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School cuts campaign How to oppose academisation Sexism in schools Social justice and poverty NQT survival guide Mental health crisis in our schools Srebrenica visit Crossword Desk yoga


TEACHER March/April 2018

Might seem crazy what I’m ‘bout to say… Three Bridges and a new way to educate Your magazine from the National Education Union: NUT section


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We offer a range of the pension, annuity and investment products from the Liverpool Victoria group of companies. We also offer annuities from the whole of market and investment products from a limited number of other companies. National Education Union (NEU) acts as an introducer appointed representative to the Liverpool Victoria group of companies for General Insurance and for advice on investment and pensions products. LV= and Liverpool Victoria are registered trade marks of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited and LV= and LV=Liverpool Victoria are trading styles of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies. Liverpool Victoria Financial Advice Services Limited (LVFAS), registered in England No. 3027145, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, register number 186890. LVFAS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited. Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, register number 110035. Registered address for these companies: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF. Telephone: 01202 292333 20768-2018 01/18

The Teacher March/April 2018 Three Bridges Primary School in Ealing – see pages 12 & 13 Photo: Kois Miah

School cuts campaign How to oppose academisation Sexism in schools Social justice and poverty NQT survival guide Mental health crisis in our schools Srebrenica visit Crossword Desk yoga


TEACHER March/April 2018

Might seem crazy what I’m ‘bout to say… Three Bridges and a new way to educate Your magazine from the National Education Union, NUT section


President: Louise Regan Joint General Secretary: Kevin Courtney Editor: Helen Watson Journalists: Emily Jenkins, Max Watson Administration: Maryam Hulme Newsdesk t: 020 7380 4708 e: teacher@neu.org.uk Design & subbing: Amanda Ellis neu.org.uk facebook.com/ nationaleducationunion twitter.com/NEUnion To advertise contact: Jonathan Knight, Century One Publishing, Alban Row, 27-31 Verulam Road, St Albans AL3 4DG t: 01727 739 193 e:jonathan@centuryone publishing.uk Except where the NEU has formally negotiated agreements with companies as part of its services to members, inclusion of an advertisement in the Teacher does not imply any form of recommendation. While every effort is made to ensure the reliability of advertisers, the NEU cannot accept any liability for the quality of goods or services offered. The Teacher is printed by Southern Print. Inside pages are printed on paper comprised of 100% recycled, post-consumer waste.


SCHOOLS are facing an unprecedented crisis in recruitment and retention. A Public Accounts Committee report on teacher numbers delivers a devastating critique of Government failure. Excessive workload and inadequate pay are failing to attract teachers to the profession at a time when school rolls are set to rise by over half a million. And teachers are leaving in their droves, unable to stand the pressure of rising class sizes, inadequate funding and unsustainable workload. The Government spent £14 million on advertising last year in an effort to bring in new teachers. Yet recruitment to teacher training courses is at a five-year low. The Department for Education has proved itself inadequate in holding back the tide of accountability pressures which engulf teachers and drive up their workload. We need radical changes to the accountability regime and a rise in pay to make the profession attractive. In this edition we visit Three Bridges, which claims to be “The Happiest School on Earth”. The school has turned current thinking on its head, putting the autonomy of teachers at the centre of education. Teachers decide whether to mark, when to give written feedback or set homework. Staff have seen a dramatic reduction in their workload – no teacher is off sick with stress. And it is in the top three per cent most improved schools in the UK, despite being in an area of high deprivation. Also in this edition, we report on the relaunch of our school funding campaign. We made a real impact during the General Election. We fought off some cuts, effectively winning £1.3bn extra for our schools. But not all the money cut from schools was replaced. We are asking you to put pressure on candidates in the upcoming local elections to back our call for investment in education. Visit schoolcuts.org.uk to find out how to take part. Kevin Courtney, National Education Union, Joint General Secretary

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


Free fundraising kit for your school AllStar Games is the British Heart Foundation’s easy to organise fundraising event, that encourages your class or whole school to get active, have fun and raise money to save lives. We provide the kit, you provide the passion. Your kit includes flexible fundraising options, resources, rewards and brilliant ideas for getting everyone involved. It has everything you need to smash it on the day and raise money for life saving heart research.

You decide on the event that works for your school. • Activities for all ages and abilities • Can be part of an existing sports day or a one-off event • Keep 20% of funds raised to spend in your school

ORDER YOUR FREE FUNDRAISING KIT TODAY Go to bhf.org.uk/allstarsNEU to find out more

© British Heart Foundation 2018, registered charity in England and Wales (225971) and in Scotland (SC039426)


The rest is history 19 March, 1834 Six farm labourers from Tolpuddle in Dorset were sentenced to seven years’ transportation to Australia for forming a trade union. The Tolpuddle Martyrs, and the movement they gave rise to, are celebrated every July at a festival bearing their name in the village. This year’s event is from 14-16 July. tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk



06 News 23 Michael Rosen 33 A class act 34 Ask the Union 37 International 38 Web, app & book reviews 40 Letters 45 Noticeboard 47 Staffroom confidential & yoga 49 Crossword & recipe

“Children who are hungry, cold and scared cannot learn as well as their better-off peers.”

