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June 2015 .org.uk May / www.teachers
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Ask the Contents Union
Facing the future together As the cover of this edition shows, education funding and the cuts we face will be a major threat to high quality education. Our priority motion from Annual Conference pointed the way forward for the Union.
This edition of the Teacher reaches you three weeks or so into a new government. As Howard Stevenson observes in our Backbeat article (p50), whilst the personality changed at the DfE after Michael Gove, the continuation in policy was seamless.
You can read on p4 about the letter signed by almost all the unions organising across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and published in The Sunday Times following the election; to send a warning shot across the bows of the new Government that we will resist cuts.
We now face the fulfilment of commitments from the Conservative Party Manifesto, which are the antithesis of those positions and policies outlined in our Stand Up for Education campaign.
The Union will continue to lead the way in Standing Up for Education and opposing austerity. I hope to see many of you on the People’s Assembly demonstration in London on June 20, see p35 for details.
We always knew that whatever the outcome of the General election, a campaign to promote our vision for education would need to continue – as would our opposition to austerity policies. The momentum generated by Stand Up for Education was impressive. It’s fair to say that the Tories didn’t win the election on education, which figured precious little in the election campaigns of any parties. However, we forged alliances through Question Time events and street stalls, to distribute the Union’s manifesto – and I want to thank all members who participated in those activities, and to encourage you to continue to engage with the Union’s campaigns.
25 It’s a scary new world Kate Smurthwaite has learned the hard way that the internet doesn't always react kindly to girls who speak up.
26 NUT Conference 2015 On the eve of the general election, NUT members came together to debate the Union’s next steps.
06 The creeping arm of privatisation NUT members doorstep Pearson’s annual general meeting.
33 Music. Education Meet the teachers who find time between lessons and marking to play throughout the night.
09 Language barrier The Teacher’s poet in residence, Michael Rosen, on children’s languages being dismissed…
43 NQ voices Why are more and more young teachers joining the NUT? They tell us first hand.
18 No room to learn A Teacher report on the school places crisis. 22 The bottom line From September 2015 there will be a new bottom line in Early Years Education. President Philipa Harvey General Secretary Christine Blower Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney Journalist Emily Jenkins, Monica Roland Administration Maryam Hulme Cover Sébastien Thibault Newsdesk 020 7380 4708 email@example.com
Finally, my congratulations – not just to all who won awards at Annual Conference – but to all those who work so hard on behalf of the Union. The NUT continues to buck the trend of declining trade union membership because of the energy and passion of all our members, school reps and local officers. Long may it continue.
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50 Backbeat These are bleak times for teachers, but not desperate ones, writes Professor Howard Stevenson.
10 Out and about 15 International 34 Your Union 36 Ask the Union
38 Reviews 41 Noticeboard 44 Staffroom confidential 46 Letters
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May / June 15 I The Teacher
he future for education funding looks bleak in the aftermath of the general election.
While the Conservative manifesto has promised to maintain funding for five to 16 year-olds in cash terms, this will not protect schools against inflation or costs such as higher employers’ NI and pension contributions – which alone will swallow up five per cent of school budgets. Simply maintaining funding in cash terms won’t allow schools to continue spending the same money on pupils as they do now. Worse yet, there is no promise to protect funding for post-16 or early years education – which have already suffered huge cuts under the Coalition. In response, the NUT’s first post-election act was to write an open letter to our new Government, supported by fellow unions, calling for a commitment to fund the extra costs facing schools and colleges – and to protect all education funding regardless of sector, age or location. The impact of failing to protect school funding will build year-on-year, as rising costs bite into schools’ ability to employ staff and resource the curriculum. Now more than ever, we must document, highlight and oppose cuts in our schools and colleges. We cannot sit in silence as education suffers death by a thousand cuts.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
The NUT Manifesto Photos: Justin Tallis
May / June 15 I The Teacher
Pearson: the creeping arm of privatisation
Pearson: the creeping arm of privatisation In April, the NUT joined forces with the ATL, international unions, NGOs and parents from England and New Jersey to lobby the annual general meeting of one of the world’s largest edu-businesses, Pearson – calling on them to cease profiting from children, for an end to high stakes testing and to assert that education is a human right – not a private commodity.
These days education is not just run by big business – it is big business. With the global market valuing the education sector at some £4.2 trillion, companies such as Pearson have developed ever-evolving ways to find profit in our schools; from high stakes testing and educational publishing to all out for-profit private schools. In 2013, Pearson enjoyed sales of £5.2 billion and from it a pre-tax profit of £382 million. Indeed, company profits have risen by 235 per cent over the last ten years. Its success has made the UK-based company a poster boy for the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) and the corporate agenda seeking to reduce education to a profitable commodity. Pearson’s creeping reach into the UK’s education system is growing. Pearson-owned companies include exam board Edexcel, the only major exam body to be run for profit. Its contracts include marking and certificating GCSE, A-Level and vocational qualifications – as well as administering and marking KS2 SATs tests. Not content with its position within our schools, Pearson has also sought to expand its influence into Governmental policy making by founding a Pearson think tank and policy issues report team. Children in the UK are now among the most tested in the world. A World Health Organisation report found that 11 and 16-year-olds in England feel more pressured by their school work than those in any other European country. In the US, considerable controversy surrounds Pearson’s involvement in the design and implementation of standardised tests, for which Pearson has contracts with numerous state administrations. The most recent example is Pearson’s clandestine efforts to monitor the social media accounts of parents, teachers and even students – dubbed “spying on children” in the American media. Speaking at the press conference that followed the AGM, Christine McGeoy, a parent from New Jersey, where the spying came to light and where parents are now boycotting the tests in large numbers, recounted how Pearson has told parents that they cannot talk to their children about the tests.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
Photo: Andrew Wiard
The Teacher investigates why the creeping effect of this education multi-national should worry us all…
NUT Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney doorsteps Pearson CEO John Fallon outside its AGM in London.
“We are now in a situation where high-stakes testing has become the centre-piece of American education. Pearson sits at that centre as the provider of the tests in the majority of our states,” she said. “I would like to say to Pearson that I do not appreciate having a large corporation stand between me and my child,“ Christine added. But even when operating private, for profit schools – companies such as Pearson are able to find their way to public funding. Nick Dearden, Director of Global Action Now, explains how taxpayers’ money – through Department for International Development (DfID) aid funding – is supporting the growth of ‘low cost’ private schools in countries such as Ghana and Liberia. “One of the most scandalous aspects of what Pearson is doing, is that they are using public money – British aid money – to establish private education provision around the world,” he said. Following conversations with Pearson CEO John Fallon at the AGM lobby, the NUT is working with fellow unions to develop a global scheme of regulation – which we hope Pearson will agree to work within. To watch our Pearson AGM video, please visit YouTube.com/user/NUTteachers.
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Language barrier The Teacher’s poet in residence, former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, on children’s languages being dismissed ‘Realising potential’ – a motto to cherish: teach by its aspiration – or perish. ‘Realising potential’ – a motto for today, the inspiring axiom of AQA, one of our great examination boards stuffed with education’s overlords who rule and regulate what must be taught, the courses and papers which must be bought. Along with their colleagues, at OCR they know it’s time to raise the bar to show the nation what’s worth knowing, what’s to keep and what’s for throwing. The method they’ve used is called ‘priorities’, what they’ve done is target minorities. Learned people who know their stuff say some languages aren’t good enough. So students fluent in Gujarati Polish, Turkish or Punjabi Bengali, Farsee or modern Hebrew, many young bilingual students who could get themselves a stunning grade find instead they’ve been betrayed.
Illustration: Dan Berry
Blocked off from using what they know many of these will not be slow in figuring what the deal is here the price they have to pay is dear: languages in education come marked with a label giving them positions in a language league table; some hold a place as wisdom’s fount while others now just do not count. This insight they now find is matched by the fact that language comes attached to people: families, students who find themselves at the back of the queue. This nugget of wisdom, you recognise it leads your pupils to the highest prize: doing the best they can possibly do informed and supported in their work by you. All that needs is that spark that fire to lead them on, higher and higher.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
t u o b a d n a Out
org.uk. acher@nut. te t a k s e d news ? Email our Got a story
Photo: Joe Atwere
London Black Teachers’ Network – Stand Up for Education
Over 150 teachers and parents attended the London Black Teachers’ Network Launch at NUT HQ in March. The event was chaired by Betty Joseph, NUT Executive constituency seat holder for black members. Participants had the opportunity to question the panel – which included David Lammy MP, Christine Blower, Professor Heidi Mirza, Suresh Grover from the Southall Black Monitoring Group and Professor Gus John. A plethora of issues were raised, not least discrimination in
performance pay systems and the targeting of black teachers in capability procedures. If you are interested in joining this network of black teachers, setting up a network in your area or getting involved in other Union initiatives for black teachers email firstname.lastname@example.org. A video of the London Black Teachers’ Network launch can be viewed at www.teachers.org.uk/educationandequalities/race.
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.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
You can also find the NUT on Facebook. Keep up with the latest campaigning and Union news via the official NUT Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nut.campaigns.
Out and about
Loughborough day of action
In March, over 50 teachers, trade unionists and library campaigners attended Coventry NUT’s Save Our Libraries meeting. They heard passionate speeches from authors Cathy Cassidy and Alan Gibbons, Chris Denson, Joint Secretary of Coventry NUT and Dawn Palmer-Ward (UNISON local officer) in defence of the city’s libraries. Coventry City Council were planning to close 12 out of 17 local libraries, but have now agreed to postpone for a year. Teachers in Coventry schools have organised letter-writing campaigns, as well as a very successful ‘read-in’.
Strike action continues in North West London NUT members are continuing to strike against the forced academisation of St Andrew and St Francis CE Primary School in Willesden, London. More than 40 teachers, support staff and parents were out in force on 22 April for the fourth day of strike action in three weeks. Staff and parents are resisting the academisation of their school and are unhappy with the consultation process. They are demanding an independently overseen ballot with full information of the arguments for and against an academy but the Brent Council Interim Executive Board are refusing to listen. Further strike action has been scheduled and will continue until the consultation process is reviewed.
Taking the message to Nicky Morgan
Leicestershire NUT took to the streets of Loughborough on 25 April to celebrate education and talk to the public in the Secretary of State’s constituency about education policies in Leicestershire. The Local Education Authority in Loughborough has embraced the ideology of free market education policies and as a result has seen extensive academisation, un-coordinated age range changes
Photo: John Harris, Reportdigital
Coventry NUT campaigns to Save Our Libraries
and the proposed outsourcing of special education services. The public were hugely supportive and many were keen to thank teachers for what people clearly thought was a difficult job. One Loughborough resident said, “my partner works in a school, so we know what long hours teachers work. He sees teachers in his school working under unbearable stress and many of them are looking for a way out.”
