June 2016

The know zone

  • Time for sensitivity
    Heather Mitchell explores the key issues schools and colleges should consider carefully when managing redundancies and restructuring. More
  • Show business matters
    The evolution of school business leaders is well documented but anomalies remain when it comes to pay, a situation that’s inequitable, uncertain and lacking consistency of approach, says Val Andrew. More
  • Don't panic!
    Julie McCulloch looks at three proposals in the new White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, that have particular implications for primary schools. More
  • What attracted to teaching?
    Why did you decide to get into teaching and is it something that you always wanted to do? Has it lived up to your expectations? Here, ASCL members share their views… More
  • Make the right choice
    Looking for a new leader? ASCL’s Leadership Appointment Service can provide an experienced head to help at every stage of the process. More
  • The final act?
    Working in education has elements of farce, but could turn into a tragedy, according to former head-turned consultant and playwright Peter Campling. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Doing justice to learning
    The National Centre for Citizenship and the Law (NCCL) delivers hands-on education workshops in courtrooms across the UK by providing a unique learning experience. More
Bookmark and Share

Why did you decide to get into teaching and is it something that you always wanted to do? Has it lived up to your expectations? Here, ASCL members share their views…

What attracted to teaching?

Role model

I have worked in state education for nearly 36 years and I am retiring this year. As with most people, I was inspired to become a teacher in the first place because of a number of things – factors such as an inspiring role model at school, a desire to make a real difference to the lives of people in challenging circumstances and the political view that education contributes to social mobility and equality and I wanted a better world.

My role model at a tough army boarding school, where elements of the book Lord of the Flies could be seen as a script for a documentary, was a member of staff who was different. No shouting, no ridicule and pointed sarcasm, no death by handout and books with lists of questions, he actually ‘taught’ us, loved his subject, engaged learners and gained the respect of a tough crowd by his care and support. He took time to talk through issues and expand horizons. Selfishly perhaps I thought that the respect he gained and the gravitas he had were things I valued in a career choice. I discovered the passage in To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus leaves the courtroom: the black community waited for him to leave and all stood with Scout being asked to stand too ‘as your daddy is walking by’.

Teaching is often about hopeless causes, lost battles, silly and ill-informed public debate and crass Ofsted frameworks but it is also about doing the right thing despite the odds just because it is the right thing. I think Roger Bishop, a teacher at Gordon’s school in the 1970s, taught me that. I became a teacher too, and if I have been half as good as he was, then that will do me.

Paul Macintyre
Headteacher, Myton School, Warwick

A way of life

I have lost count of the numerous times I have been asked, “Why did you get into teaching?” At dinner parties, school reunions and barbeques, the question is always almost accompanied by an incredulous look and swiftly followed by a smug reference to holidays! “I can tell you,” I always say, “it’s the only job I have ever done where I look forward to getting up and coming in, where it doesn’t really feel like a job but more of a way of life. Every single day is always different and challenges me, develops me and shapes me as a person. It is an honour to work with so many dedicated individuals as colleagues and refreshing to nurture groups of young people who are brutally honest and open. In short, it’s fun and engaging and every day flies past in a blur. It’s fantastic.”

Paul Kinder
Deputy Headteacher, Warlingham School, Surrey

Eyes wide open

I went into teaching late – I was over thirty – and having had experience of a wide range of jobs and of workplace environments (as well as having travelled extensively), I feel that I went into the profession with my eyes wide open.

One of the things that a lot of teachers (who go straight from university into the profession) don’t realise is that people in the private sector are simply not treated the way teachers are, that is – harangued, pressurised, threatened (via the ever-looming Ofsted inspection) and constantly put-upon, both during and out of school hours.

Fundamentally, successful businesses would never treat their staff with the contempt that this government does teachers. Let’s be honest, if the young people in our care were treated the way teachers are, then those responsible wouldn’t be working in education for very long! Years of constant curriculum change, Whitehall micro-management, systematic attacks on pay, conditions and pensions – and a stream of secretaries of states for education who fail to listen – or do what’s in the best interests of schools, children and their communities.

Has teaching lived up to my expectations? Well, to quote Dickens: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’

Senior Teacher from the East Midlands (Name and details supplied)

Support and encouragement

I failed the 11+ exam in 1971. Since that infamous day, I have passed every single public exam I have ever taken. This includes eight O levels, three A levels, a BA (Hons) university degree, the PGCE, an MA in Education, the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) qualification and even the Ofsted inspector certification. The 11+ is the only public exam I have ever failed. Dammit, I even passed my driving test first time!

Why did I get into teaching? So I could play my part in serving in schools that have supported and encouraged children in their achievements. I can retire as a headteacher this summer with a clear conscience that that is exactly what I have done for more than 30 years – not labelling children as failures, as happened to me, aged 11, all those years ago.

Ben Warren
Headteacher Summerhill School, Dudley, West Midlands