29 September 2007


I try not to write about work very much in this blog but recently it has been invading my innermost thoughts, sometimes keeping me awake at night. I am wrestling with the practical everyday realities of leading a secondary school English department in an area which has plenty of deprivation while being pressured about a relative decline in English exam results this summer. I mean what could they expect? Apart from me, the other five teachers had three years experience between them! I start to wonder - how much longer can I endure this shit? I'm sick of it - the ball-breaking headmistress and the very limited resources, the kids without pens or ambitions or proper family support. I have given so much of myself to the job these last twenty nine and a half years. Weekends, holidays, late nights. At one point it even threatened to destroy my marriage. Maybe if I can get through to next summer... then I'll have done my thirty years and I believe I will have earned full pension rights when I get to the age of sixty. One key dilemma is that I am at last being pretty well paid and I was hoping to maintain that kind of income with a saving habit attached at least until Frances completed her university education. I have always been strong, tough in the world of work... fighting through the days and the weeks and the years... but recent pressures leave me feeling overburdened and vulnerable. And ironically, though I have doled out barrow loads of pastoral care to children in my career, when I have need of some there is of course none to be had. You are just a peg in a hole.


  1. I WAS going to try to offer some sage advice, but I am not very old, nor am I very wise, nor am I insinuating that these two characteristics are mutually exclusive!!

    I WAS going to tell you to ease up for a little while. Look around you on your way to work one day, there's millions of people all doing the same thing, and all going through the same thought process, but keeping it bottled up for fear that they would lose their house if they couldn't keep up their mortgage repayments. All you have to do is be one of those people who just go there to earn a crust for a little while.

    As soon as I started to think about the thing I wrote above I realised that it obviously isn't your style. You do care.... You can't simply go to work and earn a wage..... you have compassion and conscience.... it's a gift and is especially useful in the context of your job. The posession of these characteristics is the reason you are feeling the pressure. There's plenty around you who are oblivious to the same pressure. It's not that they cope better, they just don't frikking care.

    And these characteristics are the reasons that no matter how big your headmistresses balls of steel are, she won't win.

    Just relax.... get another year.... another two..... another three....... as many as you can stomach.... under your belt. Most importantly remember to work to live and not the other way round!!

    I wish we had teachers with consciences like yours, the whole country over!!

    Keep your chin up.... you're just at a funny age... it'll pass!!


  2. Thank you Foxy for taking the time out to write this... The pressure is more than you think. maybe i didn't explain it well enough I am so hurt by what she's doing.

  3. What is it with Headteachers? Having gone through major work pains with plenty of folks including those closest to home, I always recommend moving on to something new; it is incredibly liberating at every age and stage. Whatever elements you love about your job can probably be continued within a less stressful (or perhaps more personally controlled) environment. Your support for your daughters finances is admirable, but she will be fine without it if necessary and would no doubt much prefer a happy Father than one who makes himself unhappy and possibly ill.
    A major bereavement as you are going through can be a very good time for making important changes.
    Sorry if I sound headmistressy myself! Best wishes

  4. Get hold of the TES and make applications elsewhere before half term and you could be in a new environment by next term. And it isn't only other schools that would kill to have an experienced and dedicated English teacher on their books - LA's are always looking for educational advisors - well paid posts they are too.

    No one's life should be made a misery by unreasonable pressure from above. Your Head needs you more than you need her.

  5. Not sure you even need to actually apply for other jobs. Just be seen reading the ads in the TES.

    What a completely foul situation to find yourself in.

    Take care.

  6. l have to take my hat off to you YP, how do you teachers cope with kids with as much drive and ambition as a dead hedgehog & manners of pit bulls.

  7. Having been in a similar situation myself a few years ago, I understand what you are going through. My experience was my initial reason for going in for counselling - when I needed help and support there was none available. If at all possible, I would say, stick it out till next July and then go. You could always supplement your income with supply work or look at something completely different. Only you know if this is feasible or not, but it's not worth risking your health for, and that is what will suffer sooner or later. You're welcome to email me if I can help at all.

  8. Soory YP didn't mean to make "light" of your situation.

    I say if it is really making you SO upset, then no job is worth it.

    My cousin is the head teach at a couple of schools out towards Hull somewhere, and I would be happy to put you in touch if you felt that it would help in any way... even if just for a sounding board about your concerns??


  9. Well I'm a teacher too, albeit not teaching officially now, however (and please excuse my grammar. I'm an art teacher not an English teacher.)I taught in the projects in Jefferson Parish for 4 years. During that time I took all the "rejects" that happened to be talented in art to my bosom. I saw them kicked out of middle school because they had reached an age of 16. They had couldn't be in Middle school any longer ... too much older than the little ones. This was after 4 years of trying to impart some sense of self love, "you can do it" confidence or just that someone - somewhere cared. And I did. I had children with parole officers. One girl had seen her mother shoot her father, who lived, but kept her out of school to help with the shrimp after he would come in with a boat load. Plus her mother had pimped her out, she was 12 when I knew her. That's just two of the stories.
    The reason I go into all this is.
    For a while I wondered if it was all worth it. I had failed when Andre got kicked out of the school, when Heather left. When Andre's brother got expelled for smoking pot in school
    I had tried so hard to give them their worth. IN the long run though. I think that somewhere, some time that something I said, or demonstrated to them will come back. And I'm not talking about the art. I think that I made a difference in their lives if only for that time they were with me.
    Same thing with my college students. They would come to my office to talk about life, school etc. You make a difference Pudding,
    what you teach them and project to them about life and caring andrespect, will shine through

  10. OH and speaking of your head mistress.
    The dean of my department, was a science teacher. And a colonel or something in the Air Force. He was a pasty, wallflower, dull, just above the ear comb over, no personality, peter pan ass of a guy. He still drove his little red corvette from high school.
    From day one of my employment at that college, he never treated me with respect. Never thought I had any sense at all. Yea I made mistakes. I'd never taught college and they turned me loose with no help at all. He rode me for 4 years and I rode back. I gave better than what he gave until finally he just couldn't take me anymore. I'm not a combative person at my work place. Unless you start it. I agonized working there for that 4 years. Not long I know, but he knew that I knew what a coward he was and he couldn't live with it.
    I do know what it's like to work for someone who has no respect for you.

  11. I know so many teachers who feel the same way as you do. You're having a pretty shit time generally at the moment and a crap time at work is just one too many things to have to deal with. Hang in there and have you read 'To Miss With Love'? There's a link to her on my blog.

  12. Hey, Puddingface, I'll be glad to throw some ungrateful louts out the window on your behalf.


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