Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Pressures of Being a Teacher (And what an Ofsted inspection means!)

Ok I hear you say....long holidays, 9.00 starts, 3.30 finishes, long dinner hours, five day weeks, and PD Days – Personal Development Days. (Or Teacher Training Days)

Imagine being an actor for over 5 hours a day, for five days a week. You have five plays to act in each day, you need to be as word perfect as possible, have all your props prepared, and be totally prepared for any eventuality.  Teaching is hard work!  On top of that you may have up to 30 children in a class, have responsibility as a tutor for 30 children, write hundreds of school reports a year, desperately trying to make each one as individual as possible, mark school work and coursework, mark school and mock examinations, have after school meetings, before school meetings, dinnertime meetings, lunch duty, break duty, attending school trips and events, organizing sports events, and every term have someone come and watch you performing.

Each lesson needs to planned, needs to be linked to the subject examination curriculum, needs to be all singing and dancing, be linked to the abilities of each individual child and each lesson has to be linked to a Scheme of Work, which is a term, yearly plan of each subject.

Now there are some short cuts, for example using another colleagues resources, but most teachers like to plan and produce their own. VLE's, or Virtual Learning Environments, computer thingies that allow resources to the made and then accessed through computer pages by the students, have made life a bit easier. And of course they can be reused, although will always need updating as examinations change, and what they need to learn alters.

Being a teacher really is hard work! But most of us love it really!!!

So be warned, don't tell a teacher they have great holidays!!!

So what is life like for a teacher? It’s strange but we have to be so good! Being spotted falling out of a pub is a no no, even worse, imagine visiting a pub and spotting a 16 year old you teach drinking in the pub? That has happened, and the only thing to do was to tell the Bar Manager, and watch the child being removed from the premises. My job was too important to me than to risk knowing that an under-age child was drinking in a pub. (Not that I ever drank under-age, not!)  So, no hangovers at school, always appear to be a good citizen, and positive role model! And if you live in the school catchment area......it is amazing how you will get children walking past your house for no reason at all.  Perhaps it’s to see if we go to sleep upside down from the rafters!

And the Head. I do not care how much teachers say I am wrong, but Heads of a school do not have other teachers as friends.  Only friends that are used as methods of extracting information. As I mentioned, nearly all teachers I have met are scared of a Head!

And Ofsted. Well this good team of people are there to ensure that schools are running appropriately. That they provide good value for money, that all teaching is excellent, that the school supports the emotional and personal needs of all its children, that the school supports the community, that the Head and the Management of the school have correct administrative systems, that data collection of students is effective, and that the data collected is updated to ensure that children progress while at school.

Teachers are terrified of Ofsted. Before they arrive, everything is double checked, new systems suddenly produced, all teachers have the most amazing, and fantastic lessons planned, and those plans fitted into a brilliant Scheme of Work.  They work night and day, I promise you that, to produce the best! And those teachers who state well, it should not make a difference, are those that hide, or go off on the sick when Ofsted call! And then Ofsted send you as parents and guardians a questionnaire asking what you think. The returns of those questionnaires is so low, as to be ridiculous!

When Ofsted leave they tell the school how well they have done. If they are overall 'Outstanding' then the school can state they are an 'Outstanding' school. Schools are closed, go into special measures (This means that the  school is monitored and receive specialist outside help to improve), when they find massive problems, when results of GCSE's are under a certain percentage, but schools still have ways of dodging the issues. No Head wants to stand in front of a failing school. So teachers get up and dance, disruptive children are suddenly on a course, or suspended, new systems are brought in, bad teachers are hidden from view, and the game goes on.  Ofsted arrive for days, or even a day, checking on various systems as the School Year progresses.

Should Ofsted let a school know its arriving? Perhaps it should turn up unexpectedly to get a true picture. This is why I am writing this book, this is the truth but many a teacher would hate me for stating that. 

Teachers stand to lose so much from a negative Ofsted classroom inspection. Mostly from the wrath of the Head! It is interesting though to be in a school after an inspection, and see how the school makes use of the report. Alike true researchers they highlight the good, and only use the bad areas to slap at the teachers. You will find that you will have aspects of the report included in newsletters, but the not so good parts? You will have to wait until Ofsted publish the report on the website!

Oh and you can look on the Ofsted website, search for the school and download and read reports that have been written about the school. While it is apparent that in writing the reports that they do use word banks (Sorry Ofsted, but I have read enough reports to see that!), you can gain an insight into how the school is run, and how it operates. Another way of retrieving information, is the simple question to your child's teacher.  “Do you enjoy working at this school?” “What do you think of the Head?” If you watch the teacher, and listen to how they answer this question, you can gain a useful insight into how the school is run! A happy well run school, has happy and content teachers! Simples!!

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