Solidarity from Tower Hamlets to Greece Members from the East London Teachers’ Association took part in a solidarity delegation to Greece in March, which included local councillors and other trade unionists. The group met with their Greek counterparts in Athens to discuss the employment situation in the country and how unions, activists, and everyday people are fighting back against austerity measures. After meetings with local government unions, Greek MPs, anti-racist groups and community organisations, it was clear that the key message was that solidarity, not charity, is the way forward. The delegation came away feeling that although Greece is faced with severe economic hardships, there is a significant grassroots movement that is pushing back against poverty and Government cuts.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
Strike win in East London
Teachers at BSix Sixth Form College in Hackney secured a decisive victory after taking strike action in response to proposed changes to cover policy and observations. BSix NUT representative Jamie Duff explained: “There have been massive cuts to FE and sixth form provision and we are now feeling the consequences through increased workload. The BSix victory shows that, if we are prepared to stand and fight against everincreasing workloads, we can win. We were strengthened by all the support and solidarity we received from the NUT sixth form network – it really made a difference to know we were not fighting alone.” Faced with changes to their working conditions that would have seen a substantial increase in workload, NUT members demanded workload parity
with teachers who are only required to cover on rare occasions. In addition, the members wanted to move towards a developmental observation policy. BSix teachers took to the picket lines on 11 February in furtherance of the dispute but called off two further days of strike action after successful negotiations led to the college management agreeing to all the NUT group’s demands. Regional Officer Rinaldo Frezzato offered his congratulations on the win: “Success in this dispute was brought about by the determination and solidarity of the members – they stood for what we all believe: to have the best learning conditions for students we must defend and improve the working conditions of teachers. This applies equally to sixth form colleges as well all other sectors of education.”
Benevolent Fund The Union’s new benevolent fund has been established to provide financial assistance to members, and their dependents, who have fallen on hard times. Members are asked to continue in the tradition of providing generous support to less fortunate colleagues by making a regular contribution to the fund. Enquiries should be directed to email@example.com.
Pensions evening a big success On a damp February evening in North Yorkshire, members gathered at Stokesley School with NUT rep Dave Drumm for free curry and expert pensions reform guidance from guest speaker Louise Houlder of Teachers’ Assurance. Whilst colleagues admitted the message wasn’t one they wanted to hear, they now feel better prepared for the changes ahead. 12
May / June 15 I The Teacher
Valuing women Women in trade unions was the topic at the heart of first-time-delegate, Sian Boor’s, speech at the TUC Women’s Conference this year. Sian – representing NUT women members from the North West – spoke to the motion which emphasised the value of belonging to a trade union for women, who are more likely to be in vulnerable, part-time and lower paid work. She spoke about the strength of the active women in her region. The theme of the conference – Equality not Poverty! – was embraced by Eileen Hunter, NUT rep for the Midlands, who spoke on gender inequality in pay, and Lorraine Eytle, representing London teachers, who declared, “we shouldn’t have to rely on our partners’ pensions.” Delegates spoke on the precarious nature of many women teachers’ employment, exacerbated by the privatisation of education, the expansion of agency working, the increase in the use of zero-hours contracts, and the negative gender impact of employment tribunal fees. Jane Nellist, NUT Executive, stressed the predicament of experienced, articulate and expensive older women working through the menopause. An inclusive debate on achieving a work-life balance was led by Heather McKenzie, NUT Executive, who we congratulate for her re-election on to the TUC Women’s Committee for 2015/16.
Officer of the Year Martin and Claire Walsh were named joint National Officer of the Year at conference in April. Unfortunately neither Claire or Martin could be at conference to receive the award, as Martin is now in the final stages of his fight against cancer. Instead Martin appeared in a short video, saying how honoured he was to receive the award. He went on to say that he was only doing what he thought he was supposed to do, what he wanted to do and what his heart and head told him to do. He added: “Every hour spent on the streets engaging with people and putting across our arguments is an hour well spent.”
Out and about
Black Teachers’ Conference The 2015 TUC Black Teachers’ Conference saw a lively NUT delegation making their voices heard through speeches on a wide range of issues. The Conference brings together Black workers from across the TUC-affiliated unions and debates this year included discrimination in performance management systems, fighting zero hours contracts and fighting austerity in education. Betty Joseph, NUT Executive constituency seat holder for black members, made a rousing speech on Standing Up for Education which was supported by all the education unions present. Contact your regional office if you would like to be part of the NUT’s delegation to the TUC Black Workers’ Conference next year. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
NUT Rep of the Year Talking about receiving the award, Jill gets very emotional: “I have three grandchildren and I’m so proud that one day they can say ‘Nana was Rep of the Year’”.
Jill is Head of History at Maesydderwen Comprehensive School in Ystradgsynlais, Wales, and has been a teacher for nearly 25 years. This year she was named NUT Representative of the Year at NUT Conference for her work fighting a bullying new management consortium who were trying to impose a new pay policy across the whole of Jill’s region.
Described by NUT Radnor Division President Mary Compton as “an excellent rep,” Jill continues to work tirelessly for her members and her pupils. She says she now has a great working relationship with her head teacher and they hold monthly meetings. Photo: Justin Tallis
“I’ve been brought up with the idea that if something is wrong you have to stand up and fight it,” says Jill Lord, this year’s NUT Representative of the Year.
Jill’s was the first school in which the ERW consortium tried to remove pay portability for teachers. Jill immediately called a meeting of all the schools in the area. In one of the biggest meetings of its kind, over 50 teachers turned out to discuss their options. “I explained to the members that it’s not just about our school, it’s about teachers making a stand, because it affects teachers in the whole of the consortium,” says Jill. ”I put it to staff: “are we prepared to take industrial action?” We did a ballot, and the response was unanimous.” This ballot resulted in a total of three days’ strike action at Jill’s school, spread over several weeks. “Of course no one wants to strike, it’s a last resort,” she says.
It took many months of negotiations as the consortium refused to budge, which led to a rolling programme of strike action across the region. Eventually, after almost a year, the governors and consortium conceded. “I think we gave other teachers and schools the courage to say, ‘right, we’re going to make a stand as well’. “I was just amazed at the support I have from all over the country – emails in solidarity,” she continues passionately. “I still feel quite emotional when I mention it. I just feel so proud of the fact that we’re only a small school, but we went ahead anyway because we felt we were fighting for the profession.”
She also tells me she managed to get a £7,000 grant to set up a history club in her school to encourage pupils to investigate the coal mining heritage of the area. She also fundraises with her pupils for the Coal Miners Benevolent Fund and even wrote and put on a play with the pupils about this special part of their history. “Union action is ingrained in our local history,” she says. I ask her how she has time to do all this. She responds with a smile: “I have a wonderfully supportive husband and family.” She goes on to recount a story about when she first took over as rep of her school, and she overheard a man say that she “wasn’t strong enough to become a rep”. “It made me so upset and angry,” she says. “How dare he say that? I’d like to say to that man who said I wasn’t strong enough – look at me now.” May / June 15 I The Teacher
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l a n o i t a n r Inte Photo: Vander Wolf-images, Getty
Education beyond the wall Imagine having to pass through armed checkpoints to attend school. Or sleeping in your clothes for fear your house may be raided by soldiers shouting at you in a language you don’t understand. Unfortunately, for many children living in Palestine, this is their daily reality. An NUT delegation witnessed first-hand the hardships faced by Palestinian students and teachers on a visit to the region in 2013 and returned to the UK inspired to raise awareness of the situation. So began the collaboration with Edukid, a charity that aims to build bridges across cultures and create a line for children in areas of conflict and extreme poverty to share their stories with children in the UK. A partnership with NUT seemed like the natural choice, explains Chris Turner, founder of Edukid. “We share the same values and ethos in regards to education and children’s rights, and both the NUT and Edukid believe in empowering children and teachers across the world through solidarity.”
Initiating discussions on such a sensitive subject is understandably daunting for teachers, which is why Edukid and NUT have produced a film and teaching resources to facilitate learning and classroom debate. The first film in the series – My Name is Saleh – was launched at Annual Conference.
NUT members travelled with Edukid co-ordinators to Palestine in October 2014 to lay the groundwork for a joint project entitled Beyond the Wall. After networking with local schools, the team returned to the region in January 2015 to begin interviewing students in five different areas in both the West Bank and Israel.
“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,” NUT General Secretary Christine Blower explains. “I hope that these resources will be welcomed and widely used in schools across the country.”
NUT President and delegation member, Philipa Harvey remembers a particularly poignant moment from the trip, when a young Palestinian boy ran across the road to ask if her party was British. When they responded yes, he asked: “Can I show you my English homework, which I spent a lot of time on last night?” and proudly shared his school work with the group.
Conflict, poverty and adversity may be a part of daily life for students in Palestine but, through education and school partnerships, the next generation of children in both Palestine and the UK have their best chance yet to break down barriers and begin a path to peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.
A cornerstone of Beyond the Wall is the National Schools Programme, which links classrooms in Palestine with their counterparts in the UK, creating an interactive learning experience for children and teachers alike. The goal of the programme is to celebrate both the diversity and universal traits amongst children, irrespective of where they may live.
“It’s about giving children a voice and empowering them to be global citizens. There is no hidden agenda, the stories are straight from the children themselves and they are sharing their reality, their truth,” elaborates Chris. “It is left to the individual to interpret the message for themselves.”
May / June 15 I The Teacher
For more information on the Beyond the Wall project or to access the film and free teaching resources please go to www.teachers.org.uk/international/ resources/beyondthewall
* Online www.teachers.org.uk/join Joining hotline 020 7380 6369 9am-5pm Monday-Friday
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As a child, the feeling of exclusion can be emotionally devastating. Whether it’s from a sports team or a friendship group, the feeling can leave lasting scars. But there is another form of exclusion that is being forced on schools across the country, one that will hamper every child’s development and wellbeing long into adulthood. It is the exclusion of children with special education needs (SEN) from fulfilling their potential. According to a recent study commissioned by the NUT, SEN pupils are suffering from the consequences of the Government raising performance expectations while simultaneously slashing SEN services. It found schools struggling to cope with increased demands on already stretched budgets and resources. “Inclusion has to be seen within the current wider education context,” explain Maurice Galton and John MacBeath, Cambridge professors and co-authors of the report Inclusion: Statements of intent, published in February. The findings present a damning picture of a fragmented system, where children with SEN lose out. “The increase in the number of schools outside the mainstream [academies, for instance] has meant that the funds available to local authorities have decreased and by implication less money is now available for supporting special needs of all kinds and at all levels. At the same time schools are being held accountable, with the new inspection criteria increasingly focused on academic outcomes at the expense of social and emotional aspects of learning.” The in-depth study was conducted in nine secondary schools and ten primary schools across London, the East Midlands/East Anglia and the Northern region. Researchers spoke with head teachers and SENCOs, investigating the limiting factors and external pressures that restrict the capability of schools to promote inclusion, and also explored the elements that enhance inclusive education. "The overwhelming impression remaining after these school visits was that most schools were doing their best in a climate of uncertainty, increased parental pressure and declining support from the local authority and other complementary agencies such as health and social work,” the researchers noted.