Photo: Jim Mortram

09 How to campaign against academisation

14 Social justice and poverty

They want to turn your school into an

Schools are finding themselves on

academy. What arguments can you use

the frontline of a poverty crisis. What

against it (below)?

can teachers and trade unionists do to fight for social justice (above)?

page 14 12 Don’t worry, be happy Meet the head teacher of “The Happiest School on Earth”, who doesn’t want his staff worrying about marking or planning, or buckling under workload pressures.

20 Surviving your first year in school

Read our tips on how NQTs can

make the most of their introduction

to teaching.

24 Under pressure There is a mental health emergency in our schools, with levels of stress, anxiety and depression reaching record levels for both teachers and pupils (far left). 50 Backbeat: Psychologists for Social Change How the Government’s Mental Health Green Paper just doesn’t go far enough.

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


News End of ‘no pay, no play’ A WEST Midlands school has been forced to scrap a scheme which segregated children based on whether their parents had made a financial contribution to new sports equipment. The ‘no pay, no play’ scheme at Wednesbury Oak Academy sparked outrage from parents who had been asked to ‘voluntarily’ contribute £6 per child by the school’s Parents’ Council. When the scheme was launched, only pupils whose parents had paid were allowed to use the sports equipment. Head teacher Maria Bull defended the scheme, saying that a ‘couple of times a week’ a child whose parents had contributed could invite a friend that hadn’t paid to play with the toys. A petition was launched by parents and within 24 hours the school had abandoned the scheme. The school chair of governors said: “We have listened to the concerns raised and will be ending the scheme with immediate effect.”

Greening out, Hinds in DAMIAN Hinds is the new Education Secretary after Justine Greening quit the Government during the recent cabinet reshuffle. Mr Hinds wrote on Twitter that he was “looking forward to working with the great teachers and lecturers in our schools, colleges and universities giving people the opportunities to make the most of their lives”. Greening reportedly refused to take up a new role in the Department of Work and Pensions and was sacked from her education role. “We had a good relationship with Justine Greening, with whom we had regular meetings,” Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union (NEU) said in a statement. “We hope Damian Hinds will be similarly willing to meet and engage with us and the profession. Most crucially we hope he champions the need for extra funding for education and is able to get more money from the Treasury.”


The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

WARWICKSHIRE NEU: NUT section members marched in solidarity with NHS workers, protesting against privatisation of the public sector, excessive workload and underfunding. “No ifs, no buts, no public sector cuts!”

Six months on, Government reneges on sprinkler promise THE NEU and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have written to the Secretary of State for Education about schools being rebuilt without fire sprinklers. Barely six months after the Government caved in to pressure not to weaken fire protection arrangements for schools, it appears its own advice is routinely flouted. No sprinklers if “low risk” Building Bulletin 100: Design for Fire Safety in Schools says that new schools should have sprinklers fitted, “except in a few low-risk schools”. It has emerged that the definition of “low risk” includes Selsey Academy in West Sussex, which burned down in 2016, yet is being rebuilt

without sprinkler systems fitted. Kensington Aldridge Academy, the school at the base of Grenfell Tower, does not have sprinklers fitted. None of the 35 Croydon school building projects since 2012 were fitted with sprinklers, and 32 new schools are due to be built in Northamptonshire without sprinkler systems. Limiting damage and saving lives Andy Dark, Assistant General Secretary of the FBU, said: “Sprinklers play an important role in preventing the growth of fire. “It is essential that the Government makes it a legal requirement for sprinklers to be fitted in all new school buildings.”

Dear Prime Minister… from Maggie, 10 TEN-year-old Maggie wrote to the Prime Minister about the unfair pressure children her age are under due to testing. She said she and her friends feel it’s “unfair to put so much pressure on children and teachers. “We are told that if we do badly in tests, we will do badly in life,” she wrote. “We all want to enjoy going to school but we don’t enjoy it because of the pressure put on us as children.” She herself is “very worried” about her SATs.

Tests only show what people can remember and the pressure can lead to children to forget the answers, she said. Children could instead be assessed by “looking through our books and talking to us and our teachers”. Downing Street’s ‘Correspondence Officer’ has passed the letter on to the DfE.

Schools struggle to shield pupils from cuts Reading, Isle of Wight, central Bedfordshire, East Riding, York, Derby and Milton Keynes.

REAL-TERMS cuts to school funding have led to a big reduction in the number of secondary teachers, teaching assistants and support staff in England, according to new research by the School Cuts campaign. Schools have been doing all they can to shield their pupils from the damage caused by the £2.8 billion cut from school budgets since 2015, but the lack of investment is now affecting frontline teaching. 31,000 more pupils, 15,000 less staff The latest research – drawn solely from Government figures – shows that staff numbers in secondary schools have fallen by 15,000 between 2014/15 and 2016/17, despite them having 31,000 more pupils to teach. This equates to an average loss of 5.5 staff members in each school since 2015: 2.4 fewer classroom teachers, 1.6 fewer teaching assistants and 1.5 fewer support staff.

