Teacher Retention : More Than Just An Image Problem

Disappointed Idealist

This is long. If you don’t like long, don’t read it. If anyone posts a comment saying “It’s too long”, after reading this warning, they’re a bit silly. It’s also personal: you’re reading essentially my internal argument about whether – and when – to give up teaching. As such, it’s a rambling muse more than an impassioned rant. It may prompt some thoughts about what we can, or should, do to retain experienced teachers. Or it may not. Sorry if anyone is disappointed by the absence of shouting. However, I make up for that by linking all my sub-headings to appropriate cheesy pop songs. Can’t say fairer than that.

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#6 Being a public sector worker employed by a private company

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I realise that I am fully complicit in the issues I am about to complain about and that if I had such an issue with it then I wouldn’t go through with my next year of teaching. However, I need work and the work I have secured is going to pay me. In fact it’s going to pay me considerably more than I am currently being paid.

I found my new job after I got in touch with a recruitment company. My plan was, having exhausted the charity sector with applications and two unsuccessful interviews with excellent charities, to use my knowledge of education to go into the recruitment sector. On the surface I justified selling my soul to profit by telling myself that I would be putting the right teachers into the right schools and therefore helping to make a difference from behind the front line. In reality I knew that my job would be to push teachers into jobs regardless of how well they fit in order to make my commission targets.

Luckily I was offered an interview with a school nearby to me, not much different to my current school and actually quite liked the ethos of and the subjects taught in the history department.

I like to think they snapped me up because I was so impressive at interview. Also my unrelenting honesty about (some of) my issues with education. I suspect they actually jumped at me because they didn’t have much else to choose from.

After accepting the job I was then forced to go through the process of deciding how I was going to be paid and who by. This is where things got a bit suspect and a little bit annoying.

I was told by my recruitment company that I had to find an umbrella company to sign up with. They would deal with my tax, make sure I was paying the correct amounts and also make sure I was reimbursed for my travel and food expenses. Sounds like a great deal right? Sign up for a company, don’t deal with tax returns, get paid weekly.

Actually, no it doesn’t.

When you dig a bit and realise that you’re not only paying them and fee for this service every week. But also that you’re paying yours AND THEIR national insurance contribution.

I did some research along with my partner. She was like a dog with a bone and would not drop the issue sensing the injustice in the situation. We read the NUT guidance on umbrella companies (their official guidance can be found here). They essentially recommend you avoid using umbrella companies at all costs. They understand that not only are you getting a raw deal but you’re also driving up the costs to schools. They’re paying a premium for good teachers because recruitment isn’t easy and you the teacher need to be paid well enough to make up for the fact you’re using an umbrella company.

This is why I take such great issue with the affair – profit is being put first ahead of the service and it comes at the expense of the school and in the end the tax payer.

“So, don’t take the job if you have that much of a problem!” I hear you scream at the screen.

And then what? Be jobless in September? Move out of my flat? Lose my independence?

I’ve applied for countless jobs. I’ve been to interviews. I’ve spend late nights looking through job adverts. Unfortunately, at this point in time, this is my best option.

I’m not quite ready to give up on my dream of actually making a difference to the youth of today, tomorrow’s leaders of the country. And maybe one day I’ll make it into a school like Eton. I somehow doubt that someone with such disdain for the current “Establishment,” to quote Owen Jones, would be allowed near tomorrow’s real decision makers.
This system of abuse of the public sector by private interest needs to change. If I could have found that school without the recruitment company and had as frank a discussion as I did with their SLT and head teacher I would. And their money would come straight to me and back to them via my tax contribution without making profit for these unethical, profit driven, private interests.

#5 Back to teaching for at least another two terms

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As much as I complain about the current state of education and of course my current situation within my school, I will now be spending at least another 2 terms in a school.

My move is essentially sideways but I will be taking home more money – more on that in a later post.

