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A new school year, with all new challenges The summer now seems a distant memory but I hope it was full of interesting events and some relaxation. In this issue we cover the question of sport in school and remember with pride the athletic triumphs of Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford. Some of us will be looking forward to the Rugby World Cup, too. This is, of course, a very busy term for everyone in schools and colleges and for the Union on the political front with the TUC Congress and all the party conferences. This is a good time for the NUT to make our voice heard. At both a national and local level we will be asking you to lobby against the Trade Union Bill (see p4 for details), for more funding for education and in support of our supply teacher colleagues. However, the most urgent question to which we all turn our attention as we go to print is the unfolding refugee crisis.
NUT members will, I’m sure, raise their voices to call on the British Government to do more in this situation. Many members will undoubtedly join demonstrations and make donations to the various campaigns which have sprung up to collect and send aid to refugees in Europe. 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. We extend a special welcome to all the NQTs and colleagues on the School Direct programme joining our schools. To help you through those unnerving first few months we’ve compiled a survival guide of tips, tricks and vital information (p26) that we hope you’ll find useful. Christine Blower – General Secretary
21 Fine-looking Places Resident poet Michael Rosen laments the loss of libraries.
25 Open hearts, open minds Dr Joyce Miller’s thought-provoking take on the role of RE teachers.
04 Workers’ rights under threat Civil liberties are under attack as the new Trade Union Bill threatens to restrict workers’ rights.
26 Survival Guide Top tips for navigating the curveballs and pitfalls of your first year in school.
06 The year ahead What’s in store for teachers and schools.
31 Future conditional Tamsin Oglesby discusses her new play, which explores the lengths parents will go to in order to secure school places for their children.
09 Smoke and mirrors Kate Smurthwaite examines George Osborne’s attempts at re-branding. 17 A sporting chance With playing fields being sold off and physical education budgets slashed, are school sports on the wane?
President Philipa Harvey General Secretary Christine Blower Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney Editor Daniel Humphry Journalists Emily Jenkins, Monica Roland Administration Maryam Hulme Cover Anna Dunn Newsdesk 020 7380 4708 email@example.com
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32 Drawn together We chat with recently appointed Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell about what he hopes to achieve during his tenure. 50 Backbeat Lauren Smith takes a critical look at Nicky Morgan’s library membership initiative.
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September / October 15 I The Teacher
Workers’ rights under threat Just as we were preparing for summer, the Conservative Government launched an unprecedented attack on civil liberties and your democratic rights as a trade union member. The Government’s new Trade Union Bill contains a swathe of limitations on union members’ rights to make their own democratic decisions. It includes wideranging measures undermining workers’ rights to act collectively and imposes miles of red tape on unions to make industrial action both more costly and less effective. It imposes thresholds for ballot returns, treating an abstention as a ‘no’ vote, and will require even higher thresholds for teachers and some other public sector workers voting on industrial action. Trade union law in the UK is already extremely restrictive and has been severely criticised as out of step with other European countries. This Bill makes clear that the Government is launching a further attack on the right of trade union members to defend their rights at work. Some of the most far-reaching measures included in or threatened by the Bill include restrictions on the right to picket, the removal of the ban on the use of agency workers to replace striking workers, and changes to the balloting rules. Many of these proposals are contrary to the UN International Labour Organisation’s rules regarding the rights of working people and the European Convention on Human Rights. As with Government attacks on working class people and the poorest in society, the new Bill is in stark contrast to the deregulation it champions for the business sector. “The Government’s proposals threaten to undermine the civil liberties of working people in Britain,” said the TUC in response to the new Bill. “They are clearly designed to limit the ability of unions to represent their members at work effectively.” This is part of the Government’s aim to ‘deregulate’ the British labour market, by taking away hard earned rights as we race to the bottom with low pay and zero hour contracts.
Perhaps the most shocking attack on the right to take industrial action as a last resort, is the provision that would allow employment agencies to provide staff to replace those on strike. This could have significant implications for supply teachers, who may be expected to cross picket lines. We must ask how the Government will protect supply teachers from victimisation if they refuse to cross a picket line. In an effort to tie unions in red tape and increase costs, the Bill will force unions to report their picketing arrangements to the police, including time, location, number of picketers and even the use of banners and loud speakers. In addition, unions will now need to publish information about any social media messages they will be posting on the day. A designated ‘picket supervisor’ must also be present at all times with a letter of union authorisation. If unions do not follow these rules they could receive fines of up to £20,000. A less publicised aspect of the proposal would see the regulator for trade unions, the Certification Officer, able to request more resources to regulate unions by increasing the levies paid, thereby making workers pay for the statutory regulation of their own unions. “Trade unions in this country already face some of the most draconian restrictions in Europe and these proposals seek to undermine still further the ability of unions to operate effectively in the interests of their members,” says NUT General Secretary Christine Blower. The Bill will be debated by MPs this autumn. The NUT is working alongside the TUC to oppose these measures and is backing the TUC’s lobby of Parliament on Monday 2 November.
I The Teacher 5
Illustration: Gavin Strange
The year ahead
his month teachers have returned for the new school year; finalising lesson plans, arranging seating and learning a whole host of new names and fresh faces. But while the classrooms and hallways of our schools may seem familiar, our profession is on the cusp of significant changes.
Many teachers in England will enter their schools unsure if, by the end of the year, they will become part of an academy. Under Nicky Morgan’s Education and Adoption Bill, schools deemed to be ‘coasting’ will be ripe for academisation. Any onus to consult with teachers, parents or governors has diminished under the new system and, with 60 per cent of secondary schools already academies, the tide seems to be flowing in just one direction. In September, thousands of our colleagues in primary schools in England will be asked to sit one-on-one with reception pupils and – after just a few weeks of school – assign them a numerical score. This new system of Baseline Assessment, which thousands of schools have adopted in fear of future sanctions, will make a snap judgment on the ability of our youngest children and narrow the focus of the early years experience. In response, the Union has commissioned Dr Alice Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Education at UCL, to research teachers’ views on this new accountability demand. Cuts in real terms to every facet of education funding will continue to bite in the year ahead, with colleges in particular being expected to deliver more for less. Under the Coalition Government, overall spending on education had by 2013-14 been cut by over £5 billion in real-terms. While the Conservative Government has promised that school funding per pupil will stay the same in cash-terms, the impact of inflation means the value of school funding per pupil will fall by as much as 10 per cent in real terms. In Wales the amount of money spent on each pupil has decreased for the first time in over a decade, adding to the already significant underfunding problems faced by schools. Despite their attacks on the teaching profession, Westminster MPs will still need teachers in schools to implement their plans. But, unfortunately, the pressures of increasing workloads and tightened performance-related pay are causing a record number of teachers to leave the profession. A 2014 NUT survey found that 90% of teachers have considered leaving the profession since 2012 due to workload, while 87% knew at least one teacher that had already left in that period. Clearly these are uncertain times for education. We face squeezed budgets, increasingly unrealistic targets and a raft of measures designed to monitor our every move. But, if there is one thing we do know, it’s that teachers have a powerful and respected voice. From reps in schools to lobbying in parliament, members will need to raise their voices through this next school year to make an impact when needed the most.
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Smoke and mirrors
Smoke and mirrors Comedian and activist, Kate Smurthwaite, looks at the changing guises of George Osborne and asks if backgrounds really matter… Among my favourite news stories from this summer is the information that George Osborne has issued a press memorandum asking not to be photographed next to any chandeliers. Well, we’ve all been there haven’t we? Just leaning on a chandelier or sitting under a ton of illuminated crystals and suddenly – what are the chances – half the paparazzi show up. Typical! Instead Osborne suggested that he wants to be photographed in a fluorescent jacket and hard hat. Presumably this means that, if he does get caught short near some fancy lighting fixture, people will think he’s taken a second job as an electrician. The idea of him refusing all photographs unless he’s in a hard hat makes me want to follow him around all day dressed as a Native American and singing YMCA. Truth is, the reason Osborne has so much trouble shaking his posh boy image is because it’s true. He does move in those circles. He can window-dress as hard as he likes but nobody is remotely fooled. When he puts
on his trusty safety jacket and hat, all we think is that he’s participating in some sort of novelty dress-as-a-peasant day joke. As soon as the cameras are put away we know Osborne takes off the hi-vis and that a valet in white gloves re-affixes the cravat and monocle that he usually wears while riding around on elephants, hunting swans. And this is the trouble with modern day politics: it’s become about nothing more than image. The truth is it doesn’t actually matter what sort of background Osborne comes from. We need to know what policies he espouses and how they’re going to affect our lives. It does seem to have crept up on us somewhat. We all know what spin doctors are, most of us could name a few. They contribute nothing to society except smoke and mirrors and selling us our own oppression at premium rates while stocks last. It would be better if ‘spin doctors’ referred to members of the medical profession who do their share of the laundry on weekends, except… oh how stupid and outdated of me to imagine doctors being allowed to spend time at their actual homes on a weekend. What was I thinking? This sizzle-before-sausage, brand-identity politics is the absolute scourge of education policy. Carefully selected terms such as ‘free schools’ and ‘academies’ conjure up a cross between The Sound Of Music and Hogwarts. Nothing in the name lets people know that these are schools where a small injection of external funding can allow in unqualified teachers and throw out key components of the national curriculum such as sex education or languages. We need to throw out these unhelpful terms and find some catchy brand names of our own to let people know what’s really going on. On which note I helpfully suggest WeTeachAnySyllabus.com and I-Can’t-BelieveIt’s-Not-A-Qualified-Teacher. And we all know where Mr Osborne was educated: Pedigree Mum!
