That's no way to treat a precious commodity

by Jean Ramsey

I was very taken by Ann Moz’s editorial in the TES of April 6th 2018

‘To ease the recruitment crisis, think globally but act locally’.

Her opening sentence is heartening: ‘Education is one of our greatest exports.’ This reminds me of what was a common saying when I first started teaching: ‘That next to coal, teachers were Wales’s biggest export.’ British teachers are ‘revered’ ‘admired’ and ‘sought after’.


I know how much a British education is valued. When I was growing up in what was then Northern Rhodesia, my mum  taught Cookery in the local girls’ high school in Kitwe (hub of the Copperbelt) and my dad was a metallurgist working in the mine.


Dad was always impressed at how ‘the boys’ (that would be the young, black, African employees) wanted to get on. Many of them were engaged in sitting Cambridge overseas qualifications. They would ask dad what this thing called ‘snow’ was. It was not until much later, when I was undertaking The Foundations of Teaching for Learning MOOC created by The Commonwealth Education Trust, that  I realised how biased external exams are towards white, european culture. To help them, dad would show them illustrations from ‘The Scottish Field’ magazine that my grandparents used to send out to us rolled up like a telescope.The boys really appreciated the help that dad was only too happy to give them….the same could not be said for his other workmates.


Her point is that the teacher shortage is not just here in UK but it is a global shortfall. UNESCO states that if we are to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030 we are going to need nearly  69 million more teachers.


But rather than cherishing and appreciating the work of teachers  ‘politicians and the mainstream media carp continuously about schools’ deficiencies and teachers are used as political pawns and punch bags to the point where they can often feel that nothing they do is right.’


It is no wonder that more and more British teachers are voting with their feet and working abroad.This is not sustainable; we need a culture shift. We need more of a Coaching Culture.


If we know that our students appreciate targeted praise for their effort...the same is true of their teachers.Where is the appreciation?


Ann Moz writes that the government cannot ‘love’ its teachers as that is seen as political weakness by the right wingers. How many votes are they going to lose when more and more classes will be taught by HLTA’s, non- specialists... in fact by anyone who is warm and upright? Their constituents will not be showing them any love!