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Are teachers being driven to breaking point because of the impossible demands of the job?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Oct 21, 2015.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Much is made of the heavy workload that teachers often have to face and deal with, but that doesn’t mean that they should have to give up most of their lives to do their job or risk their mental health as a result.

    However, as one union leader points out teacher stress is increasingly becoming part of the job and tales of professionals trying to cope with unfair, unnecessary and unreasonable demands, edicts and targets are leading some people to sacrifice their health, relationships and happiness to fulfil their teaching roles.

    Mary Bousted, who is the general secretary of the ATL education union, believes that it is important for teachers to have the time to be human.


    Do you feel that you have given up too much of your life to the job? Do you have time to do things away from work?

    Have you given up teaching because of the long hours, impossible edicts and targets or the high level of stress involved?

    What needs to be done to turn the tide, and make the education profession a less stressful industry to work in?
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Possibly not the impossible demands of the job.

    Rather the impossible demands of Heads of Department, Heads of Faculty, Assistant Heads, Deputy Heads, Headteachers.

    Who are all, in turn, subject to impossible demands from Academy or other chains, Ofsted, etc.

    Teaching wasn't like this in the past.

    Normally by early October I would expect to have 3 or 4, possibly 5 posters asking for advice because they wanted to leave teaching, unable to bear the stresses.

    This year by the same date there were 56. That is 56 desperate and distressed colleagues.

    Yes, I know that Workplace Dilemmas now figures more prominently in the Forum lists, so it is easier to find, and easier to post about your distress. But one would expect an overall increase of postings about various dilemmas.

    No, there has been an increase overall, but nowhere near the ten-fold increase in stressed and distressed colleagues desperate to leave teaching.

    So sad.

    Best wishes

  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    It is very sad, but some of the problem is the growing population in England and the shrinking amount of money to pay for the increasing number of students. Teachers have far too many students to look after and are asked to do the impossible in that they have to demonstrate each child is making progress no matter the needs the child may have. Instead of the parents and teachers working together, all is put on the teachers' shoulders. Add in the extreme behaviour in some schools and it no wonder the teachers are leaving. Calculate what teachers earn by the hour and it is not much more than the minimum wage if teachers are working 60+ hours plus part of the holidays.
  4. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    Short answer is yes. Most of the work is unnecessary and counter-productive.
    The whole issue is based on a completely false premise Teacher Output=Pupil Output*

    The whole point of this toxic idea is that: "if only teachers would work hard enough everything in the garden will be lovely."
    Except of course it won't because the whole premise is complete rubbish. The origin of this particularly obnoxious piece of drivel is a single piece of writing from 45 years ago, the author of which has spent that amount of time trying to justify it. (and failing)

    OFSTED, a while ago, claimed to have produced evidence for this tosh but failed to substantiate it. Yet the politicians believe it implicitly.

    Sorry can't remember the reference to the webpage this is from, it has been listed in some posts. If someone can oblige I would be very grateful.
  5. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Agree. Unqualified staff can simply say no to any demands for unnecessary impromptu meetings, or entering data every two or three weeks on two different spreadsheets. One real and one for ofsted!
    Any remaining experienced Qualified staff are having more and more to share groups with new, or supply and or unqualified personnel, who don't have the same standards to work to, may not be subject specialists, no admin/additional marking demands to adhere to, nor have performance management observations to 'pass' and 'improve' from.
    they may even be paid more than surviving experienced qualified teachers in the department, owing to the new pay scale changes.
    Who gets called to task if the dodgily produced predictions don't match the results?
    The imbalance is causing huge amounts of stress up and down the ranks.
    Now that head teachers have carte Blanche to cheapen wage packets by using the performance incapability route, they aren't going to stop.
    They have procedures and policies in place to convince ofsted and the dfe that their ideas are working, and even manage to reward themselves for it.
  6. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    In accord with TheoGriff, one need only check out the trainee and new teachers forums and peruse the thread titles to see the dire state of things in schools. Obviously NQTs and students have struggled, and these forums abound with horror stories, but they seem to outnumber everything else there now (and they didn't before). One of my previous Assistant Heads visited a London Academy and she raved about it: the SLT's motto for staff was FIFO - Fit in or **** off - which is why I hope the national staffing crisis does continue, so they will have to eat their words. I also rather enjoyed this blog: http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-...-leaders-quickly-forget-how-tough-teaching-is particularly enlightening were the SLT meetings where they tutted over the minor errors of teachers at the chalkface. A more supportive SLT who say b******ks to Ofsted etc. would be a great place to start in a lot of schools....
  7. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    As one of the 56 (now leaving at half-term - whoo-hoo) I agree that the problem is coming from the top with their impossible demands. If you dare object then your card is marked and that leads to more stress.

    I've been teaching for more than 30 years but sadly cannot put up with it any more. I've got a job away from teaching and cannot wait to leave.

    Of yes FIFO definitely applies.
  8. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Don't you mean Teacher Input = Pupil Output?