For details of Kate’s upcoming shows and appearances sign up to her mailing list at katesmurthwaite.co.uk
Photo: James Davies /Alamy
I The Teacher 9
.uk email@example.com h c a te t a k wsdes mail our ne E ? y r to s a Got
t u o b a d n a Out Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival This year’s Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival was a great success, reports NUT South West Regional Secretary Andy Woolley. This year the NUT focus was on opposing Baseline Assessment, with hundreds of leaflets and postcards to send to MPs given out. Festival attendees were overwhelmingly supportive and many commented on their own family experiences of current testing and the need to oppose it at all ages. NUT members from all over the country joined in the parade of banners and enjoyed debates and speeches, most of which compared the struggle of the Martyrs and the mass protests that secured their return from transportation with our own struggles against austerity
In memory of Linda and draconian new trade union laws. There was also time for some great music from performers including Seth Lakeman, The Beat and Billy Bragg. The South West region tweeted comments and photos from the weekend @NUTSouthWest. Next year’s Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival will be on 16 & 17 July 2016.
NUT discount at Music for Youth Proms 2015 Extraordinary talent, magnificent music and inspiring performance; come and share in the musical drama and energy of the Music for Youth Proms from 23-25 November, where 3,000 of the UK’s brightest young musicians will share a stage for three nights at the iconic Royal Albert Hall. NUT members get 50 per cent off all tickets. Quote code 19612 to redeem offer. Book now on 020 7589 8212 or at mfy.org.uk/mfyproms
I The Teacher
Linda Gerow, a lifelong NUT member, sadly died in February this year. Both the local and regional NUT had supported Linda in the last few years with advice and representation, through difficulties she had experienced at school, as well as with sickness absence and advice on ill-health retirement. When Linda died, she bequeathed £5,000 in her will to the NUT. Linda’s husband, David Gerow (pictured) said, “I know that it is in recognition of the support she had as a member during her almost 30-year teaching career, and particularly the aid, guidance and active support she received from Redbridge NUT and the London regional office.” Linda was passionate about music and the money will be used to offer an annual award for excellence in music at Redbridge primary schools in Linda’s memory.
Chainmakers’ Festival – West Midlands This year’s Women Chainmakers’ Festival, held in Cradley Heath, West Midlands in July, provided a great opportunity for NUT members to engage with parents and members of the community. The NUT ‘Children’s Activities’ area was busy all day, with face painting, badge making, and an origami workshop. Mary Macarthur’s famous speech was movingly recreated at almost the exact spot where it was originally delivered. In 1910 she showed the women of Cradley Heath, who were self-employed chainmakers and whose wages were continually being driven down by middle men, that, if they stood together and went on strike, they could achieve fairer pay. The event, organised by the TUC, celebrated the power of collective action and the achievements of women workers.
NUT members were among more than 100,000 who turned out in support of the 131st Durham Miners’ Gala in July. The much-loved annual event, known as the Big Meeting, attracts trade unionists from around the UK and beyond to parade through the streets of Durham City in a
Out and about
Durham Miners’ Gala
celebration of the North East’s mining heritage and of workers’ solidarity. Broadcaster Owen Jones and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn were among the guest speakers at the rally at Durham Racecourse. They both spoke of the need for trade unions to work together to resist the worst of the Government’s cuts and for all who oppose austerity to join together as a social movement of resistance.
Better without baseline Teachers from Barking and Dagenham NUT joined the Park Ranger Service at a Play in the Park roadshow on 29 July in Mayesbrook Park, Dagenham. While the children enjoyed a variety of free shows and activities, including a traditional Punch and Judy show, inflatables, go-carting, bike rides and a host of play activities provided by community volunteers, teachers were able to talk to parents about their
opposition to baseline tests for four-year-olds. Councillors from Barking and Dagenham attended the event and were pleased to see unions working in the community, supporting the borough’s commitment to provide safe places for children to play. Hundreds of children and their families visited the park on the day and all left waving Primary Charter balloons and with happy memories of a day spent
playing in the park. The NUT hopes to continue to support local events working in partnership with the local authority.
The Blair Peach Award 2016 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.
Northern Pride Teachers joined a parade of thousands through the streets of Newcastle at this year’s Northern Pride. The NUT Northern Region banner was carried on the colourful march on 18 July, alongside brass bands, stilt walkers and members of LGBT groups from around the North East. An NUT stall at the Pride Festival on the city’s Town Moor proved one of the big draws of the weekend. NUT members handed out rainbow flags, whistles and bags, and chatted to festival-goers about the Union’s Stand Up for Education and Better without Baseline campaigns. It is thought at least 65,000 people attended Northern Pride over two days this year. The annual event is now in its eighth year and has grown to become the second biggest annual Pride event in the country.
The award is named after Blair Peach, past President of East London NUT, who was killed during an antiracist 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 teachers.org.uk/node/20234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Stand Up for Education Bristol NUT have gone mobile by purchasing a minibus now decorated with appropriate Stand Up for Education slogans. The division has used it to take delegates to Annual Conference and to the Tolpuddle Martrys’ Festival amongst
other events. It has already saved a considerable amount in fares as well as bringing excellent publicity as it drives around Bristol. The division has also produced Stand Up for Education bicycle seat covers for those who prefer to cycle!
I The Teacher 11
Success stories Teachers and NUT reps across England and Wales have been fighting for their rights over the last few months. Here are just a few of the ways that they’ve been winning… A community college in Leicester recently announced a restructure that would include redundancies, after finding a significant budget deficit. But the college’s NUT rep gathered teachers to discuss the proposals and quickly found a number of holes in the college’s financial arguments. Soon teachers wrote a counter proposal, suggesting various ways in which the school could save money without staffing reductions. Whilst the school’s head did not take on any of the suggested cost savings, he and the school’s business manager did reassess finances and found a way to restructure without any redundancies. Governors at a technology college in South Shields have ruled out making an application for the school to become an academy following a period of formal consultation. Local councillor Joan Atkinson said, “In considering the role of the local authority and recognising the very special relationship it has with all schools, the governors at the college had a compelling case for staying within the local authority family.” South Tyneside NUT members were instrumental in persuading governors to stay within the local authority and the announcement was welcomed by local councillors, parents and teachers alike. Sefton NUT’s campaign to oppose the destruction of its local authority’s in-house supply service has ended in success. Following a lengthy campaign by supply teacher members, who lobbied their local councillors, the local authority has agreed to continue running its own supply service.
And finally, after months of patient hard work, NUT reps in East London have brought an end to the use of Ofsted grades for lesson observations in their school. The process started with an online survey of NUT members, in which the majority said they would be in favour of ending the use of gradings. The school’s head was surprisingly relaxed about the idea and called for a staff vote at the next INSET day – which resulted in a 73-10 vote to end the use of gradings from September 2015.
If you have won victories at your school and would like to share them with the Union, email your story to email@example.com
Leafleting parents in London
Photo: Justin Tallis
Five teachers at an academy school in Leicestershire found themselves on informal capability procedures and had their pay progression declined at the end of last term, before the NUT regional office stepped in. Working jointly with the NASUWT, local office organisers found that the teachers had been denied progression due to “unattainable numerical targets” and quickly met with the academy’s head. The collective action resulted in the head rescinding all denied pay progression and removing all references to numerical targets from the school’s appraisal policy.
I The Teacher
The migrant crisis – children are dying on our doorstep Save the Children, “Children who’ve survived treacherous sea crossings are being bundled into the backs of overcrowded trucks as they continue their desperate search – and some have suffocated.”
Photo: Radek Procyk
Speaking about the crisis, NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said: “We are seeing a humanitarian disaster unfold. We have to speak up and to act. Refugee children, young people and their families are welcome in Britain, in our towns, our cities, and in our schools and colleges. It is our Government's responsibility to provide refuge and ours to provide the hope of a better future.”
