5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Play the ball, not the man. This is worthy of a read if you are planning on training as a teacher., 17 Jun. 2014
Just to set the scene, prior to qualifying as a secondary science teacher (PGCE), I worked as a scientist as well as being self employed. Following 6 years of teaching, both contracted and supply (in about 30 schools). I am currently the director of 2 companies, one actively engaged in very interesting research.
People who undertake teacher training and find themselves in a school will probably be in for quite a shock. The profession has a very established and engrained set of rules and "culture". It can be stifling, biased, self-selecting and very tiring. Quite often the worst schools are the best....the ones with glowing ofsted reports and the smaller schools, particularly in "nice" places. How do I know this? Experience and entering a place with my critical faculty activated.
In order to succeed, you have to keep your head down, stroke the right people the right way, never rock the boat, be silent on anything which could be construed as rocking the boat, or play the game. It is possible to split teachers into 2 camps, the "useful idiots" and the "climbers". The latter group are playing a very hard-ball game of career climbing and power seeking, they are the ones who will destroy anyone who dares enter the building and potentially eye up the ladder for themselves. As long as everyone respects the lion-king, all will be well. There are some interesting games up the top with people being nice to each other and being at the same time ready to slit each other's throats. Whilst I was doing contracted teaching, I was unable to see this, because I was too busy being a member of the habitat to critically assess it.
This is where David has painted quite a picture which many will be shocked by. It is quite upsetting to find out that your own organisation is a shambles and people are playing dirty, in fact you may be implicit in that process. Not very nice, but attack the message, not the messenger.
This does tie in with my experience and I echo David's sentiments. I wonder what qualifications or experience those of you have who have given David 1 star? One school since qualifiying? Two? Well, I've taught in faith schools, girls schools, private schools, single sex schools, single sex faith schools, sink comps, academies, you name it and I have been in there and appraised what is happening, how it is happening, how effective it is, how the school's culture contributes to the effectiveness or learning and how deluded the staff are as to the status and attainment of their own institution. Feel free to unload both barrels at the messenger here, as you no likely will.
Following my experience, I saw totally unsuitable candidates selected for jobs for a variety of reasons. I even got my first job by a wink and a phone call. I remember saying "What happens if you hire a really good teacher and they turn out to be someone you all hate" and the frank explanation incuded using performance management to make them "leave" (because that's the right thing they had to do). I saw teachers forging coursework, I myself was made to enter myself for A Level maths (got a B in the end) following a particularly terrible mock.....in order not to pollute the school statistics. I've heard of teachers being "inappropriate" (both sexual and violence) in various local schools and it being hushed up and staff colluding to keep things under wraps and trying to solve problems "in house". Of course, these people are "on message" and will not get sacked. Meanwhile, you'll see random people not have temporary contracts renewed because they are rocking the boat, not on-message, etc, etc. It is a funny old environment to work in.
My experience suggests that this sort of nasty and corrupt as well as ineffective culture is not so present in bigger and more challenging schools. My particular ability was with lower ability and older boys. Probably because I am a massive, loud gorilla and I don't take myself too seriously. It is interesting to note the various "types" of people who are hired and you will see that generally, there are no exceptional people. They are all much of a muchness. They keep their heads down and they do what they are told. I remember my NQT year (contracted). The HOD said "You don't need to plan each lesson, the lessons are in the box" This meant "Do what we do, then none of us will stand out for scruitiny".
Like David, I have many many anecdotes and stories which would make your hair go white. It is a part of the job, it's typical of the culture you find in many schools. Staff are often inexperienced and deluded as to how their school is actually performing. The whole thing does require an overhaul as it is unfit for purpose. An overhaul in terms of how staff are hired, paid, laid off and what they teach.
Remember to all join voices in saying how awful Gove is and to shoot the messenger, rather than the message.
Contrary to several of your voices saying "Another bitter, failed teacher having a moan", I would retort "Deluded, self important idiots with their heads in the sand over the state of their profession.
I saw failure in various forms in every school, whether private or not. Only a Grammar (boys) did have the right attitudes and culture and their last science dept hiree was nearly 20 years ago. Old school "masters" are a dying breed (I am 37, for the record).
My conclusion from 6 years in 30 schools and contracts in 2 is that I cannot allow the education system to ruin my own children and they will be a part of the local home school network. I am also keen to debate any of the above with any of you who have a problem with this over on the TES forum....