Wednesday, 28 March 2018

To Be or Not To Be; Headteacher, Saint or Demigod

When I saw that Donald Trump wants to arm school principals I wondered if this is the solution to our perennial school problems: short skirts, missed homeworks and trainers. It may be that headteachers have a pathological dislike of chewing gum and this could be easily solved if we shot a few kids.

I’m not sure I would trust headteachers to act reasonably faced with such unbearable provocation. I’m not sure I trust headteachers to be reasonable people. And, yes, I can assure you, I will be generalising, except when I give obviously specific examples.

I know of one long serving headteacher who cannot be interrupted whilst speaking. It is accepted at his school that this is so. The drawback here is that we don’t always speak wisely or know what to do. He was surprised during his contribution at a headterachers’ conference when the rest of the audience decided he was dull and started talking amongst themselves. He bellowed an unfunny punchline, laughed at his own humour and sat, red-faced, unused to critical acclaim. At the same time, it was rude of all the heads to demean him. Sometimes we can be insensitive, rude and double-standarded.

Being on X Factor does not mean you’re a good singer and the entire profession should be protected from heads who have been on TV. We may have a misconceived perception of our importance, operating with the clenched fist of truth and self belief in the one true path to success. Only Trump, Putin and Boris know all the answers.

Headteachers should listen to everyone.

At my first school the headteacher, Saul Ezra, was regularly harangued at staff meetings and it was no real surprise when one day he announced that there would be no discussion on a new school rule: “As of today children will walk upstairs on the left hand side and downstairs on the right hand side.” I tried to advise but he was adamant that “enough is enough.” I have never seen a school staff so willingly watch the new school rule – during the 20 minutes it survived the obvious.

I know that some of my colleagues are under pressure to single handedly, “turn schools round’” which is a great-man myth perpetrated by government ministers and the great men (and women) who claim to turn schools from failing to amazing in a year or two. A few expulsions and some revision lessons do not change the nature of a school. Schools need investment in their teachers and a developing ethos based on whole school achievement. I once listened to a headteacher tell how he had turned round four failing schools in ten years. There are no great men (or  women) but he must have been a magician. Great heads can help great teachers improve achievement, working with the students and their parents; it takes time and more commitment than a game of pool.

In a time when new Headteachers are told they have 12 months to bring about system change and improved results and they are then sacked it is a little cruel of me to scorn our tiny corner of the profession. However, I am surprised at some colleagues claiming to have turned round schools that no-one knew were failing in the first place. Just as surprised as hearing almost all job candidates claim the best results in their schools.

I know of a headteacher who issued yellow, and then red, cards to staff who disagreed with her at meetings. She also checked teachers’ marking by lining them all up, then summoning the next one up on to a stage where she sat and checked the books. Teachers with poor marking would be sat in the hall to do it again, properly. This could all take a long time, but she was in charge. She treated her staff like naughty servants. Morale sank under her leadership, student achievement plummeted, the school failed Ofsted - while she literally ate cake- and she was removed from post. Children get one shot at education and we have no right to mess it up, or be allowed to mess it up.

I wonder how many students fail in schools because headteachers do not have the trust of their staff. If we’re not leading people what are we doing? I know of a school where the majority of the staff told Ofsted they had no confidence in the senior team. Strangely the team members decided this was only a vote against the head, who promptly, and under prompting, resigned.

The government cuts our funding every year and this same government has failed its own recruitment targets in each of the last five years. This has dominated our work and disrupted our sleep. Many headteachers are retiring early or just plain giving up trying to recruit teachers who are not alive and trained and balancing budgets that can’t add up. In 3 years over 90% of secondary schools will not be able to balance this budgets, at which point the DfE is charged with ordering us to dismiss teachers.

Back to Saul and I remember how he shuffled papers allowing his deputy and me to be verbally attacked and abused by a group of local politicians who were there to defend a bully. Loyalty has got to be one of the most important personality characteristics in schools – even more so with heads.

