the Teacher – November 2015

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Finding refuge in our schools


cember 2015 November / De

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Finding refuge in our schools As the cover of this edition of the Teacher illustrates, the refugee crisis is still affecting many countries around the world. NUT members have contributed ideas for positive ways of discussing the arrival of refugee children in our classrooms and how to make them feel welcome (see p17). October saw the launch of a new film from Show Racism the Red Card, sponsored by the Union, which looks at migration as well as the reasons why people are sometimes forced to flee their own countries. The film is available on the Show Racism the Red Card website and will soon be complemented by a complete teaching pack. Inside this edition we cover in some detail why the NUT is a prominent partner in Education International's Global Response campaign against widescale privatisation in education, in particular in the global south. We are proud to be part of a broad spectrum of organisations standing against privatisation. See p27 for a full article on the campaign.

At national and local level, the Union is also active in lobbying against the Education and Adoption Bill and, of course, the Trade Union Bill. We took our arguments to the TUC and party conferences earlier this term and held many constructive conversations with MPs. Turn to p34 for full coverage of the conferences and our presence at them. Elsewhere in the issue you’ll find out how the NUT can help School Direct teachers through their first year in teaching (p25) and hear from our supply teachers about the difficulties that they are facing (p9). I hope to see some of you at the events highlighted in this issue: the Black Teachers' Conference, the Disabled Teachers' Conference as well as lobbying work on the crisis we face in education funding (p4). Christine Blower – General Secretary

22 Keeping an eye on Ofsted Teachers know all too well that Ofsted changes come thick and fast. Here we keep you up-to-date with all you need to know.

Features 04 Cutting education An NUT survey reveals how budget cuts are putting the squeeze on teachers.

25 School Direct Find out the many reasons why you should join the Union if you’re a School Direct teacher.

06 Phonics before bed Poet Jess Green slams the Government’s education polices and sings the praises of teachers.

27 The great education sell off An explosive new global report lifts the lid on the great education sell off.

09 Supply and demand Shelagh Kavanagh speaks out about the rights of supply teachers.

31 Speaking out We chat with head techer Colin Harris, whose recent letter to his local MP has attracted widespread media attention.

17 Finding refuge in our schools Our cover story looks at ways teachers can support refugee children in our schools.

32 Primary assessment: an appetite for data New regulations in assessment mean big changes, but old problems remain.

21 What shortage? Resident poet Michael Rosen parodies the poor Government response to the teacher shortage.

50 Backbeat Professor of Education Robert Simmons is looking for a NEET solution.

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November / December 15 I The Teacher


Cutting Education A shocking new NUT survey has exposed the level of cuts that schools across England and Wales are facing. What are the day-to-day consequences and how can we expect our children to receive the best education without adequate resources? the Teacher investigates… The story so far Over the last five years, total education funding was cut in real terms under the Coalition Government. Now the Conservative Government plans further cuts to schools funding as well as post 16 and capital funding. School funding per pupil will be frozen in cash terms. The impact, after taking inflation into account, will be that the real value will fall significantly, even before the impact of extra costs that schools face such as higher employer National Insurance and pension contributions. “The Conservative Government’s plans for education funding will hit schools hard,” warns NUT General Secretary Christine Blower. “Teachers face further pay restraint – hitting recruitment, retention and morale. Huge cuts to 16 -19 funding have left many sixth form colleges struggling to survive – but the Government plans to inflict more cuts on the sector.” Since 2010, capital funding has been cut drastically. The Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme was scrapped and with it 700 school building projects were cancelled. With the student population growing and some classrooms already at


November / December 15 I The Teacher

bursting point, the lack of funding for new schools has had serious repercussions. “With the prospect of one million children entering the system in the next 10 years, it makes no sense for local authorities to be restricted from building schools,” argues NUT Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney. More cuts to local authorities will further impact on services such as school improvement, behavioural and pupil support, child protection, libraries, music education and outdoor education. When considering some of our most vulnerable students, the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates that per-pupil funding in 16 per cent of the UK’s most disadvantaged secondary schools fell by more than five per cent in real terms between 2010-11 and 2014-15. There is also the distribution of funding to consider. Of the dwindling resources that remain, free schools and academies are receiving a disproportionate share. According to DfE data released in July, the average amount of state funding given to free schools in 2013-14 was £7,761 compared with £4,767 for local authority schools. It is clear that some schools are faring better than others in these times of austerity.

Cutting Education

“Classes of 30 for all sets. The teacher/pupil ratio is already far higher for lower attaining pupils, which means that it is very difficult for the teacher to ensure the individual needs of pupils are met,” Wales. The survey says… In order to uncover the consequences of the Government’s budget decisions, the NUT surveyed school reps in September – asking them to comment on the impact of funding cuts on their school. The responses were telling, with over half of teachers reporting cuts in teaching posts and classroom support staff. Other common casualties included reduced spending on books and equipment, increased class sizes and decreased resources for pupils with SEN or ESL. 74 per cent said their head teacher had already expressed concerns over funding issues and respondents also noted a greater reliance on nonqualified teachers and teaching assistants. The survey further revealed that, for almost half of the respondents, local authority services to their schools had been cut.

“Absolutely bonkers” No one can shed light on the situation better than teachers who are on the frontline of the funding cuts. The NUT survey captured the frustration of teachers who are stretched to the limit. Here are just a few excerpts. “Classes of 30 for all sets. The teacher/pupil ratio is already far higher for lower attaining pupils, which means that it is very difficult for the teacher to ensure the individual needs of pupils are met,” Wales. “The impact on departmental budgets has been unbelievable. We are under continually increasing pressure to perform in a variety of ways. We want to be able to do our jobs well and do the right thing by the kids, but it seems that there are obstacles put in our way at every turn,” Yorkshire. “I mainly work in KS5 and we have cut numerous courses due to reductions in funding. The curriculum has become much depleted to the detriment of students. How are we supposed to nurture wellrounded, interested individuals within a limited curriculum? Absolutely bonkers,” London.

”We just don’t have enough money to buy quality resources, resulting in cheap materials which do not last as long. The staff buy the majority of the resources they need for their classes themselves, which results in people not sharing their resources,” North West.

Post 16 funding in crisis It is not just money for schools that is causing a problem. Post-16 funding is to be cut yet further and this, combined with an ongoing review of post-16 provision, threatens the future of the whole sixth form college sector. The NUT is working with members in the sector to try to protect colleges and students alike.

Fighting back These worrying comments paint a bleak picture, but there are ways that teachers can fight back. The NUT is lobbying Parliament on funding on 18 November, giving an opportunity for teachers’ voices to be heard. It is imperative that MPs are aware of the difficulties facing schools and colleges if they vote for cuts. “Education funding is an investment in our future. The Government must change course,” reinforces Christine Blower. Teachers must stand together and demand a rethink on funding cuts – it is not only their livelihoods in jeopardy, but the life prospects of children and young people across the UK. Lobbying on 18 November isn’t the only option – you and your colleagues can visit your MP in the constituency, and every member should email their MP wherever they live. Parents and governors should also be encouraged to participate. For details about the lobby on 18 November and other information about our campaign – including information to give to MPs and others, as sent to all NUT reps – go to:

“We just don’t have enough money to buy quality resources, resulting in cheap materials which do not last as long. The staff buy the majority of the resources they need for their classes themselves, which results in people not sharing their resources,” North West.

November / December 15 I The Teacher


Phonics before bed

Phonics before bed By Jess Green, poet One issue that repeatedly arises is this Government’s bizarre changes to the curriculum. There is an everincreasing pressure to find new ways to inspire kids to feel excited about subjects – subjects which have been redesigned so that the only students who will succeed at them are the ones with the gift of academia in their genes, the ones who were lucky enough to grow up with parents who had the time to do phonics and times tables every night in between stories and bath time.

In 2014 I wrote and performed a poem called Dear Mr Gove, which I filmed with my friend Nathan and posted online. To our astonishment the video attracted over 100,000 views in two days. I think that doubled over the next few weeks and it’s now just above 300,000 (according to my Mum, who keeps a watchful eye over these things). The poem is part of a show I’m currently touring called Burning Books, which is set in an inner city secondary school. I am always keen to ask if there are any teachers in the audience and to point out that I am not a teacher. I have not experienced the frontline day in, day out. I come from a family of teachers and I work as a poet, delivering workshops in schools around the country. So I am the fun visitor with Converse trainers and a nose piercing who comes to rile up the kids with rhyme battles and simile slams, before handing them back to you for the stuff they actually have to learn in order to make their expected levels of progress. I’m genuinely sorry about this. I’ve only been doing it for five years, but in that time I have had enough conversations in staffrooms to feel completely in awe of teachers and absolute frustration towards the education system.

It seems like every time schools get to grips with something new, the DfE moves the goalposts – like the expectation that students will feel just as enthusiastic about studying English when they’ve removed the most exciting books from the curriculum. You’re talking to the girl whose mother used to have to pay her to read. Or the idea of teaching history in chronological order – which frankly feels like the idea of a drunk politics student trying to impress his lecturer. After I posted the Gove poem online, I received hundreds of emails from teachers. Many were rousing, angry calls to action and others – usually the ones that came in the middle of the night – were terribly sad. Emails that talk about impossible workloads and unreachable targets; pressure, worry and hopelessness. My job involves seeing kids at their best and writing poems that I hope people will like. Given what a thankless, tough, uncelebrated job teaching can feel like, I often ask teachers why they go back to it day after day? 99 per cent of the time the answer is about a drive to make positive change. To help the ones who didn’t have phonics before bed. To be there when that one kid finally gets it. I take my hat off to you.

