So the tale goes … the ugly duckling emerges from a long hard winter as a beautiful swan having been through some tough character building experiences.
Newly qualified teachers up and down the country are emerging from a long hard winter. When I look back, a long way back, I can remember the near exhaustion of the first year of teaching. Everything is new – the school, the rules & routines and the children – there is so much to learn. Everything takes twice as long or even longer to do – the planning, the marking and deciding what best to write in each child’s report home. The short cuts and benefits of experience will come in the years ahead but for now it is survive until the summer.
Sadly about one in six newly qualified teachers will leave the profession this summer probably never to return. Something is going badly wrong as the disillusionment phase, in the graph above, continues through the spring and into the summer months. There are many things that concern me about the education system and how some people are operating which are out of my control. However, there are many areas as leaders and experienced teachers which we can and must influence. How good is the induction programme for new staff? What could we do to ensure even greater consistency from mentors and higher quality mentoring? Given the extra pressures of planning & preparation for an NQT, do we need to strengthen our schemes of learning? How can we find some extra time and space for NQTs at pinch points in the year?
There’s not exactly a shed load of graduates lining up to replace them, we need to cherish our NQTs more.
As the newly qualified teachers become recently qualified and then gains further experience and knowledge of teaching & learning the serene swan like class room practitioner magically appears. As the years go by there is a camaraderie of teachers, experienced, trustworthy, enjoying their work, who are the power house of any school. They add massive value but we tend to take them for granted. The impact of excessive workload is driving far too many out of the profession. A lack of retention of experienced staff is becoming a multiplier in the looming shortage of teachers. How can we push back accountability and give the space for these colleagues to take greater responsibility? Which initiatives are really going to have impact and are worth pursuing but more importantly which can we ditch? What requirements around lesson planning, marking and meetings are adding value but more importantly which can we ditch? We need to create more time and space for these experienced teachers.
There’s not exactly a shed load of NQTs/RQTs lining up to replace them, we need to cherish our experienced teachers more.
Thank goodness we still have teachers who are prepared to take responsibility as middle leaders, then senior leaders and for some become head teachers. With the pernicious nature of our accountability system there is a growing fear around taking on the leadership of schools and departments, particularly core departments and particularly in more challenging schools. We reap what we sow or more precisely our children are.
There’s not exactly a shed load of teachers lining up to replace them, we need to cherish our leaders more.
It takes time, support and development to turn us from an ugly duckling into a swan. We experience this change when we are new to the profession but also each time we take a new responsibility or fulfil a new role. Our education system has become too much about the short term and the illusion of the quick fix. Running around looking like you are improving things is being misread and reinterpreted as impact. The challenge of working in schools can be at times akin to a long hard winter. It takes time and commitment to build a culture which has a lasting impact on young people’s lives. Let’s make sure the long hard winter brings forth new life instead of freezing so many out of the profession.
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The elephant in the room is the likelihood of a teacher recruitment and retention crisis impacting on schools. To find out more click the image below:
This week we had our annual Directors (Governors) and senior leaders’ development planning meeting. We’ve committed to making out Trust and its academies places of first choice to work. We’ll have to lead well, maintain a constancy of purpose, offer great support, challenge and development and see each other through the ups and downs of school life. We have some way to go but at least we’ve taken the first few steps … now to take a few more.
Let’s hope the new government help rather than hinder us.