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The problem of 'systems'

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by lanokia, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter


    Been mulling this one over for a while. I've not felt like a competent, trusted professional fulfilling a demanding but rewarding job for a while. Instead, I've felt like a cog in a machine. Maybe it's age bringing on disillusionment. Maybe I've been in one school too long. Or maybe the systems have taken over.

    Now please understand I base this entirely on my experiences, so if your experience is different... well, I'm happy for you. I hope you have better experiences. And if you find this too vague then sorry but I have to be vague.

    See the systems are what will crush you down.

    You imagine the behaviour system is there to moderate and control the pupils behaviour? I'm sure you do, after all what other purpose could it serve? Well if you work in a school with systems then the other purpose is statistics. Useless statistics drawn up by ill educated types but still, statistics. Remove a pupil once? Nothing gets noticed. But if you keep implementing that system, following that policy, removing pupils who are disrupting the learning of others... then someone will be having a word with you, about your problem with behaviour... even though it's the system of the school.

    Or data. Ah data. We all love data. So you fill in the data, nice and honest of you, well done good boy/girl for being honest. Ah, hang on... the data doesn't match their targets. You're under the 70% threshold for the year group. A box has turned red in an air conditioned office somewhere and middle management are now having a chat with you. Thing is, you were honest. Well why don't you change the data. Raise it. Go on.

    And we need 3 sublevels of progress [sublevels?!?!?] so can you start being a bit more generous please, stop marking so harshly. Come on, it's key stage 3 results, who cares really. Ah GCSE grades, targets, based on? Based on their achievement at KS3. But hang on this pupil is expected to get a B? Come on they'll scrap a D [or a numerical equivalent in the new style grading system]. Oh but it's a B because their year 9 teacher gave them a level 6b. Well OK...

    So you want a pay rise? Jump through the hoop of the target then. Doesn't matter if that target hovers at 5 metres up, jump jump. Ah well you missed, but hey your pay freeze keeps the wage packet down so don't you fret. But remember, keep jumping next year, you never know you might make that 5m leap. Ah but you didn't do the leap while juggling eggs and a flaming torch. Sorry. Oh didn't we tell you that was the expectation? Sorry should have said, slipped our minds.

    And these are the systems. Even if you meet one target, you raised the uptake at A-Level. You implemented a whole new course. You wrote 6 schemes of work that no-one looks at. It doesn't matter because in the weak school, the close to failing school, you'll never be good enough. After all, it's a close to failing school. How can you ever be good enough?

    The systems though cannot be questioned. Question data? Ask for an explanation of statistical significance? ... don't be daft. Question the lesson observation outcomes [entirely subjective readings and don't fall for dual observations, the senior SLT bod is always right], question the work scrutinies [done in private with no comparison made to other teachers work but really just reflective of the low regard you are held in by SLT]... do not question the systems. The systems cannot be wrong.

    Why can't they be wrong? Because people have built careers on those systems. Their reputation is built on them. Data? Data is now the quick route to promotion. You'll steam ahead in data. So don't go exposing the Emperor's nudity for the crowds. Just carry on pretending his dong isn't on show.

    Systems that are inflexible destroy teachers. They live by feeding on teachers. You might think I'm joking, being extreme. Today I saw another colleague start being fed to the system, chewed up, digested, ready to be **** out the end.

    This isn't a workplace dilemma. It's my thoughts. They might not match your experience. I am happy for you. But they match many peoples experience. Sad that really.
    strawbs, RedQuilt, Noja and 5 others like this.
  2. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    'Remove a pupil once? Nothing gets noticed. But if you keep implementing that system, following that policy, removing pupils who are disrupting the learning of others... then someone will be having a word with you, about your problem with behaviour... even though it's the system of the school.'

    This is what racked me off more than anything with one school I worked at. 'Clearly you are having behaviour management problems judging by the rainforest of detention slips you have put in!' Erm NO, this shows I am doing something about behaviour and applying sanctions!

    Although this is the same school where someone had a 'word' with me about threatening detentions for non completion of homework as 'child X is a son of one of the Governors.'

    And the very same school that actually insisted that classroom teachers could NOT phone parents if little Johnny misbehaved as parents were seen as the 'enemy' rather than 'partners in the child's education.'

    I would go on about this particular school but the next little factoid would make me rather identifiable. Lets just say it blows the three above well out of the water!
    strawbs, cissy3 and drek like this.
  3. rachelpaula008

    rachelpaula008 Star commenter

    Ianokia - I hope you are ok. Through reading your posts over the last few years I understand you were in a teaching / managerial position higher than mine. I was paid a TLR which finished a few years ago owing to the TUPE system - LA school becoming an academy. TLR was withdrawn as per t and c even though the job had become increasingly more difficult with increase in workload.

    Nearly everything you have written in your OP resonates. The job made me ill, Ian. This was over two years ago and I still 'smart' from the feeling I'd failed and could never be good enough. I've been on ADs. I had a lot of time off and decided to never teach again. My mood was that low that my husband had had enough.

    Now - I read your other posts and you have a good personal life. You are a well-regarded person on here and people care about you. Sorry to go the long way around, but what I am trying to say is please speak to someone about the absolute s*** the school has thrown on you with capability. If you are feeling low please be in touch with a GP. Apologies if you already are - please understand my sentiments.

    I got another job in teaching, in a different setting. Change can happen - I hope you understand my post xx
    cissy3 likes this.
  4. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Completely empathise. But what gets me the most, is that it is often colleagues who serve each other up to the 'system's' monitors in education.
    Rather like the kingdom and princess, that Jason? saved from the Kraken or similar, It keeps feeding the monster with victims, based on not hitting mythological standards, often imposed by those with very few standards themselves, be it professional or otherwise!
    The victims are piling up with greater frequency or rather more often than can be easily replaced skill wise, and soon it is going to be the ones who think they are indispensable, thanks to being graded 'outstanding' for political rather than professional reasons.
    It is often the ones who smile and want to know every detail of your personal life, or glorify their own, that turn out to be the most distrustful. I swear these people have psychotic episodes or something. one minute they talk to you nice and sweet particularly when they want a favour, something done 'over the half term or week-end, 'for the children' ofcourse?, the next they are throwing childish tantrums as as a sign of 'good leadership'. Nutters rule now!
    lanokia and cissy3 like this.
  5. Noja

    Noja Senior commenter

    I think many schools are similar - ours has got rid of previous data as apparently that limits our expectations of students. The upshot is, my year 10 data has just gone in and I have had to forecast grades for Year 11 after 3 lessons with no previous data to go on - oh yes, and we were criticised that our forecasting wasn't accurate enough last year. Sigh. It's all so daft.
  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    They usually have very shiny pink faces. As though plasticised.

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