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Contents Title bar

e m o c l e W Welcome to the January/February edition of The Teacher and happy new year. There are only 16 weeks to go until the general election, so the NUT is in full campaigning mode. We need to keep reminding prospective parliamentary candidates that there are 1,000 teachers in every constituency. To get those teacher votes they need to heed what we are saying in our Stand Up for Education manifesto. As we go to press, we are expecting announcements from Education Secretary Nicky Morgan about her plans to reduce teacher workload. Your responses both to NUT surveys and the Department for Education’s Workload Challenge have left the Government in no doubt that this is a serious matter that it must address with urgent action. Elsewhere in the magazine we are pleased to have an article from Susan Robertson on the effects of neoliberal policies in education, an update on the Send My Friend to School campaign and a showcase of the work done by one of our school reps. The contribution of all NUT reps is vital to the Union. Christine Blower General Secretary


Features 04 Piling the pressure on Nicky Morgan The NUT campaign on workload steps up a gear, pressing the Education Secretary to act now 06 Manifesto endorsements Read the latest statements of support for our education manifesto 09 A year of action and success The highlights of 2014, including that Michael Gove moment... 14 Michael Rosen’s poem Our poet in residence asks Nicky Morgan to spare us the pain 15 Supply line NUT supply teachers lobby Parliament for equal pay and pension rights 18 Money’s too tight to mention Teachers are using their own cash to help their poverty-stricken pupils 21 Parents protest Parents say no to the forced academisation of their primary school

Regulars 10 Out and about 17 International 22 Your Union 34 Ask the Union

38 Reviews 41 Noticeboard 44 Staffroom confidential 46 Letters

President Max Hyde General Secretary Christine Blower Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney Editor Tash Shifrin Journalist Emily Jenkins Administration Maryam Hulme Cover Jess Hurd / Report Digital Newsdesk 020 7380 4708 teacher@nut.org.uk

NUT Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD www.teachers.org.uk

26 Workload: a roar from the depths A report from inside the Department for Education’s workload focus groups, plus how schools are winning changes to workload now 28 Life after levels Levels have been scrapped in the new national curriculum. But what comes next? 30 First post Top tips for securing your first teaching job 36 Deputy General Secretary election Meet the candidates 43 Getting stronger A new training programme is boosting NUT reps’ confidence

To advertise contact Century One Publishing, 01727 739193 jonathan@centuryone publishing.ltd.uk

45 Kate Smurthwaite The comedian asks why the DfE has a language all its own

NUT membership enquiries 0845 300 1666

50 Backbeat: Susan Robertson There is a better way for education in a world of crisis

Except where the NUT has formally negotiated agreements with companies as part of its services, inclusion of an advertisement in The Teacher does not imply recommendation. While every effort is made to ensure the reliability

of advertisers, the NUT cannot accept any liability for the quality of goods or services offered. The Teacher is printed by TU Ink, London. Inside pages are printed on paper made from 100% recycled, post-consumer waste.

January / February 15 | The Teacher


Piling the pressure on Nicky Morgan As the new year begins, NUT members could be forgiven a wry smile: Nicky Morgan’s got a workload problem too. The Education Secretary’s in-tray is overflowing with the results of the Workload Challenge survey announced towards the end of last year. A stunning 44,000 teachers responded to the survey and the Department for Education has been forced to set up a special team to go through the 20,000 or so responses that include extended comments. Having seen the back of Morgan’s predecessor Michael Gove in July, teachers have been piling the pressure on Nicky Morgan. The new Education Secretary moved swiftly to open talks with the NUT, and these are set to continue in the new year, with the Union pressing on workload and other key issues.

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January / February 15 | The Teacher

These include performance related pay – something an NUT survey found had prevented around 30% of respondents from progressing up the pay scales (see box, right). The talks have already brought important gains, including the statement from Ofsted clarifying its requirements – a document NUT groups are now using to wipe out unnecessary bureaucracy and win reduced workloads at school level (see page 26). NUT Cymru is pressing Estyn, the inspectorate in Wales, for a similar statement. Alongside the talks, NUT members have been reinforcing the message with sustained lobbying and campaigning. The surge of grassroots anger over workload has been unmistakeable. The NUT’s #TellNicky campaign hashtag topped the Twitter trends towards the end of last year, while 59,000 people shared an article highlighting the workload crisis by NUT Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney in the Daily Telegraph. Across England and Wales, NUT members have distributed our education manifesto at school gates, on the high street and at local events, winning support from parents and the public for a set of demands that could transform education for the better. A secondary teacher from London reports: “I went in to speak to parents at our feeder primary school about the Stand Up for Education manifesto. I explained that the NUT was very concerned about what is happening in education. Guess what? They’re really concerned too.” There will be an education manifesto rally on 10 February at NUT headquarters with some of the 200 experts and academics who have endorsed it taking part. Now the Union is ratcheting up the workload

Guy Smallman

NUT members are urging the Government to act on workload, and are set to step up campaigning as the general election approaches

On the streets: NUT members on the national strike day in March

campaign with the release of “Eight steps to tackle workload”, a set of clear demands to address not just the symptoms of the crisis, but the underlying causes, including the accountability system that generates so much bureaucracy and stress.

Campaigning The NUT is urging members to support a new round of parliamentary lobbying, focused on the fortnight between 26 January and 6 February. This new campaigning round will work in tandem with school-based action on workload. In the coming months, the Union will encourage more local school groups to use Ofsted’s clarification and the option of action short of strike action (ASOS) to challenge measures that are overloading teachers. Kevin Courtney argues: “Where schools have used ASOS or approached their heads with the Ofsted clarification, we’ve seen results. That’s something we want to see more of – it can make a real and immediate difference in the classroom.” That goes alongside national campaigning, he says. “We want teachers to go and see their MPs in the last week of January and first week of February. Ask what they – and their party – will do to meet the eight steps.” The Union’s lobbying campaign, begun in the summer, is already having an effect.

Large numbers of teachers are being denied pay progression, in the first year that this has been linked to appraisal for all teachers, the NUT has revealed. Emerging findings from an NUT survey, completed by nearly 5,000 members so far, reveal that almost 30% of teachers who were eligible for progression this year and have received a decision have been denied.

Stand Up for Education

Pay progression denied for 30%

Early analysis shows a higher rate of progression being denied in primary schools than secondary schools and a higher rate of refusal for black and minority ethnic teachers.

Unfair Almost nine in ten of those denied progression said there was no indication that this was a possibility during the year, with about the same proportion saying they felt the decision was unfair. But worryingly, more than three quarters of those whose progression had been blocked said they were not planning to appeal.

Dave Seagrave

NUT Head of Pay Andrew Morris, says decisions to deny pay progression could and should be challenged. Every teacher has the right to appeal – the law requires schools to have an appeals procedure which should be set out in the school pay policy, he says.

Campaigning with the NUT’s education manifesto

Birmingham Hall Green MP Roger Godsiff and Heywood and Middleton MP Liz McInnes have both asked parliamentary questions demanding that Nicky Morgan responds to the eight steps. Lobbying local MPs helps put immediate pressure on Nicky Morgan but also lays down a marker for MPs of all parties as the general election draws closer. A primary school NUT rep in Northamptonshire followed up her meeting with local MP Andy Sawford with a letter, urging: “Please encourage your colleagues to have more respect for us as professionals.” The MP is now set to appear at an NUT-organised Education Question Time event in the constituency.

Question Time panels and election hustings are another important way to reach politicians and press home teachers’ concerns, Kevin says. “Through the spring term, we want associations and divisions to set up hustings, where teachers and parents can put all the party election candidates on the spot.” He points out: “Every politician is worried in the run-up to the general election in May. They’ve got 1,000 teachers in every constituency. We have an opportunity to ensure that whoever is Education Secretary after 7 May, they know they must act to bring teachers’ workload down.”

Key dates Q 26 January – Lobbying fortnight starts Q 10 February – Manifesto rally

But if several teachers are affected or a policy is simply unfair, it is better to respond collectively as an NUT school group and get the whole policy changed. Andrew says: “It is important to challenge these decisions individually and collectively. Where schools have unfair pay policies, there will be increasing numbers of teachers facing denial of progression each year. “The NUT has produced a checklist for fair pay progression policies. The Union will support school groups challenging unfair policies – ask your rep to call a meeting to discuss this, and contact your association, division or regional office for support.” For advice on individual appeals and collective responses, go to www.teachers.org.uk/paytoolkit.

January / February 15 | The Teacher


Stand Up for Education

Manifesto for education Endorsements are rolling in for the NUT’s manifesto. Here’s what some of our latest supporters say Read our 200-plus endorsements at www.teachers.org.uk/manifesto

Neil Leitch Chief Executive, Pre-school Learning Alliance

Professor Colin Richards

“The underlying ethos of this manifesto – that our education system should encourage, not stifle, children’s individual growth and development – is one that all sector professionals should support.”

Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cumbria and former HMI school inspector “As someone who believes in high-quality education as a right for all young people, not just for a privileged minority, I want to express my wholehearted and whole-minded support for the principles underlying Stand Up for Education: A manifesto for our children’s education. Education should enable, not confine, learners; it should be informed by democratic participation at all levels; it should never be left to the vested interests of uncaring market forces.”

Liz Bayram Chief Executive, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) “We support the NUT’s 2015 manifesto for education. We applaud its vision of an education system that inspires children to a lifelong love of learning rather than a relentless focus on academic achievements. Its call to develop the skills and qualifications of teaching staff has our full backing. A workforce development programme that supports the development of all staff – beginning with the childcare professionals working with our youngest children – is absolutely vital to help every child reach his or her full potential.”


January / February 15 | The Teacher

Dr Artemi Sakellariadis Director, Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education “The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education unreservedly endorses the NUT’s manifesto. It puts forward a compelling vision for education, backed up by coherent practical recommendations. Let us all try to make this vision a reality!”

Linda Riordan MP MP for Halifax “I am delighted to endorse and fully support this excellent document. It is vital that as we build the best possible education system in the 21st century, the values and vision outlined in the manifesto are endorsed. Issues like ending child poverty, focusing on teaching not testing, investing in the skills for the future should be at the heart of education policy. “We need to fight for an educational future that benefits all children, that values teachers, that listens to parents, that doesn’t make a profit out of the learning environment. This, and so much more, is what we are fighting for. That is why I support this manifesto.”

Nick Forbes Leader of Newcastle City Council “I welcome the recommendations in this manifesto which address the increasing moves towards fragmentation and marketisation of our education system. The future of all of our young people is just too important to allow their education to be subjected to experimentation, driven by political ideology. In particular, I back the call to tackle child poverty as a way of driving up educational attainment. And I want to see councils – working with communities and partners – given a stronger role in local education.“

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2014: a year of action and success

John Harris / Report Digital, Jess Hurd / Report Digital

Do you remember where you were when you heard Gove had gone? 2014 was the year that NUT members made their presence felt on the streets, on the picket lines – and inside the Department for Education

January / February 15 | The Teacher


t u o b a d n Out a

teache r newsdesk u o il a m E ? Got a story

k. r@nut.org.u

No sooner had the ink dried on the last school inspection framework than Ofsted outlined proposals for yet more changes from September 2015, the fourth shake-up in just two years. This time, Ofsted is proposing shorter but more frequent and focused inspections for “good” schools and a common inspection framework for all educational settings, adapted to suit nurseries, schools and colleges. It’s against this background that an NUT seminar brought together 45 Executive and Advisory Committee members along with union staff to discuss reform of the inspection regime. Also in attendance was Mike Cladingbowl, Ofsted’s National Director for Inspection Reform.

