Today, I woke up for the first time in eight years as a former teacher.
My notice period officially ended on 31 August so technically now I’m a free agent.
Still, the usual leaving time is within the first five years so at least I’m above average.
In the first of a short series, I wanted to unpick the reasons why I left, partly as closure for me but also to see if anybody else could relate to my experiences.
We’re taught when giving lesson observation feedback to start with the positives, move onto areas of development and then finish on a high.
This wouldn’t be a review of teaching post if it didn’t follow that same sandwich structure!
To begin with then, I’ve left for an amazing opportunity. Doing freelance work at BBC Sport has been incredible – I’ve worked on Wimbledon, the Olympics, the Euros, Six Nations, even esports and it’s been such good fun.
The whole place has a real buzz and energy which I can really get on board with and working at the cutting edge of sport coverage is too good a chance to turn down.
Even these past few weeks, arriving at MediaCity to work has been a thrill and one which I will continue to relish and enjoy moving forward.
Teaching then. Hmm. Come back next post for some positive thoughts. For now, what turned me off it?
Education is in a tricky situation. The government have ripped away funding and yet driven up expectation to the point where it’s utterly unrealistic to do the job properly.
The Labour General Election strapline For the many, not the few is fairly apt considering what the Conservatives have done and prioritised since they came to power in 2010.
From Michael Gove, through Nicki Morgan to Justine Greening, the Education Secretaries have been systematically dismantling working procedures and replacing them with bureaucratic processes, a brutal focus on data and a desire to push through policies such as extra grammar schools.
It’s led to a new breed of numbers-driven senior managers, business people who see children as figures and data. This rips out ethos which is so important for the nurture and development of children, particularly in primary schools.
This isn’t something I’m on board with and in fact have found tricky while in post.
Moreover, the sheer amount of time required to do the job properly, with its never-ending tick list, constant feeling of inadequacy and lack of encouragement from the top means teachers are leaving in droves.
I’ve got back from work this week and not had to think about marking two sets of books (in detail), planning four lessons for the following day based on what’s happened today, make display material and learning resources and then consider how to personalise for thirty children across four subjects.
Anyone relate to that feeling? Sure the holidays are good but then you’re often in school getting ready for the next term and if you do get away, the premium for going on holiday is about four times the amount of choosing annual leave in term time.
However, I’ve got on with all that throughout my career and while teaching may be in a difficult situation and be a crazily busy profession, bottom line is that’s not why I’m leaving.
From the moment little Joey used to ring up the Football Quiz on BBC Radio GMR with Jimmy Wagg and Derek “The Brain” Heyes I’ve wanted to be a sports journalist.
I have lapped up sport ever since, devouring sports news in all its formats, analysing it, having many a go at it myself. I was published in Athletics Weekly when I was 11. At heart, I’m a writer and I’ve done my time teaching others how I write.
Now I want to put what I love into practice – to put my pen where my mouth was and get on with it.
These chances to change career come around very rarely and have to be seized. Who knows where this leap of faith will take me but I’m determined, passionate and there’s a plan for my life which I’m eagerly trying to follow.
Teaching is my past…writing and journalism is my future.