Record Numbers of Teachers are Leaving the Profession

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Unions claim unrealistic workloads are behind the current teaching ‘crisis’.

Teaching unions are warning the profession has reached crisis point as record numbers leave their jobs and the government fails to reach recruitment targets for the fifth successive year.

This comes after figures released by the NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers)  show  over 50% of teachers have seen a doctor in the last twelve months over work related physical or mental  health problems.

Union representative Simon Kennedy believes that an unrealistic workload is to blame.

He said: “The pressure which is on teachers and the reason they are leaving the profession is down to workload. The work life balance of a teacher is completely out of kilter.”

Mr Kennedy believes the profession has already reached “breaking point”.

He said: “I think we are at a real crisis within education.”

“If you are heading towards a cliff, I think it is incumbent on everyone to stop and identify and deal with the problems.

“It is the  responsibility of  the  government to do something about it.”

NASUWT Representative Simon Kennedy.

Figures released from the survey show that:

  • Nearly a third of teachers who qualified in 2010 have now left their jobs.
  • 13% of newly qualified teachers leave within first year.
  • 61% of new teachers are seriously considering leaving teaching altogether.
  • The number of teachers aged between 50 and 59 has plunged from 87,397 in 2011 (20 per cent of the workforce) to 75,500 last year (17 per cent).

Maths teacher Gail Suggett, 54, left the profession three years ago to begin a new career with her husband, managing the ‘Royal Oak Hotel’ in Helmsley.

She decided to leave after becoming disillusioned.

Royal Oak Hotel Helmsley which is now being run by Gail and Mick Suggett.

She said: “In a core subject like Maths, the demands were horrendous.”

“Classes were becoming bigger, the children’s needs more complex and we were losing teaching assistants by the boatload.”

A debilitating workload and increasingly unrealistic salary dependent targets were behind Mrs Suggett’s decision to prematurely leave the profession.

She said: “The very thought of having these unreasonable targets imposed that your pay depends on, it just became impossible.”

“On average I was working 12 hour weekdays. That is before all the additional hours every weekend and during holidays.”

Mick Suggett, 52, believes the  change in career has allowed the couple to return to a much “healthier” work life balance.

He said: “The pressures of teaching certainly had an impact on our home-life.”

“We were like ships passing in the night. She just couldn’t switch off. You get stress in this job but it is a different type of stress.”

Gail and Mick Suggett enjoying life in their new career running the ‘Royal Oak Hotel’.

Mr Kennedy believes the situation that Mrs Suggett found herself in is not unusual.

He said: “The government’s own figures show the average working week for a teacher is 59 hours. I spoke to a teacher last week who is averaging 72 hours.”

Mrs Suggett’s son Robert, 26, also recently left the teaching profession.

She said: “Robert did a four year Bachelor Education degree in primary teaching. The first job he had almost destroyed him. Everything he had thought about teaching was just blown out of the water.”

 

In the last five years 7,200 newly qualified teachers have left the profession within their first year.

Mrs Suggett said: “Of all of Robert’s course cohort not one is now in teaching.”

She believes the figures released are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in the low morale being felt at the ‘chalk face’.

She said: “A lot of colleagues are considering leaving the profession.”

“I was fortunate in that I had an alternative and didn’t have small children as dependents.

“I think if it wasn’t for these ties then more people would walk away in a heartbeat.”

The government insist that teaching remains a popular career choice.

A  Department for Education spokesman said: “Secondary postgraduate recruitment is at its highest level since 2011 and we have recruited more trainees in key subjects including physics, maths, modern foreign languages, biology, chemistry and geography than we did last year.”

Schools are  also facing a significant problem retaining experienced teachers.

In the last four years, more than 10,000 teachers aged in their fifties have prematurely left the profession.

Former assistant headteacher Andrew Thomson, 54, took up the option of redundancy after “falling out of love with the job”.

He said: “I had a period off work for 6 weeks after being diagnosed with depression.

