'Yes, It Can Be Tough. but Job Satisfaction Outweighs All That' with This Year's Teaching Union Easter Conferences Fuelling Negative Headlines about the State of the Profession, Education Correspondent Moira Sharkey Discovers What Teaching Is Really like Today from Those on the Frontline

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), April 16, 2009 | Go to article overview

'Yes, It Can Be Tough. but Job Satisfaction Outweighs All That' with This Year's Teaching Union Easter Conferences Fuelling Negative Headlines about the State of the Profession, Education Correspondent Moira Sharkey Discovers What Teaching Is Really like Today from Those on the Frontline


Violent attacks from pupils and work-related stress leading to mental health issues are just some of the horror stories coming out of the teaching union conferences this year.

The NASUWT conference heard that the "fun and enjoyment" of teaching is being eroded by paper trails to satisfy official inspections, while NUT members debated the fact that half of all teachers have considered leaving the profession due to stress, citing long hours, excessive workload, lack of support and poor pupil behaviour. And ATL demanded a zero tolerance policy to violence against school staff.

And there was a general consensus that young recruits are being put off from entering the profession because of low salaries, workload and working conditions. So what is the reality? Education Wales has spoken to teachers in Wales to find out their thoughts on the positives and negatives of the teaching profession and what they get out of being a teacher on a day-to-day basis..

Cliff Warwick, below, is principal of Trinity Fields School and Resource Centre in Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly, where he has worked for the past seven years. Cliff, who lives in Swansea, has worked in the education and special needs sector for 33 years, including as a teacher in mainstream secondary education as well as a local authority adviser "I started out my career working with disadvantaged young people on community projects, and I became convinced that the involvement of these young people in education needed to be more positive in order to help them to fulfil their potential. This is what prompted me to want to work in the sector and I became qualified as a special education teacher.

"I have found that there is huge satisfaction involved in teaching children to do things that they didn't believe they could.

"A key element of my work with young people at Trinity Fields is to teach them to become more independent, to raise their expectations of themselves and their general level of self-esteem.

"The real challenge in the special educational needs sector is to make the students really want to come to school and then to learn.

"For me, as a teacher, one of the greatest feelings is the sense of satisfaction when this is achieved.

"Outside my role as principal, I also now work with the Welsh Assembly Government to help shape future policy on special educational needs, which is another way I feel I am able to put my years of experience as a teacher to good use.

"My professional life has been hugely rewarding and I am privileged, after 33 years, to still love my job.

"Anyone who wants to feel passionate about their work and is prepared to be fully committed to it, will reap the enormous benefits of a career in teaching."

Sarah Stockford, 47, below, from Colwyn Bay, is an early-years teacher at Ysgol y Foryd in Conwy, where she has taught for the last seven years. Sarah is also a council member of the General Teaching Council for Wales "I decided to become a teacher when I was in my early 30s.

"My previous career was in sales, but after I had my children and was involved in their school environment, I realised that teaching was the career for me.

"In my role as an early-years teacher, I encounter children at a very young age when they are extremely impressionable.

"The main priority for me as a teacher is to endeavour to give my pupils a good first experience of education that will ensure they continue to want to go to school and learn.

"For me, the best thing about teaching is the fact that it is possible to really make a change in a child's life and influence a person's future by providing them with a sound education.

"It is admittedly also a great responsibility to have a great influence on the lives of young children, which is why I feel it is important for me, as a teacher, to ensure I always provide a positive role model for the children I teach.

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'Yes, It Can Be Tough. but Job Satisfaction Outweighs All That' with This Year's Teaching Union Easter Conferences Fuelling Negative Headlines about the State of the Profession, Education Correspondent Moira Sharkey Discovers What Teaching Is Really like Today from Those on the Frontline
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