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Education Challenges Continue To Pile Up – But There’s Plenty To Celebrate Too

A difficult year for teachers has shown once again in turbulent times we try to support each other wherever we can

  • Education Challenges Continue To Pile Up – But There’s Plenty To Celebrate Too

Please forgive my positivity! There is no doubt that this has been the most challenging year I have had so far as a teacher. I could bang on about it for pages (those who follow me on Twitter have probably had enough of my never-ending tweets on school funding already) – but here, as the long summer break approaches, before the arrival of a new batch of Y7s…I don’t want to.

Because what I have also witnessed this year is something that always occurs when education professionals are challenged; we try to support each other.

The volume of resources that I have seen shared online free of charge, for example, has been incredible. I am fortunate to line manage our great English department and have been able to pass on numerous documents shared by other hardworking teachers. If you haven’t yet checked out #TeamEnglish on Twitter you should.

As a maths teacher I have had my own confidence knocked by not having the depth of knowledge of the syllabus expectations that I used to possess. Once again, the free support that I have been able to access has been hugely uplifting.

There is no doubt that the students in my class have benefited from the efforts of teachers working in other schools – which is amazing, if you think about it. I am so thankful to the staff doing the work, and to the leaders in those schools for seeing the greater good. There are of course still some schools that put competition and league tables above supporting all young people; but I remain hopeful that their isolationism will be increasingly challenged moving forward.

It’s looking up for Ofsted

I also think that we have a reason to be more positive about Ofsted under the guidance of Amanda Spielman.

She seems to understand the difficulties faced by school leaders, and willing to listen to professionals on the front line. This can only be a good thing.

The shortage of teachers generally and the dearth of professionals wanting to become an headteacher must be reversed. There is no doubt that the pressures of serving your community and still needing to please/appease Ofsted is difficult. I feel that Amanda understands that, and I am optimistic that things will get better next year.

The way that parents decided to stand up and demand that education be prioritised in the lead up to the election was a positive development, which must continue. The realisation that education is an important vote winner, or loser, for the political parties – and not just something to change in order to make headlines or to provide a smoke screen to hide other aspects of government action/inaction; this will keep the true purpose of our profession in MPs’ minds and ensure that the future of young people is properly invested in.

MATs can inspire improvement

I know the academy agenda is a divisive one but I have seen just how powerful working in partnership can be. I see how much our secondary school has benefited through connecting with the primary schools in our multi-academy trust; as this collaboration grows, all of the young people in our MAT will benefit.

And of course, a MAT isn’t a prerequisite for this, but ours has certainly moved our partnership forward much more quickly than in previous years.

I am a positive person and you may well say that it is naïve to be so optimistic…but that won’t stop me. There is no doubt we have a lot to deal with, especially school funding (sorry, I tried!), but we also have so much to celebrate.

So – thank you to those staff and schools that have supported mine without even knowing it this year. Thank you to the parents that have made so much noise in support of our schools and their children. And finally, thank you Amanda Spielman for the sensible decisions I am sure you are going to make; cheers!

Vic Goddard is headteacher at Passmores Academy, as seen on Channel 4’s Educating Essex, and is the author of The Best Job in the World; you can follow him at @vicgoddard

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