The only real difference in the school I’m moving to that I can see is that it is single sex rather than coeducational. It has a similar intake, a wide range of abilities and once again surrounded by grammar schools skimming the top students off the top.

I did my best to leave teaching. Anyone who has read my previous posts might be under the impression that I hate my job. They wouldn’t necessarily be wrong in thinking this. Actually a really enjoy teaching. I love being in a class full of enthusiastic students who want to learn. They genuinely can be extremely insightful and funny at times. However, I feel so stifled by the bullshit that goes with the teaching that I end up hating my job. That combined with the work  load, the poor behaviour and lack of accountability of the students leads to an unhappy professional.

Debate has raged recently over the poor light teaching is shown in by the media according to both Nicky Morgan and Sir Michael Wilshaw. Michael Wilshaw in particular took exception to the BBC3 documentary Tough Young Teachers. The response from one of the “stars” of the show was excellent in my opinion. The show gave a real look inside some of London’s toughest schools. It showed what it’s really like for some teachers on a daily basis.

As Oliver Beach points out, what the show did was to highlight some of the struggles of being a teacher. It can be really difficult. That needs to be shown to people considering getting into the profession. Why bother recruiting people and putting money into their training when they are only going to walk away after one or two years?

The real worry is teacher retention. There is a plethora of articles which highlight this issue. Even in this article which questions the reliability of the figures used by the ATL union, the official DfE figures show a year on year rise in the number of trainees gaining QTS but then not completing their NQT year.

I was due to become another statistic of teachers dropping out of the profession within their first 2 years. A major factor for this was because I don’t think my initial teacher training made me fully aware of one major issue:

TEACHING IS NOT EASY. NOT AT ALL. (Except maybe sports day)

Can we please acknowledge this for at least one minute. Some days are horrible. Some days make you want to cry. Some days make you want to hide in the corner of your classroom with the light off and to never have to teach another lesson.

Potential teachers need to be made aware of the realities of the work. It isn’t going to be all fun and smiles every day. You WILL come across a really horrible child (at least one) who simply does not want to work and will do everything but the work. And it’s your job to not only be sympathetic to that child but, as well as encourage them to work, also get the best out of 29 other students. Those are 29 other students who, for the most part, would rather listen to the disruptive student make fart noises than you tell them about the subtle links between the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the more recent Coalition invasion of Afghanistan (yes, that is exactly what happened in one of my latest Year 10 lessons).

So here I find myself, about to complete my year as an NQT on the precipice of stepping into another challenging school on a contract for long term cover.

#3 On why I’m leaving teaching after less than a year as an NQT – the history I teach is not the history I love

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I am not making the point that my personal interest lays much more in social history and also, if my dissertation is anything to go by, the history of the prison system. What I am trying to say is that actually school “history” is no more history than school “maths” could be considered history

Asking students to recall a lot of information about three given time periods and answer them in a formulaic pattern which can and will be taught from the start of the GCSE course is not history.

My passion for history as a subject was born out of my interest in reading as well as the fact that it was a subject I did well in. Essentially, when it came to me choosing my topics for study on the International Baccalaureate diploma I had a straight choice between History and Geography. Even though Geography offered a field trip to the French Alps I knew that I would get greater enjoyment from studying History for another two years instead of Geography.

I recall now writing my controlled assessment for my GCSE on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the excitement that the debate over the topic brought out in most of my classmates. That is real history: debate, opinions, and emotion, supported by the facts. History is not throwing a bunch of dates and people and events into a pre-learnt sentence structure in order to show the stressed out exam marker that you know what he or she is looking for.

In having this style of exams, we force teachers to teach to the exam (as much as we might like to deny this is the case) and we kill the creativity and flexibility of mind that history really deserves. Never mind the target driven culture of teaching which again pushes teachers further towards squeezing as many marks out of the students as possible.

Maybe it would be possible to really get into the history of the GCSE syllabus. Sometimes I think the students might not be able to understand what I am talking about, but they are certainly opinionated enough to have a decent debate.