The head at my second school didn’t want to appoint me but was overruled by the governors. As I set off for my first Senior Team meeting I was advised not to say anything. I lasted half an hour. One of my suggestions that she liked was to get rid of the uniform description “dark grey” and replace with “black.” It transpired that uniform is a governors responsibility and when they questioned her, the head said, “I don’t know why Dennis thought he could do this.”

Disloyalty rests with the self- centred or the cowardly opportunist. If you can’t trust your headteacher then no-one takes risks and everyone is afraid of failure. 

Heads are easy targets for disgruntled students, parents and, sometimes, politicians. I have had three sets of secret HR meetings about me but held in my absence and without my knowledge. In the first one, my headteacher at this school stood up for me, and possibly saved my career, even though she had only known me a few weeks. In the most recent  meeting, convened because a social worker decided there could only be one person in the world with my name, our chair of governors refused to suspend me. I may well have had a slightly controversial career so one need only Google, “Yid Army Schoolboys” for the Daliy Telegraph article on a time when governors were asked to step bravely, and found it difficult to do so.

On this last matter I am obliged to abide by an agreement, the content of which I am not allowed to see. As it’s clearly illegal to hold me to something I can’t see my union advised me to sign the piece of paper that allowed the Director of Education to abrogate his duties. We can fall victim to bureaucrats which is one reason so many of us accepted relative independence as academies. Teachers looking to be heads should beware the insensitivity of  Multi Academy Trusts who sack without second thoughts. Did I mention my lack of admiration for Executive Headteachers already?

If teachers are to teach and children to learn it is compulsory for the head to support the staff and the governors to support the head. This does not mean that anyone should accept and support wrongdoing.

One teacher showed a boy the bin for his chewing gum and mum called the police, saying he’d been smacked in the face. I refused to let the police interview the teacher and it is school policy to expel students making false allegations against staff. Another seriously false claim of assault was loved by the police who did all they could to humiliate the innocent teacher, until the serial false accuser admitted that she made up the story. Headteachers are no longer allowed to suspend staff without strong evidence but we should not need the weight of the 2017 law to stand up for maligned teachers. Headteachers should be loyal and brave.

Headteachers can be the target for abuse by parents and by strangers coming on site at the end of the school day. For 39 years I have confronted  potentially violent strangers and I was critical of a head whose instruction was “staff to staffroom” whenever close of day problems occur. Then one day I bent to help a young man from the gutter and his arm came at me in a perfect arc. Time slowed and I realised I was open to a possibly lethal knife attack. His arm dropped; he swore at me and ran away. I know of a staff in London where they wear stab vests on duty and during our very own Race Riots (or Newham 8 as it is known online)  in 1983, my headteacher told me, “Get them to the school gates and leave it to the police.”  I’m not sure who is right in these situations but I do know that heads need to be courageous in their decision making in all sorts of situations and they should not be tossed around by ambitious politicians in search of publicity and unearned advancement.

Very few headteachers get the sort of reputation of one recent head who parked right next to the exit and his name became synonymous with leaving school on the bell: “Doing a Jonesy.” Headteachers should set an example.

One teacher once told me that there was a major problem with the school: “There’s too much talk about students.” At a time when I wonder what drives Executive Headteachers, and what is it they do I offer this: Our job as leaders is to think big, to leave teachers energised, optimistic and excited by the challenges of educating children. We should not shy away from pursuing our values, sharing and driving our ambition for all kids, particularly those cast astray by a system meddled to near exhaustion.

Personally I think we need to be in school, with an open door and a welcoming inquisitiveness and governors and governments should understand that instinct and experience are sometimes the same thing.

I guess we all have to live by principles - as few as possible so we can sleep at night. The best headteachers, and there are many, follow a moral purpose with dignity, unending optimism, care for their staff and dedication to thriving schools at the centre of their communities.

