Friday 29 May 2015

Dear body...a letter to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Dear body,

We have always had a bit of a love hate thing going on. From earlier in my life, at primary school...standing a head taller and wearing a bra aged 10 to being called 'thunder thighs' as a term of endearment by my father throughout my teens.
Even back then I didn't like you much when it came to going out and wearing nice clothes but you had your were good at sport, really good. I got to represent my school, my county and my university, nearly even my country. Who would've thought my body could do that. We weren't thin ever were we but we were fit, muscular and could pull it off so to speak.

Then it started, bit by bit I couldn't do as much. Sometimes it was my fault. I pushed you far beyond your limits. I pushed you too far on nights out, not enough sleep and too many brain aching lectures. I remember the 3 weeks of tonsillitis and being taken to the doctor by someone I hardly knew, I remember the hospital and the drip and I remember sleeping a lot as you recovered from glandular fever. I remember getting better and getting back. That was the best bit.

I remember running off a court during a warm up to throw up in the loos after a heavy night out regardless of training the next day, I remember dragging myself up that hill to the sports hall in all weathers and getting cramp. My bad.
I also remember the fall as if it was yesterday. I remember the bang in my knee and the bang of my head on the floor. At the time I didn't know what hurt more but in time it was clear that joint was busted. The operation recovery was tough. I remember wrapping parts of you in bin bags so I could wash without my stitches getting wet. Foolish as I was it worked!

I struggled to come to terms with the fact high impact sports were out of my life. The had been there the whole time but I just couldn't put you and your broken piece through it anymore. I was warned and those couple of times I tried by golly you showed me didn't you?! All that swelling and pain to show me I was broken. The problem was you made me lose some of the only friends I had, that team were so important and I couldn't lead them if I couldn't play. You don't understand how lonely it was and how much I needed that competitive edge to blow off steam.

We got on OK for a bit once I'd given in to you. It was done. You played up in the cold and certain social activities were out (ice skating for example) but it was fine, I could hold the coats and drink the mulled wine couldn't I?

I hurt you deliberately sometimes too. I'm not going to lie to you. It wasn't your fault it was other people trying to cause pain. Little gossips who have nothing better to do but I'm not lashing out for no one so I did it in private. I'm sorry for that, there was no other way.

Sometimes I got you in situations you shouldn't have been in. I put you in danger and I'm sorry for that too. Luckily you were still strong and you fought for us and kept us in this world. You adapted to moving away and not having a car to get around. You got used to the trials and tribulations of a series of failed relationships that it became a joke as a defence mechanism. Disaster area I called it, and you. That wasn't fair really, you just got carried along for the ride.

Then you gave up on me. What was it? Did you get bored of dealing with the 'garden variety' illnesses picked up in schools and fancy something more challenging? Is it karma? Or payback for all I put you through? I wish you would tell me...
I remember the morning you gave up. We'd been fighting hadn't we for weeks...I was making you carry on, insisting it was for the new job and I had to prove myself and that I could do it. I forced you to get up in the darkness and work til the darkness the other side and then continue until it was all done. Except it never happened because you wouldn't let me, you had me falling asleep on my laptop, drooling on my marking or being so sick and stressed it was like being frozen in time.
I woke up that morning feeling you complain as you always did. It was dark even with my eyes open. I tried to stand but you had other ideas. You took my legs away from me and left me on the floor in an undignified heap. Thanks for that, you took all my power away that day and I am struggling to ever forgive you.

You made me stay in bed for so long. So long that days, weeks and months merged away into a blur. I felt like a sub citizen, I didn't exist out of my 'bubble' and you made me too scared to even try and leave. I was scared you'd do the same to me as you'd done that morning. I couldn't trust you anymore and you have no idea how scary that is, the one thing I should be able to trust was behaving in a way I could not understand.
Best thing about it was you evaded medical science. Did you stand in the corner smiling when they kept saying 'those tests are normal' and 'I don't know what this is' did you? well did you? It seemed you were taking the p*** out of me body to put it frankly.
I persevered though didn't I? Bet you didn't expect that.