I am just constantly scared that if we sit about and talk about history, and the impact that this nation has had on the world and what that means, then there is no tangible evidence of progress. This is where my real issue lies; how do I show students making progress every single lesson.

I can complain for days on end about the current curriculum that is taught in schools. Why do we focus on 1066 so heavily? I accept that it was an important date in the history of this country, but what do we do with that? How do we really explore it? Do we explain to the students in depth, especially those who chose to vote for a certain right-wing populist party in our school’s mock election, that essentially after 1066, countless numbers of those people who consider themselves to be British are actually French? How much do we explain that before the French, it was the Vikings? Why do the people of this country not know that they are a great, big bastardized mixture nationalities? We should be proud of this and celebrate it.

Maybe I should blame myself. Maybe I am quite simply some “lefty-liberal” who is trying to react against the recent growth in right win support in this country. Or maybe the illuminati does exist, and they have infiltrated the education system in such an intelligent way that people haven’t even realized that we are being brain washed into thinking that we haven’t had a devastating impact on large parts of the world.

I have an Irish colleague, who gives me much of the brunt of her issues with the English education system, mainly because of the history between our two nations. I agree with her. We should know more about what we have done to other countries and yet I am a walking, talking example of one of the uninformed English people she is talking about.

Chances are I am putting a lot of blame on the reforms made under the Conservative led coalition and they aren’t the only people to blame. I think history teaching in general just needs to focus less on the content and how we can possibly politicize that and more on the skills of history.

I understand that under current reforms there is actually greater freedom, but most of what people are planning around me is still content based rather than skills based. This is what needs to change for me about history, and maybe that needs to actually come from the bottom rather than the top.

#2 On why I’m leaving teaching after less than a year as an NQT – I want my life back

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When I first started this blog my aim was in no way to only have two blog posts about why I’m thinking about leaving before I’d made up my mind. I was hoping to do a whole series, maybe actually have some people read it, get involved in the “twittersphere”, get into some lively debates. The reason I haven’t done this is: teaching.

On announcing my notice being handed in over twitter with the hashtag “#NQT” one person responded and asked me why. I thought that it would be impossible to respond in 140 characters and suddenly remembered that I have a blog as a platform for this exact sort of situation.

I mentioned in my first post on this matter that I was sexually assaulted in the classroom – a moment which will never leave me now I very much doubt. That is by no means the major contributing factor to my resignation however. One of my main reasons for leaving teaching is because of the fact that it’s a lifestyle and not a job.

On countless occasions over morning coffee in the staffroom (a grey, bleak place, sucked of all life by the great big window the children can gawp through at you eating your soup for lunch) people have told me how they were up until 2am, 3am, 4am preparing lessons or finishing marking in order to stay on top of work loads. Whilst this is a practice I refuse to partake in, it leaves me with a constant feeling on guilt or worrying, that I’m therefore not doing enough for my students.

This constant feeling is one of, if not the greatest contributing factor to me leaving. Teaching is a job which you never stop doing. Every waking minute is given over to thinking about work, and that is not a healthy way to live your life. My partner (also a teacher) often complains that I am never completely present with her. I might be there in body but my mind is elsewhere.

I WANT MY LIFE BACK.

That thought stays with me all day every day. Maybe I should have been more aware that this was the case when I got into teaching; I should have known that teachers are married to their jobs and they struggle for a social life, not just during the week but at the weekend as well.

But why on earth would they want to advertise that fact? I recently spoke to one of the organisers of my training course who said that their intake for the 2015-2016 year was dangerously low. “What do you think has caused that?” I put to him.

“The economy is back on course. People don’t want to be teachers now,” came his reply with the look of somebody thoroughly warn out. I chose not to take that opportunity to let him know I’m planning to leave the profession. Imagine if they knew that, along with the less than appealing pay considering the jobs and graduate schemes you can walk into from university, you will also work up to 60 hour weeks. This is also topped off by the fact that it is often a completely thankless task.

