Secret Teacher: I moved to Africa – and realised how flawed British education is

Nov 27, 2016 by

I am paid less than ever before and work with scant resources but it is bliss compared with my old schools in Britain

Ten years ago, I took my first job as an English teacher in an east London comprehensive next to a large council estate. I had gravitated towards the profession because it was in my family. My father was a lifer at his school and vastly improved the chances of thousands of students over 30 years; I wanted to be able to say the same for myself when I reached retirement age.

After a gruelling training year, I felt like I was on course to achieve that. I came home exhausted every day, but it was the type of satisfied exhaustion you get from putting your all into something you believe in.

Two economic downturns, two governments, two specification changes, three schools, five headteachers and six heads of English later, I found myself red-eyed and shaking as my GP filled out the paperwork to sign me off for work-related stress. She told me I wasn’t the first teacher she’d had to do this for that week.

So I made the choice: I decided to teach abroad. It would wrench me from friends, family and a country that I love, but it was that or face the uncertainty of starting at the bottom of a new career. I trusted my gut, handed in my notice, and survived a hellish final term in a dysfunctional work environment. Then, last August, I jumped on a plane to east Africa.

What awaited me was the most under-resourced school I’ve ever worked in. We have no photocopier, limited internet access and my classroom is only separated from the neighbouring room by a thin wooden partition. But I am undeniably performing my job to a far higher standard than at any other point in my career.

It’s a low-pressure, high-freedom environment that places absolute trust in its teachers’ abilities. As a result, my students are making the sort of progress that would make an inspector drool.

Source: Secret Teacher: I moved to Africa – and realised how flawed British education is | Teacher Network | The Guardian

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