Watch Dear Mr Gove and more of Jess’ poems at:

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Supply and demand

Supply and demand Ahead of the NUT’s vital supply lobby on 28 October, Shelagh Kavanagh of the NUT’s grassroots Supply Teachers’ Network told us about the situation that teachers are facing… Supply teaching has long been a cornerstone of education in the UK. Schools have needed the flexibility of supply teachers just as teachers need the flexibility of supply teaching work at some point in their career. But changes over the last decade have put supply teachers in a difficult situation. Supply teacher agencies have existed since the late 1980s, but in many areas they remained marginal, as local authorities continued to run supply teacher pools which served schools’ needs. But a major blow came in 2003, under the Blair administration, with the unveiling of cover supervisors permitting schools to use non-teaching staff to cover for absent teachers; meaning anyone with a GCSE could lead a supply lesson. This was based on an assumption that all a supply teacher does is hand out a few worksheets, collect them in at the end of the day and then go home... and the results have been disastrous. With cover supervisors counted as administrative staff, not as teachers, schools are able to pay them far lower wages.

Meanwhile in England and Wales there are literally hundreds of agencies with thousands of branches, all with their own overheads. No wonder they take such a large cut of payments. England is the only country in the world that uses this system and it does not make sense. Private companies should not be making money by profiteering from our schools. Education is a public good not a private enterprise. So we at the NUT Supply Teachers’ Network are advising all Union reps to reach out to supply teachers in their school. There are resources for all supply teachers at and details on how to join our network. Together we can begin to fix the supply teacher system. Supply teachers lobbied major supply agencies on 28 October. Read all about it in the next edition of the Teacher.

In an era of tightening budgets, schools have been quick to adopt cover supervisors. This has reduced the amount of work available for supply teachers and also driven down their pay, as supply agencies drop their rates to secure schools’ remaining business. These agencies are under no obligation to pay teachers ‘to scale’ and constantly undercut one another in search of business, further driving down the rates of supply teachers. Whereas ten years ago the average rate for a supply teacher was around £140 a day, now it’s down to about £110. Under the pressure of targets and sales commission, agencies are often desperate to place someone – anyone – into vacancies. Teachers are treated as human resources, commodities for sale. Some agencies are ethical, but many will send a teacher to a school having missed out certain vital bits of information, such as that a teacher is only booked for a half day. Elsewhere in the UK we can find far more sophisticated supply schemes than our own. In Northern Ireland, a single computerised database matches schools to the kind of supply teachers that they need on any given day. Enter a set of criteria such as subject, location or experience, hit search and instantly you’ve found a teacher who meets your needs. It’s so efficient that I understand it takes just two people to run the database for the whole of the country! Illustration: JDawnInk

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t u o b a d n a Out NUT at the first ever Jersey Pride Over 3,000 people took part in Jersey’s first ever Pride event in September. The island has only recently adopted equal opportunities legislation and gay marriage is still under discussion. NUT South West and Jersey NUT had a significant presence on the march through St. Helier and the NUT stood alongside other organisations such as Unite. The march was also well supported by groups from various banks and financial institutions who make up a large part of Jersey’s

economy, as well as local politicians such as current States Deputy and former NUT Secretary, Louise Doublet. Regional Officer Sarah Allen-Melvin spoke to Radio Jersey about why it’s important for the Union to support the event and why teachers, students and the Union are firmly behind the equalities agenda. NUT South West Regional Secretary Andy Woolley has seen a significant change in attitudes to equality in the 15 years he has been representing

#YouCantTestThis Teachers, TAs and children at Gospel Oak School in Camden had an enjoyable break from routine when they spent the day celebrating the skills, experiences and achievements that are not part of formal testing in support of the “You Can’t Test This” campaign. Staff commented that it was such a pleasure for the first session – maths – to be creative, inspiring and fun. Activities included: creating symmetrical patterns through art, ratio through colour mixing, bridge building involving spaghetti and marshmallows, open-ended number work, and creating patterns using the digital routes of times tables. The learning prompted children to question how maths links to life and other areas of learning. Many teachers would like this style of experiential learning to continue and hope to incorporate creativity into other areas of the curriculum. The children certainly relished the day, as the positive feedback proved, and the campaign has the potential to prompt much-needed dialogue around learning opportunities offered in schools.

Obituary for Gerry Steinberg


members in Jersey and believes Pride will now be an annual event. “The organisers say they want future events to be supportive of all the equality strands and build on the success of this year,” he said. “This fits with our own work, where we have had to work outside of any legal framework until now, but we look forward to the possibilities that new legislation and changing public attitudes will help us in promoting equality of opportunity for all our members”.

Empowering young people The 2015 NUT/AWF Anthony Walker Memorial Lecture, which took place in October, marked 10 years since Anthony was murdered in Liverpool. The event was a celebration of Anthony’s life and many of his friends, colleagues and family gathered to share their memories and hopes for the future. One of Anthony’s teachers spoke about how his murder had led her to a more active approach in tackling all forms of bullying and abuse in the classroom. Further information about the AWF hate crime and diversity programme and Young Ambassadors Scheme is available at:

“I can clearly remember the despair on the morning when the 11+ results were announced. The head teacher read out who had passed. My name was not on the list.”

In the years before expenses scandals, the NUT retained, for a fee, the services of parliamentary consultants. One such was Gerry Steinberg, who died recently at the not very advanced age of 70.

That experience made Gerry a lifelong campaigner for non-selective secondary education. His professional career before he entered politics was devoted to teaching and, in particular, teaching young people with Special Educational Needs.

Gerry, having failed the 11+, nevertheless secured a college place and trained to be a teacher. Many years later he said:

Gerry is survived by his wife Meg, also a teacher, and their children Harry and Lyanne.

I The Teacher

In September, North West NUT members organised a picnic in the park as part of the baseline testing campaign. Members and their families gathered to enjoy a day in the sun at Heaton Park, for activities and games such as face painting and sing-along sessions. Cupcakes and biscuits were provided and children’s author Alan

Gibbons made an inspirational speech. Everyone agreed that ‘four is too young to test’ and now further activities are planned across the North West region.

Fred and Anne Jarvis Award 2016 Nominations are now open for the 2016 Fred and Anne Jarvis award. Since 2008, the NUT’s annual award recognises the contribution of an individual who is not an NUT member. The criterion for the award states: “The award should be made to a person who has campaigned tirelessly on a national or local level on educational issues which are broadly in support of the NUT’s ethos and approach, and accord with the example and commitment shown by Fred and Anne Jarvis.” NUT members are invited to consider nominating a non-NUT member for the 2016 award. The deadline for nominations is 5pm on Monday 11 January 2016. For more details please visit:

NUT divisions and local associations are invited to submit nominations for the 2016 Blair Peach Award. The award gives recognition to members who have made exemplary contributions to their school or Union branch’s work on equality and diversity. The award is named after Blair Peach, past president of East London NUT who was killed during an anti-racist demonstration in London in April 1979. On the day of his death, Blair Peach was marching against the far right National Front. All lay members, except paid officials, are eligible. Applications must be received from divisions by 19 December 2015. The winner will be presented with the award at Annual Conference 2016. For further information and to download a nomination form go to or email

Teachers at NUT at Burston Rally Shakespeare’s Globe Globe Education and the NUT have been working together to support the teaching and learning of Shakespeare in and out of the classroom. Their new programme Ways into Shakespeare is encouraging schools to bring their whole department or school along so that every teacher benefits. Sessions are held after the school day, or on Saturdays, to facilitate whole departments’ attendance and minimise the cost to schools in both time and money. After attending a course, Natalie Jim, drama curriculum leader at Sarah Bonnell School in London, said: “It was so lovely to actually, as a school, sort of bond and just play around. I think it is really important. As I say, it has changed the way people have taught Shakespeare, certainly in this school.” For more information visit:

The Conservative Government’s Trade Union Bill is “an attack on organised workers, our unions and all the things we have fought for”, NUT General Secretary Christine Blower told a 3,000-strong crowd at the annual Burston strike rally on 6 September.

The event celebrates “the longest strike in history” when the Norfolk village’s children walked out in 1914 to support their sacked teachers, NUT members Annie and Tom Higdon. The villagers rallied behind the Higdons, who had fallen foul of the local landowners for organising agricultural workers, and set up an alternative strike school which, supported by the labour movement, continued until 1939. Christine Blower pointed out that the turnout and majority in the recent referendum in Ireland for equal marriage was below the thresholds set out in the Trade Union Bill for union strike ballots. “Ireland can move to equal marriage on those turnouts but we couldn’t even have a one-day strike.” She recalled that Tony Blair had said that this country had the most restrictive trade union legislation in Europe and had gone on to do nothing about it. “We have to take back our right to strike and get on the front foot.” Christine Blower was speaking alongside Fire Brigades Union General Secretary Matt Wrack and Jeremy Corbyn, before his election as Labour leader.

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Out and about

The Blair Peach Award 2016

Picnic in the park

Out and about

Strike action in Derbyshire NUT members at Alfreton Grange Arts College in Alfreton, Derbyshire are on strike against excessive workload, brought about by the introduction of a nine lesson teaching day. The employers failed to respond to proposals that would have avoided the need to take strike action. Members at the school believe that the new timetable creates excessive and unnecessary

workload. Practical lessons are too short, limit what can be taught and do not allow enough time for effective teaching and learning to take place. The dispute has attracted support from parents, local councillors and the wider local community. NUT members at the school say they feel ‘empowered by the Union’ and proud to be part of an organisation that ‘Stands Up for Education’.

