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