Thanks :)

      • Thanks for writing this. Your description of teaching is very true, it is not a 9-5 job, it is with you all the time. I am a newly qualified art teacher and the Michael Gove debates have hit hard since day one. I wanted to share my art project with you -a large scale portrait of Michael Gove filled with writing from Art students voicing what art means to them and why they think it is a crucial subject in secondary school. The diminishment of creative arts subjects is an issue beyond the ones you have listed but just wanted to share with you to show that there are people out there trying to get Michael Gove to listen in various ways. Again, thanks for sharing and keep up the hard work!!!!!

        http://josefinboren.com/where-for-art-now/

      • Peter Dickerson

        At what point will teachers actually get over themselves?! What about the rest of the population who work 12 hour days and only get 4 weeks holiday? What about the rest of the population who don’t have the publicly funded pension that you get? Also anyone who applied to be a teacher that genuinely thought they were going to only work between 9am and 3.30pm clearly doesn’t have the intelligence to be in teaching in the first place.

        Perhaps sitting around moaning is what I should do? Perhaps I should winge to everyone that I work ‘really hard’ to. Bless.

        What happened to a fair days work to a fair days pay? Get over yourselves or find another career because after all you work every minute of every day during your 13 weeks a year holiday don’t you so you’re not going to miss that are you?

        Contribute to the solution, not the problem.

      • Once again, the point is missed.

      • Alan

        This is a great letter (my wife is a primary head who is virtually dying of stress). However, if you want your grammar to be 100% Gove-proof you need this to read ‘we teachers’ rather than ‘us teachers’…

      • Roy Watson

        Shouldn’t that be “See how good WE teachers are”?

      • Graham Lack

        Glad to see the spirit of largesse when it comes to correcting one’s own purple prose. While we are at it, deviate is an intransitive verb. One can not deviate a lesson, one can deviate from it.

      • Jon Mellor

        Nominative – we teachers are – not us. The rest of it is spot on. Yours, pedantic retired colleague.

      • M.H. Edmonds

        I think that should read ‘we’ teachers! Old retired teacher , who remembers classes of 46 and no electronic or classroom support BUT as the years progressed life got increasingly more demanding,the workload overwhelming and our professional status challenged at every opportunity. My teaching career spanned the years from 1960 – 2009 , I enjoyed every minute of it and have great respect for all the teachers in the schools today. Be positive Mr Gove,! Go into the schools , talk to those dedicated people, go into the classrooms, observe the planning ,classroom preparation and displays, spend some time before and after the students are there and then acquaint yourself with all the time that will be spent at home and at meetings. Perhaps you will then appreciate the fact that these people need your support!

      • Very true M.Edmonds. Teaching is very rewarding but at a great price. The stress can be immense & when the parents,government & general public are unappreciative you sometimes wonder why you went into the profession in the first place. I got out so that I could enjoy a personal life as well as a professional life but I do miss the children.My husband has his own business & needs my support so he has to come first!

      • NY Chick

        ‘See how good WE teachers are’ is grammatically correct. Don’t give the man ammunition.

      • hilary rost

        See how good WE teachers are – not US

      • Sharpless01

        We teachers, I think.

      • Liz R

        How good we teachers are….. ;D

      • So many people keep mentioning this – yet has no-one considered that it was a colloquialism used in deliberate irony?!

      • Mike

        For me the following video sums up Gove for me

      • Lyndsey

        “we teachers are” not “us teachers are” I’m afraid!! See what you’re getting at, but no need to go bonkers. Lots of people in other professions work extremely hard, and feel that they come under political fire too. Good luck to you.

      • Never said they didn’t, and I’ve already addressed the deliberate colloquialism – it’s ironic in its intent. Reading the entire thread can prove fruitful.

      • It’s interesting that a number (a large number) of people have come to this page and made comments about how hard other people have it, how other professions are subject to political pressures or that other jobs are just as stressful, more stressful etc. The usual instruction from helpful posters is that teachers should stop complaining (this post was not a complaint about the job as such) and just get on with it. The presumption is then, that no matter how hard your life is, because somebody else may have an equally difficult time, no one should take a stance and say that there may be benefits for everyone if we improve the situation. I would be very interested in knowing how many people think this way. Life is hard, get on with it. Is that what we all have to look forward to from birth to death?

    • Thefutureofteaching

      Peter Dickenson.

      It is ‘too’ not ‘to’ for the clause, ‘ I work really hard too.’

      I thought you should know this before you continue with your day-to-day life criticising teacher’s attitudes. I’m not sure if you quite realise how hard we work and how much accountability we have to balance on our overworked shoulders? Perhaps you could offer to do some voluntary work at a local school just for a taste of the everyday madness?

      I am 23 years old. Straight out of school and into this demanding, but often thankless! PROFESSION. I have said goodbye to my social life, have one day ‘off’ a week (in which I still spend every night ‘dream-teaching!) and I barely have time to take a moment to myself…let alone with my wonderful partner!

      Please do consider the voluntary work, you will certainly be enlightened. I love to help children, support their learning, mentor and coach them through their CHILDHOOD spent with me….but can I really do that with the ever-increasing pressure from Gove and his cronies?

      Not unless time is reworked.

      • Janice Hadwin

        Are you different to Peter Dickerson above? Confused!

      • Nicky Yeates

        Peter, you should also know it’s a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. Perhaps you’re disdainful of teachers because you didn’t learn enough from yours?
        We’re not saying others don’t work hard: we’re just saying we don’t want to be constantly undermined.

      • Chris Spark

        @Peter Dickenson. Publicly funded pensions? One of the most frequent arguments I hear is that “I pay your pension as a taxpayer.” You may do indirectly, but only because the state, which pays my wages, also puts money into my pension (as do I). Until recently, the government has been able to use the public pension pot to add value to its balance sheet, now they can’t do that anymore, people start to kick off. For 30 years as a taxpayer, I guess therefore I must have cause for complaint about paying the pensions of people who work for BT, Sainsburys, my bank, the utilities companies etc. etc.

      • Kama

        Absolutely agree with the voluntary idea – as long as it is a 2 way street. We hear so much about those of us who just don’t understand how hard a teachers working life is, what about all those teachers that have no idea about to working lives of so many others!! For example an equally vital role to society – a nurse you can expect to easily put in a 50-60hr week, ofter in unsociable working hrs, for the grand sum of mid 20k. They only get 5 weeks holiday and a fraction of the pension benefits teachers get. Maybe some voluntary work on all sides will prove to be a very valuable education indeed!

    • Sadly, this is typical of the slack English we get from teachers (not to mention BBC presenters and Government ministers) nowadays. There is no hope for our education system as long as this persists. At least Gove cares and is trying to do something about it, albeit with all the finesse of The Young Ones.

      • You are an idiot. After reading this, you think the biggest threat to our education system is imperfect grammar. Our education system is amazing. Year 2 classes are being taught foreign languages, computing, sign language… how dare you say there is no hope?
        You say that Gove “cares”. If he cared then perhaps he would listen to the opinions of the teachers and the parents. Instead he is stripping away the authority of schools and shouting “DO BETTER!” through a loudhailer.

      • really?

        I just love, not, how you make a general comment about teachers being slack with their English… Let’s just do this, shall we, and make statements that show a clear lack of knowledge of the diversity of human beings… Nuance should perhaps be a word worth checking in the dictionary. And yes I am a teacher, no I am not English. It does not mean I do not care about English grammar!

      • M Banks

        How I agree with John Pinner. I’m very much in favour of good grammar, but that’s not the most important thing. Grammar was dropped from the curriculum ages ago and so there is a whole generation who cannot be expected to teach it without considerable support. Let the professionals get on with education and take some of the pressure off or no one is going to join up at all!

      • Hahaha. Gove cares!?!? About his career maybe! Despite the criticism and the unfair media reports, teaching strikes are about the children not pay. I wonder if you would sacrifice a day of your earning to save a generation of young people from this madness?

      • Simon Layfield

        John Pinner,

        Do you really think that Gove cares about education? He cares, but he cares only about his own political career and making a name for himself as the Stalin of British education. Don’t be so worried about how well or how badly the piece is written. The piece is a fair reflection of the daily lives of teachers: teachers who do care and who want the best for the children they teach, and who are in the best position to know how well or how badly the system works at present. That it doesn’t work is largely if not solely down to the meddling of ignorant politicians like Gove.

      • Topo

        So all teachers and all BBC presenters offend you with their less than accurate use of English? I would expect year 7s to be aware of the trap of generalization. As an aside: if teaching is so easy, I wonder why there isn’t a huge group of individuals waiting to join our profession,

      • Guy

        John Pinner,

        That you’ve chosen to focus on a mistake (easily made given the exhaustion factor that I know only too well) rather than the arguments is typical of someone who TOTALLY misses the point, probably deliberately.

        Gove patently doesn’t care. If he did he would find out why teachers are so angry, demoralised and burnt out rather than continue to impose excessive and unattainable demands on the profession in an effort to make name for himself.

        By the way, you seem like an articulate person. You’ve got your teachers to thank for that.

      • Tracyp

        You obviously have bovine intestinal output disorder…. In other words in plain English…. Bullsh1t….

      • Liz

        Gove and the word care should not be in the same sentence. Normally I let educational politics pass me by but I am so angry with this man and his lack of listening ability. I am an outstanding teacher of 16 years who has moved from class teaching to managing others as I couldn’t cope with the lack of happiness and work that ate up any form of social life. It was a very telling comment from my husband when he said “It’s nice to see you happy again and having time to do things at the weekend” The level of unpaid overtime teachers do is incredible. Who would agree to do a job that was advertised as having 4 or 5 hours of daily unpaid overtime including at weekends because that is a teachers life.

      • Tim Brooking

        The problem here lies with the ability of people to empathise and the structure of government that this country operates under. We can only comment on our own roles and responsibilities and so we must guard against the need ot criticise others based on assumptions and rumours. Teachers can only tell it as it is to them, they do not imply that they work harder than any other profession, only that they wish for their roles and commitment to be understood and appreciated. This need has come about after decades of criticism and change.
        Gove does what all politicians seem to do. He basis his assessment of situations not on research but on his own experience and prejudice. This cannot be helpful and regardless of his commitment and passion the education of our children will not move forward until this is addressed.

      • Anyone can make a typo or grammatical error particularly when they are rushed, tired and under pressure. It is nothing compared to the major errors made by government ministers who know nothing about that which they intend to drastically change.

        I went through the last education reform by the Tories. Every teacher in every school from nursery to secondary was given a folder in every subject. We had intense training in the core subjects at great cost, but before we could proceed any further we were told to throw away the remainder of the folders as it was now thought the whole NC was unwieldy, can you imagine the wasted millions, when we were struggling for basic resources in the classroom, managing huge classes and having to organise fund raising events!!! It was a joke!!!
        The shambolic education of our children and disrespect for teachers is continuing and has to stop!!!

        Just like the NHS, massive mostly unnecessasry reforms are causing fragmentation, chaos, confusion, and burnt out teachers ( my nephew is often up until gone midnight working on school matters and up very early to get into work before the day starts and he has to focus intently on the education and safety of many children, often without a break….

        Thankfully I am now retired but my sympathy goes out to those who do their best under these very challenging circumstances. Please do not mark this in red, my eyesight is not what it used to be due to all that marking and planning at night time when I was exhausted and should have been asleep!!!!………….

    • Learning support staff opinion.

      I would also love to add here that the delightful Mr. Gove is also attempting to take away almost all the support staff within schools. If anyone here has had any experience caring for or attempting to teach a mainstream student, you can understand the difficulties you can face. Now a good few years back the rules of inclusion changed: and a vast amount of special schools closed down. These students who desperately need additional support are amongst mainstream students and are demanding on both support staff and teachers.

      You take away the support staff, add an hour onto the day… You have an ADHD student who struggles to make it to lunch, with no one to manage his/her behaviour in an oversized classroom of learners. By the afternoon, most students are exhausted; not to mention those with disabilities which force them to put a vast amount of added focus into tasks. All these students look forward to is the holidays. Support staff don’t even get cushy pensions, as the chap below relished to inform us of. Sure we don’t have the marking to do, but we still care for the students and as such, take our own time to provide resources, most of which come from our own pocket! (just as teaching staff do [you try squeezing money out of the government for education-aiding materials deemed "non-essential"]).

      We don’t whinge* (correction seeing as everyone else seems to find it hilarious that a teacher misspells a few words here and there) much. Just the same as anyone else whose job is becoming harder and harder. All I can recommend is that anyone who thinks that teachers don’t deserve holidays:

      Stand in a room trying to hold the attention of 30 angry and confused people, statistically one of which has a learning difficulty and if you don’t meet every single individual’s needs: your job is at risk.
      Take abuse verbally and even sometimes physically; just because you are trying to reinforce good behaviour not taught to students at home.
      Be afraid to stand in a room with a student/s on your own for fear of accusations of abuse: leading to not only your job being at risk but your whole life ruined (teenagers just don’t rationalise like adults, as I’m sure we can all relate to; in our own school days).
      Read up on what is actually involved with so many policies that teaching and support staff need to know inside and out: safeguarding, Every child matters; realising that a classroom is a whirlwind of issues and dangers waiting to happen.

      And after all that go for a drink for your friends who tell you you’re lucky, underworked and have too much time off.

      I don’t deny that other people have jobs that are just as demanding, but unless you actually give teaching a go; you can’t understand just how hard it is. It’s not exactly getting any easier either. So next time you try to make an uninformed generalised statement on how teachers are underworked and in the long term overpaid…

      Remember back to those days when you were in school (if you can remember a time when the world wasn’t a harsh place where you could only discover happiness through picking on others behind a monitor where you feel safe). Did you enjoy school? Could you have stood another hour or two cooped up in a building being bullied and poked fun at? The relief those holidays bring to the students is far more vital than to teachers: and that’s why we all do these jobs. For the students. School hours have got us to this point in history, it’s not time spent in a classroom that is making Britain fail academically compared to certain countries: it is attitudes towards teaching styles that switch parents and students off learning. Children hear “teachers are underworked, lazy, useless whiners” and it destroys their respect for us. They don’t listen to us, they don’t try, and then they blame us if we “fail” them.

      • I salute you. Agree.

      • APGCE

        Thank you! I am a PGCE student and I am fully looking forward to my career in teaching. However already my day spans from seven until seven, and I am teaching less than half a timetable. Some people have really contradicted themselves on this thread saying that teachers should ‘get over themselves’ and think of ‘the rest of the population’ working 12 hour days when we ‘only work 8.20-3.30′, yet go on to call us stupid for assuming that we will roll in and out of work at those times. Most of my colleagues come into work two hours before the kids and three hours after, to plan and prepare; sit through meetings and get marking done. People don’t understand that if Gove extends the hours and gets rid of PPA teachers won’t be home until eight or nine and will be working at home until gone midnight. Does the public not want well rested and calm professionals to teach their children? Kids know when a teacher is sick, or tired, it affects their learning, the lesson plans become rushed and churned out, the joy of education is completely sucked out and left soulless. Surely we want to encourage the best people into the profession, instead we will be left with irritable, puffy eyed zombies who mumble through powerpoint presentations as the students fall asleep.

    • mal malhi

      This is all so true!!! I brought up 4 kids.. I wish I had spent more Quality time with them whilst they were still young..it was a great sacrifice and even though Gove believes we are on a gravy train, children are more perceptive. Many of them return to acknowledge teachers for their commitment in helping them succeed in their chosen paths. Gove reminds me of the pupil whose work lacks detail, is shallow and misses the point.. just the type of pupil you spend most of your time trying to help succeed… ideal candidate for an after school detention and catch up lessons in our time.

    • Dear Uphill struggle – I hear your pain [which I too have experienced ] and sigh. When i was a union rep so many younger colleagues were not interested in meeting to discuss such issues. Conditions that were hard won by thoughful engagement between eg Nigel De Gruchy and T Blair are being eroded owing to fear of unions and apathy. Before I left I proved that with a solid approach teachers can have a voice in their own school, that voice can be heard and responded to. You must stand together with your union and the other unions in your school. Find a voice. Use it carefully and always be solid. Dont act before you are solid, totally. Get proper [ union ] training and always have advice from area union support. When you feel that you have a voice [ maybe takes a few years ] the pain will reduce. Don`t wait until things boil over in some unplanned way as I can`t see you hanging in much longer after that rant !!! with my best wishes the tailwaggerz c / o http://www.HomeTutorHub.wordpress.com

    • Peter

      The teaching “profession” is currently dominated by politically correct incompetent free loading wingers, you let children leave school enumerate and illiterate, they have no sense of worth or respect for society. If teachers had the same values now as they did in the 1950’s and 1960’s and the same school system then we could foster talent instead of dumbing everything down to a sordid mixed ability level.

      You should get off your lazy arses and go and hang some of those vile socialist politicians that got you to this place, don’t attack the only politician for a generation who is addressing YOUR failings.

      • Geoff

        I went to school in the 50s and 60s. I passed my 11 plus and went to a grammar school. I taught in a comprehensive school that was a former grammar school. It had lots of boards with names of pupils who had done well in various areas, such as sport, and the last entry on every one was the year the school changed. It was incredibly sad; it was as if the school had stopped celebrating achievement when it became comprehensive.

        I’m not saying the old system was perfect. Weighting the 11 plus results in favour of the boys because girls have always outperformed them wasn’t fair. But a lot of good stuff was thrown away needlessly.

        However, back then it was far simpler. There were plenty of jobs and students had a simple choice. If you worked harder or were smarter you’d get a better job. With vast numbers of unskilled jobs now lost to the far east and university students struggling to find work there is less motivation for the kids to do well. The emphasis has been placed on the teachers to drag the students through the courses causing great problems for the teaching profession. I got out because I didn’t feel that the system was doing me or the students any favours at all. I felt it was a huge waste of time money and resources.

        The only answer I have is to change things in the jobs market. The problems we have are not the result of poor educational standards – they are because there isn’t enough work. Why on earth educate students for jobs that don’t exist? It’s a classic example of the tail wagging the dog and the poor unfortunate teachers are the fall guys.

        It’s an uncomfortable truth but there is far too much intervention in teaching. A thriving jobs market will drive the education system. With plenty of work we can tailor education to suit, which will be easier because the kids will see a reason for doing well. Teachers can get back to doing what they do best, providing real education instead of endless box ticking.

      • J taylor

        Here here well said

      • Anne

        Peter, it is quite obvious to me that you have NO actual understanding of just how demanding teaching is and how hard teachers work for the children they care about; not for the salary or the pension, but for the children. Our reward comes from sharing in the children’s achievements; nurturing their inquisitive minds; and supporting their development socially, morally and culturally. We teach because we like helping others to achieve but it is not easy and Mr. Gove’s repeated negative comments about our level of commitment and professionalism are demoralising and, if I am allowed to generalise as you and Mr. Gove do, they are downright untrue.

        As you have no doubt guessed, I am a teacher and I, like every other teacher, I am not perfect but I am proud to say that every teacher I have had the pleasure of working alongside, has cared about every child in their care. They work tirelessly to improve their teaching practices in order to best support every child in their care. Teachers strive to achieve the attainment targets set by management; targets which are based upon the upwardly mobile targets that descend from Mr. Gove’s office. If I do not manage to enable a child to reach his termly and yearly targets, I feel personally responsible, even when I know in my heart that I have done everything I could with the resources that were made available to me. I do not like failure. It hurts. I know that I am not alone in feeling this; it is a much-discussed topic among teachers.

        Teachers, unlike Mr. Gove, also know, however, that children are not machines and learning does not take place in a linear fashion: there are many factors which influence an individual’s ability to learn at any given time. Peter, you must have experienced occasions when your ability to concentrate and retain information has been the result of factors unrelated to the person speaking to you. Well, the same thing happens in the classroom. A child’s home life has a huge impact on his ability to learn. Teachers understand this and support children, and parents, through difficult periods. Teachers do many ‘tasks’ you may be unaware of; tasks which they have had little of no training for and which are often very stressful and upsetting. We are not social workers; nor are we able to ensure every child is well-fed, loved and supported in their learning at home. I could cite teachers who have, at their own expense, provided food and clothes/shoes for children and found ‘some unwanted books at home’ which they’ve shared out to ensure the children who don’t have any books at home, do indeed have a book of their own. Many, many teachers go the extra mile. Perhaps you didn’t know that.

        Peter, I am not unusual in working 60 hours a week, a little less in the holidays. Neither am I unusual in caring a great deal about the children in my care, but there is a limit to what I and my colleagues can do. Just like children, we need to eat, sleep and converse with our family and friends! Just like everyone, we get a bit irritated by constant criticism when we are trying really hard to do our best. We know people in other professions work hard, but are they constantly berated and belittled by Mr. Gove, successive governments, media and some ill-informed members of the public? We would never dream of scolding and publically humiliating a child for not achieving his target. We know that doesn’t motivate and encourage a person to learn and achieve and yet it is acceptable to treat teachers in this way. Perhaps, that is why we let off steam with the occasional rant about our lot. I make no apologies for that.

        P.S. Please also remember that, as mere mortals, teachers lack the ability to stretch time in order to accommodate the never-ending drip, drip, drip of government initiatives; each purporting to contain the magic formula that will ensure every child understands, remembers and acts upon every word every teacher says. If only!

        (If you find errors, please post and I will correct. I have checked but I am human!)

      • caroline k

        Please remember that years ago, teachers were held with more respect from their students as they were able to enforce more punishment for the children’s behaviour. Parents who have a lack of respect for teachers (as you clearly do), instill their beliefs onto their children, who then in turn bring that negative attitude into the classroom. I was once called a glorified baby sitter by one parent, in front of their son, who had no respect for teachers and their authority. I wonder where he got that from?

      • EAS

        I’d like to kindly point out that the children we teach now are nothing like the children that were taught in the 1950’s and 60’s, they have been exposed to much more distraction and alternatives to education and often it can be a struggle get them to do even the smallest, simplest task. I write this to you as a teacher of 3 years who loves her job, works 14 hour days and is currently sat at her desk lesson planning at 11pm on a Saturday night because now, as teachers we have to embrace the technology around us (as our students have) and plan creative and differentiated lessons for every student, which was not the case in the 1960’s. Reinforcing this point with the fact at I have a mother who is dyslexic, educated in the 60’s and was forced to write with her right hand because is was deemed “wrong” for her to write with her left. Id like to know what you mean by this sordid “mixed ability level” that you speak of. We (and I speak for any teacher who cares about their students and their ability to access learning) plan out lessons and work so that ANY student can access it, whether the student is talented in your subject or has special educational needs, we plan for it because there is such a difference between every student, no to are the same and we cannot pretend that teaching them all the exact same thing is going to do them any good.

      • Michael Billington

        You don’t need apostrophes on 50s and 60s: they’re plurals.

      • Too young to be a cynic

        That you write ‘profession’ in speech marks not only highlights the lack of respect towards teachers from the general public but also highlights your lack of understanding of punctuation. Incidentally, I believe you mean ‘whingers’ as opposed to ‘wingers’.
        Your failure to demonstrate how literate you are after receiving that perfect education from the distant past, however, is beside the point.
        I am a newly qualified teacher, and I do work hard, but there is no point listing my hours or my duties as this would be beating the proverbial dead horse.
        Your comment about a “sordid, mixed ability level” (comma added for grammatical purposes) was the part that made me laugh a little bit. Did you know that children are assessed and grouped accordingly? Not to mention differently for each subject. Did you know that these groups are stated on each lesson plan with a different level of work or even different task? Did you know that individual children are identified on each lesson plan? And that extension tasks are provided to suitably accelerate the learning of higher achievers? I’m assuming not as, in your opinion, we teachers just sit on our lazy arses so couldn’t possibly spend hours personalising learning and creating resources for our pupils.
        It is people like you who raise your children to look down on, and have no respect for, other people and have no respect for themselves. THAT is why some children do not receive such a fabulous level of education as seen in previous generations; they are already so tainted by their parents’ negative and small minded views that a few hours around positive role models in school couldn’t possibly have an impact.

      • Chris

        ‘Whingers’ and ‘innumerate’. Clearly your school, in the 50s or 60s by the sound of it, failed you too.

      • Ken

        Daily Mail much?

      • Daisy

        Peter, it strikes me that you are an ill-informed, arrogant excuse for a man. Harsh words indeed from a burnt out, disillusioned young teacher who began my career with the idea that i could lead, encourage and enthuse young people so that they could go on to become creative, well-informed, intelligent and happy individuals with an enthusiasm for lifes journey. Sadly I was mistaken, not because I lack the intelligence to teach but because of unnecessary restrictions, unattainable targets, assessment and frankly a lack of hours in the day. Teachers like myself don’t ‘rant’ about hours they keep (its part of the job we signed up for) or the fact that we do more than the private sector (my husband certainly does his fair share of hours without the hols and pension) but we just want to be recognised for what we try to do under extreme duress and for people much like yourself to stop giving us such a hard time, we’re really not that bad and at the end of the day only human….

    • Dee

      Brilliant. What amazes me is that as far as I am aware – please correct me – but every Secretary of State for Education has never taught. They tinker with our profession so much – yet things get worse.

      the question that I have for Mr Gove is why do you think that schools such as Eton & Harrow do so well? It is because they are left alone to do what they do best. They haven’t changed for hundreds of years; consequently they churn out put the leaders of tomorrow.

      Just leave us alone,let us do what we do best instead of churning out new & improved methods that actually don’t work.

      Better still go & work in a real school with real issues.

    • Jen

      As an NQT I never realised that once I began teaching my life would never be the same again! I love my job but wholeheartedly agree that it has taken over my life. I have 2 children aged 7 & 8 and a devoted husband – I would not manage without them! They keep me sane! Teaching is definitely not a 9am to 3pm job and I agree the holidays are usually spent planning, marking or catching up on paperwork. In fact I arrived home at 5pm, which was early for me, after a review and hit the laptop at 6pm. Its 10pm now and I am still planning for next week. I have books to mark, 2 reviews to type up, classes to moderate and set targets for, not to mention a new exercise in data collation, it never ends!

      I teach in special education so on top of this I have cutting and sticking duties every night! O do love my job but Mr Gove has no idea how hard teachers work. We are human too and deserve a break!

  2. I do not envy you – your profession gets a rough ride these days. Same old Tories…

    • Thanks – it’s good to know there is sympathy out there, too.

      • I think Michael Cove and others like him would want to listen to what is being said before they ruin the education system completely ! They do not seem to have a clue how hard teachers work to educate children who most of the time do not want to learn! In case he has forgotten education is the backbone to society and without it we are nothing ! So give teachers a bit of breathing space !

      • Hear, hear!

      • Mrs Ann Seddon

        There certainly is sympathy. I am currently unemployed but looking for a job as a Teaching Assistant. I had to leave my last post due to relocating to a different part of the country. For the last 13 years I have worked as a TA/LSA in KS1. During that time I have worked extremely hard to help pupils with various SEN issues to access the curriculum on a daily basis whilst doing my very best to keep them in school rather than seeing them be excluded time after time. I had to undergo physical restraint training with another colleague just to be able to work with a Y1 child who would punch, slap, kick, bite and throw things at us several times during the morning. He was only in school for the morning session due his violent and disruptive behaviour to both his peers and members of staff. He was also verbally abusive, using every four letter swear words he could think of and just for good measure he took great delight in spitting in our faces. Did we give up on him? NO WE DIDN’T BECAUSE WE CARE. At the end of the academic year he was found a place in a Behavioural Unit where dedicated staff are trained to deal with children like him.
        Did I feel like giving up? NO BECAUSE I ACTUALLY FELT LIKE I HAD FAILED HIM AND THAT I HAD TO MAKE SURE THAT I COULD BE SUCCESSFUL IN MY JOB.
        Has it put me off being a TA/LSA? NO BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT GIVEN TIME AND RESOURCES, I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF THESE CHILDREN.
        We should be supporting our teaching staff who after all are educating our future workforce including polititions.

      • Sagar Singh

        Well, there’s sympathy for you from a past teacher of undergraduates here in India too (not that I am retired or old). If people (and I include students) don’t realize how hard teaching is, they will never get off the bandwagon that says, ‘It’s easy. They don’t work hard enough and they don’t deserve those holidays.’ School teachers in India, I would like to point out, though, are far more under-paid that those in Britain.

      • Liz R

        Symathy from across the pond too. I wish you luck with your current cohort of Tories, but I’m not holding my breath. We are tottering in the same direction in Canada.

      • Robert Gilbertson

        You forgot to mention the large ever increasing multicultural intake ‘that you somehow’ have to adapt to, taking into account – and rembering – all the different cultural requirments and idiosyncrasis that have to be strictly adhered to and taken into consideration every working day.
        These critics don’t live in the real World, they only see it from their car windows.
        R. Gilbertson.

  3. Jo

    Hello there! I was going to write a letter to Mr Gove, but then I saw your post and realised you’ve already written one for me! So then I posted a link on facebook, and have received many likes. I think your letter has struck a chord… Thank you for being the voice of many teachers!!

    • Well, thank you for sharing it! No wonder I’ve received so much traffic lately! He really is vile, isn’t he? And the holidays attack is just the tip of the iceberg!
      Thanks for reading.

    • Peter

      errr vomit

      • Liz

        Before you continue your negativity towards teachers why don’t you try being one. Walk a week in our shoes then you can criticise. In the meantime I would be grateful if you kept your negativity to yourself.

  4. Abby Nattrass

    Fabulous letter and I completely agree with everything ,teachers do one of the hardest jobs and this should be acknowledged . As parents shouldn’t we all be fighting this ? I had my children to spend time with them , love them and enjoy them , why on earth would they need to spend more time in education ? Family time is so important especially in the fast forward society we now all live in . Life isn’t all about education lets all embrace time with our children and get back to installing some family values .

    • It’s so good to hear a parent sharing this view and in complete support – I know many other parents feel the same too. Thank you so much for this solidarity x

      • You mistake reasonable common sense for solidarity. From what I have read of your posts, you do lack common sense and empathy for other professions. “Missing the point” on a very reasonable point made. There are people working two 8 hour shifts in the public sector. I don’t see you siding with them. Yet, you probably educate their children to a very poor international standard (and slipping), oppose all systems of measurement and decry everything as unfair. Well, welcome to the new world we live in. Turning out children who can’t compete globally because you think political point-scoring and dogma is more important, is a travesty. If you can’t turn the 50% graduate workforce that Labour wanted then let’s give occupational trade schemes.where those people lacking educational ability can find employment. I care about future generations; something you seem to have lost sight off or don’t have any convictions over your myopic complaints.

    • Kittykat

      Here,here! I have just left the teaching profession, fed up of the demands put upon us and the suffering of my family as a consequence. Someone asked me what I will do next and I said I would head a campaign against Gove, a vote of no confidence from parents, stand up as a body of parents who are disgusted at what is happening to our children within the education system led by this clueless man! Every respect to all my colleagues who stay to see another day. Great letter and It has spurred me on to rally the troops!

      • Tinks66

        Good job you did leave – it’s hear hear……..

      • tom

        i’ve yet to hear of a teacher that thinks anything positive of Mr Gove, can we not get him removed from office asap. from what i can tell he is completely ruining the education system in this country which will leave this country in ruins in years to come. how can we have an education secretary who has never worked within the education system

      • Anne

        Very best of luck! A brave lady.

    • Beth Watson

      As a mother, spot on!

  5. Matthew Brannan

    You think anyone in government gives a s××t, its the best profession to pick on when you do well the exams are easy, when grades are lower you are poor teachers, when you go the extra mile, do everything in your contract to the letter and get little jonny the complte thick kid a qualification ofsted give you a grade of good! It will always be the same unless radical steps are taken

    • That’s why it’s so important for us to fight back. In unison, we are strong and can make our voice heard. Let’s not less this Tory idiot destroy our profession. Thanks for reading.

      • Daryl

        That’s a shame. I thought that this was a reasoned debate you were raising, I now see it for what it is, a Union based political tirade against the Tories. Missed opportunity!

      • Exhausted

        I would really love to see something radical like EVERY teacher in the UK resigning their post on the same day siting everything you wrote as their reason. Unfortunately I can’t see it happening.

  6. This is my life and having read it to me family they feel less alone thanks.

  7. Lauren Weller

    I am literally about to start my pgce (on monday to be precise) and I am fully aware with what the professional entails and I’m proud to want to be a teacher!

    • All the very best of luck for your PGCE – may teacher pride reign x

    • R Macpherson

      You can’t be ‘literally’ about to start, 48 hours beforehand.

      • Don’t split hairs! You are obviously not a teacher or you wouldn’t have time to do this.
        “Quiet please” if you don’t have anything intelligent to say! I got out of teaching after 17 years as I remarried & wanted time to spend with my family.
        This blog is fantastic – a very accurate picture of a teacher’s life.

      • Jon Mellor

        Cheap, unworthy attack Mr Pinner. Engage with the issues. Gove is increasing the workload of a beleaguered profession. Please explain what that “will do” about anything. Next time you engage in debate, please leave your pet camps at home.
        R Macpherson is equally pompous. Please get a job that occupies your time and stop indulging in gratuitous pedantry. It is obvious that you have the time, so you clearly don’t teach and one suspects you therefore make little or no difference.

      • Define “about to start” and you may have an argument there. Otherwise, what on earth is your point?

    • Nicky Yeates

      I’ve been teaching since 1985 and still love being with students and trying to inspire and help them. I’m worried Gove wants to destroy all or progress made in the last 50 years and sometimes feel like getting out while the going’s good, but then I remember we weathered Baker and Thatcher and return to fight another year :-) One of the best things about the job is also one of the most stressful: you’ll never feel you don’t need to be even better at it. Keeps you motivated :-)

      • The good news is that on average ministers stay in post for about two years, so he won’t be with us for long. The bad news is that every new minister knows he only has two years to make an impact, so he rushes in with ill thought out initiatives without consultation. Sadly every department suffers, education and health are particularly high profile, but look at the problems with benefits.

  8. well done, it is time to stand up and say stop

    • Thank you. If more of us speak out, perhaps we can begin to combat the ‘lazy teacher’ myth perpetuated by the government and media x

  9. AmyV

    Great letter, I am a teacher and completely agree. Has your letter been sent to Mr Gove? I wonder if he actually reads these types of letters, I hope so!

    • Thanks for reading. Sadly, I don’t think Mr Gove troubles himself with the opinions of us lowly teachers!

      • Send it to your MP. I wrote one and he forwarded it. Gove didn’t reply but Elizabeth Truss did. Most of it was BS but that’s not the point. My MP took me seriously and he’s a Tory boy! I’m meeting him next month to address all my concerns. More people need to do this. Love your letter. Don’t stop fighting!

  10. Panic Station

    I am a TA in a school just out of Special Measures,and lucky enough to have escaped being made into an Academy. We ALL work extremely hard and give more time than we are paid for. I have seen Teachers brought to their knees (often involving anti-depressants) by the expectations put upon them, and the ridiculous directives that Gove spouts. He really does not have a clue ,does he?

    • Absolutely not – it’s far too easy for the likes of Gove to sit in their ivory tower an pass judgment from a distance. TAs are the unsung heroes of our schools – many at my school put in hours above and beyond – yet Gove does not recognise their contribution. Thanks for reading x

      • Clare

        Never mind “recognising the contribution of TAs” (and HLTAs) – he wants to get rid of us! After all we’re just a “Mum’s Army” who are only fit for washing out paintpots! Some of us actually have at least one degree and have retrained in order to fulfill this role to the utmost of our ability because that’s where we think we can add value and help the next generation. Grrrrr!

      • Tell me about it !!
        Us TA’s work extremely hard for a very low pay, and now ‘performance related pay’ has been introduced. It’s an insult…….!
        I have never felt so undervalued and demoralised in my work as I currently do.

  11. This being Sunday…I am just about to do 2 hours of baseline marking. Then I have about another 2 hours of inputting data and planning. This is on top of an exhausting week with extra curricular activities, meetings, shed loads of marking and planning. This year I will be putting numerous concerts/shows as well as trips. I also have events booked in on some Saturdays. Oh and by the way,
    I also have three children of my own! Unless you have been a teacher you have no idea what the job actually involves, there is no switch-off time…the holidays involve a lot of prep…you just can’t turn up in front of 30 teenagers and not be prepared. What time is left is used to recharge ready for the next full-on marathon.

    • Absolutely. My Sunday sounds very much the same as yours. It’s overwhelming – and I don’t even have children of my own to care for. Remember that what you are doing is superhuman. Thanks for adding your example to the others here – it helps our colleagues who are feeling the same to know they are not alone x

  12. Patrick Sullivan

    All praise to ALL teachers. However, please don’t get too close to the trees without seeing the forest. Gove and all the Tory ministers follow Tory strategies, to wit: 1 tell the voters things (Education, NHS, Royal Mail, etc) are a mess. 2 Propose radical changes, 3 Privatise.

    • Exactly. Tory manipulation is appalling – an the media are complicit, too. Thanks for reading.

    • greg

      What about the bad teachers? We know there are a lot of poor teachers out there. You went to school didn’t you? You will have experienced it, people who never should have never entered or should have left the profession years ago.. Praise to them?

      Also privatisation of schools isn’t on the table. Long term internal competition might be where failing schools are taken over or left to die while good schools expand.

      Saying that a modified form the voucher system sometimes proposed is a really interesting one (or at least some variations of it are) and could introduce real competition into schools improving schools in an area.and should be rigourously trialed somewhere in the uk.

      • Thank you for your comments.

      • lulachthesimple

        Yes, Greg, I do meet many poor teachers – who do not manage to interest and stimulate my children’s imaginations.
        To be honest, most of these fail my children because they are struggling hard to meet the ridiculous demands heaped on them by OFSTED and the DfE (Gove has only intensified – to a ridiculous degree – a nonsensical micro-management, instigated by Thatcher’s government, and never undone by New ‘Labour’).
        The few truly poor teachers are able to hide amongst their equally-harrassed colleagues, and the ‘support’ offered is little more than repackaged bullying, applied indiscriminately to the overworked and the ineffective alike.
        You can read about the so-called incompetent teachers in the Daily Mail… mostly, however, they are good teachers but just in the wrong place at the wrong time.. The press don’t tell us how these teachers, instead of being supported to become better teachers are bullied into cowering wrecks before leaving the profession in disgrace. A sad waste of training and enthusiasm.
        As well as a parent, I used to serve as a school Governor, and I weep for education in England, and for my children’s current experiences.

        We should also note that it’s not just teachers who are so stressed they resort to prescriptions for Prozac – record numbers of children are bing prescribed psychoactive medication because of the cruel and ridiculous pressures the Government.

  13. Nick Giannissis

    One thing I developed during my short time as a trainee teacher was an enduring and deep respect for teachers. I gained this by my experience of attempting to undertake all the duties and responsibilities that are listed in this well written and 100% accurate article. It takes a VERY special person to become a qualified, teaching professional and to be able to sustain that way of earning a living. The unashamedly ideologically motivated contempt for teachers demonstrated by the likes of Gove is a disgrace. Come the next election I will be voting to expunge him and the rest of the rotten Con-Dems from government.

    • As will I. Thanks for reading.

    • Sara

      A year ago I used to think teaching was ‘easy’ and you finish at 3pm. Well I learnt the hard way – I did my PGCE and although I completed it (Reluctantly) I could never teach in a school again. I want to make a difference but I literally had no life and no sleep. Going through it gave me so much respect for teachers – particularly those that actually care about the students (most do). I met some very inspirational teachers and some less so but all I can say is it takes very special people to do that. Micheal Gove needs to wake up and stop attacking teachers because the culture has become almost: “whatever you do is not good enough in teaching.”

      • Thanks. So many, like yourself, go through teacher training but do not remain in the profession. Surely that in itself should be a wake up call to Gove et al.

      • Geoff

        Well said Sara. I gave up teaching for the same reason. For the benefit of all those critical non teachers, I’ve done other jobs and worked long hours (up to 36 continuously on one occasion). None of it compares with the relentless slog of being a teacher. Seriously, unless you’ve done it, you have no idea.

      • Ann

        Your last line just said it all ‘whatever you do it is never good enough!’ Spot on Sara.

  14. I congratulate you on your passionate post- I wouldn’t be a teacher in a million years, although god knows, when we graduated (2003-4) it was at the height of the PGCE recruitment drive, many of my friends did. But I do believe that you are well paid for what is a professional job, in which you stay voluntarily. Many intelligent, professional graduates (some with doctorates) are out of work in this ruinous tory wasteland of an economy. My husband is a Lecturer, and his contract is 0 hours, making it extremely difficult, though his pay is adequete (wages NOT indexed salary, which I believe teachers receive) to get a mortgage and thus progress beyond our present house. We are faced with renting the house out instead of selling, which although makes more work for us and a less than clean break, still in a better position than many, many people in the UK today. My husband finds it rather churlish to complain, because although he has a shit contract (with a top-20 college) many mothers and fathers are skipping meals to ensure their children eat. With this in mind, you may be interested to read ‘a girl called Jack’ who blogs intelligently on child poverty, cooking and the new face of British Poverty. I hope that your valid assertions about overwork and work/life balance are taken on board- and if not, you can swap to lecturing?
    T

    • Thanks for your comments – I shall definitely look up the recommended blog.
      While I never, ever complain about teacher’s pay or holidays (both of which I think are excellent, particularly compared to most out there in this economy), and I certainly don’t wish to sound ungrateful when I know so many others are struggling to just find work, live and eat, I do feel that, within the teaching profession, workload is the unspoken ‘elephant in the room’. It is the main factor driving thousands of talented professionals to leave the profession – exacerbated by the shocking pace of ill-thought reform brought about by the government.
      The overarching theme of my blog as a whole (not just this one post) is that of work/ life balance – something that I think is sadly lacking in many teachers’ lives. After all, we only live once.

      • I understand most Education ministers like to leave their mark on the curriculum, but this man is unbelievable! He knows it all! Change after change after change.Does he live in the real world? I would love to see him work in an ordinary school ,in an ordinary class, preferably year 9 or 10, not just for a token time but for at least a year and see how he would cope.
        I am a retired secondary teacher, teaching science initially then switching to teaching children with learning and behavior problems and being SENCO in a comprehensive school..I have also taught in a junior school and taught infants briefly. I loved my job and my pupils.
        Easy 9 to 4 job with long holidays and good pay? He must be joking! If this is the case why aren’t more applying to become teachers?
        Now children will have to stay on at school past 16.Where are all the courses and resources for them or is this another way to keep the jobless total down and pay out fewer benefits.. Maybe I am cynical in believing that some of the changes he proposes are to counteract the shortfall in staffing and funding that will occur.
        Why don’t we have a minister who has experience of teaching?

      • Geoff

        Michael Gove lost all credibilty for me when he described ICT as ‘basically typing’.

  15. Concerned teacher

    An excellent letter, it makes me feel sick that a teacher has never been the Education Secretary! Would you put someone with no experience in a Head teachers role? No! So why this madness?

      • I have done voluntary teaching. I worked with several ‘professional teachers’ to be as well as newly qualified teachers. The impression I got was that many though by not means all, get into the teaching profession simply as a career option and are in it for themselves rather than their students. I think the best teachers are those people who have actually worked outside of the teaching profession. Such a person would actually want to teach their students something and he/she has a much wider perspective on the the wider world we live in.

    • Stephen Lea

      Estelle Morris had been a teacher before she switched to politics and became the Education Secretary. She occupied the post for about 12 months. She resigned in October 2002, having made a commitment to the Shadow Education Secretary to resign if literacy and numeracy targets we’re not met.

    • Louise - maths teacher

      I totally agree – we have an Education Secretary that hasn’t worked in education, a health secretary that hasn’t worked in hospitals. It’s a joke. In no other place than the government would you find completely inexperienced staff in the top roles. Excellent letter – sums up exactly what teaching is like but, like most others, I do it because I love kids and want them to succeed in life.