I got you doing a bit more, I got us back to doing something that vaguely resembles work. You have no idea what you did there. You destroyed all the resolve I had the minute I couldn't earn enough to survive. You are lucky that the other body in the house has a reasonable job otherwise you might've got more than you bargained for. It's cold in doorways you know body?!

Thing is this illness you now have, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome the doctor calls it means you are making it difficult for me for a long time. You've limited my activity so much it's made me ill in a different way. You've made the only part of my body I thought I had left sick brain.
You've led me to comfort eat due to the depression and anxiety and I can't run it off or swim because you WILL NOT LET ME. YOU. It's all your fault and I am scared.

I hate you and I can't look at you right now. You are fat, stretched, wobbly and ugly and I don't recognise you anymore. Not even your face.
Give me something back please. Let me control some of this so I can at least fit into the clothes I own (seeing as I can't replace them as you took my wages away too remember.) Have you not had enough of this now? It's been over a year and I still cannot be in control, why are you limiting me like this and making me look such a fool?

I wish you could tell me. I really wish we could come to some agreement. Anything.
I wish you could tell me why you make my hands and feet hurt like they have been out in the cold for an hour all day every day, I wish you could tell me why the pains in my stomach come so suddenly and go equally quickly and why sometimes I can think and sometimes I can't. Do you enjoy not being able to walk far and getting sweaty when you try? It's like a sick joke, all of it.

I want an end, give me a clue, when is that going to be do you think? Before the wedding or after....

Bet I can guess

Yours in general hatred and fury

Tuesday 24 March 2015

"Tutoring Toolkit"...a window into my new life - with humour I hope!

I haven't blogged for ages. Not through laziness or lack of time but because really I haven't had a lot to blog about.
Many of you know that I am ill and have had nearly a year off work in all forms and took the biggest decision of my life - not to go back into the classroom. I can't, it's too much for me physically and mentally right now. The doctor reckons this could be a long term thing so I have to get used to it.

Luckily I caught a break and was approached to be a 1-1 tutor. It has pros and cons. I contract so I have to sort my own tax (a small pain), no holiday pay, quite a bit of driving. That said I work with kids in their own homes or in libraries, I'm learning to teach new things (English anyone) as well as reinforcing my Science teaching with some Triple Science tutoring and I can build relationships with kids - some of which don't meet new people very often if they are home schooled for whatever reason. I'm enjoying it and I'm enjoying the control I have over my hours.

So it crossed my mind a while ago to write a Tutoring Toolkit post...what's in my 'Portable Classroom' (aka my car) I hear you neighbours certainly wonder when they see me wandering past with differing numbers of bags and books each day!