Being a head is easy – try delivering paraffin and get back to me.

Dennis O'Sullivan

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ofsted Will Listen To Any Old Rubbish

Someone has anonymously informed Ofsted that I keep a flock of sheep on our school playing field. This is easily checked and is untrue. That surely will be the end of the story.

Ofsted have told me, with certainty and repeatedly, that they will take note of malicious, anonymous, complaints no matter how bizarre, blatantly untrue or malicious. “We follow procedures,” their unhelpful staff will tell you, and they will repeat these words over and over until you tire. The complaint about our non-existent sheep will be used as evidence by our next Ofsted Inspector.

Another complainant has told Ofsted that I only employ people with beards and that all classroom walls are painted black. I know the person who has made this complaint and he has done so for devilment. Of course, Ofsted can look up our various social media and clearly see this complaint is not worthy of consideration. But, no, they will put the complaint in our evidence file and an inspector will look my shaven face in the eye and question my obsession with beards.

If you feel we put a child at risk, contact the police. I want to react if there is a complaint about safeguarding at our school and I welcome policing on children’s safety. But beards and sheep?

Ofsted very recently judged our inclusive school to be outstanding. Having experienced seven inspections since their creation in 1992 I have had concerns over various aspects – one lead inspector told me that she would haunt me for the rest of my career – and I still believe that the individual lead inspector can cover us in glory, damn us with faint praise or condemn us to mediocrity.

But now I am writing to complain about Ofsted. Here’s the story:

On 16th May 2017 Ofsted wrote to me about an anonymous complaint. The complaint said that I had employed an unqualified teacher of (something like) Sociology.

I was notified that a complaint had been made against the school exactly five months previously. Having kept the complaint for 22 weeks Ofsted immediately sent a copy to our funding agency - the EFSA.

The EFSA use the word “safeguarding” four times in their interpretation of the letter and demanded a four day turnaround on an action plan. Our funding was under immediate threat.

The complaint itself, “concerns a teacher has been employed with no qualifications or experience working with children.”

As Ofsted know, schools have the legal right to employ unqualified teachers. This is no grounds for complaint nor investigation. The government created First Direct and Schools Direct programmes which specifically attract adults who have no experience working with children. So where’s the safeguarding issue if we had employed teachers who were unqualified or student teachers inexperienced in working with children?

Ofsted would not allow me to see the actual complaint but we were told that it would be included “for consideration in the evidence base of your next inspection.”

Ofsted retain secret complaints and use it when inspectors come to the school. Will they discuss it? Will they give us more information? How could we respond in such a way that satisfies Ofsted?

Ofsted gave us so little information, we could not investigate, but we could be judged, despite an unblemished safeguarding record. By stealth, I did find out that the anonymous complaint was from the Sociology teacher’s litigious, malicious, permanently stoned ex- partner, written in terrible, semi -literate scrawl.

Oh, and the Sociology teacher has a degree, qualified teacher status and experience working with children. This is so easily checked but Ofsted will not do so, any more than they will use Google Earth to check on the status of the 200 foot slave galley dominating the tennis courts.

So I complained about Ofsted.

Guess who you complain to? Ofsted, of course. And they will respond “within 28 days” which means “on day 28,” and they stuck to their line: Ofsted will listen to, act upon and damn anyone they like based on anything anyone throws to them.

So I complained about the Ofsted process. Guess who you have to do this to? Ofsted, of course, and how long will they take? 28 days.

When our outstanding report was in draft form I was able to speed up its publication by contacting a national officer who wrote on our behalf so that the report was published on the afternoon of the 27th day – Ofsted being obliged to publish within 28 days. I did phone a few times to offer to help proof read our report. I had this image of three old men sat in a poorly lit room, poring over appropriate punctuation as gore dripped from worn out eyes. Ofsted turned down my requests, gracelessly I might unnecessarily add.