Participants welcomed Ofsted’s recent clarification document outlining what its expectations are when it inspects schools. As one attendee pointed out with a certain understatement: “Ofsted inspections and related workload does not make the teaching profession attractive.” The NUT believes Ofsted should be abolished. But in the meantime, members had plenty of suggestions for reform. “Ofsted needs to look at an approach that engenders more trust,” as one participant put it. Another voiced the concern felt by teachers across the country, saying: “The human element needs to return to the school inspection process. Schools aren’t just about data.” NUT members argued that Ofsted’s expectations were changing so frequently that it was often difficult to know what inspectors were looking for. Short notice inspections placed a particular pressure on teachers to be “Ofsted ready” at all times. The NUT has responded to the latest Ofsted consultation, highlighting the importance of inspectors having experience in the phase of education they are inspecting. Shorter inspections must not be data-driven, the Union emphasised.

‘If school inspectors appreciated art...’

Inspectors need to consider the whole education experience and, in particular, ensure that children and young people are receiving a broad and balanced curriculum. Teachers also want time to engage in research and try out new ideas. Q Cartoon by former teacher Marcus Owen, from his book, Who’d Be a Teacher?

Keep up to date with education and the NUT – follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/NUTonline for the latest news and views. And stay informed at www.teachers.org.uk. 10

January / February 15 | The Teacher

Max Hyde

NUT members speak out on Ofsted shake-up Black Teachers’ Conference Over 115 delegates attended the NUT Black Teachers’ Conference in November. It gave black and minority ethnic teachers a chance to discuss issues of race equality, education and the workplace. Black teachers, like other NUT members, are suffering under workload pressure, but also raised concerns about blocks to career progression, lack of recognition from school leaders, and disproportionate use of disciplinary and capability procedures. They were also keen to see more black role models in senior positions in schools. The feedback from delegates was very positive. They felt inspired by the two keynote speakers, education studies lecturer Aminul Hoque from Goldsmiths, University of London, and Jackie Ranger, Principal of John Henry Newman Academy in Oxford. Delegates also heard from Betty Joseph, pictured above, who holds the black members’ seat on the NUT Executive. Teachers considered ways to promote the NUT’s education manifesto and discussed how they could become more active in all aspects of the Union’s work. Find out more and get involved at is.gd/blackmembers.

You can also follow the NUT on Facebook. Keep up with the latest campaigning and Union news on the NUT Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nut.campaigns.

MPs, education experts and parliamentary candidates will be put on the spot in the next round of the NUT’s Education Question Time events and at pre-election hustings. Durham is set to host a Question Time on 16 January. Speakers will include NUT Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney, Durham University’s Professor Rob Coe, Pat Glass MP, Ofsted National Director for Schools Sean Harford and Councillor David Simonds, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people committee. Joe Bann, Durham Joint Division Secretary, said:

Out and about

Question Time events put education in the spotlight “We are inviting the whole community to put their education questions to the panel. We will ask them if they support the NUT education manifesto.” Calderdale NUT is staging an election hustings, featuring Conservative, Labour, Green, Liberal Democrat and UKIP candidates. St Albans and Oldham are among the other areas lining up events. In east London, parents, teachers, school governors and members of the local community filled the Broadway Theatre, Barking, to hear NUT General Secretary Christine Blower, Mike Gapes MP and others debate educational issues at the end of last year.

LGBT members mark 21 years of organising

Haringey teachers support Julie Davies (centre)

NUT LGBT teachers celebrated the 21st year of their conference, which from quiet beginnings has grown into the vibrant, positive and inspiring event attended by 60 teachers this year.

The many first-time delegates welcomed the opportunity to share their experiences with others and, in a roundtable organising session, to actively identify how LGBT issues could be addressed in schools. During workshops, the delegates were inspired by pupils talking about how they celebrated LGBT History Month in their London secondary school. Delegates also had the opportunity to learn about helping primary children to overcome stereotypes. A ten-point plan for schools to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia was passed as the motion which will go forward to the NUT’s annual conference in April. The motion asks all parties standing in the general election to respond to the ten action points and “show their seriousness in stamping out homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in our schools”. The 2015 LGBT conference will be held on 20-21 June. Further information is available from equality@nut.org.uk or at www.teachers.org.uk/events.

Guy Smallman

A quick history of LGBT equality in the NUT was presented by Steve Boyce and Sue Sanders to get the conference started.

Teachers strike to defend Haringey NUT Secretary Strike action at two schools in Haringey, north London, has forced head teachers to back down over their refusal to fund borough-wide facility time arrangements while elected Haringey NUT Secretary Julie Davies remained in post. Further strikes were suspended after head teachers agreed a deal during talks at arbitration service Acas. The NUT had written to all Haringey schools in August seeking assurances that they would pay in to the facility time arrangements irrespective of who members chose to represent them. NUT London Regional Secretary Bob Stapley said that despite repeated requests for meetings to resolve the dispute, there had been no response until strike action was announced. “Finally after four months of asking for discussions we

were offered talks at Acas and we were able to make good progress,” Bob said. “We have agreed an arrangement for funding facility time without preconditions and, as a result, we have suspended our strike action in these schools for the time being. There can be no doubt that the excellent response from members to our call for strike action has brought this result.” The NUT remains in dispute with Haringey Council over its proposed disciplinary action against Julie. Teachers staged a mass lobby of the November council meeting, pictured above, and the NUT has made it clear that it will take whatever steps are necessary and appropriate to defend Julie. In December, Haringey chief executive Nick Walkley offered to meet with the NUT to discuss its working relationship with the Union. January / February 15 | The Teacher


Send My Friend to School launches 2015 campaign push The Send My Friend to School campaign has launched new teaching resources to help UK pupils speak out for every child’s right to education. The campaign is targeting a meeting of world leaders in New York in September,

which will set out steps to tackle global poverty over the next 15 years. In 2000, world leaders promised that every child would be in primary school by 2015, but 58 million children are still out of school. Girls, children living in conflict zones and disabled children are missing out most. There has been some progress in the past 15 years, with 50 million more children now enrolled in primary school worldwide. But progress has been uneven. Rwanda now has 99% of children in school, while Vietnam has one teacher for every 19 primary students, a measure that helps to provide high-quality learning.

But elsewhere there is still a long way to go. In Nigeria, more than 10 million children are out of school and where they do attend school, classrooms are crammed with an average of 100 pupils. Send My Friend estimates that at the current rate of progress the goal of every child worldwide gaining a primary school education will not be met until 2086. The campaign has designed creative action and teaching resources to help inform UK pupils and encourage them to speak out. For details of the new teachers’ pack, which includes a DVD, notes and posters, plus a range of online resources, go to www.sendmyfriend.org.

Safeguarding guidance alert

ATL and NUT unions to host event in Manchester on working together

The NUT is considering a legal challenge to new Department for Education guidance on safeguarding, which requires schools to extend the checks for suitability for work with children.

The NUT and the ATL in the North West region are co-hosting an event on working together, as part of building a platform for a united voice for the profession.

Now schools must check that there is no one in any teacher’s household who is disqualified from working with children, in addition to checking the teachers themselves. Where a teacher discloses that a household member does have a relevant previous conviction or caution, the teacher may be suspended while a waiver is sought from Ofsted.

The event takes place at the Midland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester, on 28 February. Speakers at the event will include Kevin

Courtney and Peter Pendle, the deputy general secretaries of the two unions. Members from around the North West region and across the Pennines in Yorkshire are encouraged to put this date in their diaries now. More details, including how to register, will appear on the NUT website shortly.

The Union believes this is misconceived and disproportionate, and is pressing the Government to rethink.

Dave Seagrave

As well as considering legal action to remove the guidance, we are pressing for it to be withdrawn and not implemented. In the meantime any member affected can seek help from AdviceLine (see page 47).

TUC ‘Fair Pay’ call The TUC is organising a Fair Pay Fortnight of events, between 16 February and 1 March, to campaign for improved living standards. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Fair pay must be a central theme of the forthcoming election. Without better wages we will not be able to build a sustainable recovery that works for the many and not just the few.” Visit fairpayfortnight.org for details. 12

January / February 15 | The Teacher

Manifesto wins more public support NUT members are taking our education manifesto to parents and the public, campaigning at the school gates, in the high street and at local venues and events. Members in Cambridge set up stall at the Mill Road Winter Fair and got a great response. The aim is to make education an election

issue, with parents as well as teachers pushing MPs for action. The manifesto is winning support from academics, education experts, writers and campaigners – see page 6. Find out how you can get involved at www.teachers.org.uk/manifesto.

Out and about

t r o p e R s Rep

Sarah Murphy from Gloucestershire on her life as an NUT rep

‘Academy threat made me get involved’ “I’m the sort of person who doesn’t do things by half. If you’re going to do a job, do it properly. Reps are that key link between all the work that the Union does and teachers on the chalk face.” So says Sarah Murphy, the 2014 NUT Regional Rep of the Year for the South West. Sarah is not only an NUT rep at Stroud High School in Gloucestershire, but is also president of Gloucestershire NUT and part of the national Secondary School Advisory Committee. She has been a teacher for 24 years, 19 of them as a chemistry teacher at Stroud High School, where her colleagues describe her as “an inspiration”. “I’ve always been a member of the NUT but what inspired me to get involved was the academisation process,” Sarah says. “My school was going to become an academy and it didn’t have a rep at the time. “We were also threatened by a couple of redundancies, and the first main thing I did was to support a colleague through

that. It really made me think: ‘Wow there’s power in this position.’”

talk about the issues laid out in the NUT’s manifesto for education.

Since Sarah became a rep, NUT membership at her school has gone up noticeably. “I think members feel they can use me as a channel to query things. I do think it has made the leadership team think about the decisions they are making.”

“I think the Stand Up for Education manifesto is absolutely superb,” Sarah enthuses, explaining that she thinks it’s important to keep MPs informed of what is going on at ground level.

For example, when Ofsted recently issued its clarification document, setting out what is and is not required, Sarah was quick to make sure her school followed these guidelines.

“I also try to make sure the staff at my school realise how much more the NUT does. So many teachers see their union membership as just an insurance policy but the Union does so much more in terms of forming policy and impacting on the Department for Education.”

