I was much saddened by the recent report of the headteacher who took her own life
earlier this year. The anxiety of knowing her school was going to be downgraded after
an Ofsted inspection had driven her to believe there was no other way out for her.
How shocking, how appalling that an inspection should put people under such fear
and anxiety. Should a body of people be able to sweep in and cast consequential
aspersions over a whole school community?
I ask myself: has anxiety got worse than it ever was, or is it just starker and more
reported these days? Were we in education more resilient back in the Seventies,
when I started teaching in a London school, and Ofsted wasn't a term that had been
coined? Truthfully, I don't believe the job of teaching was ever as demanding as it is
today. But that's just my view. When I returned to mainstream teaching after being
able to get care for my son who has severe and complex disabilities, I reeled at just
how much the job had changed, and at how much pressure everyone was under, staff
and pupils. I'd never known such a climate of fear and distrust, and it was contagious.
Everyone was watching their backs. One day, I quit after a false accusation. Never to
return to the classroom. I no longer wanted to be whipped into a shape I didn't
recognise or admire, and to have the essence of me taken away from me. You can
get another job, recover from ill health and move areas and make more friends, but
you can't recover your integrity once it's been shattered. I like to think that as a
conscientious teacher, I saw the signs and didn’t like what I saw. I bolted. The right
decision for me.
My heart goes out to all in education because it's a hell of a job. You don’t put your
heart and soul into something to be beaten with a thick stick. We need positivity to
So my question for you today is this one: Is this dog-eat-dog climate prevailing in
many other areas of the employment field? Are there jobs out there that can be held
without anxiety being the mainstay of every day? Or am I just an oldie ill equipped for
present day work? For the fear of the job market is starting to obsess me. If ever I
were to need work again, should our pensions not stretch... Well, frankly, the thought
terrifies me! I'm racking my brain to think of low anxiety jobs, and surely you'll know
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