Young people do not want to work in an atmosphere where they are put under constant pressure, year round to produce results, lose their evenings and weekends and have to deal with children who are ungrateful for the work they put in. What are the benefits? A pay package that reflects your hard work? No. The satisfaction of putting a child on the path to success? Not at this school.

Maybe I am being cynical here but it simply feels like a lot of teachers do more work than the students. Given the system we are working in, teaching to exams and pushing them through the course, we are barely even giving them the skills they need to succeed at life and be decent human beings.

Teachers I work with put in every bit of effort for the students at my school and they quite simply do not get the return they deserve. There is a severe lack of career progression and I feel a lack of recognition, both from students and staff for the hours they work. It would feel good, I assume, when a struggling student comes away with a grade they have worked hard for under your supervision, but not when you feel you have put in more work than the child.

I’m in my early twenties, and maybe I will one day return to teaching, but for now I want to live my life. I want a job that I enjoy, where it doesn’t feel like everybody is under the strain to push and pull 30 reluctant teenagers through a two-year course kicking and screaming to produce another percentage in a box on a spreadsheet. This isn’t teaching – this is a factory line, and we’re the over worked, under paid employees of a state that has politicized education into the Stone Age.

However, is it right that so many people quietly complain and do nothing in regards to making a change? I’m voting with my feet against a system that does not work, for teachers or pupils. I want my life back and I want an education system, which sees students do more work than staff. Maybe this is an issue isolated to one school, but I get the feeling it is not. These people are clearly teachers for the reason of their dedication to improving the prospects of young people, and that I admire.

On why I struggle to blame Lance Armstrong for what he has done

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Let’s get this out of the way early on: Lance Armstrong IS a cheat and he deserved to be punished.  He lied, he covered things up, he pushed people out of the sport.  There is no denying that at his height when he was on his way to winning his seven Tour de France titles he was one of the most manipulative men in sporting history.  His crime was to create a system of doping more sophisticated than anybody else was doing and to do it in quite a brutal way throwing anybody and everybody under the bus who got in his way. His crime was to be the best cheat amongst a whole host of other cheats.

I have read David Walsh’s book (and I tip my hat to a man who can pursue a story with such vigour when everything in the system was working against him), which describes in detail how he was forced out of interviews and was not treated in the favourable manner of other journalists who chose to turn a blind eye to what some people argue were obviously enhanced performances.  These performances which seem even more miraculous given that Lance was on the comeback from a spell away from the sport.  Not because he needed a rest but because he had cancer.

Now all of this you think may add up to him being the recipient of a deserved life time ban.  But why is that?  All of this does not mean that Lance was the only one cheating.  There were cyclists at the time who were competing with him; he wasn’t exactly blowing the entire field away.  Yes, he won an unprecedented seven Tour de France titles but it is not the case that he was not challenged on his way to do doing so.

At his current age of 43 Lance Armstrong is not likely to make a comeback to professional cycling, and I’m not even suggesting that we give him that option, but the recent outcry because he said “If you take me back to 1995, when doping was completely pervasive, I would probably do it again,” is utterly ridiculous. Lance gives himself context when he makes the statement, by making sure to add the clause “when doping was completely pervasive.”  Everybody who knows anything about cycling is aware that he was not the only person doping, either through use of steroids, transfusions or the drug of choice at the time EPO.

The point I’m trying to make is that Lance is not the only one who deserves this treatment.  And if WADA and the UCI and USADA are going to hammer Armstrong with a lifetime ban then why is a similar punishment and smear campaign not being run against all those who were in some way complicit with this era of drug cheating? Maybe because many of them are still in some way involved in the sport of professional cycling?

Banning Armstrong for life has in no way stopped the problem – riders from UCI pro team Astana were producing positive results still last year.  The problem of doping is still in existence, not only in cycling of course but in a wide range of professional sports.

