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Why aren’t teachers treated as professionals anymore?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Oct 22, 2018.

  1. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    When I worked in the world of business I was treated as a professional - but as a part-time teacher - no, no, no. I never had my wages stopped when I had a break outside of teaching. I had to pay for a key to get into the staffroom in order to get my coat after evening classes. That would not have happened outside of a college. Neither would buying your own materials in order to do your job have happened outside of the classroom - - - or your employer not contributing to your pension etc etc I could go on. Teachers went into FE with good experience in their work in the outside world in order to pass on our skills and experience to help youngsters, not to be treated as less than human. The students didn't do this though and would have been shocked to have known of it.
  2. aypi

    aypi Established commenter

    I was going to like killers post, then realised he is wrong. A professional would not be ordered around.
    thekillers1 likes this.
  3. firstpoet

    firstpoet New commenter

    This has been the story over the last 30 years, ever since Jim Callaghan. I was that HOD who always got the results so I basically told management to do one if they tried to load my Dept with useless work. By ignoring them we always ended up with glowing Ofsted mentions and, after ignoring the four part lesson idiocy, then being personally observed 5 times during one inspection and gaining outstanding, they just grimaced and left me and my Dept alone whilst they carried on screwing up young teachers in other Departments by deprofessionalising them.
  4. nervousned

    nervousned Senior commenter

    This makes me think of the Ofsted inspection that was the beginning of the end of the best job I ever had. My department had behaved much as yours did. However when Ofsted came, they observed my department jointly with another as they considered them one department. The report was glowing for my department and slamming for the other department. It even specifically said so in the report.

    Our SLT couldn't copy with this simple nuance. They put my department under the same horrendous pressure as the other. Within a year, everyone in my department including myself had left. Results plummeted as they recruited replacements from "Outstanding" schools that couldn't cope in the context in which we worked.
  5. moscowbore

    moscowbore Senior commenter

    This is a common story. The SLT could blame the bad results on the departed "substandard" teachers. School SLT can be merciless when looking for a scapegoat. Education is the least of their priorities.
  6. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    I have though about this issue many times over the years, and I believe that the issue is multi-faceted and complicated. However, a government with a sense of principle could reverse some of these changes very quickly if it had the will.

    My reasons are (in no particular order)

    1. The devaluation of BA degrees. When i started, getting a degree was something to be proud of. Now, it has become like the old O-Level; nearly everybody is expected to have one as a basic standard. So whereas teachers with a degree used to hold some status, it now means nothing.

    2. The rise in wages of other trades and professions, where at the same time, teacher wages have stagnated. Teaching now has a low starting wage compared to most professions. Even more worryingly, most trades have a much higher starting salary. Status does have a link to wages, so the status of teachers has dropped for this reason. A friend of mine has two GCSEs and a BTEC in bricklaying. He says that on a bad year he makes less than £40k.

    3. Ofsted - the whole raison-d'etre of Ofsted seems to be about giving teachers the clear message that they "must do better". It has created a general feeling of despondency among teachers, it has created stress in school between managers and teacher, and the general result is that the turnover of teachers in ridiculous. It also means that even the teachers who remain expect to be reminded on a daily basis that their best is not quite good enough - and their opinion is constantly questioned - thus a questioning of every professional decision a teacher makes is now the norm.

    4. Point 3 has been reinforced and exacerbated by a level of interference from central government. The Gove period ensured that teachers who cannot prove their own competency (often in a very arbitrary way by bullying managers), are not allowed pay rises, and in many cases have their jobs threatened with capability processes. This has anecdotally become so widespread, most teachers can recount of more than one instance of this happening in every school.

    5. An influx of non-professionals with no training let into schools. It used to be the case that only trained teachers were allowed to stand in front of the class. Around 2002, a motion was passed to guarantee PPA time, with the proviso that schools could buy in non-teachers to supervise classes. In some cases, these non-teachers were even allowed teaching roles, sometimes with few qualifications. In addition, now many "heads of house" or "heads of year" are non-teachers and in some cases, they even line-manage teachers or tell them how to conduct form time, etc. Another nail in the coffin for the status of teachers.