  16. donna leyland

    This is brilliant – spot on in every way. Well done for writing precisely what goes on in the profession and showing the world that we don’t walk in at 9am and out at 3pm.

  17. Paula Lowther

    I have to agree with every word of that letter to Mr Gove as my Daughter inlaw is a teacher in a infant school and i have seen how stresssed out she gets with planning every day of the week not just her job also child care she never goes to school for 9am or leave at 3pm.I used to think how lucky teachers are all the holidays they get but No ive learned its about time you did.

    • Thank you. It’s really lovely to have support from those outside the profession, too. The families of teachers are often the ones who have to make the biggest sacrifices.

  18. Reblogged this on The Book of Tomorrow and commented:
    There are no words for how much I agree with this and implore Michael Gove to think about what he’s doing to our profession.

  19. My heart goes out to all who are teaching at the moment.
    I can’t remember a more inept and insensitive Minister for Education than Michael Gove and I’ve been involved in education since I trained in the late 1960s. I retired four and half years ago, thank goodness, but still have many “blood-boiling” moments – usually every time a member of the government comments on teachers and education. Sadly, my grandchildren are now in schools, being taught by dedicated, but exhausted, teachers, who are demoralised by the rubbish thrown at them by the Ministry.
    My best wishes go to you and all who strive to educate our children.

  20. K

    This is so well put, thank you for taking the time to post it, it’s nice to know we’re not alone, we all feel this incredible pressure at the moment. As someone who used to work in the private sector, for a big company in London, I can honestly say, I have never worked so hard for so little money in all my life! Good job no one does it for the money… or the social life… or the holidays…

  21. Tina Partridge

    I would like Mr Grove to spend a week in school following teachers to see what hard work we do, even have a go at teaching in the afternoon. Then come home and see how our families and children have to cope with the extra hours done at home (for free). Hear our children cry because they miss us and can’t share a bedtime story because other children’s work books have to be marked.
    Lets see what happens then

    • Interestingly, there has been a petition doing the rounds that demands he experience teaching for one week. Like that’ll ever happen! We can but hope…

      Thanks for reading.

  22. john dunn

    it is the job you chose, if you can’t handle the uninformed criticism then maybe you shouldn’t listen to it!! if you are not happy in your chosen career and lack the time management skills to perform the job then maybe its time to think of something more fulfilling to do… i have two sisters who have been teachers for 30 years they have never complained, they are always on top of their job and have the relevant skill sets to perform the job… if the jobs too hard it maybe not for you, but don’t look for the sympathy card to justify your higher than average salary or patronise a country who the majority are working just as hard to make ends meet, it is your life so make the choices to help you appreciate it don’t whinge to a world that is struggling to get by themselves

    • But aren’t we all entitled to defend our position when we are attacked? Did I complain about the pay? Or the holidays? Did I say I can’t handle the job? Or insinuate that I didn’t want to do it?
      I’m in no way trying to ‘out-whinge’ those who have it harder, and your comments are appreciated, but would like to point out that this blog post is in defence of teachers, and a recognition of how hard they work.

      • MonsieurM

        Hear hear! I don’t regret choosing to teach, and I’m grateful to be paid well for a job I love; but teaching is one of the most scrutanised professions there is and more often than not that criticism comes from people who know very little about the job. Why should we have to handle so much ‘uninformed criticism’? No other profession does. The job is hard – yes, and most other people work just as hard – true; but teaching is made much more unbearable by constant, unjustified, public criticism and that simply is not true for the rest of the hard-working people of this country.

    • Teacher

      Ohhhh, good old John Dunn ‘has sisters’ who are teachers, so he MUST know exactly what it feels like to be one.It’s clear to me now that all this stress I’m under can be avoided by just getting a new career. Simple! It doesn’t matter that we actually have ties to the children, and do this job for them; let’s just up and leave instead of trying to make things better. Indeed, if every dissatisfied teacher left the profession, I’m pretty sure Mr Gove would sit up and take notice, because that would be all of us, except John Dunn’s sisters!

      I’m sure Michael Gove ‘knows’ a teacher or two too, and much like John Dunn, thinks that if he can’t see or hear the problem, it doesn’t exist.

      • :) Thank you

      • L Stewart

        Exactly!!!! I would like John’s sisters to comment on here!!! This is what annoys me!!! People put words in our mouths!! We’re not saying we’re hard done by, or the hardest working profession!!! But when you consider doctors and nurses work shifts and when the have days off they actually can take the day off, we are merely making a comparison!! We want the best for the kids, not just for ourselves!!! Everyone deserves to have a social life!!! There’s not many jobs out there that only allow people to have social lives for 5/6 weeks a year!!!

    • Fascist pig. Oh and get your saintly sisters to teach you proper English.

    • Robert Jones

      John. Seriously? I mean, seriously? Are you suggesting that people shouldn’t make their feelings known with regards to the desperate state of the education system, the diabolical way it is governed and the impact that such decisions will have on future generations and society in general? Can you not sense the collective anger on these issues? Moreover, do you think that whatever your chosen path in life, you should ‘put up and shut up’ or bail? If your family members have never had reason to c?omplain, they are clearly in a minority. Gladly, most people aren’t so

    • lez

      *rolls eyes*. Please go into a school and try our job… just a day… to educate yourself a little

    • I’m not a teacher, just a mum. I really value this article because in some way it might help Gove see sense. I don’t want my children in school for longer and with fewer holidays – not all of us want free childcare, we want what is best for our children. I absolutely value the hard work, enthusiasm, dedication and skill that teachers put in. In my opinion, there are few jobs as demanding that earn this ‘above average’ salary level that demand the same level of training and expertise. I say increase teachers’ pay so as to attract high quality teachers and the best for our children!

    • Robert Jones

      I really can not believe this response, John. Seriously??? If your family have taught in Education for 30 years and never had reason to complain, I find that staggering. My Mum, Aunt and Uncle all worked up to Deputy Head and all said they felt they were leaving teaching at the right time when they retired.

      However, the issue is more relevant to those who will be working in the profession for the next 30 years. More and more good teachers are leaving the profession for the issues raised on this thread. Who suffers? Long term? Society itself. Education is the single most important thing in life. Bar nothing. Without knowledgeable, creative and dynamic classroom leaders and clear directives on behavior, improving personal and social understanding, the need for a healthy lifestyle and career guidance – all of which is provided at school – then society will suffer. I would be very interested to know your chosen career and family status.

      The people who provide all of these things are given a torrid time. Largely unappreciated, often overlooked. Yet, I would bet that if you you asked many of them, “Would you work 15 hour days, sacrifice your friends and family, and suffer comments regarding their ‘lack of time management skills’ (appalling) if you knew it was at the request of a brilliant, experienced, well-informed Education Secretary, who had societies best interests at heart”, then most would say “Yes”.

      Finally, this wasn’t printed and posted through your letterbox. It is a supported statement concerning those that it affects. If you don’t like what you read, I’m sure there’s something out there for you. Try some Robert Harris. Really underrated.

    • Tracey Parker

      Would you like me to mark your comments for punctuation and grammar… because as of now you would be failing Mr Gove’s standards!

    • Robert Jones

      A footnote:

      At least John Dunn had the decency to let people comment on his vastly unpopular and incorrect post unlike the aptly-named PETER DICKERSON earlier in the thread. Yes Peter. You.

    • Roy Watson

      John Dunn: are you really sure your sisters have never complained, or might it just possibly be that you weren’t listening? After all, they either haven’t been able to teach you about basic punctuation, or that “maybe” is an adverb and not two verbs stuck together because you feel like it, or else you simply haven’t given a toss when they did try…

    • Kevin Rowley

      Smug idiot !

    • Simon Layfield

      I’d be interested in knowing the type of school in which John’s sisters have worked . After 20 years in comprehensive schools I finally left, mostly because of the Headteacher of my last school who was a bully and pushed change after change in the school, none of it with any real purpose other than to impose change. A bit like M Gove. I now teach in a very highly regarded international school and I love it. Why? Because we are allowed to spend time teaching lessons, the students don’t object to being in school and I don’t feel like an organ grinder’s monkey. I suspect John’s sisters’ experiences have been somewhat different to mine and to those of the many on here with whom the piece has struck a chord.

    • Tinks

      Well said!!! I’m sick to the back teeth of teachers thinking they are the only hardworking profession in this country (and by the way, I too work in a school so hear this whining day in, day out). Yes they do work long hours, have the goalposts changed at every verse end and have unrealistic targets to meet, but so do lots of professions who don’t get half the benefits and perks. Try working underground for a 12 hour shift, or be on call 24/7 as a surgeon with other peoples lives in your hands, or see traumatic sights like a police officer/ambulance driver does each day. We all think our jobs are the hardest out there, but until we all walk a mile in another man’s shoes, then none of us really can say ‘my job is the worst/hardest’. If you can’t stand the heat…………………

      • Topo

        You miss the point. No one is suggesting that teaching is the only stressful profession. This bolg is about teaching not medicine or mining or ,,,

      • Peter Revell.(ex Education Social Worker)

        Having read all of the above it seems to me that this is not teachers whinging about work loads.The root problem is politicians, of all parties, who know nothing of education methods, aims or practice imposing ignorant, and frequently destructive, policies on the state system for personal and political ends with no concern for the education of the young or the long term future of education in this country.

    • JamesDeacon

      Higher than average salary? Maybe in some parts of the UK, but a teacher does not meet the national median salary until they have been teaching for at least 4 years in the old system, and may never reach it under the new pay proposals.

      The other people working hard to make ends meet are not being undervalued by the author of this letter and you are using twisted logic to suggest that the author sees teachers as any worse off, it just so happens that, as a teacher, the author is explaining what it is actually like to teach! (how many people working extra hours receive overtime pay, unlike teachers?)

  23. Sasha

    Having been married to a teacher for almost 25 years, I fully agree with the contents of your letter to the idiot Gove. Mind you, he’s not alone – I forget which of his predecessors decreed that special needs students incapable of speaking or reading English must conform to the National Curriculum and study a second language – ESL not allowed!

    • ESL students are a growing population in our schools and incredibly poorly catered for by the NC – even the new drafts. The more we speak out, the more we can change things x

    • Julie H

      I totally agree, Sasha; I head the Inclusion Department in my school and the targets set for severely challenged students (SEN and ESL) are ludicrous! Why would anyone with any sense expect a student with identified learning needs to make progress at the same rate as a student without such needs? Why would a newly-arrived student with no English be expected to get similar grades to their English counterparts? They are being set up to fail and it breaks my heart to see the effect it has on their self esteem! Gove is an ass!

  24. Woody

    Wow, on top of all that you still find time to write a blog complaining? You must be some sort of super-woman!

    As a teacher (maths) , I know you have to work hard, but if you’re really working every hour God sends you for the best part of the year, you’re probably doing it wrong.

    Try saying no to some of the extra work you seem to take on, go out on a Friday night with your friends, and please make time for yourself. You’ll find that you still manage to do the work to a brilliant standard, and *maybe* of you’re a little happier with yourself you’ll push yourself to work to an even higher standard.

    • Your advice is excellent – particularly for new teachers and those struggling.

      Oh, and yes, I am Superwoman. It seems my alter ego has been discovered.

      • Woody

        I agree. New teachers must get their time balance correct from the start.

      • Zara

        I think there is a difference depending on what you teach. When I taught just one subject it was a lot easier!

    • L Stewart

      I completely agree with your point here but she’s not alone here!! If she is doing it wrong so are 1000s of other teachers and maybe Gove is right after all!?!? Please tell me how to do it “right”. I will happily take ANY and all advice on board!!! As quite new teacher (2nd year) I am hoping that my time management etc will improve as the years go on, but any help/advice along the way would be greatly appreciated!!

  25. Carole Gray

    Carole Gray.

    Absolutely spot on! I let my mother (now deceased) down so many times when asked to lunch or dinner on a Sunday. I’d make the appointment thinking, I will definitely make it this time, but of course, I didn’t. Each time, I am ashamed to admit, I would have to telephone her on the Saturday or even Sunday to apologise and say that I had so much work to do I just couldn’t possibly make it- marking books, then planning in depth for Monday and Tuesday then outlining for the rest of the week, etc, etc.
    I am retired now and have more time to reflect on the past and the amount of time (and money, in buying what the school couldn’t provide) I gave for the children and schools I worked in, and was it worth it? Yes and no.
    Yes, because I loved teaching and seeing the children learn; their excitement during specific lessons, especially Science. What could be more exciting to a child than to see a butterfly hatch out, having observed its growth progress from a single egg through to a beautiful butterfly and having participated in collecting nettles to feed it during the caterpillar stage. Having written about its life cycle from observations and drawn pictures and paintings and created models from clay.

    I look back on those days, sometimes with wonder, that I was ever able to do as much as I did and raise a family as well.
    I loved the job but…I loved it much more in the days before the National Curriculum when there was time to talk with and listen to – the children.

    Congratulations to all teachers everywhere, for all the work they do at school and especially all the work I know they do at home. It’s like having two jobs. All day at school and most of the night and weekends at home. This is not an exaggeration – just a reality. Teachers are people who love teaching and seeing others learn.

  26. Michael Billington

    I am a primary teacher and can wholeheartedly agree with this. I have just reached 60 and am now semi retired. I now just do mornings and feel wholy liberated. I work hard during those mornings and have to stay behind to mark but then the time is my own. I doubt whether today’s full time teachers will be able to take much more of this Gove nonsense. He is driving them away. It’s all very saying we’re raising the bar but there comes a point when the bar cannot be reached any more by teachers and children alike. That point has already been reached.

  27. I teach part time. This year I am paid for 11.5 hours per week with one of them being PPA. I usually work for about 35 to 40 hours a week at least and do not think I could possibly manage to work full time. It is exhausting. I would just like to come home sometimes and not have work to do.

  28. Jus

    The letter here is the rein I gave up teaching. After 15 years at the chalk face, as it used to be called, I found I had no work life balance. Of those 12 weeks holiday, I added up the hours that I work, and found that I was actually getting 4 weeks, and that’s not counting the weekend and evenings I spent working. In the 2 weeks of the summer holidays that I didn’t work, my wife told me I was a different person. This told me that the job was changing me, and that this was not a good thing. Now being out of it for over a year, I know the profession damages the professionals in it.

    • There are many out there who feel exactly the same. While I love the job and the students I teach, I also know that this workload is unsustainable. Whereas I once viewed teaching as a lifetime career, I now only view it as a short term, intensive experience. I know that I will need to find an alternative career when I eventually burn out, become disillusioned, or have children and become absolutely torn by the compromises I’d have to make (I’m completely in awe of colleagues with children – they are the true superheroes of teaching). Thanks for reading.

    • Hear, hear.

  29. I luckily teach in Scotland so Mr Gove has little/no impact on me personally, but I wholeheartedly agree with everything you’ve said. I think he should life the life of a teacher for a week and weigh up a teacher’s life with their salary. He’s such a ignorant man and he has no concept of the damage he does.

  30. Billy

    That sounds pretty much like my wife’s life. I’m so glad I got out when I did, strangely, doing a ‘9-5′ (well, 7-6) job is far less stressfull than teaching ever was, I’ve not missed my 13 weeks holiday as I haven’t needed it in my new profession and I can go for a drink and play rugby during the week.
    It’s funny that his own education was at a private school in Scotland (he’s never been through the English state system), where they didn’t follow a national curriculum, the teachers did not need to be qualified (I knew a teacher from his school – no teaching degree/cert, possibly no degree) and the holidays are longer, more in the region of 15-17 weeks, still he must know what’s best :-(

    • Of course he does! *coughs*
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. It’s good to know that there are options beyond teaching, for those considering an alternative to the profession.

  31. Lee Ashford

    I agree with everything you’ve said. I had to leave the profession because I felt I couldn’t do my job properly (teaching children) because of all the other stuff and ultimately the lack of free time.
    I feel for anyone still going. You are appreciated by those who know :-)

  32. Debbie ravenscroft

    I’m a teacher and I don’t feel I need defending! It is a challenging job BUT every 6 weeks I get a break :) whether I still have planning or marking it is still a break, I earn a decent salary and have very good working conditions. Those I teach work in day nurseries 730-6 most days for a few quid an hour with 4 weeks a year holiday now that’s hard work.

    I have two teenage sons, a very busy husband have just completed a Masters degree and actually think a longer school day and shorter holidays will benefit the children because surely it’s all about them and not us? Politicians have always meddled in education largely to little effect.

    • Yes, many others have it far worse than we do, and work just as hard. But the government do need to take heed of the pressures that they are heaping onto teachers, particularly with their agenda of change. Stressed/ overworked teachers can’t do their job as well as they might like to, and that has implications for the students in our charge. It’s not about whether we can or can’t cope with our job, whether we do or do not feel that the holidays or pay are good – I’ve said time and time again that they are. It’s about standing up for our profession, because we love it and give everything to it.
      Thanks for your comments.

  33. Calamity Jane

    I’ve always thought it weird that people think teachers are “not working” before 9am or after 3.30pm, even if they know they are sitting at a desk / computer for many pre- and post-school hours, but no-one would dream of walking into an office, look at a load of people sitting at desks / computers and say “you’re not working”.

  34. sadandbeaten

    I write this comment as a word of warning to all the hard-working, enthusiastic, committed teachers out there. I am a Headteacher nearing the end of my career. In theory, I have 8 more years until retirement, but I have become so disillusioned with the education system under the current government that I have chosen to leave at the end of this year. I am not bitter, but I am worn out by the incessant changes that are randomly thrown our way because someone sitting in an office in parliament wants to keep a job. Heed the comments from ‘theuphillstruggle’ and act now.

    • Sorry to hear it has come to breaking point for you. Thanks for sharing – it’s good to have an SLT perspective too. All the best for the future. However, I don’t wish to mislead readers. I am in no way suggesting that teachers get out of the profession. I just hope that collectively we can stand up to this bullying government, stand our ground and hope for a better future x

  35. Science is fun

    I can completely understand your point. I’m a science technician, not even a teacher, in a secondary school and I work 8am – 4pm as my standard hours. Not the 9am – 3pm people think people in education work. I arrive before 8 am and there are usually teachers already in the department. When I leave at 4pm the department office will still be full of teachers working, as will some of the labs. I’m not even sure what time they leave. Even the breaks during the day are not always breaks for teachers as break duties must be carried out or children in detention watched, or more prep done for the next lesson. Sometimes the teachers haven’t even had time to visit the toilet all day, let alone eat or drink!

    I’m incredibly lucky that I can’t take my work home with me, although at home is the only time I get during the day to read and deal with work emails. I think I’d be permanently ill from overwork and exhaustion if I did take my work home. I’m amazed that teachers survive and aren’t more ill than they are. When the teachers do get ill they struggle into work anyway as it is easier than having to get up from their sick bed at 6am anyway to set cover work.

    I find it unbelievable that someone so wholly incompetent and clueless as Gove can remain in his job. What dirt does he have on someone higher up so they have to keep him???

    To all the people making negative comments about this article, yes the teachers chose the profession but no one chooses their profession with the expectation that they will be constantly undermined, run down and told they are lazy and should work harder. Funny no one seems to criticise the summer recess MPs take, and claim they don’t work hard enough… or maybe MPs also really work during that long holiday, or need it from their so stressful long working hours all week?

  36. Lynne Stevens

    Im a parent if an 11 year student and appreciate all the teachers at his school. I also have several teachers in my immediate family and amongst my closest neighbours. They all work above and beyond their duties and certainly deserve their holidays especially when a lsrge part of it is spent planningcand marking. Totally against shorter hols and longer days as this would have a negative impact on both children and teachers. I for one won’t moan if teachers call for strike action on this issue. Mr Gove needs to go back to school as incapable of any intelligent fresh ideas. I despair of this government. roll on nxt General Election.

  37. you’ve just described my life to a T. Amen x

  38. Jaygem

    I have nothing but admiration for teachers as I used to be one. I found early on that I couldn’t cope with the planning and marking workload of 150 maths students plus break/lunch/detention duties. This after changing from I well paid responsible engineering career (that wasn’t as satisfying). I now tutor maths from home, which I love, but can only help 20 students each week. I still get so angry when I hear politicians and the media denigrating teaching professionals, they just have no clue.

  39. jacqueline

    teachers sure have changed a lot since my day. or maybe there are still very good ones & very bad ones. respect to the good ones!

  40. Very thought provoking post and [sadly] spot on. In fact you may even have made it look ‘easier’ than it really is… :( . As a TA myself [primary level] I watch those Class Teachers I [try] to support struggling to achieve the impossible whilst maintaining a smile and a generous serving of team spirit. Among all of the above you’ve missed out that you guys support each other and your support staff too. If one of us ‘falls’ the others immediately gather to ‘lift them up’, unfailingly in my experience.

    I personally think that untill Mr Gove has successfully and independently [as he's all for axing TA's too if I remember rightly] taught a class of 30 primary school children, including the usual amount of EAL and special needs children, for at least a term he should keep his unrealistic and totally unworkable opinions to himself. Once he’s run that gauntlet then maybe, just maybe he can comment on how we run playtime ~ and that’s a big maybe! ;)

    I am also a parent so I see both sides of the coin and your efforts may not be appreciated and realised at Government level but they sure are at ground zero….we’re on your side, we really are. Just know that you’re appreciated.

    Sharon xx TA/Parent

  41. Debbie Smith

    I work in a school as a Science Technician I love my job so much and I see just how hard every person has to work to ensure the children get an Education. I will freely admit that before i started working in a School that I thought all those holidays and a short day they have it easy, little did I know the holidays are essential as you get knackered and I mean exhausted even as a lab tech our job starts before School and carries on after, in term time we carry out extra duties. Congratulations on such a well written letter and its spot on!

  42. Do you not get any support from Teaching Assistants? I know not all schools have them but in schools where they do, the teachers find their help invaluable and some say that they wouldn’t be able to do their job without the TA’s support – yet they are often forgotten about and as you do not mention them in your open letter I can only assume you don’t have them. In fact admin staff would be helpful too I would have thought – but then again maybe they are too busy to help or aren’t any.

    • You’re absolutely right, TAs are a valuable asset, and teachers most certainly couldn’t do the job without them. Sadly, as I mentioned in a previous comment, Gove does not recognise their contribution and wants to reduce TA numbers.
      While I cannot comment on the primary school setting, as a secondary school teacher we have very few TAs, and the ones we do have are there to support SEN students (quite rightly). In terms of admin, we are able to get our photocopying done if we submit it three days in advance, and can request support to put up a display, but there is only one person available to do this, and they are expected to fit this in around their normal office duties. Of course I, and I am sure all other teachers, fully appreciate any assistance they receive – but in reality it does little to reduce workload.
      However, to bemoan this would not do justice to the purpose of my letter. I am happy to work hard. What I am not happy about is the constant insinuation that, as a teacher, I must be inherently lazy. Gove’s constant attack upon the profession and his demonisation of the unions belittles the work that all employees in schools do. Thanks for your comments.

  43. CD

    I’m afraid you’re in a relatively unskilled profession (degrees are ten a penny) and pay is rarely performance-based, so you’re just cannon fodder I’m afraid. Every school has its sh*t teachers.

    The country pays your wages & the country elects the Government to run the education system, so Michael Gove having an opinion should not come as a surprise. Get a grip or leave the profession.

    • Ah, yes, of course! Silly me. I had forgotten that all I needed to do was get a grip.
      So much for democracy, freedom of speech or integrity. So much for standing up for my profession! I shall henceforth “grip”!
      Thank you for sharing your comments. It is insightful to see all manner of opinions.

    • Zara

      Spend a day in a school in charge of 30 children and teaching 12 subjects and then reply.

    • Simon

      Degrees may be relatively common these days but those successfully passing their PGCEs and NQT years are not quite so ‘ten a penny’. I don’t think you quite understand how hard teachers work: in terms of sheer hours and how demanding the job really is (mentally and physically). I’ve worked in lots of different environments before teaching: all better paid and all way less demanding. So, why are there people left in teaching, when it’s such a nightmare? : a) There’s nothing quite like it for job satisfaction when a learner you’ve taught achieves their goals and b) Someone has to fo the job.

    • MonsieurM

      It does tickle me when people say “the country pays your wages”… as if teachers themselves don’t pay tax too! :-/

      I would point out that you don’t just need a degree to teach but an additional diploma (not ten-a-penny and certainly not easy to obtain) and most teachers have a second degree.

      There’s nothing wrong with reform, if it’s for the right reasons and has been proposed by people with the relevant experience. Gove has no personal experience of the state education system and quotes surveys undertaken by Premier Inn…

    • Simon Layfield

      CD,

      I’m sure you’re aware of the impression you give when you make comments like those you have posted here (12 subjects…riiight). If you have something constructive to say, why don’t you contribute? If you know something that others don’t, let us hear it. Comments like Michael Gove has an opinion, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, are rather feeble. We all have opinions, but we’re not all handed an axe to wield. Gove is poorly informed and dangerous because he threatens to undermine all the good things in our education system in the name of raising standards. Schools constantly strive to raise standards, just as businesses do, they don’t need a fool dressed as a politician to tell them how best to do it. Teachers would welcome reform if it was based on sound priciples and established research, but Gove’s proposals are not. He seems to have some fanciful ideas based on his own elitist education, which is fairly irrelevant for the majority of state-funded comprehensive schools. If someone feels it is time to take a stand or make a point about the negative impact of the government’s interference then it is their right to do so. What is the position of authority or experience from which you speak?

  44. Ruby Thurday

    Having just retired from 40 years in the profession, I recognise the dilemma between work life balance. In fact its a shock being at home! What do I miss? The students, the banter, the success stories, the look of pleasure on students face when they achieve. What don’t I miss? Working most nights creating lessons, marking, staff meetings, doing jobs three times over because the government changes its mind on how it needs the information that it asked for last week, the criticisms from all quarters, the inability of parents to take responsibility for their own offspring. Do I regret teaching? No way! I would do it again, Oh I am! going back to help out a couple of days a week.

  45. Liz Warwick

    Wow, brought tears to my eyes.
    I’m not crying for the struggle I and others face in our jobs. I’m crying because it’s true. We work hard. We sacrifice our personal lives for the children we teach. We face unrelenting pressure and rise to near impossible challenges.
    And ‘he’ slanders us without repercussion. It makes me sick.

  46. When I think back to school (which wasn’t THAT long ago – 10 years), I remember my form tutor giving me loads of her time, she also came in on a few Saturdays to help build the set, then there was the maths teacher on lights and the drama teacher directing, we all had great fun, but their weekends were not their own. I also went on DofE trips with school, we had 3/4 teachers give up a number of weekends and 2 of those did rock climbing club on a Wednesday evening. PE teachers were taking us to football/hockey matches and we were not getting back until 5pm. How long do they want after school clubs to last?
    I also have a daughter with special needs, she goes to mainstream, and finds the whole thing just too much by 3.15pm. So much so they have put her into a special group in the afternoons. If the school day was extended then she just wouldn’t cope at all.
    Teachers are not baby sitters, they are educators and deserve our utmost respect (well the good ones anyway!).
    I love your letter, and thank you for being a wonderful caring teacher, your students are lucky to have you x

  47. This rings so true. I spent today sat on the living room floor with 150 scripts, to ensure all the answers were analysed so that we can personalise the maths, grammar and reading teaching for the coming year. I am a year 6 teacher and know only too well the consequences of not nailing the SATs results to the governments target board.

    I love my job. As a second career I am well aware that the holidays are generous but the hours are no different from my prior job in sales and, the pressure is pretty much the same. The pay however, is not commensurate. Trust me no teacher does the work for the pay, no matter what other people may think.

    With reference to the maths teacher over work brought home.: I teach for 4 1/2 hours every day, with the exception of 2 hours ppa a week. Preparation, marking and classroom management have to be done out of directed time, There is no other time,

    Like you I am not complaining about hours or pay per se, but I do resent the constant initiatives and moving goalposts that require me to up the work load to ensure they are implemented.

  48. Peridot Hill

    Here, here! LOVE what teachers are trying to do for our children even with some very trying government guidelines.

  49. Charlene Barber

    Yes! I’m right there with you. It’s not just him, it’s “friends” in industry who also think we have it easy and throw the weeks of holidays in our faces.

    Thank you for putting this together and being a voice for those of us who really do genuinely care about every child that we teach. I want the best for all the children I teach, every day, just like lots of other teachers all over the country. Mr Gove, along with some other people, need to see us as dedicated people fulfilling a vocation rather than the 9 to 3ers who have an easy time with it!

    I do honestly love my job but he’s making it hard to do it sometimes.

  50. frances

    I loved every minute of my 30 years teaching but it was an exhausting life. Now retired I feel I have time to breathe!

  51. Overworked

    All those in favour of giving Gove a term as a teacher in a so caled under performing school. Perhaps Willshaw should do the same!

  52. Vortexhappy

    This is so true..I left formal teaching last Christmas. I left because I’d watched colleagues become stressed, worried and depressed about their workload and I wasn’t prepared to go through that. I loved teaching and will miss it all my life but with the changes in government policy, we are basically teaching young people to pass exams and not be prepared for life and those demands leads to such worry. The demands are not only outrageous but ridiculous. Michael Gove…has never been a teacher. Would you get your car repaired by someone who couldn’t and wouldn’t drive a car??

  53. Christine Bridle

    Hi,

    Michael Gove should be ashamed of himself, get him to teach a class of 40 five year olds as it was when I was at school. I would have love to be a teacher but I could always do the work in class but put me in an exam room and I was useless. I unfortunately left school with no qualifications but not because the teachers did not try, they were excellent, because of a fear of exams. Having said that because of the teaching and knowing that I could do it I got me good jobs throughout my working life from which I have just retired. Exams are not the B all and end all of teaching, it’s the way you are taught. I for one would not like to see teachers having to do longer days they are worked hard enough.

  54. JW

    I’ve just left full time teaching, in no small part because every single word of your letter is true. Anyone who thinks it is not true does not understand how teachers feel under this barrage of criticism from Mr G. I have been preparing a letter to government, stating my reasons of concern over education right now. Take care x

  55. Emily

    Superb and thank you. I am in the same position and have children. It means I have to work into the early hours nearly every night. I am near breaking point. Thanks for sticking up for us.

  56. Nathalie

    Thank you for writing this. I’m only reading it at 8 at night because of course, most of my day has been spent marking and planning outstanding lessons complete with differentiation for everyone, kagan activities, opportunities for self and peer assessment, links to levels – oh, and of course, there are 6 of those tomorrow. That’s on top of attempting to spend a bit of time with my toddler. I, like most teachers, am exhausted and it’s only week 3 of term. I would love to get both the idiotic Give and Wilshaw into a ‘normal’ school and see how Gove copes trying to teach students who are not from the traditional grammar system. The man is an uneducated and uninformed idiot when it comes to education. Thank you again for rectifying that!

  57. Sarah Newman

    I´m reading this from overseas. I´m lucky enough to have been able to leave the UK & the profession until I work out what I´m going to do now. This government (& the academy programme) has ruined the job for me, in my opinion teaching has become proletariaised and is no longer a viable career for anyone who wants to do a good job but also wants a life. It´s so sad what is happening and you´re right, it´s the children who will lose out most of all in the end. The only power & rights teachers have left are with the unions, even though they may seem weak and divided, if the entire teaching population made a stand, united, not divided, it may reduce more disastrous changes coming in.

  58. DB

    WOW! Just starting my NQT year and the ridiculous amounts of hours I have spent planning is killing me! Thought it gets better the longer you are a teacher, but these comments suggest otherwise!! This is not how I want to spend the rest of my life, irrelevant of all the success stories,,,,,,,

  59. A fantastic post! You have reflected my every thought and emotion! Thank you for putting it into words! You have stood proud for every teacher I know!

  60. Sarah ali

    Fantastic insight into the lives of teachers. We trust and leave our beloved children in their hands for the best part of every weekday and don’t put a thought into the role of the teacher. So, for all you teachers out there, you’re doing a fantastic job and you are all amazing. I wouldn’t want my children in school for longer either, I would like to see them before they become young adults

  61. Bob

    I spent eight years living the life you describe and I am therefore extremely sympathetic. However, I finally came to the conclusion that despite loving teaching and the kids that it wasn’t worth the negative impact it was having on my life. So I quit. I am so much happier. I still work in education of sorts, often working with teachers who I would always describe as sharing the following characteristics: committed, hard working and stressed. I feel desperately sorry for them. I suspect things will get worse in the teaching profession, not better.

    I realise some of you might not appreciate this but if you feel like I did then quit. Do something else. I still get to work in a similar field, I still do something which matters. But work no longer consumes everything. The grass really can be greener. Good luck to all of you.

  62. Honeymonster

    I am a maths teacher with around ten years experience. I was nodding to myself as I read much of your article. That said, I hope you can help as I am feeling slightly naive.

    “you seem to believe that teachers only work 9am-3pm, then bugger off home without a second thought for children’s education…
    …stop bullying us. Stop trying to paint us all as work-shy, lazy good-for-nothings. Stop trying to insinuate that we are all incompetent. Stop attacking the teaching profession.”

    Please could you point me in the direction of any evidence (newspaper quotes, links to clips from news/current affairs program, written documentation by him) that show Mr Gove

    1. Stating he believes teachers only work from 9am-3pm
    2. Trying to paint all teachers as work-shy, lazy good for nothings.
    3. Insinuating that teachers are incompetent.

    I certainly haven’t seen such evidence, but I can quite happily say I’ll be changing my opinion of Mr Gove when I read it. I do set a challenge though… If you (or others) can’t provide such evidence, then perhaps you’d be so noble to withdraw such comments?

    Please let me reiterate, I am (currently) a “Labour supporting”, teacher for over ten years. I do find my job extremely tiring, and I am interested in seeing any evidence that support your three points that I listed above.

    Many thanks

    • Graham Lack

      Good point. And the author might also find a minute to correct “to deviate the lesson”. I would be worried if my children were being taught by someone who seems not to be aware of the difference between a transitive and an intransitive verb.

      • Jon Mellor

        I would be worried if my offspring were being taught how to think by someone whose only contribution to the debate was a point of grammatical pedantry.

  63. Steve

    Well said! As a teacher who was made redundant 5 years ago, I never had a second for myself which was fine because with parents who were also teachers I knew the stresses and strains of the education world. I thought teaching was a job for life, but not now. With 12 years of teaching behind me, I now work for a charity where I am respected by everyone I come into contact with. I would like to return to the classroom, but with less and less jobs in teaching I cannot get a post which is sad. Good luck to all the teachers going to work tomorrow, or this week – I hope your planning is up to date! I respect you all.

  64. If only he would actually listen to us. I really do think these people making and implementing policy would do well to actually teach a term or so before they started trying to tell us what to do – walk a mile in their shoes and all that!

  65. Zara

    It was nice to read someone speaking the words I feel. I have spent 8 hours this weekend planning. I am so fed up. I am seriously considering a career change as I don’t see things getting any better. These changes are meant to improve education but how will it if the good/outstanding teachers leave!

  66. Reblogged this on writermummy and commented:
    This is one for the Brits… I don’t normally do political, but I do have views about Mr Gove (mostly unrepeatable!)

  67. Unskilled profession eh!. It just shows how ignorant some people are about the art of teaching. (everybody thinks they know how to teach because they have been to school) Motivating sometimes challenging students and ensuring the brighter ones have work that will stretch them for a starter… Thinking about the different learning styles and the array of intelligences in a class of 30+ children so lessons can be planned to meet these.and then present activities that will cover this wide range. Focusing on differentiated strategies, planning interesting and outstanding lessons, knowing about behaviour management and applying each and every day because not all students will be polite and amenable… Keeping up to date with specific special needs, and with the many curriculum and assessment changes thrust upon teachers by successive governments. Being on top of the marking and record keeping with individual learning plans etc…. Need I go on, it has already been said but I am reinforcing it…. Yes I was a teacher for almost 40 years and everything you say is quite correct. My partner could not believe how much I did at home during the evenings and weekends and holidays. Invariably many teachers find themselves physcically and mentally exhausted during the holidays and go down with some illness or other.. Those who criticise and think it is an easy job and that it is unskilled should perhaps go into the profession if it is such a doddle!!! Well said uphillstruggle keep up the good work and I just hope someone appreciates you and the many teachers out there in this present political climate…. ..It has never been easy but I fear it is getting more difficult…

    • CD

      ‘unskilled’ as in it’s relatively easy to join the profession. Teaching is clearly difficult and requires skills.

      • Minnie

        CD, do a PGCE then decide if it’s ‘relatively easy to join the profession’. I have a first class Chemistry degree from a top-10 RG university… and the PGCE was infinitely more challenging. I had no more than 3 hours sleep any night for the duration of the course, lost 3 stone in weight because I didn’t have time to cook properly, and ended up on antidepressants. If you’ve not done it, you have no right to comment on how “easy” it is.

  68. Mark C

    Superbly expressed.I have children and chose to remain in the classroom for the last 25 years to see them grow up rather than join SMT and jump to the latest directives from an increasingly dictatorial govt with an anti teacher agenda.

  69. Simon

    Your open letter to Michael Gove represents a very true reflection of life as a teacher. I am a secondary school teacher and have worked in a wide variety of school settings, from dangerous Pupil Referral Units/BESD environments where I have to put up with regularly being assaulted (hit, spat on, punched, called revolting names and kicked) through to those mainstream schools where behaviour is less of a challenge but differentiation, planning and assessment forms a much greater percentage of my time.

    I’d love to know if and where I am going wrong because, like yourself and my peers, I regularly work at home until 10 – 11pm, work through half and end-of-term holidays, not to mention the first and last 1 – 2 weeks of the summer break. That leaves me with a guaranteed 2 weeks holiday a year – smack bang in the peak season, when I can’t afford to go away. That’s approximately 10 days annual leave a year, although to be fair, when I add on the odd days I don’t touch work in the school holidays, it’s more like 15 days. Compared to my previous higher paid jobs in the corporate world, where I was entitled to 30 days leave per annum, I appear to have shot myself in the foot coming into teaching.

    The problem lies here: I am so passionate about the future of our young people and I simply love passing on my knowledge to them. I get such a buzz creating lively, fascinating learning experiences and acting these out to learners. I get an almighty high when I see a young person understanding a previously alien concept and applying this theory to a practical example of their own. Aside from subject teaching, I also enjoy knowing that students understand they can approach me for pastoral guidance.

    Michael, before you think seriously about making alterations to the school day, listen carefully and think about what teachers are telling you. I would like to offer you the opportunity to work as a class teacher in my school. I’ll let you pick the subject area you wish to work in and I’ll leave the planning, preparation, delivery and assessment to you. The lessons must be to a good or outstanding standard. Your lesson plans must be handed to me at least 24 hours before the scheduled delivery.

    Being a teacher is a hard hard job. Please stop altering the goal posts – we can’t catch up! Alter the use of Ofsted to help guide and assist teachers and schools to improve as opposed to allowing inspections to become more and more stressful, killing many professionals’ self esteem and causing the most heart breaking anxiety and worry. The happier, most supported, least stressed teachers are the ones who deliver the best lessons to our valuable young people.

    Thank you

  70. Put it this way, I quit teaching because quite honestly I couldn’t ‘hack it’. Personally I don’t know how and more importantly ‘why’ anyone would ever want to be a teacher. I came into it fairly late in my life (30 year old) after spending years in scientific research and university teaching and loved being in the classroom with the kids and loved the whole idea of ‘teaching’. Those ideals quickly turned into a nightmare when I clearly couldn’t cope with the ludicrous workload nor conduct my life under such pressures and lack of sleep. I tip my hat to those that tolerate such madness, I did not and will not. Looking back, now that I have a very enjoyable job where I feel valued, am not put under ludicrous pressure, am not scrutinized every second of every day and quite frankly allowed to have a actual ‘break’ where I can go to the bathroom when I want for the same pay as a NQT I might add, I wonder who would actually be attracted to the profession.

    • Minnie

      Lee, I’ve done the same as you in reverse. I completed my PGCE and my NQT year… and am now heading back to uni to do a PhD. If they want to attract top graduates to this profession, they need to trust that we know what we’re doing to help the students.

  71. My dad and brother were both housemasters in public schools so I absolutely get you about the tunnel thing. I have no idea how they stood it, it was definitely a lifestyle rather than a career. As for working in the State system, I believe the government hoop jumping is far worse.

    To me, it says something that the three people I’ve met outside my son’s school who have retired from teaching in the state sector gave up because they had all had nervous breakdowns and left. One talked of starting to teach GCSE Geography when the Government still hadn’t decided what the new syllabus was. It says something that many teachers give up after a few years. And it’s not even as if they earn that much if you compare them to say, lawyers who at least get paid for the vast tracts of time they spend working.

    Well spoken.

    Cheers

    MTM

  72. Warren Jackson

    Superb article! I can’t even type that man’s name.

  73. Daniel

    As the husband of a teacher I fully understand the ridiculous pressure heaped on teachers. I was lucky enough to have a snooze after our lunch today while my wife did an hour and a half’s planning and this on top of her working until 11pm every night this week. Your letter is so accurate and as my wife has recently returned to work after having our child I simply don’t know how she does it.
    Isn’t it about time the government stopped interfering with our children’s education and a governing body was set up headed and ran by ex teachers? (I was going to suggest practising teachers but I’m not sure the extra workload would be appreciated!)

  74. Debbie Barnett

    I have read your letter with tears streaming down my face because that is exactly how I feel. I am a teacher married to a teacher and it seems how ever hard we work it is never good enough. I have worked for more than half of my weekend. I was planning to get some exercise, but the need to teach outstanding lessons and mark endlessly has got in the way again! I worked for half my summer and with a son at university I couldn’t afford a holiday in July or August. My kids (17 and 19) have said they would not want to be teachers because they’ve worked out the hourly rate and my son got paid more per hour for his summer job in Tesco! I am not planning on a holiday next summer either because we are likely to have an Autumn inspection!
    I hate Michael Gove and his constant teacher bashing. Your letter represents exactly what I feel and I thank you for writing it.

  75. Debi

    As with many of the others I agree with your comments regarding the insensitivity that Mr Gove treats the teaching profession, but what do you expect from a puppet controlled by a hand with another agenda. He does not have an original thought in his straw head, and his squeaker just repeats the same old rhetoric that he is fed into his ear from other sources. Teaching was a profession that I started 14 years ago, and as the goal post keep shifting and getting further and further away, I am sure that it is not a profession I intend to stay in.

  76. Clare

    I’m certain that you work hard, but I have little sympathy. Nurses, doctors & many other professions work at least as hard with similar credit as teachers. Then there are people of run their own business, who get NO holidays. Yes it’s their choice, but then so is it your choice to be a teacher. Your choice, get on with it, or do something else. Maybe try caring for people in ICU for a 12 hour shift? – that’s pressure

    • MonsieurM

      Agreed. But people who work in ICUs and those who run their own businesses aren’t constantly being put-down and told they’re not good enough, are they? You’d be surprised at how demoralising that can be.

      • kiwi

        No ICU nurses may not be constantly put down. However they work under a different type of stress, their mistakes could kill a patient they therefore have to be the totally on the ball for each and every momentI of their working day!

    • Minnie

      Agree with MonsieurM… not to mention the fact that when nurses and doctors get time off, they actually get time off! (And I have worked as a nurse). And actually, NHS staff get almost as much holiday as teachers (but again, without the marking, planning, extra classes etc that teachers have).

  77. Jane L

    Thank you for saying what needed saying, what a pity that those who should be hearing this will be selectively deaf.
    Pearls (of wisdom) before swine…

    Keep up the good work in the classroom and beyond, I know that the job is not just about school hours, it’s more a lifetimes commitment, as a retired teacher I still miss it but know I just don’t have the energy anymore.

