A flush faced young teacher walks into her own classroom for the first time. The nerves make her retch as she envisages all the potentially horrific scenarios that could befall her during the first day on the job.
A violent assault over a stick of gum, which leads to her developing PTSD. A torrent of verbal abuse – laden with more curse words than a Christmas visit from great uncle William – just for asking a young lady where her pen was. Students secretly setting up scenarios which push teachers to breaking point, just so they get fifteen minutes of fame from a YouTube video.
If you think these scenarios are too far removed from reality, you’re wrong. This female teacher is very right to be concerned.
‘Pen-gate’ is eerily similar to an incident a colleague experienced a short time ago.
A recent Guardian article highlighted the findings of a NEU teacher’s survey. Frankly, the results are a damning summary of the state our schools, all stemming from the global financial crisis from ten years ago.
Not only are our schools so tragically underfunded that class sizes are ballooning into the 40s, but students are being taught in dark, dank and depressingly dirty classrooms because schools can’t afford cleaners.
Moreover, students and their families are more likely than ever to lash out at the one group of people they see everyday – teachers.
Forced austerity measures were introduced by The Government to fix the massive deficit, but at great cost to the average family. When families can’t afford to nourish their children, they send them to school hungry, tired and cranky. Who gets the brunt of the anger? All school staff – teachers, progress assistants, behaviour support workers, year managers, office staff, site staff – whoever is in the line of fire of the student on that particular day.
In recent years, there has been an explosion of distrust against those in power, particularly politicians. Since the financial crash, mashed together with the expenses scandal, a typical working family has been conditioned to skeptically analyse all those who wield positions of power, including school staff.
It isn’t the fault of these families; they’ve every right to distrust and question power. Yet, I think the balance need to be readjusted – the overwhelming majority of staff working in schools are ultra hardworking, thoroughly decent human beings, who are completely selfless.
If you find yourself critiquing the work of school staff, ask yourself: ‘who am I REALLY angry at’?
You may be surprised at the answer.