When you know it’s time to go.

I’m leaving my job. Not right away – I’d never leave children half way through an academic year – but I’ll be off in July. I think back to the post I wrote on teaching forever and I blush with the charge of hypocrisy, though, to be fair, after 21 years I think I’ve probably earned the right to say I did my bit. And hopefully I will continue to do more bits, but not again, I don’t think as a full time teacher in a school. So why? Well, it’s complicated.

It’s not because of the kids…

But they’re not easy. Last week one pushed me pretty hard and told me to fuck off. He’s vulnerable and floundering. We used restorative justice to talk through the situation and I got one of the most heartfelt apologies I’ve ever had. He beams at me in the corridor now. I’m not leaving because of him. In fact, thinking of leaving him makes my heart hurt a little. But I won’t miss all that constant low level disrespect from children whose parents have instilled in them a feeling that teachers are not worthy of their attention. Is that a child’s fault? No – I don’t think so. We see a downward push from the top – where the image of a lazy blob of failing, scruffy teachers is pushed onto parents’ breakfast plates by those hoping to win votes and sell papers. If we want to look for blame for the attitudes of some of the young people in our classrooms, look no further than the words of those in charge of education. They need to run round a field and write some lines themselves. “I must not undermine the authority of the profession I am expecting to educate our children – no matter how popular it makes me”. So no, I’m not leaving because of the kids. And certainly not because of the hundreds who make my days full of surprise and joy.

I’m not leaving because of my SMT

They are lovely people, working hard under difficult circumstances and I’m fond of them and will miss them. But they are under such pressure to maintain targets that I constantly feel I have to compromise my integrity to do my job. I know that learning is not linear, that our data is a farce, but to show willing, I spend hours putting the meaningless drivel into computers so that all looks well. I know that the way to improve teaching and learning is not through Mocksteds, but through close collaboration between colleagues, networking and sharing good practice in a supportive, formative and developmental process. But I smile wearily as yet another HMI consultant is wheeled into my classroom and wish I could have spent his fee on something that might have an impact.

I’m not leaving because of Ofsted

If we all refused to play the ‘prep for Ofsted’ game, there would be no threat from Ofsted would there? They’d see us as we are and if the way we were was focused on the very best provision for children, then it would not matter what any external visitor thought. I think we only have ourselves to blame for the madness that results in building an entire school culture around a two day visit every four years.

I’m not leaving because I’ve had a better offer

I’ve had no offers, though I know they will come. But better than what? Being with children? There is no better offer than that. And here’s the rub. Sometimes, I get to work with children in situations where there are no targets, no inspectors, no data – I work in a primary school on Fridays where we are simply focusing on making the learning deep and meaningful and every second is a joy. The head has given me carte blanche to be creative and we’re having so much fun as a little team of teachers, it seems wrong to call it work. And then a few times a year, I get to go to work with children from all around the world with the International Schools Theatre Association and for three days at a time, we unite and create some of the most extraordinarily moving work I’ve ever had the pleasure to be involved with. I always return with a fire in my belly and my teaching flies.

So…

When my Head teacher (rightly) pointed out that perhaps I had taken on too much and needed to choose what to focus on, I thought long and hard. When I take out the data monitoring, admin, emailing, meeting, monitoring of my work, what’s left is teaching. I know what works for my children, based on my authentic teacher self and realise that every day I compromise that self to meet someone else’s agenda. Ten years ago, I could produce some of the best results in the country and how I taught was entirely up to me. That is no longer the case. I see colleagues destroyed by judgements that I know to be false based on an unreliable process. I see children channelled into becoming automatons, devoid of life and hope, sitting listlessly asking ‘just tell me what I need for the exam’ and I want to weep. I stand in the biome at the Eden Project with 140 children singing their hearts out for a better world and I almost cry at the thought of the world they return to on Monday morning. It’s not good enough. We are failing them. I am failing them. And if I have to step outside of the system for a little while in order to shout for change, I will. That’s why I am leaving.

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158 thoughts on “When you know it’s time to go.

    1. I am not a teacher – but a teacher friend of mine posted this on facebook which is why I saw it. I used to work in the NHS – and I can relate so much of what you say to what it is like working in the NHS.. It is all public services that are affected by the tick box mentality and target driven culture. The focus becomes that targets – not the children or the patients. Good luck for your future – I am sure you will do well. leaving the NHS was the best thing I ever did.

    2. Oh, Debs….I left the education system four years ago for the same reasons you give. When our beliefs are compromised and we know that what we are giving children is not what they need then it really is time to find different ways of helping them. For some years I’ve felt the worst place for children to learn is in school and that is not because of the quality of teaching or the professionalism of teachers but due to a prescriptive model that has been imposed upon those trying to inspire young minds! Wishing you much luck in whatever you decide to do next.

  1. I am nodding sadly in agreement. In fact, I wrote a similar blog myself only last week. I loved my job, but, in the end, I felt like I had no choice. There were other factors, too… but yeah, this is something I can very much relate to. Good luck with whatever you decide to do next xx

  2. I still have the ideal that I can make that change, to halt the exam/OFSTED driven mentality of modern schooling. It makes me sad to hear you are taking a step back, but maybe it will help us all take a step forward. Look forward to reading about your next steps.

  3. This makes me really sad Dr Deb… But makes me wonder too. Especially working in a community of parents who threaten us with going to the papers or reporting us to OfSTED on a weekly basis when we try to educate their children. Just as Wednesday night became the new Friday night while we waited for inspection, we now wait til 8:15 each morning to start breathing as we know we won’t get an unanounced behaviour visit.
    Don’t let the beggars get you down.
    Helen J

  4. I am really sorry to hear that – I have always enjoyed reading your blog and think the children you teach must be very lucky. I wonder if your next move in the battle to improve the education system will be in some form of writing? I do hope so and look forward to it. Good luck and I hope a change of scene will allow for quiet reflection before your return with aplomb.

  5. Debra – we haven’t met but I have valued your blog, especially your capacity to always relate the core values of what we do as teachers with the everyday reality of life in school. You have inspired me and, at times kept me going. I am a bit shocked that you are leaving, but I can understand why. I wonder if a head teacher is planning how to persuade you to stay. Best wishes for whatever you do in the future.