“My responsibility was for pastoral care and I was beginning to think that if we failed Ofsted it would all be my fault.

“Pressure builds up to the point where you don’t sleep. I was probably suffering with depression, anxiety and low mood for a period of two years before being diagnosed.”

Click on the link below to hear more more about Mr Thomson’s experience.

The survey also highlights the serious impacts that increasing demands are having on teachers health. Figures released indicate:

  • 12% of teachers say they have been prescribed anti-depressants to help them cope.
  • 17% of teachers have undergone counselling and 4% have been admitted to hospital.
  • Over three quarters (84%) reported experiencing work related anxiousness, 87% have suffered sleeplessness and over a third (40%) report poor health.

Head Teacher John Sykes, 52, believes the problems are unnecessarily increased due to the “constant change” inflicted on the profession.

He said: “The government needs a long term plan to make sure there isn’t this constant change of initiatives so that schools have the chance to implement something effectively.”

“Too many times, initiatives have not been thought out, it gets changed and schools are left to pick up the pieces.”

Click on the link below to hear the full interview with Mr Sykes.

Schools minister Nick Gibb accepts the issue of workload in the profession and believes the government are taking steps to address the situation.

He said: “While the vast majority of teachers stay in their roles for more than five years, we know unnecessary workload can detract from what matters most: teaching.”

“That’s why we launched the Workload Challenge, and are working with the profession to understand and tackle the top issues that teachers said caused the most bureaucracy, with leading education experts taking action on key areas such as marking and lesson planning.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Newcastle Crowd Turns out in Protest Against Trump State Visit

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Over 1,000 people gathered in in the centre of Newcastle to vent their disapproval at the government’s decision to award Donald Trump the honour of a state visit.

It was part of a nationwide protest involving cities including London, Cardiff, Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh.

Taken from the Stop Trump Coalition website this map shows the major cities involved n the protest.

As the crowd repeatedly chanted “Donald Trump not welcome here”, many protestors accused the President of sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.

Grandmother Barbara Bowe said: “I came here to protest against the 45th President and his misogynistic ways. He doesn’t think before he speaks. He wants to build walls between countries rather than bridges.”

Grandmother Barbara Bowes

The event was organised by Newcastle Unite and attracted a range of different speakers to the protest.

Gateshead Councillor Mary Foy told the crowd that no local money would go towards funding any state visit.

She said: “This man has shown himself to be a racist, a sexist and homophobe.”

“I can assure you that Gateshead Council will not be providing any money for this state visit and urge other councils to do the same.”

Gateshead Councillor Mary Foy

Newcastle Unite activist Cathy Holmes  said: “We do not want to honour this man at all.”

“We don’t want to give anyone the opportunity to to say that we endorse or confirm any of his racist or misogynist views.

“This government may dismiss our protest as futile but we are gathered here in solidarity to say not in our name.”

Click on the link below to here more from Cathy’s speech.

Some of the protestors believe the actions of Theresa May are part of the post Brexit fall out and the pressing need of the government to develop and strengthen connections with countries outside of Europe.

Comedian Matt Hoss, 23, said: “I feel Theresa May is having to gain favour with Trump due to the increased dependency on the USA after Brexit.”

“Trump is now her line of security over the  next few years.”

Comedian Matt Hoss, 23.

Since 1952, only two previous presidents have been awarded the honour of a state visit.

As well as disagreeing with his policies, many protestors simply feel the government has been far too hasty.

Photographer John Falconer, 46, attended the protest with his daughter.

He said: “It is ridiculous to allow him to come over so quickly. He shouldn’t be coming.”

Mr Hoss said: “It took Obama years to be awarded a state visit. Trump was given this honour after seven days  in office.”

John Falconer, 46, along with his daughter.

The protest not only attracted people of  different ages but also from a whole range of nationalities.

The country which has felt the implications of the Trump election more than most is Mexico.

Erika Servin, 45, who currently lives and works in Newcastle, is a Mexican citizen who felt it was important to attend the protest to “represent my country”.