‘I think it has made the leadership team think about the decisions they are making’

According to colleagues, Sarah’s role is difficult as there has not been a strong tradition of union activity locally, but she has organised support for NUT national action as well as individual members at school. Sarah recently met with prospective parliamentary candidates in the area to

Ultimately, however, what drives Sarah is her passion for chemistry and her teaching. “There’s nothing better than teaching a subject where the kids leave the classroom buzzing, saying, ‘Thank you Mrs Murphy, that was a brilliant lesson.’ It’s the best job in the world.” January / February 15 | The Teacher


Curriculum Title bar

n e s o R l e a h Mic The Pain The Teacher’s poet in residence Michael Rosen asks Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to spare us some pain

Many of us in the world who never pray, fell to our knees and were heard to say “Whether there is a god – or not now we know that we are shot of Gove and his awful announcements policy statements and lofty pronouncements, may we be spared the constant preaching on how to run schools, how to do teaching...” But power does odd things to Oxbridge folk, it seems to pump them up more than coke. On a subject where they have no expertise they will appear totally at ease. As expected, our optimism was shattered when, Ms Morgan, you utterly battered the concord between science and the arts by saying science gives you the better start. Didn’t someone tell you it’s not a competition between Shakespeare’s works and nuclear fission? In a world beset with poverty and debt we need all the wisdom we can possibly get. We need scientists to discover and invent; philosophers to explore our thought and intent; artists to move us about the human condition, and question the powerful who only know ambition.

Peter Arkell

The parts of education are not better or worse, we can’t improve the world with the old curse of two cultures you’ve encouraged to compete. That just takes us down a dead-end street. If there isn’t any Gove-ness you’re going to revise please spare us the pain of you trying to be wise.


January / February 15 | The Teacher

Pay and conditions Title bar Andrew Wiard

Handing in a letter at the Department for Education

Supply lines The first ever NUT supply teacher lobby of Parliament brought the supply teachers’ plight and their demand for equal pay and pension rights direct to MPs’ doors. “Stand Up for Supply Teachers” was the slogan on 28 October, when over 60 NUT supply teacher members gave up a day of their half term to tell MPs about the ever-worsening treatment of teachers employed by commercial supply agencies. The lobby, giving supply teachers a chance to put their concerns to MPs face to face, came in response to the way agencies have come to dominate supply teaching, draining increasing amounts of funding from the education service while driving down pay. After meeting their own constituency MPs, the NUT members attended a meeting in Parliament hosted by John McDonnell MP. He was obviously well informed about the problems, arguing that supply teachers were now “nomadic serfs” suffering low pay, no pension

rights and insecurity of employment. He emphasised that the lobby was an opportunity to spread the word among MPs, many of whose constituencies include more than 1,000 teachers. Other MPs, including veteran campaigner Dennis Skinner, attended and spoke in support of the NUT campaign. Richard Knights, an NUT supply teacher from Sefton, Merseyside, recalled the “golden age” when supply teachers were on the same pay rates as other teachers and had access to teachers’ pensions as well. Now, with the supply industry worth £500m a year or more, agencies can make millions in profits at the expense of supply teachers and schools. The Sefton local authority supply pool is now under threat, but NUT members are making determined efforts to defend it. By comparison, in Northern Ireland private agencies are barely present – proof that it is possible to resist privatisation. NUT Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney described the meeting as

“electrifying” and argued that the privatisation of supply teaching was all about making people work harder for less money. Sara Tomlinson from Lambeth, south London, argued that all teachers should support their supply teacher colleagues, saying: “All of us could be just one term away from being a supply teacher. This is not a small ghetto subject. We all need to support your issues.” Lobbyists then moved on to the Department for Education, where Kevin handed in a letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, calling for urgent action and leaving her in no doubt about the level of concern. The lobby helped draw many more MPs’ attention to the issue. But there is still a long way to go in our campaign to ensure fair pay and equal access to pensions for all supply teachers. The NUT is determined to continue working with its supply teacher members and fighting for their rights. January / February 15 | The Teacher








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l a n o i t a n r e Int Union supports Ebola victims Teachers are targeted in Colombia Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a trade unionist – and teachers are especially targeted, NUT General Secretary Christine Blower told delegates at the 2014 Latin America conference held in London in December.

The NUT is supporting victims of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with financial assistance to the Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union.

Between 200 and 300 people are dying every week – around 10,000 people were expected to be infected with Ebola by the end of 2014.

The largest and most complex outbreak of the virus since Ebola was discovered in 1976 has struck down both the healthy and the vulnerable.

The worst affected areas are countries in West Africa such as Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. The NUT’s financial support will be

used to provide food to isolated, quarantined and infected teachers. It will also be used to support educational and awareness raising activities for Ebola prevention. The Disasters Emergency Committee is running an Ebola crisis appeal. You can help by donating at www.dec.org.uk.

These Palestinian children’s school is just 20m from Israel’s Apartheid Wall

Thousands of teachers have been killed, received death threats or been forced to flee into exile in recent years, the FECODE teachers’ union says. At least 40 teachers have been murdered since 2010. The attacks on teachers are mainly perpetrated by right wing paramilitary groups, which consider teachers an easy target for threats and extortion. Attacks are sometimes carried out by state forces too.

Howard Davies / Report Digital

Christine noted that although many governments in Latin America are moving forward, countries such as Colombia are continuing with their old ways of neoliberalism, repression and violence. The NUT is proud to support the trade union-backed Justice for Colombia campaign, of which Christine is vice chair. To find out more go to www. justiceforcolombia.org.

Get involved Are you committed to international solidarity? Why not become an NUT International Solidarity Officer in your area. Find out more in our guide at www.teachers.org.uk/node/20602.

Steve Sinnott award Nominations are open for the 2015 Steve Sinnott International Solidarity Award, which recognises members who have made exemplary contributions to international solidarity work. For details see www.teachers. org.uk/international/local.

Film to show Palestine schools A joint delegation from the NUT and charity Edukid visited Palestine in October, to learn more about the plight of Palestinian children in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in the first step of a new project. The two organisations aim to provide assistance and support to Palestinian young people and to engage pupils in UK schools with the plight of their Palestinian counterparts. The project will also raise public awareness of how Palestinian children and their education are suffering.

One of the main vehicles for the project will be a film portraying the struggles Palestinian children experience as they try to gain an education. Filming will take place early this year in Palestinian schools and the film will be launched with a debut screening at the 2015 NUT Annual Conference. “We hope to harness the collective and common interests of the NUT and Edukid in improving the educational opportunities of young people living in Palestine,” said NUT International Relations Officer Samidha Garg. January / February 15 | The Teacher


John Birdsall / Photofusion

Keen to learn: children have the same right to education, regardless of their family’s income

Money’s too tight to mention As teachers use their own cash to stop children going hungry, the NUT is stepping up efforts to understand and tackle the poverty problem Poverty blights the lives of millions of children in the UK – and teachers, who see its effects in the classroom every day, are going to extraordinary lengths to help.

A worrying 85% of teachers have seen an increase in the number of children coming to school hungry, says NUT General Secretary Christine Blower. “That should simply not be the case.”

heard from a series of witnesses, including Christine Blower, last year. They found that parents and children were struggling to cope with our supposedly free education system.

The stats are already shocking – 3.5 million children live in poverty – and they are rapidly getting worse. By 2020, the number of children living in poverty is expected to hit 4.7 million.

She adds: “Children’s learning is affected when they are hungry and, along with their families, are coping with the stresses and strains of poor housing and lack of spending money.”

Panel member India, aged 17, reported: “I was very surprised to find out what getting everything together for school actually costs – we always think that education is cheap or free.”

Our case studies (right) show just how deeply NUT members are digging into their own pockets, spending up to £100 a term to ensure their pupils are adequately fed and clothed.

Child poverty is a complicated spider’s web of a problem with many tangled strands that affect children in different ways. Hunger might be the starkest issue, but there are hidden strands too, from lack of money for arts materials to the disruption in schooling that follows when families are evicted or rehoused far from their own local areas.

Children who were eligible for free school meals were less likely to choose creative subjects because of the cost

These teachers – and others like them around the country – are generously providing a discreet lifeline for their students, but one that should not be needed in one of the world’s richest countries. 18

January / February 15 | The Teacher

A Children’s Commission on Poverty, led by a panel of 16 young people aged ten to 19,

The commission found that seven out of ten parents struggled with the cost of school, and over half said they had to cut back on clothing, food or heating to afford these costs. School uniforms, school meals, materials and trips were the main problem costs. On average, parents spend £108 a year on primary school uniform and £126 on secondary school clothing, but some parents reported having to spend up to £500 a year. For those in minimum wage jobs or on benefits, these costs are frightening.

For poorer children, the curriculum and subject choices can be distorted. Last year, an investigation by the NUT, the Child Poverty Action Group, Kids Company and the British Youth Council found that children who were eligible for free school meals were less likely to choose creative subjects because of the cost of materials. Lack of computer access cuts across subject areas. The commission found that three in ten children whose families were “not well off” said they had fallen behind at school because their family could not afford the necessary facilities at home. Children told the commission panel how

poverty isolated and stigmatised their classmates. “You can always tell when someone is having free school meals because they hold up a card and have their card inspected,” one said. New Government policies such as the bedroom tax and the benefit cap, which limits the total amount people can claim, are making life even harder for the worstoff families. The bedroom tax adds to the threat of homelessness or housing insecurity that many families face. This has a serious impact on education and teaching as children are shunted from one lot of temporary accommodation to the next or are decanted out of their local area – often forcing a change of school. In the NUT’s manifesto for education, we have called for the bedroom tax to be axed, as part of a range of recommendations to tackle child poverty.

There is little hard information on the correlation between home insecurity and school moves, children’s wellbeing and education. Now the NUT is planning to fill in the blanks, in coordination with children’s charities and campaign groups, with new research and case studies to investigate the impact of policies such as the benefit cap and the bedroom tax, with its serious implications for poorer families’ housing.

Child poverty

The law states that schools cannot charge for materials that aid delivery of the national curriculum – but a third of children who are “not well off” have fallen behind in school because they haven’t been able to afford the materials they need.

Ros McNeil, the NUT’s Head of Education and Equality, says: “We hope that these real examples of children, teachers and schools will illuminate the effects on children being forced to move home and school. “We will use the evidence to further our campaigning against child poverty and its devastating effects on children’s education.”

Making ends meet At two schools in Portsmouth, NUT members have taken the initiative to combat their pupils’ poverty. But they are having to fork out their own money to meet the costs.

might be the only thing they eat all day” – something that has to be done “very discreetly”. The teacher says: “We don’t make a fuss of it. We just do it.”

The primary school

The secondary school

“I was talking to teacher friends the other day and we estimated we spend £100 a term of our own money on non-curriculum related materials for students,” says one teacher at the primary school. Fruit is delivered for free nationally for reception and KS1 children, but teachers at the Portsmouth primary make sure all children have access to fruit by bringing it in themselves.

“Poverty is a serious problem at our school. These are the kids who often turn up late, and late means the other kids notice and they get bullied. They’re often hungry and therefore disruptive in class because they can’t concentrate,” a teacher explains.

