Early career teacher: Let us not forget why we are here

Exams are looming and the pressure is on. Faris has been working hard for the children in his school and receiving excellent results. So why is he frustrated? Despite the challenges, he is still finding ways to enthuse his class and make himself laugh, too.


A quick spring term has led to a manic summer term, preparing students for their controlled assessments and exams that seem to be getting earlier every year.

The spring term was met with a contentious issue: marking. Because, as a department, we have historically been poor at marking, but have always had the best results in the school, this has been a bone of contention. Although we weren’t marking books often, we were told that we “were not marking as a department” which was unbelievable as we were all constantly marking tests, assessments, controlled assessments – giving the students regular constructive feedback, but mostly verbal feedback. The argument about written feedback on their notes being beneficial to the students didn’t seem to make sense as everything we were currently doing seemed to work.

I found myself getting more involved in the politics of the school, trying to defend my department and justify what they do and as I delved deeper into the reasoning behind some of the policies, at the crux of it was the same answer “for OFSTED”. We are so determined to continue as ‘Outstanding’, that we have forgotten what should be the real justification for new policies: helping the students to improve. While all the new policies introduced will help the students, sometimes it feels we’re just trying to appease OFSTED — and we’re not even due an inspection. We’ll be in real trouble when we are!

I decided that towards the end of the term, I would focus on what really matters: my teaching.

I went ‘all out’ and planned some really whizzy lessons (at least I like to think so). The sun came out so I took my low ability year 7 on the field to collect some insects and try to make a food chain. I took my year 11s outside to investigate centripetal force — which did result in some of them getting wet. It was that lesson, particularly, that made me laugh more than I ever had in any lesson before. One student just couldn’t master the swinging motion (but was very determined to do so), which resulted in him getting wetter each time.

We also recently got exam results back. To see the relief and joy on the students’ faces makes all the hard work over the year worthwhile.

At times I find myself getting frustrated with how things are done and run around the school, but I try to remember why I became a teacher and why I took the role as Head of Physics. It certainly wasn’t the money; it was to make a difference. As I (hopefully) move up the ranks I will be able to have more influences over the issues that trouble me and work to resolve the problems, rather than just accepting them. Although I never want to be completely out of the classroom.

My new exciting venture is trying to secure funding for an observatory at the school, which for a comprehensive will be amazing. It will be used by my astronomy classes, GCSE physicists, A-level students and hopefully the community as well. I am currently more than half way towards the total so hopefully by the next time I write a blog, construction could be well underway and safe to say I’ll be over the moon…sorry!