So here it no particular order...prepare to be amazed lol

Pencil cases stocked - pens, pencils, rubber, ruler, pencil sharpener - standard
Maths kit - when teaching Maths one needs access to compasses and protractor
Scientific calculator - as above (helps if you know how to use it though...cue much hilarity when you get crazy fractions and can't find the button to convert to decimals!)
Dictionary and Thesaurus - have a variety of uses when tutoring English and doing creative writing especially. I am starting to hate the words 'nice' and 'said' lol
Lots of paper - lined, squared, need it. Failing that exercise books of each
Post it notes - marking pages, writing notes to self on what to plan for next week.
Record cards - making revision cards
USB sticks - for storing resources/kids work
Library card - for the WiFi....and the books ;)
ID - some of the kids I work with have emotional and social issues so it helps the staff at the libraries to see who I am and that I work for the LEA
Tissues - useful in many a crisis
Hand sanitiser - many kids have pets. Dogs like to slobber....nuff said
Deodorant and/or Body spray - lots of parents (and kids) smoke in their houses
Work phone - so work can contact me, so parents can contact me
Mini whiteboard and pens - many uses - the same as in a classroom
Addresses and phone numbers - helps to know where you're going
Folders for each child - organisation
Highlighters - Picking out key words/phrases, helping with exam questions e.g. command words.
Water - if there's no time to stop, you need to drink in the car
Windows 8 tablet with attachable keyboard and wireless mouse - I have a Linx 10" Windows tablet and it is perfect for what I need as it runs full Windows including full Office, so you don't need to worry about not having access to computers if the library is busy, you have one right there in your bag.
Notepad - noting down what you've done, any key points, what to do next
Diary - keeping track of hours/mileage
Scissors - cut and stick
Glue - see above
Colouring pens and pencils - for Art...or for other tasks that might benefit from a bit of colour
Painkillers - just in case - I take a lot of meds as it is and have to be organised with those but you never know when that headache might strike
Relevant textbooks, revision guides, reading books - depends on the day but I've got a good backlog of bits and pieces now
Snacks - in the car, non messy ones. Sometimes a lunch break is difficult if you have to drive a long distance
Chewing gum - covers many a lunch crime
Glasses - mine
Sunglasses - for the (hopefully) good weather to come
Canvas bags - I have one for each child and one for each subject. I bought some iron on patches to help identify the bags. On my busiest day I have to carry 7 canvas bags and my portable classroom
Sat-Nav - for people like me who have no sense of direction!
Change - you're screwed if you don't have change for the car park
Poly-pocket - keep your receipts in it
Knowledge of nearby places to eat/use the loo/shop - don't get caught short
iPod or similar stocked with tunes and the correct cables - keeps the journeys enjoyable if you've got tunes to sing to on the way
Patience - bags of it and that's just for the traffic!
Sense of humour - one to one is a bit intense sometimes

Phew!! So this is what I carry about every day I'm out on the next time you're in the Asda cafe and you see someone with bags of stuff scribbling in a notepad it might just be me....or someone like me.

Wednesday 31 December 2014

#Nurture1415 an equally soul destroying and life saving year

I have immed and ammed about writing this for days. Part of me really didn't want to, as this year has been a real struggle for me. I haven't read too many of other people's posts for fear of feeling inadequate and I haven't reviewed last years as many of the things I had hoped to do have not occured.

5 Highlights of 2014

1. I got engaged, only a few days ago in fact. Crazy!!! It is sinking in, probably will sink in more onceI get my gorgeous ring back and I can wear it for the first time. We've started to think about numbers and venues so this is going to keep me occupied for a while

2. I did a course in something I wanted to do. I wanted to learn how to use my camera properly and so did an adult education course to learn the basics. It has given me the confidence to get out there and try things, use manual mode and the knowledge to attempt to correct it if I get it wrong. A new lens, backpack and Photoshop Elements has also helped.

3. I got a diagnosis. I have been ill for a considerable period of the year. 10 months of it. I knew how I felt but it was like no one believed me. I felt I was existing in my own, foggy, exhausted and sore world and no one in the medical profession was willing to help. I went for endless tests, had more blood removed than ever and had a steroid injection which left me collapsed in a corridor at the hospital. Finally, after 7 months of trying things and feeling no different the specialist relented and diagnosed fibromyalgia as a result of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. As many of you will appreciate this is why this post is considerably shorter than many of my earlier ones, it just hurts to type.

4. I took control of what I wanted to do. I decided to leave teaching for a while if not permanently. It is the right decision for now and was not taken lightly as it has left me with weekly trips to the job centre and filling in application forms whilst trying to manage my illness. But I decided. Me.

5. I got better with babies. My friend had a little girl about 6 weeks ago and as I've been off I've been in a position to help, even just make her a cup of tea and hold the baby so she can drink it! I've discovered that little things sometimes make all the difference when a small child is involved and I have actually enjoyed spending time with her even though she cries a lot. I didn't think I'd say that ever!

5 hopes for 2015

1. Get better. Maybe not 100% better but better. I'm waiting for a referral to a new specialist and hope I get it. At least then I will be able to learn how to manage my condition and things I can do to help myself. At the moment no one can seem to tell me what I should or should not do. It's baffling!

2. Get a job. My first non teaching job. As I type I am waiting to hear back about an interview I went to before Christmas. I'm trying not to let myself get my hopes up but I would love it I think. I'm looking forward to evenings and weekends, it's worth the massive pay cut for the quality of life I need to manage my medical condition.