  78. Stuart Lindley

    My wife and I have spent the first 9 days of this new school year marking books, cutting out, sticking in and laminating everything. In the 6 weeks holiday we got married and had a few weeks away for our honeymoon, yet she beats herself up at the fact she is behind on where she feels she should be. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. How has it got to the stage where it has become socially acceptable for people to work in THEIR holiday time anyhow? Especially during a time which should be savioured as the most special in your life. Now at the beginning of this prose I mentioned my wife and I are doing all this work, which is due to the ridiculous regulations and hoops you make them jump through, plus a monsterious workload.
    Now I appreciate we all have to work and work hard, however I propose to Mr Gove to switch shoes with a teacher for just a single day, or even a week to see how incredidibly overloaded they are. I feel such an experience would allow the Education Minister to take stock and reassess the current system. There needs to be a change as teachers are wholehearted in the profession for the right reasons and love to teach, but I do not know a single teacher who would recommend it to anyone thinking about making the leap into the abyss that is the education sector.

  79. L Stewart

    I was speaking to a colleague just last week and was saying that I would happily have similar holidays to other jobs if it meant that I could have a life outside work for the entire year and not just the summer!!! I completely agree with what your saying, not only would the hours that he proposes be impossible for us it would be impossible for the kids!! What are the chances he will ever read this letter?
    Thanks for writing down EXACTLY what I think!! It helps just to know that I’m not the only teacher who works like that!!

  80. Scott Hammond

    I just wanted to say how much I admire this open letter.

    I knew Gove was going to do this from the moment he was given his post. I am not a teacher, although for the longest time I wanted to be one and because of his parties inability to help those, like me, who asked and looked for help, I decided against trying.

    I did however do two weeks of unpaid work as a teaching assistant and apart from enjoying more than anything else I have done, I realised just how long the hours were.

    Gove is a complete waste of space and I support you and all teachers fully.

  81. Dianne Lish

    I actually gave up teaching (which I LOVED) as I had NO time with my family as it was spent doing all of the tasks that you mentioned. I started to resent my husband (for having a life and socialising) because I couldn’t. His other option was to sit and watch me marking books etc! It was either my job or my marriage – 13 years later we are still happily married – don’t know if this would have been the case had I continued teaching!

    • L Stewart

      Just out of curiosity how long we’re you teaching and what did you go on to do?? (Just started my 2nd year of teaching and can’t believe I’m considering a new career already for the exact reasons you just mentioned). Congratulations on your happy marriage!! It’s much more important 😊

      • Dianne Lish

        Hi – I taught for ten years – absolutely loved it and was a herd decision to leave – but was the right one (for me)

  82. The BearMan

    The moment a different political party is elected into Government they believe its their principle duty to undo what the party leaving office has done. To the effect that our education system is absolutely messed up.

    Should you invite most of our political leaders to do an honest days work, you soon realise how absolutely useless they really are. In every other profession apart from politics they is a level of accountability.

  83. Justine Marriott

    Oh my goodness – this totally sums up how I’ve been feeling for several years – although I likened it to getting on a merry go round during term time. I’ve just resigned from teaching.

  84. Sarah S

    I am, like many people commenting here, a hard working teacher, heading up KS4 English, who is also a mum (a single mum at that to 3 amazing children who are all achieving amazing levels of success in their own learning, with many hours given over to reading to them, writing with them, sharing the world through weekend experiences , walks in the woods, shared mealtimes …..and then, when they go to bed, getting the good old marking out again!).

    I would LOVE Mr Gove to come and do my life for 6 weeks. I would welcome him into my world on the proviso he did it all to the level of professionalism that I put in hour on hour, day after day, week after week, month after month ….and then go home and do family life to the level I do that, too.

    To add to his sighs of ‘she doesn’t know a hard day’s work’ …. as someone who spent 15 years doing ‘other’ things before becoming a teacher, I know full well the pressures in

    a) the military – did that
    b) private sector industry – did that, too
    c) burning the candle at both ends – endured that whilst gaining my BAHons degree with the Open University in 3 years whilst working full time and looking after 2 children under the age of 5 at the time.

    Why did I do it and continue to do it all? Because, like so many others, I love my job; I care about the next generation, and hope that somewhere amidst the children I teach that maybe, just maybe, is the next Education Minister. Maybe, just maybe, they will be more human and humane than the current one.

  85. Rob

    Well said, but Gove is just a typical dishonest, self-serving politician. Mr Wilshaw is much more dangerous animal. He really does think that teachers don’t work hard enough!

  86. Breaking Point

    I like many people have read and agreed with what you say, and I’m at a point of breaking. Having taught since the late 1990’s, I have made the decision that enough is enough and taking a job with lower pay but better work/life balance, much worse holidays etc but the opportunity to see family and friends on a week night. It’s something I’ve thought long and hard about but know it’s finally time to remove myself from a corrupt system that is being pulled downwards at an increasingly fast rate, So I am actively looking at leaving as are many of my friends and I have to say it’s a sad day to turn my back on what was for many years a job I loved and cherished.

  87. Agatha

    I’ve worked I a school, I am not a teacher, but admin staff. The teachers sis roll in a minute before morning meeting and left at 3:30.. I used to see them coming out of the gym at 5pm, whilst yes, I was still working. And holidays.. I had to work through they however they were taking full advantage of their 13 weeks, spending weeks on end with their families at home and going abroad. On their wages, i think they could work a lot harder !

    • Minnie

      You clearly work in a shit school. This is not the norm. (And you don’t actually know how much work they did at home, I suspect it is quite a substantial amount). If you’re so sure it’s easy, why not have a go at it yourself?

    • Agatha

      No, was a good school.. And yes, they may have worked at home, but even with that they never clocked as many hours as I did, being ‘just admin’. I used to hear about their far away holidays and dreaded sept as they would come back with tales of their adventures!

      With regards to bing a teacher, never had the opportunity to go to,university., Had to,work and look after my sick mother.. ,And I am a bit old now!

      • Appearances are very deceiving, I used to be in school for 8.00 and leave at half 3 everyday. I must of seemed like a right slacker but when I got home I worked flat out till the early hours of the morning and at least one day on the weekend. As you can see from other comments I’m not an exception. I work in a office environment and I have less holidays and work longer hours but outside of work my time is entirely my own without the specter of ridiculous work loads hanging over my head, I wouldn’t trade it for teaching in a heartbeat.

  88. Madam, I take my hat off and curtsey to you. For quite some time I have wanted to write a letter to Mr Gove saying exactly this – and I am no teacher, but my mother is and up until quite recently, it was my desired career too. But having seen her and her colleagues struggle against such pressures from up above has made me totally rethink my career plans, because the fact is I know I wouldn’t be able to cope. I’d have a mental breakdown. If only the government (not just Mr Gove) realised that what they’re doing is forcing good teachers out of the profession and scaring wannabe teachers away.
    This letter is a masterpiece. Someone must print it out and send it to Number 10, to be handed over to Mr Gove personally by the prime minister.

    • Graham Lack

      Just as soon as the grammatical errors are corrected of course.

  89. Michael Kane

    Exactly why I have recently quit teaching. So undervalued and overworked. Am I allowed to say he is a useless cunt?

    • disgusted parent

      Michael Kane,
      It is good for the children of this country that you have quit teaching, using language like that is totally uncalled for and a disgrace, with (ex) teachers like you its no wonder the profession has its critics. You do yourself no favours and deserve to be undervalued with the low values you appear to have.
      Your post should be deleted / censored!

      As to the author of the letter, I fully agree with your well said sentiments (coming from a family of 4 teachers). Sadly, these letters seldom have any bearing on policy!

  90. Delroy

    So true

  91. Anastasia

    Reading this crying? Really? I am a full time physics teacher and have never once found myself working tirelessly into the night at the expense of my family and friends, nor losing swathes of my holidays to laminating and colouring in. Anybody with a decent level of organisational ability can easily deal with the work-load of marking books and printing out tomorrow’s homework in the usual 7am-6pm framwork of a normal working day.

    Compared to the relentless hours I pulled working in finance and the unyielding stress and pressure, teaching a group of kids the frankly insultingly easy UK syllabi is absolute paradise. As for teaching not requiring highly skilled workers, again I have to agree. Rarely are my colleagues and I tested beyond A-level standard, despite personally holding a degree from Cambridge and working with ex-university lecturers, post-docs and PhDs.

    In no way am I advocating a slash in the holiday allowance, that would be ghastly. But really, compared to the drudgery of a real, full-time private sector job…. teaching is a walk in the park.

    • Minnie

      Could you share some advice to teachers just starting out so we can all feel this way? Because it seems you are in a minority.

    • SW

      Seriously Anastasia? Have you any idea how insulting your statement is…”anybody with a decent level of organisational ability can easily deal with the work-load”…are you insane? Clearly you don’t have as much work to do as the rest of us.
      I work in a primary school where the children are at school from 8.45 until 4pm. I arrive at 7 in the morning, work for 1.5 hours before school, work through my lunch break, for 2 hours after school until the caretaker kicks me out and still don’t get all my work done. So I take it home and work in the evenings, and I take it home and work during my weekends, oh and surprise surprise I take it home and work during my “holidays”.
      I TEACH for over 5 hours a day (no, not including breaks) and aren’t allowed to return the books to the children the next day unless they are marked.
      Please enlighten me…how I improve my organisational ability to enable me to mark 5 lessons worth of 30 books every day (150 books), on top of my teaching, planning, assisting the children, dealing with playground/classroom issues, calling parents, attending meetings and co-ordinating a subject?
      Clearly you have something worked out that no body else in the professions does.

  92. Barrie White

    OK, most teachers (but not all) work hard for their pay, holidays and protected pension. And their employers want to find ways to improve performance. It’s the same for most other professions. Most teachers have never worked outside the education sector, and don’t seem to recognise that being expected to work hard is not unusual. Many of us work long days, give up chunks of our weekends and holiday – but don’t get 13 weeks holiday to recover, or feel the need for so much self pity.

    • Just to offer a counter perspective, I’ve worked as a scientific researcher in a under funded research lab, a University lecturer, manual labor jobs and currently work for a German technology company. I found all of these jobs to be significantly less stressful and toxic to my work/life balance than teaching. My first year in my PhD was even significantly more applicable than a year of teaching. Sir Mervin King commented himself that being a teacher was the “Roughest job he had ever done” despite being in charge of the bank of England.

      • Robert Jones

        Lee Thomas Barrett – a truly valid point very well made. I think most people would agree with that.

    • Dolly

      I know a junior teacher. 7am until 6pm x 5 and then still more to do…….. She worked out she was doing 75 hours a week over 45 weeks……. 29k per year,,,,,,, thats not whinging or being scared of hard work

  93. Doll

    Why don’t you all work 50 hours x 44 weeks and see what happens? Surely then changes will be made? Thats how many hours i work. Sadly people still choose teaching as a career knowing the consequences. I would never last in a class of 30. Brave souls!

  94. Aimee Fielding

    Spot on! And yes with two children under five it’s ridiculously hard … but we do it because we care!

  95. Claire

    Well written and accurate portrayal of term time life. I am an infant school; so can only speak from that context. Lots of your points resonate with me, however, I do think as a profession we must be mindful to remain balanced in our representations, and not allow negative stereotypes to become a self fulfilling prophecy.

    In the 4 years since I trained, I have seen an increasing ‘competitiveness’ amongst the profession when it comes to documenting additional hours- this has been aligned to the rise in use of social media. I’ve seen teachers tweeting at hourly intervals about their workload, and speaking of frantic planning until midnight. The fact is, whilst I agree there are huge issues with planned reform and teacher representation, as professionals, we should have the skills to address our priorities in a time effective way- I’ve seen colleagues spend hours inputing data because they aren’t using excel efficiently, or writing out lesson plans from scratch that could easily have been adapted and improved from sharing forums.

    We must work smart on asdmin tasks if our energies are to be reserved for the front line.

  96. Claire

    Rather, I am an infant school teacher. I am not the actual school, obviously. The walls can’t actually speak. (Although, if they could… )

  97. Ellie

    Reblogged this on spiraling down the plughole and commented:
    Amazing blog post

  98. jo lee allan

    I am proud to be a teacher. Its a privilege. I work hard. As do my students. A tad more respect if you please Mr Gove.

  99. AliB

    Your letter is brilliant. However, don’t forget that as soon as we have got resources and lessons in place, done all the planning and prep…they change the curriculum! I have just left teaching – a job I loved because of the constant stress. I didn’t like what it was doing to my health (and yes, anti-depressants were involved). So that’s another ofsted rated good to outstanding teacher gone from the profession. When will he realise what he is doing?

  100. Anthony Digweed

    This is an eloquent and accurate summary of any teacher’s life.
    Unfortunately, Gove is an idiot who can’t see further than the next ballot box and is ruthless enough to be willing to jeapordise the future of a whole generation just to further his own political career. Time for Mr Cameron to wake up and sack this reprehensible career politician from such an important job and to find someone who cares about our young people.

  101. Jeanette Rowe

    I want to thank each and every one of you teachers for all the hard work you put into your role. Because of the dedication of good teachers my son has a degree and an amazing job that he fully enjoys, (no, not teaching) It’s the hardest job anyone can do. I truly take my hat off to you.

  102. Carrie

    I’ve been reading all of the posts in response to your letter with interest. I am in my seventh year teaching secondary school and agree wholeheartedly with your letter. I have to say, I have also become somewhat disillusioned with the profession that I love, as it seems whatever we do is never enough. I entered the profession after 10 years in other sectors, including gas and oil trading, financial advising and ftse 100 day trading. All very pressured jobs you might think? Yes, they really were! But, hand on heart, not nearly as pressured or exhausting as teaching is. I also have to confess that in order to juggle everything required and still enjoy life with my husband and children, my standards have had to slip for my own sanity. When once I would always aspire to plan outstanding lessons, amazing marking and volunteer for extra tuition, sadly now as long as it’s ‘good’, it’s enough…. I actually agree with performance management reforms in the hope that if he wheedles out the few substandard teachers (and there are some at my school), then he might grant our profession just a little bit of respect. I guess I can live in hope……

  103. Manou

    I remember the long weeks of the summer holidays and can only say I think kids need the longer summer holidays – to be kids. I do not think shortening the summer break would do them any good, yes they are from a bygone era when help with the harvest was needed, but kids need a break from schooling too.

  104. david

    How is it in France schools are open 8am-5pm and the problems you suffer from don’t appear to be issues in France?

    Admittedly I have never schooled in France nor do I have children of school age, but I never see anything on the news about teachers being overwhelmed – yet their hours are seemingly longer.

    Children – now I know many children through my friends, each come home with a bucket load of homework, of course they complain, so did I at their age, but they get on with it.

    I also find the school hours more accommodating to parents who wish to work, they don’t have to cut hours short to be home for 3:20pm and when schools use the half day Wednesday system, there are plenty of places for the children to go to.

    I say this, if you are a teacher you probably took this route because of your passion, so rather than fighting against the number of hours you work and making arguments about the tiredness of children, perhaps you can look to other countries for inspiration.

    Finally, and this is in respect to tiredness – good. Let them get tired, what is wrong with that?
    Spending their time enjoying school, learning new skills and socialising within different groups is time well spent; it also leads to a good night sleep and less time for trouble making.

    Regards

    David – happily working 7 days a week 10 hours a day in a job I love and not complaining because it was my decision,

    • MonsieurM

      French teachers are only allowed to teach 18 hours a week and if they do any more are paid overtime. They don’t mark exercise books – just formal homework. They are allowed to go home in their free periods. They have few meetings and no break time duties. They have a two month summer holiday. They strike frequently. I don’t really think the systems are comparable.

    • Anna

      I work as a teacher in france and i can tell you the hours are exhausting for teachers and students. Everyone is up before 06h and in class by 08h and usually kids and teachers are still working at home (homework or grading) until 20h …. I can tell you it has myself and my kids on our knees, and similar for most of the kids i teach and my colleagues.

      • MonsieurM

        Anna – I in no way denigrate the work our colleagues in France do. I just don’t think that David’s comment stands up because, whilst French schools are open for longer, English teachers have more contact hours, more meetings, fewer holidays and fewer incidents of industrial action. But then we are paid more so it’s all swings and roundabouts.

  105. Joe

    I appreciate that you work but you picked your jobs as do we all. We run a hotel and work 7 days a week often from 7am til midnight. We have just over 3 weeks holiday in January that’s it. No weekend no 2 day’s off. however I find our job rewarding. Especially making sure all you teachers enjoy your time off with quality breakfast, dinner clean accommodation, and making sure we are available to fulfil all your requests. We don’t get sick pay, pensions or unions to fight our battles we just do our jobs. So please stop feeling so hard done by and count yourself lucky that you have a job and are home by 7pm. And believe you me I don’t earn anywhere near what you do.

    • Once again having to reiterate that I am in no way suggesting that other people work less hard than teachers, nor am I self-pitying. As I have asserted several times, I love the job, appreciate the pay and holidays and am in no way shy of hard work. I am merely taking a stand against the denigration of the teaching profession by the current government.

    • Anthony Digweed

      A somewhat selective response here I think. Firstly, if you run a hotel, you work for yourself and therefore the motivations for your working hours are different.
      Secondly, if you had a government “minister for hotels” who constantly tougher he could tell you how to do your job (even though he has never done it himself) and also presumed to be qualified to tell you how badly you were performing you may just be a little fed up with him. No teacher entered this profession to be pilloried by an idiot. I imagine hoteliers are in the same position.

    • Minnie

      I would also like to contribute that teachers don’t finish work by 7 (as many many people have stated here), we usually work weekends, and our “sick time” still involves marking and setting cover work for the days we have off.

  106. PetitePois

    Re comment by Barry White. I went into teaching profession at nearly 40 years old. Previous to this, I single handedly ran a business, a home, children and completed a degree – all whilst doing 2 different lots of charity work. I worked in insurance and banking prior to that where pressure to meet targets was constant. I know about working hard. Trust me, teaching is way beyond anything I have ever encountered before. I have very mixed feelings about staying in the profession. As for the 13 weeks holidays. It has been stated, the holidays are for the children. This time is used by teachers to catch up, clean classroom, organise resources, planning, new books, look at info passed up about students etc.

  107. Lucie

    I work in the private sector and yes I do work exceptionally long hours and miss out on things with my Son (Sports days etc) and no I don’t get 13 weeks holiday a year, however I am not undertaking the most important vocation on this Earth in educating the people who will be the future of our planet.

    My Sister is a teacher and my son is an 11 year old child. He is shattered by the time that he comes home from school to get started on his 2 hours of homework which he gets per night.

    If my son had to stay at school for another hour, it would be pointless as the author of this post correctly points out, once he gets past a certain point his mind stops absorbing anything it would be a total waste of his teachers time. Making him stay till age 18 to make the unemployment figures look better, will also be a total waste of his teachers time but unfortunately there is nothing I can do to change that one.

    Teacher’s do an amazing job and again lets not forget they are doing the most important vocation in the world in teaching the future of our planet. Mr Gove, you should go and teach a day at an inner city school and see how you cope, then if you do manage to survive for a day, try a week, try a term, try a year, then tell teachers that they are lazy.

  108. Tara

    I have just spent a few hours raiding my children’s toys and making rice red and scented and will be at school tomorrow at 7 am. I could not do that full time but I believe we put in extra because we enjoy it and really want to help our kids learn and make it interesting and fun. But it seems that we are expected to go the extra mile all the time for all children so we are inevitably on the back foot feeling we are failing someone somewhere. We have a degree and not everyone could do our jobs because we understand the pedagogy.. We understand child development or can unpick a complex matter and explain in in whatever learning style is needed for the children. I deserve my pay I am no more grateful for it then any person that has worked very hard to get a Olympic gold. You don’t say to them ‘well be grateful, or ‘ i dont have one’ you say ‘you earned it’. We make a difference every day and mostly in ways that can not be measured. the issue with gove is that he has made The measurable is now the only important thing, and because the important is often immeasurable, it is dismissed. How does his plans fit into special needs schools? They don’t because he doesn’t understand what is important.

  109. Sue

    What an amazing letter. My daughter is a primary school teacher, and most of my friends are teachers (some at primary schools and some at secondary schools). I wholeheartedly agree with everything you have said, and hope and pray that common sense will prevail, though I’m not holding my breath! Good luck!

  110. Whilst I in no way wish to diminish your profession (my wife is a teacher and experiences all of the things you mention above) The problem is (is at least in my own opinion) not that us non teachers believe you work 9-3, that you have unreasonable holidays, that you get over paid for the hours you work.

    As someone married to a teacher I know the work, commitment, subject knowledge, effort and expertise that is brought to the subject by every teacher.

    Instead what people object to is the implication that your the only ones.

    I have never met anyone who believes that they are paid an amount relative the work they put in and works only the hours they are contracted for, the problems that the teaching profession faces in this aspect is no different from any other job.

    The very things you speak about such as time with your families at Xmas,Easter and summer are the same as every other working man or woman, but they are limited to sparingly spreading this as well as the many other family commitments across (generally) a meager 5 week holiday period.

    If (and i believe they do) teachers work the additional hours both in holidays, after school and weekends that are talked about, then what difference does changing the working day or the length of holidays make? You are working during this time anyways, the only difference is that these would be contracted hours rather than extra curricular activities that you have to perform anyway.

    The frustration that the public feels at the striking and objections to change, is not due to the belief that teachers don’t work hard but instead to the sense of entitlement that is expressed. Whilst the role of a teacher is paramount in both educating and molding the children of tomorrow it is no tougher than the Nurse, the Policeman, the Fireman or the Soldier all of which suffer equal pay,hours and challenges.

    As many have said both in response to other comments and also on other arguments related to this issue “if its so easy why don’t you do it?” well that argument works both ways if the job is so hard why not get one of those “easy” non teaching jobs that the rest of us do.

    I for one do not dismiss the contribution of Teachers, but I find their dismal of the roles of anyone not in the teaching profession as equally offensive as Teachers find the insinuation that that they don’t work for their money.

    • While I cannot be held responsible for the views of the many commenters here, I would like to point out that in no way does my letter insinuate that other professions work any less hard.

      I speak as someone who has worked in the ‘real world’ for a number of years prior to becoming a teacher.

      The letter is from a teacher to an Education Secretary who has repeatedly insulted the profession, and should be read in context.

      • Sadly not by intention but it does insinuate exactly that.

        If you are not placing Teachers on a different pedestal to the rest of the working masses then why is it that you should be entitled to the shorter working days, holidays etc that the others in different professions do not receive.

        The only way to express this in a way that is not in some way derogatory of all other professions is that all should be entitled to the same benefits, otherwise you are in fact saying that your profession is more deserving of them than others.

        However if you could not go shopping for 5 weeks every summer because the shops where all closed this would be unacceptable, if you could not visit your bank, your gym etc this would not be acceptable, if you could not buy petrol because the lorry didn’t deliver for all of August this would not be acceptable etc etc.

        Whilst i am not in any way suggesting any of the professions above have the same challenges that a teacher has, they all have different ones and in their own circumstances they are equally as important and time consuming as a Teachers are, and considered equally as trivial by those not in said professions.

        Depending on which side of the fence your are on every problem is as trivial or important as your own perspective and only that.

        In terms of context, perhaps I have missed something but what has been said that insults the profession? That working days should be longer, that holidays should be shorter?

        Whilst I do not know or claim to know if these are good or bad ideas their is nothing insulting about them.

        The problem is as I have said perhaps not as well as I thought previously that “thou does protest to much” Teachers are their own worst enemy’s. Their complaints are something that the rest of the working world cannot relate to and therefore they become (unfairly) the subject of abuse from the media etc.

    • Minnie

      The “sense of entitlement” expressed is merely a defense to Gove’s insinuations that teachers do not work hard enough for their pay. Teachers have to study for a minimum of 4 years to qualify (that’s a lot of student debt which doesn’t arise when training to work for the NHS, and is easily offset by the high salaries in the private sector), and a full time teacher is only actually paid for 32 hours a week. But we know we get a lot of holiday compared to most jobs, and we are not complaining about that, or the salary… we are merely stating that it is not fair that we are constantly subject to misdirected accusations from Gove (and others who don’t know what the profession involves), and we are defending ourselves from the bombardment of bad press when we work easily just as hard as anyone else and NEED the long holidays to keep on top of the work load.

      • Mimi

        But you must appreciate that for an “actual” 32 hour week, teachers’ pay is very good compared to many other public sector jobs, not to mention the holidays and benefits. So for the public who are not in the profession, offering opinion on the basis of anything other than the pupil’s educational experience (which Gove is likely destroying) does imply a “sense of entitlement”. My heart goes out to the teachers who are struggling with the current regime, and their stress can’t be good for our children. But, for comparison, a University lecturer will probably be in training for 8-12 years (Masters, PhD, postdocs) before getting a basic position. Their buddy who did a PGCE after a 3 year BSc will probably be earning more than them after 10 years of starting Uni. In addition to the same kind of stresses, bureaucracy, evaluations, and “insults” that school teachers face, University teachers must raise external funding and be internationally excellent to make the powers that be happy. It’s extremely rare that a University teacher works only their nominal 40 hours a week, involving teaching advanced studies and doing their cutting edge research. Mostly, they just love what they do and are ridiculous workaholics.
        I know teachers work very hard, and don’t have an easy job of jumping through the ever-changing hoops. And their Minister does seem out to get them. But, truly, they’re not the only ones.
        Maybe I misinterpret Jezzarath, but that seems to be his point. And he is the Joe-public that teachers must convince to be on their side, and to appreciate that things could be much better for the kids if teachers were given more respect and freedom by their masters. Don’t hit back at him because he is expressing an opinion that many people hold – I think he’s trying to help by giving a little perspective.

    • Barrie White

      Well said – just heading out for my 11 hour day in a non-teaching job now.

    • I certainly take on board your point and I have certainly come across teachers with ‘entitlement’ issues but I would also point out that teaching is one of several ‘unique’ employment sectors in the work force because of two key points;

      1. Teachers are attracted to teaching because of ‘love’ of ‘teaching’ and young people, its a calling like nurses and armed forces. Nobody undertakes teaching for financial or self glorification reasons.

      2. Teaching is a vocational profession, while some may disagree with me, once you join the education sector, its very very difficult to leave and many skills are not transferable.

      Because of these two reasons, teachers are not subject to job market fluctuations and are entirely at the mercy of policy. In other employment sectors job conditions are subject to competition, for example I work in medical technology for a excellent German company. I work for this company because I like the role, have a good contract and feel the conditions are fair, the minute they become ‘unfair’ then a different company becomes more attractive and I can leave if I get a better offer. Teachers can not do this, they are trapped. I have a specific contract which allows for limited changes in my work loads and any changes will involves reviews and discussions. Teachers workloads can be increased or decreased by the whim of one man hundreds of miles away without any warning, consultation, rhyme or reason. In my organisation my boss knows the role I perform, he knows what I do on a day to day basis. For teachers, effectively their boss (Mr. Grove) has never worked a day in a school in his life.

      Finally, I trust my boss, he has my interests at heart because my interests are his interests. My bad performance reflects badly solely on him and no one else and in a unbias way, in teaching the working conditions are driven by policy which is subject to bias and partisan politics which have nothing to do with me.

      Teachers are very protective of their professions and so sometimes go over board in regards to their complaints and aggressiveness but can you blame them? Every teacher is like a member of a deck crew, on the Titanic, being captained by Lady gaga.

      • The problem is that every job is unique and faces a specific problems that are only relevant to the person doing that job, the problem for teachers is that unlike the heart surgeon, the electrician, the oil rig worker or even the McDonalds burger flipper their “unique” problems are the subject of both the media and the public eye.

        I have to strongly disagree with both points 1 and 2.

        Of course many teachers go in to the profession for exactly the reasons you express in point 1, but just as many go into it because it is a career decision based on the qualifications that they have achieved, the same way as any other private or public sector role. I am not in any way suggesting that they don’t have a love of teaching once they are in the role, but the suggestion that every teacher chooses this role for that reason is not realistic.

        As to point 2 I disagree entirely, much as it is now becoming more common for business people to enter the profession and use the skills they have learnt and transfer them, the same can apply to teachers, What company wouldn’t want some one who is excellent at training, planning and handling stressful and difficult situations.

        As you say, in a non teaching environment if you don’t like you job can leave and pursue a more lucrative and/or enjoyable career path but so can teachers, whether that be changing schools or changing professions the options are still there.
        whilst the pressure you mention exerted from above may be more than the expectations of those of us not teaching, actually being fired is a rare occurrence, something that can be an ever looming shadow for those of us outside of teaching. There is always someone willing and able to do your job, as it stands this is not the case in schools.

        As you say your boss appreciates you, perhaps he values your opinion, perhaps he has done and understands the role which you perform but frankly MG is not the equivalent of your boss, that would be the Headteacher.

        Instead he is the equivalent of your CEO, a guy or gal who probably doesn’t know your name, has probably never done your job or even understands what its purpose is, but constantly informs your boss how you could be doing it better.

        The struggles that teachers face are no different from the rest of the working world, they might have a different name, but we all have external people telling how to do our jobs, what paperwork to complete and what targets to achieve. Perhaps if instead of trying to highlight how different their job is to other peoples and instead identifying focusing on the similarities and how frustrating we all find them, those not in the profession might find more common ground and a reason support them.

        Its teachers who separate themselves, and for as long as they continue to do that they will find little, (justified or not) sympathy from the masses.

    • Minnie

      Mimi, if it were an “actual” 32 hours a week, then yes. Great! In reality it’s more like 70-80, so no, not so great. Also while lecturers may have some (certainly not all) of these policies inflicted upon them, the average lecturer only does a few hours a week of actual teaching, and all the prep/ marking is done by his postgrad students (trust me, I know!). So really the majority of university lecturers get their income from their research and not the teaching (I know there are some exceptions). Also, there is a significant number of teachers who also hold a masters/ PhD and therefore have undergone the same training anyway.

  111. Hat

    I pray and hope that “Mr” Gove would be able to understand this open letter, but I doubt a man with the heart of Basshar Alassad would do that.

  112. Minnie me

    Teaching, policing and nursing all get slated in the press and by the government at some point! Time for channel 4 to do a Gove special on Undercover Boss!! Maybe each prominent MP for these areas could do an episode and see how hard the job is especially when you have the government and media giving your chosen career a hard time. I love teaching and after 5 years I feel I am getting a bit of quality time at home with my children because I refuse to spend every night working, don’t get me wrong sometimes I have to close the bedroom door and tell the kids to go and play as Mummy has work to do. I have spent the last 4 weeks sorting my planning and resources out and next week I will probably be back in the bedroom planning and marking! It’s a fantastic career and teachers do their upmost for the children they teach.

  113. The cyclical sex life of the teacher.

    In the first year of teaching one is too tired for marital relations after 3 days into the term, and throughout half term. After 3 weeks of summer holidays the exhaustion wanes and things become possible, but then you have to start working on materials for the next school term.

    In the second year of teaching one can last a whole week before becoming to exhausted to do anything other than sleep after the long hours of lesson preparation and marking carried out at home after the school day (often to beyond midnight, and for most of the weekends). But the exhaustion wanes after a couple of weeks of holiday, so even at Xmas you have some energy by the last few days of the holiday. However most of this is spent in preparing lesson content for the next term.

    By the time I gave up teaching – after 15 years – I could go nearly 5 weeks into term before the total exhaustion set in, and even manage to revive myself towards the end of the half term break. However this was because I had sturdily resisted promotion, which would have brought me straight back to the starting point.

    And Joe, Imagine doing what you are doing whilst constantly being sniped and denigrated by the government, and having the rules and regulations changed almost every year so that you were constantly having to change your systems , menues, admin, wage structure, health and safety provision, marketing and everything else, for no reason other to make it seem that politicians were actually doing something. Home by 7pm yes, but then the marking starts.

    If you want your childrens’ books marked, and their lessons to be challenging and interesting, you have to give teachers time to do this. I reckon at least an hour of preparation and marking for every hour of face to face teaching, if one was to do the job as well as one would like.

    As for choosing a career in teaching, well thats true, I enjoyed teaching and was good at it. But conditions were such that after several years I left for a different career, rather than take promotion. Me and tens of thousands of others.

  114. Gayn

    What an excellent letter. If only the detractors would even look at it.

  115. Sw65

    Three words -work-life balance. Get one.

    • Can we have a new Education Secretary to boot? Please don’t miss the point. It’s easy to sit there and say ‘get a work-life balance’. Not so easy when you have to entirely re-plan the curriculum at a day’s notice because Ofqual/ Gove et al have introduced yet another snap reform. Preparation for teaching isn’t something one can just put aside. It’s not like we can just stop working at 6pm if our lessons aren’t planned for the next day. Consider things in context, please.

  116. enoughguilttosinkabattleship

    I am a teacher at present and what Mr Gove is doing to my profession is unforgiveable! I will not describe the many hours spent writing, marking, teaching, planning etc…but what I will describe is the tremendous guilt I feel on a daily basis. I feel guilty that I can’t dedicate more time to my daughter, husband, family and friends. I feel guilty that all of my lessons are not outstanding, I feel guilty if I can’t afford the time to mark my books in such depth, I’m made to feel guilty about my holidays, but then spend most of them working, I feel guilty that I get paid a decent wage for my job, I feel guilty if I can’t support my colleagues, I feel guilty for snapping at my class or my own family because I can’t think straight………….guilt, guilt, guilt…..the list is endless and with each new day brings more guilt. I am overwhelmed by it all and I can honestly say that after dedicating 16 years of my life…teaching over 800 children…I am ready to say “Mr Gove, let’s swap shoes…I’ll ponce about giving talks about how all teachers are crap and you can have the whole load of guilt that I carry around each day, because I think it is safe to say…you carry no guilt!”

    • zzzzzzz this is so dull :)

      zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz please can a few teachers record how many hours they work in a year, divide by 12 and let us know. I have 5 weeks holiday and BH days. I work shifts and earn less than teachers. I have a degree, my contract says 40 hours per week ex breaks. my hourly pay comes out at (after all the extras) at £6.23. What is yours?! yes you have a tough time but you all went in with eyes open. MG does need to spend time in all levels of education as the whole system is barmy. never had homework at junior school in the 70`s! the more work you give out, the more you mark…………………… be radical and dont dish out 2 hours of work to children under 14……………. tell him that!

      • When I was in teaching some years ago the unions got us to record every single minute of our time spent in the classroom, at meetings, parent’s evenings, concerts, after school activities, involved in professional development, working at home. In the first few weeks I had reached my contracted hours for the term… It was even a shock to me as you just do it without realising how many extra hours you are in fact putting in as you live eat and breathe the job .. My partner on the other hand who had a higher salary with a better pension, had a job that finished the minute he left the office…. Unti you go into the profession you have no idea of those extra hours and dedicated staff tend to stick it out, unless they end up with severe stress, because they know they are making a difference and it is probably what they always wanted to do and spent many years training to do…

      • B88

        I’ll happily provide that information for you! I have worked out that I work an average of 75 hours per week – over the course of the year (because actually we DO work in our holidays!) I have calculated that my hourly rate is about £2.85 per hour. So yours is nearly three times as much. Well done! I don’t get to bed before 11.30pm most nights because I am marking, planning lessons, writing reports, writing schemes of work etc. and there is not a single weekend where I am not working.
        In response to this fantastic idea of “not dishing out 2 hours of work” – one word to you; “OFSTED”. In the world of teaching now where every single dot on a page needs to be analysed, corrected, levelled and targeted by a teacher, this is no longer an option. Times have moved on since the ’70s…
        Yes – we were aware of the responsibilities of the job before we got into it. I am proud of job and enjoy working with young people. I like what I do, but I don’t like the general attitude towards my profession.
        The point we are making is that we are sick of being told from the government that nothing is ever good enough, we are sick of being made into villains by the press who make outrageous statements that inevitably filter down to a few ignorant members of the public who are happy to believe the stereotypical teacher spends half their life on holiday and the rest of their time with their feet up on the desk drinking coffee.
        Now – here’s my question for you… When was the last time you were told on a daily basis that what you did wasn’t good enough? When was the last time that you were harassed by a group of over 30 people who are half your age? (Because, unlike the 70s, we are no longer allowed to keep discipline in the classroom for fear of upsetting children and parents…) When was the last time you went to work on 6 hours sleep because you were finishing all your tasks only to have your hard work thrown back in your face?
        The bottom line is this: We need to have an education system that finds what is best for both pupils and teachers. Surely nobody can argue with that?!

  117. PetitePois

    I would like to add that teachers are educated to at least degree level. Why do parents want their children to go to university? Is it so that they can get a job with better prospects and a higher salary? As a graduate, I would expect to earn more than someone with fewer qualifications. This is often not the case though – I know plenty of people that earn more without more than basic qualifications. Normal classroom teachers are not as highly paid as people seem to think. Yes there is a pension which is decent (I had just as good working for a building society). It’s not a self pitying thing – it’s a stop berating the profession thing. We don’t have a cushy number.

    In addition, I am not a child minder. When I worked outside of teaching, I had to make child care arrangements like everyone else. I planned and sorted this BEFORE I made a decision to have children as I believe my children are my responsibility.

  118. Danielle

    I have grown up in a family of teachers. Every family event (which there are a lot of in my family) the conversation always ends up on the topic of teaching, be it a general topic or a specific situation at one of said family member’s schools. The point I’m making is that, like yourself they do their job at their place of work, they bring their marking home, have their planning to do (at home) etc and once all that is done, they still end up talking about it at family gatherings. Not only does this imply passion for what they do but a commitment beyond the call of duty for which I have always admired. I now have children and I suppose, as an adult and a parent who has children in after school clubs, attends parents evenings and allows my children to go away, for days at a time with their teachers as their sole carers, I certainly appreciate all that goes into these activities as well as the academic side of school. So, Thank You. Your hard work is always appreciated and as far as I’m concerned, under paid!

  119. party, political, broadcast

  120. Kat

    I left teaching & job I loved & heavens knows worked ridiculous hours for. I could no longer put up with the endless marking & assessments. I couldn’t teach a long music session, kit my classroom out to go on a proper ‘bear hunt’. There was too much pressure placed on me & more importantly the children.

  121. Squaddie

    Ok Uphill, you’ve had your rant, what exactly has (Mr) Gove done to you?

  122. Jan

    This guy is the worst kind of idiot-he’s a dangerous idiot. He is prescribing a kind of education that doesn’t allow creative minds and free thinking and he never listens to any evidence or experience given by his betters. There is a petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/51830 sign it share it-
    It would be nice to see him out of a job where he can do no harm.

  123. Joe

    Why is it teachers always feel the need to tell everyone just HOW HARD! they work?

    Newsflash: every job worth doing has extra duties and longer than advertised hours.

    • Minnie

      And yet it is always teachers that get the ever changing targets and the constant belittlement. Yes most people work hard. But most people aren’t always being told by the media, the government and people who have no idea what the job involves how they’re not working hard enough when frankly, they are on their knees. If morale is low, and I assure you it is, teachers will become less effective.

    • I respectively disagree, I have a wonderful job which has fair and reasonable hours, is paid similarly to a teaching post and isn’t without its difficulties (and exhaustion) but its 100 times less toxic to my personal existence than teaching ever was.

  124. Aaron

    I am with an earlier comment that teachers really need to get over themselves.
    I was a teacher for over 10 years, I became very disheartened with the job, mainly because I was fed up of idiots in senior management who could not run a piss up in a brewery and were merely out for their own ends.
    Alot of things that you mention in this letter are irrelevant because you knew the situation before you went into teaching. I knew it was not a 9-5 job, I knew I had to deal with bad behaviour etc. Yet the pay off both financial, holidays and the status of been a teacher was enough and should still be enough.
    Let me tell you where I am at now, I retrained as an electrician at my own exspense, cost me over 10k. I now worl physically from 7.30am until 5pm, sometimes alot later, on occasion past midnight, more often than not 6 days a week. I sometimes struggle to make £80 a day! Of an evening I go out quoting for jobs, do invoices and quotes, not to mention keeping accounts up to date.
    I have to deal with stroppy customers who want something for nothing, alot of teachers actually!
    That said I enjoy what I do and won’t go back to teaching. So I really think you need to appreciate how good you have got it, or stop moaning and change what you do cause the teaching profession suffers from whingers rather than doers. For the record I don’t think gove is the right man for the job, but I am sick of hearing how bad you have got it, you knew what it was when you signed up.

    • Once again: please read in context. NOT a whine about “how hard” teachers have it. Happy to do my job and the work that goes with it for the recompense that I receive. Not happy with the depth of reform taken by the Ed Sec and his repeated demoralisation of the profession.

      • Aaron

        I have read it in context and it comes accross that you are whinging about long hours and stuff that you need to accept that you need to do to support the work you do. Don’t forget I was a teacher for over 10 years, and understand what the job is like, but you really need to come and see what is on the other side of the fence. Education needs massive reform, ok Goves way is not best and alot of things I don’t agree with, but education does need a change. Alot of teachers are not affective because they choose not to be, I have seen tid first hand and you only have to watch educating yorkshire to see this. I have not even started on massive amounts of wasted money that goes on in education, alot at the hands of teachers.
        I am really sorry but fight for whatIis right yes, but have a bit of respect and responsibility for what life is like for other people not in such a fortunate career ad teachers.

    • Minnie

      Stop making the assumption that no teacher has ever done any other job. We’re not saying we work harder than everyone else.

      • Aaron

        At what point did I make that assumption?
        The fact that the letter states we work all these hours, don’t have social time, time with family suggests that teacherd do in fact think they are the only ones who have to put up with this. Please read my original response to see what my day and week is like and the financial recompense I receive. This is not a competition of who works hardest, but frankly I am sick of listening to whinging teachers, just get your head down and get on with the bloody job you are well paid to do!

    • Minnie

      “but you really need to come and see what is on the other side of the fence”… there is the implication. We are not moaning about the job. At all. It is clear from ALL these posts that we LOVE teaching. We object to the constant belittlement, and the insinuation that we don’t work as hard as we should. And we despair of the fact that our children’s education is in the hands of someone who has no understanding of what the profession involves. (I feel I should add that with your numerous spelling and grammatical errors that it is probably for the best that you no longer teach).

    • Anna

      is he trying to change your working conditions and imposing this on you?

    • Victoria

      That is complete rubbish. I started teaching in ’98 and the profession has completely changed since I ‘signed’ up! I used to work 72hr weeks then but it was different. I have contemplated getting out of it but believe it or not, despite the rubbish we deal with, I still love my job and I can’t imagine myself doing anything different. The stress is conisderable and if it wasn’t for my amazing colleagues and wonderful class, I would be out the door. I am not work shy and live my job but I just want to get on with it and not have some plonker, who hasn’t the first idea about teaching, tell me how to teach. I have always got outstanding results doing it my way…..I resent being patronised and being cloned to follow a script! My teaching is more ‘wooden’ than ever now and I am fed up with success criteria, AFL and other nonsense. I think the changes made in teaching outweigh most jobs and if someone told you tomorrow that you completely change the way you work, you’d be a bit pissed too! I know some teachers moan and go on strike at the drop of a hat. I have never been on strike and never moaned about the job but in the last year I have to say, enough is enough and the pressure is completely ridiculous.

  125. Sarah freear

    Your letter was outstanding and true. I have recently left a job at a pre-school to become a TA. Even as a toddler there are targets observations individual planning. What I want to know is when children get the chance to be children and play without it having to be meaningful and then developed to the next stage. I love my job as a TA and I work in a small village school, I see the planning and Work that the teachers have to do. Most if the teachers do not get any spare time. They don’t stop fora coffee at break time, they very rarely have a dinner hour and eat whilst getting the class ready for the afternoon. When I became a TA one of my friends said to me ” you will become a teacher next” and my answer was no I won’t, I have the ultimate respect for all teachers but it’s not for me.

