Mudcat Café message #4053261 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #167690   Message #4053261
Posted By: Steve Shaw
18-May-20 - 06:40 AM
Thread Name: BS: UK thread, Politics and political
Subject: RE: BS: UK thread, Politics and political
We're both well out of the profession now but we still both know enough teachers to see what pfr is saying. A healthy work-life balance has disappeared. You get to school extremely early, you leave late and your evening has gone as you still have hours of work to do. You spend most of the school "holidays" working your socks off, marking work, preparing schemes and drawing up detailed lesson plans, including the preparation of materials. Marking children's work now has to be done in ridiculous detail. All this drains away much of the energy that teachers should be reserving for putting in a lively and enthusiastic classroom "performance." It started to go seriously downhill in the mid-80s when Thatcher took revenge on teachers for taking (very limited) industrial action. There commenced a pointless and arbitrary tick-box method of "assessing" pupils' progress which was and, to an extent still is, even in its modern manifestation, open to cheating and corruption in order to get your school up the league table. There was the imposition of a content-stuffed anti-educational "national curriculum" (fit for the proles but not for the privileged in taxpayer-subsidised private schools and which left no room for imagination or interesting diversions, the sort of thing we remember our best teachers for), a five-day theft of holidays ostensibly for in-service training that I never saw utilised effectively, the removal of professional choices, replaced by the notorious 1265 hours' "directed time", and an Ofsted regime (judgemental only, never supportive) that was initially populated by significant numbers of failed teachers who had had two to three days' training (the first Ofsted inspector I had to endure, a portly, elderly man, fell asleep at the back of my lab after he'd had a night on the beer in a Bude Hotel that I know well...)

Of course, this is is a general phenomenon, not by a long chalk unique to teaching. Thatcher prepared the way for this exploitation in the workplace by emasculating trade unions (later connived in by New Labour, which proved that they weren't actually "Labour" at all). The teaching unions, never especially strong, as getting teachers to all act together is about as easy as herding cats, were too weak to put up any sort of effective opposition to these mostly deleterious changes. The upshot is that teaching is an impossibly difficult and often unrewarding job that probably (subjective view only, the only one possible) has not yielded higher "standards." If teachers are sitting around in what little spare time they have talking about teaching, it's hardly surprising, though you wonder why they aren't asleep instead.