Why academy schools strike fear into supply teachersIn part three of our expose on why contract teachers are turning to supply teaching, we turn our attention to academy schools. We reveal why enforced new terms and conditions set by academy schools are driving teachers to rethink their careers.

teachweb supply teachers have been more than willing to share with us their experiences.

Many teachers told us they felt they were being taken for granted. Unfortunately, many also told us they had turned to supply teaching as an exit route from the profession.

It is a fact that academy schools are free to invent new terms and conditions for new staff. On a positive note, the majority of academy pay scales do not tend to vary much from national norms.

Yet worryingly, according to a report by the Times Education Supplement: “Some academies require staff to be available during school holidays, while others put no upper limit on working hours.”

According to the NASUWT, academy schools can propose all sorts of changes to pay and conditions.

Some existing academies insist on Saturday working, whilst others enforce longer school days and longer school years. In some, slightly more pay is offered for these extensions to working hours. In others, this is not the case.

Furthermore the NASUWT also states: “Existing staff who agree to a change of contract following conversion to academy status are bound by any new contract devised by the academy, which may not include provisions for planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time.”

The NASUWT adds: “New contracts also rarely cover leadership and management time. Also new contracts can result in teachers being required to undertake a range of administrative tasks that do not require their qualifications or skills.”

For many of the more desperate teachers teachweb spoke to, the ultimate decision to leave the teaching profession came only after their contracts were changed when their schools turned into academies.

The majority of teachers found their teaching days lengthened by an hour. In addition they were required to cover after-school activities as well as to stay for meetings until 7pm on at least one night a week.

On top of that, teachers still had to find the hours required to complete marking and paperwork.

In conclusion, in many schools teachers who are already stressed and overworked are now essentially being forced to work an extra hour, every day for the same pay.

Therefore it’s of little surprise that changes to terms and conditions in contracts, applied by academy schools have been the final straw for some good teachers who choose to supply teach while they are retraining.

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

About the Author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teaching agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

Supply teachers reveal why they disagree with teaching to the testTeachers become teachers because they love to teach. Yet it is becoming apparent that under the enormous pressure of tests, league tables and classroom management objectives, many teachers are questioning their career choices.

In a follow up to our last post: The uncomfortable truth: Why teachers are turning to supply teaching, we reveal why teaching to the test is making them so unhappy.

According to many teachers questioned, Ofsted is constantly changing what it expects to see in an outstanding lesson, making it harder and harder to get the coveted grading of “outstanding”.

One teacher told teachweb: “Every child has to be engaged all the way through the lesson to get ‘outstanding’. If just one child is off-task, then you won’t get an ‘outstanding’.”

For anyone who knows children, it seems fairly obvious that at some point during a thirty-minute lesson, at least one child is going to disengage. They’re children for heaven’s sake! On top of that, the lesson isn’t all that will be judged.

Another teacher told us: “You can teach the most amazing lesson, but if you aren’t completely up to date with your marking, you’ll fail.”

More and more teachers get the impression that Ofsted is just looking for ways to catch them out and label them as inadequate.

“It’s meant to be about raising standards, but it feels more like a witch-hunt to me.” said one teacher.

Another teacher said: “I can think of one four letter Tory word for why people would want to leave teaching.” Yes, Mr Gove has a lot to answer for.

Mr Gove has repeatedly insulted teachers by calling them “whingers” and insinuating that they are lazy. He wants to raise teaching standards by adopting performance related pay and forcing out under-performing teachers.

But will these proposals really drive up standards? Of course not. They will just cause more stress and decreased morale in the profession.

Hands up if you know who said this? “The Government must take responsibility for driving so many experienced professionals out of the classroom by tying their hands in red tape and watering down their powers.”

This statement is so true. However it might surprise you to know that this isn’t a quote from one of our teachers. It was actually said by Michael Gove back in 2010 in an attack on the Labour government.

Has anything changed since then? Has red tape been abolished? Well, whatever has been done isn’t enough to stop teachers from quitting, that’s for sure.

Are you thinking of leaving the teaching profession? We would welcome your comments”

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

About the Author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teaching agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

We cannot help but notice that many highly qualified and experienced teachers are turning to supply teaching, having made the decision to leave permanent teaching jobs to change career.

Further investigation tells us in fact teachers are leaving the profession in droves. It’s hard to ignore these statistics:

  • 50% of teachers quit teaching within their first 5 years.
  • 84% of teachers admit to feeling demoralised and de-professionalised.
  • 50% of current teachers have seriously considered leaving in the last year.
  • Almost half of qualified teachers in the country are no longer teaching.

So to sum up these statistics: Half of all teachers are leaving the profession and 84% of those left feel demoralised.

There’s no way of brushing this issue under the carpet. It’s as clear as day. Teachers are not happy. As a result the UK is losing excellent, highly skilled and committed professionals in their thousands.

Therefore we decided to ask teachers registered with teachweb what the real reasons are behind them wanting to get out of the profession.

As expected, they told us stress and bureaucracy are top of their list. Also, the huge number of changes being forced upon them. Here’s a rundown of some of their comments:

“The unbelievably harsh regime of observations we have to endure.”

“Ofsted has created a new pressure. Now it wants everyone to be ‘outstanding’. My school seems to think that anything else isn’t good enough.”

“This pressure to be “outstanding” has led head teachers to implement their own systems of stress-inducing observations. There used to be a maximum limit to the number of observations a few years ago. Unfortunately for us this has now been removed.”

“In most schools observations are ‘no notice observations’. This means the head will just walk into any lesson without warning, observe it and give the teacher a grade.”

In theory, the possibility of any lesson being observed will lead to improved standards, as teachers will meticulously plan every lesson.

In reality though, teachers are reduced to quivering wrecks with the constant fear of observation upon them. Many work themselves into the ground making sure every lesson is of observation-quality, as if they don’t have enough to work to do.

Are you thinking of leaving the teaching profession? We would welcome your comments”

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

About the Author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teaching agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.