  126. Hi.I’ve been teaching languages in an average secondary school in Leicester for the past 10 years and although I do agree with some of your comments in the letter, a lot of it is very exaggerated. I do the best I can on a daily basis, really care about my students and treat my job seriously but still have a life. I arrive at school for 8 every morning, leave school at about 4 most days and work for roughly 1.30 to 2 hours in the evenings. That still leaves me with a normal evening like the rest of the population. On weekends, I work for about 2 hours on Sunday afternoon and hardly ever work during the 13 weeks holiday. The vast majority of teachers aren’t lazy but we need to stop pretending we’re worse off than anyone else!! A lot of my non-teacher friends work until 7 at night and only get 5 weeks holiday a year. Teaching isn’t the easy job the media would like to make people believe it is but it’s not the hardest ever. Claiming it is and exaggerating things like you did in your letter only makes things worse.

    • Aaron

      Thank you, a teacher who speaks the truth. I agree whole heartedly with your response to this exaggerated letter.

    • Robert Jones

      No extra curricular activities on offer then? No involvement with sport, choir, art classes? Some Languages staff are encouraged to do so. No department meetings / INSET beyond 4.00pm? Continuous classroom display changes / preparation for the following day that can’t be done at home? Liaising with Heads of Year on form related issues? SEN issues to address? I’m not picking fault, it just shows how some schools differ from others.

      • We have one meeting a week after school and I work most lunchtimes to run a French club, meet with colleagues and/or students. Most teachers choose to leave the school at 4 and the school is still running really well. This is my 3rd school in the Midlands and the first 2 were very similar…

      • Looks like someone has learnt to say no then; instead of being a doormat. My employers would have me working 26 hours a day if I didn’t tell them where to go. Tell them you’ll agree to it if the head stays ti the same time as you doing “giving head classes”. Stop wimping.

    • Minnie

      The writer isn’t saying it’s the hardest job ever. You’ve misinterpreted the letter entirely. It’s a hard job, like many others. A few teachers seem to manage a normal work-life balance, a lot of others don’t. I guess it depends on your own expectations of yourself, your school’s expectations, your experience (I’m relatively new to the profession so I guess planning etc takes me longer) and the nature of the kids you’re teaching. I guess the subject you teach must also play a role… But clearly you are in a minority of teachers who manage to work the normal office hours, so if you have any tips for the rest of us, I’d be interested to learn them.

      • I realise she’s not saying it’s the worst or hardest job ever but the fact she names everything she has to do at school and says she has no time for a social life implies it. I teach languages in an average city school with a really mix of students, happen to have high expectations for my lessons and my lesson observations are either good or outstanding just to make it clear you don’t have to be a slacker to have a life as a teacher. Some days are harder than others but overall I still manage, as I said earlier, to have a good work life balance and that’s the case for most of my colleagues. This is also my 3rd school and it was no different in the first 2. Teaching is like most over jobs in the sense that it is sometimes hard to keep time for ourselves but we do get a massive pay back with the 13 weeks off during the year. We need to stop pretending we work all the time!

    • Robert Jones

      I guarantee you, if you turned up at 8 at my old school, you would join a queue 10 people long to print out any work you had planned the night before. Seems like a trifling matter but when you’re still there 20 minutes later and briefing has started, you’re then frowned upon. The facilities and resources that a school may or may not have go a long way to either improve of disrupt your typical day.

      • I try and plan one week ahead and get all my photocopying during my last PPA of the week (on Fridays) which means I don’t have to stress and get it all done just before school

      • You’re still printing? You haven’t thought to raise that issue? Let’s see you have a rented printer probably and you kick out B&W copies at 2p per page. This is where you lot are a load of dinosaurs. I can only say you’re years and morals behind. You call yourself educators, you perhaps think you’re moral guardians. You;re neither of those and the reason why is you cannot frame arguments in “value for money” because your profession has a long history of not knowing what that is. And you prove it year on year by your attitudes.

    • Robert Jones

      Smith. This is in no way a negative post. Quite the opposite. I believe what you say about your standards and observation feedback but I absolutely promise you that there are teachers out there who work so much more than that. Not that they aren’t good time managers or whinge for the sake of attention. They simply have no choice. It is what is expected of them. I can only conclude that the expectations across schools is wider than people realise. And if Senior Leadership are demanding that of you, then what do you do? More importantly, is it fair that you change your career, wasting all that training time and passion for your subject just to appease those who take your viewpoint? No. You make a stance. You drum up some support and you tell Gove and anyone else who thinks you’re wrong how it really is. That was the writers prerogative. I don’t know how your school manages it. I’m not saying you cut corners or don’t work hard. I would just like to know how it is possible.

      • Michael Billington

        I agree Alistair. I have just takem semi-retirement to teach mornings only. I honestly think that another year in full time and my health would have started to suffer. It’s like trying to get a quart into a pint pot on a daily basis and I’ve just reached burn out.

    • Minnie

      Smith, I certainly wasn’t trying to imply you are slacking, I was merely curious as to how you do it when the majority can’t. I guess the photocopying alone makes a huge difference from school to school: In my school for example we are not allowed to photocopy a single thing which does make things more difficult sometimes (or sometimes I give in to the no-photocopying rule and print worksheets at my own expense to save time).

  127. Mr Bungle

    Just reading some of these comments brings to light how insignificant and disrespected teachers are. I’m a teacher, I work bloody long hours, I’m at work for 7:30 and leave at 5:30, when i get home I cook then I’m back to work. I have very little time to enjoy a social life and even then it feels like it’s scheduled into fit around work. Personally I think people who work other careers in which they don’t have to bring work home with them should pipe down. I would love to go to the gym after work or go out and meet someone. I sacrificed alot to get into teaching, including a good relationship along with alot of friends. My time management is good, but when your faced with an impossible amount of work it’s very hard to manage everything. I love everything about the job but working in this Dickensian climate, one must raise the question how long can we cope. Gove is a no better than a work house leader or the blumming ‘kiddy catcher’, sliver spoon education leading him to a job in journalism. Why is it that the education system is led by someone with no experience in education. This country is crumbling, we are week at the knees, led by people who haven’t had to struggle in their lives because ‘mummy’ has always been close by! It’s a joke. As teachers we are the most blessed humans on the Earth. We have the best job in the world, stimulating and reinvigorating the minds of the future. Gove is destroying everything that is great about the job. I am grateful of your letter and think it echos the minds of many people right now. XXXX

    • Aaron

      Teachers are disrespected cause they whinge that their job is the hardest job. Please read my previous post. If you ate not happy change what you are doing, if you are happy then get on with it.
      I do not leave my current job when I ‘clock off’, I have to keep up to date with new regulations, technology and procedure, which quite frankly I can’t be arsed with after a full physical day, but if I didn’t I could not do my job properly.
      One thing that I have never umderstood, even when I was a teacher was this – the letter talks about working in school holidays and some replies have also mentioned this, however why do schools after 6 weeks of holidays have more often than not 2 teacher training days on return? This really gets people’s backs up and is unnecessary.
      Anyway come work a day with me in the real world!

      • Robert Jones

        Aaron.

        I am now self employed after working in education, similar to yourself. Yet I fail to see your issue with what the writer has said. At no point is there any implication that other people don’t work hard. Her letter is to Mr. Gove, not to the rest of the working population. The list of duties and the revelation of a lack of any sort of private life are provided to give weight to the question, “What more do you want from us?”, as he is constantly criticising teachers without any real understanding of what it is like to work in a modern state school. Suggesting people ‘change career’ or ‘walk a mile in my shoes’ is totally irrelevant.

        Also, if you don’t mind me asking, why did you leave the profession?

      • Nobody is saying that teaching is the hardest job except yourself, Aaron. What we ARE saying is that a lot of the necessary work has to be done outside the official school day, and if you extend that day, there is less time to do all the background work. As for staff training days, the work we do in the holidays is lesson preparation, curriculum planning, preparation of resources. This stuff is just taken for granted, there is no time for it in the official teaching week. The teacher training days are professional development – do you really want your children to be taught by teachers who have had no updating or training since they left college, maybe 30 years ago?

    • A lot of people go to the gym after 7:00PM. I have people who go to the gym at 5:30AM. The fact that you’re lazy shouldn’t make those people pipe down. I don’t see you making an appointment to show someone around a property at 8:00PM. Pipe down? No, pipe up you lazy people. That’s what we’re trying to tell you. You’re whingey, whiney and failing employers. This is your job, this is your calling, this might be your raison d’etre.: just f’in do it; stop failing your students in the work place.

      • Mr Bungle

        Haha, the real world, that’s the good old argument. A job is a job and work is work, I worked in the real world for a long time and grafted to get to do what I’m doing now, I have worked on building sites and in factories. I have done what is necessary to make money . Get off your very high horse you idiot, I often run to work and have completed a number of half marathons. In terms of work, I often finish my day at 1am in the morning due to doing work . Failing my employer’s ? Haha shut your mouth, I take pride in my job and have a fantastic success rate in my kids. You my friend are a tool and have no idea why you have posted on here. If someone was constantly changing the goal posts in your job I think you would be slightly ticked off about it. I do not mean to disrespect your massive ego or throw stones at your high and mighty castle but seriously you have just insulted the majority of people posting on here. I’m sure you have things that annoy you about your job, if someone was to turn round and say just because you have complained about them you are a whiney and have no right to moan? In terms of calling someone lazy you have proven yourself to be an arrogant individual. If this wasn’t a public forum I would use less choice language.

        And on the same note I’ve looked at your reply’s to other posts, the old ticket of the real world encroaches into your limited and sadly poor insults. My old man did the real real world, that was the pit and boy god does he not envy my work load. I propose to you sir that you pull your head directly out of your ‘real world’ cloud and look what the real world is. Do you think teachers live in magic land and eat delicious magic cake whilst drinking a cup of beautiful fake world tea whilst we watch the whole world go and do demanding jobs laughing? Idiot in fact my friend you are a tool!!!! Don’t be mistaken that was a direct insult at you. And that’s my last post!

  128. Excellent post – perfectly describes the realities of modern day teaching – Thank you for putting this out there – nice to know it’s not just me!

    • That’s a ridiculous post which makes your profession lowered in the eyes of the majority of the population. “Failing my employers” NO: “failing THEIR employers”. I won’t go on in the diatribe and brickbats that this one person does but his failure to realize that students aren’t being prepared for the workplace, the constant unwavering belief that we should ignore and deprecate real-world experience is typical of this kind of teacher. It is these people who denigrate your profession only you can’t seem to see that.

      • Mr Bungle

        I now crown you king of the ‘real world’. You champion of men, you leader of the real world revolution. Your reply was week and sadly terrible. I have noticed that you enjoy using comparisons in which you change a single word to increase the impact of your original diluted argument. Also you know nothing about this profession so you know nothing of what “denigrates’ it. What is it you do ?

  129. A couple of replies argue that because other people are overworked and don’t have holidays teachers should just accept not only their current work demands, but just accept more. The logic of this argument is that everyone should suffer equally. But surely, no-one should be working 12 hours a day, or 7 days a week, unless they choose to.
    This is the ‘race to the bottom’ in practice. Whatever happened to the concept of the 8 hour day, is that just abandoned? There are large numbers of unemployed and underemployed people who need to be working and the excess work needs to be better distributed. And please don’t blame high wages! It’s hard to believe that there was once serious discussion about the “leisure society” — I have yet to see any evidence of it.
    Any contribution to this discusssion should come with a disclaimer “I have never taught in a classroom” or “based on my experience as a teacher” …. that way readers would have some idea of the context of the argument being proposed.

    • Aaron

      I don’t choose to work a 12 hour day I have to otherwise I could not pay my mortgage at the end of the month.
      You accept it and get on with it or get out and do something else.

  130. Lesley

    Im a mum with a child with a med complaint.
    The school she just started as p1 wanted her meds changed to lunchtime as she was missing too much classtime in the loo (5 mins at a time) with having her meds at 7am when she gets up..now she is missing sleep as up/awake until 11pm with her complaint, but as it isnt in school time they are happy as it isnt taking up schooltime to toilet her..but she is too tired to concentrate in school and they dont take that into consideration and the school nurse is pushing for medicating her later to deprive her of sleep but making it easier on the school staffing while she is too tired to learn in school.

    • Minnie

      That certainly sounds unreasonable (and ridiculous)… but it is an issue that needs discussing at her school – it doesn’t really have anything to do with the issues being discussed here.

  131. GBS

    Dear sweet Jesus and the orphans. What is it with some of these people that they seem to believe the best way to solve a problem is to ignore it? Maybe, just maybe, other valuable professions like nursing, lorry driving, police, firefighters, etc, wouldn’t be in the state they’re in if the voices of their staff had been heard by the powers that be. If you have children who go to school, then your concern should not be about ‘whining teachers’ asking for more. Your concern should be that these people who give their ALL are trying to point out the failings of their profession and the direct consequences that this may have on those children. Here’s a shock fact for you idiots (look up the origin of the term), most teachers aren’t in the profession for good pay and long holidays. Most teachers are in the profession to help children to learn.
    Celebrate the fact that these people haven’t given up and are fighting to be heard (not just for their own sakes). Spread the word and help future generations to be educated and nurtured instead of being herded, farmed and sold!
    ‘out-of-touch’ doesn’t seem to cut it with Gove, I’m not sure there is a job where he could do no harm! God help Gove if my daughter doesn’t see daylight at the end of her school day!

    • Minnie

      Very well said GBS.

    • The problem is that no one is pointing out the failings of the profession.

      Teachers don’t go on strike or complain because exams are to hard, because the expectation on the children is to much, because the curriculum doesn’t teach them the things that they need to know or because they don’t have enough funding to perform their roles.

      People could relate to these problems, and as parents support them for fighting for our childrens futures.

      These things happen because of pay and hours, none of which are the the concern of either the parent of the child.

    • stargard

      Im sorry you are clearly not complaining about the failings. It has always been about long hours and low pay and omg do not mention the public generous pension.

      Just be honest people will respect you more.

  132. Sarah clegg

    Totally agree! Very well said!

  133. Alasdair

    After having to retire before I wanted to (because I loved teaching and wanted to give back what had been given to me by my teachers) I have to say in the 39 years I taught 11 to 18 year olds Maths not one of my collegues who cared about the job ever left before 5 pm most had arrived by 8am for a 9am start. And 90+% cared. Have you ever thought why you rarely see teachers over 50 these days? Its because most of them have burned out caring what they taught and why they taught, and especially caring for the majority of those they taught.

  134. JR66

    I can understand where your coming from to a point. However correct me if I’m wrong but do you not know the hours your expected to work. Before even setting off to uni to gain your degree in teaching or what ever/wher ever you go to become Qualified. Its a bit like becoming a fireman then complaining of heights!!. If you don’t like the rules then don’t play the game. Know one took you kicking and screaming to become a teacher did they? If its that bad Leave…

    • Minnie

      Many very good teachers are leaving. That’s the problem.

    • jane

      Actually her complaint was precisely about time. She already works till 3.20 with the pupils, then fits in all the other work around that. Gove is proposing teaching hours are extended to 4.20.

      • Geoff

        Actually, there are some teaching hours I would like to see extended. My stepdaughter is at University and will have had five months off.when she goes back at the end of the month. Now that’s what I call a holiday.

  135. Robert Jones

    GBS – very well said.

    I am truly amazed at the amount of comments akin to “If you don’t like it, quit!” What sort of solution is that? Seriously. If everyone followed that masterpiece in career advice, how many teachers would we have left? It’s nothing short of sheer ignorance.

    • How about “If you don’t like it change it?”. You’re so indoctrinated. And what I mean is you, personally, standing up and saying “I won’t do that”. Not a whole union of sheep baa’ing away. My profession does not have a union and I work in the private sector. So here it is, if I don’t like my employers’ conditions then I say so and move on. This sees a turnover of employees leaving every year. I maybe wrong, but around 11 teachers were sacked from the profession last year. I could identify that many in my Comprehensive. If I was a shit employee I would be sacked tomorrow.Yet some of your ilk sit there and call my views arrogant, no it’s my world, it’s the world of most private sector employees and self-employed or limited companies who can’t go out and get business. Do you go out and spend time getting business? No? Well that REALLY is arrogant.

      • Mr Bungle

        God I am stunned by your arrogance, again i find myself reading your statement thinking this man is a one tick pony! hahahhahahhahahhahah !

  136. stargard

    You know I get that its difficult but for the love of god stop complaining and pushing this self pity poor me poor me speech nonsense. If we did that in the private sector we would be told if you dont like it there’s the door. And you know they would be more than within there rights.

    Remember nobody forced you to be teachers this isn’t your destiny, change your job if your so miserable…

    But oh you say point missed blah blah…well what is your point I mean really do you want recognition? What your really saying is that you want more money, more time off and less stress…

    Dont we all what that but in the real world we cant have everything so please stop annoying the vast majority of the public with your moaning and complaining we honestly as a collective dont care about you not been able to have a gin at night.

    And the worst thing after all this complaining about the money the pensions time spent at home you use the worst excuse….we do it because we care about childrens futures..really!!!!

    Omg they were not lying when they said for those who can’t….

    • Minnie

      Let’s hope your kids don’t have the sort of teacher you just described. And if you feel that strongly about it, stop reading it since it obviously doesn’t concern you. You HAVE missed the point of the article, you also use atrocious grammar, and therefore probably would not fall in to the category of those that can teach.

      This is not about pity, it is about the fact that the person making all these reforms has no experience of the education system other than going to school himself. It is about teachers defending what they do against people like you who show no understanding at all but will happily berate the profession nonetheless. And how can it not occur to you that the ONLY reason for doing this job is because we do genuinely care… thank God there are people out there who do, because you clearly would not be able to do it.

      • stargard

        Oh its down to personal attacks is it….oh dear.

        People would hate teachers less if they actually proposed some constructive answers rather than just calling the government tory eaton idiots.

        Pot kettle black.

        No seriously think about the entire uk education system and tell everyone how your going to solve it, who going to pay for it and how your going to measure its success.

        And no wishy washy idealistic answers cold hard realistic answers.

        Im going now to do work which I have to do every night….wait a minute think I may just start a blog of my poor existence.

      • Robert Jones

        Bravo Minnie,

        clearly Stargard is bereft of any brain power whatsoever. It amazes me how these people try to tie intelligent individuals up with wordplay when they can’t even spell correctly.

        No one wants more money. No one wants more time off. If you haven’t gathered from the huge amount of well written threads here what the issue is I shall spell it out for you.

        FOR MICHAEL GOVE TO GET HIS ACT TOGETHER RATHER THAN BLAMING THE PEOPLE HE SHOULD BE SUPPORTING AND GUIDING.

        What part of that are you struggling with?

    • JamesDeacon

      Remember nobody forced you to read this blog!

  137. Reblogged this on Sarah Solmonson's Blog and commented:
    Sharing this because no matter where we are located in the world, teachers need and deserve our respect and support!

  138. Robert Jones

    Stargard. Do you think it is actually possible for you to read some of Gove’s expectations and criticisms before sharing your pearls of wisdom?

    I know absolutely nothing about fly fishing, so guess what? I don’t talk nonsense on fly fishing forums.

    Oh…. Eaton – brilliant!!!

    • stargard

      Oh how truly ignorant you can be. For a person who had difficulty at school who has mild dyslexia I pity you.

      For you stand on this righteous pillar screaming you want to be heard and loved.

      Yet you gladly strike down those who you think are not as intelligent as you, label them as ignorant because they dont agree with you.

      I say stop talking and start doing. Change your job if your unhappy. If you dont want to do that then tomorrow make it official and raise your opinions with whoever. Stand outside your school and demonstrate.

      Stop grouping up here having a good old pissand moan then doing nothing about it.

      If you all went on strike and refused to come back maybe things might change.

      But you wont because in the end you feel strongly about your problem but not enough to actually risk your jobs.

      Be honest if you really really cared you would do everything you could.

      • Robert Jones

        Firstly, I am not a teacher. I can’t even be bothered to explain the in’s and out’s as to how irrelevant your assumption is. As has constantly been reiterated here, the issue is more to do with the leadership of the profession rather than the daily routine of an individual.

        Secondly, I too suffer from mild dyslexia. But I find a way around it. I also know enough to recognise the difference between dyslexia and bad grammar.

        You don’t have to agree with what people are saying here but the brash tone of your opinions suggest you just feel like having a moan rather than contributing anything constructive. You can disagree and still have validity. If you know how.

      • Alasdair

        As a teacher with Dyslexia who had to cope for many years before it was diagnosed, I just think Stargard you need to find out what teaching is about before you start pontificating on the subject. If you really think teachers only worry about their best students then you need a total rethink. It is more often than not the weaker students that are supported if that didn’t happen in your case I’m sorry you had a bad teacher, or did have the sense to take help when it was offered.

      • Graham Lack

        “You stand on this righteous pillar screaming”, interesting turn of phrase. Do you teach creative writing?

      • “Start doing” that would be, almost, “Do starting”. I can almost identify with your experience. Teachers want to turn out the “average”. I was the other end of the spectrum; never stopped the obnoxious person, one person stopping the class from learning.

  139. claire

    Great letter. Gove really makes my blood boil. Just to add to the holidays point-I work around 7-8 hours at least, EVERY weekend. That’s a whole extra work day. When you add those up over each half term in the year you end up with 39 days, divide it by working weeks in which the average person does 5 days and you get 7wweeks and 4 days. When you take that off the 13 weeks it doesn’t look so excessive does it?! Then factor in the time actually working and going into school in holidays andwe really don’t have vastly more than the 5 weeks of regular workers. Plus, everyone is literally on their knees by half term. It’s just not a job that would be doable without the breaks-let’s face it, it’s barely doable with them!

    I’m currently pregnant and very anxious about how I will cope when the baby is here and I’m back at work. I just can’t work 7-6.30 every day with a little one but need to do that to keep up…and all of that in a primary school (yr6) where we’re seen as even more work shy. Teaching the ‘little ones is easy right? Just like playing.’

    Gove needs to be gotten rid of. The man is vile and, worse than that, totally misinformed.

  140. Ally Pally

    When I read the first negative comment left I stopped reading the comments. Couldn’t cope with it!
    It isn’t just the fact that the hours put into the job are many but what we are doing within each 60 minute period and over each 12 hour day. The strain on the mind and the body is enormous. Someone suggested that teaching is equivalent to working on the stock exchange – it is that intense and unrelenting! I am sadly one of those teachers who burnt out. I am a creative type and that involved a lot of extra curricula stuff. I do not even teach anymore and get incensed over ideas and suggestions that I know are not going to benefit anyone in the field of education. Recent research into child development came out with a statistic of only 14% when exploring how big a contribution school makes to a child’s overall development. I really believe that this idea to make school days longer is solely to get more parents working. The present government is obsessed with getting everybody in paid employment. Also there is decades of research into the benefits of creativity to children. It isn’t a fact that creativity is just a bit of fun. Creativity promotes imaginative thinking, problem solving, seeing life from different perspectives. It encourages and fosters independent thinking, resilience, confidence, communication skills, expression. In fact thinking about it I can see exactly why the creative subjects are always dumbed down – these subjects create leaders and our society would not function with many independent, confident leaders would it now? (Yes, please do read that last bit with full sarcasm.)
    Big loves to ALL teachers dedicated to their profession. Great teachers are not made, they are born with it. xxx

  141. Ok, I can’t believe that I sat here for over two hours reading, not only the original post, but each and every comment to it. For the record, I’m an outsider. I’m from the USA and found my way to this blog because of a blogger I follow in the US who reblogged this post.

    I’m a little disappointed in you Brits. The author of this blog simply wrote an open letter to this Mr. Gove, whom I presume from reading all these comments, is the head of the education system in England. To me, it sounded like the author was just trying to clarify what most, if not all, teachers in your country go through on a daily basis. I didn’t read anything that sounded like complaining, whining, or anything else. The author was just trying to set the record straight, from his/her perspective.

    Yet, there are quite a few comments here from non-teacher types who seem to have misread this post. Why does it seem that all of a sudden you people have gotten off the beaten path and are arguing about who works harder or who gets paid more to do less or who has more holiday time? (I’m assuming that this is what we in the US refer to as vacation time.)

    I do have to say one thing, though. And I say this because I am a writer. The author mentioned in one of his/her comments, and I quote, “…the holidays attack was just the tip of the iceberg.” This caught my attention. Why? Because I wrote a novel titled “Tip of the Iceberg”. I mention this because of the tag line in my book referring to the tip of the iceberg…”things don’t always appear to be what they really are”. That applies here, I believe.

    Most of you folks are condemning this author for something that wasn’t said, or implied! And as a writer, it appears that most of you non-teacher types should have listened a little bit better when you were in school to your teacher. The mis-use of words, the deplorable grammer, the typos, the illogical sentences…and from some of you who used to be teachers. ie. Aaron.

    Teachers are a rare breed. Granted, some give more than others, but all have a passion for the profession and have one thing in mind…YOUR CHILDREN! Give this author a break. He/she is not trying to put down any non-teaching profession. He/she is only trying to make a point. Get off your high horses and help with the problem. Don’t degrade this post for something that it is not. Don’t imply that if these teachers don’t like their job, they should quite. If they did, where would your children be. Out on the streets, becoming a burden to society? Is that what you would like to see?

    Again, as an outsider, please stop all the bickering and help solve the problem.

    • Aaron

      You personally attack me you idiot over spelling and grammar but you don’t know how to spell “quit”? Just a typo, probably the same as my mistakes as I was typing from a phone.
      And for the record for some of you ignorant idiots I have a first class honours degree and was labelled an outstanding teacher by ofsted.
      I have also said education needs massive reform, not by Gove because I don’t agree with stuff he proposes, but non have you have come up with any positive solutions! In my time as a teacher I worked with over 300 other teachers and the main grievance was not enough pay and issues with pension, union meetings were focused round this. This is simply not the case and I do think some of you need to live in the real world.

      • 0OFSTED – capitals it’s an acronym. I bicker because you whine like whores.Always willing to play up your own achievements (“I got a first you know”), shit I got a 2.1 in Engineering it’s what I did after I achieved that; it’s called not resting on your laurels., I identify the aim I’m responsible for (adding profits to my shareholders) – not good is it? But at least I have identified and perhaps acquiesced to it. Ask what your aim is. If it is to educate then do it; do the best by your proteges. If it is to earn money, have more autonomy, have more spine then go for that. But be honest; to yourself and this forum. To me it is just a mouthpiece for disaffected, brow-beaten, political leaning teachers. If you can’t be honest or stand up for yourself as an individual then how can you instill stoicism and positive attitudes in your class?

    • Graham Lack

      Good points. But the writer of the original letter did not know the meaning of the word ‘dearth’ (to her credit, she admitted that and changed it), and still persists to use intransitive verbs as transitive ones, ‘to deviate the lesson’. The entire system is failing us.

      • The author is guilty of some grammatical errors, and consequentially the entire system is failing us. Is that your logical argument? Such attitudes are typical of Mr Gove and his coven, who generalise about the failing education system based on (often inaccurate) generalisations about perceived problems in parts of the system, which is why the author, presumably, felt the need to try to put the record straight in the first place. Try contributing to the thread, and if you have something constructive to add (not a repetition of often repeated comments) then add it.

  142. shibani Nagda

    As a teacher myself, i can understand a feeling of another teacher. Every word written is so true

  143. james clements

    I find the way the English look at the education sector from an outsiders perspective really saddening. Teachers in England are deemed to lazy and overpaid. Unfortunately this polarised view also seeps down to the average Joe on the street too.. After my NQT I was so sick of every work collleague bending over backwards to ensure they were ticking all the OFSTED boxes which change with the government’s political agenda at the time. I am so pleased to have experienced this briefly but most importantly to have now left the country – never again.

  144. Jen

    Thank you for putting into words what we all need him to know. Jolly well said!

  145. Rachel

    The only way to manage the workload is to be part time in my experience, ie to be paid for 3 days in order to work full time. I still have to work in evenings or weekends but not all of both. But I am lucky not to be reliant on the salary.

  146. Lee

    This is so true and is why, having spent 4 years at Uni training to become a primary teacher, I’ve walked away from the profession after a year on supply. There’s more to life than work, and I want a life!

  147. Lisa

    Well done, what a great letter to outline the increasing pressures teachers face. I am sick of hearing the phrase ‘expected progress isn’t good enough’, obviously we ALL want the best for every child we teach but our government are so far away from the actual classroom they seem to forget their previous ‘Every child matters’ paper and that every child is individual and actually for some children (for various reasons) to make ‘Expected’ progress is a huge achievement! I’m not going to even go into the fact (as a year 1 teacher) that our government seems to have lost all memories of their child hood and the importance of socialising, playing, and exploring our world without the hidden agenda of targets targets targets, or phonics tests for 7 year olds!

    I am in the process of writing a letter to our government to. Previously I have taught in secondary for 6 years and currently in primary for my 3rd year, and 5 years ago I took advantage of the government key workers my choice home buy scheme. 5 years on they changed the rules on the decision to allow you to port the key worker loan to a different property, therefore living in a small 2 bedroom flat whilst already having a child meant I could not have another child there. So me, my husband, my son and our dog have just moved back to my parents to begin again and save for a deposit of approx twenty thousand pound… Thank you to the British Government for doing what u constantly do best, change the rules and goal post as you please. I thought the government were meant to support us not set us up for a big fall.

  148. Pixie

    I whole heatedly agree with much of this letter. I am very grateful to the wonderful teachers that have made a difference to the lives of my children. However……

    This letter talks about children and their needs, but is clearly only talking about the fortunate children who come from supportive homes to which they will enjoy returning to after a hard day at school. Whilst it may not be something that teachers themselves should have to do, schools could offer deprived children a much better start in life through being at school for more hours and more days. School is not just about core subjects – there is so much more that can be learned to enable people to better contribute to society when they grow up.

    Longer school terms would make it easier for low waged working parents to reduce childcare costs. This would help get more people back to work and reduce benefits. Better for the whole country and society.

    Our country is in crisis and we are all having to pull out all the stops, pull together, work as a team. The average person works 48hrs per week (according to daily mail) and 49 weeks a year. It is very difficult to be sympathetic to the plight of teachers when half the rest of the workforce is working 48 to 80 hours a week. in many cases, those who work less than that also earn half what you earn and very few have a pension these days.

    In the same way as many comments to this blog suggest the Mr Gove should try being a teacher for a week, I would like to offer the same swap to any teacher for my job, or perhaps they could swap with a paramedic, a soldier or a nurse. Just so you get the idea of what you might be taking on, I typically start at 0730 and first meetings at 8. No breaks. Sandwich at my desk. Leave at 1830 and get supper for family. Start more work on laptop at 1930, then get finished in time to iron shirts and fall into bed. Repeat for 5 days. Spend at least 8 hours at weekend on laptop responding to emails from colleagues, suppliers and customers who also work weekends. Officially 4 weeks holiday a year, but typically take 2 as its too busy. I’m not complaining. This is how it is if you want to earn good money (similar to teachers pay) in the UK. I only wish I had a pension plan so that I can stop one day, but I work for one of the UKs many small companies and that’s not an option right now. So that’s me, an average UK private sector worker. Is anyone up for the swap?

    Perhaps if your letter made its point with an argument supporting what is best for society and the UK, you would receive more support from non teachers. It’s not that you don’t have a valid point, but its coming across as a complaint that is self centred, and that is likely to alienate people whose support you need. I would suggest you rewrite it with this in mind because you have a good point to make, but your rubbing the wrong people up the wrong way.

    • Aaron

      Absolutely well said I could not agree more.

    • Robert Jones

      Why oh why do you keep bringing your own working day into the equation? At no point is the writer claiming that teachers are the only people who work hard. The list of duties are clearly used as as a way of explaining to Mr. Gove that his view of teachers is widely off the mark. I admire you for your own efforts, however, if your company MD or whoever was offering no support and constant negative criticism then you would have a right to explain your average working day and subsequent disappointment. In addition, the way in which the letter was written does offer suggestions as to how things could be improved. The basic message is ‘let teachers teach and stop interfering in situations you do not understand’ as that is effectively what he does. He has no idea. I also happen to think that no one should be made to work much over 40 hours a week, be it a teacher, a nurse, yourself, whoever… Everyone has the right to family life, social time, even time to yourself. If that doesn’t fit in with Governmental number crunchers calculations on what we can or cannot afford then the useless, self serving idiots need to start living in the real world, with one house, one car or using public transport, paying more tax, claiming less expenses and doing what they are supposed to do – LEAD. That is not a rant at Tories, Labour, Lib Dem or any individual party. It’s polite advice for all politicians.

    • JB

      Teachers are highly skilled professionals and should not be expected to be there to provide child care for underprivileged children who would rather not be at home or whose parents can’t otherwise afford child care! If someone can’t afford to take care of their children maybe they should have thought more carefully about having one. Why should it be someone else’s responsibility?

      I’m sure most teachers would not complain and be more than happy to work long hours and do extra work if it wasn’t for the constant belittling of what they do and the constant “need for improvement” required by the government to all teachers and schools, as if nothing is ever good enough. What’s worse is hearing parents complaining about having to sort out child care when teachers go on strike as opposed to the valuable days education their children will be missing. It is clear that the perception of teachers being no more than “overpaid child minders” and the little respect they get from the government and many people in society is the main problem.

      Teachers SHOULD be “put on a pedestal” and SHOULD be praised because their jobs are more important than most. THEY PROVIDE CHILDREN WITH A FUTURE AND SHAPE THE NEXT GENERATION.

      Speaking as an ex-teacher who has given up because I guess I just don’t care enough, appreciate all the amazing teachers that do care and are still in the profession despite the general disrespect from society (feeding into the disrespect from students), stop all the criticising and SHOW SOME GRATITUDE!

  149. MJ

    The ‘letter’ is very apposite, but have you actually sent it to Mr Gove?

  150. C Wilkinson

    Yes being married to a teacher there are lots of partners out there who proberly feel like a single parent. As sometimes we lead separate lives during term time. If your teacher wife or husband is a governor then times that by two. As more of their time is not there own as with most teachers going off with stress that means other staff have to take these roles on when all the staff are off ill. Thank god we have assistants I the classroom if your lucky to help for all the little things Mr Gove you seem not mention them much. Don’t forget helpers as some educational trips wouldn’t get of the ground. Mr Gove spend a week in one school rather than a afternoon visit. You never know you could change your vision and rethink some policies.
    Teaching Assistant.
    C Wilkinson

  151. david

    Lets have a little perspective.

    1. Firstly it is your choice to become a teacher, no one doubts your passion and perhaps you are a great teacher who brings out the best in children, but this is only part of the job. You can’t pick and choose.

    2. Marking – this isn’t a hidden extra, it’s a part of the job. The beauty of marking is you can take it home. How many other jobs allow you to work from home?
    Those teachers who use marking as a complaint perhaps shouldn’t be in the job; it’s a but like a bus driver who loves driving around, but doesn’t want to stop for customers.

    3. Holidays – I think the law in the UK is 25 days a year which includes bank holidays.
    Half terms, plus Easter, Christmas, Summer break and bank holidays equates to well over double the national minimum. Even if you deduct 10 days for inset training, you still have around 50 days a year holiday. Which is an excellent benefit.

    4. Protected pension – You need to realise what a god send this is.

    I would never want to be a teacher, despite the lucrative lifestyle and if despite your passion for the job and belief to be good at what you do. If you feel your day is too long, or work with students is too difficult may I suggest you find a different job.

    Finally to the person who quoted French teachers work an 18 hour week.
    My wife as a 12 year old did this, and she wasn’t on her own…

    Caught the school bus at 7:15am, returned home at 6:20pm and continued with her homework.
    This is normal. She was not tired, she had plenty of social time and she learned a lot.
    12 years old that is all, yet we have teachers complaining they work similar hours – get a grip.

    • Geoff

      How is it that so many people who have never been a teacher think it is such a cushy number and yet invariably say ‘I would never want to be a teacher’. Unless you have done the job you have no idea what it’s about.

      This isn’t about hard work – teachers aren’t afraid of that. It’s about the fact that however hard you work and however many hours you put in the system still demands and expects more while at the same time dealing with an increasingly demotivated pupils. Dealing with machines or processes is easy peasy in comparison.

  152. Peter

    A recent letter to a national newspaper re. School starting age and signed by over 100 leading authorities on child development and education was described by Gove’s spokesman as “misguided”! Enough said.

  153. Mike

    Surprised you found the time to write such a lengthy article given the ‘endless emails’ you have to deal with. Your overuse of superlatives makes this article scream of being dramatic

  154. Jeremy RF Smith

    I hear your pain. I’m a nurse married to a teacher….nuff said….

  155. Reblogged this on emmaannhardy.

  156. I’ve just reblogged it. An excellent post.

  157. I’m so glad you said this- I’m so proud that you have, and that some teachers still do. I’m afraid I left the profession this year after Gove came to school with the sole purpose of ignoring quality teaching and creativity, and then I was Ofsteded. We got a good, but the inspection, the day to day pressure, the devolution of creative thinking, the irrelevant assessment and data trawling, the grim outlook of my middle leadership course ( in which both leaders left- one quit to join Ofsted and the other had to help a school that had failed its recent inspection), and the fact that I hadn’t seen friends or family for a year, led me to leave teaching. I just don’t believe that they’re trying to make anything better, and I know that they won’t. I hope that you carry on fighting for the good of the children, the community and for education itself. At every level educators, or those in the profession, are supposed to lead honestly. You are. Gove and his system don’t. Be there when eventually he goes.

  158. marian boud

    I absolutely agree with this .Don’t change things until you’ve shadowed a teacher’s day/week. A term wd be good!

  159. I went ga-ga at 2:30pm on Sunday 2nd December 2002. My wife saw how I was when doing lesson prep for the following week and told me that I should phone in sick and go to the doctor on Monday morning. My reply was “If I don’t go tomorrow, I’m not sure that I’d ever be able to go back”.
    “That’s it then – give me the number to call”.

    I don’t remember a thing for a couple of months after that. The breakdown I suffered is not to be recommended to anyone. I couldn’t drive for a few months. I couldn’t even glance at the school for about a year without crumbling into a heap. Every night, reliably, I would have nightmares about teaching, some that were so bad that I lashed out, hitting my ever-patient wife. I was fortunate enough to be awarded my pension on medical/metal grounds and, together with working as a handyman, we limped on for another four years before downsizing and retiring completely. Now, almost twelve years after the event, I am almost nightmare-free and I am volunteering with the U3A. I have lost most of my 28 years of teaching career – I simply cannot remember it.

    What caused my breakdown?
    Being expected to be in several places at one time; being constantly pressurised to gain “better results” and being given strategies to achieve those results that ignore the real needs of the students;
    being ignored when pleading with officialdom about the needs of the lower ability; being expected to teach subjects for which I had to do ‘self-training’ with not help; being expected to do lunchtime and breaktime duties, the many, many hours of time used at home for marking, setting, organising, obtaining materials from the local community (I was a practical teacher, so materials were a big drain on our funds…… Notice that it wasn’t the kids who were the cause of my breakdown; it was due to the excessive demands made upon me by the system.

    I agree with your letter. I sent one to the Ed Min sometime after my demise – much good it will have done. My continuing recovery is down to my wife and my friends, and my determination that I was not going to be a failure. As far as your letter goes, well, more power to your keyboard but I fear that it will do no good whatsoever. If it even gets to the man himself, it will be passed over; sidelined, ignored;

    Sadly ignored – but well done for trying.

    I could go on for hours, but to what good? There is a saying to which I subscribe wholeheartedly…..

    “Politicians are like nappies; they should be changed often – and for the same reason”.

    Best of luck in your quest – if you could do with a hand in taking it further, please contact me.

    • Geoff

      For the last two years of my teaching career, I worked in a college. This one was, if anything worse than a school. The two main aims for staff were achievement and retention and courses changed every year as the programme manager tried to find the easiest courses to get the best results. (so what if the staff have to re-write the course materials every year?) While I was there a third of the staff in my department had long term absences or had to leave due to stress. I was offered, and took voluntary redundancy or I would have either got the sack or followed them. I too still have nightmares about teaching.

      The stupid thing about it is that, for the most part, the work is pointless. Coursework puts the burden on the teacher and we were encouraged to go to extraordinary lengths to get passes.

      One student I had repeatedly failed to complete his work. He was at school and was on a programme where some pupils went to college one day a week. Our campus was on two sites and I arranged to meet him after school in my own time to complete the work having driven across town to meet him. He didn’t show up. I tried again the following week. He didn’t show up again. He was just one mark short of a pass but I felt I’d given him all the chances he deserved and failed him. When my programme manager heard of this she said she understood how I felt. She then instructed TWO other lecturers to take charge of this boy to get him to complete the work.

      As far as I am concerned qualifications achieved with this level of intervention are worthless. By constantly putting the burden of achievement on the teacher we are ignoring the fact that the qualification obtained has to have worth. And for it to have worth some students must fail. The message we are giving our students these days is that if at first you don’t succeed, we will give you endless chances to try again. Are these really the qualities required in the workplace?

  160. Si

    My father and mother are teachers, my wife is a teacher, my mother-in-law is a teacher. I am not and will never be a teacher because I’ve seen how hard the life is. My vocation is not child centered.

    On a weekly basis I work two thirds of the hours either my father or mother worked. I’m earning 50% more aged 35 than my father earned at retirement. I get holidays I don’t have to work in, and I get an 18% pension contribution from my employer. My work is challenging, pressurised, responsible and enjoyable.

    If you need to strike, here’s a parent that would gladly take a day or three of annual leave to support you. My children’s education is too important to let a halfwit meddle with it on the basis of ideology rather than evidence.

    • Robert Jones

      Common sense. Brilliantly well put. A great example of someone outside of the profession showing an understanding.

  161. Tim

    Are teachers reasonably well paid? Yes.

    Do teachers get more holidays than most other people? Of course.

    Do teachers only work during official school hours? Absolutely not.

    Are they expected to give up their own time to ensure the smooth-running of the school? Yep.

    Is there a chance to earn extra money for the extra work they do? Not under normal circumstances. (Unless they do private tutoring or mark exam papers – basically only if they do EVEN MORE work away from the school at which they’re employed).

    Is public opinion behind teachers? Unfortunately not.

    Instead of criticising teachers and telling them that they should be happy about the deal they’ve got, because your deal is not as good, you should be taking steps to make your industry better. If you work 12 hour shifts and get 28 days holiday a year then you should be trying to alter that. What you should not be doing is trying to make everyone’s deal as bad as yours, that would be silly and does nothing to further the ideal of having a happy and productive workforce.

    Also, if teaching is so easy and the benefits are so good (certainly nothing to EVER complain about) then why don’t you go to university and become a teacher, too? that way you won’t have to continue to slave away for 28 days of holiday a year.

    I’m not a teacher, but I want everyone to be appreciated for the hard work they do.

  162. Natalie

    My word I feel like I could have written that word for word myself.

  163. MickR

    Teachers have a tough job which is easily miss-understood due to the long holidays observed from outside the profession. I know what I am talking about here; I was a police officer for 29 years and frequently worked excessive hours, missed rest days and had leave cancelled on a regular basis throughout that time. I understand the meaning of work intruding on family and social life. I respect and support the need for steps to be taken for teachers to protect themselves from inappropriate government intervention, to protect their rights and enhance their working environment. They are right to be attempting to make a better environment for our children to be educated in and teachers deserve support. Despite some of the above posts, I am sure that most teachers have an understanding that they are not alone in working long hours in stressful conditions. Teachers, you are doing a great job.

