Cut workload and class sizes, not pay and conditions

Cardiff teachers strike NUT Fitzalan High School, photo Cardiff Socialist Party

Cardiff teachers strike NUT Fitzalan High School, photo Cardiff Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Akila, Newly qualified teacher, Birmingham

Nearly a third of newly qualified teachers who started work in 2010 have already left the profession.

This figure reveals the true cost of the government’s education ‘reforms’. That many teachers are driven away from the profession is unsurprising.

Teachers are entering a job that is more pressured than ever. As a newly qualified teacher, I work at least ten hours a day, and often take work home at weekends.

Target-setting means that new teachers and trainees are often expected to meet unrealistically high teaching standards right at the beginning of their career.

Schools now face the threat of being closed down or made into ‘academies’ if they do not perform as demanded by education inspector Ofsted. This leads to management making teachers carry out unnecessary and time-consuming tasks to meet impossible expectations.

The majority of secondary schools in England – 59% – are now academies, allowing them to ignore national agreements on teachers’ pay and conditions, and increase workload. I trained at an academy where recently qualified teachers were asked to mentor several newly qualified teachers at once, because the staff turnover was so high.

Teachers are held to account for pupils’ results, meaning they need to spend valuable time justifying pupils’ marks. This will only become more stressful, due to the 2014 National Curriculum with much tougher exams. But the government’s obsession with learning by rote means exams are more a test of memory than ability.

If we want teachers to stay and teach well, we must fight to end the ban on councils building new council-run schools, and fight for investment in reduced class sizes, cuts to workload, and guaranteed decent pay and conditions.