Inclusive thinking It is very clear that children and young people with SEN have been badly let down by the current approach to national policy. SEN provision was shown to be inconsistent and at times counter-productive: competitive admissions policies and a focus on Ofsted ratings excluded those most in need of support for fear of ‘reputational damage’; variations of funding levels produced anomalies of SEN provision across the country and created a postcode lottery for SEN students; and an alarming number of schools were relying on unqualified teachers to lead classrooms, to the detriment of SEN pupils. Inclusion means adapting to the needs of students, regardless of their ability. “With integration, the child fits into the school. With inclusion, the school adjusts to the child,” summed up a primary head teacher. “It is very clear that children and young people with SEN have been badly let down by the current approach to national policy,” comments NUT General Secretary Christine Blower. “Schools face an accountability regime which undermines inclusive education and which is jeopardising some of the worldclass inclusive practice developed in our classrooms. We need a longer-term and wider view of what success means so that all children and young people are valued and a wider range of effort and attainment is recognised.” A limited number of free copies of Inclusion: Statements of intent are available to NUT members on a first come, first served basis. Please send copy requests to email@example.com
The NUT is offering a two-day course in June on supporting the effective use of teaching assistants to support pupils with SEND in mainstream schools. This would be a useful learning tool for SENCOs, inclusion managers, members of senior leadership teams, and teachers with responsibility for the management and deployment of teaching assistants in mainstream schools. For further information go to: www.teachers.org.uk/node/16261
Illustration: Dan Berry
May / June 15 I The Teacher
No room to learn A Teacher report on the school places crisis What’s your memory of a classroom? A crumbling Victorian hall, perhaps the odd portacabin? For thousands of today’s children the reality lies in sheds, corridors and dark cupboards. Across England, scores of schools are experiencing an acute lack of budget and space to accommodate the increasing student population. Stretched budgets are making for desperate measures and the grim reality of schools having to turn away students who need a school place. The school places crisis is not a new development. Since 2010, the Government has restricted the power of local authorities to deliver new school places. Their ability to open new schools has been severely curtailed, unless that institution is an academy or free school; which local authorities cannot order to expand.
Other schools around the country are sacrificing playgrounds and libraries to create more classrooms – turning storerooms, corridors and cupboards into working areas. In the case of a school in Bristol, an old police station has been annexed to create 30 extra school places.
“Every family should have access to a place for their child in a good local school,” says NUT Education and Equality Principal Officer Celia Dignan. “This is why local authorities must have the power to open new maintained schools restored to them.
One special needs primary school in West Yorkshire stands at almost double capacity, with a building designed for 40 pupils now taking 73 students. Despite the lack of teaching space, one of the school’s governors described a constant pressure to take on new students, stating:
“If the schools locally can’t expand, children have to travel further afield. Particularly at primary school level, children should be able to go to school in the local community.”
“Whilst two additional classrooms have been built in the past three years, the school has neither the space nor the money to expand any further, despite a desperate need to do so.”
While many schools can’t find the budget to cope with overwhelming pupil numbers, others simply lack the physical capacity to expand, This has forced a number of institutions to rethink the traditional classroom.
He added: “Two years ago councillors and council officers visited our school and accepted that something needed to be done to reduce this pressure; since then we have heard nothing, leaving us with the feeling that we are an avoidable expense and a low priority.”
There have been press reports that a school in Northumberland found a creative solution for overcrowding in their school by converting a doubledecker bus into a classroom. “We had literally turned toilets and cupboards into
working spaces, and we started to look at the alternatives,” explained the head teacher. “We have a very good reputation as a school and we’re full to capacity,” he continued. “Regrettably we’re having to turn pupils away.”
May / June 15 I The Teacher
Another NUT member from an inner city primary school in Manchester is facing a similar exasperating situation. “Our school is absolutely full to capacity. As soon as one child leaves your class you will get another one the next week,” she told us.
No room to learn Illustration: Dan Berry
“Space is very limited. Lessons take place in converted libraries and in the middle of corridors, which is not ideal due to constant distractions for the children and lack of resources such as whiteboards and computers.” Recent data from the Local Government Association (LGA) shows 66 of 152 council areas will have more primary-age pupils than places for them in 2016/17. Based on Department for Education data predictions, this statistic is only going to get worse. Over the next ten years there will be an expected 900,000 extra pupils. Creating sufficient places for them could cost £12 billion according to the LGA. A 2014 LGA survey found councils had spent more than £1 billion to compensate for a national ‘black hole’ in school places funding. They have had to abandon building renovations, scale back on school maintenance and borrow money to pay for school places for every child. Conservative Councillor David Simmonds, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, worries about what it could mean. “We fear a tipping point could soon emerge when councils and schools can no longer afford the massive costs for the creation of places, nor find the space necessary for new classes,” he said. While the Government has hailed academies and free schools as the answer to our places crisis, the reality is that funds to cover their high set-up costs are diverted from the budgets of maintained schools – despite their surprisingly low student numbers.
Trinity Academy, a secondary free school in south London, cost taxpayers £18 million to acquire the premises, yet opened with just 17 pupils. A far cry from the once-floated figure of 120 children per year. According to evidence provided to the Education Select Committee by Dr Rob Higham of the Institute of Education, 35 per cent of the first four waves of free schools were in districts with no forecast need for school places. 52 per cent were in districts with either no or only moderate need. “The Government is continuing to squander millions of pounds on free schools,” warns NUT General Secretary Christine Blower. “They are serving small numbers of pupils and are often in places where there is no need for additional provision.” Indeed, a 2013 National Audit Office report found that only 19 per cent of free school secondary places were located in an area in high or severe need. The Coalition Government announced in February that it would be investing £1.6 billion in the creation of school places needed by September 2018. Even if this figure proves to be sufficient, without the authority to direct funds as they see fit, local councils are prevented from effectively managing the school places crisis. As NUT President Philipa Harvey told Annual Conference: “The schools that we work in are vital organs in our communities. So when there are not enough schools in the places where they are needed, then there is a problem.”
May / June 15 I The Teacher
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Reading for Pleasure
Reading for Pleasure Over 40 teachers took part in the NUT’s annual Reading for Pleasure Conference at Stoke Rochford Hall in April. Now in its fourth year, the conference was led by award winning children’s author, NUT member and successful campaigner Alan Gibbons. Alan stresses the absolute importance of encouraging children to read for pleasure, explaining that while phonics can help with decoding, research shows that children need to be surrounded by books to develop a lifelong love of reading. A range of guest speakers and workshop leaders also helped teachers engage with reading. Award winning author Bali Rai addressed the lack of diversity in children’s publishing, discussing the importance of reflecting all children’s experiences if we are to engage them in books and reading. Paul Register from Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) spoke about the role of comic books and graphic novels in building a love of reading. Paul’s talk, entitled ‘Using lines and circles to improve literacy standards’, demonstrated the breadth and depth of the graphic genre – utilising examples from Britain and the US. The NUT hosted an exhibition of comic books in 1954 as part of a campaign to ban comics because of their “excessive emphasis on acts of brutality and crime.” Fortunately the world of comic books and the awareness of the Union have both moved on since those days! Meanwhile actor and comedian Philip Simon led a session focusing on the use of puppets to engage children in stories and reading. Similarly, Tas Emiabata from Shakespeare’s Globe led a session focusing on active engagement with Shakespeare’s stories for young people – all participants were involved in acting out and engaging with the story and text of Macbeth.
Illustration: Katie Edwards, Alamy
Kate Boddy led a popular and successful workshop focusing on poetry, entitled ‘Rhythm and Rhyme – Performance Time’ which focused on supporting teachers to actively engage in poetry to support children’s engagement with words and rhythm. Finally, Karen Robinson (formally the NUT’s Head of Education and Equalities) led a workshop concentrating on the latest research on the wider curriculum impact of encouraging children to read for pleasure.
Reading for Pleasure is just one of the Creativity in the Classroom professional development opportunities offered. Other programmes include a partnership with the Globe to inspire and develop the teaching of Shakespeare plays, and Into Film to raise attainment in the classroom through the medium of film. To find out more and to apply visit www.teachers.org.uk/courses
May / June 15 I The Teacher
Illustration: Askold Romanov, Getty
The bottom line From September 2015 there’ll be a new bottom line in Early Years Education in England, as baseline assessment is introduced in the first few weeks of primary school. But who is really being assessed? Designed to create a new floor standard from which pupil progression can be measured, the baseline check will be a one-on-one assessment of reception pupils – taken within a child’s first six weeks of school. The Department for Education (DfE) says its reason for this new national assessment is ‘to give a picture of school performance’ and that ‘our current expectations for primary schools are set too low’. In reality, the baseline assessment is another accountability system – designed, not to help pupil development, but as another way to track teachers. Yet more than 10,000 schools have already opted into the testing system.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
“I really am passionate about keeping play in reception,” one primary teacher from Barking and Dagenham told us. “The baseline test is nothing to do with our children. It’s about providing a level from which I can be judged. There’s no way that you can test very small children.” Early Years experts fear that the baseline check will prove detrimental to pupils and parents, while the NUT is encouraging schools not to become early adopters of baseline assessments. With baseline assessments designed to be held during a child’s first weeks at school, there is a further concern that age difference at reception level could influence a child’s entire early years education. Dr Pam Jarvis of Leeds Trinity University points out that on day one of reception class, children will likely be at wildly different points in their own personal development.
The bottom line
“The baseline test is nothing to do with our children. It’s about providing a level from which I can be judged. There’s no way that you can test very small children.”
“The difference between four-year-olds and five-yearolds as a percentage of life experience is one fifth,” she points out. Beyond issues of fairness, the question arises of what message an early test sends to children. “We’re talking about children just coming into the education system,” said one primary school teacher from Lambeth. “We need to create a nurturing environment for children and make them feel welcome and secure. To take children out of the classroom environment – for 25 minutes at least – to assess them is just wrong on so many levels.” Along with baseline assessment, the DfE has simultaneously set a ‘challenging aspiration’ target that demands 85 per cent of KS2 pupils must reach the expected standard of progress for a school not to be labeled as ‘failing’. This is a 20 per cent increase from the 65 per cent required in 2014 – a tall order for any school. As the Too Much Too Soon campaign states, if progress is determined by the difference between baseline and KS2, “there may be a temptation [for schools and teachers] to underestimate children’s achievement on entry in order to be able to demonstrate rapid progress.” Then there are the test providers themselves. Assessments will be provided by one of six private companies, each competing to sell their particular baseline assessment to primary schools. The NUT estimates that baseline test contracts are worth between £2.5 and £4 million. The risk is that rather than designing tests to accommodate various stages of early years development, companies will be tempted to create ‘one-size-fits–all’ papers that will appeal to the largest number of schools and maximise profits. Early Excellence is one company providing these baseline assessment tests, and thousands of schools have already adopted their version due to its claims of addressing the “complexity of early years development”.
