Question: What phrase did Sir Michael Wilshaw of Ofsted use recently in relation to keeping teachers in the country?
Answer: Golden handcuffs. He also said the profession needed to be talked up.
The Chief Inspector of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has stated that thousands of teachers are moving abroad for better pay and conditions. This leaves England’s schools trying to cope with a recruitment shortfall.
Ministers retorted that it was a very small fraction of teachers leaving the UK.
In addition, the Department of Education claimed it was dishonest to undermine their teacher recruitment approach.
As usual, it can be perceived any number of ways, depending on how it’s worded and where the focus of attention lies.
Whilst I could make the focus of this blog about perception, given the BBC article is fundamentally about teachers going abroad, I’ll focus on that instead.
Firstly, let me state that I’m completely apolitical. I have opinions, of course, but whether they align with one party or another is of no concern to me. I wouldn’t want to be defined by a political belief. And that brings me nicely to my first point. Whether you are a teacher, a doctor, a bridge-builder, an electrical engineer or a carer, if you are given an opportunity to live and work abroad, for better pay and conditions, many people would grab the chance with both hands. These people shouldn’t be defined by their professions. Teachers don’t sign a binding contract stating that they must only teach in England. Teachers are first and foremost people with hopes, desires and drive, just like you and me. I think sometimes we can forget this – just like some children don’t realise their parents are separate people until they are older.
Those who do move abroad will likely have no commitments in this country, be willing to take risks and, dare I say it, be of a more dynamic-mentality. This will include some of the ‘best’ teachers in the country. I deliberately put the word ‘best’ in quote marks because you may feel that a key quality of a teacher is to stay with the children he or she is teaching. Bear in mind this blog is naturally biased to my focus!
20 years ago I had the opportunity to work and live abroad for two years – and I grabbed it with both hands (it wasn’t in the educational sector). In terms of new experiences/adventures, it was the best two years of my life. I would urge anyone considering a move abroad to not think twice and just go for it. That includes teachers.
Which is all very well, but what about back home? What shall England do to encourage teachers to stay? I will finish the blog with a few words from Sir Michael.
“At a time of well-documented shortages, should we not be putting more effort into holding on to those who have gone through their teacher training in England?”
“The idea of ‘golden handcuffs’ to keep teachers in this country for a period of time is an interesting one which deserves more examination.”
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Do you or your children have any ideas on how to keep good teachers in this country? We at Education Quizzes would be interested to hear your views.