According to a new report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 2,500 refugees and migrants have already gone missing or died in 2015 while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. As European leaders build more barriers to prevent migrants from entering the continent, more and more children are dying on our doorstep in their desperation to seek refuge and flee persecution and war. According to
With regard to the plight of migrants and in particular their children, there are some things that we can all do to help. Take action by supporting: • Save the Children, who are distributing essential items such as diapers, hygiene kits and food • Red Cross Europe, who are providing emergency health services at central train stations • The UN Refugee Agency, who are providing water, mosquito nets, tents and healthcare. Also check out CalAid – calaid.co.uk
Education International World Congress Education International (EI) is a global union federation of teachers' trade unions. Every four years it brings together delegates to discuss the issues facing education. Over a thousand delegates, including 13 NUT representatives, attended EI’s 7th Congress in Canada over the summer, gathering under the theme: Unite for Quality Education – Better Education for a Better World. NUT delegates took part in numerous debates on the floor of Congress, in parallel workshops and in breakout sessions. These included debates on topics such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, migration and education and extremism. NUT President Philipa Harvey moved a resolution on Education, Peace and Justice in Conflict Areas, while Jerry Glazier of the National Executive moved a resolution on the Rights of Disabled Children and Teachers and Support for Learning Difficulties. Both resolutions were unanimously supported by Congress. The EI Executive Board decided to develop a second phase of the Unite campaign, focusing in particular on the UN’s
post-2015 development strategy and confronting the increasing privatisation and commercialisation of education. Congress acknowledged the risk that commercialisation of education poses and this was reflected in the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1.1, which notes “with concern the increased engagement and promotion of private actors in education governance (provision, funding, management and policy-making), coupled with major challenges in terms of educational access, equity and quality, and the lack of political commitment to the provision and financing of public education systems in many low and middle-income countries.” At Congress the NUT was also involved in the Privatisation Action Centre – which had been organised in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers. Deputy General Secretary, Kevin Courtney, discussed the challenges faced in England due to the Government’s policy on academies and free schools. For more news coming out of the EI Congress please visit: ei-ie.org
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I The Teacher
A sporting chance
A sporting chance Last issue we discussed the devaluation of arts in schools, but with the 2012 Olympic legacy fading and Ebacc threatening to narrow our school curriculum, is physical education also becoming an endangered subject?
Take yourself back to summer 2012. The sun was making a rare, prolonged appearance; monolithic new stadia shone in its glare and every other news report contained a jubilant MP – brimming with the idea that our London Olympics would, in the words of Lord Coe, “inspire a generation”. However, according to figures earlier this year from the Youth Sport Trust, the average amount of PE offered in schools has dropped to well below the recommended two hours minimum per week. It seems our Olympic legacy has done a runner and physical education has been left at the starting line. Baroness Sue Campbell, the chair of the Youth Sport Trust, recently said that the situation paints a “bleak and worrying picture” for young people’s physical activity – a view shared by Steven Ward, Executive Director of health and exercise not-for-profit UKactive. “Physical activity is vital for the healthy growth, development and mental wellbeing of children – yet half of seven-yearolds currently fail to meet the recommend 60 minutes of daily physical activity,” he said. “This is leading to the most inactive generation in human history.” But how has this situation been allowed to arise just three years after our Olympic triumph? Some point at the UK’s new GCSE system, where PE is no longer a core subject and, as such, schools are under no obligation to prioritise it. One former headteacher pointed us to a school where year 11 pupils simply stopped all PE in order to focus more time on English and maths. “There’s a cliff edge at the start of Key Stage 4 and I think it’s a really tall cliff. Key Stage 4 programmes could disappear,” he told us.
The great sell off In many schools across the UK the lack of space and adequate facilities to practise sports has become a significant obstacle to physical education. In the past 35 years no fewer than 10,000 school playing fields in the UK have been sold for development. Moreover, Department for Education statistics show that, under the Coalition Government, on average one playing field was sold off every three weeks. Strapped for cash and facing stretched resources, schools are seeking revenue in the only place they can find – their fields. Sports charity the Playing Fields Legacy Fund has argued against the Government sanctioning multi-billion pound commercial projects, while failing to fund more playing fields. They warn that the ‘disastrous’ decline in community and school playing fields over the past 20 years can only be reversed if this Government commits to investment plans. Even when playing fields and courts are available, the high cost of sporting equipment, coupled with a shortfall in Government funding, means some sports are beyond reach unless subsidised by parents. According to the Children’s Commission on Poverty, one sixth of all children aged 10-17 said they had chosen not to take courses such as sport at school because of the cost of equipment and materials. This increased to almost 30 per cent when children believed they came from less well-off families.
Much of the recent decline in physical education can be tracked back to 2011, when then Education Secretary Michael Gove controversially cut the entire £162m budget for School Sport Partnerships (SSPs). This was a major blow for schools, which used this initiative to access specialist PE teachers and to pool equipment and resources. Although the SSPs funding was replaced by PE and sport premiums – where primary schools would receive around £9,000 per year to spend on PE delivery as they see fit – secondary schools have yet to receive any such funding. In effect, the PE offer for schools has become a postcode lottery for pupils, with an evident disparity between academies, maintained schools and private institutions. In 2012, three of our most successful athletes showed what a state school physical education can achieve. Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford – who all attended comprehensive schools – won four gold medals between them at the London Olympics. The trio have recently all struck gold again at the 2015 World Championships.
In response, the Government recently launched a public consultation into a new UK sports strategy in the UK. The NUT welcomes the consultation, with General Secretary Christine Blower voicing support for greater emphasis on physical education and the promotion of healthier kids: “There needs to be far more recognition for sports and non-core subjects in schools to ensure that pupils enjoy the benefits of a well-rounded education,” she says. ”It is not teachers who are the barrier to a good sports education in schools but a lack of support, resources, funding and facilities,” echoes Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary. It is clear that if children are to be happy, healthy, and active individuals they need physical activity and structured play in their lives. Our Olympic generation is now at risk of being stuck in the blocks. In order to move forward, physical education needs true Government investment, trained PE teachers, greater prioritisation within the curriculum and adequate playing fields. Without it children and young people will be doomed to unhealthy lifestyles and obesity. Is this the Olympic legacy they were promised?
But former Olympics minister Tessa Jowell recently highlighted the growing disparity between private and state physical education in July 2015, claiming that we’re heading for a system that blocks all but the richest from sporting success. “Instead of a generation of children being transformed by sport, a generation of children have been robbed of the chance to discover a sport they’re really good at,” said Jowell. “When we get to Tokyo [Olympics in 2020] I think it likely we’ll be back to half of our medalists being from independent schools.”
Illustrations: Jamie Mills
I The Teacher 19
A sporting chance
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By former Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen
Ladies and gentlemen, conjuring is an art, when what we say, plays an important part. Watch closely, see my fingers never leave my hand Lights! Music! Let’s hear it from the band! I can see the expectation on your faces... before your eyes, I reveal Fine-looking Places created and owned entirely by you, some old and revered, some brand new: they’re libraries, treasure houses of knowledge stepping stones for life, leisure or college. And now, look closely, watch me reveal something new, a thing of great appeal: library tickets for all children in Year 3 watch them come out of the hat – do you see? I’m sure I’m not doing any special pleading when I say: “This is how we’re encouraging reading.” But conjuring isn’t just pulling things out of a hat Come on! What would be the point of that? It’s also about what we can make disappear Oh, come, come, there’s nothing to fear, but while you watched me pull the tickets out – ah! you spotted it, a couple of you shout – many of those Fine-looking Places that you rely on aren’t there anymore – phut! – they’re gone.
Illustration: Dan Berry
Ladies and gentlemen that’s the end of the show; please show your appreciation as you go. And remember, conjuring is an art when what we say, plays an important part.
I The Teacher 21
The NUT has published joint advice with ATL, NAHT, Voice, and UCAC in Wales, setting out the pay points that schools should adopt to maintain the long standing pay structure and ensure the September cost of living increase is paid in full. The NUT will continue to work with other unions wherever possible.
We know we are stronger together.
Illustration: Tom Redfern
The NUT says schools should increase pay scales by one per cent from September, and two per cent on point M6.
