Teaching Crisis  – could TV shows be a contributing factor?

Whether we like it or not, television plays a huge part in all of our lives. Its influence over popular culture, despite the emergence of the internet, is still unrivalled after 80 years, and with the average UK household still spending nearly four hours in front of their screens each day, its reign shows no signs of stopping.

Television shows and teaching crisis connection

With a new report released this week highlighting the links between the portrayal of jobs in television and recruitment, there is a growing concern in the teaching industry that television could be having a greater effect on its teaching crisis than first thought.

CV Library’s survey of over 2,000 working professionals found that nearly six in ten (59%) felt that reality TV programmes, such as Educating Yorkshire, gave a realistic insight into an industry, while over half (53%) said that they would watch a reality show to gain a better understanding of a profession.

Those figures are particularly worrying for leading figures in the teaching industry, which feel that the portrayal of a teacher’s day-to-day life on the silver screen in reality shows is often over-dramatised, or worse, scripted to create exciting television.

Is it the media’s fault?

Speaking last year at the Wellington College Festival of Education, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector of Schools in England and head of Ofsted, claimed that the media’s portrayal of the state education system was hampering efforts to attract would-be teachers to the profession.

“Of course, we’ve got to have reality TV and show what teaching can be like in some of our schools, warts and all,” he said, “but surely we’ve also got to get a better balance and show what goes on in the vast majority of our state schools – good leadership, good teaching and good learning.  This often doesn’t get a look in.” He added.

As part of the survey, CV Library asked its correspondents to rank how damaging or beneficial different shows have been to their professions. Nearly a quarter (22%) felt that Educating Yorkshire / Essex, the Channel 4 shows which attracted over four million viewers, had the most damaging impact to an industry.

The programmes featured 64 cameras that were rigged up around a set school, which recorded incidents that took place between 7am and 5pm on a daily basis for seven weeks.

Crew working on the two shows gave microphones to those that they felt would make the most entertaining television based on their six months of research prior to filming.

Difficult topics, such as teenage pregnancy and bullying, were featured heavily in the shows that were broadcasted, highlighting some of the most challenging and infrequent aspects of a teacher’s job.

Lee Biggins, the founder and managing director of CV-Library, said: “Many organisations in the education sector are already struggling to attract professionals, so discovering that some shows can have a negative impact on hiring in their sectors is another potential set-back for employers. Businesses must combat the negative stigma associated with certain industry-focused TV shows to help candidates see the real profession…and ensure their pipeline of skilled talent is not harmed.”

Figures unearthed by the Labour Party this week suggest that employers are failing to do just that. Secondary schools spent a reported £56 million advertising open vacancies last year, up 61% from 2010, yet 13 out of every 16 secondary subjects had unfilled training places in 2015-16.

One further theory is that the spate of negative headlines around the teaching industry is also partly to blame. The murder of Spanish teacher Ann Maguire by one of her own pupils at Corpus Christi Catholic College in 2014 received huge publicity, as did the alleged plot to replace the head teachers of four schools in Birmingham in an attempt to make them adhere to more Islamic principles.

In Conclusion

How much these type of headlines are are contributing to the teaching crisis  and damaging teacher recruitment is difficult to judge, but with television’s new 24-hour news services and the ability to access information on the internet like never before, there is no doubt that negative publicity reaches a far greater audience than just ten years ago.