Friday, 15 April 2016

Dear Parents Of Our Primary School Children


Dear Parents Of Our Primary School Children,

You may have read of the crisis that the teachers of your children are in the midst of. You've probably heard that teachers are leaving classrooms in droves, that the workload is impossible and that funding is being cut left, right and centre. You might even have come across heartbreaking 'Why I'm Leaving Teaching' articles. And no doubt you've worried about the impact on your children. Forced academisation, teacher shortages and increasing pupil numbers all sound terrible, too. The number of schools being rated poorly under the constantly-evolving expectations sounds scary, especially when you know your child's school is one of them.

You'll be aware of the new standards that this year your children will be tested on at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. You might have seen reports that even scholars struggle to answer some of the questions in the Year 6 Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar test and you feel downhearted, to say the least. The fact that no-one even knows what the expected 'level' for your child is since levels were abolished confuses you.

I know that anxiety abounds at school gates up and down this land. The teachers of your children appear not to be coping, and it looks like your children won't either.

Well most of what you've heard is true; the situation is dire. However, you must take heart: whilst the government announce ever-changing educational policies and budget cuts there is a vast army of teachers determined to make every moment count for your child. 

These teachers turn up for work early and leave late (no, it really isn't a 9 to 5). Then they work at home. And at the weekends (and yes, I know we aren't the only ones).  And they strive to make your child's learning enjoyable and engaging. And they pore over data, analysing it to work out what your child's next step is so that learning can be personalised.

And chances are your child's teacher does the same. Because for every teacher who leaves, there are many who stay for the sake of the children. And because they love the job and want to make a difference. It is sad that there are many teachers leaving, but there are many staying, too. Your child's teacher is probably doing all they can to help your child to make progress; many teachers will be going above-and-beyond what is required of them to try to make this happen.

And those same teachers will be greeting your children with a smile every morning, enquiring how they are, and genuinely caring about them. They'll be the one who picks them up in the playground after a nasty fall. They make your child laugh. They become your child's best teacher ever (until next year). They are a comforting constant in the changing scenes of life - someone your child confides in. They're the teacher your child gets excited (and then incredibly shy) about seeing in the supermarket on a weekend. They're the one they call 'Mum' or 'Dad' by accident, much to the delight of their friends (who've all done it too).

And it's these teachers who soldier on regardless of the latest government initiative. It is they who take a dry curriculum and inject it with life and infectious personality. They're the ones guiding your child through the run-up to their SATs, walking the fine line between building and destroying confidence. Ensuring that they're not just teaching a list of grammar objectives but providing a fun and relevant context, disguising the fact that they're even learning lots of (probably) useless terminology. They are determined not to let your child be brought down by the way in which our leaders are dismantling our once-proud education system - these teachers bear the weight of this, adamant that your child won't feel the squeeze at all. 

Parent - it is times like these when your child's teacher needs your support. Think about it: for every teacher there are around 60 adults who could stand up and make some noise about the plight of your children. There are over 24,000 primary schools in the UK and if there are an average of 10 teachers in each school that's 240,000 primary school teachers. Multiply that by 60 and you've got over 14 million parents or primary-aged children who could voice important opinions about your children and their future - 20 % of the UK's population. And that's without doting grandparents getting in on the action.

You may feel powerless but this needs to start from the ground up, from a grassroots level. Speak positively about education - it is the future of your child. Share success stories via social media. Say thank you to your child's teacher. Ask them how you can help. Give them a gift. Offer your support in anyway you can. Write to your MP. Get up-to-date with education policy - that's not just the realm of politicians and teachers; you have an important role to play in your child's education. It has got to the point where, for the sake of your children, teachers need you in their corner: that teacher who we spoke of before is being maligned by the authorities, the media and the general public and if the future for your child is to be bright, an end must be put to that.

Parent power - teachers need it. Will you join with us?

Faithfully,

A Primary Teacher

Photo Credit: lukas.b0 via Compfight cc

23 comments:

  1. This makes my heart sing... thank you

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  2. Very well said. As a secondary school teacher. We understand what primary school teachers face. We love "our kids" we do our best, until we exhaust our selves. Depression and self doubt overwhelm many, some rest, recover and continue. Others come to a tipping point and can not go on. Some resist pointless change and are forced, hounded out. One thing is certain. All teachers ONLY become TEACHERS, because they love kids, in paternal or maternal ways. Your kids are our kids, we spend a lot of time with them.... We care.

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  3. Beautifully put.I'm a retired teacher, but agree with your sentiments exactly. I hope many many people see this - thank you!