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Open hearts, open minds
Open hearts, open minds With religion at the forefront of domestic politics, the role of the RE teacher is under more scrutiny than ever before – writes Dr Joyce Miller, former RE teacher and current chair of the Religious Education Council. I was recently speaking to a deputy head at a large comprehensive school – where the majority of students are of Pakistani heritage – and asked what she wanted for them. She said she wanted her pupils to have “open hearts and open minds, to live in a multi-cultural society.” I love that phrase ‘open hearts and open minds’. I interpret ‘open minds’ as children with imagination, understanding and curiosity, and ‘open hearts’ as children with compassion and care for other human beings. If every teacher in the country was given the time and opportunity to develop that in their pupils, we could have a truly transformative education. Religious Education can be a large part of this, even – and perhaps especially – within a secular society. Religion is part and parcel of the world we live in. Everybody has beliefs and values and, as such, the dividing line between religion and secularity is very fuzzy. RE is essentially about enabling children to understand different religions, world-views and beliefs in an informed, empathetic, yet critical way. Religious Education has changed a lot since the 1944 Education Act, where the subject was made compulsory for all state-funded schools. Back then, every local authority had to set up an agreed syllabus conference, consisting of four separate committees, who would agree what would be taught in RE. This still exists, but it’s much more complicated now than it was 10 years ago, when the majority of schools were still under local authority control. With the increasing number of academies and free schools, what is taught is now left up to academy trusts and funding agreements. There is no check on whether schools are compliant with the law and all too rarely is there evidence of quality of teaching and learning in RE in inspection reports. RE has been extremely popular as an examination course but now professionals worry about the future of our subject. One cause for concern is its omission from the Ebacc – up until now RE has always counted in league tables and points
for schools. Already the amount of time given to RE is often insufficient – it isn’t what would be given to history or geography, for example, and we don’t have sufficient specialist teachers. One area in which RE is frequently offered as part of the solution to a perceived problem is ‘Prevent’. The Government is asking teachers to keep tabs on potential radicalisation in their students. There is a danger that both children and teachers will be very worried about open debate and discussion in schools, including about religiously-inspired terrorism. Young people are passionate about issues, they want to change the world, and they want to engage with what they perceive as an injustice or a wrong act. We therefore need to have safe spaces in schools, overseen by very skilled teachers who can enable an informed and reflective discussion about some very difficult, highly emotional questions. If children can’t debate these things in school, then where are they going to go to talk about them? But this makes huge demands on RE teachers and so it is important for them to continue to consider their own philosophy and pedagogy of the subject. Why are they teaching RE and what do they want children to get from it? Teachers are so overburdened it’s very difficult to find that space and time for what I think are essential professional conversations. I’d also like to see greater emphasis on curricular development. One of my previous roles was as a local authority inspector /advisor and local authorities had a way of supporting teachers in the past. But as the role of the local authority has diminished, and the number of academies and free schools increases, new structures and systems have to be found. That links back to the whole philosophy and pedagogy – what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. And for teachers it’s not about league tables, it’s about the children. More specifically, it’s about giving those children the open hearts and open minds to live in our multi-cultural – and multi-faith – society.
I The Teacher 25
Survival Guide Final exams are over, training years are complete and whole wardrobes of smart-casual have been purchased. Now all that’s left is the rest of your career. The first year of teaching is daunting for any new teacher, no matter whether you come through PGCE, School Direct or Teach First. So we’ve put together a guide with all the tips you need to survive those first few months.
Lesson plans should be kept to a minimum length and can be set out in bullet points or notes, including how learning objectives can be achieved. The format is entirely a matter of professional judgment, as the DfE, Ofsted and Estyn do not require a particular format. You should not be expected to hand in lesson plans for scrutiny by senior management, so speak to your NUT rep if you are asked to do this.
The most common causes of teacher stress include workload and Ofsted/Estyn inspections. The NUT believes all school employers should have a policy on how to reduce and prevent teacher stress. If you are feeling stressed, it is likely your colleagues will be too. Speak to your NUT rep so that they can provide support and offer suggestions on how to combat stress. NUT guidance on Tackling Teacher Stress is available at: teachers.org.uk/node/12562.
Marking Every teacher should be able to exercise their professional autonomy when it comes to marking frequency and style. The Ofsted clarification document, for example, is clear that triple marking or excessive written feedback between teacher and pupil is not required and inspectors will not expect to see a written record of oral feedback. The Ofsted clarification is available at: gov.uk.
Pupils and teachers with infectious illnesses should not go into their schools until the risk of passing on the condition has abated. If you have any concerns, speak to your NUT health and safety rep or read our guidance at: teachers.org.uk/node/12531.
Illustrations: Anna Dunn
Schools and colleges can be hotbeds of germs and there should be processes in place to limit the spread of colds and illnesses. These include regular and thorough cleaning throughout the school, ensuring hand soap is available and following proper first aid procedures.
Child protection Teachers are not responsible for investigating suspected physical or emotional abuse, but should know where to report any concerns. Acquaint yourself with the procedures in your school, academy or college for dealing with suspected abuse. Know who the designated teacher responsible for child protection is and insist on receiving appropriate training on child protection issues.
All teachers are entitled to have at least 10% of their teaching timetable for planning, preparation and assessment (PPA). This time should be allocated during core school hours, not be bolted on either side of a school day, and must be allocated in minimum blocks of 30 minutes. NQTs are also entitled to spend 10% less time teaching than other main scale teachers, so that they have time to undertake activities in their induction programme. Teachers on School Direct have the same rights and responsibilities, but generally won’t be expected to fulfil as many of the teaching duties. Read our School Direct guide at teachers.org.uk for more information.
Teachers in primary and early years’ settings may sometimes sit with pupils at their desks. However, you should not be expected to spend prolonged periods of time on small furniture designed for pupils as this can lead to back, shoulder and neck pain, and other musculoskeletal conditions. Teachers should vary their time between sitting in a suitable chair and standing as necessary. If you start experiencing any issues with this, speak to your NUT health and safety rep.
Starting pay Most new teachers will be placed at the bottom end of the main pay range. The Government’s School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) does, however, permit governing bodies to place teachers with relevant experience outside teaching at a higher point. If you’ve been told the school will do this, ensure your pay reflects the position. If you’re working in an academy, you should check the pay arrangements in place. Under the School Direct (salaried) scheme, the salary you receive will be dependent on the school you apply to and the subject you wish to teach, but you will generally be paid as an unqualified teacher. If you’re on a School Direct tuition fee route, your training will be funded by tuition fees and you will be eligible to receive some student support, such as student loans.
Clerical and administrative tasks There is no requirement for teachers to undertake clerical tasks that do not require professional skill and judgement, so don’t get bogged down with routine administration. Speak to your mentor, head of department or line manager if you feel you are spending too much time on administrative tasks.
Inspections Your first Ofsted or Estyn inspection can seem daunting, but don’t worry – the Union has put together a suite of advice materials to support you through the process, including the popular Ofsted – an NUT Survival Guide. These materials are available at teachers.org.uk/education-and-equalities/ofsted A new Ofsted framework takes effect this term and Union materials fully reflect the new framework and key changes to inspection, which are also explained in more detail on page 37. Above all, remember that Ofsted and Estyn inspections should not be an experience to endure alone. Seek out your fellow NUT members and together find a collective approach to inspections, which minimises additional work and ensures that teachers are in control of the process.
After school Taking on activities such as breakfast or after school clubs must be on a voluntary basis. No teacher should ever be put under pressure to participate. If you do take on additional activities, in some circumstances you can be paid for the time if employed under the STPCD. The level of payment should be set out in your school’s pay policy. Payments to classroom teachers should only be made for activities undertaken outside of the 1,265 hours of directed time - or the appropriate proportion for part-time teachers. So before you decide to take on any such work, check your school’s pay policy.
Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) All new teachers will automatically be enrolled into the ‘career average’ TPS that began in April 2015, under which you’ll pay at least 7.4% of your salary towards your pension. We know this is a big ask, with other pressures such as student loans and rent, but remember your employer contributes 16.4% to the TPS. Despite recent Government changes that increased the contribution rate and increased the retirement age, the scheme is still the most valuable benefit available for teachers. The NUT’s advice is to stay in the TPS. Find more information at: teacherspensions.co.uk
Behaviour Even the most experienced teachers find pupil behaviour challenging at times. Make sure that you read the school’s behaviour policy and discuss school practice with your mentor when joining a new school. Remember to establish your own expectations and class rules. It is best to outline this with pupils at the beginning of the academic year. They are more likely to respond positively to rules that they have agreed.
For further tips on behaviour management visit teachers.org.uk/nqt/behaviourtips or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a hard copy of the NQT Behaviour Guide.
Work-life balance The NUT thinks all schools should have a work-life balance policy. The DfE has also stated that schools should consider incorporating work-life balance into the school development plan, so check to see if your school has one.
