Educating Cardiff: Why every Teaching newbie should tune in
It's become a part of our evening routine. Every Tuesday at 9pm, Channel 4 takes over our screens and we all eagerly await what's in store from the new 'Educating Cardiff'. This show, and plenty of others, expose the reality that teachers face increasingly on a daily basis. More often than not, we see schools get a bad rep in so many ways; teachers finish at 3pm and enjoy a six-week summer, our pupils are constantly under-achieving, and with fines and strict rules forever on the rise, it seems that every decision made is the wrong one. Although programmes such as these will always exploit the 'Jack the Lad' type stereotypes to create a rise in viewers, it is important to give credit to the shows for highlighting the very heart warming relationships that go on whilst many are gathering their pitchforks and criticising the education system.
Teacher training places left empty
In 2014, more than 2000 teacher training places were left unfilled and this week it seems that Sir Michael Wilshaw feels that television is partly responsible. "There is an issue about teaching recruitment. If people looking to come into teaching see that, well they say 'I am not going to experience that. I am not going to pay a huge sum of money to experience that nonsense.' They won't come into teaching." Although there is little evidence to back this claim up anyway, we do feel obliged to question whether anyone experiencing these types of feelings should be taking the teaching road at all. In any walk of working life, people are going to face difficult circumstances. Imagine if we all backed out of our chosen industry because at some point we'd been placed in a job that was more 'demanding' than others?
Whilst we understand that Educating Cardiff may portray situations that are a little daunting at times, it would be a crime not to acknowledge the teachers that are dedicating all hours of the day to ensure their pupils succeed. In every episode so far we have seen staff contacting their pupils both early and late to ensure that they attend, or sitting and comforting parents that are struggling to handle their children when the last bell goes. These were and never will be part of the job description, but are done without hesitation... Let that sink in.
GCSE grades soaring
The school's involved do not hide the fact that teaching is challenging, and why should they?! A Teacher's job is to help children grow into young adults, to teach them the correct way to behave and to help them achieve success along the way, and that, whatever way you look at it is hard. Yes, it is pretty apparent in Willows High School that plenty of its pupils can be difficult, but crucially what Educating Cardiff demonstrates is what happens when you go that extra mile. The turnaround at Willows over the last few years has been a remarkable achievement, when Mrs Ballard joined the school, just 14% of pupils achieved five grade A-C GCSEs, now it's over 50%. If individuals such as herself had given up at the first hurdle, it would be questionable whether school's such as these would be able to survive; plus let's just remind you all that she too left school with little or no grades at all, but someone at some point gave her a chance.
Exclusions, detention and talks with the head happen in every school on an every day basis, but here it's just laid out bare for us all to see. As these episodes continue, we have no choice but to change our opinions on the children we first thought were nightmares; the more we watch on, the more we understand why they are way they are and the more we realise how disastrous it can be to judge a book by its cover. It may indeed be the case that some people are put off teaching because they are forced to see how difficult the job is by watching these reality programmes, but surely if anything they prepare those that enter the industry for the challenges that await them.
Say goodbye to the time wasters
So who needs the time wasters and teachers that truly believe what they see on television is the way that every child will behave? Who wants frightened staff that judge an individual on the way they act up to the camera rather than their hidden potential? Give a bunch of teenagers a slice of these gullible individuals and they'd eat them for breakfast, and honestly who would be surprised? The truth is, you have to be a detective, an emotional physiologist, a multi-tasker, a judge, a friend, thick-skinned, a quick thinker, a peace keeper, an expert negotiator, a councillor and forever optimistic to cut it as a Teacher today, so if you're questioning your job decision purely on a Channel four show, it's probably best you throw the towel in.
Haven't seen it yet? Catch up on everything you've missed by visiting the Channel 4 website.