UKLA Book Awards The NUT is supporting the UKLA initiative to bring the best of newly published books for children and young people to student teachers and their tutors in universities across the UK. For more information visit:

Regional Rep of the Year: Niel Apps Niel Apps has been an RE teacher for the last 15 years. Nine years ago he took over as NUT rep at his school in Somerset… and hasn’t looked back since. Despite his positive attitude, Niel hasn’t had it easy as an NUT rep. For nearly five years he pursued a workload dispute with the immoveable former head of his school. Forced to compile six reports a year for every student, as well as reports on interventions to make sure students met their target grades, the teachers at his school were overworked. After years of fruitless meetings with the head, Niel decided to conduct an NUT staff survey. “We showed the head that 70 per cent of teachers said there’s too much work here, 95 per cent said there’s too much reporting and 95 per cent of teachers said they don’t have enough time to do everything,” says Niel. “We gave the report straight to the governors and, well, the head didn’t have a leg to stand on.” Thanks to Niel, the colleagues at his school are now only asked to complete one report a year. But the most important victory in Niel’s time as a rep was during a recent pay rise dispute. After noticing that both he and his colleagues had not received the one per cent increase last year, he immediately went to the same head who told him that the governors had decided that they simply couldn’t afford it. “I asked to see the minutes of the governors’ meeting and of course he couldn’t find the minutes because the governors didn’t know anything about it,” says Neil. “I went back to the members and they said ‘We need to strike about this’. Finally we got our pay rise


Teacher I TheTeacher I The

“Finally we got our pay rise backdated to the previous September. That was the most spectacular victory.” backdated to the previous September. That was the most spectacular victory.” With Niel’s own subject, RE, currently not listed as a core subject under the GCSE EBacc, he explains how his school now only offers one hour of RE each week. “This means that most kids don’t care or put the effort in because there’s no qualification at the end of it,” he says. Niel sits on the Somerset Standing Advisory Committee on RE and explains it’s a county-wide problem, with many of the schools in Somerset now moving away from doing compulsory RE and just having one lesson a week. As such, non-RE specialists are asked to teach it because of the limited timetabling it is given. “It has become a mockery of the subject,” says Niel. “Fortunately the new head’s view is that we should go back to compulsory GCSE RE. It all depends on the head teacher now. It depends whether they’re chasing figures or whether they’re thinking about the kids.” Asked what advice he would give to other NUT reps – or those who are thinking of becoming a rep – Niel explains, “It is the most fantastic thing to do. I absolutely love it which is why I’ve been doing it such a long time.”

Success stories

Success stories Teachers have been fighting for their rights across the country over the last few months. Here we focus on one amazing victory. Support for strikes in Winterbourne More than 100 members of the NUT and NASUWT at Winterbourne International Academy took strike action over three days in September, in protest about workload, appraisal, inappropriate modular assessment and the style of management introduced by a new leadership team. After detailed talks on several occasions, enough progress was made to suspend further days of planned action.

All smiles on the picket line at a joint NUT/NASUWT strike in Winterbourne

NUT South West Regional Secretary Andy Woolley praised the way in which local officers and National Executive members of the two unions had worked together. He commented that he had never seen a staff so united in their concerns. “I was really impressed with the determination of staff who realised that changes needed to be made at the school,” he said. The dispute was an escalation of joint NUT/NASUWT Action Short of Strike Action, but ATL members refused to cover classes, as did members of UNISON. National Executive members Anne Lemon and Andy Woolley appeared on regional TV and in local newspapers. The striking teachers received messages of support from as far away as Chicago and picketers also received chocolates and doughnuts from local trade union branches. The improvements for members at Winterbourne will now be extended by the trustees to the other two schools in the federation, where members were also raising concerns and supporting those on strike at Winterbourne. Thanks to the victory all teachers will now benefit from a greatly reduced workload, a more flexible approach to modular learning and no early morning meetings. Significantly, the Executive Principal – who members believe perpetuated the negative ‘blame culture’ – agreed to leave the academy federation following the dispute. Now the teachers welcome the opportunity to move forward in a more collaborative way.

If you have won a victory at your school and would like to share it with the Union, email your story to:

I The Teacher 13

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l a n o i t a n r Inte Privatisation: threatening education across the globe By Kishore Singh, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education Around the world there is widespread concern about the way that privatisation is degrading teachers’ professional esteem. Qualified, committed teachers are crucial for quality education and public policy desperately needs to address the status of the profession. Strong teachers are essential in the face of mushrooming privatisation, where companies are running schools with scant oversight from public authorities. Such privatisation is a menace around the globe. Many under-qualified and underpaid teachers are now employed on a temporary basis by low-fee, enterpriseowned private schools. The lack of opportunity for career development is making for a precarious profession. Such practices are in direct contravention of the UNESCO-ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers (1966), which lays down a framework for what should happen in the teaching profession. The Recommendation provides guidance on a diverse range of matters such as teachers’ status, career advancement, security of tenure and conditions of service. Private institutions in the global south are supplanting state provision. For pupils, these private schools create a learning system devoid of cultural diversity and jeopardize the humanist mission of education; compromising teachers’ professionalism. With privatisation, the ideals of imparting universal human rights values, of a spirit of learning and of living together in common well-being, are being jeopardized. Because of these dangers it has become critical to develop a regulatory framework that controls privatisation, with sanctions against abusive practices. Such a framework should be prescriptive, prohibitive

“Education is a social responsibility. Civil organisations and the intellectual community – as well as students and parents – must be encouraged to safeguard the right to education against forces of privatisation.” and – for instance – ban private providers of education from employing unqualified teachers. It should also be punitive and sanction private providers whenever any of their corrupt practices implicate teachers. Education is a social responsibility. Civil organisations and the intellectual community, as well as students and parents, must be encouraged to safeguard the right to education against forces of privatisation. In that spirit, the Resolutions adopted at Education International’s World Congress in Ottawa last July provide a starting point for intensifying the campaign. Now we must depend on teachers to continue in that direction – and on governments to preserve the status of the teaching profession.

Turn to p27 for a full report on privatisation in our schools and the explosive report that is turning the tide.

November / December 15 I The Teacher


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Photo: shutterstock

Finding refuge in our schools As Europe steps up to play its part in the refugee crisis, many schools across the UK will welcome thousands of newly arrived young people into our country.

November / December 15 I The Teacher


Unlike in years passed, the summer of 2015 will not be remembered for sporting achievements, blockbuster films or heat waves. The daily news was not filled with holidaymakers on beaches or farmers complaining of droughts – but of harrowing images of families fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq; the image of children face down on European shores seared into the eyes of millions. The statistics are even more shocking. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 51 per cent of the global refugee population are minors. “Globally, more children have been forced to flee their homes alone than at any other time since records began,” Lisa Doyle, the Refugee Council’s head of advocacy, recently told the Guardian. “A small proportion of these children have sought safety in Britain, arriving alone and scared. Of course, it’s right that these children are looked after in the same way we care for other children who can’t live in peace with their families.” The UK Government announced in September that it would take in 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years, many of whom will be of school age. Teachers in Britain have been welcoming new arrivals for decades and huge expertise resides in the profession, which the NUT is seeking to tap. “Education plays a critical role in assisting refugee families to establish themselves in a new community, and creating a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere is a whole school approach,” advises Jean Swain, NUT member and EAL teacher in Croydon. “All staff should try to make certain that new arrivals see their language and culture positively reflected in school and that their contributions to school life are valued.”

Fostering understanding With education funding cuts putting the squeeze on already tight resources and staffing shortages rife throughout the country, the prospect of welcoming students with potentially complex behavioural and psychological needs can seem daunting. But there are ways that schools can embrace the benefits of a diverse, multicultural and multilingual student body. The UK could find inspiration in Scandinavian initiatives. The Hello Sweden campaign offers schools a short movie, comic book and stage play that convey the experiences of unaccompanied refugee children in Sweden. In Norway, teachers and tutors are trained in conflict sensitivity, peace education and psychosocial support in order to equip them with the tools necessary to handle the complexities of educating refugee children.


November / December 15 I The Teacher

There are also examples across the UK of schools taking the lead on building awareness and facilitating integration. Nicky Downes, an NUT equality officer and inclusion teacher at Frederick Bird Primary School, has put together a pack for all school reps in Coventry that includes information and resources to teach students about the refugee situation. At her school, they offer daily language classes for refugee children where they can improve their English skills and also share their experiences in a protected, supportive setting. School staff have also coordinated a delivery of essential items to refugees in Calais and led a collection drive for refugee charity Carriers of Hope ( In Newham, the NUT will be launching a revised poetry booklet written by refugee students in December. The booklet will form part of a toolkit to assist schools and local authorities and will be sent out to all NUT divisions.

Active steps There are many things that schools can do to support refugee students. Refugee Action’s website allows teachers and students to send a Refugees Welcome to Britain postcard that will be given to incoming children as an act of welcome, solidarity and understanding. Football charity Show Racism the Red Card has created a short film entitled Immigration: What’s the Story, which aims to educate students about the effects of racism. Schools can also celebrate World Refugee Day on 20 June 2016, which spearheads a week showcasing the contributions refugee children and families have made historically and the contributions they make now. The NUT is playing its part and providing support for members in the form of online guidance as well as professional development for teachers. In collaboration with the Institute of Education, the NUT is offering a suite of CPD workshops entitled The Art of Possibilities, which focuses on creating a sense of place and belonging for every child. The dates and venues will be published in the next edition of the Teacher. “When refugee children and young people arrive in our schools, we must make them welcome and ensure that their rights as children under the UN Charter are honoured”, states NUT General Secretary Christine Blower. Ensuring that refugee children have access to education is the best guarantee that a dynamic, multicultural society will continue to flourish in the UK. Teachers need to join together to show solidarity and support for new arrivals to the country, particularly those who form the foundation of Britain’s future – the children.

