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Long hours, endless admin and angry parents – why schools just can’t get the teachers

British schools are reporting a classroom crisis, with thousands of disaffected teachers leaving the profession, and new graduates discouraged from training because of the daily stress and grind. And with the number of state school pupils set to rise by a million by 2022, the problem is only getting worse

Jacquie Sainsbury left secondary school in Canvey Island, Essex around 30 years ago with one O-level. She had five kids before deciding to train as a teacher. In 2000, she left Derby University with a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE), and nine years later, she became the head of Brookhill Leys primary school in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. I meet her there on a Monday afternoon: she and her deputy show me round before we sit down in her office and unpick exactly what it takes to make a success of a 430-pupil school in what she describes as “a very tough area”.

Eastwood sits in the heart of what used to be the Nottinghamshire coalfield. The last pit here closed in 1985, and the scars have yet to heal. “We’re in the bottom 20% of the deprivation indicators in the country,” Sainsbury tells me. “A lot of poverty.” She and her staff have to cope with regular challenges. “It’s not unusual for our teachers to be shouted at by parents; to have to deal with drunk parents,” she says. “The things that our staff have to deal with, you don’t have to deal with in an everyday walk of life. We’ve got fantastic parents, and we’ve got parents who need a lot of help.”

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