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Is secondary education broken?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by MonstieBags, Aug 21, 2019.

  1. MonstieBags

    MonstieBags Occasional commenter

    For the last half term. having had enough of my 100 hour weeks, I have ben working in supply in numerous secondary schools. What has astounded me is the number of schools who are so woefully understaffed, that children have had non specialist supply teachers for periods sometimes lasting whole terms and longer - and this in maths and core subjects.
    The shortage and constant flux of supply teachers seems to have completely eroded discipline and in some schools, the level of disruption in classes that seems to be acceptable is horrendous. I have encountered students who thanked me for actually trying to get control of classes and have seen students with excellent learning behaviours being completely let down by schools that simply do not have enough staff to provide the stable and predictable environment needed to foster teacher student relationships and discipline. I have sat in staffroom at the end of term and witnessed mass leaving parties for 14+ teachers. Teachers who are dedicated enough to stay find that their skills are underused because most of class time is taken up with behaviour issues and many, like myself are finding the workload so ridiculous that supply is the only answer - an answer which feeds into the teacher shortage problem and resulting behaviour problems which cause even more to leave. There seems to be a government accepted situation where lots of new teachers are trained and employed for the few years that they can stand it and then let go to be replaced by more new, cheap teachers. I just cannot see how it is acceptable to treat our young people like this. They deserve better.
  2. elena1234

    elena1234 New commenter

    As a parent, I am certainly very pleased that my daughter is coming to the end of compulsory education. She attends a 'good' school and has certainly thrived there. However, even here she has been taught by several supply staff in a core subject. As a teacher myself, I was able to address those gaps. In schools you need a mix of new and more experienced staff. Started teaching over 20 yrs ago and then you really looked up to your Senior Leadership Team. They had an integrity that is now lacking in education leadership today. If they had told me to walk in to a burning building... I would have done so without hesitation... as I knew that their decision was always based around what was best for the students. You really can't say that today.
  3. bigwig1

    bigwig1 New commenter

    The government enjoy headlines that show they are increasing education spending as they believe it shows that they care and that they are doing something to increase standards. The system does not need bags of money thrown at it as the problems are more complex than a lack of funding.
    About 15 years ago I found that students were demotivated when presented with a text book as many could not read more than two minutes without becoming distracted. This highlights the problem that students now need any problem broken down into the simplest of stages and each stage explained leaving nothing for the student to puzzle through themselves. One of my colleagues commented that all the work is being done by the teacher and nothing being left to the students. In modern society the importance of learning is being trivialised. The teacher is becoming the entertainer and as soon as pupils see something as 'boring' then they talk or distract others in class.
    I watch quiz shows on television were contestants in their twenties and thirties excel as categories such as reality tv, celebrities and sport. Many now look now for a world of constant entertainment where serious thought and concentration is not needed. How do we solve this I don't know but I do know that money is not the answer.
  4. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Money is certainly part of the answer, I also teach in supply in bottom-end secondaries like @MonstieBags and under-funding is an issue, which is evident regarding support and class sizes. These Hell-Holes could allocate the money they do get better, given the consultants and SLT creaming off to their own little fiefdoms but even with better allocation there isn't enough (my opinion of course, how do you prove what is enough?). Even Boris seems to think more money is required, even though it'll go to schools which could influence middle-class voting, which is his greatest priority.

    Despite being a good supply teacher (is that an oxymoron?) I am part of the problem. I charge a lot for being Maths/Science supply (£202 a day, via a UC) and with the agency creaming off that is well over a grand a week. Even worse the school can't afford to engage in any kind of quality control as the only appraisal is answering the question, "Is Mr Cazorla better than nobody?". Sometimes I suspect they don't even ask that, in case they come up with the more time-consuming answer.

    As usual I'm avoiding the OP question, "Is secondary education broken?"

    Yes but only at the bottom end and no-one in government cares about that (which is only reflecting the views of the floating voters, after all)
    Catgirl1964 likes this.
  5. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I tutor two girls for maths and science who are at a school which is in special measures. They got a new "Superhead" at the start of the year who was going to sort everything out. He didn't last 6 months. They frequently seem to be taught by supply teachers or cover supervisors.

    I seem to spend half the lesson correcting the wrong things they've been told at school. They are both hard working and hopefully, with my help, will do OK but not all the kids will have a tutor to put things right.
    MathMan1 likes this.
  6. donrickles

    donrickles New commenter

    I have recently found that KS3 students in the particular school I was teaching would not write in excercise books. I struggled with this for a few weeks until it finally clicked. They would only write on mini whiteboards with marker that they could easily rub out. I found this very sad, old school I maybe, I like to see real progress overtime. We even had some inset on marking whiteboard work and evidencing with photos! They 20 yr leading it was really excited by it. I must be missing something here.
    Doitforfree likes this.

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