Finding refuge in our schools

Tips for helping new refugees in schools Starting school can often be a stressful experience for new arrivals. Here are one Croydon teacher’s top five suggestions for welcoming new refugee pupils to your school:



If English is not their first language then set individual goals for English and follow an EAL induction programme.



Inform all relevant staff of the arrival of new students and, if possible, learn a few words in their first language, particularly greetings.

Award the new arrival with a ‘Welcome to our School’ certificate – ideally this should be in both English and their first language.

Whenever possible, place new arrivals alongside peers who speak the same language, but ensure they also have access to good models of spoken English.


Be observant and try to recognise the signs if a student seems distressed. Teachers can seek help from outside agencies if necessary, with the agreement of parents or carers.

Learning from each other To find the resources and CPD described in this article and the new NUT teaching resource launched this month (see right) visit: Please send your resources (eg assemblies, poetry, writing activities, whole school projects) about refugee education to where we will be collating ideas and sharing them with NUT members.

November / December 15 I The Teacher


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exam markers and moderators ţ MǍDZȍǜ˂Ɓ ˇǜȳȍ ȥƁÖŤƯƲǒƠǔȕǀƲǃǃȕ ţ MǒƘǜȍǍ ˇǜȳȍ ȳǒųƁȍȕȥÖǒųƲǒƠ ǜƘ ȥƯƁǔƁ˅ÖǍ DZȍǜŤƁȕȕ ţ ,Öȍǒ Ɓ˅ȥȍÖ ƲǒŤǜǍƁ ÖǃǜǒƠȕƲųƁ ˇǜȳȍ ȥƁÖŤƯƲǒƠǔŤÖȍƁƁȍ ţ JǜǍƁ řÖȕƁųů ƛ Ɓ˅ƲřǃƁ ˃ǜȍǀƲǒƠ Apply now to mark/moderate 2016 GCSEs and A-levels

Field-Marshal Morgan sat in her tent, looking at a map of the battle. Behind her in his cot General Gove was rattling his rattle.

You know the old saying? Excuse me for saying it today ‘Old soldiers never die they simply fade away...’

We don’t have to do very much we can leave the rest to the press to repeat and repeat and repeat that the new schools are the best.

A horse drew up outside. A messenger dismounted. He burst through the door and gasped, ‘The numbers… they’ve been counted!’

‘Ignore him, Marm,’ screamed Gibb, ‘if troops are leaving the battle it’s ‘cos they’re not fit to fight.’ And Gove rattled his rattle.

If this doesn’t do the job of increasing disaffection we have something else: a draconian system of inspection.

The Field-Marshal didn’t stir her eyes barely flickered: ‘This is the work of scare-mongers,’ good General Gibb snickered.

‘Let’s hold it there,’ said Morgan ‘time out, let’s take a pause. If there were by chance a shortage, can anyone think of a cause?’

And while they’re in the field no soldier should ever be resting so fill every day with paper, evaluation and testing.

‘There is no shortage of troops, I can assure you, Marm. If there were, (which there isn’t) it’s doomsayers doing the harm.

An injured veteran stood there cleaning up around the camp, he cleared his throat and moved into the light of the lamp.

Test everything that moves it’s the tests that are showing if a thing can’t be tested it’s a thing not worth knowing.

We have hundreds of new recruits and veterans returning to fight, sergeants are in the colonies recruiting day and night.’

‘For 20 years, Marm, I’ve only heard one song:’ ‘The troops we have are lousy, everything they do is wrong.

And while we’re on the subject of the problem of retention let’s not forget the plan to snatch the soldiers’ pension.’

Field-Marshal Morgan stood up to address a newspaper man, ‘Tell your readers at home Everything’s going to plan.’

The troops overseas are better everywhere else is finer. No one can read and write. And it’s wonderful in China.

The veteran had no more to say, there was silence on the parade ground. The chiefs of staff were thinking: could a solution be found?

‘But, Marm,’ said the newspaper man, ‘may I be so bold as to mention I’m hearing from the frontline of a problem with retention.

The only thing we can do to make fighting men of these fools is let anyone come along and start up army schools.

The tent was quiet for a while the info took some absorbing... Then Gibb leaped forwards ‘Let’s blame it all on Corbyn!’

I The Teacher 21

What shortage?

What Shortage?

Poem by Michael Rosen Illustration by Dan Berry

Illustration: penfold

Keeping an eye on Ofsted As teachers, you’ll know all too well that Ofsted changes can come thick and fast – impacting your day-to-day work without so much as a thank you note. So we’ve put together these pages to help keep you updated with all the latest news and how you can make the most of any recent Ofsted changes…

What’s new? A new common inspection framework (CIF) has been in place since September 2015. Key changes include: • most inspectors will either be employed by Ofsted or contracted directly by them, rather than contracted from third party organisations • serving school leaders will be included in school inspection teams • there will be a new judgement on personal development, behaviour and welfare. Ofsted says that the focus of inspections will be on:

Schools and colleges judged ‘good’ at their last inspection will now receive a short inspection approximately every three years. This will usually be conducted over one day, to confirm the school remains ‘good’. It will either lead to a letter of confirmation (rather than a full report), or may trigger a full Section 5 inspection if the HMI is unable to confirm the judgement or feels the school warrants an ‘outstanding’ judgement. The NUT continues to oppose the current model of inspection. Instead we advocate a method of school accountability and evaluation that does not disrupt teaching and learning – which is a developmental rather than ‘punitive’ process – and which is based upon the principle of school self-evaluation. A regularly updated suite of materials with information and advice on Ofsted can be found on the NUT website

• the impact of leaders’ work in developing and sustaining an ambitious culture and vision in the school

What does Prevent mean for school inspection?

• a broad and balanced curriculum

Ofsted inspectors will now consider how well leadership and management ensure that a school’s curriculum actively

• safeguarding


• pupils’ outcomes, with most weight given to the progress of pupils currently in the school rather than attainment and nationally published data.

November / December 15 I The Teacher

The Clarification for Schools document is available to read on the NUT website at:

Ofsted spokespeople have said that they are interested in the ‘impact’ of Prevent training rather than the form of any Prevent training and intend to ask staff “how much better are learners protected by staff training?”.

Making change happen

Schools are not required to produce a Prevent policy for Ofsted purposes, but actions taken in regard to Prevent must be reflected clearly in other policies and Ofsted will be looking for this evidence. Ofsted have clarified in meetings with the NUT that schools need not describe these values as ‘British’ values when approaching them and that schools should take individual approaches to educating for positive values. Ofsted has indicated they may ask any staff member “what they would do’’ if they had concerns about a pupil, so it is important that teachers are given an opportunity as a school body to discuss issues such as proportionality, clarity and professional judgement in relation to reporting. Geraint Evans, the National Lead Prevent Officer at Ofsted, suggests that the first step for a teacher with concerns about a pupil is to have a ‘trusted’ conversation and not to move straight to a formal referral. Ofsted is urging schools to ensure they are safe spaces where teachers feel confident to have such conversations with pupils.

In one London school, an NUT rep generated a discussion on the use of Ofsted grades for lesson observations. The rep reported that at first it was difficult as people had become so used to them and saw them as some kind of ‘safety net’. In addition, the head was initially not keen to change the rubric for observations but said he may be open to discussion. However, over time the rep shifted the discussion by talking to members and sharing information from the local association and NUT about the Ofsted clarifications. The rep did an online survey of members in which the majority said they would be in favour of ending the use of grading. In response, the head agreed to allow the staff to vote at the next INSET session. Staff voted 73-10 to end the use of grading and the head has set up a working party to draw up a new policy on lesson observations, evaluation and CPD.

Stop press – Mocksteds! Mocksteds have been another Ofsted driven source of additional workload and teacher stress. Ofsted has now forbidden its inspectors from taking part in Mocksteds.

Ofsted clarifications

Ofsted tips

There probably isn’t a single member who hasn’t heard the head teacher or a member of senior management say: “It’s what Ofsted expects to see,” when announcing some initiative that will add to teachers’ already unsustainable workload.

• Meet as an NUT group to discuss Ofsted. Share your concerns, aspirations, how you can support each other, and any approach you wish to make collectively to your school leadership team, governors, and others (eg local authority advisers or representatives from an academy chain).

Following Union pressure as part of our workload campaign, Ofsted published a Clarification for Schools document in September 2014 in which the inspectorate clarified their expectations around lesson planning, grading of lessons, lessons observations and evidence of pupils’ work. Following further Union pressure, the document was updated and republished in March 2015 to include more detailed advice on marking expectations, which members said was a key driver of unsustainable workload. It has subsequently been incorporated into the Inspectors’ Handbook, giving it additional legitimacy. However, the Ofsted Clarification for Schools document will only help to tackle workload if it is used by members. It was encouraging to see in a recent YouGov survey, commissioned by the Union, that seven per cent of teachers had already used the Clarification for Schools document to make a difference to teacher workload and burdens on schools. The Union recognises that some heads may continue to expect teachers to engage in practices that Ofsted has made clear it does not expect to see, for example a written record of oral feedback given to pupils. However, where this is the case, members have the authority of the document to challenge their reasons for doing so.