The cuts are happening at a time when pupil-to-classroom teacher ratios are rising, resulting in bigger classes and less individual attention for children. The averages also mask significant regional variation. Despite the Government’s claims to be concerned about underfunded areas, some of the largest staffing cuts are in places with the lowest average funding per pupil, such as

Further real-terms cuts ahead The introduction of the National Funding Formula won’t solve this problem unless funding cuts are reversed and significant extra resources included. Four of the five worst hit local authorities – Middlesbrough, Reading, Isle of Wight and Doncaster – face further budget cuts over the next two years, even after taking into account gains predicted by the Department for Education. The situation is likely to get worse, as it’s predicted that 17,942 (nine out of ten) primary and secondary schools in England and Wales will be hit by a real-terms cut in funding per pupil between 2015-19. To find out how your school is affected, visit bit.ly/school_workforce_cuts To find out what you can do to help the campaign, visit schoolcuts.org.uk

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn joined former footballers and local youngsters at an educational event run by Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC). Held at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, the day featured workshops on exploring racism and stereotypes and what hate crime is, as well as a question and answer session with former players. Among those attending were Emily Thornberry MP (pictured above with Corbyn), former Arsenal and England Women’s team player Rachel Yankey, and ex-players Michael Thomas, Perry Groves and Jason Lee. The event was part of a series of SRtRC educational events with English football clubs to educate about hate crime, which also includes work in schools and teacher training. To take part or get more information, visit theredcard.org

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


Academies: what More and more parents and teachers are opposing academisation. If your school is being forced to become an academy, what arguments can you use against it? Here are some facts, figures, advice and ideas for your campaign.

Five more days of strikes are planned at The Village School

No justification for academising The Village MORE than 100 school staff took six days’ strike action against the proposed academisation of The Village School in Brent, north west London, in January and February. The school was judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in October 2016 and campaigners say there is no educational reason for it to be forced into a multiacademy trust (MAT). Teacher and National Education Union (NEU) rep Jennifer Cooper said: “The school benefitted from £29 million capital investment from Brent Council to transform the education of children with complex learning difficulties and disabilities. Is it right that this public money and the capital assets should be outside of effective democratic control? “I would question whether changing status can deliver the value to compensate the extra work and extra risk

involved in conversion to a MAT. Have the governors considered the effect this might have on staff morale and whether it would lead to a higher turnover, including those with many years of experience who contribute so much to the school’s current success?” Staff from the school visited Parliament to meet Barry Gardiner to express their concerns. The MP for Brent North suggested arranging a public meeting, which took place on 31 January in front of a packed hall of parents and staff. No one from the board of governors or the head teacher were in attendance. The anti-academisation campaign has resulted in a real growth in union membership – in September, the school had 32 NEU members and now there are 156. n As the Teacher went to press, five more strike days are planned.

All the advice you need in one place The NEU has a collection of publications, advice and tips on academisation. It has an Academies Toolkit, to help steer reps through the transfer process; advice on requirements to consult on becoming an academy; funding facts; advice on the Education and Adoption Act 2016, which has brought about increased powers to academise; and advice on teachers’ pay and conditions, to name just a few.

Visit teachers.org.uk/campaigns/academies


The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

Becoming an academy does NOT… 1. Improve standards n Research by the Local Government Association shows that ‘inadequate’ schools are more likely to improve if they remain as community schools. n “We have been unable to locate any evidence… of a relationship between primary academy status and raised attainment.” House of Commons Education Committee: Academies and free schools, 2015. n “There is no evidence that schools judged as good, satisfactory or inadequate… improved their pupils’ GCSE attainment as a result of the academy conversion.” The Education Policy Institute: Impact of academies on education outcomes, 2017. 2. Stop budget cuts n The funding crisis is impacting on all schools. Stand-alone academies have less opportunity to make economies of scale than a local authority. n Multi-academy trusts are facing the same funding pressures as local authority schools but there is less financial oversight. n The National Audit Office found that a higher proportion of primary academies are running up overspends compared with maintained primary schools. 3. Provide stability n Wakefield City Academies Trust is in the process of offloading all its 21 schools to other sponsors. n The Education Fellowship Trust

they are and how to argue against them requested to transfer all of its 12 schools in March 2017. n All six schools run by Perry Beeches Academy Trust in Birmingham have been transferred to new sponsors after a Government investigation found it had transferred £1.3 million to a private company owned by its accounting officer and head. 4. Provide financial stability n There are 38 academy trusts with an open Financial Notice to Improve (FNI) as a result of poor financial management. n An investigation by Schools Week revealed that 40 academy chains had spent more than £1 million on executive expenses, including luxury hotels and firstclass travel. n Department for Education (DfE) figures show that 121 academy trusts pay salaries of more than £150,000 to at least one senior staff member with one in five of them paid at least £200,000 a year. 5. Result in better teaching n According to the DfE’s Schools Workforce statistics 2016, if your school converts to an academy your child’s teacher is more likely to be unqualified – 4.9 per cent in local authority secondary schools versus 6.7 per cent in academies. n On average, teachers in secondary academies earned £1,000 less in 2016 than local authority counterparts. n Teachers are more likely to leave to go to another school – 7.8 per cent of teachers left local authority primary schools in 2015 compared to 9.7 per cent in primary academies. n Although transferring staff are protected by TUPE arrangements, when hiring new staff or, in the case of entirely new academies and free schools, trusts can determine their own pay and terms and conditions. 6. Lead to more accountability n “MATs are not sufficiently accountable to their local communities and [parents] feel disconnected from decision making at trustee board level.” House of Commons Education Committee, Multi-Academy Trusts 2017. n There is no mechanism for an academy to return to local authority control.

