Nick Butt

Why I quit teaching

Nick Butt says he resigned as headmaster of a Norfolk school because of idiotic government bureaucracy

I was on holiday when I read about my resignation as headmaster of St Edmund’s. ‘Head quits over Labour policies’ read the headline. It came as quite a surprise. I knew I had resigned, but didn’t think anyone would be interested. Then the story was mentioned on breakfast TV. A national paper took up the tale. Questions were asked in the House, and on Radio Norfolk. I began to wonder whether my obscure act of self-immolation might conceivably be noticed by the government.

‘A very brave decision,’ I was told time and again. It seemed to me, as Margaret Thatcher used to say, that there was no alternative.

The spat between Charles Clarke and the Local Government Association, representing the nation’s local education authorities, is very childish. Where are the missing millions? Nobody is going home until we find them. Sooner or later Mr Brown will fork out some more, and the crisis will abate – until this time next year, that is. More contributions will have to go into the ailing pensions fund; there will be national insurance to pay; another pay rise to fund; and on top of that huge quantities will be needed to implement the now notorious Workload Agreement.

Under the terms of this amazing document, schools are henceforward obliged to release teachers to prepare for lessons for at least half a day a week, and teachers are spared from doing 24 named tasks such as collecting dinner money and putting up displays. In fact teachers’ contracts will be changed in September to reflect the new code, and as the headmaster I am, or would have been, required to implement it. The cost to my school is £65,000 per annum in additional staff costs, on top of the £98,000 I am short this year.

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