She was concerned for her family back home and in particular the potential impact of the Trump administration on the Mexican population currently living in the USA.

She said: “People back home are terrified as to what this man may do.”

“What worries me most is what will happen to those Mexican people who live in the USA.

“It has however brought a sense of dignity to the Mexican people. It has made Mexico look towards other countries and to no longer be reliant on the USA.”

Mexican Citizen Erika Servin, 45.

 

Coinciding with these protests is an online petition which has so far attracted 1,861,184 online signatures.

It is the  scale of this response which has triggered yesterday’s parliamentary debate.

Conservative MP, Nigel Evans, has defended the visit. “I have seen no evidence of racism from Donald Trump.”

“We are actually attacking the American people – the 61 million who democratically elected him,” he said.

A second online petition endorsing the visit has also been set up which has attracted 315,019 rival signatures, 1.5 million fewer than its rival.

 

 

 

 

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Lights, Camera, Action!: Successful Refurbishment continues for Redcar’s Regent Cinema

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The Regent Cinema

The Regent Cinema, considered as one of Redcar’s staple attractions, has continued its major refurbishment to improve the viewing experience for local film lovers.

The cinema, located on the seafront in Newcomen Terrace, is unique for being one of the only independent picture houses left in the country.

In 2014, over four thousand online users signed the ‘Save the Regent Cinema’ petition after it was feared it might shut down and be replaced with a new leisure multiplex.

The high level of public affection shown for The Regent was instrumental in launching the refurbishment.

Neil Bates, owner of the Regent Cinema, said: “None of this would have been possible if we didn’t have the public support.”

“I think people have been so supportive because the cinema provides a cheap and affordable venue to watch films.

“Redcar as a town has also lost so much over the last few years, there is only a few vanguards of nostalgia that are still around and I think locals connect with the cinema as they associate it with Redcar’s identity and historic past.”

The cinema refurbishment launched in early 2015 consisted of major improvements to make the building visually appealing and included  fixing the old roof and a new outdoor sign.

One of the most recent changes in 2016 was updating the lower floor seating area by bringing in new red seats to replace the ones that had been there since the 1950s.

Neil Bates, Regent Cinema owner, sitting in the building.

Neil said the seating updates were needed due to the changing times of society and technology.

He said: “You need to move with the times. You’re now competing with the internet and other platforms like Netflix. We didn’t want to recover or salvage the cinema. We just really wanted to move forward with the new options that were available.”

“Even though it means the seat capacity has dropped slightly, we are now offering a much more comfortable  experience when it comes to sitting and enjoying the feature.”

Significant scenes from 2007’s ‘Atonement’ were filmed in the cinema.

There are future hopes for the upper seating level to be updated, although this is not expected to happen within the next 24 months.

The ongoing upgrades have been credited for producing increased audience figures and success to the cinema.

Neil said: “It’s one thing to get people coming in, but you’ve got to keep them coming back by making it the cinema of their choice. The only way to do that is continuing to expand on what you are offering and I really feel that the latest updates have achieved that.”

The Regent was founded as the New Pavilion building in 1928 over the entrance of the former Coatham Pier where it found success as a music hall and repertory theatre.

The updated lower seating area

 

 

 

After declining interest, the building closed down for a long period until it was resurrected as a cinema by the Cleveland Cinema Co-operative for ten years but eventually closed due to competition from other multiplexes.

Eventually, The Regent was revived in 1990 by Neil, who had previously been a volunteer at the establishment.

The cinema also gained attention in 2007 when it was pivotal filming location for several scenes in the award-winning film, Atonement starring James McAvoy and Keira Knightley.

While it has not been easy to maintain the small one-screen building, Neil admits that he still loves the job after nearly three decades and has no plans of stopping any time soon.

He said: “I have a vision of what I want to see for the Regent and for Redcar, I just don’t want to give up until something stops me and I can no longer proceed or we achieve the goal of where we want to be.”

