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Excessive levels of accountability in the teaching profession are often being used as a tool to control teachers and create a “climate of fear”, Dave Kitchen, NASUWT National President said today.
 
Mr Kitchen, an RE and PSHE teacher from Liverpool, said teachers were often afraid to speak out and were suffering from excessive stress, sometimes turning to medication to cope.
 
Speaking to the Annual Conference of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, being held in Belfast, he hit out at the increasing lack of regulation in the academy sector, which in some areas was having a “devastating effect”.

This was leading to excessive salaries, a lack of accountability and enormous sums being spent on education consultants, he said.

He told delegates: “Too many teachers today are facing incredible levels of accountability, which has gone a long way to creating a climate of fear and is, in too many schools, being used as a tool to control teachers.”

Mr Kitchen said some schools “got it right” using empowering appraisal methods, paying teachers properly, providing high-quality CPD and helping teachers get a better work/life balance. “This is how it should be,” he said. “This is what those NQTs starting in September were expecting and what new entrants to the profession should expect.
 
“Unfortunately what we are witnessing is teachers too fearful to speak out. We are seeing increases in teachers suffering from excessive stress and taking medication, teachers leaving the profession because they cannot take any more or are no longer finding teaching affordable.”
 
Reflecting on his career Mr Kitchen said: “Something I did not experience when I started teaching was fear: fear of doing the wrong thing, fear that my pupils were not making sufficient progress, fear of being ill or of not completing all my tasks as a teacher.” This had changed for teachers coming into the profession today, he suggested.
 
Mr Kitchen suggested the global education reform movement was pushing a narrative to try and blame teachers for the cause of society’s ills.
 
He said: “Public education is increasingly seen as the next major global market to be exploited by private capital at the expense of the pupils. Hence the overuse of performance tables in order to attract future consumers.”
 
In a rallying cry to members Mr Kitchen said: “Members need to come together, as a union, if they are to win their fight, our fight for an education system which fulfils the aims and aspirations of the young and provides a valuable worthwhile job for teachers.
 
“We need more than ever to stand up to poor management practices, poor behaviour, a narrowing curriculum, cuts in support service for SEN pupils, poor pay and precarious contracts, cuts in pension benefits, or losing the pension altogether.
 
“We need to stand up so that children, all children, can have access to a truly inclusive educational experience in a safe environment which will allow them to flourish as the adults of tomorrow.
 
“We need to stand up so that all teachers can have a worthwhile and rewarding career in teaching with a pension at the end of it, so that there is an end to a climate of fear in all schools.”

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