Lessons Learnt

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Observations from an Early Career Teacher

A brand-new theatre festival taking place this summer in the Mercury Theatre Studio for the Mercurial Takeover from Wed 19 – Wed 26 Jul for new writing from East based artists.

‘Lessons Learnt’ is a one-woman play by Jane Prinsley inspired by the experiences of early career teachers and the 3 in 5 who don’t remain in teaching.

We are greeted by just a chair on the stage. Megan comes out all bright and hopeful telling us of her first day back from the summer holidays, she’s raring to go, inspired and feels ready, validated and warm by the other teachers who have greeted her.

Megan recounts the school year describing the different events that shaped her as a new teacher. She starts the academic year as the youngest Head of Department – History, she knows it’s not the most glamourous of subjects but she has a passion and wants to turn it around and get the kids engaged. She very slowly does this but it takes all her energies and it competes with a backdrop of her own personal issues and the issues at a large underfunded comprehensive school.

The issues at school are wide and varied, just as she starts to get one of the kids to trust her, there are rumours of sexual assault from one of the students and worse, 

She describes how the pressures of being a teacher are enough without having to become a social worker, how is she supposed to know where to draw the line? The goal is to get them enough knowledge to pass the exams, to give them their best shot for getting that piece of paper that may or may not help them.

Despite her eagerness and passion to teach the kids, her ability to get through the challenges are admirable. However, with a promotion taken away, the changes in focus from up above, she feels unsupported by the system, the kids are unsupported and there is still that leak in her classroom, Megan decides to take a break out of teaching.

Emily-Louise Lockhart who plays Megan, conducted a wonderful solo performance. Emily-Louise managed to capture the passion and hope at the start and slowly you could see her change, being beaten down by the challenges of teaching. She managed to capture everyone’s attention for the full 70 minutes.

The writing was engaging, telling this story with one voice was an interesting format and it worked. It was also a very thought provoking piece, opening our eyes to the trials confronting teachers today, and how losing 3 in 5 teachers is a real issue that needs to be addressed as the impact on the next generation will be huge.

A well performed and well written piece which is eye opening and heartfelt. 

Link to Jane Prinsley


Issues – Tempus Frayed

The Breath of Life


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