The BBC Education news desk and the The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) seem to believe that a recent ICM survey shows teaching is ‘under rated’.
This may be the case but the study does not show this. The study actually shows us not that teaching is under-rated but that prospects for career development are perceived as relatively limited.
But we would argue that this is actually why many would wish to join the teaching profession in the first place: to get their hands dirty and not be moved upstairs. Teachers love teaching. Those who join teaching for non-teaching careers are missing the point and are better suited to employment in the private sector.
If teachers regained control of schools and were allowed to make decisions that are currently made by layers and layers of administrators and managers then schools would become places of education once more and not the plaything of career managers and administrators that they are at the moment.
Teachers who wonder about career progression are not in teaching for the right reasons. Teachers who are concerned about their low salaries we can understand as often career progression is a euphemism for the latter but the most straightforward of jobs doesn’t need the imaginary, hierarchical levels of bureaucracy that it is currently subjected to.
Allowing teachers greater independence to make decisions for their pupils and schools will reduce bureaucracy. It may up the workload but compensation for this would be higher wages funded with the money saved from cutting back on administrators and managers.
Another benefit of this is bad teachers will have nowhere to run. Where currently they can hide behind systems and the failings of managers, a more transparent, simplified and self-reliant teaching profession will see a teacher live or die by their own efforts, with responsibility for the well-being and successes of the classes.
So, the ICM study does not show that teaching as a profession is under-rated but that as a structured career it is. However, we think this is no loss. Those who join teaching initially for a career in management later on are not those who enter teaching for the right nor best reasons. Teachers teach, and managers manage.