Views from NQTs
We asked NQTs about their biggest challenges, what strategies they employ in the classroom, and why they became NUT members. This is what they said:
Be familiar with key school policies If unsure about anything – policies, procedure, data, etc. – ask questions
Classroom context Treat pupils as individuals – learn names quickly and build relationships Find out who has SEND or medical needs and what works for them Have high expectations of behaviour and learning
Behaviour Model the behaviour you want to see Be firm, fair and approachable When confronted with inappropriate behaviour, remain calm and don’t take it personally Develop a repertoire of different strategies and techniques Respond proportionately to both positive and inappropriate behaviour
General considerations Focus on specifics, whether they are things that you need pupils to do or aspects of your own practice Invest in the relationship with your mentor and establish mutual expectations from the outset Remember that you are not alone; if you experience difficulties share them with your mentor, colleagues, or union rep Actively listen to pupils and colleagues Pursue opportunities for CPD – the NUT provides a variety of training courses. Find them at: teachers.org.uk/courses
“The main benefit of being an NUT member is peace of mind, knowing that I have support if any issues arise in the workplace.” (Primary school teacher in Wales)
“At the start of my NQT year, differentiation was a challenge in order for children of all abilities to access the subject matter. However, through experimenting with different teaching styles I have learnt the importance of teaching for different pupils.” (Primary school teacher)
“Teaching isn’t a lone profession – you need teamwork in order to be successful.” (Secondary school teacher)
“I’m very quick to ask for help when I need it and colleagues are there to lend a hand and give support.” (Secondary school teacher)
“I went on a three-day course offered by the NUT over the summer, which really improved my confidence and gave me strategies to deal with bad behaviour.” (Secondary school teacher)
“It’s invaluable to get as much training as you possibly can as an NQT!” (Primary school teacher)
Further help If you are experiencing difficulties in your new school, you should discuss them with your mentor, department head, colleagues or – if needed – your NUT school rep who can advise you in the first instance. Don’t be afraid to approach your head teacher as well as they may be able to offer guidance and support. You can also get initial advice from the NUT AdviceLine on: 0203 006 6266 or email@example.com.
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Future Conditional So is that what the play is about? It’s about education and what that is at quite a deep level. There are three main strands to the narrative. Firstly, there’s the social relationship between the parents in the primary school playground as they negotiate the secondary transfer. Secondly, running parallel to that is the setting up of an Education and Equality Commission that is being conducted during the play. Eventually, those in the boardroom start behaving like children too. The thing that unites both those worlds is an Afghan refugee and her story of entering the British education system. It’s a true story that I stumbled across, and the fact that the character’s from another country affords a different view that really opens the play up to deal with some of the bigger questions in relation to education in this country. Tamsin Oglesby is a playwright and mother of two. After struggling to get secondary school places for both her children, she decided to write a play about her experiences. Starring Rob Brydon, Future Conditional is now playing at The Old Vic Theatre in London until early October. We asked her about the play, the future of education and her experience of being a parent. What made you write this play? I was becoming increasingly interested in the kind of conflict that you encounter when you are trying to decide what school to send your kid to. Your ideals and reality come into stark contrast and I saw parents began behaving very badly to make sure their child got the school place they wanted. It’s a traumatic time for parents, and both our children didn’t get into any school. We had to home-school my daughter for the first six weeks of secondary school. That must have been very difficult? We did our best, but in the end we’re not teachers. It was particularly frustrating, as I had seen other parents managing to jump through loopholes in order to get their children into schools. It’s very insidious how these loopholes become apparent in the process of secondary transfers; but in the absence of a system that works, of course parents are going to try to do things to get round it. I started thinking about the idea of parents in the playground behaving worse than the children.
What are the bigger questions? We take it for granted in this country that our education system is ‘good’. But education is very much tailored towards constant measurements and entirely subject to whatever government is in charge and their ever-changing policies. In fact, the whole premise of it is to execute a five-year plan that the next Government will over-turn. This makes any long-term view of education entirely self-defeating. In regards to measurements and league tables, the question should not be where are the best results; the question is what makes the difference between one school and another? And the answer is teaching. We are constantly looking and comparing our education system with other countries and things get changed accordingly, but what nobody seems to have realised is that in Finland, doctors and teachers are paid the same. Maybe that’s part of their success. Why should teachers come to see Future Conditional? To feel better. To laugh. Education never stops, so in that spirit I think the play aims to be entertaining and exploratory. Everyone has been educated or is educating so there should be plenty for people to connect with and enjoy.
Future Conditional is playing now until 3 October at London’s Old Vic Theatre.
I The Teacher 31
Drawn together An interview with Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell For over 15 years a select group of authors have been honoured with the post of Children’s Laureate. Tasked with promoting children’s reading, the list of past laureates is a who’s-who of the UK’s most eminent literary figures: Quentin Blake, Jacqueline Wilson and now illustrator and author Chris Riddell. Famed equally for his children’s book collaborations with Neil Gaiman and Michael Rosen as he is for his long-time position as The Observer’s political cartoonist – we sat down with Chris to ask what he hopes to achieve as Children’s Laureate. You’re about three months into your two year post as Children’s Laureate. What does the position mean to you? It’s fascinating. It is a great honour that I don’t take lightly. I would like to use the role as a way to talk about things I care about – such as school libraries. I think school libraries need to be celebrated and as Children’s Laureate I can get out there and talk about them. I’ll try to visit as many
libraries as I can, meet as many school librarians as I can, and discuss the incredible roles they have in making the readers of the future. What is it about libraries that you think is so vital for children? Libraries themselves form a really important part of the structure of a school. They are safe havens in a busy and bustling institution… corners of calm. As a schoolboy, I used to find my library a wonderful place where I could come in to a brilliantly calm atmosphere and browse shelves with impunity. I think that is really important in this age of assessments and key stages. There’s a difference between ‘reading for pleasure’ and reading for exam purposes, isn’t there? While there’s obviously a role for structured reading, taking some time out to encourage reading for pleasure provides a contrast and allows children to unwind, while still learning.
I went to a small mixed grammar school of about 400 students. We had an old-school librarian who was very much the custodian of the library. She would jealously guard the tranquillity of the library… any mucking about and then you were out! I loved her dearly. Librarians are able to introduce kids to books and match them to what they might simply enjoy. That’s how you create avid readers. You are one of the few illustrator-writers to be named Children’s Laureate. I wonder what that says about the increasing diversity in children’s literature?
Illustrations: Chris Riddell
The UK has a fantastic culture of children’s illustrated books. You can’t beat the tradition of British illustrated children’s books, they are the finest in the world – from Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter to Enid Blyton and CS Lewis. As someone who works in illustrated books, that’s something I’m keen to highlight as Children’s Laureate and something I’m really proud about. There was once a snobbery about comics and illustrated books, especially when it came to children. In fact, the NUT once campaigned against illustrations and cartoons in schools, although it was over a hundred years ago. Have you seen a change in attitude? Increasingly we live in an age where images and words go together. The internet and digital publishing create all sorts of ways that words and pictures work together – really we live in the age of the poster in all sorts of ways. Kids today are brought up on a rich cultural mix of everything from computer gaming, comic books and TV to children’s literature. It’s a fascinating time to be doing what I do.
As with many artists, you’ve something of a twin career; on the one hand creating political cartoons for the likes of The Observer, while on the other, illustrated books for children. Are you able to carry ideals from one through to the other? Really it’s all about communication and following the dictate of your own imagination. That’s true when I’m doing a cartoon in The Observer and also true when working with Neil Gaiman and Michael Rosen on poems for the very young. It’s still me and my ideals in each of those guises, it’s just that when the context changes from political cartooning to children’s books, the big scary bear becomes the teddy bear. They’re the same ideas, just packaged slightly differently. You mentioned that your position as Children’s Laureate gives you the opportunity to discuss issues that you are passionate about. So do you have any concrete goals that you want to achieve by the end of your tenure? I’m currently meeting with the wonderful Laureate Steering Committee to discuss plans for next year and see how we are going to put all our ideas together. I’d like to do something with visual literacy to promote drawing as an activity. It’s a shame when people reach a stage where they say, “Oh I can’t draw, I used to as a kid but I don’t now.” I would love to break through that, to get everyone together and say it’s okay to draw. There’s an inhibition there that I hope as Children’s Laureate I can start to get people talking about.
For information on Chris Riddell’s speaking and events, visit: chrisriddell.co.uk
n o i n U Your Illustration: Anna Dunn
YOUR VOICE MATTERS
Within weeks of taking office, the Conservative Government had introduced two Bills that threaten the rights of teachers, parents and trade union members. The NUT, ATL and NAHT jointly held a packed meeting in Parliament on 15 July attended by MPs and Peers to hear the unions’ opposition to the Education and Adoption Bill, which proposes forcing thousands more schools into academy status. See the July/August Teacher for a full report. l your
The NUT is working with the ATL and NAHT to oppose the Bill. The immediate priority is making teachers’
As we enter a new academic year with a new Conservative Government, there has never been a more important time for us to make our voices heard and stand up for the education that we believe our children deserve. Here’s what NUT members are doing and how you can get involved.
views known to MPs and Peers, by asking them to support union sponsored amendments to the Bill. The amendments seek to reverse some of the Bill’s worst and most problematic provisions, which include: • A data-driven ‘one size fits all’ definition of a ‘coasting’ school, which allows no consideration of the circumstances which individual schools face • An automatic duty on the Secretary of State to order a school to become an academy if it is deemed to be ‘failing’ – with no opportunity for discretion
• Forcing governors to facilitate the school’s conversion to academy status – even where they believe conversion is not in the interests of the school – a situation which could be at odds with their duties as set down in the Governor’s Handbook • No right of appeal against an academy order or performance warning notice • The absence of consultation over the choice of sponsor, which the Secretary of State alone wants to decide.
