An open letter to Ms Sturgeon and Mr Swinney from a headteacher who is leaving the profession. I have copied and pasted it in full for those who don't like following links, but included a link to the URL, which has some interesting comments from readers, too.
* October 21, 2018 Paddy's Daddy Publishing
Good Teaching is What Truly Matters – A final word from a resigning headteacher.
Today we have a moving and raw letter from a Headteacher on his/her final day. *
Dear Ms Sturgeon and Mr Swinney
I am writing this letter on my final day as a Scottish, Primary Headteacher.
After nearly 14 years in the profession, and more years than I care to remember, working with children and young people, I made the decision to leave teaching for good.
In common with many recent letter writers, the burden has become too much.
I entered teaching after several years working in schools, and with partners, supporting children’s education. I had experienced firsthand the hours which dedicated staff put in to ensure that they can do their best for the young people in their establishments. Therefore, I was under no illusions about the effort needed to be good at this job.
I entered formal teaching practice at a time when CfE was in its infancy, not yet fully formed. It was also a time when 5 to 14 was embedded in Scottish schools and teachers felt that they knew what was expected of them.
If you were lucky, like me, you had a headteacher who would allow you enough flexibility to do a good job, in terms of meeting the needs of the learners in your class.
Inclusive education most certainly existed, but there was some support in terms of part time placements within a base, support teachers regularly in school and opportunities to learn from experts about how best to support individual needs. Paperwork was at a manageable level.
Then came the excitement of CfE and the promise to ‘declutter the curriculum’ allowing schools to tailor the delivery to take account of local interests, differences in communities and even allow for some personalisation and choice, progression, breadth, depth, etc.
Who could really argue with the principles of curriculum design? Learning and Teaching Scotland supported schools and local authorities to begin the implementation process.
Then came, unpacking the curriculum, what did the Es and Os mean, how could you ensure progression over the 3 years of a level?
Building the Curriculum documents were developed and learning pathways created. Learning across the curriculum, responsibility of all, and so on, the jargon began to flow from the centre, within schools and at authority level.
Development Officers from Literacy and Numeracy to Sustainability were there to ensure everyone was clear about what this new curriculum could deliver.
In between publications, schools were looking at pedagogy:
Assessment is for Learning approaches needed to be embedded. Tapestry courses were attended, Dylan William books read, Teacher Learning Community meetings attended, learning rounds undertaken.
And, bit by bit, Inclusion matters raise their head more formally. Support begins to dwindle, teacher leadership becomes the norm -we must be empowered to take control in our classrooms, we can meet the needs of all learners (GIRFEC).
But it didn’t stop there, we needed to look at planning and planners: 4 feature, interdisciplinary, cross curricular, additional support plans, childs plan, IEP.
It was becoming an ‘Industry!’
LTS became Education Scotland.
Then at some point, the SALS (significant aspects of learning) were introduced, and as we got to grips with these, the Benchmarks followed.
During this time, I was swept along with this machine. I enjoyed the relative calm before the storm, honing my skills, becoming more familiar with all of the above and supporting others within my community to do the same.
I was also working my way up the career ladder as Acting PT, Development Office, Principal Teacher and then, through the Flexible Route to Headship, I became a Headteacher.
Riding on the crest of a wave, I was delighted to be leading the way in school improvement ensuring I consulted pupils, parents, staff and the wider community on what was needed to make our school the best it could be.
Preparing for Inspection, Learning Trios, Cluster Learning Communities and networks formed. Having read Fulan, etc. I knew what had to be done to create a culture of improvement.
Slowly but surely the realisation that I was being expected to do more and more, with less and less, dawned.
‘Don’t worry,’ we were told, Teachers need to start doing more for themselves. Too long they have relied on headteachers doing it for them.
They should be writing the ASPs, the Single Agency Assessments making sure they are Getting it Right for Every Child, leading working parties, developing the curriculum, enhancing pupil experiences, tracking wider achievements, understanding assessment data and how to use this to track and monitor, raise attainment …
Then came the Pupil Equity Fund, this would be just what we needed to close the poverty related attainment gap! (Had teachers not tried to do this before?) and the proposed Head Teacher’s Charter with statements about ‘parents demanding,’ ‘accountability,’ etc, etc.
During all of this time, I have tried to do my best. I have worked a 60+ week without thought of overtime payments.
I attend residential excursions, do many business miles to Social Work meetings, HT meetings, up and down to ASDA (other supermarkets are available) in order to stock up on essential supplies or to buy treats for the ‘Gold Award’ winners.
Would I ever dream of claiming expenses, of course not – and neither do most of you. Because it’s never been about the money, the hours or the credit for trying to do a good job. It’s always been about knowing that I have made a difference, supporting children, and sometimes families, to do their best.
I too have a family, I too have to think about my health and happiness and when that is threatened by over work and the lack of respect from our politicians, like Mr Swinney who has suggested that we do not know what we want or need, the time has come to make a stand.
In my very small way, this has come through my resignation.
My colleagues understand that my integrity will no longer allow me to continue in a profession where we are being forced by our political masters to constantly flit from initiative to initiative with no time to support staff to develop and embed what truly makes a difference:
Good Teaching is what truly matters Ms Sturgeon and Mr Swinney.
When will you put a stop to this INDUSTRY and respect us enough to let us do our job properly, as 99.9% of us have always tried to do?
Your job should be to support educational professionals to regain the trust of the public and to ensure that schools become places respected by their local community and education is once again valued for what it does in supporting children and young people into a brighter future.
I don’t expect a reply from you or Mr Swinney, others have tried and got nowhere, but please please sit up and listen before it is too late!
A now Ex Headteacher
Elegran Mon 29-Oct-18 10:19:52
GrandyC Thu 15-Nov-18 06:14:56
gillybob Thu 15-Nov-18 07:12:42
hillwalker70 Thu 15-Nov-18 07:31:46
EllanVannin Thu 15-Nov-18 08:30:16
Elegran Thu 15-Nov-18 09:01:02
Elegran Thu 15-Nov-18 09:02:24
Buffybee Thu 15-Nov-18 11:04:50
Jane10 Thu 15-Nov-18 11:52:47
EllanVannin Thu 15-Nov-18 11:56:08
gillybob Thu 15-Nov-18 12:31:10
Luckygirl Thu 15-Nov-18 12:35:06
eazybee Thu 15-Nov-18 12:47:39
Jane10 Thu 15-Nov-18 12:47:45
Elegran Thu 15-Nov-18 12:56:16
Mamissimo Thu 15-Nov-18 13:01:48
gillybob Thu 15-Nov-18 13:13:52
gillybob Thu 15-Nov-18 13:14:27
Elegran Thu 15-Nov-18 13:42:08
hillwalker70 Thu 15-Nov-18 13:46:14
gillybob Thu 15-Nov-18 14:25:52
Telly Thu 15-Nov-18 15:05:04
Elegran Thu 15-Nov-18 16:03:47
gillybob Thu 15-Nov-18 17:15:23
Elegran Thu 15-Nov-18 18:37:03