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Why are teachers becoming hate figures?

Is it me or is teaching everywhere? It’s almost almost like teaching is the new rock and roll. 

Hot on the heels of the TV programme, Educating Yorkshire is the fly-on-the-wall documentary Tough Young Teachers (which is so raw for this NQT that I watch from behind the sofa). 

At Christmas I saw the teacher edition of Pointless and Educating East London is being filmed in my Walthamstow manor as I type.

You can’t open a newspaper without reading another teacher- related story. All bad of course. We’re either having affairs with our students, moaning too much or basing our curriculums on box sets of Blackadder. We’re lacking in qualifications, work ethics, standards and crucially, the right attitude.

Since becoming a teacher, I’ve felt scrutinised like never before and I’m a journalist for Christ’s sake. 

The other day a (right-wing) journalist associate asked me why every single teacher hated Michael Gove. It’s a valid question and one I asked my tutors at the Institute of Education last year. 

Politicians are expected to polarise people but I have yet to meet or even hear of a teacher who speaks positively of Gove. And not every teacher is a left-wing liberal. Surely. 

I told him that in my humble opinion, it was to do with Gove’s utter disdain for the profession while having no understanding of how it works.

Here is a man who on the one hand backs Free Schools that can be staffed by unqualified teachers (a job advert doing the rounds on Twitter recently requested a Maths teacher to teach “all levels”. The quals needed? “Five GCSEs including Maths”) while on the other bashing all the qualified teachers for not being good enough. 

This is someone who thinks nothing of moving the goalposts midway through an academic year, keeping the teachers on the hop and sending their pupils further up the creek.

I’ve been working as a journalist for 17 years yet the last 18 months, during which time I trained for a PGCE and started my first job (and this is only 8 hours teaching a week), have been the hardest. And the idea of doing this without any training is laughable and insulting in equal measure. 

Michael, take my word for it, it’s bloody hard and you sneering at everyone for being crap isn’t helping.

I don’t know how long I’ll stay in teaching. And I’m saying this 16 weeks into my first job. I gave up a well-paid job and spent £7,000 on tuition fees to get here. It was such a well-intentioned move yet I’m not sure I can handle it. There I’ve said it.  

Isn’t a good teacher one who gets the best out of their students through encouragement and meaningful feedback rather than criticism and threats? Maybe Gove could learn a lesson there.







Comments (3)

  1. Emerald:
    Jan 21, 2014 at 04:10 PM

    First episode of Tough Young Teachers was excruciating, really felt for them. Looking forward to episode 2. Yes, teaching seems to be everywhere alright.

  2. Chrissie:
    Jan 22, 2014 at 09:03 PM

    Wholeheartedly agree with all your comments about Gove. It is good to see the opinions of those involved in education on a day to day level voiced. I know our school staff would value a more in depth article along similar lines as it so needs to be said.

  3. Kate Bohdanowicz:
    Jan 22, 2014 at 09:12 PM

    Chrissie, I don't know how you do it full-time. I'm sure you'll be rewarded in another life.

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