Thursday, January 27, 2011

On The Edge

For those of you who want to know what it's really like teaching in terrible schools - where the Senior Management Team are a joke, half of the parents are aggressive, sub-literate fools and their children should be sectioned or jailed - you should click on the link opposite and buy my book. If, however you've already read it, then I recommend Charlie Carroll's new book, On The Edge (also published by Monday Books). Charlie is puzzled by the fact that half of all NQTs (newly qualified teachers) quit the profession inside five years, and wants to find out why. He resigns, buys a VW camper van and spends a year travelling round the country supply teaching in some of the worst places imaginable.

If only he'd asked me, I could have saved him an awful lot of trouble! But then he wouldn't have written this book...

Charlie is 10 or so years younger than I am, so he's not yet had time to become quite as jaded as I have. (With seven or eight years in the classroom under his belt, he's not a novice but he is still a bit of an idealist who thinks that if we can only find more resources and exert more control from Whitehall, something magical will somehow happen in the bottom 10-20% of schools.)

For non-teachers it will be an eye-opener; for teachers, it will cause you to wake up in the middle of the night, sweating, and wondering if you'll end up somewhere like 'Varka School'.

Violent, abusive and foul-mouthed pupils, mindless, energy-sapping and often counter-productive bureaucracy and paperwork, spineless, treacherous SMTs... it's all here, together with those few quiet kids who sit in the corner, the kids you think you could actually reach and help if only the others would stop shouting obscenities, playing with their phones and throwing things.

Also some nice writing about the highways and byways of England - principally the north.

I don't agree with all of his conclusions - though he's definitely right about the need for exclusion to be made easier - but it's a really good read by a man who is obviously passionate and dedicated. For now...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's a fine book. Less vitriolic than Mr. Chalk's book, but compassionate and thought provoking. However, supply teaching in England's worst schools doesn't really give a true picture of the education system.