I was quite startled last night to discover that my profession is being used as a political pawn once again (no that’s not a shock in itself – quite used to that!). This time it’s being claimed (by the Coalition for Marriage) that the very idea of Equal Marriage is causing a shortage of teachers in the UK.
Just for fun, we’re going to ignore the first and very obvious fact that there is no shortage of teachers, and the second fact that sharing any nasty little homophobic views you have has been against the law for teachers for some time, and I’m going to share my ‘top 5’ things that just might make me (in some cases, have made me) consider quitting the job I’m passionate about. I needed to limit it to 5 since, as I’m sure you’ll realise, there are rather more factors that would come higher up the list than the Equal Marriage Bill.
1: Arbitrary and dishonest goalpost shifting, aka the #GCSEfiasco. Do you have any idea how hard it is to talk to GCSE English candidates about their options and likely outcomes now?
2: Rushed overhaul of examinations without listening to consultation. Yes, like Guardian’s “Secret Teacher” column of a couple of weeks ago, I accept that A Levels could do with reform, but sort of – not entirely – removing AS levels, and focusing exclusively on how and when the exams are taken (once, after two years – no modules, no resits) hardly seems the best way to achieve this.
3: Fear of teaching the new GCSEs which are not tiered (no ‘higher’ and ‘foundation’), which we’re somehow claiming is fairer and gives everyone an equal chance, and which are at the same time harder. I cannot for the life of me picture how one exam can test the A*-G range.
4: More concrete (read pay-enforced) responsibility for students’ results. Of course I accept that I have a role to play, but my input is far from the only factor – merely the only one I personally have control over.
5: Consistent and systematic rubbishing of my professionalism in the media. I’m responsible for riots, family breakdown and the country’s economic decline, apparently.
Clearly, as I said, there are more. I was quite tempted to simply put “Gove” as my top potential reason for quitting, but that particular factor is a hundred reasons by itself…
And just in case anyone’s wondering, I’m in favour of equal marriage and feel that its presence in the news has given me more opportunities to challenge homophobia in teens (which there is a lot of by the way – many teens are immature, after all). It’s also made it possible to show that homophobics are in the minority, which I’ve never been able to so easily claim before.