Writing in the Guardian, Declan Carey says he was sure he wanted to be a teacher, but his experience as a classroom assistant has made him think twice.
A government advisor was recently reported as warning that a critical shortage of teachers means children will be taught fewer subjects in larger classes by less qualified people. As a recent graduate, this does not surprise me. There are not enough incentives for talented students to become teachers anymore.
Back in 2011, I began my application to study at university after being inspired by my A-level English literature teacher. I was certain that teaching was for me and that after studying an English degree, I would go on to a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE).
Three years of studying and life experience completely changed my outlook – and now I’m not sure teaching is for me. My experience as a classroom assistant and the constant battles between teaching unions and the government has demotivated me and put me off joining the profession.
In the second year of my degree, I volunteered in a local school for children with special educational needs. The children at the school had a fantastic attitude to learning and staff members went out of their way to ensure each child had the best chance to grow and learn.
One afternoon, a classroom assistant shared news that the school had recently offered some members of teaching staff voluntary redundancy. What was a well organised and successful set-up suddenly became a horrible working environment…
The way the situation was handled and the uncertainty created, further pushed me away from becoming a teacher. As a student, teaching was sold to me as a safe career choice, but in this school nothing was secure.
“Students just don’t see teaching as the best career choice anymore,” says Ieuan Smith, who was considering taking a PGCE, before opting for a politics master’s course instead. “It’s often seen as a job to do if you don’t know what to do. The profession is not respected as much as it could be…”
The attractiveness of teaching as a profession for graduates relative to alternatives is endlessly changing: recently it has been seen as very desirable but the pendulum seems to be swinging away again now.
How do you see the state of play at the moment and what needs to happen to change it?
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