From the draft report to the final report two words were changed: “much-loved” became “well respected” and it took 27½ days.

Once upon a time the Fureys were playing New York when an American superstar asked to join in on an Irish ballad. The band played really, really fast and the star asked why. The answer suits Ofsted, ”Because we can.”

I have written previously about my belief in the concept of Ofsted and I have no doubt that Ofsted has improved the quality of education in schools.

However, their procedures are clumsy, bureaucratic and unhelpful. Their equivalent of customer services would close most businesses and the staff dealing with phone calls are ill suited and disinterested in their work.

Parents and others must have the right to complain about headteachers, governors and schools. The DfE give clear advice on the procedures (

Under the heading, “Making a Complaint” the first words are: Follow the school’s complaints procedure.

Follow these steps in order:
Only move on to the next step if your complaint is not resolved.

1. Complain in writing to the headteacher.
2. Complain in writing to the school’s governing body.

You can complain to the Department for Education if you’ve followed all the ‘Making a complaint’ steps.

If you google “Complain about a school to Ofsted” you will be led through the same procedures:
  • you think a school isn’t run properly and needs inspecting 
  • you’ve already followed the school’s complaints procedure, and have approached the DfE or EFA. 
  • If you are the parent or carer of a pupil at an academy, the academy must by law offer you the following stages to resolve your complaint:
  1. The academy should give you an opportunity to resolve the complaint informally, for example by discussing the issue with a senior member of staff. 
  2. If you are still not happy, the academy should allow you to make a formal complaint in writing. 
  3. If you remain dissatisfied, the academy should organise a hearing with a panel made up of at least 3 people not involved in the complaint, one of whom must be independent of the management and running of the academy. 
“We (the DfE) can only look at complaints that have followed all 3 steps. If you did not go through all these stages with the academy, you must go back to them to complete the process.”

So it is very clear that people wanting to make complaints must, must, must, go through the school’s complaints process and the government department will not, not, not, take on board a complaint that is outside these procedures.

But Ofsted do what they want.

In our case, Ofsted told the Funding Agency of the maliciously nasty complaint. Why? The ESFA’s rules are clear and transparent on what they can investigate.

What the ESFA will investigate
We will look at complaints about academies that fall into the following areas:

  • undue delay or non-compliance with an academy’s own complaints procedure 
  • an academy’s failure to comply with a duty imposed on it under its funding agreement with the Secretary of State 
  • an academy’s failure to comply with any other legal obligation, unless there is another organisation better placed to consider the matter as set out in the next section 
My career is exalted by an outstanding judgement. I couldn’t have predicted the wild staff celebration when the result was announced. Our parents and students are thrilled beyond my expectations and our financial future is secure. And we owe this, in part, to Ofsted being able to properly judge our work.

The DfE, ESFA and Ofsted itself, say that complaints must first be referred to the school. Ofsted break their own rules and wrap up their failings in their own special complaints procedures, guaranteed to support malpractice. Ofsted recently bragged that there were fewer complaints against them. When they investigate and justify their own failings headteachers see little point in complaining. I have no qualms in criticising Ofsted for their outrageous handling of complaints.

Dennis O'Sullivan

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Give Us The Money and Leave Us Alone

        Give Us The Money and Leave Us Alone

My title is a cleaned up version of the words I use when helpful people get me to my feet after one of my occasional running accidents: “Thanks very much now…..”  Just to remain obscure it is also a paraphrase of the 1970s German band, Can, singing  a twisted love song, “If you really love me, don’t turn on the light, and leave me alone.

The government’s contempt for education has suddenly shifted our way. Suddenly,  there is a teacher recruitment crisis; suddenly, a pay rise is advisable.  Amusingly, the reinstated despicable Gove argues that ministers should listen to experts. When you are again vying with Johnson and Davies to depose the leader to whom you pledged loyalty your stated views count for nothing. Gove said, on education reform, “We have had enough of experts” and smashed the wrecking ball through rational thought.  