However, Beatrice Merrick, Chief Executive of charity Early Education, is wary of such claims: “The problem with the Government’s criteria for the baseline assessment schemes is that they are designed as an accountability mechanism for schools, not a source of formative assessment for children and teachers. They are designed to produce a single score that is not age-standardised,” she says. “They limit the scope of assessments to a narrow range of criteria. Even for a scheme like Early Excellence’s baseline assessment, which strives to reconcile these criteria with good early years assessment practice, these constraints are problematic.” In order to protect reception children starting school from the stress and potential damage caused by formal testing, The NUT is hoping to encourage the Government to change this policy before it is introduced. The National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) has made a similar resolution against baseline, voting at its annual conference to campaign against these “educationally questionable tests on our youngest school children.” The NUT’s Better Without Baseline campaign is designed to show the Government the scale of opposition from teachers, parents and early childhood education researchers. We are asking teachers to join this campaign and have provided valuable resources on the website including examples of baseline tests, model letters to governors and heads outlining the reasons for opposing these tests, as well as basic fact sheets and PowerPoint presentations.
Watch NUT members telling us why they’re against baseline testing at: www.teachers.org.uk/baseline
May / June 15 I The Teacher
DO WE NEED TO SPELL IT OUT? Saving a life can be as easy as ABC. You can make sure your pupils know what to do in a crisis. Sign up now to keep first aid on the national curriculum at redcross.org.uk/pupilcitizenlifesaver
Kate Smurthwaite column
It’s a scary new world Illustration: Patrick George, Alamy
Comedian and activist, Kate Smurthwaite, has learned the hard way that the internet doesn’t always react kindly to girls who speak up. As a woman with a public profile I am often asked to go into schools and talk to students. My enthusiasm for eating food and living in my home means, sadly, I say yes much more often to private schools than to state schools – they do tend to pay more after all, but that is another issue. Typically they want me to talk to the girls. They engineer something relating to politics week or careers day and ask me to encourage the girls to speak up about issues that matter to them. A noble cause, but one that utterly misses the point. Forgive my radical viewpoint here, but I think girls are not, in fact, stupid. When they are reluctant to speak up it is cynical to ascribe their behaviour to hormones and biological bashfulness. Girls know, much better than their teachers sometimes, that speaking up has consequences. Here I must confess an unhappy expertise. Recently I ‘spoke up’ on BBC One debate show The Big Questions. It was hardly my most controversial act: I asked a man not to refer to a woman he didn’t know as “darling” during a debate on gender equality. Since then I’ve received around two thousand – yes two thousand – nasty messages on Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms. They range from disparaging comments about my work, to graphic threats of violence, images of my head photoshopped onto a hairy man’s body and suggestions (putting it delicately) that I lack the ability to attract sexual partners. Horrible? Yes. A waste of their time and mine? Yes. But it is not all that surprising. Many young women will
already have experienced sexist internet harassment long before they are deemed mature enough to be exposed to special guests like me. I feel I should write ‘the abuse is not limited to online’ and it’s certainly not. But that is misleading too. Online abuse can’t be magically separated from abuse in other parts of life. My brain doesn’t have an ‘ignore the internet’ switch. Schools are encouraged to ensure their students are experienced at using the web. I need to go online to find work and to promote my work. A non-trivial part of many of our social lives is online. This is the 21st century. We need to stop telling girls to speak up and instead start building a world in which they can do so safely. I’m not talking about teaching them ‘how to stay safe online’. There’s no such thing. I want the young women I meet to look at my work on feminism and politics and think about the issues. If they Google my name, guess what comes up? We need the authorities to step up to the plate. The police are woefully under-educated about the internet and, in my experience, less than willing to take complaints seriously even when they are particularly horrific in detail. In all honesty, if I’d known when I was 13 what I know now, I would have spoken up less. Now who wants me to come into school and tell girls that?
For details of Kate's upcoming shows and appearances sign up to her mailing list at katesmurthwaite.co.uk
May / June 15 I The Teacher
2015 NUT Conference
On the eve of the general election, hundreds of NUT members came together in Harrogate to debate the Union’s next steps. Here the Teacher reports on some of the weekend’s key motions…
Death by testing “Four is too young to test,” said Sara Tomlinson from Lambeth NUT, speaking to conference delegates as a unanimous motion was passed that asks the NUT Executive to campaign against new baseline assessments. (See page 22 for a full report on baseline assessments.) Describing the new assessment system as, “death by testing,” Sara, herself a primary teacher, labelled the stress this kind of early testing could cause children as, “absolutely disgraceful.” Conference agreed to campaign for primary education to be shaped by teachers, and to build the widest possible alliance against baseline testing.
In a complementary motion, conference called for play in the curriculum at KS1 to reflect the needs of children, and not to be relinquished in favour of meeting the formal curriculum. Commenting on the motion, Christine Blower said: “Play brings enormous benefits to children, in terms of both social skills development and allowing imagination to hold sway. However, it is under threat, as schools decide that they have to reduce the time spent on play-based activities in order to meet the requirements of the formal curriculum and steer children through the testing system.”
Those halcyon days Speaking to conference, Angela Travis from Brighton and Hove NUT called for a return to the: “Halcyon days where supply teachers were treated as the valuable professionals that they are.” The motion, which instructed the Executive to campaign vigorously to allow supply teachers employed by private supply agencies access to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, was unanimously passed. Graham White of the Executive also spoke, declaring: “This Union values supply teachers and all the work that they do. We must protect supply teachers. They deserve a voice in this Union. It is a very important voice. This Union is committed to the pay, pensions and conditions of supply teaching.”
May / June 15 I The Teacher
All photos: Justin Tallis
Commenting after the debate on the motion, Christine Blower said: “Conference today celebrated something that policy-makers have set aside: education is for children, not for the purposes of accountability.”
Poisonous roots It is time we pulled Ofsted up by its “poisonous roots,” said Greg Foster from Manchester NUT. In a lively discussion at conference, members condemned Ofsted and the harm it is causing to their classrooms. Described in turn as a “government weapon”, “out of touch”, “laughable” and “a battering ram to force through the academisation programme”, delegates cheered and shouted “shame” as speakers gave their own accounts of the horror of working under Ofsted. On the morning of the motion, an interim report by Professor Merryn Hutchings and Dr. Naveed Kazmi – of research commissioned by the NUT – was released to the press. The research presents emerging findings on the impact of Ofsted and the current accountability system on children and young people. It is a comprehensive look at how accountability measures have little benefit to young people and in fact lead to long-term emotional problems, increased anxiety, levels of stress, mental health problems, selfharming and disaffection in students. The motion, which instructs the Executive to campaign for the abolition of Ofsted and to continue to evaluate and highlight its effects on both children and teachers, was passed unanimously by conference.
“The situation facing Special Educational Needs provision is dire, with millions of children facing a terrifying future,” said Andy Summers from Warwickshire NUT – speaking to conference about the introduction of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, which conference believes will fail to meet the needs of young people with SEN. “This isn’t about what’s good for us – it’s about what’s right and most vital for those children that need us the most,” added first time delegate Ashleigh White from Rochdale.
A failure to fund education and a strategy to win It was crunch time at the NUT Conference as a Priority Motion called on the executive to respond to the funding crisis facing education. Under the Coalition Government, overall spending on education had by 2013-14 been cut by over £5 billion in real terms. In an impassioned debate, a Priority Motion was moved to call on all major political parties in England and Wales to commit to protect education spending in real terms. This is to include a restoration to previous levels, including post-16 funding, and additional funding necessary to restore the cuts in pay over the past five years.
Education and extremism Speakers debated what would and wouldn’t be reasonable for schools and teachers to do, in light of the Government’s Prevent strategy. Discussing the Government’s flagship anti-radicalisation strategy ‘Prevent’ – which aims to get teachers working together to stop young people becoming sympathetic to extremism, Alex Kenny of the Executive expressed concern that, “Prevent is a blunt instrument that will do damage and inhibit debate in schools, and Ofsted should be allowed nowhere near these issues.” Speaker after speaker condemned the continuing rise in anti-migrant propaganda, in a motion that reaffirmed the Union’s commitment to support campaigns against racism, Islamophobia and those seeking to scapegoat immigrants. During the motion, Seema McArdle of Brighton and Hove asked: “Why am I hearing daily negative generalisations about immigrants? It’s cruel – it’s a form of bullying that takes me back to my childhood, making me wonder, how has racism changed?” Delegates were concerned that the Government’s guidance to teach British values in schools was ‘damaging and dangerous’ and called for these requirements to be scrapped.
“It’s shocking that whatever party gets into power, we will receive a 12 per cent cut in public funding,” said Anne Lemon of the Executive.
Speaking after the conference, Christine Blower said: “For the NUT, the UK’s cultural diversity is our greatest asset and strength. It combines and unites a multiplicity of talents, abilities, insights and skills.”
The theme of education cuts and the need to oppose them was carried throughout conference. Moving amendment one, highlighting Wales funding, Beth Davies outlined that Wales is one of the poorest nations in Europe, with a third of children living in poverty. While seconding the motion, Neil Foden described the situation as “an absolute crisis”.
Two NQTs for the price of one PS3
Similarly, Nigel Fox from West Hampshire moved amendment two, on protection of sixth form colleges. Discussing the narrowing of our curriculum, as a result of funding cuts, he said: “Since 2010 the average college has lost 104 jobs in the post-16 sector,” going on to attack the fact that colleges are forced to pay VAT, adding: “there is no justification for this tax on learning.” In a further motion, Conference thanked NUT members for the support they had given in the various strands of the Union’s campaigns to defend education and in defence of teachers’ pay, pensions and conditions of service. A ‘strategy to win’ was agreed by conference to continue these campaigns. Speaking after the motion Christine Blower said: “It is no surprise that an NUT survey showed 90 per cent of respondents had considered leaving teaching in the last two years, 96.5 per cent said workload has negative consequences for family or personal life and 82 per cent said more trust in teachers would help retention. This is a shameful state of affairs.
Conference Coverage 2015
Broken promises for children with SEN
“The wealth and knowledge of older teachers is invaluable and it is a disgrace that they are being bullied out of their schools by poor management,” said Leo Gerrard, an NQT from Ealing NUT, during a motion that called for the Executive to carry out a survey of members on age discrimination in teaching. “Why aren’t these teachers cherished as they should be?” Leo asked. “Is it because you can get two NQTs for the price of one PS3?” In a complementary motion on Age Discrimination, Jane Eades from Wandsworth received applause when discussing the need for a balanced workforce in schools. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but – in my experience – many of the new tricks we are being taught are actually old tricks that failed before. We need to talk about teaching the young dogs the old tricks that did actually work,” she said.