  164. I agree with most of the content of the letter. I don’ t think the impersonal nature of the letter helps the cause – it sounds to me as if it may have been put together by a group of people rather than an impassioned individual. I think Gove will see it that way (IF he sees it). I question why education should be an activity run by the government at all – that in itself policiticizes it and sanctions political interference. Personally, I think Gove is passionate about education (good) but am fearful he is not aware how many good teachers are either being drained or driven out of the profession by ‘the system’ for which he is responsible (very bad). I think part of the trouble is that teachers are too militant (their influential – and mutually competitive – trades unions can be counted on to be ‘against everything’). I think the unions might do better if they worked more cooperatively with government to improve the lot of teachers. Also, too many union-affiliated teachers, in my opinion, have no realistic understanding of the private economy, as reflected in the adage: ‘Teachers, men among boys, boys among men’ (and women/girls too, of course). On balance, better that the open letter exist than not though.

  165. Sian Dixon

    Before training to be a teacher i worked three jobs totalling 72 hours per week. I worked every day split shifts and it was physically and mentally challenging. I thought I was tired, I thought I had little social life. Then I started teaching. Now am exhausted. I go to sleep each night thinking how can I implement the latest initiative. I try to be prepared i try to keep on top of everything and I try to spend one night and week with my partner without staring at a computer screen or marking work. As for my son, I’m lucky to get an hour with him each day and that is only his bedtime routine. Some weeks I feel like a stranger to him. I love my job, I love seeing the expression on my students face when they finally understand a difficult concept but I do not like the pointless paperwork. Nobody looks at it. I wonder sometimes if even inspectors can be bothered to look at the dry general planning which tells nothing of the actual learning experience. I love teaching in the classroom I detest the interference of people who have no idea how to teach. Creating extra work which detracts from teaching in order to create a job for some paper pusher somewhere along the chain of command. We are paid well and I didn’t come into the profession expecting an easy ride. What I didn’t expect was that no matter how hard I worked it would never be right. The constantly changing goal posts and the lack of recognition of a job well done. In a profession where we are expected to celebrate pupils success, why then do teachers only receive negative feedback? How can teachers maintain optimism when faced with such blatant disappointment?

  166. Gove clearly has no grasp on reality. He needs to spend a month teaching smaller children, and then another month teaching teenagers, on the same terms as actual teachers, and then maybe if he hasn’t locked hmself in a cupboard and refused to come out ever again, he might have a clue about how to do his job. Why can’t we have something like OFSTED for MPs? Every six months or so would seem fair.

  167. Peter Sutton

    My heart sank as I read the responses to the comments. This is really anti Tory thinly disguised as anti Gove, which undermines the credibility of the letter. This is a shame as Gove is a menace to our education system.

  168. therealworld

    Yet more moaning from the over paid public sector workers.

    It must be awful having to give up half of your 13 week holiday to work. How do you manage on just 7 weeks per year?

    If you don’t like the conditions why not try doing some labouring on a building site, 12 hours a day on minimum wage with no no holiday or pension.

    Time to get into the real world folks and get your heads out of your arses

    • Robert Jones

      The real world…. That name is a joke in itself! Have you bothered to read a single word of what is written above your post? Your comments are pathetic. The ‘knock and run away’ equivalent to a situation that merits thought and understanding. Sadly, your narrow-mindedness typifies too many bitter individuals with no grasp on the importance of education. Not a single person who shows support for this letter has put their own personal interests before their job. If you can’t understand the collective disdain for The Education Secretary and his frankly bizarre policies then go and find somewhere else to share your incredible plan of action. “Yes, stop teaching, all go and work on building sites. That’s the solution.”….. Truly astonishing.

  169. you should come and work at the school I work at… the carpark is empty at 2.45… I am not joking

  170. Lynn Hatch

    I have been a primary school teacher for 24 years and even at the beginning of my career, the job of a classroom teacher could take over every spare minute of the day and much of the weekend if one allowed it to. The workload is possibly no heavier than it was all those years ago, it is just different. What HAS changed is the lack of trust imparted to teachers to carry out their duties professionally. There is constant pressure to PROVE that one can teach, mark, assess etc…….all those things that good teachers have always done. The Government appears to be paranoid about standards, goalposts continually change and one’s best is never good enough. My greatest concern is that Government officials such as Gove have forgotten who their clients are…….they are CHILDREN who should be entitled to an education that is exciting, imaginative, rounded and inspirational. Instead, the Govenment is obsessed with the need for every child to make two sub-levels of progress by any means possible……homework, booster classes, interventions, holiday classes, the list goes on. Schools are not sausage factories where all children fit the same mould. They are places where every child should matter (remember that one, Mr Gove?), where all children should be treated as individuals, their strengths recognised and where they should be allowed to enjoy their childhoods! If the aim is to turn children off education and ensure they feel like failures from an early age then we are going the right way about it. I am currently a part-time Deputy Headteacher of a primary school with two primary-aged children of my own. I sincerely hope that their class teachers are spending their time planning interesting and motivational lessons instead of filling in pointless pieces of paper just to prove that they can teach!

  171. i didnt write the above post, a co-worker did, trying to be “funny”.

    however I do not fully agree with your thoughts as I have experienced them working in education.

  172. Leia Benet

    I know there are a few trolls wanting to spoil an honest heartfelt letter but in some ways it makes our argument stronger because we are able dispute their claims. Other than wanting to get a rise out of us, teachers collectively, they would never want to step into our shoes. Who wants to be in a room with 25 five year olds? It’s not a birthday party it’s called organised kaos. What about a room of 30+ ten year olds where you set individual tasks and monitor them in 5 minute increments. Many bosses wouldn’t be able to keep up with their staff members at this rate. Then you think it gets better… 30 hormonal teenagers rolling in and out if your class every 50 minutes! Seriously! That’s just the ‘normal’, well adjusted kids not including those who come from broken homes, suffer abuse or neglect and have huge social skill problems! This job is more complex than just the 9-3 work hours or debating over how much holiday time we get. Holidays are for BOTH the children and teachers so we dont burnout. Heaven forbid that families might want to spend time with their own children. Arent we meant to work to live NOT live to work! There are so many opinions I have heard regarding teachers pay, workload and holidays but ultimately we are preparing future generations whilst protecting parents most precious ‘commodity’. A more thorough review of the old industrial education model is what is required to meet the technological changes that have occurred in the last 30 years and what changes are still to emerge.

    • Peter Sutton

      I agree with your sentiments but just because some folk disagree with the letter, or some aspects of it, please don’t call them ‘trolls’

  173. An excellent realistic description of a teacher’s life. I heard somebody use the phrase ‘life consuming’ to describe the proffession which is what I tell people when they ask me why I left it. In my new job I have only 25 days of holiday and thought I’d miss the 12 weeks but I haven’t. I haven’t needed it because unlike in teaching my day-to-day life is manageable and I’m not totally exhausted every evening. Total respect to teachers who stick it out.

  174. Leigh

    My wife is a primary teacher and having read this it is like seeing her life in type, she has absolutely no spare time for her friends and has very little for myself. The amount of pressure she is under I often wonder how she hasn’t had to take time off after a breakdown and the worst thing is I am having to watch as it slowly becomes more of a reality and undoubtedly happens.
    We have decided that we want children of our own and with that being the case talked about how we would go forward following that happy day. The only conclusion we could reach was that for her to be involved following maternity leave she would need to go part time (which would still be like a full time job) and eventually leave the teaching profession for a job that actually is 9-5 so that she has the time to spend with friends and family.
    I work in the rail industry and often have 12 hour shifts plus travelling of up to 2 hours each way to site and I can honestly say that my wife has to work far harder and is under a lot more pressure than I myself am. So much so that I am still glad I pulled out of the PGCE I was taking 6 years ago.

  175. GBS

    A little more perspective

    1. Yes, these people chose to work in this profession and like other professionals, work they do.

    2. Teachers are well aware of the daily ins and outs of the job and on the whole accept this and enjoy the challenges of the job. What they don’t appear to be content to do is carry on regardless. Thank God!

    3. The holidays are an excellent bonus and greatly appreciated and utilised by teachers to catch up on work, spend much needed time with their families, learn a whole new curriculum and create (at least an outline for) engaging lesson plans for the next term/half term, oh and have a bloody holiday!!

    I’m a musician and scrape a living doing what I do. I probably have more recreational time than some other professionals. Does that mean that I shouldn’t complain if I turn up for a gig and the events manager decides to put me on at 1.30 in the morning instead of 8pm as previously agreed? (Whilst telling everyone that I can’t do my job to a satisfactory level as he cuts the strings on my guitar and rewrites the lyrics to my songs!)

    4. A pension is most likely a moot point for the fact that people starting in the profession today will either be 75 or dead before they get chance to draw the bugger! That said, it is an incentive that has been put in place because even the most out-of-touch government is aware of the unappealing pressures of the job.

    5. It is very easy to bring the level to petty nit-picking about the ins and outs of anybody’s day (and I realise that at face value this article talks about that at length). The point that is being made (and missed) is that Teachers DO knowingly accept the profession for what it is, but, as with other professions, when the goal posts shift (constantly) they feel the need to point out the increased pressure and risks of those changes on themselves, their colleagues and the children in their charge.

    6. Other professions are not exactly the same as this profession. That is not to say that teaching is MORE difficult or stressful. But Teachers (most likely) don’t enter other forums and tell soldiers they can get by with two left boots, or tell nurses that they don’t need the holidays they were told they could have, or tell police officers that increasing paperwork and red tape is just part of the job they signed up for.

    7. Teachers complain regularly because they regularly have something to complain about. If that tells you that all Teachers are highly strung and have a sense of ‘self-entitlement’ you are missing the point. If you’re a teacher who feels that other teachers complain too much and should ‘just get their heads down’, you probably spend too much time in your own office instead of the staffroom.

    8. Change is good, if the changes make sense.

    My perspective is from having been a Learning Support Assistant (learning a curriculum, writing lesson plans and teaching specific areas of a course), a SEN Teaching Assistant and a one-to-one SEN Teaching Assistant. My parents were both teachers ( I remember the holidays, or lack thereof, first-hand), my Grandmother was a Headmistress and my Grandfather was a rocket scientist (he was paid a fair wage, worked abroad a lot and had good holidays. He would still feel the need to point out anything that he might deem hazardous!)

    • Robert Jones

      Excellent, GBS. Really informed points, though sadly, they will go over the heads of many people who are on here just to give teachers more grief…

  176. Empty Nester

    As I left the youngest child at University halls of residence on Saturday, what were my plans for the future now there were now l;onger children at home. A nice quiet evening with the husband to rediscover our relationship as recommended by the magazines? NO I was thinking for the first time I could go home and work without feeling guilty I was ignoring the kids. How many times have I spent evenings and way into the night in the dining room preparing, marking etc etc? it became a family joke that Mum would agree to anything when she was concentrating on work. The lifts where I turned up late, the juggling of working late and students needing extra help and pastoral support. As one said why do the students love you so much? You just shout and nag!
    I love my job and the making adifference to students and seeing them blosom, but it is exhausting. To the new teachers I would say balance and care it is a very rewarding profession, but if you can’t do that then find a less demanding job. We do it because we love it and the stduents, but it is not right that we are then taken advantage of and villified.

  177. I sympathise with your point, I am married to a teacher, I’ve seen what you are talking about. But, I only sympathise to a point. Change the words into a business context, and there’s no difference-teachers aren’t a special case. We all work long hours, we all give up our weekends, we all feel that the pressures are too great. I think where there is a significant difference is in the lack of management experience within the government. Any Company quickly learns how to deliver unpopular messages – any large corporation manages its internal communication with skill-the ones who don’t quickly go bust. Government ministers just don’t have the experience to understand how to deliver unpalatable messages. Spin Doctors don’t help, a good manager is one who has the personal experience to understand what is needed, and then communicate it efficiently and effectively. Listening to “advisors” is a poor substitute.When government get it wrong, they don’t have the Sword of Damocles hanging over their head, they don’t “Go bust”, so they never learn. The only time that they get close to learning is in an election year, and then, it’s not the individual concerns of teachers, nurses, small businesses that drive behaviour-it’s overall sentiment of 30 Million people who bother to vote

    • Janice Hadwin

      So government should leave it up to the many managers in education who know what they are doing instead of sending them on wild goose chases.

  178. Lauren

    The writer isn’t saying that her job is better than anyone else’s! She is just stating that she hates being put down all the time. How would you like it if someone slated your work!? My mum and sister are both teachers and I have never seen two sets of people work so hard! They don’t just go home and sit! They come home, mark homework and then class work, they read through emails, plan for the next day! This is all whilst doing housework chores as well! Please just think on, before you start with the same old rubbish “Go out and fine a proper job! Or my personal fave ” leave if you don’t like it” Just grow up and listen to what they are saying!! They are not saying they want to leave! They are saying the want some bloody respect for what they do!! Because you can be dam sure! If the teachers didn’t work so hard! Parents would be complaining about there children’s grads! So they can’t win whatever.

  179. EPS

    Oh, dry your eyes. Heaven forbid you get close to doing a decent days work or having less than a quarter of the year off…

    • John Craven

      To be honest, I’d say teaching is one of the hardest jobs around. If you think about it, which you clearly haven’t, teachers work the same hours as you. And THEN they have to do all the marking, planning, emailing, intervention, disciplining and staff meetings. Do you realise just how long that takes? Teachers actually spend their evenings marking students work. So I put it to you, sir, heaven forbid you get close to doing a decent days work…

    • notateacher

      If it’s so easy (which clearly it is if your comments are anything to go by), you do it. I challenge you to teach full time for a week……too scared? Thought so…oh and I’m not a teacher by the way so do a ‘decent days work’ which, compared to teaching, is an absolute breeze. Seriously, you’ve just demonstrated your complete ignorance, nothing more.

    • Graham Lack

      …decent day’s work (genitive, just for the record)

    • Robert Jones

      EPS:

      Sweetcorn, lava lamps, Ford Escorts, chimney’s, green carpet….

      Just wanted to join in with your mindless random drivel. Gosh, it’s fun!!!

  180. Lyn

    I retired from teaching 2 years ago after almost 40 years in the profession. I was sad to leave the children and my amazing colleagues but pleased to get my life back! – and I was ‘only’ working part time in the end! I felt privileged to help to guide hundreds of children over the years, including many of their children in later times! I taught a number of subjects including life skills, not on the curriculum, just a natural extension in all subjects. How sad I felt in the last few years at my school to see the entire ethos changing. I saw one of my colleagues hounded out as well as a number of others having extended absences due to stress. I also, sadly, knew wonderful teachers who had to get out and find other jobs for the sake of their sanity. Mr Gove, please think carefully before you make even more silly, useless changes. I loved my job so much until the last few years. Yes, hours and hours of my personal time spent marking and preparing until the early hours; pounds and pounds of my own money spent buying in resources for practical lessons that the department budget couldn’t stand; yes, ‘all those long holidays’ were great even if it did cost our family an arm and a leg to go away at the most expensive time but I still loved my job. It really is time to value teachers for what they are – dedicated professionals who work very hard and very long hours.

  181. maggie

    Firstly, I am a little concerned to post a comment here as grammar was never my forte! I am not a teacher but I have several friends who are. I am a parent of two children who have gone through the education system.and throw a few thoughts out to the critics of this letter. My children attended several after school clubs, educational weekends away, trips abroad and came home from all of them full of enthuism that had been caught from the passion of the teachers who had been with them. When my son was having difficulties in senior school it was his form teacher who worked with us as a family to help him get back on track. This wasn’t done in the school hours of 9-3, this was done with telephone calls or short visits in the evening. She was also there, during her “8 weeks summer holidays” to see him and others collect their exam results !! She then started to help those who hadn’t done as well as expected.
    Not all of our experiences were positive and when negative things happen continually involving the same teacher, it would appear that there are not the systems in place to support them or dismiss them.
    Stress related illness is a silent illness that people either cannot or will not recognise for all sorts of reasons. Work-life balance is something we all need to learn for our wellbeing and we cannot expect our children to learn this if they are not taught it by example from society.
    When I read your letter I felt it was a cry for that balance, not only for teachers but for the young people in your charge. Work-life balance is not a buzz word for people that can’t cope, it is a practice that has affects on relationships, health and wellbeing and economics.
    Perhaps the teaching profession should consider “working to rule” for a short time to raise public awareness of the extra-curricular hours that are done.
    I am sorry to say that Mr Gove will not understand your concerns because he is only interested in figures not the holistic approach to teaching………perhaps we should blame his Math’s teacher!

  182. I was a single working parent and full-time teacher once, and agree with much of what you say, which is why I chose to work in the private sector. I disagree that children are tired at 3.20pm, many children 7 yrs up work until 4pm having begun lessons at 8.30am – but there is work and work. To attempt to teach a new maths topic at 3pm would be insane, but there are plenty of learning opportunities that children can benefit from later in the school day. I used to run several clubs during lunch times and after school, and we had no supply staff so covered colleague absences ourselves, there was no such things as PPA time. But the big difference was respect. We were respected as professionals and not expected to self justify at every moment of every day. The endless post-its, photographs and notes to justify a professional opinion are insulting and a waste of time in many cases. As if a self respecting surgeon would pause to photograph his work so he could justify it later!!

    Successive governments (the last every bit as guilty as the current one, Ed Balls sought to centralise, control and manipulate to a far greater extent) have sought to turn education, parenting and childcare into a science. It is not, and never will be. There is science involved, but the passion, dedication, sheer emotional commitment and professional skill of a good teacher can never be quantified on a tick list by some OFSTED inspector.
    http://musingssahm.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/science-of-childcare-scourge-of-modern.html

  183. Jerome marchever

    Unfortunately, the unions in cohorts with the previous Government have resisted any positive change and only allowed changes that reduce teaching commitment and improve remuneration without the necessary reform. Education along with NHS consumes a significant amount of the tax payer, i.e us revenue, the standard or education are quite frankly appalling and , whilst there are many committed teachers, ther are a significant amount who are simply working their ticket. If, as in allareas of the economy someone feels undervalued, then go and find a new role, albeit it probably won’t be on the same T&C’s in the private sector…

  184. Welcome to the world of Conservative industrial relations, not saying it is right but it happened to the police service, a 24/7 job which is life threatening as are the fire service the health service the prison service…..this is an attack on all public services and prior to such attacks there is always a media run on undermining and discrediting such professions to gain public support for unpopular and often extremely unfair changes to working practices, with a deliberate emphasis on over simplifying such careers and an intentional lack of understanding…..Mr Gove has no more intention of listening than ‘Camoron’ just railroad it through and blame the consequences on someone else!

  185. Pingback: An open letter to Mr Gove – Jen Farrant

  186. raychrich

    Whilst I completely empathise with this teacher, the number of teachers I come across who have incomplete lesson plans, do not know their students, are not engaging with parents at all (even when there are cause for concerns), do leave the school as soon as the day is ended, make few constructive comments when marking, come into school hung over regularly and do not seem to realise that their job is to educate the children in their care have probably damaged the view that people have of teachers overall.

    Perhaps the teaching profession needs to deal with the factors who damage the view of them so badly and they would have more support?

    • Michael Billington

      I my opinion, over many years teaching the kind of teacher you describe is a very rare thing.

  187. I hope every one of you good people who supported this have written to your MP asking him/her to send a copy to the ‘ridiculous’ Mr Gove. Unfortunately every Tory Government has its resident clown. Michael Gove fits the bill perfectly.

  188. simon ting

    Boo Hoo!
    What a load of self absorbed drivel. I feel sorry for the children who have to put up with all this self pity.
    I along with the majority of the UK workforce spend 12 hours a day at work, quite often for 6 days a week. We manage this with poor pay no goverment pension, 4 weeks holiday and a damn sight less whinging. Stop writing this pityfull drivell and you will have a bit more time for the kids.

    • Michael Billington

      We teachers have never said we are a unique case Simon. I suggest you read carefully the many comments that endorse the original letter and see just where we are comimngh from. It would help if you and other workers who are under attack from this government take similar action. The worker will be stronger if we all band together to express our dissatisfaction.

    • Robert Jones

      Well done Simon!!!

      You managed to miss the point by several billion miles. Great work.

  189. kirsty kopec

    Amen to that! How true! As onto that, playground duties, assemblies, curriculum evenings, parents eve, displays etc etc, and that is all on top of the ever increasing detail in planning, marking, assessment and recording! Michael Gove should try teaching for a term, then comment. It is a rewarding career and so worthwhile, but teachers should be

    career and so worthwhile, by teachers should be valued for what they do and

  190. simon ting

    So I say to you, with impassioned tears streaming down my cheeks. Boo Hoo!

  191. Arainn

    Was it Mao that said “if you want to destroy a society, destroy it’s teachers”? …..

  192. Ash Freeman

    And all this to detriment, and probably soon the extinction, of family life.
    Whatever happened to the words: love, togetherness, family time and fun?
    Mr Gove, hang your wobbly face in shame.

  193. I worked 70 – 80 hrs a week on average and NEVER did less than 53! The on site time in school was always over 40 hrs – starting before 8 am and often finishing around 6pm (which was when the building would be locked) I would then take 3 – 4 hrs work home – often I would wake up – go to work – work – get home 6:30/7 start work after a quick break OFTEN THE FIRST ONE ALL DAY ….and then work until 11:30 OR LATER – sometimes 2 AM (at least an hour after I should have been asleep!) then survive on barely 6 hours sleep and do it all again 5 x days a week – then at the WEEKEND – I would work at least another full day 8+ hrs planning and resourcing the next week – sometimes up to 15 hours at the weekend….
    After 7+ weeks I would then get half term – where I would complete 20-30 hrs planning and prep.

    After 13 yrs it is my experience that the only holiday is about 4 weeks in the summer (same weeks as politicians) after sorting classroom and then again prepping for the next class.

    We work way beneath the minimum wage when you divide salary by hours. And this was JUST to meet the NORMAL requirements for class teachers. I was NOT management.

    What can you do? Well you have lost a lot of decent teachers…. I have stepped out – I am closer to 40 than 30 and still haven’t made family of my own – too busy teaching – I hope to do supply and even then I will not be leaving at 3 pm – but I JUST may be able to work and be paid for a NORMAL 40 hour week!

  194. Simon Davies

    That letter is so true and I’d like to see Mr Gove complete a term teaching. I have recently left the profession and my quality of life, family relations and well being is a million times better now. The job pushed me to my absolute limits and beyond. Nothing was said about teachers working to 65. Most teachers I have worked with who’ve retired at 60 were wrecks. If they’d carried on for 5 more years, I’d only give them a couple of years of retirement.

  195. scl

    I would like to add to this that Mr Gove is welcome to join me in my lessons for the rest of this half term – 6 very long weeks – I am a food teacher doing a VERY physical and high pressure role and I know from experience how hard it is! I have worked in the food industry for 12 years to a very high management level and know from experience that although I find teaching MUCH more rewarding than working in the “real” world it is also ALOT harder longer hours (and I used to work 60 hour weeks in my old job) and truly you never switch off. There is no way I can still be doing this when I am 65 never mind 68 not without putting the health and safety of myself and my students at rick – you try supervising 20 boisterous 15 year olds with knives and fire for 100 minutes and tell me how you feel at the end of it – wrung out and exhausted in the answer. It is about time people realised that teaching is not like other jobs and stop teacher bashing – every one has a complaint about teachers but we are good enough to raise your children for you!!!! If you don’t like it home educate and let us get on with our jobs to do the very best we can for the kids we have!

  196. unisonrep

    I notice, firstly, that there are quite a few people on here correcting grammar, etc. Please, get over it…this is not about you showing off, it is about a single teacher who has taken the time to write what they truly feel about a job which is being subjected to attack on an apparently daily basis from Michael Gove, the DfEs, down to the general public, who, in spite of never setting foot inside a school from one year’s end to the next, seemingly know exactly what the job entails.
    We have an Education Secretary who listens to nobody, who is hell-bent on “making his mark” before he shuffles off to a life of consultancy work, several seats on executive boards, and endless beanos and ‘fact finding trips’…but, before he goes, the British public, some of whom have been downright rude in their comments, had better wake up to the fact that it is their kids this joker is experimenting on, not his!
    Can someone please explain to me why, in the 21st century, the workers of this country are working longer and longer hours, losing all equanimity in their work/home life, for bosses who are increasingly demanding, threatening and bullying, when we have 2.5 million with no jobs at all? I thought that they had abolished slavery, but when I see an idiot, who is not a teacher, on here writing “Boo hoo, I work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week”, I think we have all lost the plot. You, my friend, should not be having a go at the writer of this blog, but looking at why you have signed up for a life-style that would make a serf wince!
    How far out of kilter has this system become? I work as a TA teaching English as an Additional Language. I get paid just over £9,000 a year. The recent transfer of the footballer Bale means that he will be paid £300,000 a week. On my current rate, it would take me 31 years and 4 months to earn what he gets in a week…31 years for teaching students from all over the world versus 1 week for kicking a ball.

    Think about that, and then tell me why you don’t support teachers in what they do….go on, convince me…….

    • Michael Billington

      No one in their right minds could come up with a valid argument to convince you unionrep. Even a very well paid head would have to put some years in to come up with Bale’s weekly wage.

  197. Gail

    A great letter. After nearly 20 years teaching primary age children, including special needs, I was made redundant and moved to supply teaching. I am currently covering a key stage 1 class and reception with children aged 4 to 7. Although a supply teacher, I still spend at least 2 hours a night planning and most of Sunday. I arrive at school at 8am; children arrive at 8.45 and leave at 3.15. I do not leave before 4pm. I do not get paid TPS as I work through an agency, but still have to put in the hours. The teacher I am covering has been off sick since about March. She may come back, she may not. When is the government going to start asking teachers about teaching? We spend 4 years training, so do we not know what we are doing and what is best for the children, and dare I say it…for the teachers too?

  198. Jude

    Wouldn’t worry too much about it, the Tories are trying to change everything just because they can. How many U turns are they up to now? I’ve lost count. They seem to have generally missed the point that you can concede that a policy works (even one legislated by the labour government)and it would be intelligent not to change it, accept predecessors did some things right and move on. They are too stubborn I am afraid and lack respect for the electorate. All they wish to do is flex their political muscle. They’re hoping with this one the British public will like lemmings follow suit and complain about more lazy public sector workers, running away what they think is the popular opinion of teachers. I disagree I think the government should leave pupils alone and stop messing with their futures, one minute back to the O level style exams and then changing their minds, Baccleaurates et al – change for the sake of itself is disruptive to everyone concerned.

  199. Amanda Copeland

    Well said! I am not in the teaching profession but feel so sorry for what you have to put up with on a daily basis. From what my son tells me and he is 12yrs is that teachers spend most the lesson dealing with unruly kids! How is my son supposed to learn? Teachers need to have control back over the school. Firm Discipline required lots of it.

  200. Irespectallteachersandsoshouldyou

    I haven’t read all of the comments above but have read a few and nowhere has anyone mentioned the fact that you’re not only battling against everything you’ve described in your letter but also indisciplined children. I would bet a large sum of money that a lot of the people who complain about teachers above are actually parents that don’t discipline their children, who then go to school and spend half a lesson disrupting everyone’s work, which means the teacher actually spends half his/her lesson trying to discipline as well as educate the child. I would go as far as saying a lot of teachers, certainly great ones, are substitute parents for a lot of children, and that always goes amiss… I just wanted to point out to those who don’t often think about it, and thank all the great teachers out there who put up with so much and get little to no thanks for it!!!!

    THANK YOU!!!!

  201. JMitch

    I am a teacher, I understand the pressures of the job. I also love my profession. The arguments in this discussion seem to focus mainly on workload, this will never win the sympathy of the private sector. I have two brothers and they both work in demanding professions, one is a senior partner in a medical research consultancy, the other is a scientist working for a large engineering multinational. Neither of them leave work before 6 or 7pm during the week, both of them work one day over the weekend. They have to be at the top of their game all day, every day as teachers do.They earn double my salary but have a pretty poor holiday allowance. Public and private sector professionals share one thing in common, professionalism.

    Lets not focus on workload, pay or holiday issues as the real battle teachers should be having with Michael Gove is his misinformed, over politicised ideas as to what education should entail. His philosophy is flawed. Unions and teachers need to come together to point out that we should be driving decisions and changes in education. Put simply, most of our knowledge of what works in medicine comes from doctors and nurses, just as most of our knowledge of what works in education should come from teachers, teaching assistants, educational psychologists and anyone else that makes a positive contribution to the profession. Challenge him on his confused approach to pedagogy and practice, I guarantee we will win that battle.

    We will never win the workload argument.

  202. Anna

    I’m a single parent of two kids, and a full time teacher working in a French international college and lycee. I’m fully qualified, PGCE, MEd, and 20 years of classroom experience. The working day starts here at 08h for all kids at college and lycee, and at 08h30 for my son at primary. My daughter, at college, ends her working school day at 17h, so, like me she works “office hours” of 08h to 17h per day. Wednesday afternoons, of course, don’t have class so on Wed we finish at midday. As a student in the international section my daughter has 29 hours of class time in her school week, and on top of this on average seven hours of homework. This will increase next year when she has to take an extra language option, and will increase further still when she goes to Lycee aged 15 where the school day is from 08h to 18h. As a teacher I have 21 contact hours a week, teaching all age ranges from 12 to 18. the rest of my 40 hour working week is non contact time used to write lesson resources, grade work, photocopying and for meetings and travelling between the two different school sites. I usually work at least 8 hours over the average weekend. I’m a history/geography teacher, and all my colleagues work similar hours. All teachers, all over the world, work hard and Mr Gove is really stupid to try and convince people of otherwise. I’d like to see him work for one term as a teacher in any school of his choice, and in any subject of his choice and have a film crew follow his progress.

  203. Jude

    lengthen school days and shorten school holidays.. great so now there can be gridlock on the roads at both ends of the day for commuters getting to from jobs on route with many schools and for more of the year. Why not? Muppet.

  204. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Here’s another one that should go boil his head – Michael Gove. Excellent blog entry showing the work that teachers have to do, and demonstrating how harmful Mr Gove’s ideas are to education.

  205. Well said. He won’t bother to read this. Sadly his followers that read the Daily Mail will never get to read anything like this because they only read headlines. And as they are the people that vote for him, there is very little we can do. Plus Gove seems to have a remarkable knack of sounding convincing when put in front of a tv camera. I hate the idea of a strike but its strike or give up I fear!

  206. steve caulfield

    My wife is a primary school teacher- teacher first! We have a 4 yr old daughter, which my wife feels incredibly guilty about spending so little time with! Every summer term my wife comes home in tears, from the pressure and frustration of teaching, what does gove do at night??
    Has he hobbys or does he read papers? My wife has very little home life, if you split her wages down to pounds per hour im sure you would find that she is actually , pay per hour, below the minimum wage??
    People who voice opinions on things they know nothing of??

  207. Reblogged this on kickingthecat.

  208. Life is tough – teachers do a – mostly – wonderful job – but – no one forces anyone to teach, and it does have some great benefits. Try running your own business!!!

  209. Phil

    It was definitely a passionate, heartfelt well-informed letter. However, I find myself in agreement with the minority of respondents who find themselves similarly exhausted and under-appreciated in other professions. It’s fairly easy to answer some of the negative comments by reiterating the point that the letter isn’t claiming teachers are worse-off than anyone else, or that the profession is more valid, or that indeed many of the commenters have “missed the point”. But what exactly is the point? The Government is interfering in a profession they know nothing about, to the the extent that it has a derogatory effect on everyone concerned? We get it. We get it because it’s happening to loads of professions. Education is a crucial part of development, obviously. It should be taken very seriously, and those delivering it should be respected, both inside and outside government. Responses by the teachers and the author keep emphasising that they aren’t complaining about the pressures being put on them, but they are. The letter is a pretty exhaustive list of duties, granted the official mixed with the unofficial, but then a lot of us in non-teaching professions are in the same boat. Education isn’t being singled out, it’s part of a whole raft of ill-advised policies being thrust upon a whole range of occupations. A hotelier commented earlier, and was greeted with the response from a teacher “you wouldn’t be happy if there was a Minister For Hotels telling you what to do” (or words to that effect). Well there is, isn’t there. Effectively there’s a minister for everything. The hotelier is self-employed, which sounds like it should bring it’s own benefits. The truth is, HMRC change their rules by the month, as does the hygene department, the fire regulations, the health and safety, the energy companies. I’m just citing this as an example that most professions have their “below the surface” unpaid and stressful components. It’s pretty much always been that way, and probably always will be. So at the risk of sounding flippant, and at the even greater risk of being told “I’ve missed the point”, I have to agree with those who question whether teaching is for you if its own particular set of inevitably fluid policies cause you so much grief.

    • Irespectallteachers

      Phil, I’m not a teacher and I see your point, but in most other jobs you don’t carry the weight of educating a child, that’s a huge responsibility! Agreed, we all have a responsibility to look after each other to an extent in whichever role we find ourselves in, but educating and disciplining a child is a huge undertaking, let alone everything else!

  210. tired

    Perspective. My partner and I are both teachers of PE and dance respectively. It is 8.30pm and since our son went to bed at 7pm I have been marking work (one of my 6 PE theory groups that need marking every 2-3 weeks) and she has been planning for her classes. We have not spoken a word to each other as not to annoy one another and argue.

    I chose to enter teaching to better my life chances and have 16k in loans that have helped me get there as I did not save every penny given to me from birth or saved during my teens. My oewn fault hey. I’ve done many jobs including roofing, carpet fitting and many other demanding jobs however, none have left me sleepless for nearly a month leading up to another persons exams.

    Two 60-70 hour weeks have already made me ill due to a mocksted, numerous meetings, an open evening, extra curricular clubs, and a sports fixture. No marking until this wk. Result.

    Perspective. Take my 13 weeks a year and let me work 2 hour days. Perfect. Wont have to pay £40 a day child care.

    Perspective. It is now just a job and it shouldn’t be in order to inspire like i was inspired.

  211. Well done on your letter. I have 2 boys, aged 7 & 9. They NEED time to play, explore, be outside and have fun! It is a different part of their “learning” and development – Extending the school day would not allow this – or all of our great teachers to do their out-of-class duties. Thank you for writing to him.

  212. bill

    Agree with all the sentiments expressed. But as a retired primary school caretaker, I have to query the burden of INSET days. Most of my staff went home early on those days. And the bit about tidying your classroom. What do your TAs do? Having said that, Gove has to be the worst Secretary of State that I can recall in my 35 years working in schools & as a Unison school rep.

  213. Cara

    I’m a teacher because I chose to be a teacher. I work hard and also enjoy time with my family (especially in the long holidays). Yes, we get long holidays and a decent pension but anyone could have chosen to be a teacher and get these benefits. I also work very hard and often spend evening and weekends working but again, I chose to do this!

    My point is we can all chose our career/profession based on our skills and qualifications and the costs/benefits of that career choice. I don’t think that moaning about the choice after you’ve made it has a point whether you be a teacher moaning about a teaching or a non teacher moaning about ‘lazy teachers’ in comparison to your job!

    However, Gove changing the rules again and again after people have made these informed choices is not acceptable and it is probable that this country will lose good teachers as a result. Let’s face it if someone in any other job was told that their hours were to be increased and their holiday entitlement decreased they wouldn’t be happy!

  214. Paul

    As someone who is self employed and doesn’t get any holiday pay, any sick pay, no job guarantee and no generous state pension – can i write an open letter an say how hard done by i am?
    But my job isn’t as important as a teacher’s job who is responsible for shaping the educational and social lives of the nations kids is it?

    No it sure isn’t – teachers have a far more important job and are rightly rewarded with all those huge (£000’s) perks mentioned above! You do an incredible job – that is an undisputed fact!!
    I never (well rarely) whinge and moan about the fact that i work until midnight quite often (throughout the year) to work on projects to generate income with none of the said “perks” and if i did, someone would be quite justified in saying – “it’s your choice, you chose your career path and you knew it wouldn’t be easy.”
    As amazing as teachers are (which i genuinely mean) and the work they do for kids, i think its time you took a step back and think back to why you began teaching in the first place.

    It’s a vocational profession – if you think your terms of employment are unfair (yes, i know they’ve been changed recently but come on, don’t you think retiring at 50 on a final salary pension is a tad generous when you compare it to everyone else in the Country) and feel you’re overworked, under payed and unappreciated etc then you can do what everyone else in the real world does when they feel like this………hand in your resignation and go and find another job. Oh what’s that? Not many jobs out there nearly as well paid or anywhere near the same number of pension, maternity, job security or holiday perks?

    Welcome to the real world my teacher chums – that is reality!

    It’s hard out here!

    4 weeks holiday, (or no paid holiday in my case) is pretty rubbish so please, if you feel that strongly about how hard you are made to work, no one is holding a gun to your head and making you stay. There are thousands or people out there who would give their left arm to have a job like yours (a soldier on the front line in afghan risking his/her life daily on far less pay for example) – or even just a job! So please, if you don’t like it, give another graduate a chance to do the incredibly important job of being a teacher.

    NB please do not think that just because i disagree with your “we’re so hard done by” protestations, that i think you’re not important. A teacher turned me around when i was a kid and i still remember his influence on me. He was amazing! Good teachers who truly care about the kids education are amazing and they should be rewarded – but sadly, are you not rejecting the idea of performance related pay. I think that’s another post though isn’t it?

    • Missy

      Performance Related Pay is based purely on grades. The teacher who turned your life around wouldn’t get a bonus unless you did better than expected on your tests. BTW you chose your job as much as anyone else, and you are b*tching about it too. The biggest difference being that you don’t get p*ssed on by everyone who thinks their opinion is right.

  215. Mary Duke

    To the minority who seem to think their own profession is just as hard if not harder than teaching….whilst it may be, are you constantly questioned about your practice, made to justify your actions, pulled over the coals should a slip up happen and be in the sole care (at primary level) of a class of 30 pupils? The average interactions of a teacher are some 300 time more than those in other professions, that in itself is just mentally exhausting. And talking all day long, do you know how tired that makes your voice?! I taught full time for four years, and i had about 4 weeks ‘off’ a year, at the most expensive time. I missed hen do’s, weddings on a friday, funerals unless ‘a direct relative’ if they fell in term time – no freedom! The pay is crap for the hours and responsibility required. When you have kids you want the teacher to be there for them, to be creative and inspire. This doesn’t require a massive wage (although it would help!) it requires respect. The government should be strict about who becomes a teacher, and then give them space to do the job they were employed to do. No teacher worth their weight would sit back and let the children they teach coast and not make the best progress possible. I got out of teaching as there was no way I could teach full time and have my own family. I was thoroughly broken every weekend and spent the first summer after my first year sick in bed from it. I do however have the utmost respect for those still teaching, especailly those that care and inspire.

    • Phil

      Hang on though, I thought much had been made on this particular blog about how the letter wasn’t saying that teaching is any harder or easier than other professions. I think a lot of people replying are just pointing out that there are other professions out there that involve just as much stress, pressure, lack of acknowledgement etc. To deny this isn’t really doing much for the cause. And yes, there are loads of jobs where one’s actions are constantly scrutinised and questioned. The more I read of these comments, the more I’m surprised by teachers’ apparent naivety. Any job that you go into which is ultimately state-controlled is always going to have these chinless-wonders in Parliament sticking their oar in. Be it, doctors, nurses, firemen, the police, teachers, lecturers, care workers, I could go on… surely you go into these jobs with your eyes open.

  216. Katie Morris

    This letter is speaking from the heart if our staff room! Gove is a dirty word! A man who does not have a clue what goes into a day of teaching! What people forget is that teachers are intelligent people with further degrees who could probably work in the private sector for double the salary if it was money that we were driven by! Yes I do have a pension funded by the tax payer BUT I WORK FOR THE TAXPAYER! IT IS NOT A GIFT!!! With the slight fear of being accused of moaning and not just ‘getting on with it’ I think you may have forgotten that also every break and lunch are taken over with extra curricular activities and detentions and I regularly work from 7.30 – 5.30 with no break at all then take home at least 3 hours work! Can all of these teachers be wrong?? I am not looking for a medal or any real thanks or praise but I would like to have some sort of respect from my employer (and after all that is who this letter is to!) Thank you for putting this so eloquently!

    P.s I don’t care if my grammar is wrong… Innit!

  217. That is a superbly honest open letter, but it is like throwing pearls before swine….. he does not have the common sense to realise that his biased views are wrong, wrong, wrong…..

    He and the other superb examples of Ministerial talent such as the Minister of Health, assume that all professionals work in an absolutely identical manner, with long breaks, short working agendas and unlimited support, they think that because that is the way that MP’s work (and they regard themselves as professionals even though no-one else does). They have massive support paid for out of “expenses” have holidays which make school holidays look positively miniscule and are rarely taken to task over what they do, or don’t do. They don’t face inspections or quality control with ever-changing goalposts, they don’t have to revamp all lessons at least annually as the specifications are changed by their cronies – to remove essential items for understanding. (I spent 38 years as a specialist science teacher for year 6 – Oxbridge entry)

    Sadly, it is unlikely that he will ever read any of this or the erudite comments appended afterwards by other stalwarts of this much-maligned vocation as it contains too many words and some of them are over three letters long and so beyond his capabilities………

    I retired at aged 60 as I could no longer face the continual stress faced by the task and my health was being damaged – yes I miss teaching and working with youngsters, but I do not miss CP aspects, INSET, league tables, exam results, report writing, grades 3 times a term, covering for absent staff, having a 5 minute slot to eat lunch in and so on……

    Good luck to all who continue the fight.

  218. Sadly, far too many people are ignorant towards what teachers have to face in their working lives. Those people see the long holidays that teachers supposedly get and wonder what they get paid for. Take heart that us with an education are proud that professionals were there, giving their time to help us build our futures.

  219. Reblogged this on gingerblokeblog and commented:
    A very thoughtful piece that I only wish Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, would read.

  220. These are the exact reasons I left teaching. Seriously, people don’t have a clue. Loved the children, hated the job. On an NQT wage of £20k p.a., working 80 hours a week, teachers are actually coming out with £6.41 an hour. £6.31 is the UK minimum wage. That’s how much the Government appreciate your commitment…

  221. Gawsworth

    Right – listen up!

    YOU! At the back there – Gove – pay attention!

    A couple of points….

    1] I have just retired, at 60 years of age. Why? Couldn’t hack it any more. Weakling? Unenthusiastic? Wrong! I am physically fit, and left because I did not feel I had enough energy left to do the job I wanted to do. I love the kids; I admire their energy and patience, and am desperately concerned for their futures. As a result, in these recent weeks since the treadmill resumed the circumnavigation of its incumbents, I have missed it tremendously in spite of the truths referred to in the original letter.

    There is an astonishing amount wrong with the profession, but it is not the teachers. What follows is the text of an email which was sent to “all staff” by an ex pupil of the school in which I taught. He came back this September as a technician for a gap year after his A levels. If you think I’m making this up, or have altered it – I bet you my whole pension I haven’t:

    “Hi Staff

    Having now spent a week helping around school I have realised how hard you all work. I know that when I was a pupil all I said was NAY and I did not work to my full potential. I look forward to the staff social this Friday and football next week.

    I hope all the teachers I annoyed can forgive me.

    Bless yourselves…” [name omitted]

    I rest my case.

    2] Many contributors to this blog have mentioned “Tories…” To those who find themselves to be among the uninitiated, please be aware that they are all the same. The main problem with the teaching profession is that we have all been imprisoned inside a ping pong ball, and are being played with. However, there is a pin prick in here somewhere, and we have lost our bounce. You are not, seriously, going to tell me that you give your trust to a politician in preference to a teacher…

    Regards to all in the land of the Preceptors,

    Gawsworth.

    P.S. There are a number of pedants out there it seems. I taught English for 30 years, so do not even think about it – you are simply wrong.

  222. I’m not going to have a go at politicians because they are probably one of the few sets of people in a modern country whose hours are on a par with teachers / doctors.

