Secret Teacher: the exodus of older teachers is draining schools of expertise

There is a teacher at my school who is adored by students and staff. He’s a dedicated and efficient educator with years of experience who once taught some of our pupils’ parents. The school benefits from his expertise daily, from the way he handles tricky content to how he manages difficult behaviour. In many ways, he is irreplaceable. The Secret Teacher writes in The Guardian.

Sadly, we’re losing him. Forced to record data that’s never looked at and deliver subjects focused on rote-learning that leaves students uninspired, he feels unable to do the job he signed up for. But he’s just one of the older, more experienced teachers leaving the profession.

The impact of replacing older, experienced teachers with younger, inexperienced individuals is difficult to measure. But it’s clear that students, younger teachers and the wider profession will be affected.

There is an experience vacuum being created in our schools that robs junior teachers of the role models they need to help them improve. Formal teacher training is the equivalent of being told how your parachute works before being chucked out of a plane at 12,000 feet. Becoming a teacher takes years: it’s a lifelong apprenticeship, with best practice passed from experienced colleagues to new recruits.

The only way to reverse the declining average age of teachers is by changing the culture of the profession and giving people incentives to stay in the job. But any real shift will come too late for teachers like me, who have enjoyed only a handful of years in the presence of colleagues with decades of experience. Without their guidance, confidence and expertise, we’ve got a knowledge gap about what works in teaching – and that’s a problem.

Read the full article Secret Teacher: the exodus of older teachers is draining schools of expertise

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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