  6. Debs… You nott made me cry…. I know that I do it fairly regularly, but I think you have just summed up exactly how I have been feeling too. Things were so different 10 years ago… I felt so full of confidence that I knew what I was doing, knew how to inspire and push the students.. I feel often confused now.. Like I’m jumping through hoops…that’s it’s distracting me and preoccupying so much of my time… That I can’t just get on with teaching. I’ve so missed my ISTA experience this year too. Some of the most magical moments in my professional career have been at ISTA events… sending my love xxx

  7. You have articulated a nagging feeling that I’ve had for a while now and could not put my finger on. It’s so sad that any of us should feel this way. I bloody love my job when I actually get the chance to do it. So much other nonsense gets in the way.
    I wish you all the best xx

  8. You have articulated a nagging feeling that I’ve had for some time now and have not been able to put my finger on. It’s so sad that any of us should feel like this. I bloody love my job… When I get the change to actually do it. Some much other nonsense gets in the way.
    I hope you’ll continue blogging. Wish you all the best 🙂 x

  9. You taught me… wrong words, you INSPIRED me in 2011/2012 when I was lucky enough to have you as my English teacher on the PGCE at MMU. I bounced out of uni full of enthusiasm… bought Lost and Found and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a class… the PGCE was hard and it opened my eyes to the difficulties that teachers face… pressure from all sides and on many occasions, a truly thankless task. However it did not deter me… I was going to change lives, I was going to inspire children and truly make a difference. I was lucky enough to get the job from my first interview and started my NQT year in September 2012. I handed in my resignation in December and I finish next week. I am distraught. I feel let down and I feel very angry. The journey to becoming a teacher was a long one, leaving me with considerable student loans to repay. Unlike you I could not wait until July to leave because I am mentally and physically exhausted. I am not leaving because I don’t like teaching, I LOVE teaching, I LOVE the kids in my class (Year 3 – can there be a better age?!) What I don’t love is working 60 -80 hours a week when it doesn’t scrape the surface of what needs to be done. Teaching is two full time jobs, one teaching and one for administration. I was in work each day at 7 and I left at 5.45, I would then mark each evening for a couple of hours and plan all weekend. I had a successful NQT year, my children progressed well and I felt the pride in achievement. I had hoped that this second year would be easier – how wrong I was. It was OFSTED year and it seemed that there was a scrutiny every week, and suddenly none of us were good enough. Teachers that had taught for 20 years were now failing in lesson observations – I felt scared ALL the time, I felt sick if someone walked into my classroom. I had a knot in my stomach every time the books went in for scrutiny. It is very disheartening to work so very hard and be told in written feedback that a capital O was too big for October and hadn’t been corrected. The pressure grew, the negativity grew, staff moral fell – I cried all the way home for the umpteenth time and knew I could not see another year through. I have spent the last 17 months working with the most fabulous, dedicated and hard-working people I have ever come across. All of them are looking to leave the teaching profession as it has become unbearable. The profession has lost an amazing teacher (you not me!) I know this from first hand experience, I wasn’t outstanding or polished but I wasn’t afraid of hard work and I had every intention of becoming an amazing teacher. I hope that you can achieve something during your time away – I would love to go back into the classroom one day and actually use Lost and Found!!!
    Very best wishes in all you do, I’m certain you will continue to inspire people along the way!

  10. Dear Debra, this is such a heartfelt blogpost and one that resonates with me completely. You’re sadly not alone. Many will leave for the reasons you have done so. Many more already have. All I do know is that the desire to change the system remains, no matter how many knock backs we have to take.

    Our education system needs reinvention and it’s people like you (and us, and others) who can and will make that happen. Eventually. C

  11. Yes after 13 years of successful teaching I decided to leave. Observations and judgments that state good teaching isn’t good teaching??? How come???
    As a teacher 100 people can come in and observe me, that’s not the problem-that has always been the case from the moment I enrolled at university.

    What is the problem are bad judgments because of bad calls on the observers part-I know after 13 years if the lesson was good or outstanding, if the pupils were learning. After 13 years I don’t do poor lessons my 3 previous Ofsted confirm this but several months back someone tried to says I did. And pigs fly. I underline the theory behind what I and could justify every thing I did and why it all worked and that everyone in the class was happy and achieved.

    Fortunately I’ve been retraining anyway so it confirmed my decision and I knew many outstanding teachers would be following!!

  12. I completely agree, although I will say that primary schools are in exactly the same situation. I work with year 2 and we have to be completely data and target driven, the government expects us to produce 30 robots who tick all the boxes by the end of KS1, all about percentages. Long gone is the theory that every child matters

  13. Totally agree with all you have said so eloquently. Have you sent this to your MP or to any of the tabloids. We really need to spread the message far and wide. Every good wish for the future.

  14. I left after only 3 years, but very much with the same motivations, dilemmas, and sense of profound regret. Your article brings it all back. Thank you for this and so many of your previous blogs, which have wonderfully illustrated the value of putting compassion and independent-mindedness at the forefront of teaching.
    I did a PhD in education and am now working for indexforinclusion.org – a values-led approach to school development – which I think you’d find very interesting, plus teaching teachers on a Masters programme. I remain profoundly grateful for the 100 teachers that must stay in the classroom for someone like me to be given the role I have.
    Without changing the systems of assessment for teachers and students, change will be hard to bring about; but in the meantime, by standing up together as teachers, schools and communities in defence and celebration of humane values, we give people a glimpse of a better way.
    I’m confident that your next role will give you greater scope and reach to confront the tyranny of assessment with the joy of great teaching. The very best of luck.

  15. This made me cry….it is all so true and we are all doing it. I too have taught for 20 years and feel exactly the same. Luckily I cover PPA so much of the c… I do not have to deal with. I just teach, mark and go. What are we all doing playing along in this game that is not remotely right?
    I have been in a workshop led by you and seen first hand the excitement you bring to the room. Your children will miss you.

  16. Your school will be much poorer without you; both the staff and students. I admire you being true to your authentic self as I know its the only way we can be truly happy. May all the good fortune in the world follow you and catch up with you. xx

  17. Debra we have a National Union of Teachers that is trying to fight collectively for all the things you want. Do you think that individually you can change things for the better more so than doing so collectively? Working people have won nothing without collective action – the welfare state, public services, week-ends off, holiday pay, health and safety laws and much more. I really hope that instead of resigning you get active in the NUT and lead all your colleagues and students as you are so capable of.

  18. THis is So sad. Your pupils will miss you. I will miss your blogs. An amazing piece of writing that has truly captured what I believe to be the lowest point in the history of education. Sadly data is all, and coming generations will be much the poorer for it.

  19. I really feel it for you. I agree with every word. We all play the OFSTED game but nobody points out that if unfair, open to interpretation at best and open to corruption at worst and even with our workload, admin, hours, targets the real losers are the kids who become political footballs. Good luck mate

  20. Hi Debra, I have just read your post and like others it has brought tears to my eyes out of recognition of the truth, identification and empathy. I will inevitably have to make a similar decision in due course, I suspect. Sooner rather than later.
    Isn’t it awful that it has come to this?
    I wish you all the best and I have no doubt you will succeed on your new path, whatever that may be.

  21. Reading this just confirms that my feelings as a teacher of 20 years experience are not just those of one who is getting a bit too long in the tooth, but feelings based on a sad and tragic reality – the system we call ‘education’ has now become a betrayal of everything we trained to be. Education is now destroying our student’s capacity to be enquiring, independent and courageous. The endless meddling and systematic removal of freedom and creativity in teaching has forced our students, their parents and consequently those who preside over us to obsessively and almost exclusively value exam results over everything else and certainly at the neglect of what I value most – nurturing the individuals passion for life, a love of learning and sense of ambition.
    As a teacher of English, Film and Media, being in the classroom, teaching so many wonderful young people is still an honour and a privilege, but seeing year after year how my student’s expectations of my lessons have become so diminished, to the point when all they really want is for me to just show them how they can get a grade A, is just so demoralising. We are betraying our young people. Despite all the meddling and obsession over data and monitoring, Education does not adequately prepare students for life in the 21st Century; providing them with the skills and mindset required to be creative, critical thinkers. This is not for the lack of teachers trying. I know we have a teaching profession that deserves the respect and pride of parents, OFSTED and that other bloke; he whose name cannot be mentioned.
    So, for me, after 20 years of teaching, I can no longer continue to work in a system I have no faith in. A system that sets our children up to ultimately fail. Just take a look at graduate recruitment figures! For me, I passionately believe we need to remove education from political control. It is a travesty that government after government can come into power, put a totally unqualified sociopath in charge, who then has the temerity to tell all of us dedicated and professional practitioners how we should be doing our jobs. If it wasn’t so tragic it would be comedic.
    Education needs a long term plan, one that will allow teachers to collaborate and create a curriculum that addresses both the needs of our children and the needs of future employers and industries. Under current state meddling, we certainly do not have that. We need good, enthusiastic teachers to enter the profession and yet we are the only county in Europe which is removing ITE from University and placing it into schools. Schools that are already crumbling under the most suffocating levels of bureaucracy and meddling. Remove education from politics. For the sake of all of us.
    Thank you Debra for your blog. You have always been a voice of support and reason. I have never been compelled to reply before, but sadly for me, enough is enough. And it breaks my heart.
    Good luck to you. I wish you well