Key dates and links Education and Adoption Bill You can keep up to date with Union activity on the Bill at: teachers.org.uk/campaigns/edbill and email your MP at teachers.org.uk/email-your-mp/2/A NUT Lobby of Supply Agencies, London, Wednesday 28 October Register to attend at teachers.org.uk/supply and please sign the petition for Nicky Morgan to acknowledge the haemorrhaging of public money into the coffers of private agencies. you.38degrees.org.uk/ petitions/stop-the-agency-rip-off-in-education
I The Teacher
TUC Rally at Conservative Conference, Manchester, Sunday 4 October 2015 tuc.org.uk/notoausterity TUC Trade Union Bill lobby of Parliament, Monday 2 November tuc.org.uk/trade-union-bill-get-involved Funding Lobby, Wednesday 18 November teachers.org.uk/campaigns/funding
ice v r e s r u o y t NUT – a Trade Union Bill lobby To stand up against the Trade Union Bill (see p4) the NUT is backing a lobby of Parliament called by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Monday 2 November. The TUC is also organising a national march and rally on the Conservative Party conference, Manchester, on Sunday 4 October. We ask all NUT members to march with us and defend workers’ rights. Supply lobby Supply teachers were among the first teachers affected by privatisation in education – and the result has been savage cuts to pay, loss of access to pensions, and far less predictable access to teaching work. On Wednesday 28 October 2015 (half term week), the NUT will lobby supply agency HQs in central London in order to highlight the continuing scandal of supply teacher pay and pensions. It will also focus on the role that agencies play in driving down pay while taking huge sums in commission and paying their own directors huge salaries. This year’s NUT supply teacher survey showed that over two thirds of supply teachers now rely on agencies for their work, rising to almost 90 per cent in London. This lobby isn’t just for supply teachers. We want as many NUT members to attend as possible and support their supply teacher colleagues. This is an issue for all teachers as many will work as a supply teacher at some point in their career. Funding lobby Funding is also a top priority this year. The Government’s school funding freeze will hit harder as inflation bites and costs rise. Post-16 funding faces even worse cuts on top of those already made, while planned capital spending is grossly inadequate for the new school places needed. That’s why on Wednesday 18 November the NUT is organising a lobby of Parliament on funding. We want all MPs to be lobbied and left in no doubt of the impact of funding cuts on schools and colleges in their constituencies.
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Mortgages and savings
NUT Benevolent Fund We specialise in mortgages for people working in education and can lend to a teacher one month before the start of a new post. teachersbs.co.uk Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
Email NUTBF@nut.org.uk for more information or visit teachers.org.uk/node/24569
Home insurance Freephone 0800 010199. fromyourunion. co.uk/NUT
Group insurance A range of group insurance policies for all in-service members (subject to terms and conditions).
Teachers Assurance Freephone 0800 378722 teachersassurance.co.uk
Personal accident: permanent, accidental injury or death.
Motor insurance Aviva Freephone 0800 010199 fromyourunion.co.uk/NUT
Hospitalisation: compensation for hospitalisation of more than one day following an occupational accident.
Personal property: cover for property in schools (theft, fire or malicious damage).
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Spectacles: cover for accidental damage to spectacles at work.
For discounts from shops and services to holidays, fun days out, keeping fit and much more, visit countdowncard.com/nut or call 0844 576 3493
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Financial assistance for members who’ve suffered sickness, injury, unemployment or bereavement.
Malicious damage to motor vehicles: malicious damage protection for vehicles on school premises. For details call the NUT’s Organising and Membership Department on 020 7380 4785 or visit teachers.org.uk – go to Members’ Centre >Benefits and services.
0845 111 7124
No matter what the Government throws at the profession, NUT members continue to fight for fair pay, decent conditions, education, and the right to strike. Teachers are the very
heart of this union and we ask you to write to your MP, attend a lobby, discuss the issues with parents and governors and make your voice heard.
I The Teacher 35
n o i n U e h t k As Q
If I’m on School Direct, how do I get the best from my training?
In most cases, with the exception of those which offer QTS without a PGCE qualification, School Direct Schemes are linked to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). In the case of School Direct (salaried), HEIs will have a role in quality assurance. With the School Direct tuition based schemes, HEIs have a stronger involvement. They will provide a significant part of your training and, working with your school, will establish your teaching timetable. As a School Direct tuition fee trainee, to benefit fully from your training you should have a named mentor and/or teacher whom you can contact about any aspect of your training and for subject specific support. In addition, you will have a named HEI tutor who will teach aspects of the initial teacher education curriculum and assess you on school practice. You are also entitled to proper study time, written resources, space and materials, in order to help with your written assignments and teaching. Adequate time should also be provided by those responsible for your training in order to discuss your progress and experiences.
Photo: iStock Finland
I have had my appraisal review and the head teacher says that I have not met targets set for last year. I feel that these targets were not those discussed in my last appraisal review meeting and that they are in any case unachievable. The head also says that I am not meeting certain Teachers' Standards – and that I will not receive pay progression this year. What can I do?
Ask for reasons in writing why the head thinks you should not progress. Also ask for the school’s appraisal policy and pay policy – this will help you understand the protocol which the school should follow and decide how to respond, and help the Union offer you support. Then, read the NUT guidance about pay progression
Contact the NUT AdviceLine on 020 3006 6266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Members in Wales should contact NUT Cymru on 029 2049 1818 or email email@example.com
and its link with appraisal at teachers.org.uk/paytoolkit. If you still disagree with the head’s decision and think you should progress, talk to your NUT school rep or call the NUT AdviceLine (0203 006 6266). You’ll need to work out how to rebut the head’s view that you should not progress – whether because these were not your objectives, or they were unachievable, or you did in fact meet the objectives and standards sufficiently to progress. Pay progression decisions are usually taken by governors, not the head, but you will in any case have the right to an appeal meeting before governors. Make a note of timetables so you don’t miss any deadlines. Finally, find out if this has happened to other teachers in your school. If so, contact your NUT division secretary so that a collective approach may be considered.
Ask the Union I am an early years teacher and my school has decided not to opt in to the new arrangements for Baseline Assessment of reception age children. Should I be concerned?
Your school is not alone. Schools were given until the end of April to choose whether to opt in to Baseline Assessment. At that point, nearly 3,000 had chosen not to do so.
The Union, like nearly all early years educators, believes that the existing Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is better than Baseline Assessment. It offers a holistic way of evaluating the learning of reception age children, that does not reduce children’s development to a single score. The EYFSP will still be operative in 2015/16, and you can expect to use it. Looking ahead, there are reasons for concern. From 2016/17, the EYFSP profile will no longer be mandatory. The Coalition Government expected that from then on schools would adopt the new Baseline measures. However, Baseline remains controversial. News stories last term suggested that ministers had lost faith in it, while the campaign to scrap the new system – in which the NUT, ATL and early years educators are fully involved – will be stepped up. Even if your school isn’t involved in 2015/16, you should follow closely what happens to Baseline Assessment in other schools.
Next year it could be you. Keep up to date with the campaign at teachers.org.uk/baseline
Another new Ofsted inspection framework for England took effect in August. What has changed?
The Union has updated resources for teachers, including the popular Ofsted – an NUT Survival Guide, which looks at how to organise at school level to minimise additional workload and take control of the Ofsted process. You can find these materials on the website: teachers.org.uk/educationand-equalities/ofsted
Key changes: • A new common inspection framework aligning inspection practice across all settings from early years to further education and skills providers, with specific handbooks covering inspections in the different phases of education • Inspectors will make judgements on the effectiveness of leadership and management; the quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare; and outcomes for children and learners. The judgement on outcomes is new for early years providers and Ofsted says inspectors will focus on children’s progress alongside the continued focus
on teaching which will be judged under teaching, learning and assessment • There will be shorter inspections every three years for schools that were rated ‘good’ in their previous inspection • Most inspectors will be employed directly by Ofsted, as HMIs or Ofsted inspectors, rather than contracted from private companies. However, insufficient in-house expertise means some early years inspectors will still be hired via private companies • Serving school leaders will be included in school inspection teams. While not all of these changes are welcome, some result from successful Union campaigning, such as bringing inspectors inhouse. Ofsted has also agreed to another Union demand – that no serving inspector should engage in ‘Mocksteds’ or consultancy work to help schools prepare for inspection. Another achievement by the Union, the Ofsted ‘Clarifications’ document, has been incorporated into the School Inspection handbook, boosting its status and giving schools no excuse for putting pressure on teachers to carry out practices not expected by Ofsted.
Send your questions to: Ask the Union, the Teacher, NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD or email firstname.lastname@example.org
s w e i Rev For pupils The Cloudspotter
The Last Chocolate Chip Cookie
This is a whimsical, charming and wellillustrated book for emergent young readers and storytellers. The cloudspotter (real name Franklin) contentedly looked at all sorts of clouds in solitude as they became a gateway for adventure. Into his life comes a scruffy dog and adventures are reluctantly shared but friendship and fun merge in this delightful story that celebrates the power of imagination and camaraderie.