Keeping an eye on Ofsted

promotes the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

• Consider asking for a full staff meeting to discuss the school’s approach to inspection. It doesn’t matter how far in the future the next inspection may be – the earlier you have a clear, understood, reasonable and collective professional agreement on your approach to inspection as a school, the better. Items for discussion might include: • whether current practices go beyond what Ofsted requires as outlined in the Clarification for Schools document • how work generated by inspection can be minimised and managed most effectively • how that work relates to NUT protocols on workload, observation and planning • whether to use the Ofsted staff questionnaire (the NUT recommends this) • how teaching staff can contribute to the school’s self-evaluation. Remember that you are the professional in your classroom – no one knows your class or students better than you.

November / December 15 I The Teacher


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The NUT is keen to welcome all those training to teach though School Direct. Our Union has many ways we can help trainee teachers, here are just a few…

Guides and publications The NUT has produced an essential guide for those training to teach via School Direct. The School Direct Join your Union guide contains lots of useful information, some frequently asked questions and much more. To download a free copy visit:

Learning with the NUT Learning is at the heart of the National Union of Teachers. We represent the largest group of qualified teachers in Europe and our belief in the power of learning for all is reflected in our provision of professional development for NUT members and teachers. We offer courses aimed at supporting you as a new teacher. For more information visit:

Professional unity The NUT has consistently called for there to be one union for all teachers. We campaign for professional unity because a single union would ensure the voice of the profession is heard. A new union would potentially have over half a million members and would be a powerful force in education and the trade union movement.

Campaigning for a better education system Teachers tell us that they want their union to promote teaching as a respected profession, to stand up for teachers and for those they teach. As you join the teaching profession, you need a strong campaigning union: the NUT. We’re proud to campaign on the issues that matter to teachers and pupils alike.

Free membership offer If you haven’t joined us, your membership will be entirely free whilst you are training to teach. To join, call our hotline 020 7380 6369 or visit: As an NUT student member you will have access to the very best support, guidance and advice, as well as a comprehensive range of benefits and services.

Countdown discount card As a member of the NUT you will receive a Countdown discount card, providing access to discounts on a range of goods and services, from your weekly supermarket shop to holidays, DIY, restaurants, cinemas – and even at your local shops and takeaways. For more information visit:

The NUT: the Union for School Direct teachers

The NUT: the Union for School Direct teachers

Recruit a colleague As a School Direct trainee teacher and NUT member you are in a good position to encourage other trainee teachers to join the NUT. If you help us recruit a colleague by 30 November, you’ll both be entered into the Union’s prize draw, sponsored by Aviva, to win one of two £250 Apple Store gift cards. Make sure your colleague tells us that you recommended them!

Strong membership is the bedrock of the Union. It enables us to campaign on the issues that matter to teachers and to provide policy advice and guidance to assist you in school. Help us build the Union that all teachers deserve. The NUT is there to support you throughout your career.

I The Teacher 25

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Illustration: Anna Dunn

The great education sell off

15 years ago, the international community made a commitment to achieve global primary education for all children. But as governments worldwide fail to provide much needed public education, private companies are swooping in to commodify education – and it’s children who are paying the price. Now an explosive new global report, supported by the NUT, lifts the lid on the great education sell off.

TheTeacher Teacher 27 IIThe

To those who would put a dollar on it, the estimated worth of our global education market is some $4.2 trillion dollars, roughly equivalent to Japan’s entire GDP. With that sort of prize on the table, you can be sure that private companies across the globe are doing all they can to receive their cut. For decades the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) has seen private companies join with governments to create private money-making opportunities such as Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and supposedly ‘low-fee’ schools, which put huge financial commitments on often desperate parents. But in recent years these companies have also begun to encroach on public education, creating profitable opportunities through the sale of textbooks, consultancies, ICT technologies, teacher training, evaluation systems and tests. “This GERM is infecting our systems globally,” says Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT. “The profit motive has no place in education provision.” Worryingly, the British Government is one of the leading proponents of using taxpayers’ aid money to privatise education across Africa and Asia. The Department for International Development (DfID) is currently funding initiatives promoting private schools in countries including Pakistan, Nigeria, Ghana and many others. Now a new report The UK’s support of the growth of private education through its development aid – published in October by the NUT and 13 other global organisations – is lifting the lid. Backed by the Right to Education Project, ActionAid UK and Education International among others, the report examines the UK’s role in privatising education and its effect on children around the globe. Proving DfID’s spurious claim that “private enterprise is not just a generator of wealth, but also a provider of

critical basic services” (2012), the report concludes that UK private education policies are problematic as, “the country could be violating its extraterritorial obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” “Privatisation in education may further entrench inequalities to the detriment of the most marginalised groups and create segregation in communities while not delivering on quality of education,” states the report. Its findings are already causing ripples across the international community. “This is a landmark report that will reverberate well beyond the shores of Great Britain,” says Angelo Gavrielatos of Education International. “We must stand for the right of every child to have a qualified teacher, teaching them an engaging curriculum in a safe environment. No more, no less.” While the UK remains at the forefront of ensuring a worldwide right to education, the report highlights increased support for the development of private education – particularly towards for-profit, supposedly ‘low-fee’ private schools such as Bridge International Academies and Omega Schools in the global south. In Africa, such schools maximise profits by exploiting parents’ desire for a better future for their children. In Kenyan Bridge International Academies – supported by Pearson – the use of classroom scripts, large class sizes and poorly prepared teachers is commonplace in an effort to control costs and ensure profits. Employing unqualified and poorly trained teachers on

“Low-fee schools are a relative concept. For many families it is their entire income,” Christine Blower.

The great education sell off

“Privatisation in education may further entrench inequalities to the detriment of the most marginalised groups.” poverty low wages has been a principle strategy in keeping costs down. Teachers at Omega (low fee) schools in Ghana earn roughly $3 a day, approximately 15-20 per cent of what public sector teachers earn in the same country. Such ‘low fee’ schools also operate a ‘pay as you learn’ system in which parents must pay approximately 25-40 per cent of their daily earnings to educate their child. These so called low-cost schools are still too expensive for many families, creating a structural exclusion of the very poor and marginalised. “Low-fee schools are a relative concept. For many families it is their entire income,” says Christine Blower. The result is entrenched economic division; further deepening institutionalised class inequalities in already difficult economies. In some cases parents can only afford to send one child to school, meaning that siblings bypass education entirely. The consequence is an exacerbation of gender discrimination, as in many countries parents favour the education of boys over girls. “DfID has a lot of questions to answer,” says Polly Jones from Global Justice Now. “Why is it using UK aid money to fund schools that are not only failing to

provide quality education, but is also undermining the very public systems it is meant to support?” So what should the UK be doing? “Education is a human right and a civil good. We need to make sure we are doing our duty in supporting the rights of the child,” says Christine Blower. “We are asking our members to stand up to DfID and say ‘Not in my name do you go around destabilising education systems and supplanting the supply of government funded public education. I do not want my tax pounds spent in that way.’” The NUT is pressing the UK Government to halt all aid programmes that promote for-profit provisions of education. DfID must divert its funding to work with governments, trade unions and local NGOs that develop cutting edge thinking on how best to support free, public and democratically accountable education. Only through these methods can we halt the commodification of education and create a system that is accessible to all children, whatever their gender, nationality or economic background. You can read the full report at: You could also email your MP at:

Salima Namusobya – Executive Director at the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights – launching the report in October.

I The Teacher 29

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

Speaking out for education

Speaking out for education An NUT head teacher member in Hampshire recently caused a stir when he wrote an open letter to his local MP, expressing his disquiet about the Government’s education policy. Colin Harris, who has been a head teacher at Warren Park Primary School for 20 years, was contacted on several occasions by Alan Mak, Conservative MP for Havant, requesting a school visit. Colin felt compelled to decline and openly express his reasons for refusing the visit. The letter garnered significant media attention and thrust Colin into the spotlight. The Teacher spoke to Colin to find out what pushed him to publicly air his views and to ask him what changes he’d like to see in the education sector… What was your motivation for writing the letter and why was it important to make it public? A week or so before the elections I received a call asking if Alan Mak MP could stop by the school and meet the children and pose for photos, which I politely declined as that could be deemed as electioneering. Then a five-page letter followed, detailing a suggested itinerary for a school visit that included a certificate presentation for the students, a photo opportunity, meeting with staff and parents, and a question and answer session. Being a double outstanding school in a deprived area I felt that the request should have been, “Can I come and see the school and see how you’ve done it so we can share good practice?” That would have been a totally different question. But that wasn’t the case. The fact that I received over the top phone calls followed by an over the top letter meant that a different type of reply was necessary. What has the response been like? There has been a huge response from people who agree with the letter. Lots of people have written to me saying

“Well done for standing up”. Parents are right behind me too; there has been no dissension. Funnily enough, I received an email from someone I shared a flat with 37 years ago who saw my article in the paper and got in touch after all these years! Following the publication of the letter, has there been any backlash or negative publicity? I haven’t received any negative responses at all. None at all. Could you give any examples of how your school has suffered as a result of Government policy? I think the biggest one, without any shadow of a doubt, is taking levels away without telling us what they want instead. So teachers have to start from scratch and reinvent the wheel. What we have now is a series of governments whereby a new idea comes in and is immediately implemented – there’s no planned approached. Under Mr Gove it was weekly and now Nicky Morgan has been put in to address this but it hasn’t really changed. I came into the education field to actually make a difference. I didn’t come into it to have so many people playing with our education system who have very little knowledge of it. Why can’t we be allowed to do the best that we can? What are some of the main changes you would like to see in education and do you feel optimistic about the future of teaching? I think the biggest issue is that there is no debate about our education system anymore. As I said in my letter, we have become a political football. We truly are battered around. You ask if I feel optimistic about the future of teaching but are people in general feeling optimistic about the education system at the moment? Teachers need to be listened to and not talked down to by politicians. We need recognition somewhere along the line that we are doing a good job and that we’re doing the best by our children in this country. You can read Colin’s full letter on p44.