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  4. Not just teachers. Don't forget the TAs and INAs. They often give the same amount of dedication, care and time as the teachers.

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  5. Heartfelt and brilliant - so glad to have read this. I retired from primary teaching 4 years ago, just before the government began its latest round of imposed changes. I now work for the NUT, supporting teachers struggling with the demands now placed on them - many of them older women in primary education. I see so many teachers, like you - dedicated, hard-working and still enthusing children while shouldering all the other work demanded of them - but I have also helped many teachers leave the profession, their spirits broken, feeling worthless. Parents are the key to change - there is the beginning of a groundswell of parental unrest against the recent diktats and I support that wholeheartedly. Together I really do believe we can make a difference for our children. Thank you for writing this blog - it carries a very important message.

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  6. Yes!!! This!!! It's up to the parents to help their children, the teachers are great allies for the parents. Here in the US parents are making their voices heard over the stupid Common Core testing that has been forced on the children from 8-13 and has cause many, many problems. Tests are written above year level comprehension, students are put in an impossible situation. Parents across the county have refused the tests on behalf of their children for the last 3 years now and slowly the Dept of Education are learning that they WILL NOT make our children suffer, parents WILL stand up for them! You can do it too!

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  7. Nice article. To balance out, for every one teacher who leaves, there are 11 who stay, per YEAR, not hundreds as claimed. See http://www.aviewfromtheattic.com/teacher-dropout-rate/ for example. Personally I would be unable to send children of a nervous disposition to a UK school if they'll be tested formally from such a young age. My first test was a GCSE. Imagine 12 years more of tests before that age. So sad.

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    1. Thanks - I've been trying to find the stats that relate to primary teachers but am struggling.

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  8. Here here! To all the staff supporting this country's future prime minister, education secretary may you please learn from the mistakes being made to erode a system that worked perfectly well before the current changes!! Thank goodness you continue to support the next generation and hopefully parents stand together and care enough to stand up for their children!!

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  9. Well said. As someone who last year left the profession I had previously loved, I have a huge amount of respect for those still in the ring. I'm also a parent of primary aged children and want more for them. I agree that parents and teachers have to work together to elicit change in our education system. We can do this!

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  10. Well said. As someone who recently left the profession that I'd previously loved, I have a huge amount of respect for those still in the ring. I'm also a parent of primary aged children and feel strongly that we need to rethink the system that is failing our children. I agree that the only way to elicit change is for parents and teachers to work together. We can do this! #THISislearning

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. It is encouraging to me that those who have left are behind this idea too - I have had a bit of negativity from teachers who have left over this post as they feel it is in someway unkind about them.

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  11. This is unsettling as I have been studying and working as a TA for the past 7 years whilst living overseas preparing to move back to the UK. My hope is to qualify as a primary teacher, but I am out of touch with all these recent (seemingly wrong) policy changes and I'm not sure now if I want to continue the process. I agree that parents working together with their children's teachers for the best outcomes for the children is important. As a parent, I have always worked well with my kids teachers to support my kids, let's hope all parents, grandparents and teachers stand together to eradicate these new imposed tests that are simply outrageous.

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  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  13. Would you be okay with me borrowing ( or magpie ing in teacher speak :) ) some of your wording to use in a letter to the parents of my school? You have said everything about how the teaching profession is feeling at the moment . Well done ! ( note incorrect use of exclamation mark! Oops and again :) )

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  14. Thank you for all of your kind and supportive comments :)

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  15. Reading this made me realise I need to be one of those being more positive about the profession I love rather than finding myself being bogged down by all the negativity. Thank you Mr Teacher!

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    1. No problem! How's the positivity going? Have you had a chance to read any more of my blog?

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  16. As a mum of three (aged 8, 6 and 3), I'm totally with you! I'm running the #THISislearning campaign which aims to flood social media with positive messages/stories/images of learning. We really want parents to stand beside teachers. This post is so powerful - you'd be welcome to link it up on my blog here: http://writingbubble.co.uk/thisislearning-join-us/

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  17. One of the problems that exacerbate this scenario is that ordinary people on the ground, teachers, healthcare workers, for example, aren't involved in part politics. So they leave other,less informed people to make massive decisions that affect their lives. Get involve. Campaign for change - not through pressure groups but at the source itself.

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    1. I agree to a point. But the fact is the teacher voice is loud but it all falls on the deaf ears of our politicians.

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  18. Great piece. Even as a teacher, I have felt some anxiety about visiting my daughter's school. And I wonder whether parents don't stand up for our schools because they feel intimidated and unsure of what's going on. I know this definitely isn't the case for all parents! I also don't think parents even realise that teachers really need their support. But they do.

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