Loic Menzies was a youth worker before becoming a teacher and then a member of the senior leadership team at St George’s Roman Catholic School in London. On leaving teaching, Loic set up LKMco, a think-tank which works across the education, youth and policy sectors. In today’s post he asks whether teachers and youth workers could work together more closely. Share your thoughts by completing the survey at the end of the post.
Twelve years ago I walked into a community centre and started my first job as a youth worker. Three and a half years later, I walked into the classroom as a teacher. Naively, I thought that second role would be fairly similar to the first, but over the next few months I came to realise just how different it was. Teachers and youth workers operate in very different ways and serve different functions, and in the second role I quickly realised I needed to develop a different kind of relationship with young people. The very fact that pupils were in my class because they had to be, rather than because they’d chosen to be, changed things. However much they might enjoy my lessons, the role was categorically different. It took a bit of adjustment, but in the end I think that having experienced both made me more effective.
Once I left teaching and started to focus on research, I began to wonder whether those different ways of working could be mutually complementary. Would young people’s development be best served by having both teachers and youth workers sharing responsibility for different aspects of education and youth development? At LKMco we recently started working with London Youth, a network of youth clubs in London, to find out more. We’re looking to school leaders to share their views with us in this short survey.
It’s a timely question: we all know that schools are incredibly busy and that reducing workload has to be top of any leaders’ priority list. Our recent Why Teach report showed that more than half of surveyed teachers have considered leaving the profession in the last six months, and three-quarters cited workload as the reason. While the ever-increasing demands of accountability frameworks and scrutiny no doubt play a role in creating this epic workload, perhaps it is also because schools are trying to fulfil so many different roles. They are trying to simultaneously build up pupils’ subject knowledge, broaden their horizons, develop them as individuals and support them through times of crisis. This is undoubtedly an onerous set of responsibilities, but teachers are such a committed bunch they try to do it all, driving themselves as hard as they can to keep a million plates spinning. Having already spent the weekend marking, many don’t think twice before helping out with the school netball team on Monday night at the end of a day’s teaching.
In light of this, do youth clubs represent an under-tapped resource that might lend schools a helping hand in fulfilling these roles? Or do teachers and leaders feel that they are best placed to do these things? Be part of the conversation: let us know how youth clubs and schools could work together more closely via this quick five-minute survey.
Are teachers struggling to maintain a work/life balance in your school? If so, take a look at The Key’s workload audit here. You can print it off and give it to teachers to fill in.