What has it really done to ban Armstrong for life? Does it set an example to other riders in the pro-peloton? I would argue that not.  Armstrong had already retired.  What have they realistically banned him from? There have been cases where he has attempted to compete in triathlons and swimming events which he has been forced to withdraw from.  This I can understand must be frustrating for Armstrong, but it doesn’t exactly stop him from ever jumping on his bike again.

The one case which I find completely farcical in all this is the George Hincapie Gran Fondo.  Hincapie said of the event

“The Fondo is not supposed to have an intended or implied message; at least that’s not what we are shooting for. It’s just a celebration of cycling with friends and fans that also supports what we feel are important causes.”

This was not supposed to be a race in which Armstrong would be competing but rather a “sportive” type event where fans would be given the opportunity to ride with former and current pros. So who has really lost out in all of this?

To me it simply seems unfair to pin all this hatred and blame onto one guy. Chances are he heaped a whole pile of pressure on those around him to dope and to become complicit in the entire dirty affair but one thing is for certain, he didn’t ask the entire peloton to stick a needle in their arse.  Surely he couldn’t have forced the UCI to cover up positive test results? Omerta wasn’t and isn’t a one man idea to keep things away from the eyes of the public – the public (fans) that make the sport what it is.  It is a top to bottom programme of systematically covering things up and refusing to address the issues which are rife in a sport which has since its inception been plagued by tales of cheating.

The whole EPO era and before, in fact even cycling today in the modern “clean” era stinks of double standards when only one man is singled out for this sort of treatment.  The entire sport needs cleaning up from top to bottom.  One way I can think of doing that is to impose a life-time ban on anybody caught doping.  The risk HAS to be greater than the reward.  And let’s just throw it out there that we are still not quite sure of the long term benefits of doping. So for those who have returned after being caught doping, regardless of those never caught, we have to ask how much they are still benefiting.

Do rich people deserve to be rich?

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This was the subject of one of Russell Brand’s latest editions of the Trews.  Now let me start of by saying that if you hate Russell Brand then most likely you won’t like me but what I intend to do here is to challenge Russell Brand and his handy sidekick (who I also have a lot of respect for) George Monbiot.

I like Russell Brand and I like him for a number of reasons: he’s a West Ham fan, he does not hold himself up to be somebody who is infallible and readily admits his faults, he’s extraordinarily articulate, he questions the system, he challenges societal norms and he also tries to stand up for the “underdog” (New Era Estate, Fire Fighters union etc.).  On the other hand he makes me bloody angry at times.

There are a number of things he says in his latest book Revolution which I see as unnecessary, bordering on racism and quite simply ignorant.  This is not a time when he has made me angry but I think it necessary to question him.

Russell Brand ever so eloquently manages to describe the means by which Lord Rothermere came about his vast fortune (reportedly around £720m):

“What he brilliantly done was he came out the vagina of this lady who was married to a person whose name was also Lord Rothermere.”

There is no denying that for many people in the position of Lord Rothermere this is often the case.  It is a problem that we not only as a British society but also as a global community have and also a problem that some people consider our political processes to have.  For a select few, who are then able to become part of the law making process, they have not been selected or proven their ability to be good at anything but have instead been put in a position of power simply by being born to rich and powerful parents.

Now I believe that anybody with an ounce of intelligence about them can see how there are flaws within that system.  Lord Rotheremere is (obviously, he owns the Daily Mail) a supporter of the Conservative Party who, by definition, believe in the idea of individual freedom and that when people work hard they will be rewarded for their hard work.  No, I am also unaware of what hard work Rotheremere has done in coming to his position of influence.

At this point I am struggling to do anything but agree with Brand.  I’m quite sure that the good Lord Rothermere’s mother did more hard work in forcing a child out from a hole which stretches beyond belief through the process of child birth.  Rothermere owes his position of wealth and influence to his parents who owe their position to their parents and so and so forth.  There is, at least in the case of the current Lord Rotheremere no form of social mobility involved in attaining wealth and influence.