A bright picture book, with lovely illustrations, which aims to address sharing and manners. It’s an exciting story which will elicit chuckles of recognition from parents and their young children – and there is a surprise ending with a valuable message about the perils of leaving your food in your pocket! As an added bonus a cookie recipe is included at the back of the book.
Dr Len Parkyn The Cloudspotter by Tom McLaughlin. Bloomsbury Publishing. Paperback. £6.99.
My Brother’s Keeper This book tells the story of fifteen year old Alfie who is caught up in patriotic fervour and volunteers for the army in the Great War between 1914 and 1918. Life in the trenches is not what Alfie expected and he begins to understand the brutal reality of war. The authors draw you into the story and help bring this terrible conflict to life through Alfie’s struggles. Lee Ryder My Brother’s Keeper by Tom and Tony Bradman. A&C Black. Paperback. £5.99.
Ellie Rhodes The Last Chocolate Chip Cookie by Jamie Rix. Piccadilly Press Ltd. Paperback. £6.99.
s For teacher
Anxiety and Depression in the Classroom
What Makes Your Body Work?
Emotional wellness in the classroom is explored in this amazing, helpful and informative publication. It is thoroughly researched with clearly presented areas of concern such as self regulation, mental health in children and communication and liaison with parents. Practical tools and strategies and exploration of developmental ‘disorders’ make this an outstanding book with a wealth of ideas. Ideal for the nurturing and holistic approach in schools and other related disciplines.
If you want to know everything there is to know about the human body, then this book is what you need. With illustrated sections on all the major organs and systems, it takes you on a journey of discovery and even has activities the reader can try out for themself, like making their pupils change size. Ideally suited to KS2, this book doesn’t patronise or ‘dumb down’ any of its facts. It is accessible to children, yet also maintains its scientific basis, using correct medical terminology and clear explanations for why our bodies do the things they do.
Following the general election, education continues to be a controversial topic as more reforms and examinations are introduced to the curriculum. Written by retired head teacher Roger Titcombe, this book attacks the successive governmental reforms of recent years and suggests reasonable and practical solutions for the future. Full of statistics and looking at the history of education reform, this book has an urgency that really connects with the reader. Slightly polemical in quality, it is still engaging and fascinating; there’s a chance you might not agree with it all but you’re sure to find it a stimulating read.
LP Anxiety and Depression in the Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide to Fostering Self-Regulation in Young Students by Nadja Reilly. W. W. Norton & Company. Paperback. £14.99.
I The Teacher
What Makes Your Body Work? by Gill Arbuthnott. A&C Black. Paperback. £8.99.
Learning Matters by Roger Titcombe. FGI Publishing. Paperback. £10.52.
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Events Anthony Walker Memorial Lecture – 16 October, Liverpool Anthony was a young man who was murdered in a brutal, racially motivated attack in Liverpool on 30 July 2005. The lecture is one of a range of activities that keep Anthony’s memory alive and continue the fight against racist violence. It is held every year during Black History Month. This year the event is being held at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool and schools will have the opportunity to come along to the museum to take part in educational activities before the lecture. To register an interest in attending or to find out more email email@example.com or go to teachers.org.uk/events Black Teachers’ Conference – 13-15 November – Stoke Rochford Hall The Black Teachers' Conference is an annual event that allows the Union’s Black members to discuss and address issues of race equality, education, and the workplace. The conference plays an integral role in ensuring that the Union’s work is in the interest of its
ATL and NUT to co-host conference Black members and all Black teachers. The NUT uses the term ‘Black’ in a political context to encompass all members who self-identify as Black or Asian and all other minority ethnic groups who do not identify themselves as White. To find out more go to teachers.org.uk/events Disabled Teachers’ Conference – 28 November – Hamilton House, London Each year the Union holds a conference for members of the Union who define themselves as disabled. This event allows teachers to share experiences, learn from each other and debate Union policy about campaigns to achieve disability equality in the profession. This event is open to all teachers who define themselves as disabled and this can cover teachers with cancer, MS, ME, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, mobility impairments, visual impairments, hearing impairments. It is also open to members who are HIV positive or who suffer from work-related stress, anxiety, depression as well as any other mental or physical impairment which teachers experience. To find out more go to teachers.org.uk/events
ns Competitio Ready, Steady, Cook! Year 11 Food Technology students in Birmingham are invited to enter the Busy Bees Training ‘Greens to Gourmet’ Cookery Challenge commencing 5 October. Shortlisted dishes will be entered into the final round in November. An expert panel, including Luke Tipping, Chef Director at Michelin starred restaurant Simpsons, will decide the winner, who will enjoy a meal for four at Simpsons. To take part contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit busybeestraining.co.uk/ greens-to-gourmet-cateringcompetition
d r a o b e c i t o N
Back to school pens STABILO is offering the chance to win an EASYoriginal pen for every child in your school year group. The EASYoriginal pen is ergonomically designed to encourage the correct grip to prevent muscle fatigue when writing. If you teach children between the ages of 5 and 11, simply email email@example.com with your contact details, details of your school, which year group you’re entering and how many children the year group includes. The deadline for entries is 1 October. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The NUT and the ATL will co-host a conference in Fishergate, York on 17 October. Speakers will include Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney and ATL General Secretary, Mary Bousted. Members of both unions will have the opportunity to discuss how our two organisations can work together on the issues facing education professionals, including tackling workload, raising the profession’s status and strengthening its voice. To register for the event go to teachers.org.uk and follow the links from Conferences and Events.
Resources Award winning resource for schools boosted by new feature The online events resource, UniTasterDays.com, has added a new feature, making it even easier for staff interested in booking university events for their school groups. Staff can now browse events targeted directly at their institution. Events can include opportunities to host or visit universities, as well as general and subject-specific talks and workshops. To see the new feature please visit unitasterdays.com
Help improve private renting With the rise in sky-high rents and low-standard accommodation in the private rental market, the Government is putting forward a Housing Bill at the end of September. While it is set to feature some welcome proposals, it is unlikely to go far enough. In response, the TUC is calling for a national register of landlords to help drive rogue landlords out of the industry by making them comply with minimum standards. Please sign the petition today at: bit.ly/1KME7IA
September / October 15 I The Teacher
The NUT provides a wide range of courses for teachers. Here are just a few to whet your appetite. Ways into Shakespeare 2-3 November 2015 Join a trained education practitioner from Shakespeare’s Globe for a two-day residential CPD course at Stoke Rochford Hall. The course is designed for secondary NQTs and Early Career Teachers who teach English. Key themes of tragedy and leadership will be explored and you will come away with new approaches to engage and challenge students with the drama and storytelling in Shakespeare’s plays. To apply, or to see what other courses are on offer, go to teachers.org.uk/courses
Young teachers’ officers Developing local young teacher activity is essential to building the NUT of the future. This course is for NUT members who have become the young teachers’ officer for their NUT division or local association or for members interested in taking on the role. Improve your skills and knowledge of the young teachers’ officer role and learn how to organise and develop local young teacher activities and networks. Friday 20 – Sunday 22 November Stoke Rochford Hall (residential) Free For more information and to apply, go to teachers.org.uk/courses/yto
NUT reps training and development programme Are you a new NUT rep? Or a more experienced NUT rep who’s never attended a training course? Or feel the need to build your skills as an NUT rep? Find out about our new reps training and development programme – delivered regionally close to where you live. For more information, go to teachers.org.uk/courses/representatives
Getting behaviour right
Learning with the NUT
Learning with the NUT
We believe that all teachers need to develop a wide range of skills to positively manage behaviour and to build positive relationships with students. We also believe that there is no easy box of magic tricks for teachers. Taking the form of a two day residential programme, and a follow-up seminar, participants will have the opportunity to put what they have learned into practice and undertake research back in school before sharing their learning with colleagues. Part one: Thursday 8 and Friday 9 October 2015 Part two: Friday 29 January 2016 Stoke Rochford Hall (residential) Free to NUT members (£200 for non-members) For more information and to apply, go to teachers.org.uk/node/16299
NQTs working with mentors – led by Sue Cowley It is important to get the right start to your NQT year and building a supportive relationship with your mentor is crucial. Working with author and trainer, Sue Cowley, NQTs will have the chance to build effective strategies for sustaining support and improvement throughout the year. The day will explore positive teaching styles, the role of verbal and non-verbal communication in managing behaviour, and the links between teaching, lesson content and pupil engagement. This course is designed for NQTs in their induction year attending with their induction mentor/tutor. Friday 13 November Hamilton House, London £40 per pair (where at least one is an NUT member) £100 per pair (for non-members) For more information and to apply, go to teachers.org.uk/node/16298
For information on the wide range of learning opportunities with the NUT go to teachers.org.uk/courses
September / October 15 I The Teacher
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 How to survive your NQT year Shared areas Everyone knows being an NQT is tough, so rest assured, most of your seniors will be very sympathetic about this. Take time to go through the shared areas on your school network – you will find most teachers upload a wealth of lesson plans and PowerPoints ready to go for the lessons you will be teaching. Don’t be afraid of asking for or sharing resources with others in the department. Using sites such as TES and Teachit can also save you hours so do join them. Above everything though, maintain a sense of perspective. Teaching is a skill and you will gain confidence and pace in time. Name withheld
Pace yourself Pace yourself and realise that you cannot do everything at once. Have short and medium term lists of things to do and an ‘In my dreams’ list should you ever find yourself with spare time! Name supplied, Ely
Use teachers’ experience If I were an NQT now I would most definitely observe as many experienced teachers as possible and squirrel away all their tips and tricks for my own use. Find someone who understands data and how it can help you show progress with your pupils and sit down with them as soon as you can. Ensure you understand the targets which relate to your setting and find out about whole school goals and subjects too. Name withheld
Failures at five? “School days are the best days of your life.” Tell that to some of the reception children I have recently worked with. Carrying out one assessment after another. I still can’t decide who it hurts the most, the children enduring them, or the teachers administering them. The fact is 1:1 testing is time consuming. The boredom of repeating the same information to different children is enough to drive any sane adult crazy, but worst of all, some children believe they are failures. One girl said, looking at the test, “I can’t do it, it’s too hard for me.” There was a time when play was at the heart of the curriculum for the early years and all about selfdiscovery, imagination and interaction. Children could enjoy finding out their strengths in a secure environment. Observations were carried out discreetly. Now, it is all hands on pens – iPads – as evidence is collected as efficiently as possible. The whole assessments system works well for a select few, but for the rest it brings unnecessary pressure and breeds low self-esteem. Young children are not failures. They are being failed by the Government. Thank you NUT for commissioning your report Exam Factories? (July/August issue). Someone has to shout out, “Enough is enough!” because young people need someone to defend them. Name supplied, West Yorkshire
Weekend plans Plan something nice every weekend, a meal out or a good film. Leave Saturday and Sunday free from marking and ask questions all the time of teachers you immediately gel with and can trust. Don’t let uncertainty about anything at school eat away at you. Once you get into your stride teaching is a fabulous job! Name withheld
We are looking for teachers’ tips on how to keep up with the kids when it comes to technology. Send your advice by 9 October 2015 to email@example.com.