Keith Morris / Photofusion

In addition, teachers often end up buying shirts and underwear for children who are wearing the same clothes Monday to Friday. Teachers get the children to change and then take the clothes home themselves to wash overnight, as the parents cannot afford to do so. Meanwhile, school meals staff are quietly asked to give larger lunch portions to some children as “it

Poverty is so endemic at this Portsmouth school, and government funding so little, that teachers now fund a breakfast club for all pupils from their own wages. Each teacher pays in £6 to £10 a month to fund it, as well as bringing in boxes of cereal or milk for the children to make sure there’s always enough. It has now been going for 18 months and the difference is astonishing. “The children are definitely more productive,” the teacher says. Children are now in school from 8.15am and because it’s not just the children on free school meals who attend, the stigma has been removed. The struggling children are in on time and already integrated with the other members of their class. “We might not be spending money on traditional academic resources but ultimately I think if someone feels involved and cherished by the school they feel better.”

January / February 15 | The Teacher



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Academies Title bar

Parents protest Primary school parents are furious at plans to force their school into academy status, writes Kate Stanley of Save Castle View Castle View primary school in Matlock, Derbyshire, was our first choice of school for our daughter. We felt at ease with the teaching staff and it was clear that the head was enthusiastic and committed. We had been told that the school had been struggling over the past few years. So when the school was placed in special measures by Ofsted in July 2013 it was disappointing, but not a surprise. Our head teacher had been appointed only three months earlier, so this was not “her” Ofsted report. A monitoring inspection in June 2014 found the school was making progress towards the removal of special measures. It was improving in pupil achievement, progress in learning in both key stages, and improving systems to identify pupils with special educational needs. Significant improvement had been made in teaching quality and, under the new head, there was an increasingly capable team of senior leaders. So when parents were told in October 2014 that the Department for Education had recommended that the school should “move towards” academy status, we were stunned. The DfE has shown us no respect. We were not asked our views at all on this action. What does any good parent do in this situation? Get a campaign group together, wave our placards and shout at any potential sponsors who dare to enter our school. Great. Thanks, DfE, for leaving us with these as our only options to be heard. It is totally outrageous and unacceptable to put the parents in this crazy situation. The governors had to make the decision to “move towards” – be shoved towards would be a better phrase – academy status.

If not, the DfE could replace them with an interim body, which means anyone it likes. This would make it much easier to gallop on with the academy plan. It would be understandable if the school had shown no signs of improvement, but this is not the case for our school. We expect the Government to make changes that not all the public will like: cuts to local transport, putting the price of petrol up, that kind of thing. But not to our children’s education, not without speaking to us, the parents, first. Becoming an academy would take the school away from the local authority which has given the school endless support and advice on how to improve. Why cause all this disruption? It doesn’t make sense. This is all about offloading the terrible drain on the budget that is education and throwing it away for some academy chain to grab hold of and run our schools as businesses. We started an online petition to save our school and gathered paper signatures too. The support we have received has been great. We have over 800 signatures, showing that this forced academisation of a local primary school is strongly opposed by the community as a whole, and we are set to attend a meeting of the full council to seek their support. We know we are not alone. More and more primary schools in Derbyshire are being forced through the same process towards academisation and we wish the best of luck to all those who are standing up against this bullying. The NUT is proud to work with parents’ groups against forced academy status in primary and secondary schools. January / February 15 | The Teacher


n o i n U Your Equality calendar 2015 January 27 Holocaust Memorial Day

February 1-28 LGBT History Month

March 8 International Women’s Day 21 UN Anti-Racism Day

April 3-7 NUT Annual Conference

June 20-21 NUT LGBT Teachers’ Conference

October 1-31 Black History Month 16 Anthony Walker memorial event

November 13-15 NUT Black Teachers’ Conference 22 Disability History Month starts 28 NUT Disabled Teachers’ Conference

Solidarity on Kenya trip NUT rep Fleur Patten and 15 students from Ely College Sixth Form, Cambridgeshire, went to Nakuru, Kenya, with volunteer organisation African Adventures in October last year. The Ely students helped build classrooms and painted murals at schools in the area – and raised money for a donation to each. One of the inspiring teachers the group met was Susan Odeny, head teacher of Jubilee Academy, who provides free education to street children. Susan dedicates her time to teaching the 300 poverty-stricken children, aged between

January / February 15 | The Teacher

Fleur had a chance to teach at Susan’s school and discuss their different experiences of education. The picture shows Susan wearing one of the NUT’s Stand Up for Education T-shirts to support our campaign. “For me, Susan is the epitome of a teacher working against the odds for the good of her students,” said Fleur. “Those 10 days made a difference to the lives of Nakuru students and their families, but also changed the lives of my students, and that is what teaching is all about.”

North West region’s band plays on Rochdale NUT member Emma Gillatt has set up a North West regional band to supply the one thing she felt was missing from the marches and demonstrations she has attended with the NUT. Emma put out the call for NUT members in the North West who play an instrument to


three and 14. She spends her weekends selling vegetables from her garden to provide school lunches for her students.

get in touch and heard back from 15 other members within a couple of hours. The band is aiming to bring its music to marches, protests and NUT events in the North West of England. If you would like to get involved, please contact Emma at emmagillatt@hotmail.com.

NUT members can win tickets to take their entire class to a stage show based on the popular Horrible Histories books. The two brand new shows – Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders – use actors and 3D special effects to bring history to life. They are coming to a venue near you in 2015 and should prove a treat for pupils. Horrible Histories has given The Teacher tickets for an entire class to see one of the shows at a convenient UK venue near you. All you have to do is answer one question. Which of these has not been a Horrible Histories stage show: a) Barmy Britain b) Swinging Sixties c) Groovy Greeks d) Incredible Invaders? Please send your answer, a contact phone number and your NUT membership number to competitions@ milktwosugars.com, with “Horrible Histories – The Teacher” as the subject line of your email.

Conference helps to shape curriculum review in Wales A hugely successful curriculum conference was held by NUT Cymru in Cardiff in November.

Professor Donaldson’s review a few weeks before it was due to be delivered to the Wales Government.

Keynote speakers included Schools Challenge Cymru Champion Professor Mel Ainscow, Professor Graham Donaldson – who headed the Welsh Government’s curriculum review – and Professor Susan Robertson of Bristol University. Sessions were also run by teachers and head teachers in Wales.

NUT Cymru Policy Officer Owen Hathway, said: “We don’t want being a member of the NUT to simply be about the excellent support you can rely on if it is needed. We want conferences like this to be valued and inspirational aspects of continued professional development.

The packed conference saw delegates take part in Q&A sessions, roundtable discussions and policy formation. Teachers were able to compare the approaches taken in their different schools and to express their concerns, especially on the pace of often piecemeal and fragmented changes in Wales education policy. Delegates took the opportunity to feed their views on the curriculum into

Your Union

Win Horrible Histories tickets for your class

“The feedback showed that teachers really valued sharing ideas from different schools and areas in Wales. We were also delighted to be able to play such an important role in helping to inform the findings of the crucial Professor Graham Donaldson Donaldson review.”

The competition closes on 1 March 2015. The prize is based on a maximum of 30 children and two adults attending one of the Monday-Friday performances at any UK venue until March 2016 only. Subject to availability. Prize is as stated and cannot be transferred or exchanged.

100 years ago 2 January 1915 The Schoolmaster

Hungry to learn In the village school of Laleston near Bridgend, the other day, the teacher asked a class what was a good thing for an appetite. After a pause a little boy held up his hand and said: “Please, teacher, an empty stomach.”

Chill out at Stoke Rochford Hall The holidays are over, so why not cheer up the dull winter days with a break where you can chill out and relax in the lovely surrounds of Stoke Rochford Hall? Accommodation offers for NUT members are available throughout January and February, giving you the chance to enjoy

a relaxing stay or join in special events, including murder mystery dinners, a casino night, and Valentine’s Day dinner celebrations. NUT members receive a discount of 10% off bookings – just call reception on 01476 530337 or check www.stokerochfordhall.co.uk for more details and availability. January / February 15 | The Teacher


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Workload: A roar from the dept An outpouring of anger, frustration and hurt caused by wrecked personal and family lives – that was the response to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s Workload Challenge survey, launched in November. In an unprecedented response, 44,000 teachers had their say, with nearly half of these including detailed comments. From the depths of despair, buried under piles of spreadsheets and written lesson plans, teachers have insisted that their voices be heard. And they want action from Nicky Morgan too. It’s not surprising teachers are worn out. The Department for Education’s own figures – released under pressure from the NUT – show teachers’ hours have gone up under the Coalition Government from an average 50 hours a week in 2010 to 60 hours in primary schools and nearly 56 hours in secondaries. This goes way beyond the EU’s 48-hour Working Time Directive – it means many thousands of teachers regularly overshoot the 60-hour limit set in the 1850 Factory Act to protect Victorian mill workers.

Ofsted’s clarification of its requirements has given NUT school groups a lever to reduce these hours immediately by removing unnecessary tasks. A rep from the South East region explains: “Ofsted’s clarification document provided our NUT group at school with extra ammunition to explain why we were refusing to hand in seating plans under the NUT’s action short of strike action (ASOS) campaign.

In a very impressive example, NUT members at an east London school succeeded in winning agreement from their head teacher on a series of changes that should sharply reduce workload (see below).

A school NUT group in east London made dramatic gains after holding its biggest ever meeting in the wake of Ofsted’s clarification document. “Feelings ran very high”, the NUT school rep says. Teachers wanted to cut workload, but not by switching to corporate packages from companies such as Pearson. Their demands were based on a “vision of education”, the rep says. With this clear stance in mind, the NUT group approached the head – and won impressive gains. Written lesson plans will no longer be required. There will be no more graded observations, and a working party of teachers will look at alternatives. Discussions will take place in each department aimed at reducing the marking burden. Recent new initiatives have been postponed to allow discussion of workload implications. More “twilight” time will be given over to planning in order to cut weekend and evening work, and each subject will have allocated time off-timetable for planning and curriculum development. “It’s not bad for the first week back,” says the rep. “The most important thing is that everyone thinks this is a huge step forward – and knows it’s the result of collective action by the NUT. There’s a very, very good feeling around school.” January / February 15 | The Teacher

Alongside the Workload Challenge survey, the DfE set up school visits, covering primary, secondary and special schools to see the workload pile-up in action. Officials also established focus groups to undertake what has been dubbed a “deep dive” exercise. The Teacher got an inside view of the process from some of those taking part.

‘Teachers want to be with their students, teaching.’

“A vibrant classroom often involves changing seating arrangements for students, but providing these in a clear enough version for an outsider to read is a waste of teacher time. Ofsted does not require teachers to produce seating plans.”

Winning: how we cut workload at school


While school groups examine heads’ demands for seating plans, lesson plans, or “triple marking”, to ask whether these paperwork generators are really necessary, small groups of teachers have been providing Nicky Morgan and her team with an insight into the depths of the crisis.