Newham: academisation is no longer inevitable A MASS campaign against academisation is sweeping Newham. Strikes and protests have taken place at six schools in the east London borough – Scott Wilkie, Keir Hardie, Shaftsbury, Hallsville, Cumberland and Avenue. Two days of strikes were held at Avenue Primary School on 31 January and 1 February and Cumberland School staff were on strike on 8 February. Coordinated strike action is planned for 22 February, bringing together Cumberland and Avenue staff, and National Education Union (NEU) members at Shaftsbury and Keir Hardie, depending on ballot results. Challenging Newham’s ‘fait accompli’ Newham NEU Divisional Secretary Louise Cuffaro told the Teacher: “For too long, schools in Newham were faced with ‘it’s a fait accompli, it’s got to happen’. And we’re challenging that.” When Avenue parents were consulted, they overwhelmingly voted

against becoming an academy: 132 against and four in favour. Governors said they would go ahead regardless, prompting parents to instruct lawyers to submit a legal challenge. Carolyn McGrath, NEU rep at Cumberland, said: “All involved know it is collaboration and not privatisation that improves schools. “We are striking to be given an alternative to academisation. As a PFI school also affected by the Carillion collapse, it is clear we don’t need more privatisation.” ‘The parents are magnificent’ Carel Buxton, former headteacher and NEU activist, said: “Teachers and parents are working together and that seems to be a winning combination. The parents are magnificent. Head teachers have underestimated what they’re capable of.” There will be a lobby of Newham Council on 26 February, following a march from the local park, bringing all the school campaigns together.

Staff and parents on the picket line at Cumberland School, Newham

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


Academies news MATs ‘stripping assets’ THE chair of the Commons Education Select Committee says multi-academy trusts (MATs) lack transparency and do not deliver value for money for schools. Robert Halfon wrote a letter on behalf of the committee to Lord Agnew, academies minister, calling for greater accountability. The letter reads: “We are particularly concerned by the extent to which failing trusts are stripping assets from their schools.” Mr Halfon cites the collapse of Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) as an example and says a “more robust system of oversight” could have prevented it.

New sponsors, but what about funds? SPONSORS have been found for 11 of the 21 WCAT schools. WCAT announced in September last year that it would relinquish control of its 21 schools in West Yorkshire as it could not rapidly improve them. It was accused of ‘asset stripping’ after it emerged it had transferred millions of pounds to its own accounts. Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), condemned the consultation process and said that parents and staff have “no confidence

in the academy system and do not believe their legitimate concerns are being listened to”.

Parents halt academy plan in Cambridge A CAMBRIDGE school threatened with academisation will remain within the local authority following a long-running community campaign. Following months of parent protests, the board of St Philip’s Church of England Aided Primary School decided to remain under local authority control. Local MP Daniel Zeichner said: “I am delighted to hear that parents and the community were listened to on this very important decision for the school. “I congratulate parents and the National Education Union (NEU) on making their voices heard.”

Saturday school to improve GCSEs ROYAL Docks Academy in east London is to open on Saturday mornings and has a longer school day in order to improve GCSE results. Burnt Mill Academy Trust introduced the measure in its first month of running the school. Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said teachers would burn out if they worked on Saturdays. The “first concern” of school

PARENTS from Highlands Primary School in Redbridge staged a protest against the proposed academisation of their school. They are asking for an open debate with governors and a parent ballot on the issue. For more details, visit Hands off our Highlands Primary on Facebook.


The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

leaders should be teacher workload and reducing stress as this is the main reason teachers are leaving the profession, she said.

‘No appetite for academies in Lewisham’ PARENTS and staff are up in arms over proposals to academise Childeric Primary School in New Cross, South London. Head teacher Ann Butcher announced a formal consultation on joining multi-academy trust Communitas in January. A campaign launch meeting on 30 January brought together teachers in the NEU, support staff in the GMB, and parents. Duncan Morrison, Assistant Divisional Secretary of Lewisham NEU, said: “Communitas is run by people whose only experience is in business, not teaching. There is no appetite for academies in Lewisham and parents of children at academies are unhappy about what goes on.” Two years ago, a successful campaign in Lewisham prevented the Pendergast schools from becoming academies.

DfE ignores request for salary transparency THE Department of Education (DfE) is refusing to name 13 academy trusts that are paying their chief executives over £150,000 – even though their schools are in financial difficulties. In December 2017, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) wrote to 29 single-school academies which pay their leaders high salaries, asking 13 of them to explain their rationale considering their financial troubles. The TES submitted a Freedom of Information request seeking to name the schools but the DfE refused, stating: “Disclosing the information could imply to the relevant trusts that communication with the ESFA is not a safe space and place undue pressure on trusts and or the ESFA to act on a complex issue.” Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said: “Academies don’t need a safe space, they need proper accountability. This is taxpayers’ money.”

Practical advice on tackling sexism in schools

The launch of the Union’s Sexism in Schools report in Parliament on 12 December last year Photo by Jess Hurd

SEXISM is an issue for every school in every community. That was the finding of the National Education Union’s (NEU) report on sexism in our schools, produced in partnership with UK Feminista. Teachers and trade unions need to commit to making change happen. The report calls for schools to adopt a whole school approach to tackling sexism and take a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment. Within your school you could: n order copies of the report and stickers (see page 47) to use in a staff meeting or Union meeting (email equality@neu.org.uk with a postal address and the number of copies needed) and start talking about tackling sexism in your workplace with colleagues; n give a copy of the report and some stickers to your head teacher and request a meeting between them and Union reps to discuss ways of tackling sexism through assemblies, the curriculum and in a wider school context; n download the Twitter board from the web page below and tweet your support for our campaign #SexismInSchools. Ask colleagues and students to do the same – you may also want to Tweet collective school or workplace support. Resources are available at teachers.org.uk/ equality/equality-matters

Apply for your place at LGBT+ conference in Leeds LEEDS will host this year’s LGBT+ Teachers’ Conference from 20-22 April. The event will bring together 260 LGBT+ education professionals to enjoy a weekend of workshops, caucuses and keynote speakers at the city’s Queens

Hotel. Also, for the first time, there will be a LGBT+ Education Activists Awards Dinner. The event will be the largest LGBT+ teachers conference in the country and places are free. To apply, fill in an online application form (tinyurl.com/y6vsla8f),

giving your membership number. You must then attend your next association or division meeting and be prepared to write up a report about conference when you return. Your association/division has the right to turn down your application.