    6. Academies - due to their freedom from LEA oversight, many academies have further eroded the statues of teachers by reinforcing many of the points above. For example, allowing more non-trained teachers into the classroom, allowing schools to appoint non-teachers as managers or even academy trust directors. The message imparted is that "anybody can do it", thus further undermining the status of teachers. In addition, academies are notorious for tearing up teachers' rights and conditions, setting their own wage structures etc. Many examples of academies bullying long-standing teachers out of jobs using performance management to "save money" as they are run more on a profit basis, even though their directors can be paid enormous sums.

    7. Decline in pupil behaviour. Has been an issue for perhaps 20 years or so, Issues of behaviour demoralise teachers and lead to them questioning their own professional status. There is often no easy answer, especially for schools in "challenging catchment areas". It is very easy to blame teachers for not managing behaviour, and a blame culture can lead to threats of capability. The blame culture is again more concentrated in academies, where the message is that poor behaviour is not the fault of management, but that of teachers who fail to deliver motivating or engaging lessons. Ofsted also reinforce this issue, so the blame is nearly always directed back at teachers. The decline in behaviour is a cause of lowering teacher status, but also a result of low teacher status - as kids sense that teachers are being observed all of the time (and can play up in such circumstances).

    8. Micro-management has become the overriding trend in schools. Teachers have to all teach in the same manner, used certain colours of pen to mark books, etc. Micromanagement is a symptom of all of the above factors. Due to the decline in status of teachers, they have to be told what to do and how to do it at every opportunity. The micromanagement pressure is reinforced by Academies and Ofsted. Teachers take it on the chin, as they are demoralised and expect to be treated as non-professionals who are constantly judged and scrutinised by learning walks, observations, book scrutinies, etc.

    9. Ineffective unions have allowed, or have been powerless to stop all of the above changes. The changes have been incremental in many cases, over the past twenty years. Compare to rail union - starting salary for train drivers over £40k. Unions now accept that many of the problems of teachers have become to big to change - they will now work to get the best "settlement" agreements for teachers, rather than fight tooth and nail for a teacher to remain in employment, even when the bullying is patently obvious.

    I would argue that all of the above has led to a rapid and sustained decline in teachers status, and has led to a normalised situation where they are not treated as professionals any more.
  7. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    Excellent synopsis. However, it wasn't always like this - not even 20 years ago. Now I believe that Teaching in mainstream education is just a waste of a good degree.
  8. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    Like all things that follow a business model then market forces will prevail. As I have said on numerous occasions education follows a circular path, when they cannot get anyone to do the job they will have to make the job more attractive otherwise the whole education service will not exist. Will the electoralate allow that to happen? Some people I have met need to smell the coffee, they still think the LA run education.
  9. ATfan

    ATfan Star commenter

    Why does a fire burn?
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    IMO low professional entry standards, quick-fix training routes and a premature promotion culture have seeded a great many of the problems which have led to the devaluation of the profession.
  11. thin_ice

    thin_ice New commenter

    You could be right there.
    BubsyChicken and agathamorse like this.
  12. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Lead commenter

    Just to say, Baxy, good post.
  13. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I guess these people just have to do something to show that they are worthy of the pay they receive - - but surely they must have a grain of shame when they think back on what they've done for a living. We all would, wouldn't we? I'm glad that I can look back on my teaching career - yes, and my life now that I'm retired - and think that, at the end of the day, I can say that I've done something useful to help others or something to make others feel happy. They won't be able to say this, will they?
  14. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Lead commenter

    Good string, good answers. As others have said there are many reasons for the denigration of teachers but I make no apologies for adding the T word to the argument. As a baby boomer, I lived through the Thatcher years and before. Leading up to her administration, her predecessor, Edward Heath had messed up the conservative party and his government by reacting poorly to the unions trying to push him around. She quite happily admitted that she worked by identifying any groups or bodies who could oppose her and set about dealing with them in some way or other. Every body knows that she neutered the trade unions, but not all appear to know that she also went for the medical profession, the legal profession (even), and of course the education profession who were very capable of explaining themselves and had a record of being outspoken.