3. Plan a wedding. Hmmmmm - any sensible suggestions for how to save money on a wedding for around 90 people send them my way please! I think we know when and even where maybe...beyond that. Nothing!

4. Master my camera. I want to get out and photograph. I love photographing wildlife but want to improve landscapes too. I've got everything I need now to give it a good whirl

5. Live my life my way. One thing I've learnt from being ill is that you only get one crack at this life. The last 2-3 years as teaching has changed, in my opinion not for the better left me drained and emotionally exhausted as you see child after child lost within an ever complex system. I can't kid myself anymore and I can't continue to work within that lie of a system. So I've stopped. I'm going to try something else, I've got a CV and everything. I want to remember who I was and be the person my fiance fell in love with. I want to be me.

Happy New Year Everyone and remember to take care of yourselves and any staff you are responsible for.

Monday 27 October 2014

Lack of blogging explained...

Many have noticed I have been quiet of late. In fact it has been over 6 months since I started a post let alone finished one.

The reason for this is I haven't really had anything to blog about unless you want to know about daytime TV (It's awful) or the inside of hospitals, GP's and Occupational Health offices (all pretty scary.)
This is because I have been off sick. Initially I didn't think it was anything, in fact the GP was convinced it was that old chestnut 'work related stress' but I knew better than that. Something in my guts told me there was something really wrong and I pushed and pushed to be investigated further. I don't want to be too specific here as I love my anonymity.

Last week I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) (which used to be known as ME) and Fibromyalgia. Frankly I was not surprised. I know my body and I'm not a hypochondriac...for months and months my hands and feet have not been my own, at times I have no strength and objects get dropped, I can bearly hold a pen let alone write with it. Rings do not fit despite the fact there is no swelling (believe me I've been scanned to within an inch of my life!)
Sometimes I can hardly walk for the pain in my's like carpel tunnel syndrome but in the tops of my feet.
Some days I wake up and I feel like I've been awake all night, I am tired to the point my eyes can hardly focus and basic things like making breakfast or taking a shower are tough...there is a good explanation of this called 'spoon theory' - the idea that you have limited number of tasks you can manage so you have to sacrifice some if you want to do others.
Some days I wake up and feel sort of OK.....I can get a few things done round the house then I hit the wall.....and it's a massive, nasty painful wall that knocks me over. It leaves me despondent and down, frustrated because I was OK and I want to get things done.
Exercise has been limited and the weight has creeped on slowly....walking is sometimes possible but I get very anxious about getting stuck so, along with the social anxiety I already suffer it leaves me trapped in the house more often than not.
I'm scared to bump into colleagues, I don't want them to see me and I don't want to feel I have to explain myself. Twice I've left the supermarket in a hurry because someone is in there and I don't want to see has made me have panic attacks it has made me sick.

I'm not writing this because I want people to go 'there there' - I've had plenty of that and it's been great, I needed it. Not only my friends and family but the twitter community who have supported me through this using many of their own experiences, you know who you are....

No, the reason I'm writing this is to try and make people more aware that this is happening to teachers, maybe in your school. The ones who get all the bugs and don't really get better. The ones who are always tired, even after the holidays. The ones who seem a bit spaced out....just bear in mind that when they get home after school they might be falling asleep over their marking at 7pm to be found by their partners. That they are stressed out because however hard they try they cannot get everything done because they are so tired they can't concentrate. Maybe, just maybe they need to see a doctor.

For me, I am in the process of 'getting out' after 10 years. I am not well enough to teach full time and part time teaching is frankly a joke, I'm not prepared to spend my days off catching up with what I couldn't do at work - that is my opinion.

I am not prepared to do a sub-standard job, kids deserve better than that.

I don't know what I am going to do, but myself and my partner are willing to take the cut in my pay so I can get better and do something I can manage. Something that means I can have evenings, weekends, maybe even hobbies. It might be with kids, it might not be...right now I have no idea beyond the fact I need to write a CV and try and detail my transferable skills. This blog will probably become a journey into getting out of teaching and into something else....if anyone has any advice or suggestions they would be more than welcome!