  22. This resonates with me.I leave teaching in July and feel exactly the same as you did.It was always my plan to leave at 55, but I expected, a few years ago, to do so with the greatest of regret and pain. Thats not the way it turned out.the system is intellectually bankrupt and has become so, first slowly, and then recen tly very quickly.Its not me; I love the bit where I close the door and work with my kids.It is all the things you mention. This utter mess is the result of a thousand politically charged decisions by ignorant politicians and not enough plain speaking from teachers over the years.I include myself in that last problem

  23. Hi Debra, I wonder if you might find “The Good Life of Teaching” by Chris Higgins one way to help you collect your thoughts. I have found it very useful.

  24. So you don’t allow any adverse comment to your whining, heart on your sleeve mitherings
    I don’t know why I would be surprised.
    It’s the usual self righteous fascist response to censor criticism.

    1. Sorry, you must have mistaken this for The Daily Mail blog! That’s the one where people who have no idea what they’re on about like to pretend they have insight!

  25. It reads very to me that the head teacher wants shot of you.
    Who’s to blame him……no-one wants to work with, or listen to a precious whinger.
    As I said in the post you deleted…..go and try a proper job for a few months….break some sweat.
    You’ ll be back ….hammering on the school door to be allowed to resume your 30 hrs a week, 30 weeks a year sinecure.

    1. David, your ignorance speaks volumes!
      I entered the teaching profession in my 40’s after working in the ‘real jobs’ you refer to. I have left after 18 months because I just can’t hack it anymore! It is too hard – the expectations are unachievable and the hours are the longest I have ever seen! 30 hours would be a dream!!! Comment when you have at least a minimum of authority to do so – your statements very clearly demonstrate that you have no idea what teaching involves!

    2. When I was training in Liverpool a prominent union leader came out with similar comments. He was challenged to work in school for a week. He tried but didn’t make it the full week. Various efforts have been made to attract in accountants etc with financial inducements, shorter training etc. The take up has always ben poor and the subsequent drop out an alarmingly high percentage. Jamie Oliver’s well intentioned efforts as shown on TV were not a resounding success. Wonder why if it is so wonderful a job.

  26. I have been there too, some ten years ago. The best decision I ever made was to go and teach overseas. It has liberated me both as a teacher and a person.

    My best wishes to you Debra – just remember that you had a direct impact on the lives of hundreds of people. If your lucky somebody somewhere is indebted to you, both consciously and unconsciously.

  27. One final point
    The brat who told you to fuck off should have been severely punished…..not pandered to and “understood”
    There you have the main reason for the breakdown of the education system
    Gormless pc teachers and no dicipline..

      1. I trained in Liverpool and was a deputy in a London overspill school and was praised by HMI for discipline and Work in Maths. The kids were great but not easy. Discipline for all teachers was undermined by politicians who think that the answer is to make the lessons more interesting, which is certainly a great help, but won’t always work when the children are from disfunctional and possibly criminal families or families where the parents are encouraged by the politicians to “sort those teachers out”. Yes I would prefer incentives to punishment but sometimes the interests of the majority of pupils requires more negative action. I have answered you but I wonder if you could share your wisdom and produce the wonder solution that would benefit all teachers needing guidance on discipline. To put it to you in another way put up or shut up.

  28. Last Thursday I went to see a play. It was written and directed by an ex student. Using first person testimony of Holocaust survivors, it was challenging on every level. On Friday I was told to make sure that my students achieved their target grades in their coursework as a minimum. I know which is the reason why I still teach, but it’s getting harder and harder.

  29. I am another one finishing at the end of this academic year. I am not prepared to compromise my principles any more. I am not allowed to address the needs of the children in front of me but the needs of the School and sadly it seems, in some cases the needs of colleagues’ careers. I will miss the children and the challenges they present but not the constant battle to do what I think is right for my classes,

  30. Congratulations on your PHD. You must have been up against it what with teaching, studying, blogging, writing and family. You have been brave and adventurous and I applaud that. I read your blog sometimes as there is a good deal of wisdom to be found there.

    At the risk of incurring the wrath of the general public I would say that it was quite likely you would teach less and do “other things” more, especially having completed the PHD.

    I think you Headteacher had this in mind perhaps.

    I wish you every success with what will be a perfectly reasonable next stage in your career, which I am sure might well have occured with or without the decimation of teaching in one way or another once the PHD was done.

    I agree that it is very sad to leave the classroom but as you say you will suggest likely never stop “teaching” and supporting kids with their learning, you just won’t do it in a class of thirty day in day out.

    What I find interesting and also a little sad are those who feel that one day the profession will be as it was. Teachers will have total autonomy, kids will be well behaved, teachers will be respected…etc etc

    Unfortunately the world is changing. Just as we are unlikely to be able to pull back completely from the effects of climate change, the nature of human existance is changing across the world. Education in the UK seems to me to be damaged by political squabbling just like most things but I believe education is moving in the same direction here as it is in the US and for the same reasons. Teaching will never be the profession that it was (unless you are wealthy) but such is life. Kids are taught in schools that treat them as automatons but then so do most others in society theses days.

    I am now out of the state system, and if more people followed your lead and voted with their feet (although without the PHD it is tough) then I think there would be some possibility that the decay could be at least treated if not cured. If only it were that simple.

    Good luck in your new adventures. I am sure whichever facets of education you end up involved in you will make a tremendous difference to the lives of many. In 30 years there will I am sure be many more like you and I and the “teacher” as a full time job in a “school” will be a thing of the past. This is perhaps some of the grief we have to go through to get there.

    Just a thought

    1. Thank you so much. I have always found your comments a source of great wisdom and balance this is true here too. I really appreciate the time you take to thoughtfully respond.