Mighty smart group of women DESIGNER Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya has created a series of posters celebrating women in science that are perfect for displaying in a classroom or child’s bedroom. There are six posters, which are free to download. Visit amightygirl.com/ blog?p=14570

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


Insurmountable workload? Ridiculously long hours? Stressed and bogged down with marking and assessments? Not teachers at Three Bridges Primary School. The Teacher went to Ealing to discover its secret.

If you’re happy and you know it… Words by Max Watson

What works well for teachers – and head teacher Jeremy Hannay, left – also works well for Three Bridges’ pupils

THREE Bridges Primary School describes itself as “The Happiest School on Earth”. Headteacher Jeremy Hannay describes the school’s teaching staff as “our most precious resource”. And the approach it has developed is all about trusting their professional judgement. “All I want them to be worried about is the art and craft of teaching,” he says. “I don’t want them worrying about Ofsted, data or nonsense; or marking or planning scrutiny – just learning. “I don’t want them to have any of those stresses. The job itself, being in front of 30 children every single day, is hard enough.” So, the school has drastically cut out “meaningless work – the paper pushing, the doing work for somebody else and knowing it has no value”. And not only has it improved workload and stress, it’s improved results too. Teacher knows best The school’s teaching policies are determined by teachers. “Our message is never ‘we don’t do this or we don’t do that’. It’s that the professional gets to choose, to decide,” says Jeremy. There is no traditional homework policy, for example – instead, it is ‘teacher determined’. Victoria Ladkin, the National Education Union (NEU) rep at Three Bridges, explains. 12

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

“I don’t want teachers worrying about Ofsted, or marking, or planning scrutiny – just learning. The job itself is hard enough.” “We’ve gone from setting homework every week to setting homework when we feel they need it,” she says. “The pupils really need space to rest after school, they work so hard.” Jeremy also emphasises the importance of work/life balance. “We work ten-hour, 11-hour days sometimes,” he says. “When I go home, I want a break – to spend time with my family. Are we saying that the things at school are so important they should take precedence over family time?” Similarly, teachers decide when written feedback is most appropriate. “If they think it’s going to be effective, then alright,” says Jeremy.

Photos by Kois Miah

Meaningful planning, not for scrutiny Teachers are autonomous when it comes to marking as well. “I’ve been to schools that have so much marking that teachers just don’t have any time for anything else. How can they be thinking creatively?” asks Victoria. “In terms of reducing workload, it frees you up so much to think about lessons.” With planning, it’s down to the teacher. “It’s not that we don’t do planning,” says Victoria. “It’s just that we’re not going to be scrutinised and checked. We’re going to be planning for us, so it’s going to be meaningful for us. Whatever works best.” And when it comes to staff meetings, they’re only held when really necessary. “We do our best to have a common-sense approach as much as possible,” says Jeremy. Staff turnover and sickness very low Unsurprisingly, these changes have boosted staff morale. Turnover is very low. Last year, the school had two maternity covers and two teachers left for promotion, but none quit the profession. There is no sickness absence due to stress either. A few years ago, supply cover was “substantial”, according to Jeremy. “We’ve cut that by 75 per cent, so that’s a massive change.”

Big smiles all round at Three Bridges

“Everything we do, we do for our children and our staff.”

Although Victoria hasn’t surveyed her members, she says they work fewer hours than colleagues in other schools. “A few years ago, people were wheeling around bags with books and things like that, but that just doesn’t happen anymore,” she says. Joseph Wyglendacz, NEU National Executive member, who arranged our visit, chats with staff in the corridor during their lunch break – they’re relaxed and joke about being a happy family. They’re cheerful about being photographed and the kids clearly love their learning environment.

and, in 2017, it was in the top three per cent of all English primary schools for pupil progress from KS1 to KS2. The Real Schools Guide 2017 named it ‘Top Primary School in Ealing’.

Results speak for themselves What’s more, the results speak for themselves, dispelling what Jeremy calls “a false dichotomy of: ‘You can be a really happy school and everybody is going to be working less and it’s going to be great, but results are going to suffer. You can’t possibly attain well unless you’re constantly on top of teachers.’ Well, that’s absolute nonsense.” Three Bridges “runs a tight ship” he says. Its Ofsted report in 2014 was good

Just don’t mention the ‘O’ word… Jeremy avoids talking about Ofsted with staff. “I don’t know the last time I even said that word in a staff meeting,” he says. “There is nothing we do for Ofsted or because it’s in some handbook. Everything we do, we do for our children and our staff.” Why aren’t more schools like Three Bridges? Historically, Ofsted has a lot to answer for, says Jeremy, and Victoria agrees: “There is obviously a lot of fear around Ofsted.”

