Session 58 – How can we improve the teaching community’s relations with the public?


Session Title:

How can we improve the teaching community’s relations with the public?

Session Summary:

There were so many threads to Thursday’s discussion, the debate was as vibrant and brimming with ideas as ever, that this has been very difficult to compile, so I hope I’ve done it justice.


One major theme of the discussion was a perceived dissonance between the way people felt that schools and teachers were perceived locally, versus the way they were perceived nationally. Indeed, several people felt confused about the need for this discussion as they felt like they had a good relationship with parents and the local press, and the school had a good reputation locally. It was suggested that the picture painted by the national press was very different, but that this was driven largely by politicians and the media, and not by parents. Most agreed that there was a need for teachers to have a better relationship with national media, amongst the ideas proposed were media ‘champions’ or high profile spokespeople and an ‘Education Media Watch’, which could tackle misrepresentations of education issues by the media.


There was much discussion about whether the professional standing of teachers had been degraded, and many felt that it had been. Whether there is enough public understanding of the role of teachers, and how this could contribute to commonly held misconceptions about the education agenda, was also raised. There was also some debate as to whether the unions act as a suitable platform for teachers views. There were several ideas aimed at ‘demystifying’ teaching, making teaching processes more publicly accessible, such as by providing more detailed information to parents and the community about what goes on in school, as well as the suggestion that we need reality TV shows to show what teaching is really like! It was also suggested that in order to win back public support and/or professionalism, we perhaps need to address directly public concerns about poor teachers by raising the bar to enter teaching and making it easier to sack poor teachers.


There was also much discussion about what schools could do to improve their public relations, which inevitably raised issues about whether schools should be run more like businesses.


Thanks again for letting me host!


Notable Tweets:

@deerwood: If teacher does good work with each pupil and communicates this, then parents feel they have a good teacher despite media view.

@EMathsUK: Teaching unique in that everyone thinks they know what the job is because they once went to school… so all have preconceptions

@passionateaboot: Teachers have good news stories but they never get beyond the confines of the school. How good are you guys at selling yourselves?

@EmTeaches: The ‘public’ perception of teaching from the parents of kids in my class very positive. Media perception is a separate issue.

@deerwood: UK education has a long history of useless ministers in charge. The key is to ignore them and carry on promoting good education.

@mattbuxton10: Perhaps we should put together a renegade curriculum teaching how politicians & journalists are all corrupt/criminal!!!!

@altyapple: Might I suggest that if it was easier to remove poor quality teachers public perception may increase.

@unseenflirt: @genkijen @coopsonia Good point. The pensions issue is evidence of why teachers need the public’s sympathies.

@joanne_rich: Community involvement/local media/student voice etc. all good but drowned out by national message that ‘schools’ are failing

@BernieThomas: teachers are seen as overpaid and underworked

@PivotalEllie: Maybe we need more fly on the wall day-in-the-life-of documentaries that follow teachers and show what they do.

@mattbuxton10: Issue isn’t helped by govt reviews done by celebs as opposed to educators; sends message we aren’t experts but they are!

@robbmonster: Raising perceptions of teachers begins with raising entry criteria for trainee teachers. It should be an elite profession.

@jodieworld: The current government has done a LOT to damage teaching reputation but how much have teachers done to damage that too?

@PivotalEllie: Whose responsibility should it be to ensure nationwide good publicity of the profession? TDA? Ofsted? Unions? Who?

@bigart_jim And edu is constantly seen as a problem to solve RT @tim7168 Politicans have no incentive to portray teachers in a good light.

@EmathsUK Teaching often doesn’t help itself, with the constant “woe is me” voice of the unions. It’s the greatest job on earth!

@rapclassroom: Unless we are happy being reduced to ‘deliverers’ of the Government’s curriculum, we have to engage politically.

@wjputt: Stop getting celebrities to ‘teach’, review or research education. Get ‘top’ teacher to do it & use Web 2.0 techs to share it!


Natacha’s proposal for Ed Media Watch

Britain is not broken


Examples of good press for individual schools:

PSPs at Gloucestershire College


Hard work by teachers, pupils, and staff pays off


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About UKEdChat Editorial 3188 Articles
The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

1 Comment

  1. Looks like this was a good discussion; sorry I missed it. Really agree with the point that because we’ve all been to school we feel happy to share our views on how teaching/ education should be. We’re all either scared or confused by the work doctors, lawyers, surveyors etc do so we’re happy to let them form professional bodies and get on with what they feel is important. I have never met a teacher who is anything but incensed by the GTC!

    My other bugbear is whiny teachers! I can’t stand ’em! When people find out I’m a teacher they want to commiserate. I have to constantly challenge this view. I am not a teacher because of some srt of misfortune: I love my job and would not do anything else. I would however be happy to be paid more.

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