There was little relief at the end of what has been one of my most exhausting and emotionally draining weeks as other educationists widely echoed my shock and pain at the election result. One of the many things that angered me was the number of left-wing “purists” despairing at the result despite, having done nothing but attack the Labour party for being “Tory-lite” for years. However, you can forgive everyone their horror and incredulity when faced with the reality of the Conservative manifesto for schools, including gems such as using Ofsted to force schools to take the EBacc and increased academisation…I can only wish all educationists had read this sooner.
When reading this blog I became increasingly aware that I had either morphed into “that dog” from “that car insurance” advert or Ed Miliband as I withheld the compulsion to shout “hell yes!” at the end….and then leave quietly in embarrassment.
Every point made on what strong women in education don’t say, I have heard from other female teachers, many times. The points Bennie picks apart are: “Behaviour in this classroom would be much better if I had a male learning support assistant”, “they don’t respect me because I am a woman”, “I can’t apply for that job because there’s one bullet point on the job description I can’t do”, “I’m worried they will find out I’m a fraud”, “I can’t do this job when I have a family.”
I admit to not applying for jobs because there was one thing I didn’t have experience in and being subjected to looks of horror because I attended a weekend education conference when, “as a mother”, I should have been with my family!
The conclusion is a rallying call to all women: “This week, find the fierce women in your life and ask them if they’ve ever said or thought the five things above. The beauty of starting the conversation is realising, in all probability, we have thought them or said them or both. I hope that somewhere in that conversation, you find yourself feeling a little more fierce.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m starting today.
Every teacher can remember the mental and physical exhaustion of finishing their NQT year; a year that experienced teachers will often look back on with embarrassment as they recall, “yes I did try that…” When I started I had a wonderful, experienced, kind and supportive female role model – and it angers me that such people seem to becoming extinct. In this blog Stephen Tierney highlights concrete things management teams can do to try to support NQTs and increase retention in schools. However, the final line is a reality check: whatever leaderships in individual schools try to do, they can only hope “the new government help[s] rather than hinder[s]”.
If there was one blog I could choose to highlight the confusion removing levels at the same time as altering the curriculum has created for parents and teachers, this would be it. Under the guise of restoring “rigour”, the government created “chaos”.
These changes have only succeeded because of the incredible ability of teachers to make things work for the children in their class – arguably the fall-out has not been greater because teachers are too good at their jobs!
If you are questioned by parents as to why their child appears to have “gone backwards”, show them this blog. As the next five years stretch fearfully before
us remember Michael’s final comment: “As ever, teachers will be doing the best to provide the best possible education within the parameters set by the government.”