I The Teacher 31

Primary assessment An appetite for data It’s all change for assessment in English primary schools. But old problems remain and new regulations spell more trouble ahead.

Illustration: Fanatic Studio

The Commission on Assessment, which reported in September, sang the praises of formative assessment, dubbing it “the very heart of good teaching�. Yet at the same time it endorsed the high stakes summative tests that are used by the Government to hold schools to account. The Commission claimed there was no tension between these two principles. Teachers know differently.

In large part, the fate of schools is now determined by summative testing. The mass academy conversions that the Government is planning will only exacerbate this situation. Alongside the relentless demands of external summative testing, other kinds of pressure are still in place: pay progression is linked to pupil progress, Ofsted's interest in in-year performance data is still strong. The demands on teachers to provide assessment data has never been higher.

The Phonics Check remains. The Government is pleased that more and more children are reaching the expected standard. It has had less to say about the findings of the NFER, who state that the link between proficiency in phonics and improved literacy is “inconclusive”. At KS1 and KS2, the changes are dramatic. There is an “interim” document on teacher assessment which gives it a less important status than externally-set tests. The tests themselves are changing in important ways that schools are only now coming to terms with. It is here that the greatest area of uncertainty lies. There is a new “higher expected standard” at KS2, which 85 per cent of pupils will be expected to reach. Schools will also have to show that pupils “make expected progress”. Fail on both these measures, and your school will be firmly in the Government’s sights. The problem is that schools will not know what counts as sufficient progress until the tests have been taken. It is only

“Teachers and pupils inhabit an iron cage of testing, where learning is shaped to the demands of tests, and creativity is all too often a luxury.”

then that the Government will set out its definition. The DfE thus has the power to influence, from year-to-year, the number of schools that will fall below its threshold. In this world of uncertainty, where the penalties for failure are high, the idea that schools will focus on the formative assessment of children’s deep learning, is fanciful. As the Union’s report Exam Factories? graphically describes, teachers and pupils alike inhabit an iron cage of testing, where learning is shaped to the demands of tests, and creativity is all too often a luxury. There are other ways of organising education, where testing does not determine every outcome. Other countries in the UK do things differently. “Where assessment becomes dominated by accountability processes” says the Donaldson Review of the curriculum in Wales, “the consequences for children and young people’s learning can be damaging”. Teachers in England will accept the force of this argument: they will be pressing ministers to learn it too. Keep an eye out for local NUT meetings on assessment and accountability taking place in your area. These meetings will provide you with an opportunity to discuss what schools in your area are doing to adapt to life after levels. You can also make a difference by joining the Union's Stand Up for Education campaign, which calls for an urgent rethinking of school accountability and the current trend of high stakes testing:

Following our Year of the Curriculum, the Union has worked with the Curriculum Foundation to produce a range of resources to support teachers through this time of assessment change. Year of Assessment is an online programme of CPD, aimed at supporting teachers to develop their expertise and reclaim professional control over assessment. The programme explores the principles of assessment and provides examples of classroom practice. It includes modules on Assessing a rounded curriculum and What do we want our pupils to do with their learning? as well as advice on embedding practice. The materials are designed to be used flexibly at individuals’ own pace. Follow the Year of Assessment programme at:

Primary assessment

Baseline Assessment has come and gone in the first few weeks of term. Controversially, it has boiled down the complex learning patterns of reception-aged children into a single score. That score will be with children throughout their time in school – and it will also be used to hold schools to account.

n o i n U Your Getting our message across It was all change at this autumn’s political party conferences. The new Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders took a first bow in front of their party faithful and the Conservatives basked in their first post-election victory gathering since 1992. The NUT ensures that education policy and teachers’ priorities are both on the agenda at these crucial events. At all the conferences, councillors, governors and teachers of different political persuasions come to talk and engage with the NUT. The NUT prioritised the need for education to be fully funded as its main message this autumn. We highlighted the financial pressures that many schools and colleges are already facing – and called for education funding to be protected in the Government’s forthcoming spending review. Together with the ATL we organised high profile and well-attended fringe meetings at the Liberal Democrat, Green, Labour and Conservative conferences. These meetings posed the question “Are the kids alright?” and discussed the growing pressures young people are facing.

Labour conference The indications of a new policy direction following statements from Lucy Powell, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, were confirmed when she joined the panel at the NUT/ATL fringe. Lucy Powell has approached her role in ways which open up the prospect that many of the Union’s Stand Up for Education goals will be placed at the centre of education debate.


I The Teacher

The NUT organised a meeting on the Education Bill at the Labour conference. Labour’s new Shadow Schools Minister, Nic Dakin MP, joined the NUT’s Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney on the panel for this event. Nic talked about how the free school experiment in Sweden was “crashing down with terrible consequences”. Kevin highlighted how the Bill completely fails to deal with the teacher shortage and the education funding crisis. He said that the Government could not justify or provide any evidence for such an illiberal assault on the rights of parents and governors to have a say about education.

Liberal Democrat conference At the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth, the party’s new education spokesperson John Pugh MP joined us on the panel at our meeting. He spoke of his disappointment with educational reductionism, while John Cameron of the NSPCC said child social and emotional development was vitally important. The ATL’s Mary Bousted highlighted the NUT’s Exam Factories? research and the negative impact of the accountability system on young people and their teachers.

Green conference Green Party leader Natalie Bennett spoke alongside NUT General Secretary Christine Blower and Wendy Ellyatt of the Save Childhood Movement at the Green Party’s conference, also in Bournemouth. Natalie pledged Green support to campaign against the new baseline test in reception. The Union is working with the Save Childhood Movement to campaign for a learner focused assessment system, which is currently frustrated by the accountability agenda. Christine

Your Union Photo: Danny Fitzpatrick courtesy of ATL

highlighted the Union’s Exam Factories? research, revealing the negative impact on child wellbeing and children’s emotional health from excessive testing, drilling and streaming. Current discourse around school readiness was wrong-headed – we need schools to be child ready rather than for children to be school ready.

Conservative conference At the Conservative Party conference, members turned out in force for the ‘No to Austerity’ demonstration outside the conference. The TUC estimated that over 60,000 people took to the streets in a huge show of public concern about the harm caused by austerity and the Trade Union Bill’s attack on the rights of working people and their unions. Inside the Conference, the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan was challenged by our General Secretary on the impact of her policies on young people (see picture above). She later used her main conference speech to announce her resolve to “use the coming years to root out poor education wherever it lurks”. This approach threatens to undermine her credibility with the teaching profession. Instead, Nicky Morgan must develop a positive and consensual national school improvement strategy,

instead of talking down education as a false justification for forced academisation. Academisation is not a school improvement intervention. The NUT also supported an event on the teaching profession. At this, Kevin Courtney shared a platform with the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee Neil Carmichael MP, Toby Young, and Pam Tatlow of the university thinktank Million+. The fringe meeting confirmed that commentators and thinkers across the parties have recognised the threat posed to education by teacher workload. This is a tribute to NUT members’ campaigning resolve. Neil Carmichael accepted that the recruitment and retention of teachers was an issue and said that the Select Committee would be investigating teacher retention. Beyond the conferences, the Union will continue its conversations with the political parties and determinedly stand up for the profession. Our voice will be strengthened immeasurably by the continued support of members having conversations with MPs too – be it by email, at constituency surgeries or at lobbies of Parliament.

I The Teacher 35

Photo: Stocknshares

n o i n U e h t k As

I know there’s a new state pension system coming in from next April. What’s happening and how does it affect teachers?


Yes, there’s a new state pension system starting from April 2016, which will affect men born on or after 6 April 1951 and women born on or after 6 April 1953. The new system has a single pension and replaces the current two-part system of a basic state pension and an additional state pension.


The maximum pension under the new system will be around £151 a week, compared to £116 a week for the basic state pension. The maximum pension is earned after 35 years of contributions or credits.

Teachers are currently ‘contracted out’ of the additional state pension, which means they don’t build up this pension, but currently pay a lower National Insurance (NI) rate. This will end, so teachers will pay an extra 1.4 per cent from April. Teachers are expected to be net gainers overall, however, because in most cases the extra pension under the new system will outweigh the extra NI paid. More information can be found at:

There has been a change to fire procedures in my school without any consultation. It used to be the case that when the fire alarm was activated, the fire brigade


would respond automatically. Now they will only do so following a phone call from someone at the school. Why is this happening and what is the NUT’s response? Following consultation with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), we have discovered that fire and rescue services across the UK are adopting policies similar to that which you describe. It will come as no surprise that this is about cutting the number of calls attended, in order to reduce the number of fire engines deployed and save money.


As with many arguments regarding the fire service, this policy is prompted by a superficial view. It is true that a large proportion of fire

Contact the NUT AdviceLine on 020 3006 6266 or email Members in Wales should contact NUT Cymru on 029 2049 1818 or email

Ask the Union calls received by the fire service are from automatic fire alarms. It is also true that a very large number of these calls are false due to one of the following reasons: • faulty equipment

Scheme are saying they do not recognise our marriage in English law because we had a Humanist marriage ceremony in 2004, which we didn’t follow with a civil wedding. What should I do?

