Educating Cardiff and Teacher Recruitment

11 Sep

Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of England’s schools inspectorate Ofstead, has claimed that TV shows such as ‘Educating Cardiff’ were adding to the teacher recruitment crisis.  I’m not entirely sure where his evidence for such a claim is but I can’t help feeling that this is more a case of attempting to avoid taking responsibility for the situation in England.

The fact is that in England there continues to be a teacher recruitment issue.  This has been caused by misguided Government policies restricting the professionalism of teachers; the role becoming less enticing due to cuts to pay and pensions, and the hugely detrimental and punitive accountability measures forcing large numbers of teachers to leave the profession early.  Add to this the acadamization programme stripping the professionalism of teachers away and it is not hard to understand why individuals are more reluctant to enter and stay in the role.

I have to say I think the whole ‘Educating….’ series, including the most recent Cardiff version, are a fantastic vehicle for breaking down the stereotypes of the 9am-3pm teaching job.  These shows have exposed the reality facing teachers in that their roles are increasingly, to the detriment of their personal and professional lives, demanding far more than the expected or even sustainable from teachers.  What is more, these shows have highlighted the very real personal and human relationships that go beyond the crass sort of data driven education system that the likes of Sir Michael Wilshaw champion.

While Sir Michael complains that these shows highlight the ‘Jack the Lad and Sally Show-off’ in schools, he appears to have missed the focus on teachers who are dedicating hours and hours of their time outside school days to ensure their pupils succeed, or the success stories of pupils who apply themselves to gain great qualifications and contribute to the school community.

It may indeed be the case that some people are put off teaching because they see how difficult the job is by watching these documentaries.  However, while Sir Michael says that ‘If people who are thinking about coming into teaching see that and say, ‘I’m not going to experience that… sort of nonsense’ they won’t go into teaching,’ I say that these shows do not hide the fact that teaching is hard.  If anything they prepare those that enter teaching for the challenges that awaits them.  Ofstead and the Westminster Government would be better placed trying to support teachers and schools in making the profession more empowered rather than trying to hide the challenges that see so many teachers step away from the role after just a few years.

It seems to me that Sir Michael should be less concerned about the fact shows like ‘Educating Cardiff’ could put individuals off entering teaching and more concerned with why the environment that makes people reluctant to pursue their ambitions within the profession exist in the first instance.

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