“The NUT will be seeking to enter into new negotiations with the new Government in order to address these issues. Teachers deserve better and will demand better.”
May / June 15 I The Teacher
In brief Asbestos Conference was told how Asbestos still exists in nearly 90 per cent of our schools, despite its links to cancer and other serious illnesses. Delegates voted to continue working with the Joint Union Asbestos Committee to campaign to the Government to remove asbestos from all schools, and provide more thorough and accurate risk assessments.
Show Racism the Red Card founder Ged Grebby was honoured with the Fred and Anne Jarvis award for his work fighting racism across the UK.
Phony accountability “Nobody should be made to work 60 hours a week,” said Stephen Nolan from NUT Fylde, discussing the workload and accountability motion. “It’s crippling people, and teachers, it’s ruining lives and it’s ruining education.” He pointed out that it’s no surprise that an estimated 40 per cent of teachers don’t make it past the first five years, adding that the heart of the workload problem; “is not the hours, it’s what we’re made to do: hours and hours of being forced to do things that are no help to the kids. It’s phony accountability.” As part of the motion, conference instructed the Executive to campaign publicly for a series of measures to be adopted by the new Westminster Government and current Wales Government, including accountability based on trust, an increase in teacher numbers and a reduction in workload and working hours.
LGBT rights “Education is the tool of social change. Five years have passed since the Government promised to tackle homophobic behaviour in schools and still nothing has changed. We need to let the Government know – you are not off the hook,” said LGBT Executive constituency seat holder Annette Pryce, as she called for all parties to commit to tackling discrimination faced by LGBT students and teachers. Bullying head teachers “We need a national strategy that deals with head teachers who bully,” said Tony Fenwick, Luton NUT, to delegates – who were told how teachers are living in an “atmosphere of fear”. “Not all head teachers are bullies. However many are. Why? Because the Government is a bully, because Ofsted is a bully and because league tables are a bully,” said Stephen White from Waltham Forest. The motion was carried unanimously in favour of taking action when reps and teachers suffer bullying by management. Protect children “80,000 children suffer from severe depression. 8,000 of those are under 10,” explained Lesley Jackson from Cambridgeshire NUT, speaking during a unanimously passed motion to establish more effective links between teachers and social care, and to campaign for the protection of mental health services.
Conference round up • During a motion to reclaim professional development, conference heard that establishing a right to CPD would bring to England a principle that has been effective in other countries. It would serve to strengthen the long-term commitment of teachers, those proposing claimed. • A passionate and inspiring session passed a motion to promote greater involvement and representation of women members at all levels of the Union. • Motions were also passed to defend facilities time and on executive member representation and on casework – with a casework survey to be sent to divisions and associations.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
• A motion on senior leadership positions highlighted the diminishing numbers of BME entrants to the teaching profession and the under-representation of black teachers at middle management and leadership level. Speakers highlighted the importance of black children having strong role models in school. Members were encouraged to participate in the NUT’s excellent CPD courses for black teachers. • The damage caused to children’s education by increasingly intrusive accountability measures in schools was discussed during a motion on accountability in Wales. Speakers highlighted the inconsistent approach of consortia on classroom observations and noted the Donaldson Review’s emphasis on the need to establish accountability mechanisms that make a constructive contribution to young people’s learning.
Conference Coverage 2015
An elephant in stilettos Nial Pickering from Liverpool NUT gave a moving speech on the effects of stress on teachers, during a motion which asked for the NUT to launch a campaign about the causes of stress in schools. Nial used his expertise as a physics teacher to describe stress as, “a force you exert over a certain area.” He explained to conference that it is preferable to have the same force exerted on you by an elephant’s foot than by a stiletto, adding: “But our system is currently trying to wedge an elephant into a pair of stilettos.”
Creeping privatisation The privatisation of education is leading to the most deadly disease in education – the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM). In two separate motions to conference, one on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and another calling conference to ‘resist the GERM’, delegates expressed their concern at the creeping privatisation of education. Speaking on a motion to vigorously oppose forced and voluntary academy conversions, to call on Government to restore the role of local authorities in education and to stop the “profit-driven cancer from taking over our schools” – Edward Finch from Oxfordshire NUT declared: “Our schools are not for sale, our children are not for sale.” Speaking after Conference, NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said: “The NUT urges the trade union movement to call for the TTIP negotiations to be halted, and demands that all pending and future trade agreements entered into by the EU should be subject to a transparent process.” (See p6 for a full report on Pearson’s attempts to profit from education.)
BLAIR PEACH AWARD Juno Roche was awarded the Blair Peach award at conference. Celebrating the award, Christine Blower said: “Juno’s energy and selfless determination to support trans teachers are a model of what can be achieved.”
Work longer, pay more, get less As the new teachers’ pension scheme comes into full effect, a motion was carried to continue the NUT’s teachers’ pension campaign. “Our pension pot has been raided to pay for the crisis that has been caused by the bankers, and I am furious about it,” said Bridget Chapman from Lambeth NUT. Going on to discuss the dire situation for supply teachers who have no access to pension schemes, she said: “We’ve got a situation where supply teachers who are employed by agencies don’t have access to pensions. That, Conference, is a scandal.” In relation to pay, a further motion was carried instructing the Executive to maintain ongoing opposition to performance pay and continue the campaign on behalf of teachers. The motion highlighted that young teachers have felt the brunt of cuts in teachers’ pay – and that a disproportionate number of black teachers have been denied pay progression.
Philipa Harvey – Our new NUT President “Our job is awesome,” said new NUT President Philipa Harvey in her Presidential address to conference. Philipa, who has worked as a primary teacher in Croydon for the last 30 years, gave an optimistic and rousing speech. “We are responsible for making learning fun, so that it remains something people can do and want to keep on doing forever. I know that our Union and its members not only encourage this vision of education but make sure it is alive and kicking in our schools and classrooms.” She expressed concerns that: “Teachers are being driven by a testing agenda imposed on them instead of being trusted to respond to the needs of the individual,” as well as discussing pressing issues such as workload, child poverty, baseline testing, academisation and international solidarity. STEVE SINNOTT AWARD “I am really moved and genuinely pleased to have received this award,” said winner Bernard Regan. “I regard this as a collective celebration of all the Union work that has been done over the years. International work is part of the very fibre of this Union.”
A roar of approval came from delegates when she asked: “Do you remember where you were when you heard that Gove had been sacked?” and she told Conference that: “Education is at a crossroads and we have a choice. Either we accept more of the same and this dystopian vision of education or we dare to imagine an alternative vision of education and fight like fury to win it.”
May / June 15 I The Teacher
By Dr Brian Male, co-founder – the Curriculum Foundation
As part of our reforms to the national curriculum, the current system of ‘levels’ used to report children’s attainment and progress will be removed from September 2014 and will not be replaced. (DfE)
On one autumn night last year, the levels we had used for 25 years to report children’s school progress were erased. Questions lingered: how will we know if our children progress, how will Ofsted measure them, and, even more importantly, what are we going to do with all that expensive level tracking software we just got in? So should we be celebrating the demise of levels or be concerned about what’s to take their place? The NUT online assessment course, written in conjunction with the Curriculum Foundation, sets out to answer these questions and to suggest a way forward that will be better tuned to our pupils’ learning and more focused on what we really value in the classroom. It builds on the NUT’s curriculum design course – Year of the Curriculum – that explored how we can best approach the new national curriculum.
ways. The problem has been that the purpose of levels became one of accountability, rather than learning. Now we have the chance to make assessment manageable. We can once again root assessment in everyday learning and ensure it is something we do for our pupils – not for outside interests. For most schools over the last 25 years, assessment has been a matter of determining what level a pupil attained. In many cases, it became a matter of predicting what level they might attain in some future test or examination. Now the levels have gone. So, how will we be able to show how many levels of progress have been made? The answer, of course, is that we shall no longer be able to do so. If there are no levels, there can be no levels of progress. Ofsted will need to find something else. But there is life after levels, and the assessment course points the way!
You can read the NUT’s online assessment course in full at: teachers.org.uk/campaigns/curriculum
Illustration: Artishokcs, Getty
Used properly, assessment is a key part of a teacher’s professional approach. Ongoing, classroom-based, formative assessment can be a key lever in improving learning. As the curriculum design course points out, the levels had the potential to guide learning in very positive
Life without levels
May / June 15 I The Teacher
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n o i t a c u d E . c i s u M An interview with Elephants and Castles Robin Spencer and Chris Anderson are two South London primary teachers whose love of music led them to start a band; squeezing in time between lessons and marking to rehearse in empty classrooms throughout the night. Five years on, Elephants and Castles are a well-established band playing gigs across the country. The Teacher met with the pair to discuss their love of music, their lives as teachers and how they manage to balance the two. Tell me about your music? Robin “There’s a range of songs really: some are delicate, some are more dancey. All our songs tell a story and have catchy melodies. We can play all of them acoustically.” Chris “We write about things that interest us. For example, Robin said one day that he wanted to write about brutalist architecture, so we wrote ‘Concrete Love’. Our music is usually described as Indie-Dance-Folk-Pop with hot guitar licks.” How do you balance your music and teaching? C – “You’ve got to be organised and you really have to plan rehearsals. If you’ve got a staff meeting Monday night at five, you know you’re not going to be able to rehearse.” R – “Being in a band is not as rock and roll as you think it is. If we’re finishing a gig at 10.30pm on a Wednesday night, you know you can’t have too much to drink so you’re fresh for school the next day. “ C – I think it’s important to feel that it is possible to have a hobby or something else in your life as well as teaching. There was a time when I’d just go home and mark but if you’re organised you can have a life outside the classroom. Being able to pursue our passions makes us happier people and happier teachers.”
Have the kids at school heard your music? R – “Yeah, in the school where Chris and I met, we played a gig for the kids and they loved it. Kids are really honest, and if they don’t like your music, they’ll tell you. Now they go on YouTube and look at our videos and then they come up to us the next day and say, “I saw you dancing,” I think because we stand up and make fools of ourselves, they like that and are not afraid of doing the same.” The value of the arts in education has become a central discussion of late. What is your opinion? R – “I think it’s a shame that in some schools the arts – and sports – are the first things to be squeezed out. But if management in the school sees arts as a priority they will find some way of doing it. I think it’s a shame if they don’t because a lot of children need that kind of outlet. If they go to a school where music is pushed to one side, they aren’t going to be given the chance to express themselves.” You’ve both been active within the NUT. How long have you been members? C – “Since day one really. They’re always the first you hear from if there’s something affecting teachers. We’ve been on several of the marches and also gone on strike. It’s great to get together and make sure your voice is heard.” R – “My mother was a teacher, and being the good boy that I am, I followed my mum’s advice and joined. The NUT seems to stand for the things that seem right in education. They provide us with a platform to get our views across.” What changes would you like to see for teachers? C – “It feels like teaching is being used as a political pawn. You hear on the news that ‘teachers are this, and teachers are that’. It’s always the teachers who are to blame. We need more positive press.” Elephants and Castles will be playing in London and around the country during the summer. Listen to their new single LILO, and find out more at www.elephantsandcastles.london
May / June 15 I The Teacher
n o i n U Your John Pearce and Nina Franklin at the celebration.