• accidental activation • no-fire activation (eg steam or smoke from cooking) • malicious intent (holding a smouldering match to a smoke detector). The FBU supports initiatives to reduce false calls, for example through good management of buildings. But policies such as these are not ones that the FBU accepts or agrees with, and neither does the NUT. There is no quick solution to this, as it results from policy of the Chief Fire Officers Association, but the NUT will continue to liaise with the FBU to raise our concerns and support their position. We would advise members to check with their head teacher whether this policy applies in their school as in some cases schools haven’t been consulted on or informed of the change. The priority should always be to ensure safe evacuation of pupils and staff.

I am a teacher and my husband, also a teacher and a member of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, recently died. As his wife, I was expecting to receive survivor benefits, which I am relying on to help pay the mortgage. However, the administrators of the


Your predicament is likely to arise more often as couples opt-out of the usual registry office wedding and engage instead in marriage ceremonies, which are more personal and meaningful to them. The Marriage Act 1949, as amended, says that if the following conditions were met when you wed, you will be presumed to be married:


• Your marriage took place in a registered building • Your marriage was solemnised by a registrar or authorised person • Your marriage was solemnised in the presence of two or more witnesses • At some point in the ceremony both you and your husband declared that you knew of no legal reason why you could not be married • You and your husband said you were taking each other as your “wedded” husband/wife. You are also required to give notice to the superintendent registrar prior to the marriage and to obtain a marriage certificate, although recent case law suggests the absence of these won’t necessarily negate the presumption of marriage. The TPS administrators are likely to relent and grant survivor benefits if you can show that your wedding met the

requirements of the Marriage Act, but if they continue to refuse you benefits, contact the Union’s AdviceLine, or if you’re in Wales, the Wales office.

I’ve heard the Teachers’ Pension Scheme is going to stop sending out pension statements each year? Is this true?


Yes, the NUT has learned that the Teachers’ Pension Scheme will not be sending out paper annual benefit statements in the future. Members can get a paper statement by ringing Teachers’ Pensions.


In practice, it’s better to join the Teachers’ Pensions “MyPensionsOnline” service, where you’ll be able to download pension statements. You can register at – you’ll need your Teachers’ Pensions reference number, your National Insurance number and an email address. It is vital to check your pension regularly, especially as most teachers are now in the new career average scheme. In career average every payslip you ever get counts towards your pension. So it’s important to keep payslips, P60s and TPS benefit statements. It’s far easier to correct mistakes now than in the future. Send your questions to: Ask the Union, the Teacher, NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD or email



s w e i Rev Warrior Heroes: The Gladiator’s Victory

For pupils Sister, Sister

Sheriff John the (Partly) Wild

Excellent, fast-paced and realistic young adult fiction dealing with blended families, friendship and relationships. Willow is a convincing protagonist and the strong cast of supporting characters carries a great storyline through 250 apparently effortless pages. Entries in Willow’s diary, sections told from her halfsister Bella’s perspective, and the letters from Anthony give different viewpoints on life in this newly-blended family, as they encounter situations which may be familiar to lots of teenagers Willow’s age.

John Smith is certainly not boring – not if his latest adventure as Sheriff John in the Wild West is anything to go by! Shortly after arriving at Dungville, John has to face the villainous El Bandido – who is threatening to steal the town’s cattle – with hilarious results. The author, an experienced animation and live-action screenwriter, shows off his storytelling talent whilst poking fun at the Western genre in this fast-paced adventure for 8+ readers. Laura Ellen Anderson also provides a set of lively illustrations alongside the prose.

This book is the latest in an ongoing series of time travelling adventures featuring the characters of Arthur and Finn. Their grandfather created a haunted Hall of Heroes museum where, if touched by the ghosts of warriors past, they are transported back in time. In this book they are taken back to the era of gladiators, where they must escape the arena and attempt to return alive to the present day. For those who don’t like traditional novels or history books this offers an exciting, informative and entertaining read. It is great for reluctant readers.

Aliss Langridge

Lee Ryder

Elli Rhodes Sister, Sister by Jess Bright. OUP Oxford. Paperback. £6.99.

Sheriff John the (Partly) Wild by Johnny Smith. Scholastic Press. Paperback. £4.99.

Warrior Heroes: The Gladiator’s Victory by Benjamin Hulme-Cross. Bloomsbury. Paperback. £4.99.

s For teacher

You, Me and Diversity Anne M. Dolan explains how the use of carefully chosen picture books can provide diversity within the classroom and help children understand important universal issues such as respect, equality and the environment. The author gives practical examples of how both fiction and nonfiction from around the world can be used to promote particular issues and inspire children to act upon them. She provides an extensive bibliography of books and resources that reflect the age range and themes covered. This is a valuable timesaver and insightful resource for primary teachers.

This engaging textbook written in English for the Alevel curriculum in Denmark is relevant to anyone who wishes to discover the many realities that coexist in India. Beautifully illustrated in colour, the book journeys through arts, humanities and social science subjects. Varied interactive learning tasks encourage research, sharing and comparison of the facets of Indian life and culture with those in the West. It makes one want to go and experience the vitality of this colourful country for themselves.

Cindy Shanks

Lindi Green

You, Me and Diversity by Anne M. Dolan. Trentham Books. Paperback. £24.99.


Discovering India – Unity in Diversity

I The Teacher

Discovering India – Unity in Diversity by Kumar, A. & Baek-Sorensen, D. Lindhardt og Ringhof. Paperback. £20.40.

The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths Already acclaimed as a classic in maths education, this updated edition aims to inspire and enthuse pupils. It provides a range of free online resources for teachers hoping to motivate their students while advising parents how to help their children enjoy maths. This accessible, indispensable resource is aimed at teachers and parents alike to ensure that maths is both engaging and challenging so that students can successfully progress to the next level. AL The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths by Jo Boaler. Souvenir Press. Paperback. £9.00.

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It’s easy peasy, just follow these 3 steps… 1. Create a fantastic winter display. 2. Photograph your handy work.

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d r a o b e c i t o N Events Black Teachers' Conference 2015 The Union’s Black Teachers’ Conference is an annual event, this year being held at Stoke Rochford Hall from 13-15 November 2015. It provides an opportunity for Black members to discuss issues of race equality, education and the workplace. You’ll need to apply as soon as possible via your division as places are limited. To find out more and to apply, visit:

Trans teachers matter Transgender Day of Remembrance takes place on 20 November this year. Schools should use the day to celebrate diversity in the teaching workforce and pupil population. Supporting transgender pupils and staff means ensuring that attitudes which generate transphobia are eliminated across all areas of school life. “Trans teachers can teach students not to be afraid,” says Jay Stewart of Gendered Intelligence. Download a copy of the groundbreaking NUT leaflet Why Trans Teachers Matter for your workplace noticeboard at: UK Disability History Month UK Disability History Month takes place between 22 November and 22 December each year – though many events and activities take place outside this time slot. It is supported by the NUT, and celebrates the lives and achievements of disabled people. Schools are encouraged to hold awareness-raising activities about disability during the month of December and the theme for this year is the Portrayal of Disability: Then and Now. More information can be found at:

The Disabled Teachers’ Conference On 28 November the NUT is convening the Disabled Teachers’ Conference for members with mental and physical health conditions. Details about the programme and application forms can be found at:

NEC 2016 NEC 2016 will be held at Stoke Rochford from 1-3 July 2016. The title and theme of the conference will be decided in the coming weeks.

Resources FGM guidance From 31 October all teachers have a duty under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, as amended, to report cases of FGM on those under 18 to the police. This covers cases which have been directly disclosed to a teacher by the victim and those where a teacher has seen something in the course of their employment which appears to show that FGM may have taken place. This is a personal duty upon the individual professional, not upon schools, although the NUT takes the view that, where there is believed to be a risk of FGM or a suspected case, usual safeguarding procedures should be followed.

Disabling Imagery: a teaching guide to disability and moving image media, by Richard Rieser This book and DVD, first published as a package by Disability Equality in Education, in collaboration with the British Film Institute, is now available through the BFI website: Contents include sections on ways of thinking about disability, teaching with moving image media and also activities and student handouts.

For further guidance on your obligations under the new legislation, please visit:

November / December 15 I The Teacher


The NUT’s Learning programme for 2016 is now available. The Course Guide is packed with information about our range of training and professional development courses for teachers, reps and officers alike. Our courses for teachers cover a wide range of development needs across all levels of experience. Our courses for new teachers include Positive Strategies for New Teachers, which over four days will give attendees support on behaviour management, teaching and learning, and offer the opportunity to develop a classroom-based project with fellow NQTs. We also have Start Right and Just Qualified Summer Workshop courses, designed to give you the best possible start to your first term as a newly qualified teacher. The NUT understands that building positive behaviour in the classroom is a major concern for teachers and so we also run our ever popular Getting Behaviour Right programmes throughout the year. While supply teachers are welcome on all our courses, we also provide dedicated courses in behaviour management and teaching and learning, specifically for supply teachers during school holidays. Early years teachers can access our Introduction to the Early Years Foundation Stage and our guide to outdoor play in the early years – Come Rain, Come Shine. For teachers who specialise in working with children with special educational needs, our SEND Conference and courses on managing the work of teaching assistants could be just what you need.

creativity. These include Using Film in the Classroom, Accessing Shakespeare and our annual Reading for Pleasure conference. Workplace representatives are a vital part of the Union’s work and we support our reps with a wide range of training programmes. All NUT reps are entitled to 10 days of training – starting with our renowned Rep Foundation, which will give you all the tools you need to become an effective rep. This can be followed by Rep Advanced, which will help build your skills and enable you to build a strong Union presence in your workplace.