    But, something which interests me about this. I have always seen parliamentary recess as being tied to or at least very similar to school holidays. I wonder if anyone suggested that their recess should be shorter to match these proposed changes?

  223. Kevin Rowley

    I worked in and around schools for thirty years. In that time I have seen friends and colleagues systematicly , de skilled , bullied and vilified by successive governments, and the public actually have no clue.
    I have friends who have had break downs, become physically ill and just disappear at the end of term, never to be seen again.
    I have a close friend ,who having taking his school through the academy process, was kicked out two weeks before thd end of term; not because it was failing , he was stitched up by the sponsoring head teacher! Made to sign a gagging order , his staff never knew why he left! 52 years old , why would you do that to someone with such ability.
    Gove! You are a huge, wet disappointment.Far from improving education , everything you do is another nail in the coffin.
    Your academy program is driven by
    Corruption and slowly you are overseeing the privitisation of our schools where teachers are treated more , and more shabbily by the day. Shame on you, and shame on politicians who use bullying teachers , and nurses as a way of getting votes.
    Me, am I a teacher ? No , I am not , thank god! But I do believe it to be a noble profession before you lot got your hands on it !

  224. Alex

    Gove is completely out of touch with the majority of the population, teachers and parents alike, – why that surprises anyone is the surprise! As many others have commented he is interested in making a name for himself. He doesn’t care about children, nor their education. He believes all children are capable of 10 A* GCSEs if only the teachers worked harder – what a blinkered, narrow minded, little man he is. I’m not a teacher, and I often have my moans about teachers like most parents but on the whole I really believe that those who teach do so because they truly want every student to be the best they can be. My daughter is considering a career in teaching – I admire her ambition but how do I encourage her into a profession with idiots like Gove in control of her life? Politics doesn’t often interest me but if my vote will get rid if this fool I will turn up.

  225. Lou

    I totally agree with this blog 100%. People who continue to slag off teachers appear to only read the Daily Mail which reports that teachers in England are the best paid in the world and only teach 684 hours a year. This would mean we only actually teach for 29 weeks a year. It also suggests yet again that we only work 5 hours a day.

    I think the Government should address the fact that 50% of teachers leave in their first 5 years of teaching. In my experience, having left teaching after 4 years, this includes many teachers who were successful in previous jobs as accountants, engineers, scientists, etc and decided to make a career change to teaching. These people bring lots of skills and experiences into the classroom and help to teach children about the real world.

    My reason for leaving is not due to the children, in fact I have continued to work with children. I found school rife with bullying by management towards staff. Schools seem to spend their life jumping through hoops without an understanding of why or what it will really achieve. Additionally, as the blog states, I gave up every evening, most weekends and at least half of the holidays. I supported my students by email through school holidays, gave up days of holiday (unpaid) to run revision sessions or run residential trips away. I attended prize giving ceremonies, music nights, talent contests, ran after school clubs, discos and social events for year 7 students.

    I arrived at school at 7:30 on a daily basis, working through emails and setting up classroom resources etc. before the staff meeting at 08:10. I welcomed my students into the form room at 08:30 and taught all the way through to 13:30 except a 20 minute break for which I was required to stand on the playing field as soon as the bell went (difficult when you have 30 kids in a class when the bell goes), then I was expected to be on the pitch until the bell went at the end of break but also told I should be welcoming children to my class at the end of break at the same time. So heaven forbid needing a wee.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved my job as a teacher, and you can’t really get to know the children that you teach, unless you commit time to getting to know them. However, what I can’t abide is the constant slagging off by the government. I worked damn hard and was proud to be an “outstanding” teacher. I gave my soul to the job, but guess what Gove? I don’t think I deserve to be treated, or spoken to in the way you speak to the teachers in this country!

    P.S I swapped 13 weeks holiday for 5 and I barely notice the difference, doesn’t that say something?!

  226. Mark

    All teachers would agree with this perspective and anyone who has taught for at least a few years will see the damage Grove is doing to an already highly difficult industry. The gross misuse of power has the profession knee jerking in fear and eroded any sense of appreciation. The atmosphere in many schools is awful and not good for students. This is due to a sense of over kill for pretending to be an ideal and not real.
    I’m a highly effective teacher but after 12 years of living the job for no appreciation and barely enough pay for a mortgage I moved abroad and went private education. The conditions are much better and I would not consider a repeat of my first 12 years. Sorry Grove but you are driving us out.

  227. james Anderson

    Disagree with your comments about children not coping and needing time to socialise out of school. I went to school till 5pm every day from a young age. And then till 6pm. Children will be fine given the right structure and resources. After 2.30pm we had an hour of sport followed by a break and then an hours prep where we did home work in silence and the teachers prepped there own work. Children need opportunities in structured environments to learn and engage in other activities. They don’t need time that they need to fill. The big problem is resources. Trying to achieve longer days without adequate staffing levels and sports facilities will be doomed to failure.

  228. beenaroundtheblock

    Great post – I know many teachers in your position ; skilled committed and experienced individuals who have had enough. Those who have never tried to teach a class of 30 children really have no right to pass judgement as they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about …it reminds me of how I had all the answers with regard to parenting before I actually had children. Yeah right ! I’m not a teacher by the way. However, teachers do have one thing still to be grateful for ; at least teaching in state schools has not yet been privatised . As a health professional working in a sector which is becoming increasingly privatised , I can tell you that this process saps away at the very soul and the reasons you chose your vocation in the first place. It destroys team work ,co-operation and generosity of spirit in the workplace . Its all about money, tick boxes and the co-modification of everything. It’s not about care or quality of relationships. I am not at all surprised when I hear on the news that the government are concerned that nurses are not caring enough and need to be taught empathy. What do they expect when that quality is not highly valued by the organisation. It’s not the empathetic nurse who is promoted but the most ‘corporate’ one who is hot on stats and paperwork. That feeds downwards and empathy has been al but bred out of the system. And what they fail to factor in, is the amount of goodwill that has always existed in the NHS. This has now all but run out and the NHS and social care are much poorer for it. This is the reality of this government’s agenda.You don’t hear half of what is going on because people fear for their jobs.

  229. I just read this shocking article about his conduct in parliament. I suspect that if I ‘got emotional’ and called a colleague a nazi, under the teachers code of conduct that Mr Gove was so keen to force upon us, I would be seeking alternative employment. Hardly a role model.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23942033

  230. stu

    all politicians should stop tinkering. Gove ; you look like a spolt brat and talk complete rubbish. Get a grip.

  231. Primary teacher

    First off, apologies for any grammatical and punctuation errors – it is late, as I have just finished a day similar to those described above. This letter expresses well what I have been feeling. It’s really so not about the money. And so many of the negative comments left here seem to think that that is what we are “moaning” about. It is not. It’s about unreasonable demands that make an already busy, stressful and demanding lifestyle (and yes, I know I chose it and I do – despite all- believe that it is probably one of the most important and significant of all vocations) frankly unsustainable. I do recognise that it is not the only busy, stressful, demanding or important profession and that we are not the only ones facing pressure. However, we cannot help but feel we need to stand up for ourselves when we give our all and feel under attack. And at the end of the day, as this letter so rightly states, it’s all about the children and it’s all about the future. It is about teachers feeling the need to stand up and say something when we see that the education system in our nation is being eroded and damaged because, despite high ideals (challenging targets) and some really good initiatives, those delivering them are simply too tired, demoralised and burdened to be inspirational in the way we want to be. No one know better than us how often we get things wrong. Let’s be honest – none of us is really consistently outstanding. So it’s time to stop apportioning blame and using the excuse that we are moaning and should just get on with it (stoic British stiff upper lip and all that) to avoid listening to and dealing with the very real problems and issues we are trying to address – and which cause many of us very real heartache, pain and health problems. Having taught, in this country and overseas, for the past 16 years, I found myself reluctantly having to take several weeks off work due to health problems (largely caused by stress and overload) last year. And I know I am not the only one. And yet I refuse to simply give up and go and do something else. Why? Because I believe, possibly somewhat naively, that my years of experience are worth something, that I am a teacher to my very bones, that teaching is something I was born to do, something I have ability in and training for and that the trust placed in us every day by parents and children means we can’t give up on them and we need to keep advocating for what is best for them. And that might be (and often is) raising standards in core skills. And it might be counselling them through difficult times, listening to their troubles and working with them to find ways to overcome them. Is it too much to ask that our leaders do the same for us?

  232. tom

    I have to say that I think your letter is an excellent one!
    I have always been interested in teaching but realised early on that one to one mentoring is my skill.
    I didn’t go to school and have one gcse.
    I have always had work, and have a broad skill set.
    Many people work very hard, including teachers.
    I am now a farmer, dad, support wrker, carpenter. I had one week of holiday this summer.
    Shame there are so many pedant , “educated”, idiots on this thread who probably have real trouble relating with more than 10% of our diverse society!

  233. Karen Thompson

    I am not a teacher myself, but I have friends who are or have been and I see how much work they put in. Also for a short period I worked in a school and that was an eye opener. Teachers do not need to be bullied into things or blamed what is wrong in eduaction. We have made it so mothers are looked down on if they want to be stay at home mum’s, has anyone researched how the children of stay at home mum’s learn later on in school. The issues in education will not be sorted out by more time in school as I strongly suspect that the reasons go alot deeper than good or bad teachers, and what is a bad teacher anyway. There may be those more gifted at teaching, but those who are struggling need help, not bullying.

  234. poodlepip

    Well said peter dickerson. Sadly I have to post anonymously due to having aquaintances that are teachers that become very defensive if I dare to criticise the profession. Working in residential services with teens with emotional and challenging behaviours for the local authority gives me room to complain about their perks. Currently on sick and for being attacked at work. ..an invisible ‘crime’ and an almost daily occurence…feel a little peeved that kids are being sent home when schools are unable or unwilling to deal with them. As peter said ‘get over yourselves’. Oh…and lets see how long it takes before they have further days off when the snow comes. ..how would that work then if we as a 24 hr service ‘couldn’t get into work’. Rant…? I’ve only just started!

    • Minnie

      The ‘snow days’ are a management decision, based on health and safety – individual teachers do not decide whether the school is shut. And on the very rare occasion that a child is sent home (I’ve been teaching for 4 years in 3 schools and I’ve only seen it happen once), I assure you it is with good reason. And frankly, would you want your child’s learning to be disrupted by some undisciplined child who is obnoxious, rude, and violent towards staff and other kids in the class? It’s a judgement call – and why should that child get preferential treatment over the other 30 kids that want to learn?! And incidentally, I also used to work in a ’24 hour service’ in an acute setting… trust me, it doesn’t compare. So with regards to your rant, make sure you know what you’re talking about before you start, eh?

  235. Sam

    As a former student let me tell you where the problem lies with our state education system and offer a simple easy solution that teachers and the government need to support if they genuinely want to help children to be educated.

    DISCIPLINE!!!!!!!

    I am not only blaming teachers for the lack of discipline because in most cases they are forbidden by their superiors from properly carrying it out, but if your NUTty union didn’t naturally convulse at the utterance of the word, irrationally bringing up images of buttocks bleeding from flogging, rather than caning, it would have made a stand for this for the benefit of not only it’s members the teachers, but also the students. All that needs to be given in punishment to the cast majority of unruly students are proper detentions where they sit in silence with absolutely nothing to do. If you give them something to do such as their phone to play with or even their homework to do so that they don’t have to do it later, detention is not a punishment that will deter them from misbehaving in the future. Students who continually misbehave should be given increasingly lengthy detention. Don’t tell me that this can’t be done because they have to go home eventually as the solution is obvious. Instead of giving one three hour detention divide into an hour and a half a day for two days. Once these kind of detentions are established and teachers are willing to actually punish the children that misbehave and disrupt the education of others, schools will become places of learning again and even the offending students will in huge numbers, realise that it is not worth misbehaving, and buckle down and learn.

    Hate to state the obvious but the obvious needs to be heeded.

    Also the creativity business pisses me off even more than the occasions when teachers shove their own politics down pupils’ throats. If Gove is pushing for more then he should do the opposite and if teachers are pushing for more they should do the opposite. If you were allowed to simply sit down and teach children the syllabus I wouldn’t be surprised if they could go home at 14:00 and you could follow an hour later.

  236. karen Kirkup

    As a mother of four grown up children, I would like to thank all the teachers for the work they put in educating and teaching my children. Mr G please note that I also helped my Children grow, I taught and educated them, we as a family need time together to do hobbies, fun things, socialise, play. It takes children time after school to wind down, come round, then there is tea and catch up, homework, swimming lessons, as a family it would often be almost bedtime before we stopped, these were the times we remember as a family don’t take these times away or you will damage the family and that will cause more problems than trying to ram more into an already tired head. As for shortening the holidays, leave them alone, our children are children for 16 short years then it’s nothing but work and responsibility give them time to have some fun. Leave the teachers alone, leave the family alone, teachers care, talk to them and you would see that, but it’s hard to care if you are exhausted.

  237. Annie

    After over 30years of teaching, I have been retired for a year at the age of 62 & endorse what is said about the lack of life. I have discovered I CAN go away for a weekend now & not be exhausted on Monday, that’s after years of taking students on Duke of Edinburgh weekend expeditions in addition to the usual school prep. In fact I’m only just learning how to relax & do things for myself, including decorating a home which has been neglected for years. Whilst I loved my job & would never have done anything else, years of criticism takes its toll. Of course, everyone knows how to teach don’t they because everyone has been to school. Oddly enough the same doesn’t apply to medicine even though we have all been to the doctor! Leave teachers alone, leave kids alone & trust we professionals to do the job for which we have had years of training. As for Gove …

  238. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    This is an excellent piece by a teacher trying to explain to Michael Gove just how hard teachers work, after Gove has threatened to lengthen the school day and make school holidays shorter. Teachers have been attacked by successive administrations since Thatcher got in in 1979. They’re an easy target. Everyone remembers the poor or vicious teachers they had when they were at school, and there are any number of loudmouths who believe that anybody can teach, ’cause all you have to do is stand in front of a blackboard and talk. Or something like that. My first college was an Anglican teacher training institution, and three quarters of the students there were training to be teachers. From my own experience of talking and studying with them, I know that most are conscientious and work extremely hard, often in demanding and sometimes dangerous circumstances. I’ve met one young woman, who was sexually assaulted by one of her pupils. Others were threatened with violence by irate parents. Despite claims by successive administrations, including New Labour, that they support teachers and are trying to reform the profession, teachers have become demoralised by the lack of any real sympathy and support from government. The Uphill Struggle here has attempted to set the record straight, and accurately described just how hard teachers like her work.

  239. Mark davidson

    What other job requires a post grad qualification and the commitment to serve others for such a small basic pay? Nursing and medicine is also hard but at least if they get abused on the job the patient is dealt with or left alone. A nurse isn’t accused of malpractice on a daily basis like teachers in many schools.
    For all the difficulties of being a nurse at least they are not expected to make healthy 100% of patients who mostly don’t want to be healthy. Such is the law of Gove’s regime.
    How can all lessons, all teachers, all grades and all schools be ‘better than average’? It’s statistically impossible.
    It’s a set up to fail and therefore open to bullying those on the front line.
    True many teachers are burnt out and not performing at best. Hardly surprising when you are expected to do 3 jobs at once to a high standard with little support.
    Instead of grabbing headlines and feathering one’s own nest how about bringing a feeling of pride back to the profession? How about real support for people and the ethos of what we do?
    To constantly change a system is to never have a working one. It’s just a way of a beurocrat to look useful.

    • Kevin Rowley

      Well said!

    • Kama

      Hmm – I suggest that you spend a bit of time in a hospital before making sweeping statements like this. Are you another one of these teachers that seems to think that you are the only one that has a rough deal without having any comprehension of what happens in other professions, because this is how your comments read?!

      Well to enhance your education here are a couple of corrections to your post:-

      Doctors, Nurses and other health workers are constantly being managed, sworn at and sometimes assaulted by patients. And funnily enough the blue light brigade doesn’t suddenly come swooping in to sort all those naughty patients out for you as you suggest. In most cases the staff remain professional and just get on with the job – after all it would be breaking Article 6 of the Human Right Convention if we were to refuse treatment!

      Are Drs and nurses are not subjected to malpractice – have you not heard of the Francis review or the role of the GMC and RCN??? Unlike teachers in the medical profession you can actually be struck off from your chosen career if circumstances dictate!

      Not expected to make people 100% healthy – true, but they are expected to make sure that patient obtains the best possible outcome that they can, and this is monitored very closely and you will be held to account when this does not happen. All you have to do is read the press releases over the last few months to see this happening in action and staff being hauled over the coals for not meeting the publics expectations.

      As I have said previously a lot of teachers do a great job (some not so great), but please stop putting yourselves up on this pedestal and believing that you are in such a unique position on the work pressures side of things. I know plenty of staff in the health arena that would give their right arm for your salaries, holidays and pensions benefits in their chosen profession.

      • Minnie

        I used to be a nurse. I am now a teacher. As a nurse I earned the same salary and followed the same pay progression. The holidays were extremely generous, and time off was my own. Also, degrees to enter the healthcare professions are funded by the government, unlike degrees to become teachers. Yes, nurses work hard and it is a pressurised job, but you’re just showing yourself to be as ignorant as several other people on here who are commenting on an accurate letter while missing the point entirely.

      • Kama

        Minnie – you have obviously been out of nursing a while because things are not as rosy as you remember. No degrees are not always funded by the government, holiday entitlements are 25 days, workload is increasing, public scrutiny is greater, your lucky to get beyond a band 5/6 salary and to top it all off consecutive governments like to change our operating structure as often as they change their socks.

        What you and many others on this post fail to realise is that by you total lack of empathy for others that are being impacted with long working hrs and increasing stress without the generous packages teachers are entitled to, coupled with the condescending comments that you direct towards anyone that disagrees with you is doing Gove job of turning the general public against your profession for him!

      • Minnie

        Kama, I left nursing a year and a half ago, so I at least am talking from experience. I’m not saying nursing is an easy job, and I’m not saying it doesn’t have it’s own pressures – I am saying you are missing the point of the letter. (and incidentally in some schools you can be fired within 4 weeks of getting a ‘satisfactory’ lesson observation – a colleague of mine was recently given such a grading because her voice “is annoying” and there was one child who entered the room chewing gum). She has now left the profession in pursuit of a job where she can allow herself some downtime and not constantly be ‘got at’ by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

  240. Excellent piece. As a parent I’m fed up with ‘Ministers of Education’ trying to impose their personal ideology on the subject. Every time there is a change of government, or change of minister, a new policy arises, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, with no thought for consistency or teachers or children, all that seems to matter is their own political standing.
    As for all the time spent on league tables, supposedly for the parent’s benefit, I chose the school for my children by talking to other parents in my area, local knowledge. League tables are just statistics and statistics can be made to mean whatever they want them to mean. Don’t believe them, I don’t look at them because they are compiled so politicians can claim whatever they want to claim.
    And as for cutting teacher’s supposed holidays, politicians are fine ones to talk, with their long recesses during which they go on ‘fact finding’ missions to the West Indies et al, with their families at tax payers expense. Strange how we all manage while they are away, so who’s the real waste of space?

  241. Pingback: A Learning Support Assistant on the Lack of Government Support Given to Them | Beastrabban's Weblog

  242. Geoff

    One of the biggest aspects of teaching, and one of the most important, is the motivation of the children. It always surprises me is that no politician seems to take into consideration the way the jobs market may affect this. Clearly, when university graduates are finding it difficult to find suitable work, some students are reluctant to put in the time and effort. For lower ability pupils the situation is even worse. An active, thriving and differentiated job market would increase motivation levels.

    Another idea that I never quite understood was specialist schools. Why specialise if you are not going to focus on taking students with an interest in that speciality?

  243. Paul

    A convincing argument, it’s similar in Primary Schools, but he won’t listen, his arrogance shuts out logic…which is why I have gone down to 4 days for the sake of my health and my family, I couldn’t see another way to stay in the profession.

  244. dunkyc

    As a parent and an ex primary school governor of 6 yrs. I worry when unions are mentioned in school debates, does anyone remember the school action from the 80s? That didn’t help all those kids who were kicked of site or there were no after school clubs. Just left to roam the streets, these kids are now parents of school age children now! I have insight on what happens in schools now from my 6 years as a governor i’m no expert, but i’ve seen and heard a lot. Teachers shouldn’t moan so much their job isn’t any worse than many other jobs, with more work being put on them. Most people don’t get the 4 weeks holiday they are given due to work pressure’s. I know that teachers work hard, yet my son who has just finished his gcses for the last year was not taught information he was just drilled to pass exams. He admits his general knowledge is poor and has no depth to his subjects, apart from ones he researched himself of his own back. I had to plead with my Youngest sons English teacher to get him help, as he was struggling with english always has done, when he got some last year for one term he went from the bottom to this term into second set! There are good and bad teachers as there are good and bad politicians all trying to do the best job possible with the resources they have. Just don’t let the argument become ideological you lose respect. (Myself i no longer support any party) Perhaps if unhappy teachers worked to improve the situation rather than moan, they would receive more support from parents who them selves get little time for family or anything else that matters. We need to have a fundamental change as a society if we want the work life balance the way it should be. Its the kids who matter in the end, and i know from my two that those lesson that aren’t the ones that are dictated from books are the ones that they remember best, and learn the most. If you don’t like teaching then change profession, you have that choice. Just dont expect it to be any better and perhaps a lot lot worse.

  245. Janet

    Having worked outside teaching and as a teacher I can testify which is the harder job. I used to get proper tea breaks and 3/4 hour lunch break. As a teacher this time is used to get ready for the next lesson. Yes I only got 4 weeks holiday but it was four weeks that I could relax and not think about my job. In teaching the first few days of any break are spent going into school finishing off all the work you haven’t had time to do in term time. Then there is all the preparation for the next term. If it is such an easy job then why are there so many teachers leaving the profession? You only have to see the teacher sitting at the pool side marking her school books whilst his/her child has a swimming lesson or the teacher marking books in a car waiting for his/her child to come out of karate/cubs/ballet to know that they have no evenings. If people think it is an easy job why don’t they become teachers?

    • Chris

      Surely if this is where marking is being done is it being done correctly?

      • Lou

        Are you now suggesting that teachers should just sell their souls to teaching and neglect their own children? What else are they meant to do? Sit at home marking whilst their kids watch TV? I marked a significant number of essays sat on trains home to visit my parents on the odd weekend. I chose a 4 hour train journey over a 3 hour drive because that time was valuable and I couldn’t afford to loose it.

  246. Amanda W

    I Used to LOVE teaching but something had to give ~ so I retrained and became self employed :) Mr Gove needs to retain the many talented teachers out there, but I have seen many talented teachers leave the profession. Excellent letter and so honest.

  247. The problem is that education has changed from being an aid to making the best of your talents in the adult world (and teachers being allowed to adapt the classes to the needs of the students) into schools getting good overall grades and sitting high in the league tables.

    When the system is no longer about the needs of the students and becomes an exercise in marketing a school and pure statistics, something is very wrong indeed.

    The other issue is this: I have several pieces of paper with As and Bs on and one with a 2:i on from a top ten university and you know what? I have NEVER been asked for them. ONCE. Because every job I have ever had I have got because I KNEW someone.

    Again, something is very wrong with that.

  248. I do agree with most that you say but unfortunately the way that work has progressed over the years demands everyone work longer hours, along with increased stress etc. Too much is administration at all levels. I worked for many years for a multinational company where I worked pretty much 7 days a week for 21 days holiday and actually had to give up the job because of exhaustion and stress. My husband is self employed and is lucky if he gets 2 weeks holiday a year plus working 7 days a week. I am afraid that this is what is apparently called progress.

  249. Martin

    I have just read this as the husband of a primary school teacher. I am absolutely gobsmacked at how hard she works and how little in the way of resources she has. Absolutely astounded. And the way the school she teaches in now takes no interest in the teachers, simply making sure a five year old can attain set targets when in my opinion the child should be running around and being social and exploring life. I’d like to talk to you further about this as I am a producer hoping to make a programme about the experiences of teachers. I wonder if you’d be happy to speak to me?

    • Kelly

      As a mother and as an ex teacher I have plenty to say on these issues. Our new consultant head teacher bullied out almost all of the staff on the upperpay scale. 7 teachers were pushed into resigning. The caring ethos of school has almost disappeared completely. It is all about achieving targets and pushing children to the raised levels.

    • Geoff

      You also need to speak to those of us who have abandoned the profession.

  250. Gham Von Tinkleton Bradovitch

    The moment you claim that teaching is a vocation and you enjoy it, you may as well mentally mark down your salary by 10k and expect to be taken for granted. Opening your negotiating position by admitting that you already give your employer more than you are paid for because you care about the job, is an open invitation to be taken for granted. Teachers should stop moaning, grow up and be grateful for a job that they enjoy and are passionate about. There are plenty of better paid alternatives, they just wouldn’t enjoy them.

    • Annie

      I once asked a head teacher for a bit of leeway in terms of needing to take my child to hospital especially in view of the fact that in that year I had given up many of my own weekends & even holidays to take students on DofE & outdoor ed expeditions for no extra remuneration. The response was “well, you enjoy doing that & if you take the day off it will be unpaid” “er, yes, so on that basis you’d better stop paying me altogether as I also enjoy my job” so in other words, tough cookies. As DofE coordinator (& full time teacher) I already had a hell of a job getting people to help out!

  251. I left teaching some time ago for a job in computers. I never missed the long holidays as I was so exhausted it was more like recovery than recreation. I also was amazed when commercial work managers told me to stay at home when I was sick rather than drag myself in so they wouldn’t need to bring in a supply replacement for a few days.

  252. Rog Patterson

    There have been many responses to your letter from people who seem to think that your intention is to moan about the effect of your job on your lifestyle; their authors list other important jobs which are equally or more demanding, accusing you of “whinging”.

    This is to miss your major point altogether, and I think it should be re-emphasised: the lasting damage about which you (and all who care about education) are concerned is NOT that caused to the social lives of teachers and support staff by long hours. You are highlighting the long-term systemic degradation of the entire education process which is the inevitable consequence of demoralising, depleting and undermining its delivery mechanism.

    This understood, comparison with other demaning professions is largely irrelevant and unhelpful, but we can use it to throw light on the magnitude of the issue:

    Nurses, surgeons, firefighters, social workers (and countless others) work extremely hard under trying circumstances. They care deeply about what they do, and about those for whom they do it. Undermining the statutory arrangements which govern their ability to do what they do has a negative effect on the lives of those under their care (typically many tens of thousands of people at any one time.) Long-term degradation of those arrangements would impact personally on the wellbeing of a significant subset of the population. This situation would be recoverable only by reversing such degradation (by legislation) and making it possible for they (or their successors) to do their jobs properly.

    Education professionals work extremely hard under trying circumstances. They care deeply about what they do, and about those for whom they do it. Undermining the statutory arrangements which govern their ability to do what they do has a negative effect on the lives of those under their care (currently 8.2 million children in England alone, plus their parents and, in the long term, their descendants.) Long-term degradation of those arrangements would impact personally on the wellbeing of EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE COUNTRY. This situation is NOT recoverable.

    We rely on our schools to produce educated adults. Mr Gove seems to believe that “educated” equals “qualified”. If we pare back facilities and support for those who understand the difference, even his limited goals will be unachievable (good learning does not happen in the absence of good teaching) and the decline will become self-sustaining. Government policy depends on hoping that dedicated people are willing to carry on trying to do “the job” despite being deprived of the resources with which to do it, and despite the nature and purpose of that job being misunderstood and redefined by those who make the policy. Pay and holidays are not the issue; if the classroom environment is such that one’s task is impossible, dedication will evaporate. Given such an example, where will the next generation of teachers come from, and how can we expect them to inspire others if they have not themselves been inspired?

    I am not in the teaching profession. However, every day of my adult life I have benefited from the dedication of those teachers under whose care I passed my formative years. What would I be without their inspiration and professionalism (which I so singularly failed to recognise at the time?) I don’t want my children to be the answer to that question.

  253. Kelly

    I qualified to teach 13 years ago and entered my career with excitement and enthusiasm. I have always put in my personal time and money to make learning more fun for my pupils. This year I nearly lost my husband because of I had neglected our relationship for years. I lost my job, my confidence and my sense of identity. I suffered depression. Now I am ready to return to work but I don’t want to put my family 2nd to school any more. I will be looking for a new career

    • kevin

      Well done Kelly. My 25 year old daughter only took 3 years to get to that conclusion.

  254. Squaddie

    UpHill. do you really think writing the comment ‘ Michael Gove spoke out in support of his bum-chum Wilshaw’ is exceptable in this day and age, is this your level?

    quote http://theuphillstruggle.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/gove-wilshaw-enough-is-enough/

  255. kevin

    Having scrolled through some of the negative remarks, I’d like to add the following;

    If you went into a career, and then at some stage some politician decided to change the rules, your working conditions, constantly , then blamed you when things didn’t work out , would you be as smug ?

    Head teacher’s aren’t born poor leaders,( although I’ve met a few) they are created by a corrupted system, which put so much irrelevant pressure on them that they become bullies. If you haven’t got the skills to lead effectively, that’s what happens, normal rational people resort to bullying because they are not natural leaders or not taught how to lead; and so it goes around in circles!

    Get the politicians out of it!

  256. Chris

    Hi
    I do support the teaching profession and understand that there is more t teaching than most people realise.

    However changing the school holiday frequency is a good idea – now before you all start shouting at me – 6 weeks in the summer is too long. Children become uninterested and loose focus and take a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of school life. I do not mind there being 13 weeks of holiday or that teachers get 13 weeks of ‘holiday’ but please space it out more efficiently.

  257. David

    Is it not time that someone with teaching experience gets to sit in a position of authority and decide how schools and teachers should work ?

  258. I am strongly resisting the urge to find some way to read this to Gove’s face… It’s all true, every letter. And I’m not even a teacher, I am the child of one who works part-time!

  259. s a wire

    To all those who would moan about teachers and their short days and the fact that we have it easy in our profession, I have a standard response. “Want to swop? I am a maths teacher. Want my job? No? Then wind your neck in!” I was a soldier before I became a teacher, I have seen where lack of education can lead, up close and personal, where bigoted views and narrow minded attitudes lead. I have done the 9 to 5 (and the 5.30 to 10.30 for that matter!) I was never so tired as I am after a day in the classroom. Any prat can sit behind a desk and shuffle paper and order widgets. We make a difference, do you? We see life in its formative stages and what we say and do can have a profound effect on lives for a very long time. That is a responsibility that rarely comes before a ‘real’ worker. As teachers we are bound to come together to defend ourselves, it’s like the ‘Nam, man – you don’t know man, you’re not there. You have no frame of reference other than your own school experience and if you are comparing that with what actually happens in the classroom now then you are so out of touch that you are practically Neolithic. Like I said I was a soldier, don’t sugar it.

  260. Granny

    I am not a teacher but have a great deal of respect for a difficult and demanding role. Lets not forget that most parents work full time too and do not get anywhere near enough holidays to compensate for the stress we endure (I had a heart attack from stress). Isn’t it time that the holiday companies had the price hikes during school holidays made illegal. I had a hard time when my children were growing up to afford a holiday but I would never let them miss school – so we went without holidays. Plus my husband and I had to take separate times off work to make sure the children were cared for. Family life can be damaged by the holidays we currently have to cover. Don’t winge about reduced holidays suck it up like the rest of us have to.

  261. AlternateEducation

    I disagree with all the points above about children being unable to work beyond 3pm

    The majority of private schools have longer school days, often finishing around 4pm for younger years, and up to 5pm by 6th Form. Holidays are sometimes shorter too. Some even have Saturday school.

    Yet I don’t think you could credibly argue that children at these schools miss out on socialising, playing outside, or doing their homework. (I fully anticipate some silly comments that privately educated children are socially damaged in some way).

    And they also achieve higher academic standards, although of course this is only correlation and many other things could drive this.

    • Geoff

      My son had an assisted place at The Royal Hospital School in Ipswich. He said that the difference between that school and his old school was that at RHS it was cool to do well. Make of that what you will.

    • Sam

      It is quality, not quantity that counts, and if you keep children in the classroon longer than 5 hours a day they will not gain anything from it.

      Having taught in France last year, where they begin at 8am and often don’t finish until 6pm I can tell you from first-hand experience just how useless it is to try and keep them in school so long. The lessons between 8am and 2pm were generally quite good, but any time after that was utterly pointless. I would be surprised if all but the very brightest pupils remember a word any teacher says during the later afternoon lessons.

      Once again the politicians fail to see that what worked for them (as high-acheiving, privately educated youngsters) will not necessarily work for everyone else. You simply cannot make changes like this when you are so far out of touch with reality.

  262. sprite

    as a teacher, i agree with you fully. i don’t mind working hard. i don’t mind giving up some of my free time in term-time or dreaming about nightmare lessons. the teaching part isn’t so hard–it’s all the outside-the-classroom/illinformed management decisions that make it so difficult. what i do mind is people who have no idea what i do telling me how easy my job is.

    it is true that other professions work very hard. but i suspect you’ll find that many of them are also pushing back. the police are on the verge, i know doctors and nurses who are deciding to go part-time because the demands of work are overwhelming. many members of the NHS are complaining about government reform.

    and no, it isn’t right that anyone should have to work 12-15 hours a day. who decides that this is necessary? it only comes about because someone wants to save money, either to improve their standing when the budget is annoucned, or increase the profit margins. it is sick, and should not be stood for.

    quite frankly, many of the above arguments sound like people with different terminal illnesses, each trying to claim that theirs is worse.

    me and my head cold are going to try and get some sleep. i’d love to call in sick, but if i do at least 3 other people will be up the creek.

  263. ICT teacher

    everything I have read is exactly how I have felt over the last 10 years in teaching in the UK. I have had my self confidence destroyed, work ethic held into question, ability to teach and even my ability to be an effective parent because someone in the teaching profession followed Mr Goves and ofsteds so called “becoming an outstanding teacher” approach that I had A NERVIOUS BREAKDOWN. I am not weak of self centred or work shy.. I actually love teaching. I have had parents and students acknowledge wholeheartedly how I have helped them learn, progress or improve. It got so bad that I have left the UK to teach abroad, only to be told the complete opposite .. that I am great with kids can teach effectively and am dedicated. Please please Mr Gove listen to us .. before you completely destroy what was the best education system in the world.

  264. Sam

    Am I right in thinking that teachers don’t even get holiday pay? I have a 39 week contract thus my 13 weeks holiday are unpaid and yet I want to be in on results day, A level and GCSE plus I have had to changed class rooms every year so I spend at least a week moving out and sorting out my room not to mention revision classes during the Easter holidays! do MPs have a 39 week contract or 52 week?

  265. Victoria

    I found myself nodding in agreement reading this! I am very passionate about my job and get thoroughly fed up with small minded people who say that other jobs don’t moan about long hours. Not many careers out there do the hours we do and when they go home the evening is theirs! I am thinking about lessons and children 24-7 till the moment I go to bed! I think that unless you have ever been a teacher, you really have no idea about how demanding and stressful the job is. I get to work at 7.30am and get home at 6pm. After a quick bite to eat I then work till midnight. I have young children and recently I have questioned what is important in my life. I have given complete dedication to the children in my care over a 16 yr career and I am fed up with people like Gove expecting blood. For the first time in my life I am contemplating leaving the profession but I love the children I teach and get so much from the job. However, if Gove does not back off and let us do our job then some fantastic teachers will be leaving the profession and it will be the children that suffer!

  266. Val M

    I taught for 25 years and loved the children and the teaching. I started to resent the job when my husband was doing things at weekend that I couldn’t join in with. I was planning and on the computer for one day of each weekend. I had to plan ahead if I wanted to have a week day evening out, to ensure I was ready for the next day. I left the profession nine years ago. I went to Uni and retrained. I miss the children. I miss the job that I loved. But I can swim before work. I bring nothing home. I have weekends free. I now have time for my family and I have a life again.

  267. Jennie

    There is already a shortage of good teachers out there and no sign of a glut of good graduates coming in, frightened off by the workload and the kicking we receive. I know other people work long hours, but having done other jobs, hung out with office workers who are doing those hours, I can say that they do not have the same focus we do, the same intensity to their day which makes most days feel like two. Well, I guess they are really – one at work and the other done at home. Speaking of which, off to plan and organise for tomorrow having worked a short day ending at 5 today. The rewards from the kids are what makes it worth while but now that I have my own kids there is no way I could be full time again. Four days is more than enough to fill my week.

  268. Jayne

    I spent from September to April on my teacher training course, during that time I didn’t see friends or family and felt extremely stressed constantly. I was only training – albeit in a school full time. I knew it was going to be tough but with new things coming in constantly I stopped enjoying it. My love of working with children and seeing them develop and be inspired had vanished by April. Unfortunately I felt that teaching was not for me if I wanted to have a life at any point in my career and I didn’t finish my course. I see people like me who have so much passion and love of teaching get crushed by the overwhelming pressure, that to me felt like it would never end! I wish teachers all the best and feel that you can’t judge until you have tried it.

    • Jane, you were most certainly not the only one, I did exactly the same. I’ve come to the conclusion that teaching just wasn’t for me because I was unwilling to sacrifice my entire life nor willing to compromise my own sanity just because I wanted to help young people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to hard work and expect to work hard, but I’m not masochistic. Many comments have criticized this topic by claiming that “Teaching is just like any other job”, well either I’ve got incredibly lucky in my current job or teaching is a rougher deal than people think. I would also like to add that my current job wasn’t a ‘step down’, I have plenty of responsibility and am paid comparable to teachers, not half as stressful annd traumatic mind.

    • Lauren

      Jane, I do not work in the teaching industry but I can 100% assure you that in my job I RARELY get chance to see friends and family. It is a treat when it happens, and when I was doing my training I didn’t have ONE day off for 10 months – that is not an exaggeration. Do I moan about it? No, I knew what I was getting into and I enjoy it, I love the pressure, the deadlines and the long hours. That’s why I chose my profession. I’m struggling to understand why teachers stay teachers if they hate it so much, or, more to the point, why they go into the profession in the first place…

  269. I cannot believe the amount of pompous pedants on here who refuse to tackle what this letter is really about. The devastation Gove is inflicting on education because he has no idea of pedagogy or practice is truly breathtaking! Like the writer of this letter, I love my job in the classroom but am sick to the back teeth of being told by every Tom, Dick and Michael that I’m useless! As an AST and a Head of department with continuous ‘Outstanding’ lessons – and a love of the job – I’ve had enough and getting out.

  270. Jesus woman. Get a grip and realise you are in the working world. Unless you were wearing rose-coloured glasses when you signed up to be a teacher, then yes welcome to full-time working hours. I’ll bet you are also someone who whinges and strikes at the earliest given chance about when you work. If you don’t like it – quit. Give your job to someone who wants to be there fore children. Surely you signed up to teach to help make a difference to some young lives? Not just to line your own pockets. Because everytime you strike, that’s another days education you are taking away from a youngster.

    • Simon Layfield

      Louisa,

      I have read comment after comment on here and have squirmed at many of them. Comments like yours illustrate why some people feel frustrated enough to write such a blog as this. You have entirely missed the point, as have quite a few others. No one is complaining about the lot of a teacher per se. It is the response to Michael Gove’s poor treatment of the teaching profession as a whole (perhaps you missed the title) and is not a moan about the job. The argument is a circular one. Gove gives teachers a bashing, teachers respond (how dare they?), people like you tell them to stop moaning and claim teachers are whiners, teachers defend themselves, more people like you tell them to stop whinging… And so it goes on. If you have a chip on your shoulder, deal with it. In the meantime, allow this particular blogger to say her piece to Mr Gove.

    • Simon Layfield

      And while I’m at it, what’s with the “every time you strike” comment? Teachers don’t call for strikes, as far as I can remember. It’s the activists in the unions who call that, and most teachers that I know do not agree with striking. Teachers are not in the profession to line their pockets either. You are either a sheep (possibly one who reads the Daily Mail) or a Muppet. Or both. Remember, sometimes it’s better to say nothing in case you make yourself look stupid. A bit late, I know, but perhaps worth considering next time you’re reading a blog about something you don’t like. (Hmm, what did bring you here?)

  271. john simpson

    Gosh !! Teachers really need to get over themselves. Stop thinking you are so hard done by and that you know the answers, if you really did know all the answers then we wouldn’t be producing the absolute nightmare pupils we are from the education system.

    Business owners have reached the end of our tether with the ill prepared adults, who have no idea how to cope in the real world that come out of the education system.

    • Geoff

      They have no idea how to cope in the real world because the system has become so results driven that children are not allowed to fail. All boxes must be ticked by any means. Get it wrong first time and you can try try again till you get it right. That’s not how the real world operates, as business owners know.

  272. And I rest my case!!!! Daily Mail readers at their best. As for the sad ‘strike’ comment, I was teaching for thirty years before I was forced to go on strike. When I explained to my rather more enlightened pupils they said, “Well done Miss!” They may have a poor understanding of a subordinate clause but they have a mature understanding of political bullying.

  273. This is soooo true for teachers and may I add no breeze for the teaching assistants either !!!

  274. "Thomas"

    First of all, I am writing this comment under a pseudonym owing to the nature of some of the stuff I am about to say in this comment.
    As a former student who has special needs, I’ve been out of education just over a year through choice, yet I could have gone on to university after completing my A levels (which was only possible thanks to some amazing support from parents, teachers and LSAs, more on which later). Why did I not go on to university? Simple, the organisations that I have to go through to get to university are not geared up for people like me. By the time the organisations had decided that I did have special needs, it was August 2012 and the universities I had applied to came back and said they couldn’t guarantee that any support needed would be in place in time for the start of term. Granted this isn’t necessarily Gove’s or the government’s fault, but my next few points most certainly are.

    Now, coming back to my earlier comment about LSAs/TAs, according to this government, LSAs and TAs are now nothing more than a waste of space. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t have passed my GCSEs, never mind my A levels, without my LSA. (I failed my GCSE English, which I’ll come back to in a moment). Being registered blind and in a wheelchair for most of my GCSEs and A levels owing to a combination of factors, I relied on her for practically everything, writing stuff big enough for me to see, enllarging stuff in text books, etc. What would I have done without my LSA? Missed half the lesson whilst wandering round to the photocopier to get something enlarged? Have the teacher write everything down for me so it was big enough, taking them away from the other 30 students? Even down to getting between lessons….answers on a postcard please!

    Finally, I’d like to return to me failing GCSE English. Gove’s latest idea is that if you fail these at GCSE, you carry on studying them until you are 18. Well, can someone please explain to me how that would have worked in the situation I am about to highlight? As I’m sure the secondary school teachers who are reading this are aware, students with special needs must go through an assessment at the beginning of year 10 to determine what support they may need with coursework and/or exams. A report is then written, sent to the awarding boards and then it’s up to the boards to say what they are and are not going to allow. In my case, they allowed me use of my laptop, modified exam papers (enlarged so that I could read them), supervised rest breaks when I needed them and 40% extra time. Crucially, I was NOT allowed a reader. In the week leading up to the English Literature GCSE exam, there had been problems in other exams for other special needs candidates, mainly to do with modified papers not being provided. So on the Tuesday and Wednesday before sitting the exam on the Thursday afternoon, I was, needless to say, panicking, thinking to myself what happens if the paper isn’t modified, knowing I’m not allowed a reader. Thursday morning, I’m told “paper is already to go, showing as modified on the front of the packet” Thursday AFTERNOON, and the packet is opened to reveal….an unmodified paper, too small for me to read. I managed to hold back the tears of frustration long enough to be taken out of the room, The exams officer, her deputy, and my Head of Year then proceed to moan at ME for kicking up a stink!

    All in all, I’m glad I’m out of the education system!