There is quite a distance between real life in the classroom and the more rarefied world of the DfE, as focus group participants couldn’t help noticing. “Everything was glass doors. I felt like I was in the Ministry of Magic,” says one. “The toilets were amazing – very plush. We haven’t got toilets like that at school.” The teachers did their best to bring the reality of their world home to the DfE officials. One explains: “We were given the opportunity to give our opinions on a lot of things – how we use monitoring data, how much marking is expected. We got to say exactly what we felt.” It was an open discussion, participants report. “Everyone thinks the workload is too much. The over-riding feeling is that people are more than frustrated – they’re very angry about it.” A lot of this work is “duplication”, the teachers pointed out. “It’s not necessary, it doesn’t benefit students at all.” The teachers gave examples, explaining for instance how results have to be entered in three or four separate spreadsheets. “It’s just pointless,” a teacher says. The message to the DfE was clear: “Teachers want to be with their students, teaching.”


hs Participants emphasised that “Ofsted increases the pressure” and the amount of work connected with assessment. “You highlight sheets and write dates on things because you think that people might look – although it’s not needed.” Another teacher from the focus groups says: “When it came to Ofsted, we think they’re there to catch us out. It’s a big pressure. Everything is about getting ready for Ofsted. People are trying to ‘perform’.” There was also “no consistency” across schools, the teachers noted. Focus group members came from different schools and were able to compare experiences. “Every school has a different set of rules. There needs to be a general thing that everyone follows. If there were guidelines, head teachers would say, ‘We don’t need to do this.’” There were positive examples, such as the teacher who mentioned that at his school when there is a parents’ evening teachers do not have to mark that year group for a week because the parents’ meeting counts as feedback. The focus group participants – like the many thousands who responded to the Workload Challenge survey – are desperate for the Government to finally act on teachers’ concerns. “I hope they took the point. We wanted to say, we’re knackered and there’s no point to most of it. We just want to make a difference to children’s lives. We all love teaching – but it’s such a small part of what we do now.”

NUT members will be watching Nicky Morgan’s steps closely: it’s time to bring teachers’ workload down to a level that is fit for the 21st century.

Dan Berry

As 2014 drew to a close, the NUT set out eight steps for Nicky Morgan to tackle the workload crisis (see page 4). Now the new year is upon us, this will be the yardstick against which we can measure the Government’s action on workload.

Levels have been ditched in the new national curriculum – but where does this leave schools and teachers? For the first time in a quarter of a century, the national curriculum does not include levels to track pupil progress – they’ve been scrapped. In Wales, the Donaldson Review of the curriculum will report to Welsh Government ministers early in the new year, so assessment will be changing there too. The Department for Education says removing levels will “allow teachers greater flexibility in the way they plan and assess pupils’ learning”, and says it will not “prescribe a national system for… assessment”. The problem is that this leaves schools with the huge challenge of replacing the system with something new, and teachers are

deeply concerned that whatever replaces levels in their school should work well for their pupils and themselves. This ought to be an opportunity for creating a positive, useful model of assessment. But education policy has been continually chopping and changing, so the removal of levels has only added to the climate of uncertainty and frustration. No one wants to find out too late that their carefully worked out new assessment system brings them a blast from Ofsted at inspection time. As one assistant head teacher in a secondary school puts it: “The situation feels akin to starting a journey with a backseat driver who insists that I use their satnav and leave all other navigation

aids behind. Then, half way through the journey, they demand the satnav back and tell me to navigate on my own. The rest of the journey is spent trying to drive and navigate, while all the time being petrified that the backseat driver will tell me I’m going in the wrong direction.” A primary school special educational needs coordinator adds: “Progress and attainment do need to be measured but the introduction of the new national curriculum with a lack of clear guidance on assessing pupils is bonkers.” That lack of guidance means schools have been going their own way – and some have gone into overdrive, replacing the levels with horribly laborious systems of

Expert view: marking


Marking is one of the bones of contention in many schools. Education blogger Jack Marwood says: ‘’Marking should be something which works for a child and a teacher. It should be negotiated between teams of professionals within a school, not mandated from outside.

NUT guidance on action short of strike action (ASOS) to tackle workload www.teachers.org.uk/asos

“Provided children are learning, and teachers are helping them to learn, there should be no set expectation as to what, how, how frequent or in what colour pen feedback is given.’’ Read Jack Marwood’s Expert View article on the “triple marking” fiasco at www.teachers.org.uk/expertview


John Birdsall / Photofusion

Life after levels

January / February 15 | The Teacher

The NUT’s curriculum toolkit www.teachers.org.uk/campaigns/ curriculum DfE guidance on the new national curriculum bit.ly/1FU7itg Ofsted’s clarification document is at bit.ly/1ri3gRv


At your school Key points for dealing with life after levels New assessment approaches should not increase teacher workload, but in many schools, teachers are finding that this is a big problem. It’s essential to evaluate critically whether “off the shelf” commercial packages for assessment should be used or not. Teachers should talk to their colleagues and look at whether such packages are reasonable and proportionate in terms of workload, and whether they will support teaching and learning.

assessment that mean recording evidence of every bit of every student’s progression.

accountability pressures that prompt demands for extra records and paperwork.

NUT Head of Education and Equality Ros McNeil says schools and teachers should aim to implement their new systems steadily over a period of time.

This is something teachers should watch out for, Ros says. Ofsted’s document clarifying its requirements, released in October, makes it clear that inspectors do not “expect to see unnecessary or extensive written dialogue between teachers and pupils in exercise books and folders” or for “performance and pupil-tracking data to be presented in a particular format”. This must be applied to any new assessment systems, she argues. “We want to reduce the number of ‘masters’ that assessment is geared to serve.”

There is likely to be a mixed economy in most schools for a while as they see some year groups through the final years of their current curriculum, while other groups will be on the new curriculum. “It’s vital that any new model of assessment serves the main purpose of helping teachers, pupils and parents plan their next steps in learning.” The latest upheaval is unnerving for many teachers, but Ros points out: “No individual or school is alone in this. NUT members can use this opportunity to work together and develop positive assessment models. It’s also important to resist schemes that create extra workload or require piles of unnecessary evidence.” Assessment criteria for pupils should be short, concrete and distinct, so it is clear what pupils are expected to know or be able to do. Importantly, assessment should celebrate achievement across the breadth of the curriculum and in behaviour, and social and emotional development, Ros says. The way teachers are expected to assess and demonstrate pupil progress at the moment is being distorted by inappropriate demands that a fixed proportion of pupils must reach a set target. Assessment schemes can also be skewed by

The NUT is developing a free online professional development resource for assessment with the Curriculum Foundation, also the Union’s partners for the recent Year of the Curriculum programme. The new course is designed to help teachers develop their expertise and to reclaim professional control over assessment. The first units will begin to appear early in the new year on the Year of the Curriculum section of the NUT website. As one Key Stage 2 teacher puts it, “Assessment is a necessary part of teaching but surely should not impact negatively on teaching and learning.” The levels are gone, but NUT members can smooth the rocky looking road ahead by getting informed, getting together and pressing for an assessment system that works for teachers, students and parents.

If you think there are problems with assessment at your school, ask your NUT rep to call a meeting to discuss it. Use the NUT, DfE and Ofsted resources and documentation (see box, left) to ensure all parties are clear about the requirements on assessment, and on teachers’ rights to be protected from excessive and unreasonable workload. Items for discussion might include: how to develop manageable and realistic methods to record and report pupil progress.


how workload related to pupil assessment can be minimised and managed most effectively.


how assessment policies relate to NUT protocols on workload and action short of strike action (ASOS).


We want to hear what your school is doing about assessment. Please drop us a line explaining what’s going on, and passing on any tips that can be shared with other NUT members, to yoc@nut.org.uk.

January / February 15 | The Teacher


Adapted from BuiltArk / flickr.com

New teachers

First post Looking for your first teaching post? A new NUT guide will help get your career off to a flying start The NUT has produced a comprehensive guide to obtaining your first teaching job. First Post gives essential tips for your job search. It contains lots of useful information and valuable advice on where to look for teaching posts, handling applications and interviews, salary and pension matters, fixed-term and temporary contracts, supply teaching and more. NUT student members have been sent a copy of First Post 2015. If you haven’t received yours yet, email newteachers@nut.org.uk or go to www. teachers.org.uk/nqt to download one.

Looking for a job Vacancies can come up throughout the year, but most posts are advertised in May and June. A good source for job opportunities is TES magazine’s jobs supplement, published every Friday, and also online at tes.co.uk. The Guardian’s jobs section is also worth viewing at jobs.theguardian.com/jobs/schools. Both publications allow you to create a profile or upload a CV and sign up for job alerts by email. Local authorities advertise vacancies online. For details of when and where, see the NUT’s online directory of authorities at www. teachers.org.uk/nqt. Look out for local authority open days where you can find out about schools in the area. Many schools recruit directly through their own advertising or on their website. Some may also write directly to colleges and university departments with details of available teaching posts. 30

January / February 15 | The Teacher

Is it the right post for you? You are most likely to be successful if the post you have applied for is close to the pupil age range or subject area for which you have trained. If you are prepared to be flexible, however, you will widen the number of posts available to you. If a post you are interested in is not advertised as permanent and full-time you should check the exact nature of the contract on offer.

School Direct If you are pursuing a school-based route to teacher qualification you should be aware that there is no absolute guarantee of employment at the end of your training programme.

Upgrading to full NUT membership While you are training to teach, your NUT membership is free. When you qualify next summer you can upgrade to full membership of the NUT. You will get four terms’ full membership and pay nothing until February 2016, when your first annual subscription will be just £1. You can upgrade online at www.teachers.org.uk/join or call the membership hotline on 020 7380 6369 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) to arrange to pay by Direct Debit. You can upgrade to full membership even before you qualify to ensure you get the best advice, guidance and support from the largest and most effective teachers’ union.

Endorsed by the

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A message from your General Secretary Teachers Assurance was formed by NUT members around 130 years ago. Today, it’s one of the biggest friendly societies in the UK. What’s more, it continues its proud tradition of delivering 11/ 1&3"&+02/+ "Ǿ03&+$0+!&+3"01*"+1"+"Ɯ10#,/ NUT members. Over the years, thousands of NUT members and their #*&)&"0%3""+',6"!1%""+"Ɯ10,#03&+$4&1%1%&0 well-respected organisation. I have no hesitation in recommending Teachers Assurance. If you’re looking for the ideal savings or investment product, their information is well worth taking a look at. Christine Blower, General Secretary, NUT

Our savings and investments are stock market linked. Their value can go down as well as up so you may get back less than you paid in. Tax rules apply. Find out more at

teachersassurance.co.uk or call 0800 056 0563

The National Union of Teachers is an introducer appointed representative of Teachers Assurance. Teachers Assurance is a trading name of Teachers Provident Society Limited (TPS), an incorporated friendly society No. 372F. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation 21%,/&16Ǿ"+1"/"!,+1%" &++ &)"/3& "0/"$&01"/+,ǽǖǖǕǕǕǞǽ"$&01"/"!&++$)+!+!)"0ǽ"$&01"/"!ƛ& "ǿ/&+$%* ,20"Ǿ"+0)"&$%,!Ǿ,2/+"*,21%Ǿ ǜǜǽ,%")- us continually improve customer service, calls may be monitored and recorded.


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n o i n U e h t Ask A new policy on ‘triple marking’, teaching extra subjects without pay, and where to find information on LGBT History Month... Our head has instituted a new marking policy which involves “triple marking” pupils’ work. She says this is good practice and is what Ofsted expects to see. Is there anything we can do about it?