Even I I have been surprised that there is no depth of backstabbing deceit and contradiction that politicians  will not wallow in. Ex PM John Major, lightened my mood when he said, of the Tory-DUP pact, “Be careful who you get into bed with.” and then, moments later I was listening to Edwina Curry on Radio 5 dismissing the election result. We have to find amusement where we can.

It looks like we are returning to the dark days of Irish politics, banging a lambeg drum for the Democratic Unionist Party and their paramilitary allies in a doomed attempt to shore up a troubled British government writhing in weakness and confused chaos. The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and littered with discarded principles and manifestos. The DUP would build a society on superstition, prejudice and bigotry.


I am saddened to see that the peace-broking British government, which did so much to end the “Troubles,” should be risking Irish lives for a few more months in declining political power. As a teacher I worry about the DUP’s intolerance of homosexuality, promotion of single faith only teacher training and their pro death penalty and anti-abortion stance. And the world is only 6,000 years old; there were no dinosaurs. The tourist attracting Giants Causeway is not 50 million years old at all: God made it just before King Billy appeared on murals – that’s round about mid July 1690.


We now have the least strong and stable structure since my mate Dave tried to dance a jig on a bannister. We have to accept creationism in return for the politicians vying to replace the ruined May. On carrion they swoop: Davies, both Johnsons, Greening, Hammond and the chameleon Gove, all prepared to abandon their manifesto, contradict their previous statements, suddenly end austerity and embrace anything that offers them power. How much for a principle?


Tories now want to give some public sector workers a pay rise. Why? Nothing has changed, except that the firefighters are now deemed necessary and anti-terrorist work was compromised by under-funding of the police. The Education Secretary, Greening, clamours for £1.5 billion for education. Why now? Co-incidentally, she was not consulted on her own party’s election manifesto.

Most parents know that there is an immediate funding crisis in schools.. We have a 7.5% increase in staffing costs and those costs are around 80% of a typical £5million secondary schoolbudget. That make the cost increase around £300,000.  Each year. Funding  per pupil is to fall by 6.5% by 2021(Institute for Fiscal Studies 2017)

All state schools are, or soon will be, facing damaging choices: fewer teachers, less support for children, fewer subject choices and bigger class sizes. But many will just go bust.

Headteachers, unions and parents have paused for breath in the lobbying for decent funding for our children’s education. This crashing, fading wreck of a government must now give schools the money and leave us alone to get on with educating young people in an inspiring and exciting manner.

Stop  meddling.

Here are the Tory disasters;  careless, ideological games they have been foisting on parents, children and teachers, at a cost of billions and billions.


Grammar Schools do not meet any educationally sound, evidence-based agenda.  Selective and notoriously biased against poorer children, grammar schools popped back into Theresa May’s now confused mind  to woo UKIP. Sadly, it is unlikely that UKIP voters’ children would have featured greatly in grammar schools.


Selecting the brightest  pupils at 11, stick them all in a couple of schools, use raw exam results as the success measure and then claim grammar schools are good. We might as well argue that sticking all the brightest kids in purple rooms shows that purple is best.


Hundreds of millions of pounds earmarked for more of these schools, rather than properly funding existing good schools to get even better outcomes for all our children.

What we need is to improve standards in all schools not relegate 80% of them to secondary modern status and all those children to the shared expectation of failure and knowing their place in some 1950s throwback to an industrial age.


Free Schools Free schools are a fop to middle class luvvies bribed to propagate the Govian idea that any idiot can teach kids.


Free schools are experimenting with our children, situated in areas that don’t need them and are massively costly. Originally allocated £450m in 2011 Michael Gove, he Free School building programme  will cost £9.7bn by 2021. Taxpayers must meet a bill of£2.5billion just to purchase the building land in estate agent heaven.

Meanwhile established good schools fall into disrepair.