Right now I am waiting for a referral to a hospital in London, there are no guarantees I'll be accepted. My GP said it depends on whether the county I live in can afford it. I hope they can help me because at the moment I don't know how to manage this. Therefore I don't know how much work I can manage. I've never been unemployed and frankly we could not afford for me to be so I need to get some information and soon.

I love teaching and I love working with children, at the moment none of this seems very real but it is an exciting and scary time.

All I ask is that you are aware, of your colleagues and teacher friends....don't let them get so far down the road they cannot get back....and remember, people with CFS don't look ill, they don't have obvious symptoms and they may not want to tell you they are struggling. Be aware and keep caring.

I'll try to keep you posted on what I do. It's going to be an interesting time.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

What have I done? What do I do?

I haven't blogged in ages, this is testament to how busy my new role has been. This is not a moan per se....I know how busy it is at this time of year, I see it in my twitter feed and the faces of my colleagues in all departments.
That said there was no doubt in my mind I was struggling. I was tired, all the time, I couldn't focus to get things done. I got ill, I went back, It didn't get better.

For the last few months I have been battling this constant feeling of tiredness and paranoia. I feel inadequate and spied upon. I can imagine meetings happening in offices about me and how I can't do my job and how they have made a mistake. I totally appreciate how mad that sounds....totally mad, but it's how I feel.

I've tried and tried to get on with it and be normal, putting it down to immense pressure of exams and marking and this and that...but I can't get better. I rested, I slept, but it didn't matter.

I went to the doctor who supported me, I've had a lot of tests but nothing concrete as of yet.

Then this week started. I woke up on Monday and fainted. I haven't been to work since, I can't drive and I hurt. My hands and feet and knees are swollen up and just walking up the stairs leaves me out of breath.

So here I am, stuck at home considering my health and my future. Worst thing is I'm not alone. you don't have to delve too deeply into social media to find other teachers who are broken and signed off.

I'm seriously starting to think about whether I've made a mistake, whether I should be looking for something back in special ed. where I was happy, whether I should be considering leaving teaching and if that's the case what do I do?! There is also the mortgage to consider....still needs to be paid, can't avoid it.

I can't begin to tell you how scared I am about the way I feel, and how the future is going to pan out. I want to be happy in whatever role I choose to do, I don't want to feel spied on or judged in this 'negative way.'

I just want to be me again. Whatever that means. 

Friday 7 February 2014

A month back in mainstream....

Stricken with flu as I am I cannot stop my brain working so in a bid to calm it down I said a while ago I would blog about my first month back in mainstream after nearly 4 years in the special education sector. So this will be a bit of a brain dump but maybe someone will come back to me with some practical suggestions which won't involve me reading a book - I haven't got time!

Overall it is definitely the right decision to move back. I have noticed I am calmer at home, less anxious, tearful and not so exhausted. That's not to say I'm not working a lot of hours, or that the job is any less's just less physical to start with! So a big plus to start with as I am generally looking and feeling better, I may even have lost a few pounds....

I've taken on some really difficult classes, a mixture of middle - low set Key Stage 4 for whom science is a genuine struggle, and some Key Stage 3 who were never really sorted by their previous teacher and allowed to run riot. None of the group's behaviour is acceptable in my mind though a couple are getting there, so I am still working on basic classroom routines and expectations both of work and behaviour. I really want them to work in their lessons to the best of their ability and some are really starting to try much harder. I've got the 'nemesis group' like everyone else which will take longer...but the school are happy with the improvement so far so I guess I have to start worrying about it.
I'm sure if I stay put, stay consistent and keep applying the school behaviour system it will get better in time. 

I want to change the universe, but I can't in a month....give it a year!

What I had forgotten was all the routines and marking. The main one I'm struggling with if I'm honest is homework. Coming from the special sector where homework is kind of 'left' and not concerned with (as to be honest it's better that they actually come to school in the first place and attend lessons!)
I'm finding myself in that classic situation where I set homework then forget to collect it. Or forget to set it as I'm caught up in the
Now I'm sure in time I will get better at this, I've drawn up a timetable I just need to learn it and start to identify those that are simply not doing their homework.  How do other teachers do it? Do you have a folder for each class? An in-tray? How do you manage this influx of paper!

