Eddie Ledsham was about 15 years old when he decided he wanted to be a school teacher.
It was a career path he never second guessed. After he finished high school in Wirral, northwest England, Ledsham studied a three-year teaching degree in primary education and graduated at 22.
After one term, he now says he will never work in teaching again.
LISTEN: Here’s what teachers really think of your kids…
“What I found,” Ledsham says in a one minute video that has resonated with teachers all over the world, “is we weren’t taught how difficult it would actually be when we started.
“I also found that teaching as a profession is no longer about passing on knowledge, but rather teaching children how to pass tests.”
Ledsham told Liverpool Echo that his day would start at 5:30am, when he would begin planning his lessons and marking, and didn’t finish until 6:30pm.
His role required him to plan and teach seven classes a day, five days a week, and his workload meant he couldn’t socialise with colleagues during recess or lunch. Ledsham broke down to his mother three weeks into his new job, but she encouraged him to continue.
“I felt that what was expected of us was astronomical. I love working with children but the problem with the teaching is that there are so many expectations,” Ledsham explains in the video.
“I think we should have been given more on-the-job experience during the course of the degree, as it didn’t at all prepare me for it.”
Ultimately, Ledsham could not endure the toll his job was taking on his emotional and psychological wellbeing, and decided to resign.
Ledsham is hardly alone. The retention rate for teachers in Australia is shockingly low, with researchers estimating that between 30 per cent to 50 per cent of teachers leave the profession within their first five years. As a result, there is a significant shortage of teachers in remote and rural areas.
Many teachers report that they do not feel as though they are not receiving the support and mentoring they need to learn on the job, are overwhelmed by the heavy workload, and have problems with classroom management.
Despite their fundamental role in educating future generations, teachers continue to be culturally undervalued and drastically underpaid.
Perhaps Ledsham’s voice is one worth listening to.