The Department for Education has given the National Audit Office the figures for school funding:

A place at a secondary free school costs an average £24,600.

It’s £21,100 for each place in a primary free school.

A place at a state school costs just under £4,800 (DfE figures 2017)


Give state schools 5 times the current funding and watch our children reach the stars.


The government spent £19 million in setting up University Technology Colleges (UTCs) and Studio Schools to take students from existing schools at age 14. The NFER report that UTC students are performing worse than their peers in their previous schools.(NFER 2017)


37 of the 48 UTCs are less than half full   and  7 have closed since their inception in 2011.Without trying to condemn UTCs why would a bright 14 year old move from a school to a UTC?


15 of the 35 Studio Schools have closed. Designed as an alternative to mainstream education for 14 to 19-year-olds. They provide a work-related curriculum. However, set up without consultation with established schools and FE colleges and in areas where they were not wanted, UTCs and Studio schools have wasted tens of millions of pounds and failed young people.

Behold, said the conservatives,  in times of racial and religious intolerance, let’s segregate more of our children as early as possible, hide them away from other faiths and make them believe in  intolerant archaic prejudice more appropriate to The Daily Mail Sidebar of Shame than a democratic inclusive country.

At the start of January 2017 there were 6,813 state funded Faith Schools in England. The majority were primary schools: 37% of all state funded primaries. The chools were the most common type among primary schools (26% of all primaries); Roman Catholic schools the most numerous type of faith school at secondary level (9%). Non-Christian schools were very much in the minority; there were 48 Jewish (up by 6 in six years) 27 Muslim (up15 in 6 years) 11 Sikh (up by 8) and 5 Hindu schools (up by 4)  All stats are from the DfE 2017)

Are we really surprised that Muslims do some Islam related teaching, that their ethos may be a bit different to the mass-in-school-time Catholic faith schools ? Do boys in Jewish faith schools wear the kippah, Sikhs turbans and Muslim girls the niqab? Surely the refusal to insist on secular state schools means we tolerate faith schools praising and proclaiming their own religion just a bit. Do we doubt that the Methodists, Greek Orthodox and United Reformed Church who all have state funding for their schools, sometimes go on a bit about what they consider the best bits of their faiths? Allow and encourage faith schools and we must accept that elements of separatism will pervade. The Quaker school might mention pacifism when talking of war, much to the distaste of those who glorify British wars. And as for the new Hindu Free schools with a ban on sausages…

If we segregate children by religion are we surprised they become segregated socially. Why would the Tories want to expand faith school provision?


What else am I against? (In Marlon Brando’s words in The Wild Bunch: “What ‘ve you got?”)


Schools Commissioners are all powerful, undemocratic and unaccountable. They replace Local Education Authorities and act pretty much as they choose. They can, and do, pick up the phone and close schools. Strangely, don’t seem as committed as one might expect. All it takes is for a Multi Academy Trust to come waving a £200,000 cheque, and there you go.


There are 8 regions each with 1 commissioner and the programme has run since 2014.  In that 3 year period 7 schools commissioners have resigned.  Nobody wanted them in the first place and they ran for more money as soon as it was dangled.


It seems to me that Multi Academy Trusts have been an opportunity for headteachers to become Executive Heads on high salaries. What on earth does an Executive Headteacher do? ARE THERE Executive bakers? Will an Executive Head Barman sell me beer?


What a surprise last night.; One year after almost half our 11 year olds were told they were failures, after a whole 12 months, all the results improved by around 5%. .Bruiser Nick  Gibb say,s "Thanks to their commitment and our new knowledge-rich curriculum, thousands more children will arrive at secondary school having mastered the fundamentals of reading, writing and maths, giving them the best start in life."


Oh thank you Nick, you were right you havre performed miracles. Or might Gibb and his cronies have been fiddling around?


I see and hear of worried, unhappy 10 year olds endlessly practising for SATs that serve to protect schools from Ofsted and headteachers from the sack.


