I used to think that teachers should change school regularly, every four years or so. I even thought about how, as your pay increased, it would become harder to change school, as you become more expensive to employ, and that this would trap you in one school. If you were to change school on a regular basis, you could become well-rounded and not get complacent or stuck in a rut. Perhaps in one school they have a set way of writing reports that is really powerful and effective, in another school they have a very warm and caring culture, and in another, every teachers’ subject knowledge is really strong. You could learn something from each new school. Conversely you might realise that some things about some schools are bad when you look back on them. If I were just to read and reread Shakespeare, I would have a narrow knowledge of English literature; better to read Shakespeare but also Dickens, Keats etc.
I’m changing my mind a bit about this now. For one thing, some schools aren’t as good as others. And if you’re in a crap school, you’re probably not going to learn that much, you’re just going to have a pretty crap time there. You probably won’t develop that much as a teacher any more than you’d develop as a student of literature from reading ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’.
Secondly, you can learn stuff – and keep on learning – in any school, as long as that school has a decent CPD programme – if it’s easy to observe other teachers, the feedback you get when you’re observed is useful, maybe staffroom conversation is useful. And, of course, you can just keep developing as a teacher by Twitter/blogs/books on your subject and on pedagogy.
Lastly, I would argue that even for an experienced teacher, your first year in a new school is not going to be as good as your second year. Maybe your second year won’t be as good as your third either. How do you work the photocopier? Who’s the best person to ask if you want X done quickly? Are these emails about X really important, or can I just forget about them? This may be exacerbated if the school isn’t very good at inducting new staff. Thus, if teachers are all changing school all the time, and particularly exam classes are getting teachers only just arrived at their school, there’s a marginal loss there that could be avoided.