  275. Joe

    “It is rare that I leave school before 6pm, and more often than not I don’t arrive home until well after 7pm.”

    The second clause is redundant since you’ve introduced additional unknown variables such as the duration of your commute.

    I sympathise in general, but your argument ignores one aspect: non-uniform merit.

    We are asked to assume that all teachers struggle to manage, and that additional hours will be an excessive burden for all. I’m not sure that’s the case. Perhaps some teachers do manage to get home early and put their feet up.

    Unlike in children’s school reports, in most professions you don’t get praised for the amount of effort you put in, but for the results you achieve. If someone finds something an uphill struggle then *perhaps* it is they are not very proficient, while the workload is fair?

    • This complete refusal to accept that normal, PROFICIENT, hardworking people can struggle under an excessive workload is completely unhelpful and part of the reason why we have such huge numbers of people, across all industries, off work with stress or suffering stress-related illness. We must allow people to be open about the pressures they face and the effect it has upon their lives. To sweep it under the carpet with brash comments that suggest one must be bad at their job if they find the workload overwhelming is an intimidation tactic at best, bullying at worst. Have a little more empathy.

      And for the record, I am extremely good at my job.

    • Rog Patterson

      You raise an interesting point, Joe, and it’s certainly worth keeping in mind that (as with all other professions) there are greater and lesser talents, and differing reactions to workload.

      What I would suggest, however, is that while a teacher may be not particularly EFFICIENT (which I’ll use here to mean “meeting quantifiable administrative targets within a specified timeframe”) they might still be PROFICIENT as teachers (producing educational, psychological and social growth in their students, which taken as a whole is not as quantifiable as Mr Gove would have us believe.) The relationship between time spent and results (in the latter sense) achieved is nuanced and reminds us – as you point out – that we can’t make assumptions on behalf of “all teachers”, as each has their own degree of dedication, and methodology for turning that dedication into (often intangible) results. “More efficient” doesn’t necessarily mean “more proficient” – but, of course, it probably helps!

      I think it’s worth reiterating that the broader issue here isn’t just the impact of Mr Gove’s policies on individual teachers’ working hours. You’re absolutely right that we can’t assume that all teachers utilise their time with equal efficiency (OR proficiency); but we are in danger of moving to a situation in which no amount of additional time in their working week will enable teachers to achieve what is expected of them in the classroom, because the background circumstances have been altered so as to make success impossible.

      A specific example here concerns the widespread removal (supposedly for budgetary reasons) of TA support. We are committed to an inclusive educational system; I may be mistaken, but I believe that many (perhaps most) classes include students who have needs which, along with educational challenges, bring additional challenges (physical, behavioural, medical) which CANNOT be addressed by a teacher alone, if that teacher is expected to fulfil their primary function (which is, presumably, to teach.) Successful management of a class in these circumstances requires more than one person, and the role of the specialist TA in this regard is criminally under-valued. A teacher/TA team in such circumstances can deliver a positive educational environment in which all students can thrive to the best of their abilities. An unsupported teacher in such circumstances is deprived of the capacity to teach; no amount of extra hours in their day will change that. If we want our students to flourish, we must provide the circumstances under which teachers – whatever their natural aptitude – can teach.

  276. A HH

    I used to be a teacher and burnt myself out doing exactly that which you have described above. I now work in industry and I can safely say that having worked in / with the “government” as a consultant that yes they do believe that the day starts at 9 am and finishes at 4 because their day does – in fact their day seems to start at 9 as in that’s when they get their first cup of coffee. Multiple breaks and long lunches ensue and their day will finish on the dot at 4pm if they work a second over this then they claim it back as time in lieu. If they worked as hard and as diligently as teachers we would only need 60% of them. the inequity continues – Children have to make do with old equipment but “they” swan around with brand new ipads at the drop of a hat. They are spoon fed and pandered to in a way that they would scoff at if we took the same approach with students, but it’s ok because their work is “important” pondering decisions ( arse covering) – Doing research – (talking to friends and having jolly trips out) attending meetings ( making sure visibility is maintained)

  277. Pingback: J.C. Consultation Conference | leavingcertenglish.net

  278. Margaret Levy

    I’ve read about half of this thread but have run out of time; apologies therefore if someone else has already said this. Too many people have assumed that this letter is suggesting that only teachers have to work this hard. Some of them have done so even after repeated assurances to the contrary. People who should know have assured us, though, that teachers do work very hard indeed under very difficult conditions. I have no doubt that they do. Maybe part of the problem is that we have a long-hours culture in this country. Those who’ve sneered that teachers should join the real world and just get on with it should instead by protesting that they too are being forced to work long hours for limited rewards. Of course life is about work but it shouldn’t only be about work. Poor cleaners working very long hours at several jobs to make not-quite-enough to live on are one end of that scale but people at the other end of the employment scale may also be expected to work unreasonable hours. And who benefits from that – employers of course.

    The other thing about education that hasn’t been mentioned much is that as well as attacking teachers, Gove is attacking education itself. The academies and free schools programme is removing education from any democratic control. We may not feel we had much of that before but Local Education Authorities were subject to some democratic accountability. That has gone. We should all be protesting about that, not just teachers.

    I don’t really care whether Gove can be shown to have made the quoted criticisms of teachers. His actions have often suggested that those are his views and he certainly hasn’t defended teachers when tabloid newspapers have described them in that way.

    So I’m supporting the letter and telling others to wake up and fight back.

  279. Mr Bungle

    Just out of interest this post is not nurses or doctors or any easy ‘daily mail’ names. It’s about teachers echoing the voices of many felling abused. I looked upon this site to chat to people in the same positions. But let’s face it we’re going to have to fight hard to combat ignorant attitudes. I hope all the teacher who have posted on here are feeling fighting fit to challenge these allegations. Let’s go to work smash our jobs out of the water and shut these people up. However, I do fear that these people will always challenge our beautiful professions. In peace and solidarity xxxxx

  280. rainbowwarriorlizzie

    Reblogged this on HUMAN RIGHTS & POLITICAL JOURNAL.

  281. Disheartened

    Unfortunately there are, as eminently demonstrated above, people who will never display anything but rancor towards the teaching profession. For whatever reason, they will not read, consider and digest all sides and proceed with reasoned debate. This is part of the daily gauntlet and yet another thing teachers must try to let wash over themselves. Unfortunately every teacher I know cares deeply about the education of the pupils in their care and would give/do give everything in their power to provide the very best education they are allowed to provide. As has been stated, everything is target-driven now meaning that every pupil, regardless of ability, MUST learn the same thing, the same way to sit the same exams and those pupils MUST achieve a minimum result. There is no longer the opportunity for a school to provide a curriculum where each pupil is able to follow subjects that they excel at, delivered in the learning style they are best able to access. Everybody falls into one of five learning styles but there is not the freedom to provide the best for each through those styles.

    I would invite all those who see teachers as lazy whinging cry-babies to sit for a moment and think about this. DO you want your child to leave school with a series of qualifications that actually mean very little to them, because they have had to be taught specific things that would appear in an exam in order to fulfill a political party’s demands and quota? Would you rather your child leave school widely knowledgeable about things they are genuinely interested in, which have a genuine bearing on the world in general and able to make informed decisions which single them out as potential employees who can make a difference to a company? Having thus considered, I would point out that changes that Mr Gove and the government are proposing in addition to the changes in work and pension, will have such a detrimental effect to the profession that all that will be churned out at 18 will be a mass of qualified young people clueless about the outside world.

    BTEC is no longer to be counted in the league tables. These are qualifications which have a significant vocational element within them. Consequently, any school which offers a high percentage of BTEC courses will drop way down the tables and immediately be seen as a failing school. It wouldn’t matter if every pupil came out with distinctions in those BTECs, the school would be failing. Many schools now refuse to let more academic children study Technology at GCSE level. Why? Because they are more likely to achieve GCSE in the academic subjects and therefore push the school UP the league tables. It wouldn’t matter if you had a pupil (son or daughter) who was fantastically gifted in a Technology subject and potentially able to enter engineering and solve world issues. If they are academically gifted then at many schools they are not allowed to take that option. We are returning to the days where it was ‘Craft For The Daft’. This is governmental pressure and bullying.

    Why have I bothered to type all that out, given the debate above? Because those lazy, whinging, cry-baby teachers are not only doing the job to the best of their ability, but they are also tearing their hair out because they care about those in their charge and want them to enjoy what they are learning. They want to see them achieve at what they enjoy which will allow them to blossom and fulfill their potential in subjects which can lead them into jobs that they will potentially enjoy which will increase productivity and increase a company’s output in one way or another. We’ve lost many of our manufacturing industries. One of the reasons? Lack of skilled workers. One of the reasons? Educational targets set by the government. Why have the government set these targets? To make themselves look good and justify their phoney jobs. What Mr Gove is doing is attempting to ensure that the teaching profession grinds itself into the ground in order to produce automatons who will believe whatever they are told. Why are teachers feeling hard done by? Because they work themselves into the ground to try and make that grind interesting, exciting and engaging so that when you see your children at the end of the day, those children will have something exciting to say about what they learned that day. If they aren’t able to be excited about something they have learned that day then the government has won at your child’s school and your child’s teachers have little energy left to do so. Teachers don’t hate the private sector workers or the other public sector ones. At the end of the day, they are ALL there thanks to the teachers who cared and believed in them. Some had worse experience than others but this will always be the case.

    In winding down (and I am sure someone from above will use the phrase ‘wind your neck in’ at least once more) I would like to point out that yes, public sector workers are paid from the public purse but we ALSO pay as much tax as anyone else. We ALSO contribute to our own pensions whether more or less than the private sector (by 2015 top main scale teachers will likely be paying up to 11% and anyone above that it will be significantly more). We are ALSO paying taxes which are getting sponged out of the system by exactly those pupils failed by the government’s relentless drive for targets (NOT TEACHERS/SCHOOLS), who have discovered exactly how to earn more money from the state by NOT working, than most of us do in full time employment.

    There is then the point made above about teachers being able to retire at 50 with a full pension. This is utterly misinformed. Perhaps 30 years ago this was the case, Now, a teacher retiring before 65 cannot draw their full pension until that age. A teacher leaving at 55 gets less than half their pension, unless the pensions adviser I spoke to is completely full of lies. One last retirement point I was told 12 years ago left me cold. A teacher retiring at 65 is expected to have an average life expectancy of around 2 years. One leaving at 60 may get up to 10 years. a teacher that retires at 55 with, or without, full pension may see another 20 years or more. These statistics may have changed in recent years but they still make chilling reading. The reason for this is because they rarely stop throughout their career, so when they retire and it all comes to an end, the physical strain catches up and the lack of activity takes its toll. When I retire, my son will be a fraction under 30 (unless I am forced to work until I’m 67 in which case I fully expect to die at school, probably during a lesson, given the previous statistics). I don’t want to die and leave a son who is still so young. I would genuinely like to celebrate his 40th birthday and bounce his children on my knee. If Mr Gove continues to push on with all his reforms then my choice is to either leave the job that I am bloody good at and have ex pupils from 15 years ago thanking me for everything I did to help them, or to continue to do the parts of the job I dearly love, imparting knowledge and life experience to the children who will run the world after I am gone, still grind myself into the ground jumping through governmental hoops, and run the risk of dying right in front of their eyes. It happened to a teacher when I was at school and, parents, believe me when I say that the mess your child will be in for a very long time is not something you will be able to deal with. Melodramatic? Maybe, but all that is being asked is for the government to realise the value of its teachers and schools and let them deliver the education in the way that schools know best for the pupils in their care. That way your kids will leave with many more prospects than if things continue to be so badly messed around by Parliament. Oh, and teachers DON’T choose to strike, they don’t want to miss lessons vital to their pupils. We HAVE to be union members for the pure factor of safety from false accusation and bullying from management. If unions, who the government is REFUSING to talk to, call a strike the we are required to do so. Some schools remain open for any teachers who want to go in and plan. We don’t get paid when striking. We also have childcare costs.

    I think that has covered everything.

  282. Msussams

    Another point, no worker would just accept, without discussion or protest an increase of hours with no extra pay. Basically a pay cut.

  283. Buster Morris

    You make teaching sound almost like a proper job!

  284. J-Lo

    I have just left the teaching profession for all of the reasons cited in the letter. Whilst deep down I know I have made the right decision, I am struggling to come to terms with now working in a job that pays just over the minimum wage. It makes me wonder why I went to university and got a PGCE as well as getting fantastic A-levels and GCSEs. I feel angry that I have been ‘forced’ to leave a profession in which I was so unhappy to the extent that it affected my home and family life massively. I love teaching and working with children, but I couldn’t stand another day of being made to feel so incompetent and worthless.

  285. SammyG

    So much time and effort expended to convince the world how hard worked and hard done-to teachers are – my heart bleeds. I don’t doubt that the majority of teachers are honest, hardworking people – but there are thousands of people out there who are equally hardworking that get nowhere near the salary and benefits afforded to teachers. No-one says that teachers are low life’s who shouldn’t get decent pay and conditions, but please wake up and smell the coffee – most teachers get a great deal when compared to the majority of Joe Public, and we get measured on our performance which is something that the teaching profession seem averse to.

    • Minnie

      By thinking teachers are averse to being measured on their performance you have very articulately demonstrated your complete lack of understanding of the profession. Congratulations.

  286. Tony Cave

    A well argued post ….no doubting that Cove is unfit for purpose but your article is somewhat undermined by the enormous response from supposedly overworked fellow teachers and your responses to their comments all of which must have taken much time which might have been better spent educating the children under your care

    • Margaret Levy

      So in other words, get a grip and just carry on. Obviously you haven’t been reading and absorbing what’s been said Gove is attacking teachers AND EDUCATION. That means the future of all of us will be adversely affected by what’s happening, even if we’re not teachers and don’t have children in education at the moment. We all rely on schools turning out people who are educated in the broadest sense so that they can contribute to society and make this a good country to live in. Wake up to what’s going on.

  287. Gayle

    Great read! Its the same all over the world too. One thing you didn’t mention was the inability to eat lunch, or to use the bathroom when needed.

  288. Gill Meaney

    It amazes me to see how many people think they can comment on the teaching career when they have absolutely no idea of what goes on in schools. I have been a school secretary for over 20 years and know that all school staff work very hard. The teachers in my school start at about 7.30.am and leave the building when it is locked up at 6.00.pm. That does not account for the evening meetings presentations, training, fetes, fairs, discos and after school clubs they are expected to attend. They then pick up their own children, feed them and put them to bed, then work on school work until their own bedtime. During the holidays they are IN school for a large proportion of the time and when they are not they are planning and marking. My daughter and son-in-law are both teachers and they have very little down time. My husband was an engineer who worked 12 hour shifts but at least he left the job in the factory where he worked when he went home or was on holiday. Many children now start school unable to use the toilet or use a knife and fork and have no understanding of the difference between the words yes and no, they have no discipline and are unable to sit still or to listen. Some do not know how to play or share with another child. How would you like to clean up someone else’s multiple accidents while trying to keep another 29 children occupied? Older children often give vile verbal and sometimes even physical abuse to teachers which I would not accept from an adult but the teachers cannot react. Please give our teachers the credit they deserve as they work extremely hard. Stop criticising what you know nothing about!!!

  289. Sophie

    Thank you for including the part about children getting tired by the end of the day. It seems to be passed over an awful lot. I’m currently in the Upper 6th and often find it difficult to concentrate by 3.30 (unless it’s a lesson I absolutely love). Extending the school day isn’t going to do anything for education – the work we’d get done in that extra hour or so we already do as homework, and I would like to continue with the flexibility to spend maybe 30 minutes on something I understand and then 1h30 on a slightly harder topic, instead of being confined to working in hour long blocks.

  290. maverick5114

    I am not a teacher. But I am a Training officer. So i understand and fuly agree with your letter. Every Goverment, organisation, institut wants it done better, faster and cheaper..!

    I say this. Back off.. !!! and let US do the job you entrusted us to do. The best way we can. If you can do better. Advise how to and not slander us for doing what is and can sometimes be a Very stressfull, involved, unforgiving and most importantly…. essential job….

    I think you make a very good point and i think Mr Gove Should perhaps go back to school as it seems he never attended in the first place. He might (doubtful) just learn how difficult it is and how he should be Just a little (maybe a lot) more supportive…..

    Rant over…

  291. Simesy

    Very well written and constructed. Do you realise how much marking and planning you could have been doing during the time you spent crafting that open-letter?

    • Thank you for pointing that out. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I could have been working with that time. Naturally, the solution to all teachers’ problems would of course be to give up any activity that requires time that could otherwise be spent planning or marking. God forbid we should have interests or hobbies such as blogging that might snatch 30 minutes of our precious time. In fact, why even bother sleeping or eating? Problems solved!

  292. Eileen Owers

    As a retired teacher l can vouch for this. It makes me so angry when hard working teachers are told by Ofsted ‘must improve’. Michael Gove has little understanding of education and complete disrespect for the teaching profession. I think all teachers should use their vote in the next election to let this government know what they think.

  293. sophie

    A very easy example is look at nurses and doctors who hardly ever moan about their profession and continue to do random shifts work long shifts anywhere from 8 to 14 hours back to back constantly with less holiday than teachers who have to save peoples lives whilst tired. Yes they moan because of the cuts but who doesn’t. Who have to miss certain occasions and YOU yourself decided this career path so you have only yourself to blame when there is everything that comes with it. I think teachers just need to look at themselves in the mirror a bit longer.

    • Minnie

      Yet another person displaying their ignorance.

      • sophie

        No I am not. You my friend are ignorant. You wanted this job you do it. You think you deserve more time off no you do not. I passed my GCSE’s and A Level’s without the help of teachers because you are lazy

      • susan

        To all those people who belitttle the original letter. Teaching is a vocation to many who join the profession because they want to help people (not just 5-16 year olds) to learn. Once the government have finsihed with their reforms .. and the vast majority of dedicated, hardworking and creative teachers leave the profession for other jobs (as so many have put it). Who will teach in schools then? A new generation of teachers come into the profession, yes! they do .. but soon enough they will be airing the same concerns. Education in the Uk needs reform, but with care and thoughtfulness. So many times I have been told “aspire to be an outstanding teacher” “provide a magical learning experience, every lesson for every child”. I was never an outstanding student,but I have always aspire to teach the best I possibly can. For my school days my lessons were structure and supportive with mostly understanding and caring teachers who helped me when I didnt understand. They didnt pressure me to meet a level I couldnt possibly reach. I aspired and I had ambition and eventually I acheived because its wanted I wanted to do. Children tire, people who work hard tire,tired workers do not work effectively !. where has the common sense gone. The teaching profession just want to protect what is an amazing education system that many other countries in the world look highly upon. Its not about length of holidays, its not about hours in the working day. Its about being able to have an effective and worthwhile education system that works for our society. How would all the belittlers react if it no longer existed, what would happen to those who had to pay for an education system but couldnt afford it, there is good and bad in all professions, and all jobs. Teachers are not moaning, they are trying to highlight a very dangerous and worryingly forced set of reforms that could undermine a whole generation. (This is a very broad and sweeping statement before you jump down my throat) Do you really want your 11 year old to be in school from 8am to 4pm everyday and then expected to do homework? Why does a child need to be in school at 4 years old ! Surely been at home bonding with their parents and family is a “magical learning experience” ? Let our children be children.. let those who teach actually teach subjects that help the average person to function in society, without been battered into submission by copious amounts of form filling just to justify the tick box frenzy of ofsted. Look at the wider and long term picture …please !

    • Minnie

      You have entirely misinterpreted the letter and are attacking an issue that was not even raised. Noone is asking for more time off. You are simply another person that went to school and therefore MUST understand what teachers do. And personal attacks just show your level of maturity.

    • Simon Layfield

      Sophie, Why are you posting on here? The original post did not suggest in any way that teachers should get more time off, or any other of the things that you or others have suggested on here, but still you criticise the original poster. And to say that you passed your GCSEs and A Levels on your own “because you are lazy” only makes you look daft. If your experience at school was that teachers didn’t teach well then you were indeed very unfortunate, and I am sure that there as many ‘lazy’ teachers are there are lazy people in other professions, but to say “you are lazy” only negates anything useful you might have to say. Just plain barmy…!

  294. Claire Conley-Harper

    Please everyone sign the e-petition to hold Michael Gove to account: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/51830
    Please sign and share as widely as possible.

  295. Dave

    I’m looking in on this as an outsider who works in the private sector… I find it totally bizarre that someone who knows so little about teaching and education can be left in charge of it? He doesn’t have any teaching experience as far as I know, surely it should be run by ex teachers?
    In our business most of our managers worked their way up from the bottom jobs and know what we go through.
    I always aspired to be a teacher and I feel bad that I never did but university cost too much and I could earn more else where doing other things I enjoy.

  296. Lubna

    Can I add that some of us teachers also may have a special need child of their own to take care of!

  297. jl_work200@yahoo.com

    What a tragic letter. Spelling things in block capitals in triplicate – one can only imagine how you condescend to your pupils. Do you really think Michael Gove believes all teachers come in at 9 and leave at 3. I’m sure he’s well aware of the hours most teachers work, but guess what? Those are the hours everyone else works. Most people leave the house around 7:30 and get back sometime after 6. That’s life. The only difference is they don’t get 13 weeks holiday a year or moan about it. Please shut up or get a different job if only to find out you’re not working any harder than anyone else.

    • jl_work200,

      I presume you work hard and have little time to read through the range of comments on here, otherwise you would have read the replies to the many comments that make a similar point to yours. The blogger wasn’t moaning about her lot, and certainly wasn’t saying that teachers have it any harder than anyone else; she addressed the letter to Michael Gove in order highlight that his attitude to teachers and education is wholly inappropriate. Your comment, however, highlights just why some teachers occasionally feel the need to defend themselves. They are indeed not required to be in school for 13 weeks of the year, but be assured that this does not equate to 13 weeks holiday. You can easily cut that in half or more if you want to know how much time they get away from work, which is comparable with many other professions. Many comments on here suggest that teachers don’t work in the ‘real world’, but it seems to me that the view that you and many others have about teaching is not a real world view. Some posts suggest that the teachers’ comments are arrogant and that teachers should find out more about other professions, implying that their job is actually fairly easy by comparison. No teacher that I know thinks that they work harder than others, but you seem to think you know something about teaching. i must say that your comments betray an ignorance of the profession. If you want to comment, find out more and come back better informed.

      • jl_work200@yahoo.com

        Simon, my issue is not how hard teachers do or do not work but the presuption that Micheal Gove doesn’t know what teachers do and that it therefore needs to be spelt out in CAPITALS THREE TIMES.
        The issue is that education levels in this country have been in consistent decline for years. He’s trying to do something about it. You can either join in the debate or not, but to dismiss any initiatives because teachers already work hard is frankly purile.

    • Jl_work200, teachers are left with little option than to make presumptions about Gove’s views because of what he says about the profession and because his plans for reform are not based on tried and tested research and statistical analysis, rather they are based on misinformed and skewed ‘research’. To borrow a link put on here by someone else, have a read of this:

      http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2012/11/uk-is-6th-in-international-education-league-but-wasnt-the-uk-supposed-to-be-plummeting-down-the-tables/

      If nothing else it highlights that Gove, and you if you think standards have been in constant decline for years, either doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, or, as I believe, knows what he’s doing and has to find spurious and erroneous figures that fit his purpose in order to fool people into thinking he’s doing the right thing (David Cameron would be proud of me for using that phrase). Gove is either a moron or a very unpleasant and dangerous man. Please don’t assume that teachers are against change, reform, or generally anything that will improve education. Since I joined the profession it’s been change, change, change. Most of that has come to nought and has been dismissed by the government that has followed on. So teachers are understandably a bit wary of change for change’s sake, but this is not what we are concerned about with Gove. What is far more worrying is that we can see the fallacies in his reasoning and we understand from bitter experience that there will be a long, dark period to encounter unless Gove is removed and someone with an inspired yet rational view of educational reform is placed in charge.

      And finally, banging on about the use of upper case letters in a web page that doesn’t permit emboldening or italicising is just a distraction from the point in hand. What and how teachers behave outside school has little reflection on what they are like in the classroom, and to suggest otherwise is, in itself, condescending.

  298. fred

    on the continent, school times (from what I remember of my school days) are 8-12 and 2-5. which means millions of working parents do not have to work part-time/pay for a child-minder/worry what the kids are up to between the hours of 3 and 5. and the kids get a long break during the middle of the day which means plenty of time to have a meal and a play/rest before going back to afternoon lessons.

    • MonsieurM

      It depends on the country and age group. The French school day is longer with a 2 hour lunch at collège and an hour-and-a-half at lycée. The point about childcare would be true except that in France, if a teacher is off, the kids are just left to fill the empty lesson however they like and, at lycée at least, can just leave school. I think we have to be careful about labelling school as child care – it isn’t.

  299. So many people have come on here to poor scorn on the original post; to say teachers should stop whining and complaining about what they get. Saying that if you don’t like it you should get out. Many poeple have also gone to lengths to point out that this is not what the original post is about, but the point has unfortunately cleared the heads of the majority. I can see why people outside teaching want to tell teachers to get on with it, but that’s not the problem. Teachers are getting on with it. It’s the government in the guise of Gove and his interference that is the problem and the reason for the protestations. Please consider this:

    My own experience has been that I have worked happily in two schools, unhappily, in two other schools and I have finally found the freedom to teach in an international school, where the expectations of success and the support far outweigh the pressures and feelings of failure. When things got too bad a couple of years ago in my last comp, I did indeed leave the profession. I started my own business and worked entirely on my own, finding suppliers and customers, getting people I knew to offer professional support on the cheap in return for favours. I worked never less than a 12 hour day, usually more, and for six or seven days every week, only taking time off to take the kids camping, so I had a bout two weeks holiday in 12 months. I worked for far longer hours, with less professional support and no security, making just enough money to get by. By some measures I worked harder than I did as a teacher. It was undoubtedly the most stress-free and enjoyable year of my working life and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would now never return to the British state education system as it is a melting pot of under-educated, poorly trained leaders and over-worked and over-stressed teachers where in many schools the kids get a bad deal because the teachers are are not healthy enough to give the kids the best education that they can. Somebody hit the spot in a previous comment where they highlighted that ‘making expected progress is not good enough’. Whatever your job, whatever work you do, if that is the bottom line then you are set up to fail. I now love my teaching job, because I’m not subject to such fantastical ideals and I’m free to teach. I’m trusted to get on with it, because I am good enough to get the students the grades they should get. That’s what teaching should be about, and that’s why, I presume, the original post was put on here.

  300. Terri

    I am not a teacher but have many friends and relatives who do. I don’t believe that the original post was moaning but merely highlighting that, as in many other jobs, teachers work hard and deserve respect rather than being vilified by Gove. I regularly have conversations comparing my workload to that of my sister (she is a teacher) – as far as we can work out, factoring in her longer holidays, we work equally as hard as each other. I would never tell her to work harder or ‘suck it up’, I merely believe the original post was asking for some consideration of the actual reality of teaching rather than simply quoting the tiresome argument that teachers only work 6 hour days and have oodles of holiday time. I fully support teachers in their protestations to Mr Gove. Excellent post!

  301. Mark 98

    “Woe is me; my life is so hard!”

    I worked in incredibly challenging inner-city secondary schools as an English teacher, 2nd in Department then Head of Sixth Form for 10 years. Yes, it is hard and frustrating at times but so are many jobs.

    Recently, I have taken the decision to retrain as a Regulatory and Employment Barrister due to the poor me, self-indulgent attitudes of some staff in schools.

    There are many absolutely amazing teachers out there who make such a difference to the life and aspiration of students. In my experience, those people do not hold such negative attitudes as the author of this diatribe.

    Whilst I certainly do not agree with many of Gove’s policies, at least he is mooting real and genuine change. This has not been done by an Education Minister for years… The consequences of these policies need to be carefully considered but I, for one, am glad that traditional conventions are being challenged.

    To steal a phrase “Please, just stop”. Get on with your work, appreciate the positives (there are many) and learn to adapt to change that people in the private sector face every day.

    • Minnie

      It’s people who say things like “Woe is me; my life is so hard!” that anger people. Noone is saying teaching is harder than other professions. Noone is complaining about their job. The issue lies with the reforms that are being made by someone who shows no understanding whatsoever of the profession. So stop being antagonistic just for the sake of it. I agree that you do get some teachers that moan a great deal, and it is grating. I don’t think that in itself is reason to leave a profession that you claim to otherwise have nothing bad to say about.

  302. Nick

    I enjoyed reading your letter, it raised some very interesting and relevant points. I agree that teachers are consistently stigmatised and undervalued. But then on the flip-side, it’s also undeniable that the level of education in this country has slipped. A glaring example being the use of the English language. I know for a fact that my teenage nephew cannot name the basic parts of speech, when I asked him what a verb was his face was utterly blank. Even on the Internet it seems there are two extremes; on one side the txtspkrs and I-Haz-Cheezbrgrzers, and on the other the pedantic grammerphiles who unleash a swathe of fury on those who have the audacity to misplace an apostrophe. I type in fear right now, aware that every character will be combed by someone desperate to find some glaring grammatical mistake. So, to sum up this ramble; I wholeheartedly agree with your plight, and the pressures teachers are under to ensure that their students correctly jump through the hoops held up by the Government, but I also feel as a result of this, the basics are lost. For example (last one I promise) I was fortunate enough to go through a very decent education, and yet I emerged from University with no idea about taxes, credit cards, or mortgages. Are these not the things we should be preparing students for? I can recite Pythagoras’ Theorem verbatim, I could tell you about proparoxtones and allophones, but I still don’t fully understand APR or what my Tax Code actually means…

    • Sean

      When I was resitting my GCSE Maths, the class got one lesson (yes, ONE lesson) on AER, APR, tax codes and that was it! We’d had lots on Pythagoras’ Theorem, fractions, etc. And is the rumour true that Schindler’s List is being taken out of the Key Stage 3 History syllabus? Shocking if it is true!

    • Minnie

      I agree completely. I also feel quite strongly that maybe not all students need to know the ins and outs of atomic structure and bond enthalpies, for example, when they struggle to write their own name. For some students this is simply demoralising. Like you say, maybe something more relevant like tax codes, or learning about a car engine could be taught in its place… something a bit more ‘tailor-made’ rather than simply deciding what is and isn’t important to a whole generation.

  303. Gill

    After just over 40 years in the profession and having recently retired, I have some observations. The reasons for teachers being overworked lie with successive governments’ need to measure the results of education in the same way as business accounting. This has led to an obsession with testing. Children are no longer educated in the fullest sense, but taught to jump through the hoops of GCSE and AS and A2. When I started work in a sixth form college in 1985, I could follow a wide ranging ‘read around the subject’ approach, encouraging the year 12 students to fill gaps in their historical knowledge. We could go on museum visits, trips abroad, conferences with no carping from the teachers of other subjects. Now there is so much pressure to get through the syllabus for each subject, especially with modular exams, that the students’ approach has become focused on ‘do we need this for the exam’. We are making education totally utilitarian and students, and also their parents, only interested in grades. The universities are also suffering from this attitude and this is being perpetuated by teachers who have gone through the system. Bring back some joy into learning from the top! Make education a pleasure, not just a necessity. Let good teachers range more freely and teach our children to think for themselves – that is how we can become a power to be reckoned with again, not by cramming them to get through exams. And I write as a teacher of so-called ‘useless’ subjects, Classical languages and civilisation, whose numbers are increasing as students look for a challenge. Does this not tell us something about the present state? As Cicero said, “o tempora, o mores!” (what times we live in!)

    And I have taught in comprehensives, grammar schools, FE, university and adult education with students of all abilities – I am not an elitist!

  304. A

    So the standard of education has slipped and teachers are an easy target for blame. Have a look at Deming’s 85:15 rule. 85% of a workers effectiveness is determined by the system that they are working within.

    I strongly agree with Gill’s points about the obsession with testing and measuring results. This is not helpful. It does not improve the education that our children and young people receive. It is to the detriment. There are some good points about this within this blog post about ‘slow education’.

    http://sloweducation.co.uk/2013/06/10/slow-schools-mean-deep-learning-by-professor-maurice-holt-2/

    To be honest I don’t think it is just teachers who should be concerned with these issues. Everyone should be listening to what teachers are saying about the state of the education system in our country because it affects our children. It affects us all.

    Of course it is far easier for people to simply attack teachers based upon the incorrect assumption that they work 6hr days and have 13 weeks holiday. Please don’t be fooled by this convenient myth.

    Jl_work, when you get home sometime after 6pm do you do a further 2 – 4 hours of unpaid work each night? Do you do another day of unpaid work at the weekend? Do you work on the majority of your holiday days? That is what many teachers already contend with. People who are not teachers do not understand this, and that is a fact that is exploited come strike time, in order to undermine teachers and divert attention away from the real issue, which is that the changes being made are detrimental to education, to children, and to society.

    People who think this is just about moaning teachers need to get a grip. Look beyond the inconvenience of a strike day and look at the bigger picture. Actually take some time to understand the effect that education policies really have upon our children’s education and future. It’s our responsibility. People get so angry about ‘the banks’ but so many couldn’t give a toss about what is happening to the education system.

    Please have some compassion for teachers. Take some time to understand the issues that they face. If you are not a teacher you will most likely not understand the constant pressures of OFSTED; the constant pressures of internal inspection; the extra work and repetition created by constantly changing directives and agendas; the difficulties created by an unsuitable curriculum that has been imposed upon you; the ways in which progress is measured and targets are met; the pitfalls and limitations of testing; the ways in which performance is measured for the purpose of awarding pay; time spent completing accountability trails that do nothing to improve learning and actually steal away time that could be spent improving learning. I could go on and on.

    I believe that Simon has made many excellent points above. If teachers now face becoming too sick to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, this isn’t just to the detriment of teachers. This is of no benefit to anyone. Least of all, our children.

    Telling teachers to shut up and get a different job isn’t going to improve our children’s education. Please take the time to listen to the issues that they are raising and consider how these issues affect your children. We all need to support one another. What we need is a better system that meets the needs of children and young people and actually prepares them for life. A system in which teachers are empowered to facilitate this.

    I am not a school teacher. I am posting in support of them. I understand some of the issues that they face because I taught for over 10 years in the further education sector. I have close friends and family who teach in schools.

  305. Cazza

    OMG when WILL teachers stop moaning. 13 weeks holiday…PAID. I worked as a HLTA for many years, with only 5 weeks paid holiday. Still the very same stresses as teachers. I gave up teaching because I was tired of working relentlessly while teachers, who were on double my pay, moaned and groaned constantly. They were awarded PPA and STILL moan. I think many teachers would benefit from working in the grown up world of industry (as I did) before choosing their career. That way they would appreciate their holidays and their hours and they would know what hard graft is. Industry = long hours + stress; teaching = short hours, long jollies + stress. Don’t you realise, people are tired of hearing you moaning, and we don’t want our children’s education to be disrupted by your fruitless strike action!!

    • Minnie

      HLTAs have nowhere near the workload, the student debt, the responsibility or the accountability. Sorry to burst your bubble. (Most teachers don’t get double an HLTA salary either, and you’re only ASSUMING we’ve never done any other job). But like has been said SO many times, this isn’t about pay or workload… can I suggest you bother to read the thread before commenting.

  306. Spot on.
    Seven years ago I left state education after over two decades. I was burnt out. Independent education has been my salvation – still many demands but a revelation. Think I would have been six feet under had I not escaped.

  307. Pingback: An open letter to Michael Gove | faintheartedferret

  308. A

    Cazza, you worked in schools for many years and you think that teachers work short hours? You think they actually get 13 weeks holiday? You think that one day of strike action is more disruptive to education than the numerous changes that are being made by the Education Secretary?

    As I said, I worked in FE, where pay and holiday entitlement was less than in schools. (Typical holiday was 5 weeks, plus bank holidays and a few closure days). I don’t consider this justification for dismissing what is happening to school teachers. It isn’t about the pay in my pocket. Reducing their pay and holiday in line with mine will not improve education for children.

    To those who are not school teachers, the phrase ‘performance related pay’ may sound perfectly reasonable. People who are busy and who think they are not affected by this are unlikely to take the time to find out why basing pay upon test results or annual appraisal would be flawed and unfair. Again, that is how teachers are being undermined and that is why the real effects of government changes will go unacknowledged by most.

    As I said before, have a look at Deming’s 85:15 rule. 85% of a workers effectiveness is determined by the system that they are working within. A teacher is not the only factor determining success within tests. What about resources? Home environment? Parental support? Illness? Hormones? Sleep? Individual growth and development? Attention span? Learning style? Government directives? Managerial support? The unsuitability and inappropriateness of testing? It is possible that teachers could find their pay is cut, not due to their own performance, but due to the influence of factors that are simply outside of their control.

    The NUT General Secretary has pointed out that, ‘There are already provisions for withholding salary progression where teachers are under performing’. Performance related pay is therefore not necessary.

    I have both friends and family who are in senior management within schools. Some have expressed concerns that performance related pay is inappropriate within this context and could be abused.

    • Cazza

      Teachers DO work short hours and they DO rest for 13 weeks…I’ve witnessed it!!! I DO have a student loan to pay as I DID complete my degree!!! I HAVE worked in industry and as a HLTA and I DO know that teachers were, and still are, paid twice as much as I was. I admit there are difficulties such as curriculum constraints. Ofsted etc but there are also difficulties in any other profession. I HAVE read the initial thread, I was merely commenting on the comments of other professionals. Strike action is disruptive to our children’s education, as a HLTA I have never contributed to this fruitless action. As mentioned earlier many times, if teachers are so busy where are they finding the time to contribute to this discussion…surely they should be in bed after such a hard day!!!

      • A

        You seem to suggest that this was the case with all teachers in your school? Is that correct?

        Presumably you were the last to go home each evening? Otherwise how could you know what time the teachers actually left the building? Unless someone followed the teachers home and kept note of what they were doing every evening, weekend and ‘holiday’ I’m not sure how they would know what hours the teachers actually put in? Sorry, but it doesn’t make sense to me.

        Out of interest would you mind if I ask why you didn’t become a teacher?

  309. R

    The best thing about Gove is his 3 months summer holiday! Lets not forget the pay rise MP’s allowed an independent body to deem they deserve! Sorry are MP’s not public sector workers, why are they not enduring the pay freeze us at the front line, including nurses and fireman have to

  310. Paul D

    I know a lot of teachers who fully enjoy their weekends and holidays. Perhaps you’re not cut out for this occupation and should stop moaning and change career. The world outside of teaching is as hard, if not harder (seeing as we generally get about 4 weeks holiday a year, don’t get a scrummy pension when we retire, work all hours god sends and weekends too!). The general public are bored of teachers moaning about how tough life is. The real world would eat you up in moments.

    • Minnie

      How many times does it need to be said that this isn’t a competition about who works harder? Jeez, read the article and say something constructive or don’t bother commenting. And here’s a thought… maybe a lot of teachers have experience outside of teaching (and have left teaching for a job in industry so they can actually enjoy their time off a bit) and therefore can accurately compare the two… unlike people who went to school and therefore know everything there is to know about what being a teacher means and feel the need to comment on a blog that frankly has nothing to do with them. You wouldn’t catch us on a blog about whatever job it is you do telling you we know better.

      • Paul D

        I hadn’t realised that you had to be a teacher to comment here Minnie. I do apologise. My point is not about “who works harder”, I’m just pointing out that some teachers should reconsider a career change if they find it all too much and should ease up on the self righteousness as the world outside of teaching is a pretty grim place too. You have a choice.

    • Paul,

      I hope you will respond to this, because from reading your comments you seem to be a reasonable and balanced individual, yet you have made some inflammatory comments that are unnecessary and I wonder why or how you feel justified in making them. You last comment: “The real world would eat you up in moments” suggests that teachers don’t actually work as such, but that teaching is something less than work; perhaps it is playing at work, or simply playing? Obviously I don’t understand your motivation for what you wrote or what you actually meant, but it puzzles me. It clearly means that teachers couldn’t actually cope in the world of work outside teaching. As one of many teachers who has worked in other careers before teaching and who has also taken a year out to work elsewhere, I can assure that the world outside of teaching is a much calmer and more manageable one, though not necessarily one that suits all teachers. Each of us chooses a profession or career, and often that changes, but were not all suited for the same job. However, your comment just negates anything useful you might have to say and makes you look foolish. Read what is written above, consider what the original post was written for (a plea to reconsider the reforms in education and the detrimental effect they are having), then please feel welcome to respond with a balance view.

    • Geoff

      You have clearly not read many of the comments. There are plenty of people, like myself, who have experienced both worlds. I’m not saying teaching is the worst job in the world but it’s certainly not the easy option some people think it is. Why don’t all the people who think teaching such an easy number go out and get teaching jobs, hmm?

      • Minnie

        Noone here is saying that changes aren’t needed… as the system stands it is failing. But the reforms need to be initiated by someone who understands the professions so that they are effective. Currently every time there is a change in government there are substantial changes to the education system which affect that cohort of students. These are then changed again, and again and again. Teachers need to be listened to. We’re not opposed to change, we are simply saying that the changes need to be effective, and for that to be the case the people who actually do the job and understand the needs and the shortcomings need some say in what is happening.

      • Paul D

        I think it is awfully naive to suggest that any government would make changes to the education system without expert advice or on a whim. It is simply that the changes proposed dont suit the teaching establishment which, as many have said, isn’t working and is pretty much dysfunctional. However, I’d not expect you teacher folk to agree as turkeys seldom vote for Christmas.

    • Paul, perhaps your friends are those ‘lazy teachers’ who give the rest of us a bad name?
      I worked in the financial sector for several years prior to becoming a teacher. While I have avoided comparisons thus far, I feel the need to state this clearly so that there is no question as to the perspective from which I speak.

      • Paul D

        It seems from the posts here that teaching is an almost impossible job and educational standards have been dropping for a long while, especially compared to most other countries in the developed world. Perhaps the answer is that we need more reforms to education and teaching, some radical change and the whole system rethought. The big problem with trying to do this is that as soon as any government suggests reform and change, the teaching unions and their members are up in arms crying foul and threatening to strike.

      • jl_work200@yahoo.com

        And you also like spelling things out in CAPITALS. Simply put IT DOESN’TGET ANY MORE CONDESCENDING! I’m not sure anyone is going to convince anyone of anything on this board but if you stop communicating like an agst ridden teenager then this won’t all have been in vain.

      • Capitalisation is a valid stylistic technique used to denote a pertinent point or to insinuate an increase in volume. Any tone of condescension is not aimed at the general reader, but at Mr Gove himself, and is an intended parody that relates to his openly admitted preferred learning style, and his own tone of delivery of party-political rhetoric.

        But I’m sure you knew that.

    • Paul D,

      Minnie wrote: “Currently every time there is a change in government there are substantial changes to the education system which affect that cohort of students. These are then changed again, and again and again.” She was referring to the change in education policy every time there is a change in government, or even just a change in Secretary of State for Education. Change after change causes instability and leads to a lack of confidence by teachers and of teachers by people such as yourself.

      Your response to Minnie’s comment?

      “It is simply that the changes proposed dont suit the teaching establishment which, as many have said, isn’t working and is pretty much dysfunctional. However, I’d not expect you teacher folk to agree as turkeys seldom vote for Christmas.”

      So, as so many people on here have done, you ignore the point being made and cherry pick your ‘facts’ to suit your viewpoint. If you were to consider how the situation from within the teaching profession might appear, you would, if you had a balanced view on such things, realise that the problems in education are not caused by the teachers – not that I am dismissing the fact there is a relatively small number of militant and obstructive people in the profession (who are a source of frustration to the rest of us) – but by the nature of the changes imposed by successive Education Secretaries and the questionable motives behind the changes. One person wrote: “students aren’t being prepared for the workplace” as evidence that teachers are doing a poor job. But teachers are not tasked with preparing students for the workplace, which leads me to the point that many people are missing: teachers do the job that they are employed to do; teachers educate students in academic subjects, and for the most part they work hard and do this well. Generally speaking, high school teachers are not asked or required to prepare people for the world of work, so why are we considered to be failing students?

