It was 26 January 2012. We were in special measures, and that was absolutely where we should have been. I had been assistant headteacher for ten years and had to take some of the responsibility for the decline of the school (a rural comprehensive) although the blame actually lay elsewhere.
An executive headteacher was sent in from a neighbouring school and immediately piled on the pressure. It worked. The school improved in leaps and bounds, but I was crushed. Several months off work with depression and anxiety, and feeling that all I had achieved in that long career (32 years) was without value.
I went back to work in the September and decided to focus not on my leadership responsibilities but more on my English teaching. Three lesson observations by the LEA and OFSTED in a short space of time were Outstanding, Outstanding, Good.
During the time I was ill I considered resigning but was not brave enough. The governing body was grappling with a budget deficit and decided to take out a layer of leadership, and that’s why on 26 January 2012 the executive headteacher informed me I was being made redundant, so a decision I was too timid to make was made for me.
It’s totally irrational. but for the first six months or so I felt guilty because I wasn’t there. Even now, nearly three years on, I look at the kitchen clock and think, “10 o’clock. Period 2 is beginning”. But my time is filled up with good stuff, and I’m happy.
I have a daughter who is in her second year as a teacher in a special school in London. She absolutely loves her job. I would never discourage a young person from becoming a teacher. But the statistics about young teachers getting out are both worrying and unsurprising. Teachers and schools have to be accountable, but the way it’s been done for the last ten years has distorted learning, damaged teachers’ health, and made real education a luxury.
Another test, anyone?