The other thing that has surprised me is how slow some of the kids work....I got more out of some of my BESD boys than some of my middle ability Year 10 and 11 do now. Now I'm sure this is an expectations thing and they will pick up the pace eventually (kicking and screaming) but it's really eye opening for me. Linked in with this is the apparent 'spoon feeding' they have been exposed to. Many are far too reliant on me which is a sign of their insecurities and I am battling with them to become more independent over time. There is a lot of apathy towards science, because in the kid's own words "It's effort" so I am trying to make it easier for them which is proving tough as they are not willing to try. I get so frustrated with them because if they actually tried they could do it. I know I shouldn't get frustrated but I do....I'm hoping that in time Year 9 and 10 may come round, it's back to that whole change the world thing again isn't it?!

I've also forgotten what it is like to have a tutor group. The one I have inherited are great actually, they seem to have taken to me in the most part but getting them to complete the provided activities is proving tough as they just want to sit and chat....

I did my first observation of another teacher at my new job this week. I was pretty confident with my judgement as was the member of SLT who joined me but what I struggled with was the justification which made me nervous, I really felt put on the spot and need to trust myself more. I know the Ofsted definitions of lessons inside and out but I rely on my guts, that gut feeling you get when it is a good lesson, or not. What I need to do is work on is my questioning of the kids within the lessons when carrying out an observation which will come with time and how to use the data effectively.

I also had an observation myself which, I hope was good. I'm sure I will find out in due course. 

After half term we have a student teacher starting too and I am to be her mentor. I'm really looking forward to doing it and as well as being good for them I hope it is good for me too. It will give me chance to work on my lesson obseration skills as well as my feedback skills.

If I could write a list of things I think would help it would go like this: 

  • Resources for making science seem easier for middle ability kids without being 'babyish'. 
  • Ideas for helping middle set Year 10/11 become more confident, independent individuals and encourage them to revise and actually care about their science GCSEs
  • Resources for 6 mark question marking for Core and Additional Science (and other exam technique ideas really) to help them know how to answer exam questions
  • Ideas for marking quickly but effectively including homework
  • 2 inspiring science displays and other nice things to go on the walls (to hide the fading paint and make the place look nice) 
  • Bits and pieces to try with my tutor group, ideally literacy/numeracy based but could be pictures to stimulate discussion, news, just ways to use their time more effectively.  
  • Ways to keep Year 7 in their seats which do not involve Superglue or bungee cords :)
  • Anything to do with the new Key Stage 3 curriculum development. I've got some ideas but don't want to reinvent the wheel so to speak. 

 So over to you Twitter folk. Any ideas gratefully received though I fully appreciate there are no quick fixes and I need to keep on keeping on.

Who knows? Maybe I will change my own little universe bit by bit. :)

Monday 27 January 2014

#blogsync Dear Mr. Hunt

Here for what it is worth is my contribution to this month's open letter to Mr Hunt MP. All other blogs can be found here

Dear Mr. Hunt,

I promise you I will try not to sound tired, drained or exhausted but as I'm sure many other blogs have revealed to you, the going is tough in schools and getting tougher.
I've been teaching for nearly 10 years and am in my 4th job and the last year has been the worst year of my teaching career. I consider myself to be a dedicated teacher, a good teacher, someone who is reliable and who gets the job done pretty much whatever it takes.

What I want to do though is tell you a story. A story about why I started a new job 3 weeks ago and why the job I loved became too much to bear.

I took my previous job at a special school for boys with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties for many reasons but they were mostly the classic teacher reasons. I wanted to make a difference and I wanted those boys to see the value in science. There was no curriculum to speak of so I wrote one, the room was a mess so I changed it round, brightened it up as best I could and with a little help got some new furniture and blinds for the windows. I did everything I could to make that room a different space and the lessons as engaging as I could.
All was well, it was hard work as I'm sure you can imagine working with 50 or so very difficult young men everyday and most days I went home exhausted but happy knowing that in a small way I was making a difference to them, even just by being there.