  31. I have been teaching for fifteen years now and feel that the education system has almost broken me. I love my job but I just feel as though I can’t continue at the relentless pace for very much longer. The endless preparation, marking and assessing along with the constant ‘blame’ for all of life’s problems being the fault of the education system is ludicrous. Over the years the standard of behaviour has almost gone into freefall – that’s from both the pupils and the parents and senior management have had all of their authority taken away from them as pupils and parents now have all the power and a complete lack of respect for the education professionals (you only have to look at how badly we are portrayed in all areas of the media). Standards may well be slipping as teachers are exhausted and frustrated by the constant changes and additional demands e.g. breakfast clubs, afterschool clubs, booster classes. By Thursday I am usually in tears on my way to work through exhaustion and worry about how I am going to get through the day. Having a child in my class who has violent outbursts and who was rewarded by playing with Lego after he had punched and kicked both myself and my teaching assistant ( we were both left shaken at this yet had to go straight back to teaching and settling the rest of the class – no support for us!!) what sort of a message is this sending out to young children and who would want to work under these conditions? The curriculum is undergoing a major overhaul yet there isn’t any funding in place to train the people who are going to be delivering this. We are told to read it online. Am sure if a bank was having a new system fitted their employees wouldn’t be told to look it up online how it works and come in and be expected to know everything about it. If I did not have bills that need to be paid then I would certainly be leaving as soon as possible. Good luck in the future.

  32. I leave at Easter after nearly 37 years feeling completely broken by the system – unlike you I can’t see my year 11’s through to their exams – I even feel they will be better off without me – I’m that broken…

  33. Reblogged this on Electronicbaglady's Bag of Bits and commented:
    My dears, I was pointed to this blog recently and wanted to share it with you. I had to give up as School Governor last year, and my experience was not dissimilar to this writer’s – although obviously I was only involved for a shorter time (9 years in fact), and not as a classroom practitioner.
    I cannot say how the current national approach to teaching hurts. I prefer not to get very political usually, beyond my bleeding liberal tendencies, but today I am in the mood.
    Namaste.

  34. As a retired Primary HT (early on Ill Health.) this was all too predictable. If the curriculum is placed in the hands of politicians they will never be able to resist tinkering for publicity and hoped for publicity and when the Independent HMI was run down and replaced by Ofsted who are given a politically motivated agenda all the rest follows. Often in teaching you succeed by not following the normal paths because you find something that sparks the children’s enthusiasm. It is all a part of the approach that favours dogma to evidence. Yes there is evidence about what is best for the pupils’ the country spent millions of pounds on three major reports: Cockroft (Maths), Bullock (English) and Plowden (Primary Education) where individuals representing academia, industry, parents, professionals and politicians spent a couple of years or so going around schools and seeing for themselves what worked best and publishing there results. They all came to a similar conclusion as to the approach required. What was the result? a few token courses which then petered out. Teacher training was not really reformed to encompass the findings. Having argued for years that teaching should be a graduate profession I was totally disillusioned by the B.Ed. which could have made a real difference if it had followed their recommendations. I know students worked hard for their degree, but what happened was each academic subject arguing for its content and squeezing out the professional content. Whatever happened to the “every teacher should be a teacher of English”? The result is a degree where the subject content doesn’t match an ordinary degree in that subject but the professional content is lacking. I think that most of the success I had as a teacher was achieved by methods that would now mark me as a failure despite helping turn round a new London overspill school so that we sent more children with reading ages above average whilst also gaining praise from HMI for the maths, Working in a school praised by Christian Schiller. running a Junior school with the best county test results etc and all this without formal reading schemes or rigid curricula.
    It was also sad to see staff with exceptional ability leave teaching, suffer ill health, or worst of all become cynical.
    Get Politics out of education PLEASE.

  35. Apologies for the spelling error, there instead for their and the misplaced apostrophy. It comes from writing with a combination of sadness and anger.

  36. Oh, my! I am not a teacher but one of my best friends is and I don’t doubt most teachers feel this way. Their teaching skills are being limited to fit a format and it is showing all across the country! Children are acting up and feeling disengaged with real life as we speak because they are only being taught what they need for their exams.

    Good for you that you know where you stand and have chosen to remain true to yourself.

    Great post!

  37. I’ve left too- 12 years in secondary education, left in July for all the same reasons. Starting to rebuild my sense of self now.

    1. After 30 years I left to care for my terminally ill husband. Finally I found something more important. When he died I did not go back. I volunteer at a food bank now.

  38. I’m not a teacher either but what you write is harrowing. Some of your commenters, such as Andrea, likewise. Do our educational leaders ever listen to their workforce, those who know what works and what doesn’t? It appears not.
    On behalf of all parents, thank you for all your work.

  39. I feel your pain. My wife is a wonderful, talented and above all caring teacher, devoted to her children. I have watched the glint in her eyes change to tears of despair for all the reasons you so eloquently espouse. “If I could catch Gove once upon the chin I would feed fat the ancient grudge I bear Him”

  40. One of your sentences really spoke to me: “I see children channelled into becoming automatons, devoid of life and hope, sitting listlessly asking ‘just tell me what I need for the exam’ ”

    This is something I have done since secondary school and I hate that. I am 21 and now finishing University but I still know that often you have to understand the system in order to get the marks.

    Great post – really well expressed. Such a shame a teacher like you is leaving because of your passion to teach kids… such a poignant situation.

  41. I left in 2011 after 23 years at the chalkface/whiteboard. As I read I found myself nodding in agreement. Good luck in the future. I have no regrets.

  42. I’m not a teacher, but this and too many others like it make me weep at what we are allowing to happen to our children & grandchildren. They are the innocent victims of this outrageous attack.

  43. You know when it’s time to go ….when the Conservative Party get elected! We all know they will undermine state education progression under a banner of 1950’s standards to satisfy the public school “old f***s” that fund their party. They have had some numptys in the past …but Gove is further to the right than Hitler, and guess what he is surrounding himself with public school ‘yes’ men who have had absolutely no experience of the real world. By basing everything on international statistics he is so numb that he doesn’t understand that he can’t compare like with like. Look at the academies, there are now so many of them – all being controlled from the centre that the vital monitoring processes have failed. We teachers could have told him that. I could go on but I am now out of the system playing golf and teaching my grandchildren in a wholesome, educating, exiting way – like I did before education became politicised!

    1. Because Blair’s Labour government didn’t introduce a million and one extra targets, measures and educational quangos? I agree with Stephen W, stay on the golf course and let your grandchildren learn more about politics than whom it is you vote for.

      1. My Lifetime in Education left me with little faith in the education policies of any of the modern political parties. Things weren’t too bad before they took the teachers autonomy away and started to impose their own biased view. I am old enough to remember that other countries were anxious to recruit our primary teachers to improve their own systems and reports like the one from Japan that analysed all the technical innovations since the war and discovered that GB was responsible for the majority of them. Using the modern standardised tests we were able to show and measure the increasing standard of reading. Contrast that with our current position in the international tables (yes, I know they are flawed.) All that the politicians national curriculum, Ofsted etc seems to have achieved is to put our education system in reverse. Does anyone really think that if the politicians have total control of education they will be able to resist tinkering, imposing their dogmatic and lopsided views or just playing to the gallery to score political points? They have broken the system and it will take a long time to repair.

  44. I hope you don’t mind but I have shared your blog with all my contacts in twitter and my local MP Mr Cameron – It made me realise that you are doing what lots of us in teaching would like to do. It was a sad but truthful blog. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Don t you think it’s sad, that the teachers are shadows of their former selfs, all their teaching hopes and dreams shattered, by beauracrats,they need your help and support, not your blab,(on how you can make it better,) they even have to pay for books and other stuff in their classrooms, which should be the schools responsibilitie not the teachers, they don t get paid enough to support a school.