The document provides ammunition for members to gain agreement from heads about marking. Ask your school rep to call a meeting to discuss how to proceed. If Ofsted does not expect triple marking, there is no reason why your head should.

Triple marking involves teachers writing detailed feedback about a pupil’s work, on which the pupil writes comments – and then the teacher responds to the pupil’s comments.

Your school group could take action short of strike action (ASOS) due to the heavy workload implications of deep marking. See www.teachers.org.uk/campaigns/ protect-teachers/asos.


There is no evidence base for this approach to marking and feedback, but plenty of evidence that it is detrimental to teachers’ working lives. It is clear from the thousands of responses to the NUT’s workload survey that triple marking or “deep marking” is a major cause of excessive workload and unacceptable working hours. Triple marking is a recent strategy adopted by schools, driven in part by the frequency with which new inspection frameworks have been introduced. But after NUT pressure, Ofsted published its clarifications document, which makes clear: “Ofsted does not expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders.” It adds: “Ofsted does not expect to see unnecessary or extensive written dialogue between teachers and pupils in exercise books and folders. Ofsted recognises the importance of different forms of feedback and inspectors will look at how these are used to promote learning.” 34

January / February 15 | The Teacher


My head has asked me to run a subject without extra payment. Can she do this?

Although lots of important guidance has been deleted from the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document in the past two years, this is one area where it still helps teachers facing unreasonable expectations like this.


The 2014 document says: ”Teachers are expected to contribute, both orally and in writing as appropriate, to curriculum development by sharing their professional expertise with colleagues and advising on effective practice. This does not mean that they can be expected to take on the responsibility of, and accountability for, a subject area or to manage other teachers without appropriate additional payment. Responsibilities of this nature should be part of a post that is in the leadership

group or linked to a post which attracts a TLR1 or TLR2.” So it isn’t reasonable to expect a teacher to be “responsible” or “accountable” for a subject area without additional payment, even if you are on the UPS or on UPS3. Anyone with such responsibility should receive an additional payment, which has to be a TLR1 or TLR2, not a lower valued and temporary TLR3. You could contact the NUT AdviceLine (see page 47) or ask your NUT rep for help. Other teachers at your school may be in a similar position. Talk to your colleagues and your rep about putting pressure on the governing body to ensure sufficient staff posts with appropriate responsibility payments.

Got a question? Send your questions to: Ask the Union, The Teacher, NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD or email teacher@nut.org.uk. Please note that any questions relating to personal problems or specific workplace situations should be directed to your NUT rep, division or association – find details at www.teachers.org.uk/contactus.

Ask Title the Union bar Stefano Cagnoni / Report Digital

As February is Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) History Month I would like to organise some activities in my school to mark the month and to discuss LGBT rights. Where can I find information about suitable activities and materials?

discuss books or films in class, use games and quizzes, plan history lessons centred on notable LGBT figures, or organise special themed assemblies. The activities should encourage children to respect people’s differences and create a climate in which everyone feels valued. Talk to your colleagues at school to get them involved and tap their ideas too.

LGBT History Month gives schools the chance to provide opportunities for children and young people, staff and parents to gain a better understanding of LGBT issues through a range of appropriate activities.

Further information about events and activities for use in schools during LGBT History month can be found at lgbthistorymonth.org.uk. Materials from the Educate and Celebrate website can be used during LGBT History Month or throughout the school year. See www.ellybarnes.com.


There are all sorts of ways to celebrate diversity and tackle topics such as bullying and homophobia. You could put on an art exhibition or a play,

Where language is being used inappropriately in schools or where homophobic, biphobic or transphobic

bullying is taking place, aimed either at pupils or staff, schools should take action to address these issues. Bradford NUT member Sam Kirk, who won last year’s 2014 Blair Peach Award for her work on equality, carried out a project to tackle homophobia in her secondary school. Her experience may give you ideas and inspiration for your own work. See is.gd/blairpeach for more details. The NUT campaigns for a diverse teaching workforce and believes schools’ staffing should be representative of the communities they serve. Information for members about the Union’s LGBT equality work, Pride events and a new leaflet, Why Trans Teachers Matter, can be found at is.gd/LGBTequality.

January / February 15 | The Teacher


NUT Deputy General Secretary election Use your vote Voting in the election for the NUT’s Deputy General Secretary (DGS) opens in January, with the successful candidate taking office for the next five years. The DGS has a vital role in the Union. As second in command the DGS has a wide range of responsibilities including assisting the General Secretary in coordinating policy and leading negotiations. The post holder is responsible for making key decisions in the absence of the General Secretary. All full members of the NUT (not student members) are entitled to vote. Ballot papers and the candidates’ biographical details and election addresses will be dispatched on Monday 5 January 2015. If you have not received a ballot paper by Monday 12 January please make sure you contact the election hotline on 020 7380 4825 as soon as possible. The ballot closes at 12 noon on Monday 26 January. This is your chance to vote for one of the NUT’s key elected officials – make sure you use it.


The candidates’ nominating associations are: Kevin Courtney Barking & Dagenham; Basildon; Bedford; Birmingham; Blackburn with Darwen; Blackpool; Bolton; Bournemouth; Bradford; Braintree; Brent; Brighton & Hove; Bristol; Bromley; Buckinghamshire; Bury; Calderdale; Cambridgeshire; Camden; Central Bedfordshire; Cheshire West; Chesterfield & East Derbyshire; Chorley; City & County of Swansea; Cornwall & Isles of Scilly; Coventry; Croydon; Dereham & Fakenham (prior to amalgamating into Norfolk); Devon County; Dover; Dudley; Durham & District; Ealing; East Cheshire; East London; Eastleigh; Essex (Mid); Essex (South East); Fareham & Gosport; Folkestone; Fylde; Hackney; Hammersmith & Fulham; Haringey; Hertfordshire; Hillingdon; Hounslow; Ipswich; Isle of Man; Isle of Wight County; Islington; Kensington & Chelsea; Kirklees; Lambeth; Lancaster, Morecambe & District; Leicestershire; Lewes, Eastbourne & Wealden; Liverpool; Luton; Manchester; Medway; Merthyr Tydfil; Merton; Newham; Norfolk; North Somerset; North East Hampshire; Nottingham City; Oldham; Oxfordshire; Pembrokeshire (South); Plymouth; Poole Division; Preston; Radnor Local; Reading; Redbridge; Richmond upon Thames; Rochdale; Rossendale; Sandwell; SCE – Germany; Shropshire; Somerset County; South Ribble; Southend on Sea; Southern Derbyshire; Southwark; Staffordshire; Stoke-on-Trent; Suffolk (South East); Sutton; Swindon; Tameside; Tawe Afon Nedd; Thurrock; Torbay; Wakefield; Walsall; Waltham Forest; Warrington; West Hampshire; West Lancashire; West Suffolk; West Sussex; Westminster; Wigan; Wokingham & District; Wolverhampton; Worcestershire; Wrexham; Ynys Mon.

Ian Grayson Barrow-in-Furness; Bracknell; Caerphilly; Cardiff; Carlisle; City of Sunderland; Denbighshire; Flintshire; Furness; Gateshead; Gwynedd; Hartlepool; Lincolnshire; Newcastle upon Tyne; Newport; North Tyneside; Penrith; South Tyneside; Stockton; Torfaen; Westmorland; Workington.

Patrick Murphy Barnsley; Central Nottinghamshire; City of Leicester; Greenwich; Hastings & District; Leeds; Lewisham; Northampton; Nottinghamshire (South); Sefton; Warwickshire.


January / February 15 | The Teacher

Alongside Christine Blower, I have led the Union’s Stand Up for Education campaign. Through the manifesto, street stalls, involving parents and community, lobbying and industrial action we have started to see changes. IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE The Ofsted regime has removed fun but increased workload and stress for both teachers AND children. The huge demands for “evidence” betray a lack of trust in teachers. This is at the root of the workload crisis. IT’S TIME FOR TRUST Our Union is leading the campaign to say YES to trust and NO to false accountability. I started this work and I want to continue it, keeping the Union united and progressive. IT’S TIME FOR UNITY This Government’s attacks on workload, pay and pensions have been made easier by teacher disunity. I am working hard for joint campaigning and professional unity. PLEASE VOTE KEVIN COURTNEY 1 www.kevin4dgs.com

Ian Grayson

Patrick Murphy

NUT decision making is dominated by hard left groups. Elected on low turnouts, they have little in common with members.

We did not do enough to defend members from the attacks on our pensions and pay. Throughout the national campaign I argued and organised for an alternative approach, a quicker and more ambitious response.

Their unconvincing mantra is “the more we strike, the more successful we will be”. With your support, I will approach things differently. Winning on issues such as workload demands reasoned argument, mobilising teachers’ communication skills, taking parents and the public with us. “Stand Up for Education” should be our starting point, not an afterthought. The voice of the classroom teacher must be heard, and heeded, always. We must review Union operations, guaranteeing every member the best possible support. We must work harder to achieve one union, one voice for the teachers of England and Wales. We must become the towering force for education, not the tool of political cliques. My skills, drive and experience will steer the NUT through these vital changes. ENGAGE WITH CHANGE! IAN GRAYSON FOR DGS


Every five years, the NUT elects its Deputy General Secretary, the second most senior position in the Union. Here are the three candidates’ statements

We need to do better. I want to see: An action campaign which sets out national demands and seeks to win them for all members in all schools. A national contract which includes a real limit on hours, protection from pointless demands on planning, marking and data and at least 20% PPA. A demand that this contract applies by statute to ALL state-funded institutions, including academies. Action at local and academy chain level to win adoption of this contract in every school. A trained rep in every school and an effective NUT branch across every academy chain. One union for all school and college staff. An effective, organised and militant union with the members in control.



Title bar Reviews

s w e i Rev For pupils

Confronting prejudices

Gothic sleuthing

Superbly voiced

Some may find this book confrontational—and it is. It confronts prejudice and celebrates diversity and uniqueness. Supported by funny illustrations, and with an approach that makes no topic taboo, it offers guidance in an unambiguous way. The section on LGBT people and religion is of particular interest. The book examines love, friendship and feelings, showing that being different makes us who we are.

The Beast of Snagov is surely the start of a series of Gothic detective tales. With characters who channel Twilight, Tank Girl and A Young Indiana Jones, it is a delight. A beautiful and memorable book with a witty, knowing narrative. The stunning pen illustrations of billowing clouds, precarious, impossible bridges and eerie Whitby are joyously spooky. This novel nods towards Holmes and Watson, but characters Bella and Henry should appeal to eight to 13 year olds, regardless of gender.

I didn’t expect to like this, anticipating a vacuous celebrity-culture teen escapade, but it’s brilliant. The first of a quartet following the “Ladybirds” friendship group, Flirty Dancing begins with Bea: funny, wry, honest and awkward in the way only a teenager can be. Her refreshing take on the trials of adolescence is superbly voiced thanks to Jenny McLachlan’s writing. It’s no surprise to find she is a former teacher. A great debut with the promise of more to come.