What I want to do at this point is to try and highlight cases where a person of wealth or power has not simply inherited a business – regardless of whether they have then become part of that system and consequently passed on parts of their wealth to their offspring.

Lord Sugar is a well-known businessman and now TV personality, if you can call making a mockery of daft wana-be businessmen and women a TV personality.  His story of rags to riches is one which is often told to aspiring entrepreneurs.  He started off by selling electrical goods from the back of a van working his way up to become one of Britain’s wealthiest men.  He grew up in east-London, not be confused with the trendy east-London of today, and his parents had little money and no titles with which to gain privilege.  This is a man who has worked his way into being given a title and earning a place in the House of Lords.

Charlie Mullins is another example of a rags-riches story, although one which is much less well known.  Mullins is the Director of plumbing firm Pimlico Plumbers – well known for the number plates on their vans.  Mullins left school at the age of 15 before completing an apprenticeship in plumbing and starting the company in 1979.  It is now London’s largest independent plumbing firm turning over approximately £20million.

No I am not right-wing in my views.  No I do not think the current system is particularly fair.  No I do not believe that individuals should hold such a disproportionate volume of wealth.  And finally I neither hate nor love Russell Brand.  I simply believe that everyone should be challenged and people should constantly question what they see, hear or read – especially in the mainstream media.  Social mobility for the most part is a myth but this is not to say that it is non-existent.

What are we supposed to do as a society? I agree that titles and sitting in the House of Lords based on what your great-great-great grandfather did is wrong but for as long as we have private business how are we supposed to stop people handing over the reins of their multi-national company to their children?  If the company then fails well who is to blame?  Redistributing wealth more evenly would clearly be a start but that is not to say that people will stop helping their own children.

It is a disgrace that people can hold positions of influence because of their parent’s wealth or because of where they were educated and who they attended school with but one way it is possible to start moving away from this is to champion those people who have made a success from a standing start.  Brand and Monbiot are right to highlight this issue but at the same time why are they not then saying that there are examples of self-made millionaires?  I completely agree with their stance on individuals holding more wealth than a collective mass of poor but is it really wrong to celebrate the achievements of some people who have done well through the age old “myth” of social mobility?

Yes we need to start living in a more fair society but to some extent those people who have built an empire from nothing are surely examples of the lower classes, the poor, the “unprivileged” taking the matter into their own hands.  No, they may not have built their wealth on a socialist agenda and they may not be sharing it amongst the lower class from where they once came but they have surely had to work bloody hard to get to their current position in life.

With some more time and a bit more research I may have found examples of people starting with nothing and spreading wealth out amongst the poor but I did not this time.  If you can find any examples of this please point me in the right direction so I can highlight what some people are doing to make a difference to the life of other and sharing the wealth.  Robin Hood does not count of course.

#1. Why I am considering leaving teaching after less than an entire year as an NQT.

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This issue is more complex than one single issue but an issue which occurred in a lesson with a Year 9 group has highlighted a number of things that I see as being wrong, not this time with the education system but with me and my ability to be a teacher.  There a number of issues which I wish to discuss and I only intend to cover the incident from my lesson within this post.  In the future I will undoubtedly write about everything else I see as being wrong with the education system. This is in no way an attack or a critique of my current school.

I was subjected to sexual harassment whilst teaching a lesson by a boy in Year 9.  This still feels quite strange to type those words, but to call it anything different would be to not acknowledge this severity of what happened.

Having moved the student to the back of the room, seemingly away from their friends who had been causing a distraction originally, the disruption continued.  Now it is my style to teach from the back of the classroom a lot of the time as I find it much easier to see what is happening in front of me and it also means that the students are not necessarily aware of if or when I am looking at them.

Low level disruption is something which often happens in Year 9 lessons.  I only see one Year 9 group per week for one lesson, but they are by far the least focussed and most disruptive students within the school.  Can I label an entire year group as disruptive?  I personally would say yes.  There have been more students from this year group placed on “managed moves” (more on that later) than any other year group so far this year, as well as the general consensus amongst the teaching staff that this year group are the most difficult in terms of their behaviour.