Let the kids enjoy learning for as long as humanly possible. Give our teachers the opportunity to explore the joy of learning.

And. to paraphrase Bob Geldoff, Give us the bloody money!”

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Awesome Teachers and Excessive Britishness


One of the most trusted professions being told what to do by one of the least trusted.
The author, John Connolly, has me pondering my place in his four   stages of adulthood: confusion, anger, complacency and grumpiness Unsure where to stick, I have come across a general election. Although an act of parliament stated that we can't have one for another 3 years and the incumbent prime minister repeatedly said that there wouldn't be one, here we jolly well go.
I intend to write in praise and awe of the teachers I meet every day in my state comprehensive school in Ware. I am hopeful that they are typical of the wonders teachers do around the country, although, perhaps,  my lot are particularly talented, committed and worthy.
Whatever successive, careerist secretaries of state throw at us, many, many teachers will combat government indifference to helping children be safe, happy and successful. The teachers will continue to inspire excitement in learning, inquisitiveness and a love of books and music, engender friendships that will last a lifetime, help plant ambition and nurture greatness. Our teachers will be remembered long after hedge fund managers, lawyers and newspaper editors.
I have no need to re-tread the funding crisis in schools, the perilous state of teacher recruitment, the mad impulsive curriculum, 10 year olds with exam stress or any other educational issues. No-one mentions these in May 2017.
Most football clubs now have a chant that, at Spurs goes, “We’ve got Ali, Dele Alli. I just don’t think you understand…” Well, as a nation, we’ve got Teresa May and I could make it scan if there weren’t more important considerations.
It’s Tuesday evening. I'm not sure but I think our PM just declared war. In Churchillian tones, she broadcast to the nation. Foreign politicians are out to destroy the livelihoods of ordinary British working families. If we don't vote for her in the general election the foreign governments will act as if there are 27 of them and one of us. If we do vote for her then her strong and stable leadership will force the 27 into some sort of cowardly retreat and we will be safe. I wonder if she hummed The Damnbusters theme when the microphone turned off.
Its only right than in times of attack by foreign powers that we stop objecting to the £3billion of cuts in state education over the next 5 years and the parliamentary, Cross Party Education Committee should rescind its statement that government thinking on school finances is “delusional.” Now is the time for increased hate attacks and excessive britishness.
Parliament has been suspended so that we can vote for strong and stable leadership, also giving us the opportunity to address  the teacher shortage.

Gideon Oliver Osborne, heir to his family's Baronetry of Ballentaylor and Ballylemon, better known as Former Chancellor George Osborne is to be paid £650,000 a year to advise the US fund manager, Blackrock. In the Commons register of interests, he disclosed that he would work 48 days a year, whilst being an elected MP.

He has already earned close to £800,000 for speeches made to banks and other firms since leaving office in July, but still serving as an MP

He has now taken on the job as part time editor of the London Evening Standard on a secret salary “up to £400,000” according to The Daily Mail on 6th May, still taking his MP’s £70,000.

Can he fit in a bit of teaching?

As our government acts on “The British people have spoken!” and possibly, “Two world wars and one World Cup!” it fell to a Finnish  Finance Minister to speak britishness and sense. Alec Stubb quoted Millwall FC supporters, “Everyone hates us and we don’t care,” as a poor opening salvo for Theresa May to use in EU exit negotiations.

Conservative estimates are that the UK will pay a divorce settlement of at least  £50 billion.  However Boris and Nigel promised we will be saving £350 million a week when we leave. I know this is all on its way to the NHS because I saw Boris standing alongside the sloganized bus. When George gets his job teaching Maths to 12 year olds he can do the real life sums. We could use the weekly saving to pay off the settlement by Thursday afternoon of the 142nd week.

Forget the NHS for a bit longer.