Learning with the NUT

Learning with the NUT

Similarly, reps for health and safety, sixth form colleges and learning all have dedicated courses. The NUT offers a wide range of courses for elected NUT officers including courses for new secretaries, treasurers, equality officers and young teacher officers. New for 2016 is a dedicated programme supporting caseworkers covering a wide range of issues such as disciplinary, grievance, capability and more. We make a simple distinction, CPD courses make you a better teacher and training courses make you a more effective trade unionist. CPD courses are open to all teachers but are free or heavily discounted for NUT members. Training courses are open to NUT members only. For more information or to download the new NUT Course Guide visit:

Our leadership group members are important to us and we offer two courses aimed at black and minority ethnic teachers wanting to progress in their careers – Aspiring to Lead and Equal Access to Promotion. The NUT believes in the importance of creativity in the classroom and we have partnered with INTO Film, Shakespeare’s Globe, Music for Youth and children’s author Alan Gibbons to develop a range of courses to support

November / December 15 I The Teacher


Staffroom confidential

m o o r f f l a i t n e d Sta i f n o c Reader’s rant: s p i t ’ s r e h c a Te

In October, NUT head teacher member Colin Harris was contacted by his local MP with an offer to visit Warren Park Primary School in Hampshire. Here was Colin’s response, which has since received hundreds of messages of support… Dear Sir, Thank you for your letter dated 2 October offering to visit Warren Park Primary School. Unfortunately, I have real reservations about such a visit on several levels.

How to keep up with the kids when it comes to technology… Keep an ear out Listen out for things your students mention in the classroom. Ask them, too! You may have some keen technophiles eager to share their knowledge. Read – it tells you about all things consumer tech. Finally, get involved and don't be afraid of visiting techy stores and finding out what the consumer space is like. Name supplied

Don’t get left behind Technology is second nature to children whilst teachers can feel left behind. There are several ways to handle this. If you are in a primary school you can learn a lot from the children themselves when they are given research time on the computers. Ask them questions because they will enjoy sharing their knowledge. In secondary school you can hunt down the ICT teachers or technicians and ask them for guidance. If you have teenage children, grandchildren or relations ask them to show you how something works. Alternatively enrol on a course to sharpen up your skills. Name supplied

Under the Coalition Government and ongoing to the present time, there has been an unprecedented attack on our wonderful profession. I have worked for and supported this profession for the last 37 years in what I hope is considered to be a successful way. Under Mr Gove we saw the rise of divisive policies, which ensured we created true isolation for teaching. These policies have led to thousands of teachers wanting to leave teaching with little hope of replacing either their number or their quality and experience. My views on academies, free schools, lack of funding, assessment, Ofsted, pay rises, curriculum reform and the demise of local authorities will, of course, be different to yours. However, does it really matter? We have no forum to actually get people to listen to us, as we are now a true political football to be knocked around for the pleasure of both the media and the Government at the expense of the future of our children. I for one am fed up with it and so thank you for showing an interest, but I have to decline the visit until such time as the Government really and truly cares about the future of education. Yours sincerely, Colin Harris, Head teacher

We are looking for ideas for #Youcanttestthis activities. Turn to p10 for more information on the campaign. Send your advice by 1 December 2015 to

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Star letter The blame game I have had all I can stand! I cannot stand any more interference from Government ministers. What have MPs actually done for education over the last 30 years? They have stopped imaginative, effective and enthusiastic teachers from delivering a diverse, interesting and motivational curriculum. For over 30 years, MPs constantly fiddled with all aspects of the curriculum making changes, of no significant value, with little notice. And usually, most of this interference was unwarranted, unproductive and unnecessary. Now the Government is very worried because, as a direct result of their interference, our children and students don’t have the depth and breadth of knowledge and skills that they used to have before the MPs interfered. And who do they want to blame? Name supplied

Deserved entitlement I take great exception to a comment in “Letters” in the September/October issue of the Teacher. While I do not want to get involved in the “votes for 16-year-olds” question, I feel Bill Smith’s thinking is somewhat biased against his profession. He writes, “We, though, have made few sacrifices and epitomise the accusation hurled at the socially and economically vulnerable – undeserving entitlement”. I do not consider that I am receiving an underserved entitlement. After paying my pension contributions and also suffering the indignity of having to claim pension for several years by going through the Industrial Tribunal System (which took 13 years to come to a decision), I feel fully entitled to the money I receive. To suggest that teachers who have worked hard over many years are undeserving is an insult to his colleagues. Like many teachers, I worked hard to ensure the children I taught in London and Hampshire got a fair deal and enjoyed their time in school.

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 Letters for the November/December issue should reach us no later than 1 December 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.


I The Teacher

So, while I agree that my generation may not have made the same sacrifices that our parents made, over many years we have given our time, knowledge and energy to the education service and to the children we taught and are therefore totally deserving of the pensions that we receive. Name supplied

A sporting chance I was dismayed to read how many schools had sold their playing fields in your article, A Sporting Chance (September/October issue). The thought of schools making the difficult decision to sell, and property developers stampeding over fields and destroying the environment is sickening.

No NUT rep in your workplace? Please elect one! Once a rep has been elected, notify your division/association secretary, whose details are on your membership credential and at

Find out what reps do at

With more children living in cramped conditions, fewer children playing outside, parents working longer hours and having less time to take their children out, P.E. is more essential than ever. It is disappointing that state school children will have less hope of being successful athletes with the new changes. Worst of all are the health implications. The future generation will become unhealthy adults who will not enjoy the longevity of their healthier grandparents. C. Shanks

Crime and Punishment Of all the crimes that this and previous governments have committed (and there are many), their destruction of the education system is perhaps the most heinous. When I returned to Brighton in 1965, there was a Comprehensive Campaign active in the struggle to abolish the selective system in East Sussex. After eight years we achieved our aim. I warned them at the time that the elitists would fight back, and my warnings have tragically been justified with the reintroduction of selection – at first by the back door and now, quite openly and brazenly. At least the 11+ pretended to be a scientific assessment of a child’s potential. The present method of selection is social and ideological, hiding under the mantle of parental choice. One of its purposes is, as ever, to harden the divisions within our society. I am delighted to see that the Union is fighting this reintroduction, begun by the Blair government. Perhaps we should be a little more forthright in our condemnation of what the authorities are doing to the nation’s children, we would thus be cementing the unity between teachers and the public. Such unity can bring results. Len Goldman

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, 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 have 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: In Wales contact:

NUT Cymru Tel: 029 2049 1818 Email: Find full contact details at:

I The Teacher 47


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November / December 15 | The Teacher

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Looking for a NEET solution The elephant in the room By Robin Simmons, Professor of Education at the University of Huddersfield and co-author of Education, Work and Social Change. The UK has a long-standing problem with youth unemployment, with the number of 16-24 year olds classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training) hovering at around a million for a number of years now. The consequences of this are profound. Being NEET for substantial periods of time is associated with a range of negative consequences – not least social isolation, illhealth, a greater risk of long-term unemployment, increased likelihood of involvement in crime and other sustained disadvantages. In other words, there is a ‘scarring’ effect associated with being NEET. But research suggests that high levels of youth unemployment also have serious consequences for the economy in terms of lost tax revenues, additional benefit payments, increased expenditure on health and other forms of social welfare. There are broader social costs to consider too. Young people who have experienced lengthy periods outside education or the labour market are less likely to participate in the democratic process – not only in party politics but also through voluntary groups, trade unions, and other aspects of civil society. NEET young people also tend to have lower levels of institutional trust relating, for example, to policing, health services, the education system, and so forth. Obviously, all this is deeply problematic, but what should be done? Since the late 1970s, successive governments have effectively chosen to educationalise youth unemployment. Initiative after initiative has charged schools, colleges and other educational institutions with improving the employability skills of young people. The relationship between education and work is important and young people today require a diverse range of knowledge and skills if they are to successfully make their way in the working world. But it is also

important to recognise that education and training can only ever be part of the solution, however robust or well-delivered any particular programme or initiative may be. Here there are harsh realities for the Government to grasp. One is that, contrary to official discourse, the main cause of youth unemployment is located in the nature of the economy, not the education system. There was, until the 1970s, a separate and identifiable youth labour market, but this collapsed as much of Britain’s traditional industrial base withered away – ravaged by increased global competition, successive economic crises, and a hostile political climate. Young people are now forced to compete with often much more experienced older workers for the remaining jobs, and much employment – particularly at the bottom end of the labour market – is increasingly part-time, temporary or otherwise insecure.

“Nowadays most young people are in fact over-qualified and under-employed.” A related matter is that, despite constant claims about ‘skills shortages’, nowadays most young people are in fact over-qualified and under-employed. The elephant in the room is that a comprehensive and coherent industrial policy is what is required if Government really is serious about tackling youth unemployment. Admittedly, reopening the mines, mills and factories that once dominated the British economy is not practical. But still much can be done to stimulate the demand for young people’s labour. The UK desperately needs investment in housing and infrastructure projects, renewable energy and high-tech manufacturing. Young people also deserve to be treated properly at work and to be encouraged to use and develop coherent work-related skills; but all this needs the creation of decent employment rather than just more courses, of whatever kind. It also requires the state to take responsibility for creating employment and managing the economy. In the meantime, it remains convenient to blame the education system for failing to solve the problems of youth unemployment.


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