100 years ago – The School Master The Schoolmaster 22 May 1915. A Man’s Choice “It is a curious fact that if any woman asks the advice of her masculine relations as to the colour of a new costume the answer will invariably be “Get something dark, blue, or black.” The sensitive male shrinks from picturing his womenfolk in any less sober attire and he will certainly excuse himself as their escort should they be so misguided as to indulge in any remarkable toilette. He does not mind their looking like five million other women; what he cannot endure is for them to look different.”
Out in the East The first Eastern Region LGBT Forum, ‘Out in the East’ took place at The Cambridge Belfry Hotel in Cambourne to coincide with LGBT history month. Participants heard about the NUT’s work on equalities from the LGBT seat holder on the National Executive, Annette Pryce, who hopes more LGBT, BME and disabled members will self-identify to the NUT, so that the Union can better reflect its membership. To update your membership details go to www.teachers.org.uk/update.
Division Secretary elected Chair of Education Scrutiny panel In the recent Jersey General Election, NUT Division Secretary Louise Doublet was elected as a Deputy for the Parish of St. Saviour. As part of her role she will become Chair of Jersey’s Education Scrutiny Panel, in which she will be able to hold the Education Minister to account, review education policy and consult the public and expert advisors on matters of public interest relating to education. Commenting on her new role Louise said: “Although I will miss working as a teacher and also with the NUT, this is a fantastic opportunity for me to make a positive impact on education on a larger scale through the States of Jersey.”
Lifetime of service The South Gloucestershire Division has celebrated John Pearce’s lifetime of service to the Union. John is the Treasurer of South Gloucestershire NUT, but will be handing over the books this year. He has been a member of the NUT for 65 years and recently celebrated his 90th birthday. John has served the Union in many capacities including as a National Executive Member. Tributes were paid to John’s service by Nina Franklin, past National President, who presented him with an engraved Bristol blue glass bowl.
Wedding bells at Stoke Rochford Hall Many NUT members use beautiful Stoke Rochford Hall for the wide range of CPD training courses on offer, but recently Tamsin Adragna came to Stoke Rochford Hall on a beautiful October half term week for a different kind of personal development – her wedding. While Tamsin and her husband chose Stoke Rochford Hall for its beautiful location and Grade 1 listed building, the 10% NUT member discount was a welcome bonus. “The staff at Stoke Rochford Hall were outstanding throughout the entire process,” said the newlyweds. “A huge thank you and grazie!” www.stokerochfordhall.co.uk
May / June 15 I The Teacher
How’s your school food? Do you and your pupils enjoy great school meals? Are your pupils concentrating in the afternoon? Do they understand the importance of a healthy diet? From September, Ofsted inspections will consider how schools promote a culture of health and wellbeing in all aspects of school life. Free support is available to start the transformation of your school food provision, including a school food plan, at schoolfoodplan.com.
ATL and NUT to co-host Unity event Following the success of a joint conference in Manchester on 28 February, the NUT and the ATL are co-hosting a second event at BMA House in London on Saturday 27 June. Speakers will include deputy general secretaries Kevin Courtney and Peter Pendle, who will set out how the unions plan to respond to the many challenges of the new Government. NUT and ATL members will have the opportunity to meet to discuss how the two unions can work together on the important issues facing education. To register for the event, visit: www.teachers.org.uk/node/23860
End Austerity Now! National demonstration
Events calendar 2015 Don’t miss these events between now and the end of the year. End Austerity Now! National Demo – 20 June 2015 – London www.teachers.org.uk/node/23861 LGBT Teachers’ Conference – 20/21 June, Hamilton House www.teachers.org.uk/conferences/LGBT-teachers Owning our Profession Conference – 27 June 2015 – BMA House, London www.teachers.org.uk/node/23860 Supply Conference – 27 June 2015 – NUT Headquaters, London www.teachers.org.uk/node/23581 Pride events – contact your local regional office for details of events taking place in your area and see www.teachers.org.uk/conferences/LGBT-teachers Anthony Walker Memorial Lecture – 16 October – Liverpool, International Slavery Museum Black Teachers’ Conference – 13-15 November www.teachers.org.uk/black-teachers-conference Disabled Teachers’ Conference – 28 November www.teachers.org.uk/disabledteachers Information correct at time of going to print.
Never miss the bell again! Order your 2015/16 NUT diary now. Essential union information and week-to-view pages, all in a tidy pocket format for just £3.45. Do you want an end to austerity and policies that only benefit those at the top? Then join The People’s Assembly demo in London on Saturday 20 June 2015. The demonstration is timed to put maximum pressure on the new Government, so come and add your voice to thousands of others who will demand an alternative to austerity and call for policies that benefit everyone. For more information visit: thepeoplesassembly.org.uk
Send your name, address and a cheque payable to the National Union of Teachers to: Diary Supplies, O&M, NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD. Or download an order form from www.teachers.org.uk/diary
May / June 15 I The Teacher
n o i n U e h t Ask Is it true that dietcontrolled type 2 diabetes is considered a disability? I have type 2 diabetes and my school has made a number of adjustments which allow me to regularly check my blood-sugar during school hours and also to take breaks when I’m feeling tired. I’m afraid these adjustments may be taken away unless my condition is protected by law?
It is true that earlier this year the Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that an appellant, who had diet-controlled type 2 diabetes, was not disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. The decision is, of course, very nuanced and is relevant only to the particular facts of the case. Type 2 diabetes is a very serious condition that, if undiagnosed and treated, may lead to heart, blood vessel, nerve, eye and kidney damage. In certain circumstances, it may even lead to death.
If you have type 2 diabetes or any other health condition which is having a more than minor impact on your ability to teach, and you want advice about what the Union can do to help, contact the NUT Adviceline.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
Photo: Mark Hatfield, Getty
You are entitled to reasonable adjustments at work if any of the symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes – such as extreme tiredness, unexplained weight loss, increased thirst and blurred vision – place you at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to teachers without the condition. Your employer is also prohibited from treating you unfavourably for reasons relating to the condition, regardless of how you manage your symptoms.
Contact the NUT AdviceLine on 020 3006 6266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Members in Wales should contact NUT Cymru on 029 2049 1818 or email email@example.com
Ask the Union I am currently on maternity leave from a local authority primary school and am unsure as to whether or not to return to work. If I decide not to, how should I approach this with my school? If I do decide to return, can I do so during the summer holidays, even if this means I won’t actually resume teaching until the beginning of September?
It will be assumed by your school that you will be returning at the end of the 52 week period of maternity leave, to which you are entitled. If this date falls at any time during the school summer holidays then, should you decide to return, that is when you will be deemed to be back at work and on full pay.
If you wish to resign you need to give notice in the usual way, which in the summer term means resigning by 31 May. If you miss that deadline, or change your mind later and decide you don’t want to return, schools are allowed to waive the usual notice period for those on maternity leave, but you would need to speak to your school about this. If you have received occupational (Burgundy Book) maternity pay, your employer is allowed to ask you to repay some of this if you don’t return. The most you would be asked to repay would be your 12 weeks on half pay. You won’t, however, have to repay any Statutory Maternity Pay. Maternity arrangements can be complicated which is why the NUT has a comprehensive
Photo: Nattanan, Getty
guidance document available on our website to answer the many questions that members have. It is available at teachers.org.uk/ maternitymatters. If any aspect remains unclear, members in England should contact the NUT AdviceLine and members in Wales NUT Cymru.
Do I have to set work when I am off sick?
The short answer to this is no – there is no such requirement. You may, depending on the nature of your illness, wish to give some general instructions over the phone when contacting your school, but this is entirely up to you.
Schools should have banks of materials ready for use by whoever is covering lessons, whether this is a short-term cover supervisor or a supply teacher. If there is an expectation from management that teachers on sick leave should be setting work, then this is an issue that needs to be addressed collectively so discuss this with your NUT representative in the first instance.
Send your questions to: Ask the Union, the Teacher, NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
s w e i Rev For pupils Ellie’s War: Wherever You Are Set in England 1915, Ellie has been forced out of school to look after her younger brother. Her friendship with Jack is all that keeps her spirits up, so when he disappears to war, she struggles in the aftermath. Sharratt is well-researched and has an eye that helps readers discover the horrific conditions of working life for women in factories. An interesting read for readers aged 12 and over. Aliss Langridge Ellie’s War: Wherever You Are by Emily Sharratt. Scholastic Press. Paperback. £5.99.
The Flying Bath Each morning the bath toys take to the skies, visiting animals around the world in need of their help and water supply. From a piglet that needs a bath, to a baboon whose tree is on fire, the toys help them all and still manage to be back for bath time. As is to be expected from this successful writing team, this is a book full of rich, engaging language and is written in a way which encourages children to join in with the repetitive cry of: “Wings out, and off we fly. The flying bath is in the sky!” Sian Collinson
Love Bomb The second in a quartet of stories about four teenage friends. Like its prequel, Flirty Dancing, this is a superbly observed and told book, with laugh-out-loud escapades and moments of poignancy. Suitable for readers aged 12 and over, it is the sort of series you would want your about-to-be teenage daughter to read. Balancing real-life experience that rings true with age-appropriate storylines is a tough thing to attempt but Jenny McLachlan does a great job. Hopefully the third and fourth books in the series will keep the standard high.
The Flying Bath by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts. Macmillan Children's Books. Hardback. £11.99.
10 Minutes a Day Maths
Love Bomb by Jenny McLachlan. Bloomsbury. Paperback. £6.99.
s For teacher
Social Justice? Some Like it Not Undoubtedly THE book for training groups working in public or private sectors to use to comply with the law, specifically the Equality Act. The book is especially strong on race and racism and on gender inequality but it usefully unpicks the issues surrounding religion and belief, sexual orientation, age, and disability. The concepts and understandings are sound, the information vast, and the complexities meticulously unpacked. The writing is a model of clarity, lively and often funny, as are the accompanying cartoons by Crippen and the judiciously chosen images that break up the text. This is a book many of us have been waiting for. Dr Gillian Klein Social Justice? Some like it Not – a practical guide to diversity, equality and inclusion in the 21st century by H.J. Court. H.J. Court (Publisher). Paperback. £14.99.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
A book like this reminds teachers and students alike of the real joys of teaching. Jack Sheffield has now produced a whole series of these amusing books inspired by his years as a teacher and headteacher. This latest book is set in 1984 and deals with the adventures of staff and pupils at the Ragley-on-the-Forest school. There are many amusing stories and moments and I found it had a similar tone and episodic quality to the James Herriot books. I’d really recommend it. Lee Ryder Silent Night by Jack Sheffield. Transworld Publishers. Paperback. £5.99.