Back to admiring teaches with an attack of the memories, courtesy of ASCL General Secretary, Geoff Barton and his former school.
                                                King Edward VI School

Rules for staff in 1550
  • They shall abstain from dicing, gaming and tippling. They must not keep their family on the premises. Women like deadly plagues shall be kept at a distance. The masters shall not be excessively harsh or severe or weakly prone to indulgence.
  • They shall teach a little at a time, with plenty of examples. They shall never advance to fresh subjects ... until the earlier ones are thoroughly understood.
  • The teachers shall appoint two boys called censors to note offences. The teachers shall secretly appoint a third boy to watch the other two and report to the master any offences overlooked or not noticed.

School rules for the boys in 1550
  • Those who cannot read and write shall be excluded. They must learn elsewhere the arts of reading and writing.
  • No boy shall come to school with unkempt hair, unwashed hands or dirty shoes or boots, torn or untidy clothes. Any boy misbehaving himself either in Church or any other public place shall be flogged.
  • They shall speak Latin in school. Truants, idlers and dullards shall be expelled by the High Master after a year's trial. Every boy shall have at hand, ink, paper, knife (used to sharpen a quill pen), pens and books. When they have need to write the boys shall use their knees as a table.
  • The whole of the scholars (100) shall be assembled in the morning at 6 o'clock and at 1 o'clock. They shall go home to dinner at eleven and to supper at five. There shall be five classes, under two masters in two rooms, the older boys looking after classes when the masters were not teaching them. School shall finish at 3pm on Saturdays and half holydays.
Some walk among us who would celebrate such a forward to the past scenario.
An OECD annual report has revealed that teachers in England and Scotland typically work longer hours teaching more pupils than teachers in most other developed countries and have experienced an above-average decline in pay since 2005.

The report also revealed that teachers' pay in England has experienced an above average decline since 2005 while teachers in other OECD countries who also witnessed a recession (Poland, Germany, the United States and Australia) saw their pay increase.

Teachers' unions have complained that an excessive workload is deterring people from staying in teaching – while uncompetitive salaries make recruitment to the profession a challenge.

A spokesman for the DfE commented: "Great teachers are at the heart of this government's commitment to delivering educational excellence everywhere.

"This is why we are not only tackling excessive teacher workload but have also given head teachers the freedom to pay good teachers more, meaning the best teachers can access greater rewards earlier in their careers."

It’s my fault, then.y don't worry about impartiality when reporting on Nationalist's demo's twnright hostile to patriots and the true Brit's.
Except when the awful Katy Hopkins is provoking outrage, I quite like LBC. Whenever teacher pay is mentioned someone always phones to claim that they are self- employed, work 18 hour days, 7 days a week, have no holidays and no pension…..

And seem to suggest that teachers should aspire to such conditions.
Teachers either do badly or well in pay comparisons depending on your admiration of crane drivers.
42. Rail construction and maintenance operatives - £35,781

43. Business, research and administrative professionals - £35,545

44. Crane drivers - £35,458

45. Journalists, newspaper and periodical editors - £34,639

46. Engineering technicians - £34,355

47. Chartered architectural technologists - £33,651

48. Business sales executives- £33,432

49. Secondary education teaching professionals - £32,524

(Cosmopolitan 16th March 2017)

Teachers do have a contributory pension scheme. Their contributions have been increased, benefits reduced.

The Retail Price Index is the measure of cost-of-living and I hope the table shows that it has risen by 9.6% between 2011 and 2016

Annual %


JC has been a Head of Department for 15 years.  Here are her pay details.

August 2011
August 2016
Gross pay
Deductions        1016.06
Net Pay


Whilst the rpi shows a 9.6% increase in prices JC’s take home pay has gone down.

So, to be sorrowful, anguished  or agonised as we stumble into a politically backward, anglocentric isolationism of excessive britishness?  Searching for the soul of our peoples, I look at our teachers and their work with our future and I am comforted and inspired.


Dennis O’Sullivan
6th May 2017