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What inspires you to teach and will you always be a teacher?

20 April 2021

So, you’re a teacher. But will you always be a teacher, even if you don’t teach anymore? The extent to which you agree with the statement “Once a teacher, always a teacher” strongly relates to the kind of job you are doing at the moment. Headteachers are far more likely to agree this statement is true (and yet teachers in their 50s in general aren’t). Is this because of their own insecurities about whether they are personally still a teacher if they don’t currently have any classes to teach?

We asked you which of the following types of people you would classify as a teacher. Only two-thirds of you felt that a headteacher without a teaching timetable is still a teacher! And very few of you consider former teachers who are now education consultants or who have left education entirely to be one.

Who teaches the difficult topics?

This week we asked you about teaching a number of topics where there has been a debate about the role of schools and the role of parents. Most of you do feel that it is important these topics are learnt in schools, but also that parents should educate their own children about them. The topics you are least sure that parents should be supporting are careers advice, financial literacy and religion. In the case of careers and financial literacy, it’s worth noting how few of you have taught these topics this year.

Inspiring schools, inspiring students?

Last week we asked you six questions about what inspires you in work. Those of you in primary schools were pretty positive about your working environment, with about half saying it inspires you. Secondary colleagues in the state sector were far less positive about their school environment, with the exception of those in fee-paying schools who are the most positive of all.

When we asked about how students contribute to the environment, the differences by type of school were stark in the secondary sector and yet weren’t in the primary sector. In high FSM secondary schools, teachers were generally less positive about whether their students contribute to a productive learning environment. By contrast, in fee-paying and low-FSM state schools teachers were overwhelmingly positive about the contribution students make.

We saw similar patterns in the interest students took in learning, with social gradients in responses in the secondary sector but not in the primary sector.

Similarly, in the secondary sector there were big differences in the extent to which you felt students take pride in their work.

However, when we asked how much the students you teach inspire you there were no differences by social background of the school. And secondary teachers were almost as inspired as primary teachers.

Finally, we asked how much the topics you get to teach inspire you. The most inspired groups are English, humanities and arts teachers. Surprisingly, language teachers are FAR less inspired by the topics they teach than any other subject group. What could we do to save them?!?

Time for tips