Thursday, 30 June 2011

Undermining the noble profession of teaching

Have you ever been to a dinner party and the conversation has turned to teaching? Inevitably this will mean a brisk canter over a few minutes around standards, pay, holidays and working hours. Despite the ribbing about 'finishing work at 3pm', those who are not teachers on the whole look to teachers with jealousy or appreciate their role in society. However teachers generally are not as well regarded as other essential workers such as doctors, nurses or other professions such as the law or accountancy. In a speech 18 months ago David Cameron argued that he would 'make teaching a noble profession' once again through an elitist approach to recruitment and training. As a son of a teacher who has put her heart and soul into her career and every generation of children she has taught I very much welcomed this approach.

Today the steps towards this are being undermined by those teachers insisting on strike action. Tonight's 10 o'clock news will feature picket-lines, marching workers and interviews with highly-paid union leaders out for a fight with the government. Images (which always shape the way a story is going) will show scruffily dressed pickets such as the picture below - hardly a clarion call for our best and brightest to join this profession:

Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of parents are being forced to stay at home today - some losing a days holiday or pay to do so - to look after their children. Teachers who want to work, some suggesting teaching large groups in school halls, have their hands tied through petty regulations.

Strikes do not work, often seen as irresponsible they turn people against a cause. Today those teachers taking strike action are doing much worse: they are undermining the reputation of teaching.


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