Then the school decided to become an academy within a well known chain.

This is where things started to go wrong. The supportive leadership became paranoid spies from somewhere else, it was like they had been invaded. Everything I did was so say good but never enough according to 'academy paperwork' but we were never given time or support to make it better. We were observed to within an inch of our lives, well above union guidelines but there was nothing anyone could do about it. Any complaint, question or query was seen as a call to war. I was accused of being negative, of being a trouble maker all because I asked a question of a new 'idea' that the head had come up with that day. What they didn't realise was how impossible it all was. Policies and how the school 'worked' changed daily, sometimes hourly depending on who was making the decisions, it was so inconsistent - the one thing you don't need a special school to be. The school went from being 'child and welfare focussed' (it was a special school after all) to suddenly being all about progress and targets and levels. The kids didn't understand what was happening and neither did we. As teachers, as human beings we all felt for these kids as they had no idea what was happening to them and it was difficult to watch many of them fight against it.

Then there was the issue of the budget. Well there wasn't much to start with but suddenly there was none, in fact I'm pretty sure we owed money. I remember going to the bursar pleading for £40 for some chemicals for the GCSE coursework and her wincing. It was awful.

I knew I wasn't well and it took a long time to face up to it. By the time I went to the doctor I'd piled on about 3 stone and cried every morning and night and sometimes at school. A 'school day' was 12 hours minimum and I was working evenings and weekends too. It put strain on my relationship and on friendships some of which are still being repaired.
The doctor diagnosed me with stress anxiety and depression and I have taken medication ever since. I'm sure you will agree that it should not be necessary to be medicated to work but this is the case for a lot of teachers I know I am not the only one!

I can't even really remember what the 'straw that broke the camel's back was' if I'm honest....those last few months were so tiring and dreadful I tend to blank it. The kid's behaviour deteriorated so badly due to the undue pressure they were being put under that we were being hit, kicked and spat at pretty much daily. Despite this the demand for 'levelled work' and 'evidence of progress' never went away - though how you complete levelled work with a child that is excluded I will never know.
It was pointed out by a colleague to the leadership team that people, good people would leave but they did nothing to stop it or make it better. There was no opportunity for career progression, responsibility or even by the end recognition. It did not matter what I said or did anymore.

So I asked about, looked about and made a difficult decision to go back into mainstream teaching. Something I actually never thought I would do and 3 weeks in I feel so much better. Do not get me wrong, it is still hard work! In myself I feel less 'dumped on from a great height' and can do my job - working with kids to help them achieve their best.

The issue, and the point of me writing this Mr Hunt is this. Mr Gove has no due regard for teacher's mental health and welfare. I'm sure if you entered into conversation with GP's, unions and the Teacher Support Network they would tell you that over the last 3 years they have seen an increase in teachers coming to them with a variety of stress related and anxiety issues.

Mr Gove needs to realise that the rate of change is unsustainable if effective curricula are to be introduced. Last time we did this, for science in 2006 there was a raft of support from exam boards and publishers to make sure that the course was implemented in the right way. There is no support or guidance this time, and even if there was most schools could not afford it.
I am in charge of writing and implementing the new Key Stage 3 curriculum for science at my school ready for teaching to Year 7 in September of this year. Do you want to know where I am getting my support and help from. My teacher colleagues on Twitter. Yes Mr Hunt you heard right Twitter.
Do you not agree that we as teachers, we who deliver the courses and have done for years are the experts here?
Maybe if you were in charge of this you would listen to us, put some experienced teachers and experts back in charge of education in this country and leave the politics out of it. The future of this country, the future generations do not deserve to have their education treated as it is now, as a hot potato for some ex-journalist and other windbags to throw around as if it does not matter. It matters to us, otherwise we would not give up our time and energy to write to you about it.

Also, for the record, I am a Chartered Science Teacher (CSciTeach) with the Association of Science Education. Surely this means I am licensed to teach? I really don't need another hoop to jump through....

Kind Regards