    It is a long way under the bridge now, but I believe we are now seeing the culmination of her approach to politics. Certainly we are a divided nation rather than a "one" nation which is what the Tory party has always pretended they espouse to. The constant drip drip of anti teaching propaganda has led us to this strange place where highly intelligent teachers have to be continually trodden down to make sure they do not have a say in the way our society works, let alone how we teach. Hence micromanagement and name, blame and shame.
  15. gainly

    gainly Established commenter

    Actually the old O level was probably more prestigious than a degree is now. Only about 25% of the population did O levels and the pass rate was just under 60%. Now nearly 50% go to university and are almost certain to get a degree if they don't drop out.
  16. install

    install Star commenter

    And to make matters worse they now pay 36,000 pounds (give up 4yrs full time salary) , to get qualified and trained only to earn less money and get fewer rights than some other workers. Even cleaners (and full respect to them) get Overtime rates -so work that one out..:eek:
  17. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    Install, you are SO right. I agree with you wholeheartedly - and I've said many times in here that young people are made to feel failures if they don't get into university and get a degree - but why, why, why? I have lived my life without a degree and there must be thousands of people today who have done excellent work all their lives because of my teaching - and many of these didn't have a degree. There are also many young people who, with a degree, came to college to get qualifications in order to get work and they could have done this beforehand. I think only about one or two percent of people had a degree when I was young. I knew hundreds but only one who had a degree. So much money - and so much debt at a young age!!!! It is so terrible.
  18. install

    install Star commenter

    Is this advertizing ? Alot of these messages are now appearing in different threads in the same regularity as some adverts do. :rolleyes:
  19. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    That is such a good post and an excellent point.

    When I was at school, most teachers were left-leaning and quite intelligent, with a passion for their subject and probably Guardian readers. They would sometimes subtly impart their view to the class, in a less guarded moment. That description is a sort of cliche but it had some real basis in fact.

    In some lessons, if we all got really excited about an issue, the teacher would abandon the lesson and we would have an intelligent debate (as much as teenagers can engage in one) about a social issue - eg. animal rights, South Africa, etc - yes these moments really did happen, and I remember them to this very day. Nobody came in and scolded the teacher for not having written WALT on the board of not delivering a "plenary".

    However, what do we have now? Some schools have no staff rooms at all (sad, but true), so no place to collect and be cynical. I have often thought that academies with their own little self-enclosed department offices were designed with precisely that in mind, to stop organised dissent.

    In addition, the teaching staff are often yes-men and women, of a much lower age demographic. Many that I talk to have no real political opinion at all. I try to engage them on a political level about academies and cuts etc, and they simply switch off, and I back off.

    Also, it is sad to say that the intellectual standard of teachers seems to have dropped - judging by the spelling and grammar in emails, and even occasionally school websites.

    They can pull out all the stops when it comes to the latest trends in whiteboard tricks and multi-coloured pens, but the real passion for their subject and breadth of knowledge appears to me missing. It's all about a very vacuous tick-box approach.

    It is no longer a profession for radical, thinking, creative or questioning adults.

    And a generation of kids who might have been inspired and heard an intelligent adult in full flow, not afraid to express an opinion or two, have truly lost out.
  20. Lelly64

    Lelly64 New commenter

    I agree with you on the intellectual standards and political apathy of young staff. I still do go off on a tangent with some of my classes to discuss a point someone has brought up. I guess after 32 years as a classroom teacher I have the confidence to do this.

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