Education, Education, Education - Open Letter To Prime Minister Cameron

Subject: Education, Education, Education - Open Letter To Prime Minister Cameron
From: Emily
Date: 9 May 2015

Dear Mr Cameron,
Congratulations on winning a second term as our prime minister. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t vote for you. In fact when you got your majority I nearly cried (in the middle of teaching a year 7 Geography lesson- that would have been very awkward). But that’s democracy and I am more than happy to accept the result the people have chosen.
The only thing I want to say to you is please, please do not continue to change our education system for the worse. After all I am a lazy teacher who works from 9-3:30 then goes home and doesn’t think about school again until the next morning and obviously I wouldn’t want to be made to work any harder, right? Wrong! Yes I am a teacher but I’m certainly not lazy.
What if I told you that I spend every waking minute thinking about my job, most of my evenings and weekends planning and marking, and trying to think of new ways in which to get my students to hit unrealistic targets so our school looks good in the EBacc league tables?
What if I told you that most evenings when I’m marking I end up crying because there’s no way some of these students are going to hit these targets and I’m terrified of ‘requiring improvement.’ After all I could not have put more effort into it, could not have taught better lessons, ask my students.
What if I told you that when I’m not crying about school, I’m crying because I’m ill? I’ve not a cold but a proper, high temperature, wake up shaking, being physically ill kind of a thing. You know what would fix it- a good couple of days in bed. But I don’t dare take a day off work because every hour until exams counts and even though I’m barely able to focus I carry on because it’s the students and their exams I worry about, because, let’s be honest some of them are lazy and without me some of them really wouldn’t revise which is bad for them obviously as they will regret it later in life, and mostly that’s what I care about. But it’s also bad for me, because I am judged, not on my performance as a teacher through observation and conversations with my students, but as someone who is completely and solely responsible for the performances of students’ with little work ethic.
Let’s go back to the being ill thing for a moment. Obviously when you’ve been ill for a couple of weeks and it won’t go away the doctors is the best place to go so I tried to make an appointment. But I wouldn’t dare take the time out of school for reasons explained above so an appointment after 5:30 is required (until them I’m running intervention desperately trying to improve grades). The next one my local GP has is 3 weeks away so that’s what’s happened to the NHS.
The bottom line is teachers are dropping like flies (probably quicker than flies actually) and I am one of the many that has considered quitting. I declared me intention to be a teacher at the age of 3 in a ball pond (so I’m told anyway) and, as clichéd as it is, it’s all I have ever wanted to do. I love the teaching too but I, like many others, have considered quitting and I’m less than two years in and here the problem lies. I’m good at my job and I love doing it but what I don’t like the fact that I don’t have a life outside (apart from the theatre but since I sit and work in the interval I think that shows you how bad it is). There are two reasons I won’t quit (at least not this term). First of all, and most importantly the students, they need stability, someone who cares and someone who gives everything and I do that. Secondly, what a waste that £9000 I paid to train two years ago (£9000 to do something that is a public service I might add). I’ve at least got to try and make that back.
I appreciate there have been good things about the last five years too- improvement of mental health services, the institution of gay marriage, the cut in the deficit. The changes to education haven’t been one of them and that’s why I’m asking you to stop these ridiculous changes, to speak to teachers before you decide, even have a go at teaching for a day (or maybe your education secretary).