  45. You are clearly a huge loss to the teaching profession – the sentiments you express echo the feelings of so many – and these dedicated, professional people are being ‘broken’ by the powerful yet ignorant people who think they know about education. The current ethos of number crunching, tracking, expecting every child to show conformist linear progress and lack of regard for teachers has become too much to bear for anyone with integrity, and this is potentially driving the very best teachers out of the profession. The tragedy of this is that politicians either do not notice, or simply do not care, when in actuality they should be hearing klaxons and seeing flashing red warning lights! I have said in the past that if everyone just carried on as normal when OFSTED visits, instead of trying to create this farcical, unrealistic picture, then the real issues and problems in our education system would be at the very least be noticed and at best be addressed and resourced. I’m a HLTA who has been in education for 15 years, and it truly saddens me to see such inspirational, motivated, special people gradually lose all of that and leave the profession. Some have gone to save their integrity; some because they cannot take yet another observation resulting in ‘R.I.’ (whatever we do, it’s not good enough); and some have left to save their sense of self worth and sanity! I’m thankful my children are out of the system now, if they were younger I would be home educating, without any hesitation.

    1. When I left teaching my self esteem was on the floor, my risk taking creative energy lost as I tried to change my teaching style to ‘meet requirements’. It all became about me, what I had to do to be ‘outstanding’ – I was changing and not for the better.

  46. I couldn’t agree more with everything you write. As a single person, I’ve taken the decision to sell my house (so I’ll have no financial commitments) to enable me to leave teaching. This is a job I’ve done for 20 years and from feedback from parents, pupils and colleagues I know I’ve done it well. I just can’t do it any more.

    Good luck with your new life.

  47. I have just finished my NQT year, following a huge career change and the job is not how it is supposed to be. It is sad. Every teacher I have come across joined to support the development of young people, and are obstructed in doing that at every turn. It is exhausting.

  48. I have been teaching 19 years and came close to resigning this week with no job to go to. The only reason I didn’t is because I have a family to help support. I still plan on going in July once I have decided what I am going to do job wise. Thank you so much for this blog post. It made me sad but also gave me courage.

  49. Your writing tunes in to the feelings of most of us. I would love to be able to jump but have no idea what I would do, if I did, there would be no hesitation! Well done and best of luck 🙂

  50. Very sad you feel you need to leave your job because of the government. But the offers that you are sure will come will be ruled too, either by government or just company bosses etc etc. I have to leave my job in July too, because unfortunately I work for a huge international company who do not value or respect family life, and have after many years decided we cannot work ‘term time’ to mind our children, who are our responsibility not some under-paid nanny. I also have to loose another days pay on March 26th, because as I say they don’t respect family life. So before you hand in your resignation, be 100% sure because believe me, the grass is NOT greener on the other side.

    1. Gabrielle, I’m not sure I agree with your definition of your employer ‘not respecting family life’. First of all, why should they?

      Having children is a choice in this age, it deserves no more respect than any other life choice, employers in the private sector tend to ignore life-choices until those life choices impact the company’s efficiency, then they act. So if someone who has children is constantly turning in late and leaving early because of their children, why shouldn’t they be disciplined for it? Or do you think that it’s it the job of all of those who don’t have families to constantly pick up the pieces for those who do?

      My partner suffers from several chronic conditions caused by an auto-immune disorder that hit her in her early twenties without warning. This was not a choice, she nearly died and her illness has left her unable to safely carry children. Despite suffering from the uncertainty of her future and pain most days and constant rounds of medication and regular medical check ups, she’s taken less time off than any her colleagues who’ve taken maternity leave and she has to work Christmas four times out of five because people who chose to have children naturally get priority for leave. Yet still, those self-same parents who’ve taken the maternity leave and who take the regular Christmas holidays and who swing in late and lave early, those self-same people can’t see their own hypocrisy when they criticise my partner for being off sick (when she never chose her health). Why is it these days that so many parents seem to see themselves as some kind of special case, deserving of preferential treatment?

  51. Reading this helped me a lot because I too have just said that I’m off in July and I’ve only been teaching for 7 years. I don’t know what I’ll do but I know I can’t keep doing what I do now. It chips away at my heart day to day.
    Thanks for writing this.

  52. (Maiden name is Johnson, so that’s why it’s different on my email) Thank you so much for this post, you have captured my sentiments and feelings exactly! I have just returned to work in primary (after maternity) even though I am Secondary Drama & English, not because of the kids as you’ve said, but because of the management and it is truly the lack of communication and control that makes it fall apart!

  53. Thank you for this. I am currently completing my teacher training, I have wanted to be a teacher since the age of five. It fills me with relief to hear that someone feels as I do. Being in school makes me so unhappy and the profession isn’t at all what I thought it would be. I don’t want to give up on my PGCE but the thought of completing my NQT year fills me with utter dred. I am in a school where students have no respect for teachers or learning, they are not in the slightest bit interested in anything I have to say. My mentor is very unsupportive and I often find myself asking, what is the point? My fellow trainees tell me I am being over dramatic with my feelings, that it won’t always be like this, I am selfishly relieved to hear someone, probably far more resiliant than me admit that it is. You are very inspiring, it must have been a very tough decision. Thank you and Good Luck X

  54. What a terrible state of affairs – teachers are so misrepresented in the majority of newspapers that this will not be noticed by the majority of people in the country – but I am so saddened by the way this country’s education system is going – robots? yes men/women? automatons in system? – my kids are out of it just now but what about their children? How can we change the system??

  55. I’m not a teacher, in fact I’m still in education, but what you’ve wrote here, especially the part about Ofsted, really struck a cord with me.

    I watched as my school prepared for an Ofsted inspection. The teachers had checklists of what Ofsted would be looking for (these lists are easy to find on the internet) and had been told months in advance the dates on which Ofsted would be in! We were told to be on our best behavior to give a ‘good impression of the standards of our school’. As I watched, I began to notice just how different our school was from normal as they prepared themselves for the inspectors; The scene was completely fake. I began to realise that every single school would do the same thing for their inspection, so in fact, schools weren’t judged on their teaching standards but their ability to act.

    A few days after said Ofsted inspection, a few of my classmates and I stayed back to ask one of our teachers – who has been in the profession for more than thirty years – what he thought of Ofsted. He basically said what you’ve written here and mentioned that when he was able to teach the way he wanted to, the students got a better understanding of the subject and found it easier. If this is the case, why was it changed? I for one would have much preferred this method.

    I’m glad that you care so much about education and want to thank you for writing this, it is encouraging to see that not everyone is set to one way of thinking.