She recalls discussing marking with another teacher at an NEU training day: “I said our marking policy is down to teachers to decide. They said, ‘our head started to introduce something like that but then Ofsted were expected and so it all changed’.” Jeremy is Canadian and worked in Ontario for eight years, where schools are run “very differently”. When he saw how “terrible” things were here, he knew there was a different way. Spread the word – courage in numbers Now Jeremy and Victoria are on a mission to inspire others to change their approach. “I hope other schools will read this and think about their marking and planning policies, making teachers more autonomous,” says Victoria. “It’s such a small change but it makes the whole teaching experience so different.” Jeremy agrees: “The more we spread the good word, the more heads will feel courageous. There is courage in numbers. “I want to be in a position where we can support other schools. If this works here, it can work anywhere.” The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


Photo: Jim Mortram 14

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

More than half of all children in some UK cities are living in poverty, according to research by the End Child Poverty Coalition. Nearly 400,000 more are living in poverty than five years ago, which the coalition attributes to Government’s welfare reforms. We discuss the fight for social justice and the effects of poverty on the children we teach.

On the frontline of the poverty crisis THE child poverty map of the UK, published last month by the End Child Poverty Coalition (ECPC), is a shocking indictment of Government policies. The UK is the world’s sixth-largest global economy, yet 53 per cent of children live in poverty in some of the most disadvantaged areas of London, Birmingham and Manchester, according to research by the ECPC, of which the Union is a member. That means one in every two children not having enough to eat, not being properly clothed, their families falling behind with rent and at risk of homelessness. Families not being able to feed the meter for heating and hot water and not having money for books, school equipment, toys, baby necessities, let alone treats or days out. Across the UK, more than four million children live in poverty. Despite the Government’s mantra, work does not guarantee a route out of it. According to the Children’s Society, more than two-thirds of children in poverty have at least one parent in work. Levels of poverty are also projected to rise in the next five years, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicting that there will be 5.2 million in poverty by 2022. The gap between the wealthiest and poorest parts of the UK are stark. In Theresa May’s constituency, the child poverty rate is 13.6 per cent. Yet in the poorest – such as Bethnal Green and Bow, London, where it is 54 per cent, or Birmingham, Ladywood, at 53 per cent – 16 children in every class of 30 are poor. Austerity is not inevitable But none of this is inevitable. The growth in child poverty is a direct result of policies implemented in the name of austerity. Austerity is a political choice – the Government is pressing ahead with the implementation of Universal Credit, despite warnings that it will drive more families into poverty. Local authorities might once have been able to provide a buffer but with councils experiencing budget cuts, they are slashing services for those most in need. This includes services and subsidies to schools, which are now on the frontline of the poverty crisis.

Deepest cuts at poorest schools Schools can and do make a difference to children’s life chances but if children come to school hungry, cold, scared and without school equipment they cannot learn as well as their better-off peers. Schools cannot compensate on their own for the impacts of poverty. Yet our Union’s joint research with the Child Poverty Action Group, using DfE data, shows that schools with the highest proportion of children on free school meals are facing much higher cuts in funding per pupil than schools as a whole. The Children’s Commission on Poverty found that a third of children who said their family was “not well off at all” had fallen behind in class because their family could not afford

books or materials. Two in five children in these families said they had missed a term-time school trip because of the cost. The Government must accept that it is responsible for policies that are worsening levels of pay and support for those who need it, and that this impacts on children’s achievements at school. It is Government’s responsibility to put this right. Then schools can get on with doing what they do best – educating children to achieve their unlimited potential, wherever they live, and from whichever family they are born into. Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary For data on child poverty in your area, go to end childpoverty.org.uk/poverty-in-your-area-2018

Low pay, inequality and 4m children in poverty Laura Pidcock is Labour MP for North West Durham. She is a former mental health support worker and worked for charity Show Racism the Red Card.

THE Government talks about lower unemployment rates and a strong economy, but the reality for most people is very different. Crucially, real pay – when earnings are adjusted to take into account inflation – is falling. That’s what people feel, in their pockets, and what they witness in unpaid bills and rent arrears. Real pay is now lower than it was in 2010. Too many jobs that have been created since are insecure, casualised and entrench poverty through low pay. This long-term low pay is creating acute poverty and inequality in our communities, especially in certain parts of the country like my own constituency,

where we have a disproportionate number of workers on these contracts. Many teachers will have seen this poverty in their schools. The shocking facts are that four million children are currently living in poverty in the UK, 1.7 million of those in severe poverty. And this acute poverty is not just about worklessness. Sixty per cent of people in poverty in the UK live in a household where someone is in work. Many people working in schools will be feeling the pinch too. Until we tackle the scourge of low pay – not with gimmicks or the rebranding of the minimum wage, but starting with a £10 an hour living wage and more rights to enable workers to organise and fight for better wages and terms and conditions – we will not see an end to child poverty in this country. Teachers and all school staff are crucial to this fight, both in terms of their union activism and campaigning in the community. Working together, we can beat poverty pay and pave the way for a better, more equal future for all. Continued on page 16

