If teachers wrote a letter to Santa Claus requesting gifts for the teaching profession, what would they ask for to improve standards?
For several years, I have been sharing my wishes for the teaching profession in an annual letter to Father Christmas, reflecting on the current challenges of the teaching profession …
No academic year is without progress or setbacks. As Christmas approaches, I write this letter hoping that it reaches you at the North Pole, and that one or two policyholders will read it too!
Teaching wishes for the year …
1. Education is not just about academic achievement. It’s about nurturing well-rounded individuals. I wish policymakers would recognise a curriculum that emphasises emotional intelligence, creativity, and academic pathways. We still have NO news from the DfE on missed (2022) English Baccalaureate targets. The policy is not working!
2. Santa, teachers are lifelong learners, but this does not translate into professional learning due to the nature of their role or sometimes where they choose to work. We need a more equitable approach to teacher training supported by various branches of educational research.
3. The pandemic has shown us that traditional assessment methods are not the only way, although we know teacher assessment is biased. I wish for a continued evolution in assessment strategies, focusing more on supporting all students, not some.
4. On the bright side, teacher mental health awareness has grown, with schools increasingly attentive to teachers’ pressures. However, (reported) workload is reducing but remains high overall, impacting teachers’ personal lives.
5. Teachers need a stronger voice in educational policy-making. The Department for Education and Ofsted have been more proactive with roundtable discussions, but a degree of cherry-picking and groupthink is still evident.
6. Technology has become an integral part of teaching, but its implementation often lacks strategic planning. We only need to look at the successes and failures of Oak Academy implementation to learn how to improve edtech policy.
7. Finally, Santa, I could not finish my letter without expressing the recent tragic story of headteacher Ruth Perry, who sadly took her own life due to stress related to an impending Ofsted report. She was silenced for three months! Inspection problems linger on for those who experience the sharp end of the wedge! I used to jokingly call Ofsted the ‘Grim Reaper’, having suffered a similar experience. However, I will now only use the phrase with caution.
Despite a new HMCI (and former school leader) starting soon, I fear radical reform is out of their hands.
The challenges, resilience and dedication of teachers I see on my travels across the UK continue to inspire me. Collectively, our teachers have the knowledge. Put simply, we are not empowered to reach our full potential.
Ross (Age, 50)