I can barely believe it has been almost two full years since I last blogged here on Teaching Uncovered.
So what has happened in the last two years? Well, I am still employed at the same school, which I will refer to as Mickley Grange from now on. The English education system has faced significant upheaval in the wake of the new Coalition Government. Free Schools, Academies and a new Ofsted inspection regime are just a few of the new initiatives that have been inflicted at the chalk face. Locally we have a new Head. Previous readers will know that I held the previous Head in affectionate high regard, but I cannot say the same of his successor. He is a business machine, who is completely detached from the ethos of what we do at Mickley Grange. Whereas the previous Head would walk the corridors and cheerily chat to the children every single day, this one robotically strides the corridors once a month and people ask "who is he?"
It is astounding how much change has happened over such a short space of time. Equally astounding is how little benefit it has brought.
Mickley Grange, along with thousands of other schools across the land, has recently completed the process of converting into an Academy. The staff were understandably apprehensive at the conversion process and it's fair to say the majority were opposed to the idea, despite the oft-mooted financial benefits it could bring. The Governing Body and Head were dead set on the idea, so everyone else just had to fall into line and accept it. After all, as we were frequently warned, it would be difficult to balance the books with a staff the size it was if we didn't. In other words, people would lose their jobs if we didn't become an Academy.
The spectre of redundancy had been dangling like the sword of Damocles ever since the new Head moved in. Mickley Grange had always been the sort of place people longed to work. Delightful children, supportive colleagues, beautiful surroundings and a relaxed pace of life. It had a homely feel and was the sort of place people could happily begin work as an NQT and see out their days until retirement. People took pride in their work and there was a real sense of identity and belonging.
Sadly that all changed when the new Head took post. Now everything has a price and has to progress with regimented speed. It's all "blue sky thinking", "curves of responsibility" and similarly pointless business babble. David Brent would be cringing with embarrassment at some of the initiatives they come up with. The sort of ideas people say to sound good, which also serves to mask their self-inadequacy. People are getting battle fatigue as we watch our school transform into an emotionless, cold husk of its former self. Colleagues who bounded with energy and enthusiasm two years ago now shuffle with their heads down and eyes glazed.
We work hard now because the whip hand threatens us, not because of the satisfaction we get from the role.
Times are bleak at Mickley Grange.