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Moving and beautiful portraits of social injustice THIS photo of a family in emergency housing was taken by Norfolk photographer Jim Mortram. His new book, Small Town Inertia, documents the lives of those struggling to survive at a time of welfare cuts and failing health services in his hometown of Dereham. Taken over a period of seven years, Jim has been photographing the lives of people in his community who, through physical and mental health issues and a failing social security system, face isolation and loneliness in their daily lives. His work covers difficult subjects such as disability, addiction and self-harm, but always with hope and dignity; focusing upon the strength and resilience of the people he photographs. A full-time carer for his mother, Jim is, like his subjects, unable to escape from the geographical confines of his hometown and his understanding and empathy for his neighbours is apparent in every photograph. With introductory essays by Paul Mason and Lewis Bush, it’s a moving and beautiful portrait of social injustice in times of austerity. Helen Watson Small Town Inertia by Jim Mortram. Bluecoat Press. Hardback. £25

‘We are still educating different social classes for different functions in society. It is Diane Reay is Professor of Education at Cambridge University. She is executive editor of the British Journal of Sociology of Education and author of Miseducation: Inequality, Education and the Working Classes.

ALTHOUGH I am now a Cambridge professor, I did what many educationally successful working-class girls did in the 1970s – I became a teacher. And I remained an inner London teacher for 20 years, trying – against a growing avalanche of ill thought-out policies – to make education for working-class children better than it had been for me. I failed because the growing processes of regulation, hyper competition, testing and assessment, the preoccupation with parental choice, increasing setting and streaming, and


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privatisation all worked to make working-class educational experiences worse, not better. Yet, I was constantly told by politicians and policy makers that I was responsible for my working-class children’s lack of high attainment or it was the fault of their families – they lacked aspiration and didn’t support their children enough.

There are predominantly middle-class schools and predominantly working-class and ethnically mixed schools – and despite all the rhetoric around pupil premiums, pupils in the more working-class schools get less money per head. They get less qualified teachers, higher levels of teacher turnover and more supply teachers. Even if they are in the same schools as middleclass children, they are in lower sets with less experienced teachers.

If you’re a working-class child, you’re starting the race halfway round the track behind the middle-class Academic hierarchy instilled from early age child

Ticking time bomb of soaring poverty But the chief culprit is neither teachers and schools nor working-class families and working-class culture – it is poverty. Research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows that the number of children living in poverty will soar to five million over the next five years. This is the time bomb facing schools. But even without growing poverty, working-class children are already experiencing educational inequality.

We are still educating different social classes for different functions in society. All the working-class children I interviewed for my book had a powerful sense of their position in the academic hierarchy. Right from reception, increasing numbers of children are in sets and can tell they’re not in a very good group, which means they’re ‘not very clever’. Increased testing and setting

A destabilising cherry on top of a crumbling cake A letter to Mike Sheridan, London Ofsted regional director

Dear Mr Sheridan, You don’t know me, but our paths crossed in my school hall when you were carrying out an inspection. I know that Ofsted will not discuss its findings, restricting comment to matters of fact within a framework that excludes some of the most relevant issues. The result of your inspection was that our school was declared “inadequate”. But your report displays a number of questionable presumptions.

If our teachers are so ‘inadequate’, why have they since been headhunted by other schools?

time to stop rearing an elite’ have resulted in even very young children displaying high levels of anxiety. Yet, research shows that it is the wealth and inclination of parents, rather than the ability and efforts of the child, that have the most bearing on a child’s educational success today. If you’re a working-class child, you’re starting the race halfway round the track behind the middleclass child. Middle- and upper-class parents are able to guarantee their children’s success through private tuition, extra resources and enrichment activities. Respect and value all, regardless of class It is time to end selecting and rejecting in order to rear an elite, and develop a National Educational Service in which all children are respected and valued. This would require a shift away from excessive testing, setting and streaming to focus on a broad and balanced curriculum in which the vocational has parity with the academic, and creativity and critical thinking skills lie at the heart of learning. We need to restore the status, work conditions and autonomy of teachers, but equally important are broader systemic changes that narrow the inequality gap in wider society. A more redistributive tax system needs to go hand-in-hand with educational changes.

Context counts for little The contextual information – appended seemingly as an afterthought – reveals that our school serves one of the most deprived communities in the country; with a level of free school meals entitlement more than four times the national average. Nevertheless, the report says we are failing because year 1 children are not operating at national averages and have below national average scores on the phonic screening test; even though they match this standard by the end of year 2. Your expectation is that early years provision, on its own, should be enough to get the most disadvantaged children in the country up to national expectations. Is this reasonable? Our teaching was rated “inadequate”. But the report notes that we managed to achieve some of the highest scores in our area at key stage 1 last year. Our “inadequate” teachers have, since the report, been headhunted by other schools. Nine are leaving; two as key stage co-ordinators and one with an enhanced salary package. If these teachers are so “inadequate”, why are they so sought after? I know schools that maintain their “outstanding” grade by making sure that any child that imperils it is eased out or not included. We have always taken children that others reject and, in most cases, turned them around.

Your report impacts on two serious problems – behaviour and recruitment. Children are increasingly edgy and unsettled. The pattern of calm progress we established is coming apart. There are many reasons – rising levels of child poverty; a widespread fear of the future – and the loss of so many established teachers is a profoundly destabilising cherry on the top of this crumbling cake. Ofsted’s impact on recruitment As an “inadequate” school, we can’t get NQTs and why would an experienced teacher look for a post at a school likely to be going through such a hard time? And if a school is having a hard time, if the children are nervous, unsettled and challenging, many supplies won’t go there or take on the job long term. So is the solution a change of government policy to tackle child poverty and school funding? No, at present we have the almost surreal proposal that going from a community school to an academy is the way forward. Schools have recovered from special measures 12 times more frequently as community schools than as academies – your previous boss, Michael Wilshaw, was scathing about the record of academy chains in this respect. Using an Ofsted report to force a school to become an academy is not about school improvement at all. Yours faithfully, a London teacher

So is the solution more school funding and less child poverty? No! Become an academy…

PS… Since your report, our “inadequate” school, with one of the most challenging intakes in the country, has managed to achieve above national average results in key stage 2 SATs for everything except reading – despite two members of staff going off with stress and several others struggling on through depression. On a return visit, your team said we were making good progress but that morale was low. Is it any wonder why?