Nick Soar

Ellie Rhodes

Henry Hunter and The Beast of Snagov by John Matthews. Templar Publishing. 224pp, paperback. £5.99.

Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan. Bloomsbury, 256pp, paperback. £6.99.

Pressure valve

Classy cartoons

Poetry package

Overworked, under pressure, exhausted, lost, demotivated and confused? This book is for you. Case studies, practical activities, positive advice and guidance, and revealing quotations are combined with stimulating and coherent chapters that confront and reflect themes for consideration and action. You might be so under pressure that you feel you haven’t got time to read this book – but ignore it at your peril.

A great collection of cartoons taking a comic look at the joys of modern education. It is full of humorous (and bang on the nail) cartoons and sketches on all aspects of being a teacher from “work-life imbalance” and “meet the parents”, to “an inspector calls”. Marcus Owen, a retired teacher, has created sketches that are beautifully drawn and full of wit. One of my favourites is “The Devolution of Teacher-kind”. It had me in stitches. Pass it around the staffroom. Just don’t let the head or parents see.

Teachers are always on the look out for books that solve their problems quickly and efficiently, and if you’re an English teacher, this book does just that. The book provides everything you need to produce an exciting poetry lesson that will tap pupils’ creative talents. The chapters cover a number of different styles of poetry with lesson plans suitable for Key Stages 2 and 3. There are also details on how to download pupil support sheets providing you with access to useful online resources.

Len Parkyn This Book is Gay by James Dawson, illustrations by Spike Gerrell. Hot Keys Books. 271pp, paperback. £5.59.

.. s For teacher

Len Parkyn Powering Through Pressure: Building resilience when work gets tough by Bruce Hoverd. Pearson. 200pp, paperback. £12.99.


January / February 15 | The Teacher

India Evans Who’d Be a Teacher? by Marcus Owen. Createspace. 84pp, paperback. £9.99.

Lee Ryder Teaching Children To Write Great Poetry (2nd Edition) by Hazel Bennett. Edgware Books. 148pp, paperback. £5.99.


d r a o b e c i t o N s Opportunitie NUT Annual Leadership Convention: Renewing your leadership purpose This opportunity to network with other school and college leaders in a supportive but challenging environment on Wednesday 11 February is not to be missed. The keynote speaker is Dave Harris, author of Brave Heads: How to lead a school without selling your soul. See is.gd/leadershipconvention.

Doctor Doctor Study part time for a PhD in education and social justice at a top 10 UK university. Lancaster University is now inviting applications for its very popular four-year online PhD programme (by coursework and thesis). It’s designed for professionals working in education with interests in wider social issues. See: bit.ly/1ArmNIN.

Learn something new at a CPD course on using filmmaking in school

Into Film Education charity Into Film’s new flexible continuing professional development programme provides a range of strategies for using film to raise attainment. It covers areas including improving pupils’ literacy and enhancing curricular learning through the use of filmmaking. See www.intofilm.org/ schools-training-and-development.

Events Inspirational learners The 2015 Adult Learners’ Week Awards are now open and awaiting your nominations. The judges want to hear the very best stories about adults of every age and background who, through learning, have transformed their own lives, the lives of their families, the communities they live in and the places they work. If you know any inspirational people, nominate today. For more details, go to www.alw.org.uk.


s Competition

Hay Levels The Hay Festival launches Hay Levels, a series of free micro-lectures given by leading academics. In these five- to 15-minute films, great minds share their insights with students to encourage creative thinking as they start their A levels. www.youtube.com/haylevels.

Show Racism the Red Card There’s still time to enter the competition run by football and anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card. Submit your students’ artwork, creative writing, music or film. You must register before 27 February. See theredcard.org/ educational/competitions/england.

Epilepsy training for schools In the UK, 58,000 people under 18 are living with epilepsy. Epilepsy Action has launched a free online learning course for schools. The new course is designed to help teachers, SENCOs and school support staff learn more about epilepsy and how they can support pupils with the condition. See learn.epilepsy.org. uk/training-for-schools.

Online safety Out of Your Hands has launched an exciting new competition for young filmmakers. The aim is to educate young people on how to protect themselves from online and mobile phone crime. Students aged 11 to 16 are invited to create films that are just one minute long on this theme. The deadline is 31 January. www.outofyourhands.com.

Doodling Creative types up and down the country are being urged to doodle and raise much-needed cash for national charity Epilepsy Action. National Doodle Day is on Friday 6 February 2015, with proceeds directly supporting the 600,000 people living with epilepsy in the UK. So Doodle for fun and raise a ton! doodle-day.epilepsy.org.uk. Do a doodle for doodle day

January / February 15 | The Teacher


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Reps’ training Bhope34 / flickr.com

Getting stronger A new course for NUT reps is having an immediate effect in schools “We have managed to get all remaining lesson observations cancelled for this term.” Those were the words of one NUT school rep from Bedfordshire, a week after attending a new course for reps. A rep from Wales reported, “First week back and we’re already disputing the calendar – NUT Cymru have been great with their advice and guidance.” These reps’ experience shows how the NUT is strengthening its organisation at school level across the country through the learning programme, which has been revised and updated. Turnout on the courses has been impressive as associations have sent groups of reps from their areas to learn together – and share their experience. In Haydock, Merseyside, 25 school reps attended one training day. In the last three months of 2014 alone, around 400 reps attended the first stage of the programme across England and Wales. “Our school and college representatives are the key local leaders of the Union. They work to represent members every day in the workplace. They are people who are rooted in the workplace, they are real teachers – and they make a real difference to teachers’ lives at their

schools,” says Jon Hegerty, who heads the learning department at the NUT. The new 10-day support and development programme is delivered in each region and in Wales so reps can attend a course near where they live or work. Reps are legally entitled to attend these courses and the Union will support any rep who has difficulties negotiating time off work to attend. Jon explains that the NUT has refocused the training programme, aiming to give reps the confidence to make their presence felt. The first part of the 10day learning entitlement is the Reps Foundation course, now being delivered across England and Wales. Jon says, “So far the impact has been amazing. One London rep called a meeting at school on her return from the course, collected a list of requests from members and sent them to the head – who refused to agree to any of them. “The rep called another meeting of members, who unanimously agreed to request support for industrial action. After this, the head agreed to every one of the requests immediately.” Feedback from reps who attended the course has been very positive. The course

was “eye-opening and comprehensive”, one rep said. “It was good to realise the quality of NUT training.” Reps are putting their learning into action and seeing real improvements in the level of organisation and participation in the NUT at their schools. One rep pointed to the difference in participation rates in the two strikes the NUT held in 2014 in the national dispute over pay, pensions and conditions. “I have been persuading more members to strike,” said one, explaining that in March the school had remained open, but during the July strike, the head was forced to close the school. As the learning programme rolls on, more and more reps will be taking what they have learned back into school to make a difference where it counts.

Get involved For more information go to www.teachers.org.uk/learning/ representatives


If your school or college does not have a rep, you can call a meeting of NUT members and elect one. Your association, division, region or the Wales office can give you help and support.


Q Visit www.teachers.org.uk/getinvolved January / February 15 | The Teacher


Title bar

m o o r f l a i t n e d Staf fi n co s p i t ’ s r e h Teac Last issue we asked for your tips to manage the use of mobile phones in the classroom Leave them all in reception Children should not be allowed mobile phones in the classroom. Mobiles should be handed in to reception (or some other designated place) if children bring them in. They can be collected at the end of the school day. Staff should set a good example by switching their phones off in lessons, unless they need to be available in an emergency. Cindy Shanks

Only when I say so Make it clear that phones can only be used in class when you or another teacher say so, and that there will be sanctions for unauthorised use.

You can encourage students to record their work on their phone cameras, or use them to collect pictorial information for subjects including art and geography. Name witheld

Enjoy sending more texts later If mobile phones are banned in school, remind your students that while their phones are switched off they are saving talk time minutes, texts and data usage for much more entertaining use during their leisure time. The school is really helping them enjoy their phone while keeping the costs down. Name witheld

Win a £15 token Email your contributions for Teachers’ Tips and Readers’ Rant to teacher@nut.org.uk or send to The Teacher, NUT Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD.

All published contributions will receive a £15 gift token or voucher from Countdown. We are looking for teachers’ tips on classroom seating arrangements for our next issue. Send your advice by 23 January 2015.


January / February 15 | The Teacher

Reader’s rant I’m working in a school in special measures. What does this entail? Near daily learning walks where someone from the senior leadership team will come into my classroom, shake their head and grunt in my direction – and interrupt the flow of my class to ask whether I remembered to ask the students to get their homework planners out. Endless book trawls by SLT to make sure we have put stickers in the right places, because this week that is in vogue with someone in SLT. Being marked on my marking and told off because it is “not good enough” to tell the student how they are doing. I must now write all this down so SLT can see it too. I have to fill in a lesson plan – both my own colour-coded shorthand as I am very dyslexic, and the management’s plan – so they can all understand my planning. I am watching excellent teachers lose heart: some of the best teachers I have seen and who I want to learn from. Teachers are being put into competency procedures and are leaving through stress – probably because they are expensive and make SLT squirm with their knowledge. At Christmas, 16 out of 120 teaching staff were set to leave because they hate being here. Half of these are leaving the profession. Total strangers tell me, because of Government propaganda, that teachers are lazy, whiny and should just be grateful. My answer is no. I am not grateful for being treated like this. I am not grateful that every day my professional judgement and that of people I admire is questioned. I worked in private industry at a fairly senior level before coming into teaching and if I treated people the way I see teachers being treated every day I would have been fired. Although it breaks my heart, I know that in the summer I will say goodbye to teaching and return to industry where I am respected for my knowledge and hard work, and where 15 minutes isn’t enough to condemn me to the “you are useless” pile even though I have 35 mixed ability kids on the behaviour register. Oh yeah SLT, you don’t have to deal with this any more, do you? Name witheld Could this be you? Call our AdviceLine (see page 47) or get support from your local association to make changes.


Tongue twisters The Department for Education has a way with words – it creates meanings that are all its own, says Kate Smurthwaite It must be difficult for English teachers to keep up with the speed at which the Department for Education changes the meanings of words. Academy, noun: a school where the local authority has no control but still has to pay the legal costs and inherit any deficit when it gets academy status. A school with no obligation to teach sex education or languages or history or geography or life skills of any sort. Meanwhile history teachers will need to tell the kids about the olden days of yore when “teacher” used to mean someone with a professional qualification in the education of young people. Wide-eyed children will listen in wonder to tales of manageable class sizes and the days when the book of Genesis wasn’t considered a science text book. Kate Smurthwaite is a comedian and political activist

Of course the Department for Education has no monopoly on hacking languages to bits. The tabloids have been perfecting the art for years. Flaunt, verb (tabloid): to look attractive in public while being female. Surgically enhanced, adjective (tabloid): evil variety of attractiveness that must always, by law, be mentioned when applicable. Trumpet, verb (tabloid): to mention having achieved something while being female.

grab them by the ankles and shake them shouting, “What about the kids whose parents can’t make a fuss or can’t be there?” Those kids need a great school much more than the ones whose parents shlep from place to place asking awkward questions and nosing around laboratories. I think “empowering” is misused literally more often than literally any other term. Except maybe “literally”. No one ever says, “So Mrs Clinton, being Secretary of State must have been really empowering?” My least favourite tabloid word of late is “enviable”. What is this world where I need the Daily Mail to tell me what to envy? Apparently, I should be burning with jealousy over some underwear model’s silhouette. What about David Cameron’s “enviable” inherited family fortune or Nicky Morgan’s “enviable” juggernaut career path – the one that saw her appointed Minister for Equalities within about ten seconds of deciding she did support gay marriage after all. There’s a reason, of course, why the Government persists in using linguistic smoke and mirrors doublespeak. Words like “academy” and “free school” have been carefully selected by PR experts as the sort of terms that sound like they must be a good idea. They’re hoping we’re all too swept up with excitement – “Academies? Like Hogwarts? I love that Harry Potter film!” – to actually check the small print or think about what is best for children.

