I don’t know if I count as an experienced teacher. I’ve been doing it in various forms for 12 years and I like to think that I’m in the right job.
I think that one of the things that means I’m still a teacher is that I have been able to do different types of teaching- tutoring, MFL and Maths, all whilst moving towards specialisation in SEN teaching. I have taught full time in National Challenge schools and small independent schools, part time in private settings and most recently, as a part-time SEN teacher in a mainstream school.
I love my job and I am lucky that I can say that. When I read about how experienced teachers often feel devalued and underused in their settings, I am grateful that I am in a place where this is not the case. Teachers are leaving the profession in their droves and they are not being replaced. There is a recruitment crisis and it is hitting the profession hard; pupil numbers are increasing in primary schools, which means the same will be true of secondary schools in due course. I worry as to how we will support young people and how schools will function effectively if there just literally are no teachers. Experienced teachers are vital to this process as they help support newer teachers, provide guidance and mentoring for those who need it and are often a ‘safe pair of hands’.
We are in a dark place as a profession and I don’t see that it will get any better any time soon. But while I can, I will champion the cause of experienced teachers and their importance in the system, as schools need the whole range of staff for a balanced workforce that can effectively teach and support our children.