A head and deputy head teacher of a Hampshire primary school have resigned because of government education policy saying in their resignation letter to parents: “Recent developments in education have brought our position to a point of personal, professional and ethical crisis.”
They cite: “the narrow focus on… an increasingly bland and joyless educational diet… mental health issues resulting from pressure on children by testing… and cuts to school budgets resulting in redundancies…”
To be honest, and with respect to these two well-respected teachers, I’ve been hearing this kind of thing for the last twenty-five years.
Teaching has been a profession with an increasingly high churn rate both with newly and recently qualified teachers and with senior teachers too. Studies from Liverpool University, the NUT and Professor Alan Smithers over the last twenty years have revealed churn and drop-out rates of between 20% and 40% in some sections of the profession.
But what is interesting to me in this case is the use of the phrase: “personal, professional and ethical crisis.”
I think we can all imagine scenarios where ‘a personal crisis’ might result in resigning from our job – a bereavement of a close family member; a serious health breakdown; a divorce.
I think it’s also quite easy to think of resigning over a ‘professional’ issue – a ‘poor’ Ofsted report; the culture of a particular school or a department; a so-called ‘personality clash’ with the head teacher; missing out on a promotion.
But resigning for ‘ethical’ reasons is a lot less common and brings forth a moral dimension to the issue.
While the Romans taught us to distinguish between legal, moral and ethical issues, even they found an overlap between these categories – especially moral and ethical – and it is interesting to consider – and pause over – the ethical reasons they cite for their decision.
These two highly respected teachers have a combined experience of fifty years and lead an ‘outstanding’ school and while their resignation has been greeted with some dismay, there is also widespread sympathy from many parents, one of who was quoted as saying: “The education system in this country should not be without people of this caliber.”
What issues would you be prepared to resign over? Whether personal, professional or ethical?
What issues would you be prepared to resign over?
Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching professionalism and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk and book him for a talk. His book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) was published in March 2014.
Read the full report from The Guardian: