Mr Gove, you don’t know the half of it

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Copy of an email sent to Mr Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education.

There are so many changes being thrown at the teaching profession in general that I felt compelled to email yourself to put forward the views of an ordinary, hard working, pressured primary school teacher.

Firstly, I came into this profession after being inspired by the hard working, dedicated primary teachers who taught me in my formative years.

I was lucky to benefit from their skills, love of children, the passion for driving children to achieve not only their potential but also their dreams. I wanted to be just like them.

Since qualifying some 13 years ago, I have seen the profession change vastly with the implementation of new curriculums, strategies and assessment arrangements.

Some for the good of children and some for the benefit of whichever political party may be in power at the time. The recent attacks from yourself and your education committee are the most appalling yet.

Point 1 – Raising the retirement age.

I have had the pleasure of teaching with and learning from some outstanding teachers during my early years.

I have also witnessed these teachers retire at 60 and sometimes younger because they said they were just finding it difficult to keep up with the demands of all the new initiatives being implemented and also keeping up with the children. They wanted to go while they still had enough energy to enjoy retirement with their own children and families.

Point 2 – Teachers’ pay and working conditions.

I find the idea that you think it will be a fair and just process to allow head teachers and governing bodies the role of setting their own school’s pay and conditions process a scary thought. I personally, have been affected by a head teacher in the past who behaved in a very dictatorial manner.

To allow people like my previous head to be given this power will ensure that the members of staff who are favoured will achieve and move up the pay scales and those who are deemed inadequate by that one person’s judgement will continue to be unable to reach the targets set during performance management.

Their future career paths will suffer as a result.

We teachers are well aware of the effects of austerity economics, particularly on the most vulnerable children we see in our classes.

We have ourselves suffered a year with a pay rise half the rate of inflation and then two years without any pay rise at all, despite the economic situation not being caused by us or the children that we teach.

Did the politicians give up their pay increases in those two years?

Are they planning to accept a minimal rise next year – and until the economy is ‘fixed’?

Point 3 - School holiday changes.

I understand that you feel that the pattern of school holidays is antiquated and is unsupportive towards working parents.

What about members of the teaching profession who are parents too?

I believe that this will cause my family untold nightmares as I work in one primary school, my daughter goes to a local high school and my son attends another local special high school. If schools are allowed autonomy to set their own holidays this will cause added pressure to Britain’s families.

As a parent of a child with special needs, it is a difficult enough task organising care, particular for a child who has medical needs.

What will happen if those school holidays don’t coincide?

Do I take time off from my teaching job to take care of my own children?

To reiterate a previous point, why did I go into the vocation of teaching?

I repeat vocation, not a job as seen through the eyes of many people in this country.

I did it because I was inspired to make a difference, to inspire others as I was during my own childhood years.

I did it because I wanted to continue developing young children’s minds. To create awe and wonder.

To hopefully, encourage children to take up the profession when they are old enough.

To encourage children from socially deprived areas in which I teach, to believe that they can make a difference, they can achieve and most of all, they are worth it.

Despite what many people say about them.

My own children have lost valuable family time during their childhood, because I have been busy planning, marking or preparing resources for my class.

I could go on but you are probably inundated with emails and correspondence from other teachers like myself.

Of course you will be getting ready for your long summer vacation from Parliament.

And of course, you will be able to spend your pay rise during the quality holiday time you have been so justly rewarded yourself with – and obviously deserve.

I look forward to your response eagerly.

Name and address supplied