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aqa.org.uk/apply Apply now to mark/moderate 2016 GCSEs and A-levels
Star letter Locked doors Reading Owen Jones’ article (July/August issue) about how austerity measures are impacting young people was a stark reminder of the devastation this heartless Government brings. I agreed with Owen’s views that young, vulnerable people are being attacked in many ways and issues such as living in overcrowded homes and struggling with tuition fees are blocking their route to university. People complained about the ‘glass ceiling’ but now it is even worse – it’s a locked door before the race has started. No wonder young people are disenchanted. C Shanks, Lancashire
Widening the franchisevotes for 16-year-olds Good morning, I am a retired NUT member. I’ve had a good life and I look forward to a happy and comfortable retirement. Of course, someone has to pay for that but I don’t care as long as it’s not me. My generation has lived comfortably off the gains made because of the sacrifices made by previous generations. We, though, have made few sacrifices and epitomise the accusation hurled at the socially and economically vulnerable - undeserving entitlement. This, I’m afraid, seems to be the attitude of the socially conservative gerontocracy which holds the balance of power in the UK. The only way to change this socially irresponsible approach is to extend the franchise so that those who face an uncertain future have a say in their futures. Bill Smith
Teachers’ tips for unwinding Brilliant advice from Manny in July/August Staffroom Confidential – I guess all of us who loved Channel 4’s hilarious Black Books spotted it! Just off to read my Little Book of Calm. Debbie Clarke
Please write The editor welcomes your letters but reserves the right to edit them. Write to: Your letters, the Teacher, NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters for the November/December issue should reach us no later than 9 October 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
Solidarity with colleagues in Nepal and Greece A couple of issues ago I highlighted the hamstringing of countries beset by Ebola due to foreign debt payments. An analogous situation exists with Nepal where the Teacher reports colleagues foregoing salaries to rebuild a shattered education system. (the Teacher, July-August 2015, p15). Meanwhile Greece is being asset-stripped and bullied by foreign creditors who looked the other way when it suited them but now demand mega-austerity and ‘solutions’ where 92% of the bailout funds immediately go out of the country to foreign banks. The famed days of public sector cushiness are over and young, old and vulnerable are being crushed to an extent which, even here, we find unthinkable. Even the IMF thinks it is unsustainable!
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 teachers.org.uk/contactus.
Find out what reps do at teachers.org.uk/getinvolved As Christine Blower says, “Solidarity is a key trade union issue” and I concur being “...proud that the NUT stands in solidarity with the many teachers around the world”. Colleagues can show solidarity by petitioning those taking the money from Nepal and Greece through jubileedebt.org.uk and cancelgreekdebt.org, not just for these countries but to establish just systems to deal with irresponsible lending and debt crises before they become disasters. Stephen Pennells, Manchester
Joined-up thinking? I read with sadness in my Saturday paper that Finland has ditched joined-up handwriting classes for young children in favour of teaching keyboard skills. I retired from teaching in 1997, but during my last two years at a school in Knaphill, Surrey, we taught cursive writing right from reception class. It transformed the way that children presented their work, the speed with which they completed tasks, and not one child was confused by print in reading books. Gone was the confusion between ‘b’ and ‘d’, and parents were all supportive. I know that tablets, texts and computers are the future, but they do not show the character or personality of handwriting. Receiving a five-word text for a very expensive wedding gift seems to me an insult; a handwritten letter would bring lasting pleasure. What do others think? Ann Thompson Henfield, West Sussex
Empowering young voters Retired as I am, I despair of the way in which so many of my age-group voted in the recent General Election. My despair is tempered by hope that the younger generation, especially if the voting age is lowered to 16, will see through the lies and distortions of the likes of the Telegraph (see Kate Smurthwaite’s article in the July/August issue), Sun and Daily Mail and will see things as set out in Owen Jones’s article in the same issue. Colin Yardley Former Secretary, Greenwich Teachers’ Association
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By Lauren Smith, Research Associate at the School of Education, University of Strathclyde, and co-founder of Voices for the Library. In August, Minister for Education Nicky Morgan made an announcement about an extension of The Reading Agency’s Chatterbooks scheme, in which she stated “an ambition to see every eight-year-old enrolled at their local library”. On the face of it, this sounds like a positive ambition. But to many it feels like little more than a distraction from more fundamental issues in the education system. Although libraries have a very important role to play in learning – from the cradle to the grave – a library card alone will not provide the support young people and their families need.
The educational contribution of libraries has long gone unnoticed – or ignored – by the Government, who’ve historically failed to connect public libraries to education. For several years, groups such as Voices for the Library have promoted the value of libraries and urged the Government to invest in and properly oversee public libraries, as well as to make school libraries statutory... because whereas public and prison libraries are statutory, school libraries are not. Local councils, under pressure to make severe cuts, turn to public libraries as an easy target – despite their status as statutory services – and slash these rather than what are understandably considered more ‘essential’ services such as social care.
Illustration: Yuliya Verovski
Library membership for all children: a twist in the tale
The impact of public libraries on literacy has been demonstrated by several studies, including The National Literacy Trust’s findings that children who use libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers. These studies emphasise the importance of libraries to the very young, which contrasts with Morgan’s announcement that children should be enrolled in public libraries at the age of eight – an age that seems to have been plucked from thin air. By that age so much potential for intervention in early years language and literacy development, as well as the opportunity to make library visits a routine part of life, is lost. A more sensible point for enrolment would be at birth or the beginning of primary school, as in Scotland’s Every Child a Library Member pilot.
However, library cuts will have a detrimental impact on literacy, wellbeing, and communities. Public libraries around the UK are being closed, handed over to unqualified volunteers and having their opening hours cut, all in the name of an austerity agenda based on economic research that has all been discredited. In truth, an ‘ambition’ for every child in England to be a library member is little more than a headline-grabber. It does not pay for the resources needed to process membership, let alone provide comprehensive literacy support. If Morgan was serious about improving children’s literacy, her focus would be on ensuring that public libraries are properly funded and on making school libraries compulsory. Physical spaces, with adequate resources and professionally trained staff are worth more than a thousand library cards.
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A message from your General Secretary &1%&10!&0 ,2+10+!*+61" %"/"+"Ćœ10Çž4"")&"3"%,*" &+02/+ "#/,*" %"/0002/+ "&04"))4,/1% ,+0&!"/&+$Ç˝ Christine Blower, General Secretary, NUT
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