Not sure if this post has any particular point to it, but I just felt that I wanted to put something down. It may be interesting to some others, or again, maybe not. Today, although I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while, I formally resigned from teaching. July 21st is my last day and I feel a sense of huge relief. Compared to many of the stories on here, my journey through the profession was benign. Its had its good points – like the pupil who ran across the yard to proclaim her A* and to thank me for my confidence in her “You said I could do it, and you were right, I’m so proud” or the pupil who said “thank you for teaching us” after I covered for a colleague who had to go home suddenly, or the parent who said I had inspired their son to greater effort because he said, “I made physics fun”, or the time I had the best exam results in year 11, beating the other more experienced staff (only ever happened the one time though!). So, although I was probably not a teacher who hit the stellar heights of advanced pedagogy, if I adopt the Michael Wilshaw self-assessment system I could reasonably award myself a grade of “I did my best”. As a late-entrant to teaching I did a PGCE course then as an NQT I joined an outstanding school – no I don’t just mean it had the OFSTED label (although it did, and does) I mean it was a truly good school that did an outstanding job for its pupils. It was also, for me, a nice place to work. My fellow scientists were good people, always on the lookout for each other, if someone was having a tough time someone would always be on hand to offer advice, a shoulder to lean on or whatever. We all had each other’s backs covered. Management took the NQT year seriously, and did what they were supposed to do - we were held up to standards, supported and guided – when we passed we really HAD met the standards, there was no mere “lip service”. SLT were for the most part sincere, focussed and effective leaders (those few who weren’t soon moved to pastures new). The head was noted for his integrity and fairness. And yet. Gradually, bit by bit over the seven years I have been here, we have arrived at the state where: When book scrutiny’s are announced, staff, not pupils are more worried. When results don’t match targets, staff, not pupils are more worried. When pupils do worry about their progress, it is staff that they blame, and staff who have to explain the reasons for any shortfalls. It has become the expectation that “revision sessions” will be run during the Easter holidays (they are paid at an hourly rate, like I said this is a good school). Lunchtimes have deteriorated from a 1 hour rest and recharge to 15 minutes to eat sandwiches before a string of pupils come knocking at the door or lunchtime “intervention” sessions are given. Any application for UPS has to be supported by evidence of huge amounts of time devoted to extra curricular activity, and positive residuals based on absurd “cargo-cult” data. Reports gave rise to questions about why some staff reported extensively while others made only brief comments. We ended up using a comment bank and reports are now useless. On my way home I had to comfort an experienced and successful staff member crying in the corridor, at her wits end for how to respond to criticism of insufficient evidence of progress in her pupils’ books, and of how she was going to find time to generate the additional planning documentation required by her “support” plan. We have dropped BTEC level 2 courses and instead are trying to get bottom set pupils through a science GCSE – something they have no hope of achieving. All pupils are given “aspirational targets” of a minimum of 5/5 regardless of a total lack of any prior evidence that they can perform at that level “because we are an outstanding school”. More pupils than ever before are having emotional melt-downs and being issued with “time-out” cards for when the relentless pressure to perform gets too much. Last year’s GCSE results went down for the first time in years. The head teacher, who used to be much in evidence around the school is not even on site all week, but attending MAT board meetings, meantime there is no permanent deputy to run things. Several members of staff have stepped down from middle-leadership TLR positions and no-one wants to step up. SLT are seldom in evidence around the school or even available on-call. Some other major departments have had 100% staff turn-over over an 18 month period. Behaviour is now a major issue across all year groups. Pupils are constantly challenging even the simplest of instructions. It is over four years since any official communication about my work said anything positive without also suggesting how to improve it even more. I’m working on average 65 hours a week, excluding 8 hours of commuting time, and that is still not enough time to do all my marking. And you have to ask yourself – how? How did we get to this place? And also, why? – why do all this and spend time in what is fast becoming a toxic place to be? As I said, compared to some I’ve had it easy, and even so, it’s only the comradeship and support of my immediate colleagues who have kept me sane and able to do it this long. Some of you have put in a working life-time – hats off to you, and heaven help those other poor souls on here who have suffered bullying, or lack of support. No wonder there is a recruitment crisis. Me? Well I’m trying my best (still) to discharge my responsibilities to my current classes and prepare them as best I can for the next stage of their education, but my thoughts are increasingly turned to what I’ll be doing in 17 weeks time… I can hardly wait.