Open letter to the future government

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09 November 2015 by ATL
Before the general election, over 1,250 ATL members working in state-funded schools in England signed an open letter to the future government to improve the lives of teachers.

"Although politicians all agree that teaching is a vital profession, full of excellent and committed graduates, the policies they create have made teachers' working lives increasingly difficult and unbearable for many.

Increasing numbers of both newly qualified teachers and more experienced teachers are leaving teaching to escape the excessive hours, preferring a life where work can be balanced with other interests and commitments and where they feel free from the constant monitoring of Big Brother Ofsted.

Teachers are monitored to within an inch of their lives; the pressure of Ofsted inspections leads to school leaders demanding evidence for anything that inconsistent Ofsted teams can ask for. What is most frustrating is that much of this Ofsted-generated workload doesn't support teaching and learning and stifles the innovation and creativity that can create those 'light bulb' moments for pupils.

Teaching is extremely demanding. But teachers are also being crushed under the weight of unnecessary bureaucracy, which is piled on because of a constant fear of being judged to be failing; so it is hardly surprising that some decide that enough is enough.

As more teachers leave, the Government has also failed to secure the numbers of new teachers needed and a teacher supply crisis looms.

We call for the next Government to properly tackle teachers' workload, including Ofsted inspections which are the main driver, and to explore new ways of holding schools to account which will support rather than punish teachers; to support a fully qualified and sufficiently trained profession with access to excellent, comprehensive and evidence-informed initial teacher education and continuing professional development based on collaboration between schools and universities.

We call for the next Government to listen to the profession and to work with it to find resolutions to these important issues.

There are many promises in the party manifestos, but these are the core things that a new government will need to address; fix what desperately needs fixing in terms of Ofsted and workload and support teachers in providing the brilliant teaching that our children and young people need and deserve.

Teachers love to teach. Give them the autonomy, freedom and support to do so."

The Independent newspaper has written up the story.

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Election 2015