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We Love Berlin :Post from Tees Made

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Earlier this month Product Design students visited the German capital, Berlin. The main part of the study visit was a day trip to the truly wonderful VW Autostadt in Wolfsburg, probably the world’s first automobile theme park, with its beautifully designed pavilions and of course the cars.

Other visits included the Reichstag, with the large glass dome designed by British Architect Norman Foster, the Vandenberg gate, the Bode Museum and trip to the top of the magnificent 368m tall Fernsehturm Tower with its incredible views of the whole city.

from Tees Made

Teesside Students Get Fighting Fit

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Headlock take down.

 

A Teesside University martial arts club, which was only formed at the start of the academic year, is now ready to compete on the national stage.

The Jiu Jitsu club, known as the Teesside Vipers, only started recruiting members last October but is now ready to take part in competitions.

The club will compete against other universities in Nottingham next month.

The club has 15 students and member Matthew Bigland says expectations are high.

He said: “We have nothing to lose with a vast opportunity to learn.”

Chairman Danny Thompson said: “Since fresher’s we have had many students take part, the ones that have stayed have improved greatly and I think we will do well in Nottingham.”

 

Smile for the camera.

Law student Tedi Murray had never been involved in martial arts before but did not let that stop her from joining the club.

She said: “I started off training with my parents in the summer, I decided to join this club and carry on training because I find Jiu-Jitsu challenging both mentally and physically”.

The form of Ju Jitsu the Vipers use started in Brazil and is called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but it is more commonly known as BJJ.

BJJ combines both Japanese Jujitsu and Judo, teaching participants to defend themselves no matter what their size.

The sport differs from most martial arts as it is mainly ground based, with particular focus placed on joint locks to make opponents submit.

Worldwide interest in BJJ continues to grow as the popular Ultimate Fighting Championship has many expert fighters in this discipline.

Fitness experts such as Men’s Health UK believe that five minutes of BJJ can burn over 400 calories due to the high energy demands placed on the body.

Sports Science student Nathan said the club is open to anyone to join.

He said: “Come down get some fitness, have a good time, it is always fun choking people out.”

 

Chairman Danny Thompson stuck in an arm lock.

 

If you are interested in joining contact the Teesside Vipers Jiu Jitsu club or Danny Thompson on Facebook.

The Teesside Vipers Jiu-Jitsu Club.

 

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North Yorkshire schools face ‘crisis’ as almost a quarter of teachers leave the profession

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Unions have described North Yorkshire schools as reaching “crisis point” as new figures released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed the number of full time classroom teachers in the county has fallen by nearly a quarter.

With 1198 teachers having left North Yorkshire schools over the last eight years and not been replaced, unions have expressed grave concerns over the potential impact on education provision.

Image taken from aswelearn.com

Figures released by North Yorkshire Council indicate that in certain subjects more than half of lessons are taught by teachers who are not qualified in that particular specialism. With increased class sizes, teaching multiple subjects and additional workload, teachers fear the current situation will exacerbate the retainment crisis afflicting the profession. Regional NASUWT representative Simon Kennedy said: “I believe we are at a real crisis point in education and if you can see your heading towards a cliff I think it is incumbent on everybody to stop and do something about it.”

Simon Kennedy

In 2008, 5201 teachers were employed by the authority and by 2015 this had reduced to 4003, constituting a 23% reduction. Expressing his alarm, Mr Kennedy said: “Such a sharp decline undoubtedly raises questions regarding sustainability.

Whilst there has been a reduction in the number of students it is significantly disproportionate to the reduction of teaching staff. In 2008 there were 82,730 enrolled students compared to 79,871 in 2016. A reduction of 3% this represents a 20% disparity with staffing cuts leading to fears from teachers and parents as to the adequacy of education provision for the region’s children.

Whilst unaware of any local schools having to turn children away, Mr Kennedy revealed just how close regional schools have been to reaching this scenario. “We have found that where there is an issue of insufficient teachers classes are merged or the senior leadership team will take a number of classes into the hall where they are given a worksheet to do,” said Mr Kennedy.