      The original post was written to highlight the inappropriate nature of Gove’s treatment of teachers and the profession, and that the criticisms that you and others aim at the teaching profession for the existence of a dysfunctional education system are completely inappropriate. If indeed the education system is dysfunctional then that is the responsibility of the government, and I cannot see any evidence that the changes suggested by Gove are likely to reverse the situation. In fact they are just causing disruption and increasing an already unwieldy workload. Your criticisms are inaccurate and unnecessary.

  311. Minnie

    It’s not self righteousness at all. Clearly the majority of teachers are completely exhausted (and are entitled to some down time). And I’m pretty sure all teachers (and most parents) are in agreement that for a developed country our education system is failing us. That is the issue being discussed here, so like I said, if you don’t understand what you’re talking about and would just rather slate people that are working hard to educate this country’s children (in an ever-increasingly hard climate) then please do it elsewhere rather than further lower the morale. Telling teachers to change career is not the answer and I can’t believe you’re naive enough to suggest it. You can see from the comments on this article that almost all teachers are in agreement – would you rather there was noone left to educate your children?

  312. Christina Michaelides

    Amen to that. And a million thank yous for telling it exactly as it is.

  313. Dariush

    I’m currently in Taiwan, which in terms of state education (literacy, maths and sciences) is ranked far above the UK (this was according to some independent international education review held 1 or 2 years ago, and I read it on the BBC website). The UK was ranked in the 20s, Taiwan was either 11th or 12th. South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore were all in the top 10, and the city of Shanghai was first in the world (the rest of China was much further down, though). I’m from the UK, and after leaving state education at 16, I can honestly say that my maths and English were terrible. The teaching was poor (in my school the Catholics got preferential treatment – it was the second or third year they had to accept none Catholics) and there wasn’t enough homework. In the Asian countries, school starts at 8 am and finished at 5 pm, for kindergarten and elementary students. The older students stay on until 6 or 7 pm. Many of them end up bilingual, and none of them have time to hang around metro stations and run around in gangs. When they finish school – they have homework to do. In terms of education, they are pulling far ahead of us. That’s why I moved over, my son is now bilingual – he speaks English and Mandarin fluently. After coming to Asia, I’d have to say our teachers in the UK are lazy in comparison. Sorry, just saying what I see. They have cushy hours and don’t want to change.

    • A

      Darlush, that is a really interesting comparison. I don’t think many would disagree with you when you say that other countries, such as Taiwan, might have a better education system than we do.

      If I have understood correctly, you are comparing your own experience of school in the UK to your child’s experience of school. These are likely to be some time apart? I’m not sure it is entirely fair to use your own experience from your own school some years ago in order to make claims about what is happening across UK schools right now. The current situation overall may be rather different.

      When comparing the quality of education in different countries, it is easy to blame teachers for any variation. As always they are an easy target. However they are just one factor. Teachers in the UK are working within a system that is imposed upon them and it is this system that is responsible for UK performance. If the system is not working, it does not matter how hard teachers work. The end result will not be good enough.

      Changes to the system need to be made by people who understand education and listen to the workforce. Not by people who have never worked in education and who alienate the workforce. That is plain bad management.

      You say that teachers here have cushy hours and that they don’t want it to change. Does the original blog post here sound as though it was written by a lazy person who works cushy hours?

      As students, we went home at 3.30 and we assumed that our teachers did to. We had no idea what they were doing after hours at school, or in their own homes. Generally, people who don’t work as teachers therefore never understand or appreciate that in reality it is very different. It is this perception that is being used to paint teachers as lazy, in order to gain public support to enforce changes that will not improve education – they will just save money.

      If Gove wants to extend the teaching day then clearly he needs to listen to teachers concerns about the system and their workloads and find ways to remove other additional tasks from their to do lists so that they are able to remain in school for longer and stand a chance of occasionally getting to bed at a reasonable hour. If teachers were not buried under administration, arguably pointless testing, accountability trails etc, they would be free to actually facilitate learning, which is what they should be doing. If learners were not stuck in an inadequate system, they may find themselves motivated and able to concentrate beyond 3pm.

      • Dariush

        I understand that the teachers aren’t directly responsible for the curriculum, and it was wrong for me to say that they were lazy. However, I can’t help but make comparisons between the system in the UK and in many of the more advanced Asian nations. I have worked as a teacher in Taiwan, in the state school system and in a university. I normally worked a six day week (I now do freelance translation and work a six – seven day week). I was gobsmacked at how different things are here and it further soured my already negative view of state education in the UK. Where hours and holidays are concerned, the teachers over here get it worse. They have to be in schools for 7 am (ish), for an 8 am start, and depending on what age group they teach, they may not get home until 8 or 9 pm (obviously staying back a few hours to do marking and admin). Here’s another shocker, they probably work 2 Saturdays each month as well. That’s perfectly normal to teachers over here, but to teachers in the UK it would be unthinkable. There are fewer public holidays here as well.

        In my opinion the hours students and teacher put in over here are a bit excessive. But put it this way, the kids here don’t have time to hang around metro stations and make gangs, they’re too busy doing homework! In comparison, I think the kids in the UK could do with longer hours, so they can catch up with their international counterparts. I also think more time could be invested in the core skills. My mother’s generation could spell pretty well, had nice handwriting, and were good at maths. I left school at 16 and could barely spell. No one could understand my handwriting either. The average 10 year old over here has better handwriting than me. It’s embarrassing. I think somewhere between the two systems would be good. In the more developed Asian nations, curricula would benefit from more creative elements and less testing/learning by rote. In the UK, perhaps a few more hours might not harm (if they were well invested). But then again who would be paying for those extra hours? And would the teachers be paid more?

        Another reason why hours are longer over here is that literacy takes longer for languages such as Mandarin, and there is more importance attached to learning a second language, and in some schools, bilingualism. There certainly is a lot of ambition over here. I just wish the UK were more aware of what’s going on around the world, and were making more of an effort to keep up.

      • Geoff

        I have some sympathy with the extra hours argument. One thing that used to annoy me when setting homework was the fact that there would not be equal opportunities for all the children to do the homework in a supportive environment. If we believe homework to be important, each child should have the same opportunity to do it. being out of the profession now, I don’t know what Gove is proposing, but a couple of supervised hours after school to enable homework to be done wouldn’t be a bad idea. But it doesn’t need a teacher to supervise and I wouldn’t wish this to be an add on to an ordinary teacher’s workload.

  314. EastEndBoudica

    This makes me angry too and I’m not even a teacher. Meant to comment on this before – I cannot believe Gove’s attitude towards teachers, it totally stinks. Two things are happening here – the Government have made cuts that have been detrimental to families, forcing them to work longer hours, feeling the pinch economically and emotionally. When families lack money, social deprivation increases, behaviour worsens, people get on less. It’s quite simple really. Yet he spends a lot of time blaming teachers for social problems, failing to address the strain that is on families right now. He also fails to tackle bad parenting because the Government, whilst putting pressure on families economically, are still very vote conscious, and so will refrain from directly commenting on issues that people will feel reprimanded for. Gove has effectively made teachers societies scape goats. I was so angry over the extending school thing that I wrote to my local MP about it, which was two years ago now. I only got a response to say my comments had been ‘passed on’. Whilst an excellent teacher can certainly change the course of your life, and effect the decisions you make, they cannot and must not be society’s baby sitters. They cannot be the people to teach children manners, or morals. These things come down to family, community and culture – all things the Government can have an impact on, but unfortunately society doesn’t seem to be a good investment for them.

  315. emma

    I am not a teacher, nor am I capable of doing the sterling work you all do! Good on you for writing this letter to Mr Gove, sadly it will fall on deaf ears, but good on you anyway, do not give up, there are parents out there who appreciate how hard you work:) I have written to Mr Gove on long school days and the dangers of following places like China, but he did not even write back! I mean how rude!:) I am sure that like in any profession there are bad teachers, however I have not meant one! We love our teachers and try and be supportive and understanding and not critise their judgements. We trust our wonderful primary teachers, who are working very hard on behalf of our beautiful children. If he put this much effort and spit into the bloody school diners and providing healthy, good examples in the diner hall, I would be a very happy lady.

    • Dariush

      If you want an example of healthy food, then take a look at this: http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20120526000019&cid=1103

      Perhaps you could send it onto Gove? There’s probably more fruit and veg in this than most kids get on a daily basis.

      School dinners in the UK were a disgrace in my time. Sounds like they haven’t changed much… even post Jamie Oliver. Or perhaps it’s only the posh schools that get the good stuff?

    • Allan

      I’m sure he has better things to do with his time than answer such statements, I think Emma you really need to join the real world. Of course most teachers do absolutely fantastic work but that’s to be expected there supposed to be professional? the same way a mechanic and a builder are supposed to do great work, do you work Emma is your work good or do you pour crap out all day, if your paid I suspect you do good work. Teachers get lots of benefits and high wages, I run my own company and have a group of friends that run other companies and we all would like to have the wage and benefits especially in a recession that a couple of our teacher friends have, its time for the teaching union’s and employees to realise what a great job they have and work with rather than against, in these times all they are creating is hostility as they are rightly viewed as winging pseudo middle class Uni graduating non life experienced moaning left wing idiots, after all they don’t want to make true the statement ” those who can do, those who cant – teach”

      • Pippa Harding

        Allan – you have made a statement that is true. We are professionals and therefore work the hours we do. The point is that no other professional is slated like teachers. No other profession is meddled with as much as education. We wouldn’t mention the hours, the pay, the pension or any of those things if we were just trusted to get on with what we do well. Yes, there are many who work the same hours, the difference – those people aren’t told that they aren’t good enough, that they are not doing a good job and that they are lazy. If teachers were trusted to get on with job, rather than having the chopping and changing you would find out just how good we really are.

      • Oh Allan, Allan, Allan. I can’t decide whether I should feel sorry for you, which sounds condescending, or to call you a twat, which is a little childish. You’ve got to love the ‘real world’ comments that keep popping up, but I have to say I’m a bit lost with the ‘pseudo middle class uni graduating non life experienced’ thing. Which of those is an insult? Middle class? Uni graduating? Do you have kids? and if so do they go to school? and if so would you prefer that they were taught by someone without a degree in the subject they are teaching? And are you implying that once someone becomes a teacher any previous experience of life become null and void? Or is it that you don’t really know much about schools and teachers and you just want to say something that sounds clever/insulting? And by the way, most teachers I know in the UK are working class and would knock your teeth out if you dared say otherwise. In the same way that children are mistaken when they think that adults are too old to understand what it’s like to be a child, you are mistaken when you think that teachers don’t know what it’s like to be anything other than a teacher. Twat. (Sorry)

      • Oh, and another thing: those who can, teach; those who can’t, moan about teachers’ holidays and pensions.

        “We all would like to have the wage and benefits especially in a recession that a couple of our teacher friends have”. Really? Then become a teacher :)

  316. Delaney Fernandses

    Nice one Debbieesck it to him! I still think he needs to actually come and teach to know the pressures teachers face. Do you think he will actually read this?

  317. W. Steinbeck

    After coming back to British education after having seven months out, I am thinking a return to Korea is needed. A country that has apparently the best educational system in the world does not demean its teachers as much, or as well, as Michael Gove does. In addition, teachers who teach in Korea do not work as much (approximately 40 hours a week) as those teachers who inhabit the British educational system, and they also get to have their weekends to do whatever they want with. Just a thought, but is it easier for a well-rested, less stressed, teacher to teach outstanding lessons? I believe I am in teaching for the right reasons, but seeing how this profession has been denigrated over the previous years has led me to question whether this is the profession for me. A number of my colleagues feel the same and if they up sticks and leave then the only true victim of this exodus will be the children. Rant over! I have not got copious amounts of marking to do!

  318. Very well put! I work for an education authority and privately so you can add invoicing, billing, book keeping, accounts, performance evenings, rehearsals etc, etc. I usually get finished with the endless stream of emails by about 9.00pm. We have two children, one is autistic but that’s another story!

  319. Jan

    So eloquently put. I am 56 feel 96 and am a teacher. I am exhausted- especially since we have just had OFSTED. People not in the profession have little understanding of the sheer perpetual motion teaching requires. Whatever you do it is never enough and no matter how hard you work, it is never ever finished! It is a job it is impossible to do, to fill all the requirements expected of us. Fortunately, there are enough of us who despite the stress and effect on our health, are still willing to try, in order to educate others children!

  320. Allan

    stop whining and realise the rest of the UK works harder than you, gets less pay than you and gets less benefits in retirement than you. If you want respect stop being a problem count your blessings stop being so left wing your up labours ass I will let you into a secret, we are all struggling and we don’t give a fuck about your minor overpaid winge, get over your selfs

    • Minnie

      Whatever your views (and clearly they are lacking in insight), the foul language is completely unnecessary. If you don’t want to get involved in the discussion, don’t. You like many others have misinterpreted the letter, and comments like that are not welcome here. It is not a competition. But if you want to go down that route, at least base it on some knowledge and insight and stop making yourself look like an ignorant obnoxious idiot.

    • Allan, thank you for sharing such erudite, informed and insightful comments. Rest assured, your intellectual prose has enlightened us all.

    • Allan: feeling a little tense?

  321. Samantha

    What an interesting, and obviously thought provoking, article. It is sad to see that the critical people on this thread are so ready to join Gove’s teacher bashing. Their ignorant comments just help to compound the already negative attitude towards the teaching profession. How do we expect to instill respect into the next generation if politicians, parents and (at the risk of sounding melodramatic) society do not show respect for teachers?

    I was genuinely asked this last week:
    ‘Miss! Do you teach because you actually want to help children learn or is it just for the money and the holidays?’

    Public sector workers do a fantastic job but for some reason teachers are being singled out. I’m sure the people slating this article would be first to defend if it were their professions that were being attacked.

  322. Dariush

    You really think the next generation of politicians are coming from state schools? Dream on.

    As for the student asking why you teach, I think it’s a perfectly valid question. How you answer is up to you.

  323. bored with moaning teachers

    please stop acting like you are being persecuted. grow up! the UK education sector continues to fall down the international league tables, and the teachers continue to rearrange the furniture on the titanic.

    changes are needed, and industry group think is stopping that from coming within the sector. so don’t complain when it comes externally.

    he you haven’t got enough time them give up the 3 months a year holiday, accept 25 you can take whenever you want,and you will find all that extra time working will allow for you to do your job. you are paid a professional salary, do a professional amount of work to earn it.

    the amount your industry is in bed with Labour is only surpassed by the beeb.

  324. Joanna

    One of Gove’s biggest crimes has been to formulate his ideas and edicts without consultation with professionals currently working at the sharp end of the education system.
    Not surprisingly, his views are, therefore, ignorant, misguided and guaranteed to upset those who actually do have experience of life as a teacher in today’s society.
    Add to that his pompous, “know-all” delivery and confrontational style, and we are left with a minister who is clearly ill-suited to his job. In fact, he is the sort of bully whom teachers work so hard to reform!

  325. McMichael

    Dear Teachers, in case this was missed at the time, Mr Pound MP is concerned here about eating standards in schools but Mr Gove is supposed to be setting and raising educational standards – but delivers the common Parliamentary ones.
    Hansard
    18 Jun 2012 : Column 587
    House of Commons
    Monday 18 June 2012
    The House met at half-past Two o’clock
    PRAYERS [Mr Speaker in the Chair]
    Oral Answers to Questions
    EDUCATION The Secretary of State was asked—
    University Applications
    T7. [111863] Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con): The Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning will recall visiting Warwickshire college’s Rugby site. This week, in support of vocational qualification day and together with Rugby borough council, the college has established the Rugby apprentice of the year award. I know how important he considers it to be to recognise the achievements of apprentices, so will he join me in congratulating the first recipient of the award—brickwork apprentice Lee Bradley?
    Mr Hayes: I am delighted to do that; I look back on my visit to Rugby with great fondness. My hon. Friend told me then that every day spent away from Rugby is a day wasted. He is absolutely right that that college is doing exceptional work, and that award signifies it.
    Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab): I do not wish to distract the House in celebration of today’s birthday of one of our greatest living poets, Sir Paul McCartney. However, may I say that the Secretary of State is no stranger to the Twyford Church of England high school in Acton, which is well known for its inspirational head teacher? An insanitary cordon of fast food outlets rings that school, selling congealed, deep-fried lumps of mechanically extruded neo-chicken sludge, thus fatally undermining any attempt at a healthy eating regime. Will he speak to his colleague in the Department for Communities and Local Government to consider whether any linkage can be brought to prevent those foul premises springing up around some of our better schools?
    Michael Gove: My message can be summed up in six letters: KFC UFO. [Interruption ie guffaws.]
    Mr Speaker: Order. That was an immensely witty exchange, but we must hear Andrea Leadsom.

    Mr Gove – so full of wit – KFC should have sued.
    In education (and I am not), those who can, teach, those who can’t, become managers (and often poor ones – but more often overwhelmed by pointless govt tinkering).

  326. Michael Keiley

    Omg you poor lot why are you still working as teachers! Become self employed longer hrs , no final salary pension, no holidays and no sick pay. Ho did I mention the 40% tax. When will civil servants realise that there is no money and the only way to get that money is raise taxes, my taxes. By the way my children’s school next term finishes school at 2.30 on Friday’s, longer hrs?

    • Michael Billington

      Michael you have no idea. So you think teachers go home at 2:30 as well? This thread in no way claims teachers are unique regarding work related stress. I have just retired from the profession and I think if I’d have stayed in another year it would have affected my health. If I was in my twenties or thirties I would certainly look to retraining in another profession.

    • Michael Keiley,

      ??????

      Have you accidentally posted on the wrong page? Or is it possible you’re another brainwashed Daily Mail reader who just wants to have a go for no particular reason?

      • Fed of of reactionary bullshit on here

        The problem with many of replies here is that they assume that teachers get to choose what they teach.

        WRONG!

        Teachers do not decide education policy or the content of the curriculum, or the content of exams. The problems that teachers have been forced to teach to please OFSTED inspectors and their tick box mentality, rather than to teach pupils according to need.

        The issues raised here have nothing to do with pay, hours or holidays. The issues raised is that the Education system in its current form disadvantages SO many young people and teachers simply aren’t ALLOWED to address this.

        That is what is frustrating about teaching. Imagine some comes to your job, which you are good at and commands you to do something which completely undermines the purpose of your job and disregards completely, (in some cases, does the opposite), the needs of your clients. You are paid well, you’re happy with the hours, etc. but wouldn’t you point out that the person making these changes is speaking out of their behind?

        Of course you would.

        The only difference is that your clients have the option to leave and go elsewhere, the majority of the students CAN’T.

        I am not a teacher, I get paid less than a teacher, I get less holidays than a teacher but hell, my job is much less important in the grand scheme of things and much easier.

  327. A

    So disappointing that so many people don’t seem to be taking the time to read or understand.

    No compassion or respect shown. Just ill informed attacks.

    Someone (not a teacher) posted earlier that they felt teachers had been made into society’s scapegoats. Judging by the responses here, I think that person may have a very good point.

  328. A Teacherwhocares.

    It’s so sad that there is still such a divide between teachers and the general public. I am a teacher, one who starts early, and works late, and I am one who moans from time to time. However, I feel that the majority of teachers out there are grateful for their jobs, pension, holidays etc, and that they do their job out of love for children. I don’t see my career as one for life, as I know I’ll be burnt out by the time I’m 40, but I swear I’ll try my best til then. I can cope with change, but I hope that Mr Gove backtracks on his new curriculum sharpish, as it is terrible. His ideas about ‘history’ for example will go down in history as the worse decision made by an education minister!

    • Geoff

      Judging by the comments, one solution may be for teachers to work fixed hours with the same holidays as everyone else and do all their marking and prep at their place of work.

      Now who could argue with that?

      • A Teacherwhocares.

        Geoff, that sounds perfect… Can you email your idea and ways to action it to Michael Gove? I’m sure all teachers would be in support of you…

      • Great in theory, but in practise it wouldn’t work. Working 8am-6pm Mon-Fri would not provide enough time to adequately plan outstanding lessons and complete thorough diagnostic marking.
        As for holidays, a teacher couldn’t possibly take up to 25 days holiday per year at a time of their choosing. That would equal 25 days of classes being covered by a supply teacher, or more likely an unqualified cover supervisor. Plus, would that mean the students would also be entitled to 25 days when their families chose? That would equal 25 days of missed learning.

      • I love the idea Geoff.

        A few years ago, as a head of department I went to my head teacher, and the deputy who was my line manager, with a quickly-produced spreadsheet summarising the time that would be spent doing all the tasks that the head wanted teachers to do to satisfy her perceived needs for quality learning. To be brief, it summarised the time spent on planning lessons with individualised learning outcomes, preparing resources, teaching and of course marking and recording attainment in order to demonstrate that expected progress had been made (tricky one that, as expected progress is needed for a satisfactory lesson, and OFSTED has determined that satisfactory isn’t good enough any more). The total came to about 15 hours per day. That’s before anything non-essential was included such as developing schemes of work in line with national developments, CPD, meetings (formal meetings and informal discussions about work, students, staff issues etc.), parents evenings, duty, after-school clubs (that kids value and actually CHOOSE to go to), having some lunch, going to the toilet, getting to work and back again and I’m sure some pretty obvious stuff I’ve missed. Perhaps surprisingly the head refused to be pinned down on how much time she thought we should be spending on each task.

        I only mention these things because at the time the activity highlighted to me the ‘plate-spinning’ nature of the job and how unachievable some of the tasks were. I’m quite sure somebody with more insight than me will comment on this and suggest that I am whinging, after all I am a teacher. Or they might suggest something clever like moving my belongings into the school to do away with the travel to work issue, or some such thing. But the fact is I’m not whining, I’m not winging, I’m not a union-supporting, card-carrying leftie (though actually, I am left handed – how sinister), I’m just making an observation. Read into it what you will. Looking back, the whole episode was rather comedic, but for the fact that the head really thought we should be able to achieve all these things within a ‘normal’ working day and still be effective…

  329. @Graham Lack. Deviate can serve as a transitive verb.

    3. trans. To turn (any one) out of the way, turn aside, divert, deflect, change the direction of. (lit. and fig.)

    “deviate, v.”. OED Online. September 2013. Oxford University Press. http://ezproxy.ouls.ox.ac.uk:2277/view/Entry/51459?rskey=KFDE46&result=3&isAdvanced=false (accessed September 22, 2013).

  330. Geoff

    It’s easy. I propose all lesson plans, staff training and exam moderation must be done in the school holidays. I know this only works out to a little over two weeks a term so courses may suffer a bit but needs must.

    Teachers should work a 40 hour week. Let’s allow 5 hours of that for staff and department meetings, answering emails, writing to parents etc. Say another 5 hours for chasing up homework, detentions and other disciplinary actions, help for special needs students, covering for teachers absent due to sickness etc. Tight, I know, but we have to live in the ‘real world’.

    That leaves 30 hours. Let’s allow half an hour per one hour lesson for prep and an hour and a half for setting homework and marking homework and coursework. No time for extra curricular activities and trips of course.

    So if each lesson takes 3 hours in total that means that each teacher can teach a maximum of two one hour lessons a day.

    Oh. Slight snag. We might need a few more teachers.

  331. I like your letter and the patient way you have dealt with trolls and people who miss the point. I have worked outside teaching as a self employed person, and as an employee working 12 hour shifts. Teaching has been more demanding in different ways. I am lucky to have worked in special education but have had to spend a lot of time dealing with the changing instructions rather than the childrens’ needs. There will always be struggling workers and even bad workers in any walk of life. Most teachers are concerned to do the best job they can. It is not unreasonable for workers to expect managers to use their human resources effectively and responsibly. Ensuring the well being of employees makes sense because they will perform better and last longer. Here’s hoping you continue to enjoy the kids and that they enjoy being taught by you.
    Martin

  332. Jackie

    I don’t think anyone thinks teachers are lazy. Teachers are overworked. In my opinion, the problem lies in the paragraph about not being allowed to ‘churn out’ material that’s already been used. Teachers are expected to reinvent the wheel far too much. They should be allowed to use existing resources which often do the trick far better than anything that can be dreamt up by an already tired, exhausted, and demoralised teacher. As a parent with one child in primary and one in secondary, I find marking far more valuable than a supposedly inno

  333. Simon_jones@hotmail.com

    Following yesterday’s speech I’m looking forward to reading your next letter, obviously written with impassionaed tears rolling down your cheeks, to Ed Miliband instilling the hard truth that TEACHERS WORK HARD, TEACHERS WORK HARD, etc, etc

  334. I wholeheartedly agree with the comments of ‘the uphill struggle’. As a teacher I have experienced all of the issues raised. I ask the question ‘if teachers really don’t care, why is it that I (and probably many others) are still in contact with former pupils and still continuing to help our students during further education? Even though it is no longer our responsibility.
    Just this week I spent a great deal of time helping a former student to understand the complexities of protein structure that he was struggling to understand in his A level course. Why? you might ask. Well it wasn’t for the money, it wasn’t for my pension and it certainly wasn’t for the holidays I get!!! No, It was because he asked for my help and I care deeply about the education of all my students, past, present and future. His appreciation and the satisfaction I felt because I had made a difference was payment enough for me!!!!
    So Mr Gove you can put us down, demean us and bully us, but we teachers do it because we care!

  335. S.backhouse

    Very soon, there will be a huge shortage in new, young, passionate teachers. Young people who are unable to get onto BEd courses at uni, because they are unable to get through ridiculously hard skills tests. Skills tests which make a mockery of the English & maths GCSE’s they have already achieved! It’s time the government let people who know there jobs, do their jobs!

  336. louise

    If you moan about your job that much just leave!

  337. My partner is a teaching assistant at a primary school,has been for 30 years, so I get pretty good analysis of the school and staffs performance endeavours failures and successes and on the whole endorse you views.
    I have been self-employed 34 years. Initially I worked seven days a week often more than a 12 hour day and holidays were something I only dreamt about. Eventually of course once a good pattern of working and a decent client base was established I was actually able to take holidays and spend time with my family and even had weekends off occasionally. All responsibility for marketing attracting new clients accounting, pension planning were down to me. I’m now close to retiring and can honestly say that whilst you may have worked hard I don’t for one minute believe that you have worked as hard as the average small business owner does, for us the stress never goes away, don’t get me wrong it’s very rewarding having a successful business built on your own back but it’s not easy.

    • Geoff

      With respect, you are wrong.

      I’ve done both and given the choice with being self employed and teaching, I’d take self employed any day no matter what the hours were. I thought going bankrupt was stressful until I started teaching.

      Look how many people are leaving the profession, look how many teachers are suffering from stress related illnesses.

      When you work for yourself you have total control over your destiny. That makes up for any amount of long hours and hard work.

    • Simon Layfield

      Michael,

      I am completely bemused by your post, and that of louise before you. It’s not a complaint about the job, or the choice of a difficult or demanding career, it’s an open letter to M Gove. In other words there’s a point being made about the ill-advised policy changes that the education secretary is imposing on teachers (most of whom are already working at or beyond the limit of what anyone would consider reasonable working hours). Self-employment is a completely different matter, with unique rewards and challenges, and to compare teaching in state schools with such a choice is pointless, as it would be to compare self-employment with most careers. You probably have spent many years working longer hours than most teachers, and the stresses will be very different indeed. On the other hand I know many people who are self employed (and I gave up teachinjg briefly to work for myself), and I think it’s fair to say that as a teacher I have less family time and less social time than they do, but that doesn’t mean that I work harder or that they are more efficient, it’s just a different set of circumstances. Self employment is not an easy option, but it also doesn’t have the external stresses of having to implement someone else’s misguided and universally despised policies when those in the profession implementing them are in a much better position than the politicians who devise them to see what the problems are. It’s those externally imposed policies that the letter is about. It’s not about whose job is harder…

    • Minnie

      Agree completely Geoff and Simon. And to say ‘my partner is a teaching assistant therefore I know all about the teaching profession’ is rather like me saying ‘I worked as a shop assistant 9-5 when I was younger and therefore I know all about owning my own business’. Pointless. TAs basically work the same hours as the children… they don’t see everything that goes on after hours, before hours or at home.

    • It’s not a competition.

      • Minnie

        Nothing in what I have said implies it is?! Merely pointing out that making comments based on someone else’s observations from a different job entirely are not necessarily based on the reality.

  338. Kate coulter

    I gave up teaching after I had children as the demands were too great and my family life was suffering. My children wondered where I was, my husband and I were close to splitting up and I was close to a nervous breakdown. Teaching is tough and no one understands unless they have done it.

  339. Missy

    Is it just me, or have some people turned this into a p*ssing contest? My job is worse than your job. My pay is worse than your pay. My hours are longer than your hours. Get a grip on reality here people. How many electricians have a Mr Gove dictating their hours? How many office managers have irrate parents shouting in their faces? How many sales reps have people belittling them every other day in the media? Yes other jobs are hard and tiresome. My husband works 50+ hour weeks for a set wage for 4 weeks annual leave…and he can’t take them between April and September because its peak wedding season. My sister has to work shifts starting from 7am and sometimes working through to 11pm because sickness doesn’t work to a schedual. My mother worked 24/7 with my brother as he has ASD. But not one of these has some arrogant, ignorant numpty stomping in with the sensitivity of a bull in a china shop belitting and disrepecting their work. When you ‘sign up’ to a job, you sign up for what it was, you don’t expect Mr Gove to increase your hours by 50%, nobody signed up for that. There are people on both sides who need to see if the grass is really greener on the otherside. PS Pensions should be demolished and a superannuation scheme put in place – much fairer for all all round.

  340. jj

    I support the strike but I hope the teachers turn out on a picket line, Not stay at home with their kids while everyone else struggles . Then you will loose the public vote stand up and be counted .Not what has happened in the past. My wife is a teacher.

  341. Hanna

    I live and teach English as a foreign language in China where the school day begins at 7:30am and doesn’t end until 9:50pm with only a 3 hour break for the students to eat and sleep in.
    They are taught, worked and tested incredibly hard and this happens from the moment they start junior school. My days are seemingly never ending and my work load is extortionate but when I get the opportunity to see the enlightenment on my kids faces when they finally understand something, everything else just fades into background noise.
    The children are the most important factor for me and my teaching, especially as English is not their first language. Perhaps it is this reason that my job, although stressful and time consuming, is ultimately rewarding because I get to work with kids who 90% of the time actually want to learn.
    I cannot imagine the struggles teachers in Britain face on a daily basis with unruly behaviour and poor work ethic.
    I feel lucky to be able to have such a strong bond with the children I teach, making me a mentor, friend, counsellor and teacher all at the same time.
    To be reprimanded or belittled for my profession in the way some of you have told of your own experiences saddens me greatly.
    Although the hours in education are painfully long for my students, perhaps the British government should take notice of other countries educational systems and think of how they could benefit rather than hinder the current regime in Britain.

  342. John

    I run my own business and work all the hours God sends – my wife is a teacher and she makes me look like a total slacker! Worst job in the world – teacher’s husband!

  343. Emma

    Absolutely spot on. Bed time is rarely before 1am and twice recently 5am before the alarm goes off at 5.45 for another day at school!

  344. Reblogged this on thepositivevoice.

  345. RP75

    I could have written that myself. It so mirrors my experiences and like you said if you have children….as I do it is very hard spend in time marking children’s work at the expense of spending time with your own children. I would love to see Gove try and occupy 30 15 yr olds for just an hour!!!!

    • Jobloggs

      In my opinion, the workload of any job depends in the person doing it.

      I worked in several professions before becoming a teacher. None of them ended completely when I got home, as I’ve always felt that giving 100% is important.

      However, I find that it is impossible to teach to the standard I want whilst maintaining some kind of personal life, so I am looking into leaving teaching. It’s sad because I’ve been told I’m very good at the job.

      It also makes me sad that people hate teachers so much. It seems that whilst so many ‘isms’ are socially unacceptable (rightly so of course), it is fine to criticise and judge people because of their profession.

      Surely every person should be judged on their individual merit?

      Life is hard for everyone. As human beings, we should all support each other, rather than live with this ridiculous pity/blame culture.

  346. Sharon grovessha

    Well said I’m not a teacher but I’m an assistant and I agree with what you are saying

  347. Graeme bennie

    I’d just like to add here. I am not a teacher but I have spent 13 yeasts as a governors ( vice chair and chair) of a large primary school and have seen the way changes in education have effected teachers etc for years.
    It strikes me that ALL politic ions from all parties take education to be “fair game” when it comes to scoring political points. Michael gove is no different.
    What he needs to do is to spend some time, and I mean real time, not just a stage managed flying visit to schools and actually talk properly to the people who do the work. Then he may well begin to understand what is wrong in the system. Relying on so called experts who only tell him what he wants to hear will never help.
    I have the utmost respect for teachers. I work in what is meant to be one of the most stressful jobs around I am an air traffic controller. But I couldn’t do a teachers job. It really is about time the back biters who go on about short working days and lots of holidays got wise to what really goes on. There is far too much red tape in schools nowadays. Sadly that is a reflection of this .day and age and will never change.
    All you teachers out there. Hold your heads up high and be proud of your career your worth 100 times what an idiotic politician is.
    Keep fighting

    • Michael Billington

      Many thanks for this Graeme. I have just taken semi-retirement and just work mornings now. I can at last devote some of my time to my passions and interests which are art and music. It needs someone like you who is involved in schools but not directly teaching and able to step back and talk without bias about the stresses of teaching. Every day for me was like trying to get a quart into a pint pot.

  348. Patrick

    You know what, I am a teacher and I’m sick of teachers rants. “We work too hard, we are underpaid, our holidays are only when kids are off”… Bla Bla Bla. Do something else then!!. Teaching has always been a low paid profession, always will be. Public sector is buggered from an incompetent Labour Gov’ running an irrational balance of payment. And this excessive moaning just makes the rest of us that get on with it, look bad. You contribute to the increasing negativity towards educationalists and the profession as a whole. You get out what you put in, if you really enjoyed it there wouldn’t be this perceived level of hardship. I have a strong work ethic, but I must say I have friends that work in different areas of the job market that work equally hard, if not harder, and they work in the rain, through nights etc.. In all honesty doing jobs that I don’t consider to be as rewarding. Basically just change the record. We haven’t got it that bad, in fact I would argue we have one of the best positions that front line public services has to offer. I don’t have to arrest people, I have never risked burning to death at work (Science teachers excluded) and I don’t do 12 hour shifts in hospitals..

    • Simon Layfield

      Patrick,

      I think you should recognise that it is people like you, who are judgemental, fail to see the big picture, jump in as soon as they see something that triggers a response, who increases the negativity towards the teaching proffesion. Despite the very many posts on here, and of course the original post, which are not moans about the job being too difficult, the pay being too low, the holidays being unmoveable, etc. but are addressing the the attack on education by Gove and others, you are the one who appears to be ranting. Most of the posts by teachers emphasise that they love their job, not that they don’t want to do it! If you have read the majority of posts on here by teachers you will see that they simply support the original post, the premise being that Gove is making invalid judgements on schools and British education, not that they think the job is too hard. The posts making atatements about how hard teaching is invariably come from those outside the profession or from those who have decided to move on. You need to get a grip. What sort of a teacher, an educated and supposedly intelligent person, writes what you have written ignoring the main point?

  349. Stacey

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve just started my second year of teaching and already I’m finding it a massive challenge!! I want a family of my own in a few years time, I have no idea how I will ever manage that because the job is literally so demanding I barely have time for me and my partner! No one outside of the profession understands. So glad it’s not just me that feels like this!

  350. Gary Bryden

    Thanks, I like this letter. I would however like to address some of the responses. TEACHERS DON’T THINK THEY WORK HARDER THAN EVERYONE ELSE. We take great offense to being falsely portrayed by a man who completely fails to understand education and the society it serves. For those referencing the 50’s and 60’s as times when teacher were better get a grip. Do you want schools and attainment to be managed by fear and physical assaults? Because many if the class challenges now faced by staff, which impacts on teaching and learning were solved by the belt. The lack of respect in society and lack of support from other parties who play a significant role in a child’s holistic development make a teachers life and range of approaches much more challenging than just hitting them! The world is a different and not in all ways better place. I love what I do, it is rewarding. But I will not accept my profession being dragged through the mud for the sake of a clueless man’s opinion. I also don’t read and pass uneducated/moronic comment on theprofessions/lifes of others who I know nothing about.

    • john oldham

      Is it any surprise that Gove supports the Daily Mail’s nasty stance on Milliband with all the lack of common decency and bullying, hypocritical tactics so common to that publication?

      Is it any surprise that his wife writes for The Mail?

      It is a bigger surprise that he actually has a wife.

      Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2013 20:17:25 +0000
      To: jvilla617@hotmail.com

  351. Nicola McDonald

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. I would love to know what a teacher did to him to make him hate us so much!

  352. Delia

    This is a fantastic post. Teachers do one of the hardest jobs in our society and yet each day this government remain in power a little bit of the respect they deserve is lost.

  353. This might help to explain, for those who insist this about teachers complaining, just what teachers are unhappy about.

    http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/sep/30/michael-gove-destruction-of-school-democracy

    Gove is a very dangerous man.

  354. After having read and followed this post for a number of weeks now, I must say that I am not surprised at all by the reaction. I don’t understand why those who seem to have such a disdain for those within the teaching profession even bother to look for and to comment on posts such as these with the sole purpose of letting off some steam, or getting something off their chest or even just to start an argument and get a reaction from what they comment. I am in no way saying that if you disagree with what the poster has said then you should keep your mouth shut, but please, if you are going to argue against it then maintain some sort of dignity and act like an adult and formulate a coherent, considered responding argument rather than just spitting your dummy out at the first sign of anyone holding a view different from yours.

    My personal view is that there are hardships within any profession, but that is not to say that anyone, from any walk of life should simply accept the hand that they are dealt and blindly follow ever-changing direction by those in power in your chosen career sector. I for one applaud the poster for making their voice heard with regards to their concerns, and clearly they are not the only person with said concerns. I see nothing wrong with people trying to better the teaching profession by opposing Gove’s objectives if they believe that it will better the pupils in any way, shape or form, no matter how small the effect may be, because I do know that the vast majority of teachers and education sector workers entered their profession because they have a passion for enriching the minds and lives of the future generations. There is also nothing wrong with a bit of debate on the subject – a point with which I’m sure the poster agrees – but to think that some people cannot compose themselves to have an adult discussion about a very real issue really does worry me, on behalf of themselves.

    I’ll finish by saying a huge well done to the poster, for not only getting your point across in a clear and considered way, but also for generating such a response, perhaps with forgiving a few people of a perhaps poor word choice. Not many people could hold their tongue in response to some of the things that people have said, so for that – another well done to you.

    • Thank you

      • Simon

        This was a great article, of you like sensationalised, irrational whingers.

        I read the article, not one mention of any changes this teacher has had to make, just someone who is swept up in senseless mindless propaganda.

        Get on with your actual jobs and stop whining!

  355. Spamhead

    No teacher has ever liked what any Secretary of State for Education, from any party, has ever said, changed or tried to change. I will give teachers some sympathy when they acknowledge that those of us who are not teachers also have genuine grievances about their profession and that as they are [mostly] public servants then they should serve the public, or the duly elected representatives.

    As it is, there is constant whinging and whining from teachers and knee-jerk opposition whenever any attempt is made to change how they work, so it is not surprising that they find change being imposed upon them. If they actually tried to understand what various Secretaries of State are trying to achieve and embraced some of the change then a dialogue could be established.

    Not all change is good, but not all is bad either. By being totally reactionary against ALL change, teachers have only themselves to blame if bad changes are implemented too.

    • Spamhead,

      I won’t respond to your whole comment. It’s been said before and you’re obviously not interested. If you choose to generalise to the extent that you have (about all teachers, ever) and ignore the now countless comments by teachers on here about the grievances that people in all professions may have, you presumably won’t be interested in facts or reasoned debate. I will, however, point out that teachers are not public servants. Perhaps this is the cause of your gripe/whinge: you feel you are not being served adequately?

    • Person with hands

      The problem with this Secretary of State for Education though, Spamhead, is that he wishes to barr all but the super wealthy and privileged from receiving a decent education. For those non-academic children, his plan is apparently to have them pick litter for £80 a fortnight for the rest of their lives, as he has slowly dismantled the majority of vocational qualifications without creating any meaningful replacement, meaning that they are simply not going to have either the grades or the skills to find work when they leave school.

      First he removes all the Btec qualifications, which are aimed at teaching the basics of subjects such a science to those who are having difficulty grasping it and as this is 100% coursework-based, it allows them to focus on maths and English. This meant that the children who were halfway through the Btec now had to complete the GCSE they were deemed not capable of passing in half the time of the original GCSE students. The removal of teaching assistants and learning support assistance is doing nothing to help these students either – how is a deaf or blind child, or indeed those with other special educational needs supposed to cope without any assistance?

      Things like breakfast clubs (which in many areas are essential in ensuring that children have eaten properly – some kids only have one meal a day and that is their free school lunch) are dying a death due to withdrawal of funds.

      Your point about people being opposed to any change is flawed – even Kenneth Baker has been a vocal opponant of what Michael Gove is doing. Yes, some people do moan about everything, but you get those people in every job.

      The thing that people are seemingly trying to gloss over here is that the people who are suffering most with these changes are the pupils. This “oh, but teachers get more holiday than I do, so therefore they must be completely satisfied” nonsense is playing straight into the hands of a government who are very much winning their little game of divide and rule.

      (“Whose fault is it that my life is terrible and that I can’t afford to buy a house despite having three jobs? Well, it can’t be the government – they said it’s teachers/immigrants/the unemployed/the disabled/young people/elderly people/train drivers/single parents/people who don’t open their curtains”)

      I am not a teacher, nor am I involved in education in any capacity but I think to say that this is about refusal of change for the sake of it misses the point. Teachers desperately want to change the education system but they would like it to be done for the benefit of the pupils in their schools rather than for the purpose of social Darwinism, that’s all.

      • Simon

        your an idiot

      • Such beautiful irony…

      • Simon

        ‘The problem with this Secretary of State for Education though, Spamhead, is that he wishes to barr all but the super wealthy and privileged from receiving a decent education’

        No irony, just pure out and out barefaced lies, senseless rhetoric.

        The welfare state is in tatters, teenage pregnancies, bone idle people collecting their pay checks.

        As Cameron said today, ‘the problem with the people on the left is, they don’t like privelege, unless it’s for their own children’ Thats the problem with the author of this post, and this letter. There’s your irony. Put it in your pipe and smoke that… you’re clearly smoking something.

      • Floorboards

        It’s rather a big assumption that everyone who is wealthy and privileged is right wing or indeed that everyone less well off is left wing.

        Although the post is a trifle over emotive, it has given you clear examples with issues stemming from the current raft of reforms, something which you have attacked other people for not including.

        You then go on to attack the “empty rhetoric” of it before then backing up your own argument with… rhetoric.

        The problem us that you are assuming that:
        A) All teachers are labour supporters (not true), and;
        B) This is a left V right issue.

        In some cases, yes, it will be. However, some very good educational policy has come previous Conservative governments and some very bad educational policy has come Labour governments. The specific problem here is that education reforms being made at the moment are neither enabling young people to enter a trade when they leave school or progressing them academically enough to compete internationally.

        A lot of independent schools have recently completely opted out of the UK curriculum and are now providing international qualifications instead on the basis that the UK qualifications are not fit for purpose.

        Yes, reforms need to be made. But they need to be meaningful.