This A4 workbook is bright and colourful and comes with an electronic 10-minute timer so you can work against the clock. All topics are covered with slightly more emphasis on numbers, including mental questions to solve in 10 seconds each. The only equipment required is a pencil and ruler, although some aspects are not well explained, like converting pints to litres, and would probably need to be completed following a lesson in school. There is a month’s worth here if done daily as intended, with 31 double page spreads and the answers in the back. Elli Rhodes 10 Minutes a Day Maths by Carol Vorderman. Dorling Kindersley. Paperback. £5.99.
Photo: Evan Bowen-Jones/FFI
Red alert for the Sumatran tiger. Fauna & Flora International launches emergency appeal in response to 600% increase in poaching threat. 12 June deadline.
One of the Sumatran tiger’s final strongholds is under threat from a massive increase in poaching. Action is needed now. • £83,131 is needed to help us fund more rangers and step up action against the poachers in Kerinci Seblat National Park. • This is one of the final strongholds of the incredibly rare Sumatran tiger, a place where the battle to save the Sumatran tiger will be won or lost.
This Critically Endangered tiger has been pushed to the edge of extinction – maybe 500 remain. Give to stop the poachers at www.FFIsumatrantiger.org
1100 miles on forest patrols in and bordering the national park and destroyed more than 60 active tiger snares - an increase of 600% since 2011. That is why we need to step up patrol regimes”. Tiger populations are dreadfully fragile. If FFI cannot recruit more rangers to protect the tigers against the increased efforts of the poachers all our good work could be undone. For all of these reasons, it’s now absolutely vital that we increase our patrols to protect tigers from poachers – and work towards greater protection for their delicate habitat.
Dear readers of The Teacher: Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has launched an emergency appeal, to raise £83,131 to save the Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger. These items are vital to help save the remaining Sumatran tigers from extinction. £5,212 could help fund two new rangers posts and buy essential equipment – rucksacks, uniforms, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, field radios and compasses. £2,500 could buy a pick-up van to help a patrol move around quickly to prevent poaching.
Photo: Gill Shaw
£400 could buy camping equipment and boots. £72 could buy first aid kits to treat injured rangers whilst out on patrol. £32 could help buy a field radio, essential to getting extra help if poachers are spotted. Donations large or small will help us save the Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger from the 600% upsurge in the poaching threat. “If you value the natural world – if you think it should be protected for it’s own sake as well as humanity’s – then please support Fauna & Flora International.” Sir David Attenborough, OM FRS Fauna & Flora International vice-president If we’re going to save the Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger from complete extinction, it’s vital that we have the means to take action now. FFI must raise £83,131. To do that, the charity is calling on readers of The Teacher to make an urgent contribution today. Please send a gift, by no later than 12 June, to help safeguard the future survival of the last few remaining wild Sumatran tigers. Together, we can save the Sumatran tiger from extinction – but only if we take action immediately. To take action for the Sumatran tiger please go to www.FFIsumatrantiger.org or cut the coupon. If the coupon to the bottom right is missing, please send your cheque (payable to FFI) to: FREEPOST RRHG-GBGG-CAGG, Fauna & Flora International, Sumatran Tiger Appeal, Jupiter House, Station Road, Cambridge, CB1 2JD by 12 June.
Cut the coupon below and return it to FFI, together with your gift, to help save the Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger. Alternatively, go to www.FFIsumatrantiger.org. Thank you. I want to help save the remaining 500 Sumatran tigers today, with a donation of £__________ Title
Postcode Email Phone No I enclose a cheque payable to Fauna & Flora International OR I wish to pay by credit/debit card
Type of card: Visa/Amex/Mastercard/Maestro/CAF Card No: Start Date:
Issue Number (Maestro only): 3 digit security code:
Photo: Debbie Martyr/FFI
A 600% increase in snares laid since 2011 has put FFI’s anti poaching team on red alert. Habitat loss has already pushed the Sumatran tiger to the brink of extinction but now poachers have stepped up their efforts to snare these magnificent cats. Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has put out an urgent call to the global community to save the last Sumatran tigers currently existing in the wild – and specifically to employ more rangers. There are now only around 500 Sumatran tigers left. FFI is urgently seeking funds to step up their crucial conservation programme in Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia. In order to safeguard the future existence of these magnificent creatures, it is vital that more rangers are employed Right now, the Sumatran tiger faces a number of very serious threats, which are putting their very survival in jeopardy. And, sadly, they are all man-made threats. Poaching is a constant danger for the elusive Sumatran tiger – and now poachers have substantially stepped up their efforts. Hunters make good money from the tiger’s beautiful skin and demand is constantly growing. Also, its bones are illegally exported to use as ingredients in traditional Asian medicines. What is really worrying now is that poachers have increased the number of tiger snares laid by 600% since 2011 and this year snares found have been at almost record levels. This is against a backdrop of a very serious loss of habitat. In the last ten to 15 years, natural forest cover in Sumatra has been slashed by almost a staggering 40%. Now there is a newly emerging threat in 2014, discovered by tiger patrols - the growth of illegal coffee plantations in Kerinci Seblat National Park. These majestic forest dwellers have been designated as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, making the Sumatran tiger one of the most endangered tiger subspecies on the planet. This is a rating reserved for animals that face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Latest surveys have indicated that there may now be as few as 500 existing in the wild. Kerinci Seblat National Park is one of the last places on Earth where they can still be found. Today, 170 tigers live in and around Kerinci Seblat National Park – the largest known population of tigers anywhere in Sumatra. Since 2007 the number of tigers in the park has stabilised and begun to slowly grow – largely thanks to the vital work of FFI’s Tiger Protection and Conservation Programme. However, now the upsurge in poaching puts these gains under threat. Debbie Martyr, FFI Team Leader of the Kerinci Tiger Project in Sumatra, says: “So far this year our ranger teams walked almost
• FFI’s work here could be all that stands between the Sumatran tiger and extinction.
(Last three digits next to the signature)
Please note: If Fauna & Flora International succeeds in raising more than £83,131 from this appeal, funds will be used wherever they are most needed.
Stop press - Poachers kill Tiger in Kerinci “We knew this tiger, a large male. To see it reduced from a beautiful wild animal to a pile of meat and guts made us all very angry”. Yoan Dinata, Tiger Protection Team, Kerinci Seblat
Please return to: Sumatran Tiger Appeal, FREEPOST RRHG-GBGG-CAGG, Fauna & Flora International, Jupiter House, Station Road, Cambridge, CB1 2JD. You can call 01223 431991 to donate now. Or go to: www.FFIsumatrantiger.org to donate online. Registered Charity No.1011102. Registered Company No. 2677068. PR-ST15TT
Cut her free from sexual exploitation
Help cut children free from sexual exploitation. Be aware of the signs. www.barnardos.org.uk/ cutthemfree
Barnardoâ€™s Registered Charity Nos. 216250 and SC037605
Resources Walk for Safety Brake, the road safety charity, is encouraging teachers to register for Brake’s Giant Walk on 10 June, The event involves children across the UK taking part in a walk, starting from their school gates, to promote safe walking and cycling. Road safety resources for teachers to use in the classroom are also available from Brake. For more information go to: www.brake.org.uk/giantwalk.
d r a o b e c i t o N Events Deterring self-harm STEM4, a charity that aims to improve teenage mental health, has launched a Calm Harm app to help young people resist the urge to self-harm. It contains four categories of tasks targeting the main reasons why people self-harm. The app can be downloaded for free for Apple and Android phones by searching STEM4. The charity also produces resources for schools. See www.stem4.org.uk.
Take part in the Giant Walk for safety with Brake
National Education Conference Following the general election, the National Education Conference, organised by the NUT, will provide members with the opportunity to debate and discuss education policy with experts on a range of topical education and equalities issues. This year’s NEC will take place at the University of Leicester over the weekend of 4-5 July. NUT members should contact their association or division to cover the cost of attendance (£199 per delegate). Find further details at: www.teachers.org.uk/nec. Autism Show The Autism Show provides the latest information, advice, products and services on the condition. Visitors can hear from the UK’s leading autism professionals, learn new strategies and approaches for the classroom, access one-to-one specialist advice, and interact with inspiring and thoughtprovoking ideas. ExCeL London (12-13 June), NEC Birmingham (19-20 June), EventCity Manchester (26-27 June). Book tickets in advance at www.autismshow.co.uk.
Equality and young children EqualiTeach has received funding from the Big Lottery Fund for three free training events which will help those working with young children engage with issues of race and religious equality and create inclusive settings where all children feel welcome, safe and happy. Institute of Education, London (26 June), University of Manchester (6 July), University of Birmingham (16 July). For more information see is.gd/inclusive_settings.
Impact of adoption After Adoption, a provider of adoption support services, has launched a new training programme for educators, SafeBase for Schools, to develop an understanding of the challenges adopted children face in school. The programme also aims to narrow the attainment gap between adopted pupils and their peers in primary and secondary schools. See is.gd/after_adoption.
LGBT Teachers’ Conference 2015 The NUT LGBT Conference is an annual event that gives members the opportunity to discuss and address issues of LGBT equality, education and the workplace and to get updates on union campaigns. The conference takes place at NUT headquarters in central London on 20-21 June. Find out more and book your place at www.teachers.org.uk/ conferences/LGBT-teachers.
Mayr / June 15 I The Teacher
Thereâ€™s nothing â€˜cuteâ€™ about the puppy trade. Help FOUR PAWS end this cruel and ruthless trade by giving just Â£3 today.
To donate text
HELP PUPPIES to 70555 to give Â£3 today. Thank you.
More Humanity towards Animals 6GZVEQUVURNWUPGVYQTMEJCTIG(1742#95TGEGKXGU QH[QWTFQPCVKQP1DVCKPDKNNRC[GTURGTOKUUKQP %WUVQOGTECTG%JCTKV[0Q
Join the NUT
“ ” Newly qualified teachers tell us why they joined the NUT. Irma Rekic
I think being part of the NUT is excellent. The NUT offers a lot of support and excellent training so I definitely recommend that you join.
I joined the NUT for many reasons. Firstly because my cousin is an NUT representative and I’ve always really respected the work that he has done.
Secondly, it is the fact the NUT is a massive union with lots of members. Jane Murdoch
I joined the NUT because I think it is really important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities and to have support in case something goes wrong. The NUT also provides support to move forward in your career with really good training courses available. Stephanie Romanczuk
I think it’s really important that the teaching profession, which is so important to the future of our country, is protected and taken care of.