    Sorry to be picky.
  9. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    As I said elsewhere... the national solution is to scrap Ofsted [saving £200 million PA] and fire a whole tranche of SLT across the nation. Most of the present SLT are hopelessly corrupted by the 'system' and can't see past it. I doubt they even understand that the point of education is the pupils.
  10. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Incommunicado and irs1054 like this.
  11. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    Scintillant likes this.
  12. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Established commenter

    I have lived to see the day when it has been clearly stated that kids' educational progress depends on THEIR efforts and attitude.
  13. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    This won't be the case forever.

    Teaching is kept afloat at the moment by those who are stuck by virtue of financial and family commitments, teachers are leaking out from all and any cracks in the system.

    Who will replace these teachers? Younger, more flexible ones in the short term, who will find it easier to leave or not finish their training. Possibly more crucially, teachers who went to school in the climate of the pupil is king/queen, who paid their own uni and training fees and expect something for it. Many of those teachers leaving are like me, had all higher education and training fees paid and felt some degree of desire/duty to pay back. This is no longer the case.
  14. drek

    drek Star commenter

    One poster is right in saying that most teachers have been working impossible hours for years on end, but of our own volition. I fully understood as a new teacher, if someone working for 20 years, had reduced this 'undirected' time to reasonable hours, because after years of practice, I imagined that I too would recognise what works for me, rather than enthusiastically chasing after every cloud like a puppy!
    After 10 years I am now being ordered around by puppies to keep chasing every cloud whichever direction they point at, because they are now in leadership roles, despite still being in the teething stage themselves. But
    In turn they are being guided by the ones who got rid of experienced staff 'successfully' and more points awarded if they 'broke' them in the process.
  15. xena-warrior

    xena-warrior Star commenter

    Agree with everything that's been said on here. My solution, which I could afford to do because my kids had (almost) finished University, the mortgage was paid off and my husband has a decent-paying job, was to leave before I combusted in a cloud of contemptuous wrath. I truly don't know how I'd be managing now if that hadn't been the case. I suspect I'd be on long-term sick leave, working the system as best I could.
    This state of affairs is gathering momentum. The only way it can be dealt with is for classroom teachers to say, and mean, NO MORE. What are the chances?
  16. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    I am increasingly amazed at how many teachers, who were NQTs a few years ago, now have quite senior roles and tell the 'oldies' (an rare commodity in school these days) how to do their job.
    drek likes this.
  17. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    Well done for reporting this Theo. I am retired but I have family and friends still in education and I am so distressed and angry (for want of any other way to describe it ) at their morale, their mental health and their happiness. Teaching has always been a difficult and stressful job, but we have seen a wholehearted assault on the profession over the past decade or so, that has torn the heart out of many very good teachers.
    kibosh, drek and rosievoice like this.
  18. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    It's been 8 weeks since term started. For four of those weeks I was in school for over 50 hours. One week we had a mandatory after school meeting from 3.20-4.30 (and it over-ran by 10 minutes), an Open Evening (6-8.30, which also over-ran - I left at 9), an information evening (6-8) and an early morning meeting the day afterwards. None of these things were optional and I teach a full timetable. This week I have not had a single free period (I should have had 5 in this time as Mondays are relatively light for me) due to meetings, line management, observations and performance management stuff. Reports are due, we've got Controlled Assessments to mark and as it's the end of half-term, assessments for other classes to mark.
    I'm so exhausted that I have to physically talk myself out of bed in the morning. And the most annoying thing is that in order to do XYZ, ABC has to be left for a bit. Then you get bollocked for not doing ABC.
    It's not surprising that two of my colleagues are already signed off work.
    JRiley1 and drek like this.
  19. xena-warrior

    xena-warrior Star commenter

    Is there really no comeback that isn't "You jest"?
    I await the day with joy that a teacher bounces into my office and says "Data? Your job! Byeeeee!"
    kibosh likes this.
  20. paeony

    paeony Occasional commenter

    The point at which my husband told me he hated Sundays as I was so stressed out was a turning point.

    I was pulled between too many demands.

    I feel for SMT (a tiny bit) in that they are to a large extent at the behest of a bonkers system but they certainly don't help themselves.

    As it is, I'm exactly the sort of person teaching wants to recruit, apparently. Top academically, out of industry etc. Well a decade down the line after switching career and I am now in my first half term as an ex teacher.

    The purple pen of progress/pink pen of praise/blue biro of bolleaux along with the incessant need for pointless data that SMT did not fully understand, along with being told how to do my job by kids just out of their NQT year who were on the brown nose route to SMT, spouting management speak I heard 15 years ago and seemingly without a pair of fully functioning ears or ability to think for themselves. Ugh.

    As a part time teacher, you are utterly sidelined. Unpromotable, rarely consulted (clearly your brain fell out your head the day you went part time), but expected to put in proportionally more time.

    Months of chronic low level illness, and stress related issues, permanently dealing with ridiculous politics with management who frankly needed to grow the **** up and grasp the concept that unhappy, stressed staff and 'learners' don't produce results.

    Add to that being unsupported in dealing with worsening behaviour....

    ....Spending weekends doing catch up classes, checking emails, doing your ridiculous 'learning plan' (lesson plans are not de rigeur these days)

    My own small children and health had to come first.

    So here I am. Poorer, but a darn sight happier.

    And every ex colleague I speak to feels the same. They tell me 'it's worse than it was before'
    NQT1986, marlin, Lara mfl 05 and 7 others like this.

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