Words like ‘academy’ and ‘free school’ have been carefully selected by PR experts as terms that sound like they must be a good idea

And I’ve noticed no one ever uses the word “empowering” to describe anything that is actually empowering. It’s bandied about from the lap-dancing industry to parents who have been offered the chance to make a list of local schools their child ultimately won’t be able to go to.

Whenever people talk about the benefits of parental choice it makes me want to

If you do the reading it doesn’t take long to see the gaping holes in the strategy. Which probably explains why the Government banned books in prisons. Presumably schools are next. January / February 15 | The Teacher


s r e t t e L Star letter

Challenge the deathly grip of GERM

Performance pay ignores pastoral care

Thank you for the article on the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) in The Teacher (Nov / Dec 2014). It was serious, substantial, well researched and finished with a significant call to action. NUT General Secretary Christine Blower gives an excellent international perspective on phenomena I’ve noticed at ground level.

I am a full-time primary school teacher in my twelfth year of teaching. Throughout the past year I have supported strike action against the attacks on the teaching profession and changes to pay. I’m particularly concerned about performance related pay. Going to a wholly performance related pay structure ignores much of the work teachers do and the individual make-up of the classes we teach. I teach children who have behavioural issues, special educational needs, English as an additional language, long-term health problems, and attendance and punctuality issues, to name a few of the challenges we teachers face on a daily basis. Performance related pay ignores the pastoral care of students and the contribution teachers bring to the whole community. I used to run after school sports clubs and bring guest speakers into school, but feel I cannot do this any more due to the continued pressure of assessment and workload. It is very clear from my own experience that only if the children in your class perform well in a test and reach their targets does your pay increase. I fail to see how education can attract and retain good quality teachers with this system. New graduates to the profession will leave after a few years, burnt out, exhausted and disillusioned with a vocation in which they truly thought they would make a difference. Particularly in the primary setting, the drive to achieve targets in reading, writing and maths comes to the detriment of other subjects, particularly the arts, music and PE. I feel I have made a difference to the children I have taught over my 12-year career. However, if the erosion of the teaching profession continues I will have little choice but to seek an alternative career in future. Name withheld

Your view The editor welcomes your letters but reserves the right to edit them. Write to: Letters, The Teacher, NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD or email teacher@nut.org.uk. Letters for the March / April issue should reach us no later than 30 January 2015. Please note we cannot print letters sent in without your name and either your postal address or NUT membership number. We can withhold your details from publication if you wish.

Cut adrift from the local education authority, our academy buys into more and more online testing and teaching “resources”, some peddled by the same businesses that run the exams. These businesses first dictate what we should teach, then start to control exactly how each student will be taught—a perfect standardisation with accountability to no one except shareholders. I want to answer the call from the Australian Education Union’s Angelo Gavrielatos to challenge global capitalism’s deathly grip on education. If the NUT organises around this issue alongside other cross-national organisations, count me in. Name witheld

International schools’ perspective on GERM I would like to add the position of international schools to the debate about GERM. Your article rightly said: “The post-war years witnessed many progressive advances within education and teaching.” International education was conceived after WW2 to promote internationalism for a more peaceful and convivial world. But what has happened? In the words of Walter H Persaud: “Neo-liberal globalisation has been culpable in reconfiguring international education from an essentially social project of global humanism into a technical enterprise of skill development for enhanced national economic competitiveness and modernity.” Ian Hollingworth


January / February 15 | The Teacher

I was disgusted to read about the treatment of the dispirited teacher in “A free supply” (Nov / Dec 2014), who was conned into free supply work under the pretence of an interview and observation. It was bad enough that the teacher in question taught for nothing, but to be given such poor feedback and asked to return for further lesson observations is a disgrace. Teachers are losing the battle from all angles. The Government is destroying morale. Some heads rule schools with an iron fist. Older teachers are now under threat of losing their jobs because they are becoming too expensive. Standards are never good enough. Something has to change soon.

Letters Title bar

Disgusted at treatment of ‘free’ supply teacher

No NUT rep in your workplace? You can elect one Hold a meeting of NUT members in your school to elect a rep. Please notify your division or association secretary, whose details you can find on your membership credential and at www.teachers.org.uk/contactus.

Find out what reps do at www.teachers.org.uk/getinvolved

Name withheld

Older teachers viewed as ‘stick in the mud’ types It is with depressing regularity that we hear of experienced and highly capable older teachers being forced from their jobs. I would like to add my own experience at my previous school. Our new head arrived boasting of having gained year on year promotion until achieving the goal of headship at a very young age. The attitude of the head was that if you had not sought promotion this indicated a lack of ambition. There was no recognition of the fact that some teachers had spent all their careers devoted to being class teachers because they were passionate about actually teaching and felt this was the place where they made the most difference to children’s lives. They were viewed as being “stick in the mud” types who would not and could not change with the times. Voicing an opinion about changes to the running of the school, based on years of experience, was seen as trouble making rather than wanting changes to be workable and beneficial. Older teachers were then set unrealistic targets for children’s progress. Failure to meet targets then resulted in suggestions that the teacher was failing and that observations would be needed.

A change in your circumstances? Please let us know if you: U change your home or school address U change your employment contract (to part-time, fixed-term or supply), where a range of reduced subscriptions apply U are about to retire, take maternity leave, or leave the profession, where differing subscription rates apply U are appointed to a new post such as deputy or head teacher or Senco. Ring 0845 300 1666, visit www.teachers.org. uk/update, or write to: Records and Subscription Services, NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD. By providing your email address and mobile number you help the Union to keep you informed about important campaigns, professional development courses and events.

Needless to say, observations were graded inadequate for teachers who had previously received “good” observations. The teachers were put under increasing scrutiny and struggled as a result. Some teachers recognised that the writing was on the wall and decided to resign rather than run the risk of capability proceedings. Others underwent the process expecting it to be carried out fairly and ended up leaving the profession prematurely and unable to teach again. Cheaper replacements were brought in. It seems that being on the upper pay spine was working against them. It is a disgrace that older staff are being forced to leave a job they love in this way. The children are losing a great asset and the effects on the teachers involved are dreadful. The 2010 Equality Act suggests this discrimination is illegal, but how do we prove it and how do we challenge it when the heads seem to hold the balance of power? Name withheld

Need advice? Members in England seeking advice and guidance should contact the NUT AdviceLine at 020 3006 6266, or email nutadviceline@nut.org.uk. Members in Wales should phone 02920 491818 or email cymru.wales@nut.org.uk. Or get in touch online at

www.teachers.org.uk/ contactus

Editor’s note: If you need advice in a similar situation, please contact the AdviceLine (see box, right). The NUT is aware that many older teachers, especially women, are facing similar problems and is gathering evidence in order to tackle the issue on a wider level. January / February 15 | The Teacher




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January / February 15 | The Teacher

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Education in a world wracked by crisis A different kind of education system could confront inequality and the crises of society, argues Susan Robertson In the opening pages of a well thumbed text for sociologists of education, Schooling and Work in a Democratic State, Stanford University professors Martin Carnoy and Henk Levin argued that education could ameliorate wider inequalities in US society. “Schools and workplaces are organised in ways that correspond closely. Both are large, bureaucratic, impersonal, and hierarchical and routinised... And yet for all of their correspondences, schools differ from workplaces in at least one important respect. Even though American education is marked by great inequalities, schools do more than other institutions in the way of providing equal opportunities for participation and rewards... In short, schooling tends to be distributed more equally than capital, income and employment status.” Thirty years on, the story is very different. The US and the UK have both become more unequal in the distribution of wealth and income. We face a series of crises – economic, political and cultural – that promise to deliver a future that the next generation do not deserve. Can the solution still be education? The answer is yes, but only if we confront the causes of the crises facing our education systems and put a strong case for a very different future. Education systems across Europe, and especially in the UK, face five crises. The first is a crisis of neoliberal capitalism. Where neoliberal policies are in place (favouring privatisation, liberalisation and tax cuts for the wealthy) countries have become more unequal. As Warren Buffett – the fourth richest person in the world,


January / February 15 | The Teacher

with an estimated wealth of $44bn – stated: “There’s class warfare alright, but it is my class, the rich class that’s making war. And we’re winning.” This growth in inequality is quite shocking. The top 1% has almost doubled its share of the wealth since the 1950s, while 85 people in the world own as much as the poorest half of the population. What could we do with such wealth? The wealthy individuals featured in the Sunday Times’ Rich List were worth £519bn in 2014. This would pay for 5.9 years of education in the UK, 3.7 years of state pensions or 4.2 years of public health.

policies that have systematically produced inequalities in our societies. Fourth, there is a crisis of graduate employment. In countries like Spain and Greece graduate unemployment is around 50%. In the UK, graduate unemployment and under-employment undermines the promise of “work hard and you will get a good job” or “take out a loan and invest in your future”. Fifth, there is a crisis of imagination about what kind of education we might have, and for what kind of future. This is why the NUT’s manifesto for education is so important. The solution must be in education, but it will require us to confront more squarely the causes of the crisis. Education and teacher activism will also need to promote a very different kind of education system, one that could act as the kind of ameliorative force Carnoy and Levin described.

The wealthy individuals featured in the Sunday Times’ Rich List were worth £519bn in 2014. This would pay for 5.9 years of education in the UK

Second, there is a crisis in the governance model of education. Policies that favour school choice and individualism exacerbate social inequalities as the worst of the outcomes fall squarely on the shoulders of the poorest segments of the population, who can’t choose or whose resources limit their choices. Third, there is a crisis in social mobility. The next generation is likely to be in a worse, not better, position than their parents. They are bearing the full brunt of neoliberal policies. When Occupy and other protest groups state, “We are the 99 percent,” they are making their voices heard regarding

This must be an act of class warfare with the full weight of a different, more imaginative, challenging and socially just agenda that confronts the failure of governments to challenge the vested interests of a small wealthy elite. Susan Robertson is Professor of the Sociology of Education at the Centre for Globalisation, Education and Societies, University of Bristol.


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Profile for Educate Magazine

the Teacher – January 2015  

the Teacher – January 2015