  56. A friend of mine shared the link to your blog on Facebook. I’ve been in teaching since 1997. I came in as a mature entry, and worked in some pretty tough schools over the ensuing years. I’ve been doing supply teaching since 2000 (apart from three or four years nursing my late husband until he died). I came in to the profession full of enthusiasm, wanting to work with children to give the ones in poorer areas a better start I’m a good teacher – rated Excellent by Ofsted standards, although I’m not convinced I’m THAT good. And I’m also planning on leaving the profession for the reasons you have stated. I’m fed up with the constant stamping on teachers. Under Gove’s watch, “academy” schools are now allowed to employ people who have not even got a GCSE as “unqualified teachers”. They’re cheap – and school budgets are tight – so guess what? Qualified teachers who cost a bit more are being left out of the loop. We’re constantly told we are “failing the children we teach”. We are NOT the cause of a child’s failure. We see them for, what, 700 hours a year maximum (and in secondary, where I work, for much less than that for each child, because they have dozens of teachers rather than just the one or two that primary get). Their parents are in charge for the rest of the year – and yet, in that time we get, we’re expected to turn them into well educated, polite, hardworking, capable adults. It can’t be done. Especially when this government are constantly castigating teachers for everything we do. Lots of people think we turn up at 9am, walk out and 3.30 and do nothing else. And that we get paid £100,000 or so each. It’s all tosh. I – and most other teachers – work on average 65 hours a week – we don’t just turn up, magic some resources out of thin air, hand it out, and then let the classroom fairy mark them. We also DO NOT get paid a fortune – especially in supply. I get £110 a day when I’m working. If I don’t work, I get nothing. There’s at least 13 weeks a year when I can’t work – schools are shut – and I can’t claim benefits either. This year, I’ve been doing a long-term part-time role – but I’ve been doing preparation etc on the two days I’m not being paid for. My income for the year so far? £12,000. I can earn that – and more – doing office work, so as soon as I can find a local job (rather than travelling for an hour and a half each way to most jobs), and it pays reasonable pay, I’m off… I do sympathise with you, Debra, and if I could actually do the teaching bit without all the other rubbish, I’d stay. But I’ve had enough – and so have most of my colleagues around the country…I wish you luck…

  57. Wow. I know so many who wholeheartedly agree and wish they could do the same. I am one of them. I put my children into childcare to continue to fulfil my dream that I have had since I was 8 only to agree with you. The reality of my dream has changed now. I just want to teach. Please can I just teach?

  58. I really appreciate what you say. I chose not to go into teaching because I didn’t think I could ever give as much or inspire as much as you’re expected to day to day. However, my 10 year old daughter has said since she was 5 years old that she wants to be a teacher. She writes lesson plans for her toys, worksheets for her younger sister, puts her toys into skill set groups and then attempts to manage them all. She takes registers and employs her sister as a teaching assistant, she is creative and inspiring, organised, helpful, fair, without prejudice and has a great sense of humour. I am very proud that teaching is her ambition. She’s learned all of this from her teachers in two state primary schools in South London – a whole team of teachers who have inspired her. One day that cretin Gove will not be in power. He won’t. There will be change because there always is and we have to believe that we are capable of putting the right people in power. It might take time but if we are resolute then we can do it. Thank you for devoting 22 years of your life to teaching our children. My child and others like her will take up where you left off having being inspired by you. And lets make sure that they don’t have to go through what teachers are going through at the moment. Its not just education that’s suffering. The entire country is broken but we have to stay positive and use what freedom and power that we do have to make a change. Good luck in your new situation whatever it is. Please know that parents like myself are truly grateful for passionate teachers like you despite all the horrendous negative spin we are smothered with. We can’t raise our kids successfully without you.

  59. I have read through all your comments & I feel shocked & upset at the plight of our teachers,I am the mother of two adult children & nan to a 7 yr old grandson, Debra’s heartfelt plight & all your comments fill me with fear for all our children’s future! Teachers must be able to stand up & speak without fear or prejudice & be listened to, our children need encouragement & good role models throughout their time in school, but it appears we are losing these very people to the intransigent attitude of those who govern! So sad to see good teachers feeling bereft at leaving a career they care deeply for.

  60. More support here. For what it’s worth you come across as a purveyor of beautiful and inspiring lessons. Your students are blessed to have you.

    I taught in a school once (I’m still in education but freelance). I lasted about 7 years. I realised I couldn’t change the system from the inside but I still dream of a better way. I’ll be on the march on the 26th.

    I hope you won’t think it inappropriate of me to mention that I’m having some T-shirts printed specially. I don’t just want rid of Gove – although believe me I passionately want to see the back of him and his arrogant, misguided destruction of almost everything good teachers stand for. But I want to fight for positive change. So here’s what the T-shirts look like:

    BACK…
    WE WANT:
    *AN EDUCATION SECRETARY WHO HAS WORKED IN EDUCATION*
    *AN EDUCATION SECRETARY WHO TRUSTS AND SUPPORTS
    TEACHERS AND ALL SCHOOL STAFF*
    *CURRICULA DETERMINED BY EDUCATION PROFESSIONALS*
    *CREATIVITY, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND
    PROBLEM-SOLVING EMBEDDED IN EDUCATION*
    *UNIVERSITIES IN THE EDUCATION PORTFOLIO*
    *AN END TO EDUCATION FUNDING CUTS*
    *AN END TO MOVING GOALPOSTS*
    *ALL TEACHERS TO BE QUALIFIED*
    *LESS ASSESSMENT, NOT MORE*
    *NO MORE LEAGUE TABLES*
    *NO MORE FREE SCHOOLS*
    *NO MORE ACADEMIES*
    *EMA REINSTATED*

    FRONT…
    GOVE
    OUT

    all in red…

    As I say, I hope this is an appropriate forum to try to take one small positive step for our young people as you’ve been doing year after year. If anybody wants one, or has any feedback, please feel free to email me at chuck_dreyer@hotmail.com.. £5 each and I’ll cover the postage and packing. If I can print and sell 100 I’ll be satisfied. Something is better than nothing. But if it goes viral.. who knows?

    Thank you Debra for your words – and your work – and thanks all for reading. Keep fighting the good fight…

    1. Great sentiments and I look forward to seeing the shirt- but you could easily save on printing costs and just have a few words – Remove Education From Politics!
      Best wishes to you.

  61. Like many others above I felt the same pain as you with regard to the expectations of me as a teacher. After 22 years in teaching, a profession in which I felt passionately that children should be a the heart of learning and it was our job to excite and engender a love of learning in them, I finally realised I was unable to do that any more. I, too, felt that my job was no longer about the essence of teaching, but instead about meeting the political agenda of politicians, bureaucracy and targets. Teaching had been desecrated and I knew that I was not longer motivated to teach things I knew from experience were lessening the achievements and excitement of learning and that if I was no longer motivated I could not do the best job I could. Great teaching has been homogenised because of a few poor teachers. That was when I knew I had to get out. I did, and have never looked back. I continued to do some work in teaching but in areas where I was in charge and I still see my teaching colleagues, most of whom are either burnt out and disillusioned or have left the profession. I will never sell my soul to those who continue to suppress good teaching and deride teachers. Lynda

  62. One Name to screw them all, One Name to grind them,
    One Name to ruin all schools and in the socialist darkness blind them – Crosland!

  63. I really am in shock that someone has taken the words right out if my mouth. I’ve been teaching 10 years now. I’m leaving for another teaching job knowing the grass is not going to be any greener. I only do it for my two wonderful kids and wife. I hate myself for doing a job I no longer enjoy. Kids are spoon fed and creativity went out the window a long time ago. I joke with the kids that I have banned the F word (fun) however it’s not that far from the truth! Hope it changes soon. Feeling really down about it all.