Thirdly, because it was £1 for my first year. Join the NUT! Muhammad Ali
The reason I joined the NUT was because my beliefs and the NUT’s were very similar. They are promoting progress for children and they are supporting teachers. In my NQT year the Union has given me so much support already.
Qualifying to teach this year? Get full membership until 2017 for just £1, payable by direct debit in February 2016. www.teachers.org.uk/join. Find NUT NQT courses at www.teachers.org.uk/courses.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
m o o r f f l a i t n e d Sta i f con Reader’s rant: Struggle to survive
s p i t ’ s r e h c Tea With class sizes ever-growing, last month we asked for your tips on how to remember pupils’ names… Be honest with your students! Let them know that you may have trouble remembering who they are. Ask them to be patient. Most students will be happy to help you learn. I often ask students to give me the first letter of their name and I have to guess the rest. Name withheld I work in a girls' school and many pupils have the same name. I have heaps of Emilys, Charlottes, Mollies… the list goes on. In my mark book I describe them all, so that when I call the register their face is foremost in my mind...'blonde Emily, tall Charlotte, curly haired Molly' etc.
In the years since schools took over their own budgets, I have found it increasingly difficult to gain employment as a teacher. I believe it is because many heads prefer to employ younger, cheaper teachers. While I’ve gained temporary contracts – covering maternity leave for instance – these don’t last forever and so in-between I’ve worked as a supply teacher. After a six-month period of no contracts – a mortgage holiday if you will! – I took a data input job with the council. However, budget cuts meant that the council were soon making staff redundant, including me. I did return to a teaching course, but found there were no contracts at the end of it and so took a job in the health service… more data inputting. As with the council, cuts in the health service meant that I was soon re-deployed to another position, at least this time with 18 months’ pay protection. But now that the 18 months is ending I am about to receive a substantial pay cut.
The pupils never see this, but it does help me to quickly learn all their names in September.
The Government is telling us that things are getting better, but that has not been my experience. I enjoyed my years as a primary school teacher. Two of my daughters are primary school teachers and members of the NUT, and reading about your workload campaign in the last issue has assured us that they are not alone in their struggle for survival.
At the end of the first day of a new term, challenge yourself in front of a new class by telling them that you are going to test yourself with their names. You probably won't manage it and the children will go 1-0 up, but say there are five days in a week and that you're looking for a 3-2 win by Friday you'll want to win, it will aid your memory doing it daily and the children will enjoy seeing you learn as each day goes by! Jason Owen
May / June 15 I The Teacher
We are looking for teachers’ tips on how to switch off over the summer. Send your advice by 1 July 2015 to email@example.com.
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Star letter What I want to see from our PM He won’t be oft or much offended By parts of speech which may be gendered So in this rhyme you may read “She” Wherever I have written “He”. He can do sums, and furthermore He understands what sums are for. So for instance if I borrow, Fall in debt and end in sorrow, That’s not like debt of the whole nation Borrowed for new wealth creation. Wind farms built with borrowed wealth Will boost the country’s fiscal health. His education extends far Beyond the third notorious R. His grasp of science proves it’s true We have to limit CO2 Much of which comes from your car Carrying you everywhere. He himself will opt for bikes Partly ‘cause that’s what he likes Part for health of heart and brain Relieving local GPs’ strain. He’s read Piketty’s mammoth tome. His charity begins at home. He doesn’t meddle far abroad Like some super overlord. He will be kind, and tend to laughter And reinstate the Magna Carta. In schools, he’ll let the children play And chatter in their chosen way And let teachers’ teaching stem From what most appeals to them. Last, he’ll change the present way Of choosing rulers, old and grim, So that I can have my say And cast my vote for such as him. Alan Hutchinson, email
Re: Screen test Let me say how much I enjoyed reading your Screen Test piece (p.33 March/April issue) in the latest issue of the Teacher. As a retired maths teacher I shall definitely be on the lookout for Stand and Deliver with its message of ‘’Tough guys don’t do math(s).’’ I will also be on the lookout for ‘’The Class’’, the story of a white teacher faced with a multiracial class of students. ‘’The Class’’ put me in mind of another French language film, this time set in Canada. It is called Monsieur Lazhar and is in some ways a mirror image of The Class in that it portrays an Algerian immigrant teacher and his relationship with a group of predominantly white students. I found this film deeply moving, in particular its poignant message about the complex question of physical contact between students and teachers. Ian Hollingworth, Thailand
Re: On prescription only Thank you for the enlightening article in the latest edition of the Teacher. As a maths teacher, I am truly appalled that a Government minister (have they ever actually taught a primary class?) should feel qualified to tell teachers not only what to teach, but also how to do it. Maybe your article could have been entitled “By prescription only”! My question is this: since ministers are so keen on these Chinese textbooks, will they pay to put them into every primary school? I doubt it. Keep up the campaigning. We need an education system free of political meddling. Paul Taylor, email
Please write The editor welcomes your letters but reserves the right to edit them. Write to: Your letters, the Teacher, NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters for the July/August issue should reach us no later than 1 July 2015. Please note we cannot print letters sent in without name and postal address (or NUT membership number), though we can withhold details from publication if you wish.
May / June 15 I The Teacher
No NUT rep in your workplace?
Re: Screen test I was interested to read your article, Screen Test, suggesting teacher-based films. While I agree with the choices and the comments made, for me the absence of the quintessential film for every teacher, Etre et Avoir, is a serious omission. I commend it to all my trainees on the Early Years and Primary PGCE courses at Cambridge University, to anyone else who works with, knows or lives with children or teachers, and particularly to anyone who knows nothing about them. Jane Bower, email
Call in the cavalry, an open letter… Dear Members, I am writing to you with a request. As a rep in a large school, one thing really saddens me. In the last year I have gone in to meetings with our members and each time it starts the same way; I get a panic email or call – something has happened and I am needed to attend a meeting between the member and leadership. I arrange to see the member; to sit and discuss the issue. This is what they say. “Well it started a few weeks ago, I got this letter from XXX and went to a meeting...” or “XXX stopped me in the corridor and asked me to come and speak to them about X, Y, Z.’ Now I am on catch up. I ask ‘why did you not call me?’ “I did not want to bother you, but then XXX started to .… now I have this meeting.” But I have been trained and am no shrinking violet. Why didn’t they come to me a week ago? We end up meeting leadership. They tell me their views of the situation and start a historic attack, I lay out what we will discuss and stop them when they go off track. We usually find a way to smooth the situation… or even ‘win’. Leadership save face too, we are all happy-ish. We relax and discuss the outcome. Feel 10 feet tall. The member thanks me for my effort and for helping them. Now here is the crux. All the stress people initially feel could be avoided by going to your rep as soon as you get a letter, call or invite to meet with leadership. Find your rep and do not go into any meeting without them, no matter how ‘unofficial’. Too often we are picked off one-by-one. Made to think we are the only ones causing this ‘problem’. There is nothing wrong in calling in the cavalry. Do not get me wrong, I have no white steed or shiny sword, only a metaphoric pit pony and wooden stick. But I have a broad back and – like all reps – will go into battle for you. Management are not so happy when there are two people to face.
Please elect one! Once a rep has been elected, notify your division/association secretary, whose details are on your membership credential and at www.teachers.org.uk/contactus.
Find out what reps do at www.teachers.org.uk/getinvolved
A change in your circumstances? Please let us know if you: • change your home or school address • change your employment contract (to part-time, fixed-term or supply), where a range of reduced subscriptions apply • are about to retire, take maternity leave, or leave the profession, where differing subscription rates apply • 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 of important campaigns and to contact you about professional development courses and events.
Need help or advice? If you’ve got a problem at work, or want to know more about NUT services, you can contact: • your school representative • the NUT AdviceLine • NUT Cymru. For advice and guidance in England contact:
NUT AdviceLine Tel: 020 3006 6266 Email: email@example.com In Wales contact:
NUT Cymru Tel: 029 2049 1818 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Find full contact details at:
So talk to us straight away. It’s why we became reps. We work for you, not for ourselves. Be proud to be a Union member and remember the Union is your voice, not the other way round. NUT Rep, Birmingham May / June 15 I The Teacher
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May / June 15 | The Teacher
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Deliver your message to the largest teaching union in the UK May / June 15 | The Teacher
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These are bleak times for teachers, but not desperate ones, says Howard Stevenson, Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Nottingham Following May’s general election result, Nicky Morgan has returned to her role as Secretary of State for Education and made clear that the next five years will be ‘more of the same’ as far as education policy is concerned. In so doing she has confirmed what has been apparent for some time: that when Michael Gove was replaced in July 2014 the personalities changed, but the policies remained the same. For anyone seriously wanting to address the challenges that face young people in 2015, the Conservative Party’s manifesto makes depressing reading. What is apparent is that there is no serious strategy to develop an education system we can all feel proud of and excited by. Rather, the solution is to continue to rely on market competition between schools, combined with the dead weight of Ofsted, to generate the fear that in turn is expected to ‘drive up’ standards (for which, read ‘test scores’). It is a crude approach that draws heavily on failed experiments in marketisation elsewhere – from Sweden to the United States. There can be no denying that the future looks bleak – the promise is yet more testing, more free schools, more forced academisations and more pressure. At the same time it is becoming increasingly clear there will be less money. Carefully phrased commitments in manifestos obscure the problems of rapidly rising costs and decreasing local authority budgets. Moreover, the looming crisis in school funding will be exacerbated by huge cuts in welfare budgets, impacting the poorest students the most. Hence the paradox of a Government that will punish teachers for failing to ‘close the gap’, whilst simultaneously introducing policies that widen the gap. 50
May / June 15 I The Teacher
Faced with such pressures, teacher workloads will continue to intensify and the ‘bring-in, burn-out, replace’ model of staffing that is visible in so many schools will become ever more commonplace. Bleak? Yes. Desperate? Absolutely not! This is because many of the policies identified above are already creaking under the weight of their own contradictions. The academies programme is clearly flagging and any effort to drive the policy forward through more ‘forcing’ will likely meet with strong parental opposition. Meanwhile market solutions to school places and teacher supply are demonstrably failing. Add to the mix teachers’ untenable workloads and it is clear that the longer-term sustainability of the system itself is in question. There have to be changes. All of these issues represent opportunities to challenge the current agenda, and to make the case for a more hopeful and optimistic vision of education. One that is genuinely exciting for young people, and that teachers feel proud to work in. However, what is absolutely clear is this: if hope is to triumph over fear, teachers will need to stand up and stand together for what they believe in. The NUT’s excellent Stand Up for Education campaign has already provided a glimpse of what teachers can achieve when they mobilise in creative ways around an alternative agenda. The challenge is to convert the fantastic mobilisation that took place before the election into an unstoppable movement for properly funded, high quality, comprehensive state education after the election. Nothing is inevitable about the next five years – but only by acting together can we bring about the changes our education system desperately needs.
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