Having circulated the room and returned to my chosen spot I was not stood there for long before I felt something graze my bum.  What do you do in that situation? How am I supposed to react?  More importantly, how am I supposed to feel about it?  What I did, and not because I had given it any great thought, was remove said student from the lesson to the classroom of another member of my department.

Luckily, standing at the back of the room had paid off in this instant as no other students apart from the partner in crime of said student had witnessed or were aware of what had happened.  There was no shouting involved, no discussion and as much as there were questions following his removal, it was quickly dropped from the rest of the students’ thoughts.

Sexual harassment or sexual assault anywhere at any time must be quite the traumatising experience but I have to admit that I did not feel even slightly effected by the incident.  It is only after the fact that I have become more aware of quite how serious an incident this was.

One thing that has been consistently raised to me is “Just imagine if it was a woman he had done it to!”  Well yes, I see your point.  Had it been a female member of staff there would have been uproar at the highest levels.  This raises another issue of course: why would it be worse if it was a female member of staff?  I’m not exactly sure what the answer is to that question and it is one which I am cautious of posing an answer to.  We as a society should surely treat this kind of incident with equal severity.

I must admit that I had the full support of my line manager and my Head of College which I greatly appreciated.  Both were very welcoming and took the incident very seriously, letting me know what the process would be in terms of punishment for said student.

So why am I still not particularly affected by this?

One thing which I discussed with my partner on returning home was the idea that the idea of “lad” culture and excusing things as “banter” have been so ingrained in me given my upbringing and life experiences (all boys grammar school, rugby playing, university educated) that I simply do not view this as a serious issue.  Maybe had it been a full on grab of my buttocks I would be more inclined to take offense to such an action, but I am still struggling to give this incident its full weight.

I digress slightly.  You may be wondering “Well, it all seems to have been resolved: the student suitably punished and you have the full support of your line managers.”  I am well aware that for some people in the work place that level of support from those above often is not present.  But it poses serious problems for me.  Am I suited to work in this environment when I did not see the severity of the incident until it was made clear to me?  Myself and another male colleague had joked that I may have tempted the student by standing provocatively (which I very much was not).

There are a great number of issues which I have with the education system.  I was not aware that the action of students was going to be one of them.  I think that this whole thing has highlighted my faults to me more so than anything else.  I am not bitter towards the school, I am not bitter towards the student, which maybe I should be a bit more, but rather I am annoyed with myself for creating a relationship with a student where he has clearly become far too comfortable with me.  This leads me to question whether I am ready to be a teacher.

Should I be in a position of responsibility trying to educate students not only on my subject but to make them better people when I can so easily see the funny side of an incident which could have been viewed in a much more serious manner had it been a different member of staff?  If I can’t see the severity of the incident without it being pointed out to me then how am I supposed to teach these young people right from wrong?

On why I’m blogging…

Given that it is the start of the new year I decided to venture into blogging.  I created a new Twitter account and started this blog.  The cynic in me suggests that this is no more than a way in which to procrastinate, putting off the pile of marking and planning I have on a rainy Saturday when a morning’s cycling was declined over one last lie in.

My aim for this blog is simply to get some of my views of the world down on to paper (the internet) and hopefully share them with some other people.  I’m not expecting to change the world, I’m not even expecting to change anybody’s views but just to share my own views.  Chances are this won’t ever be read but its worth a shot.

As the tagline suggests the focus of my blog will be numerous but based on my main passions: teaching, cycling, history and politics.  Undoubtedly some pictures of coffee will be thrown in there as well.

So there it is.  Hopefully someone will read this blog.  Hopefully somebody will like this blog.  And I’m even more hopeful that this won’t come across as the rantings and ravings of an easily lead, simply fooled, crazy, sleep deprived teacher who sometimes rides a bike.