  64. My husband qualified to teach at age 50 and he is a successful design tech teacher in a secondary school. But an unsupportive department and all that Debbie says, means that he has turned into a grumpy overworked cynical person, who does sport obsessively to get the teaching stress out. At half term he had lots of marking and we didn’t have a single day out, meal out or even a drink together apart from some snacks at home on valentines whereupon he promptly fell asleep! is it worth it? He feels obliged to stay because of the pension, but it will destroy us as a couple……………

  65. Your article struck such a chord with me. I have decided to step down from being head of a core subject in a large comprehensive – for all the reasons you have stated so eloquently in your article. I’m hoping that returning to my root passion (ie just teaching) will be enough to soothe my troubled heart. I love teaching and I love the pupils I teach – I’m even pretty darn good at it most of the time. But trying to lead in the current climate of suspicion and misery has come close to destroying my joy. Good on you – I hope you find every happiness and fulfilment and come back soon 🙂

  66. I’m not a teacher and have never been a teacher, I have many friends who are and dispair of the lack of focus on actual teaching. What struck a cord with me is – I work in the private sector for a global corporate and the direction is to automate everything so data shows successes and profitability, the front line staff are being turned into non thinking robots who just fill out boxes in the system, figures are manipulated to show how well it all works. The front line staff used to be skilled in what they did, they were trained and it used to be a career whilst not life changing or society helping like teaching, it was fulfilling and allowed people to use their brains – now I’m told that automation means we can employ anyone with minimal training for cheap salaries. It does my head in, but if children are being automated in school because teachers are told figures are more important – what chance do kids have of ever being taught to think for themselves or outside the box when they get jobs. It seems we are producing a nation of robots, maybe zombies 😦 I wonder if the education system has followed the private corporate world in targets, automation and meaningless figures. It’s such sad times 😦 sounds like teaching needs more people like you and I wish you the best with shouting from the outside and good luck in your next steps!

  67. My partner just packed in primary teaching at age 56 after teaching for most of the time since she qualified at age 21. She had been almost unliveable with for a few years as the pointless admin and cretinous management attitudes have taken their toll on our free time together, even though she was only working part time. She finally goave in last year as we got to a point where we could afford to do without her salary, and life is now good again. Thank goodness our daughter is now out of it; successive generations of politicians have wrecked both the idea and delivery of education in the UK, and I see no way out.

  68. I did exactly the same for all of the same reasons. In fact I could have written your piece. I have now gone back into the classroom, partly due to financial reasons but partly due to the fact I missed the pupils. Sadly things have not changed in fact they are getting worse on the Ofsted hoop jumping front. Last night I was up until 2 am finishing off lesson plans for a HMI visit this week. Had I left things till the last minute no, I was in school on Sunday rehearsing for the school production next week. Taught all day yesterday and was at school till 6pm for rehearsal again. Like you I long for the day when I first came into teaching where I could be creative with children under no pressure from above.

  69. I agree with your sentiments but cannot agree with your decision.
    I asked my father many years ago why he joined the army. His reply was, put simply, so that I would never have to. That was as I was about to join the army and also when I decided not to.
    I have been through inspections by vile, vindictive, incompetent, corrupt, pen-pushing thugs from the LEA. I have been through Ofsted inspections and seen both the good and the harm they do. I watch Michael Gove and his systematic destruction of everything good about the teaching profession and learning as a pleasure and it makes me want to fight them.
    The reason you want to leave is because you care and it affects you.
    That is also the single greatest reason that you must not leave. The person that is going to take your place is going to be an automaton created by current education policies and the ‘vision’ of people like Michael Gove. They will not be able to show the care or eloquence you do for the good of the people you teach and affect in such a positive way.
    Stay. Don’t let them win.

    1. But what lesson would you give the children by working on in a corrupt system, having to make unethical compromises every day? The school system has become more of a training for economic bondage than anything else. I have huge admiration for full-time teachers who do their best in the circumstances, but there comes a time when you can’t carry on with integrity. I took the decision that I had to live by principle where teaching is concerned. I cannot in good conscience collaborate in such a narrow-minded, target-based cultural hegemony any more.

      Thank you for this insightful blog. Very best wishes.

  70. I too am leaving teaching after 5 years of working 55-60 hours per week for a pittance. I have secured a job at a museum working in community engagement. I am taking a pay-cut but I have never been more confident and content about a career decision.

  71. As a Primary Assistant Head, I can assure you that there is as much pressure on primary staff to achieve as there is for you. Targets and data are as high priority as they are in your school.
    To say Ofsted, data and targets don’t exist is ludicrous and quite insulting to all your primary colleagues!

    1. I’m not saying that at all Alex, but that for this project, in this school, the head has created a little bubble for us and given us permission to play, free of all that. It’s down to her bravery and vision that we’re able to feel that there is some freedom and she’s creating an atmosphere in school where children are allowed to be children and to experiment. If you look at my posts Faith, Hope and Hilarity and When Lies are Lovely, you’ll see what I mean.

  72. Your words resonated with me. I am an infant teacher, who loves teaching and seeing children grow and achieve, witnessing self realisation…those WOW moments. I took six months out of teaching when we moved to Dorset. Only then did I realise what my LIFE should be like. And what it wasn’t. I tried part-time, job share…but still teaching took over LIFE. I have worked in many areas of education…. I knew it was time to go!

  73. So very sad, but all very true. Hopefully Debra will NOT be leaving teaching, only a setting where teaching seems a poor second to all the other rubbish. Not what anyone came into the profession for I imagine. Good luck to you and everyone in schools.

  74. Was very moved by your words – really struck a chord and made me stop and think. Don’t often get time to do that as a teacher!

  75. I stumbled upon your blog post and am so glad I did. I am a Canadian teacher who is currently teaching in the U.K. I have never seen anything like I have since being here. The fact that students are viewed as numbers, statistics, etc. is so shocking. Yes, accountability and results are important (they are in Canada as well). But in Ontario, the system (despite its flaws) is far more progressive than here. I have had to compeltely alter my teaching approach since beginning to teach in this country. When a job finally opens up at home I will be relieved. There is such thing as learning and establishing critical thought and engagement. These elements are far too absent in U.K. schools.

    As a teacher of a core subject, the constraints and stress are incredibly high. I hate the fact that I have to teach for the test. I hate that my lessons have to be catered to a specific question. Your comment on students just wanting to know what is on the exam rings so true. There is a difference between learning and training…the powers that be seem to think it is the same.

    I now know why so many schools recruit teachers from Canada. It is because of excellent teachers such as yourself saying “we’ve had enough.”

    I never thought students, teachers, education and the act and right of learning could be handled with such coldness until I started to teach here. There are excellent teachers in this country who are forced to not use their skills on a daily basis. Such a shame for those that teach and, most importantly, the students.

    Thanks for speaking truth,

  76. i have been supply teaching for four years and I think the only thing that keeps me going is the one day a week I volunteer in my sons secondary school to support the staff in my own subject area. I read your blog and connected with all of it . I am a school governor and I sit in meetings and hear representatives from the county council going on about how good cover supervisors are any we should use more of them rather than supply teachers. It makes me sick when I do supply work and I am lucky enough to have a lesson plan (yes some teachers when ill do care enough about their students to write plans) I teach that lesson to the best of my ability even if I have only a little knowledge of the subject. An unqualified teacher or cover supervisor covering long term absents is very unfair on students and to my mind unacceptable. While the current trends persists I can totally understand why you are leaving. I wish you all the luck in the world you have done more than your share.