Underpinning the situation is the austerity restrictions placed upon schools. The extent of financial implications imposed on the council was highlighted in a discussion forum on the webpage: “The reduction in government funding is estimated at £174 million pounds over the next nine years, reducing our spending power by 34%. We face difficult decisions on spending and service provision.” Unfortunately the council failed to respond and elaborate further on the situation.

The issue was emphasised by John Kelly, 60, who recently concluded a long standing distinguished career in North Yorkshire schools. Having retired as Head-teacher at Risedale College in 2016, Mr Kelly reflected on his own experience. “Staffing accounted for 80% of the school’s budget. A primary cause of a reduction in staffing is down to impacts of austerity on finance. During the period 2008 to 2016 we had to reduce our staff numbers by eight due to the constraints of budgeting.” he said.  Mr Kelly stressed that the local authority are working hard to support the regions schools but “their hands are tied”.

Mr Kelly stressed the increasing demands on the profession. “There are greater pressures than ever before to ensure that students achieve. Young professionals therefore look at other job opportunities and see they can be equally rewarded without the same degree of stress,” he said.

John Kelly

Mr Kelly emphasised the situation is now impacting on all levels of the profession. He is currently working with the local authority on a recruitment project in Northern Ireland to attract head-teachers to the region.“If a rural affluent area such as North Yorkshire is struggling to attract teaching staff it raises serious questions to the difficulties being experienced elsewhere,” said Mr Kelly.

The place where implications are felt greatest is in the classroom.

Dan Hughes, 55, has worked as a teacher for the last twelve years in North Yorkshire. Reflecting on his experience Mr Hughes said: “The head arrived to briefing to announce that the school was operating with an annual £160,000 staffing deficit which was unsustainable, culminating in eighteen members of staff leaving.” Mr Hughes highlighted the impact on remaining staff, with teachers having to teach across a range of subjects. “This simply acts to further increase workload and pressure. This year I’m teaching five different subjects,” said Mr Hughes.

This view was substantiated by information provided within the FOI which illustrates throughout Yorkshire and Humberside area, 45% of subjects there are 25% or more staff delivering lessons up to A level in areas for which they do not hold a relevant qualification.

Mr Hughes said: “Staff cuts can also impact on class sizes. I have a GCSE class which has 32 mixed ability students. This environment is not conducive to effective learning.”

Mr Hughes added another impact of staffing cuts resulted in more teaching assistants taking on additional teaching duties. FOI data shows the proportion of classroom practitioners without qualified teacher status doubled from 1.3% in 2010 to 2.6% in 2016.

This rising trend is a concern for union representative Mr Kennedy who questioned the value of the strategy. “I believe these figures are driven by money. It is clearly cheaper to employ someone who is not a teacher. You might save some money in one way but you lose a lot in another and that has got to be the education of the children,” said Mr Kennedy.

Mr Kelly explained the situation was compounded by issues of recruitment. “Before retiring at the end of the last academic year we needed to appoint a Maths teacher. We had to go to advertisement five times before getting any suitable applicants,” said Mr Kelly.

The National Audit Office stipulated that schools now face having to find savings of £3 billion by 2019-20, equating to an 8 per cent real-terms reduction in funding. Encapsulating the contradictory nature of the situation, Mr Kelly said: “At a time when the government are constantly raising the bar of expectation and attainment they are at the same time diminishing the means to do so.”

Mr Hughes said: “The situation is far from healthy. Remaining teachers are left overworked, underpaid, stressed and with not enough hours in the day.”

Dan Hughes

Recently Theresa May spoke of prioritising of grammar schools to “make use of all the talent in this country”. Education has long been viewed as intrinsic to the countries prosperity. Despite political consensus of importance it is a sad indictment that the teaching profession finds itself in this current predicament. Mr Kennedy said: “Just five years ago, teaching was the number one graduate choice. In 2016 it is not even in the top 10.”

 

 

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