My daughter teaches in a primary school across in what's generally termed as a "deprived coastal area". Her best mate teaches in a Manx primary. When the NUT president praised the island's schools and said "teachers and pupils were far happier and more motivated than across." I would say it's very true.
Many teachers and TAs at my daughter's school are stressed to the point of illness and many have had to take time off. In three short years, I have watched my daughter go from a healthy, vibrant young woman who loves teaching young children to a sickly, stressed out person who dreads going to work each day.
Due to all the paperwork (demanded by Ofsted) that must be completed for each child in her class, she works late into the night every school night and also works long hours every weekend. Ticking boxes and filling out forms takes up so much of her time that she struggles to plan lessons. It's horrifying and heartbreaking to watch.
Her friend who teaches on the island, on the other hand, has none of this Ofsted induced stress. She has the time and energy to put all her effort into teaching her children. None of the teachers or TAs at her school are off with stress-related illness.
My daughter is hoping to come back home and teach here asap. Not only does she want to give back to the society and educational system that served her well and enabled her to gain her qualifications, but she also wants to get back to doing what she went into the profession to do - teaching and moulding young minds, rather than ticking boxes and filling in forms about teaching children.
I have to admit I'm worried about her mental and physical health. She's always been a very resilient person. Nothing ever phased her and believe me, life has thrown her more than her share (for her age) of curve-balls. Every time we talk on Skype these days, she looks worn out with dark circles under her eyes. It's difficult to watch what's happening to her and not being able to do anything about it. Everything else in her life is going very well, so it's completely down to the stress of being a teacher in England.
If I still had young children, I know without doubt and with no need for league tables where I would want my children educated - right here on the Isle of Man. We may have a lot of problems on the island, but education here is fantastic and I'm glad it won some well-deserved praise from the NUT president.