  77. I worked in teaching for ten years, then gave up for a couple of years to look after my children and run weight loss meetings, which was such a breath of fresh air. I returned to teaching as a single parent, and having found out that, in spite of my hard work I have no contract next year, I am torn between sadness and deep relief. I have also worked in industry as well as the civil service, and everyone who is/knows a teacher will say there is nothing like it. When I am tired at the end of the day, if it is because the kids have been difficult, I can live with that. After all, it is for them I am employed. But of course, it isn’t the the kids, and they aren’t the reason I’m employed. My biggest concern now is; who is going to teach my children? I am desperately sad to think so many of us who love our jobs, and are good at them, can not continue. And I was unemployed for a year before this job came up, which shows how terrible it is for me to feel that relief. I am not looking forward to irregular income, and have absolutely no faith things will improve in the short term in Britain. Really, what is there to look forward to? When will our government do the right things instead of lining their pockets or egos? It is truly difficult to find a glimmer of hope. I wish you the best in your future, and hope that there are some new people out there who will step into our shoes and for whom things will improve.

  78. I left for the same reason. I miss the kids every day…I miss seeing their faces light up when they get something and I miss spending time coming up with new and exciting ways to teach something…but the system does not allow for that anymore, and sadly, I am no longer a teacher. I can’t be a teacher if the system doesn’t actually let me teach!

  79. Dear Debra,
    I have found your blogs to be thought provoking, insightful and an honestly reflected perspective from the ‘frontline’. It seems the modern ‘education’ system, put through the ‘grad-grinder’ and ironically peppered with military terminology (and in itself derived from the Latin ‘educare’ to lead out well drilled, unquestioning troops), has been made a political warzone and that the freedom to teach is the casualty alongside the death of a love of learning. The profession apparently lacks the courage and a united voice to throw off these oppressive shackles and is thus held in abeyance to the dictates of OFSTED. An entity which could so easily have been, and should be, a supportive structure for the good of the profession, (by the profession) and by extension, to what really matters i.e. the benefit of the children, is a sadly missed opportunity. I hope we continue to hear your voice.

  80. As a secondary teacher, nothing is truer or more upsetting than this:

    “I see children channelled into becoming automatons, devoid of life and hope, sitting listlessly asking ‘just tell me what I need for the exam’ ”

    It’s horrible that the education system has become this rigid and that we’re extruding children through it.

  81. Same in Scotland. Curriculum for Excellence was brought in stating this would allow teachers to be free to teach to their strengths, give them the freedom to approach subjects with creativity. Just talk, fluff and nonsense. Have never felt so restricted and funneled into doing everything a certain way. Can’t wait to get my retirement, and although the authorities have been advertising early retirement for older teachers and bringing in younger teachers who are trained in the new, ‘improved’ methods, it just doesn’t happen. Also agree with the falseness of schools putting on an act when an inspection is due.

  82. I’m not sure if my comment on your website has registered Debra, but I would like to thank you for your lovely remarks about my teaching at Ivy Bank. I too was an AST and enjoyed visiting other schools. I hope I’m not wrong about your name. I know exactly who you are, but I am trying to remember if Kidd was your surname then, Sure it wasn’t. I seem to remember you once told me that when you first knew me you found me very frightening, but then in the later years at school, you got to know me better and found that not to be the case. I’m not at all surprised at your success. Dorothy Bowling

  83. This makes me want to cry. Every last word I feel and understand. I too have said for over 10 years we are developing a system which fails fundamentally to do what it purports to do…Educate. Creativity in the classroom feels like a long lost art and the systematic de-professionalisation of our role as educators is sickening. I wish you well and fear there will be many more of us who will follow all too soon. I dread to think where education will be in 10 years time.

  84. I am a Student at a high school in Liverpool. I see my teachers go through this every day. It is unbelievable what they are put through on a daily basis and I think it’s disgusting. I’m in the process of doing my GCSE’s and I can honestly say this year had been horrible. Unfortunately this year alone one of our teachers passed away and that has had a knock-on-effect with both the teachers and the students, it is awful knowing there is nothing that can be done to help. These teachers have enough going on in their life without the government pressuring them to do their job in a way the teachers know won’t work. I know for a fact they care and try – it shows – but they shouldn’t have to do it that way. The pressure they are under is unnecessary and it’s awful seeing them start to give up because they are unable to do what they do best. I have no idea where this is going now, I started to rant. Sorry. In all honesty I just don’t understand why the government allow this to carry on but I suppose that is a whole different conversation. I admire your courage to leave before it gets any worse. Good luck to you.
    Abi Delaney.

  85. Good luck for the future. I work with primary exclusions and meet injustice on a daily basis. Our kids are bottom of the heap by default and, sadly, by their choice and the choice of their schools. (I’m going to blog on this) I am often tempted to try something else- the job is hard- but I know very few people would take up my reins and I can’t let them down. It’s heartbreaking.

    1. Thank you. I think it’s the emotional work that is so hard – it’s the stuff that has you awake at 3am isn’t it – something people don’t think about when they struggle to understand why teachers burn out.

  86. It makes me so sad that I agree with nearly everything you said, I only worry about the primary school comment, it came across as if primary school is just a place of glitter, finger painting and gold stars. I am currently on the edge of leaving my primary teaching job and I hope you understand that the stresses of teaching permeate every last inch of education, starting with primary schools. I appreciate your post and am saddened that teaching has worn you down after so long but I’m not surprised.

  87. How do you feel about your decision now? I ask because, like you, my heart is broken and I can’t stand by and be a part of this cruel system anymore… Unfortunately I don’t have an exit strategy ‘yet’.

    1. On the whole it’s been a good move – I am healthier and happier but I miss teaching. When I went in to do an assembly yesterday I nearly cried. But until the system changes I can’t go back. Isn’t that sad? Good luck to you – hope you find your way 🙂

  88. You are just so right – all of you. I taught in primary school only for 12 years – both here and abroad and even then I could start to see changes, but it really has gone beyond the limit now with targets and no time just to have fun, ask questions and learn properly. Then after my daughter went to school, I went into teaching adults and did that for 25 years plus. I loved this. In the last few years before I retired I saw my colleagues in an FE/HE college getting ground down by bureaucracy. Fortunately, most of my work was in the community, but we were still frazzled at Ofsted times.
    I do have every admiration for those of you who are still teaching and I do hope and pray that things will change and children can love to learn without the ridiculous pressure they and their teachers are under from the government.

    1. As teacher in Primary I was OK and thought it the best job in the world until I was 50 and the job went downhill until I left through ill health in my 50s and struggling to force myself into work every day. The most depressing thing was colleagues who had signed up to an enlightened approach, doing u turns on the grounds that “if we don’t we won’t have a chance of promotion”. I find it encouraging that Deborah and others are managing in some way to survive and still produce inspiring teaching.

  89. I left teaching this summer. I agree with these comments, no longer is there opportunity to be creative, no longer is there community in secondary schools. Schools have turned into factories and children who aren’t developing at the normal rate are completely disadvantaged. The focus seems to be on academic subjects yet the country cries out for practical skills, it is these skills that will help the country and its population through the next century.
    I, too, used to enjoy teaching so much but things I did as extras are considered the norm now. I had to work part time to do my job well and that still meant working on my day off, Sundays and evenings. I think the final straw was being asked to write the start of student’s coursework, where on earth is the learning in that? The response…everyone’s doing it to get better results!

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