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


Your FREE award-winning resource to book university events for your school: • Search over 1,000 university events for your school groups • Request your own bespoke university event or visit • Order your FREE Teachers’ Guide to University brochure. Visit us today. We’re waiting to help you build your university links!


The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018





‘I love the creativity’

Union people

Alex Ramiz is lead rep at The Kenmal Academy Trust. He has been leading a dispute with the chain over facility time, which has strengthened the Union and recruited many new members. What do you love about teaching? I love the creativity. As an English teacher, my best lessons have always been to do with writing. As that was my favourite thing to do when I was a student, I try to think about what I would enjoy if I went to one of my own classes.

massive recruitment and retention crisis in education. People should want to be teachers and should want to stay in teaching, as it can be the best job in the world. I think it was a terrible mistake to reduce university involvement in teacher training and I think if we want to recruit and retain teachers, we need to improve working conditions and not mess people around with their pay.

What do you love about being in the Union? As one of many people who has seen how terribly cuts and meddling from the Government has damaged education, I always enjoy meeting up with other teachers who have such a progressive view of learning. What have you been up to lately? My association has been getting ready for conference, which is very exciting. As an area rep within an academy chain, I have

been working with my fellow reps to fight for a facilities agreement. What’s important to you right now? Personally, my own bugbear is the

What do you do on your day off? I am studying for a doctorate in education, so I spend quite a bit of time interviewing teachers to collect their stories. I am researching the early careers of teachers. Tell us something that we don’t know. I got married (fairly) recently to my wonderfully perfect, brilliant wife, Heather.

‘More black parents need to become governors’ FIGURES from the Education Workforce Council show none of Wales’ 1,458 head teachers identify as black; five are Asian, British Asian or mixed race; and just 59 of Wales’ 36,182 teachers are black. High school physics teacher and National Education Union activist Daniel Wilson (pictured left) believes he is the only black teacher in Blaenau Gwent. “For most of the kids in the valley, the first black person they come across is me,” Daniel told WalesOnline. “I have never experienced racism working in school here. But there are so few of us visible that, whether you like it or not, we are ambassadors for black people.” Daniel was born in Cardiff but his family left for Ghana when he was one. Returning when he was 12, he went on to study biochemistry at Cardiff University. “In Ghana, my role models were black, male teachers. When I came back in 1983,

I had no idea that being black might make things impossible.” After working as a medical rep Daniel, 47, trained as a teacher in 2009. “The lack of black head teachers boils down to unconscious cultural bias,” he said. “When I left Cardiff University in 1992 with a degree in biochemistry and chemistry, the first 14 jobs I applied to I did the ethnic monitoring and did not get shortlisted. “For the next lot, I just applied as Daniel Wilson, born in Cardiff, and was shortlisted. None of these were teaching jobs. “The challenge to me in schools is the interview panel. Until we have more black governors, the tendency will be to employ people like them. “There needs to be more black parents becoming governors. If you want to make a difference become a governor.” n A longer version of this interview originally appeared at walesonline.co.uk /news/education/what-its-like-onefew-13993378 The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


Entering the teaching profession is exciting, but it can also feel daunting. Here is a handy guide to help you navigate the early stages of your career.

Buckle up and enjoy the adventure Planning ahead n All teachers are entitled to have at least ten per cent of their teaching timetable for planning, preparation and assessment (PPA). n This time should be during core school hours, not bolted on either side of a school day, and must be allocated in minimum blocks of 30 minutes.

Inspections n The NEU has advice materials to support you through the Ofsted/Estyn (its Welsh equivalent) process, available at teachers.org. uk/education-policies/ofsted-estyn n Seek out your fellow NEU members and find a collective approach to inspections, which minimises additional work and ensures that teachers are in control.

n NQTs are entitled to spend ten per cent less time teaching than other main scale teachers, so that they have time to undertake activities in their induction programme. n Teachers on School Direct (salaried) have the same rights and responsibilities as other teachers, but shouldn’t be expected to fulfil as many of the teaching duties.

Child protection n Teachers are not responsible for investigating suspected physical or emotional abuse, but should know where to report any concerns. n Acquaint yourself with the procedures in your school. Know who is the designated teacher responsible for child protection and insist on training on child protection issues.

Cyber security

Pay day

n It’s important to be vigilant when using electronic communication and social media. Your professional position can be compromised if inappropriate information is accessed or shared online.

n Most newly qualified teachers will be at the bottom end of the main pay range. n The STPCD permits 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.

n We recommend teachers limit public access to accounts and not post information that you wouldn’t want your employers to see. n Never use personal email addresses, mobile phones or other personal social media accounts to contact pupils or parents.


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Marking n Teachers should be allowed to exercise their professional autonomy when it comes to the frequency and style of marking.

n If you’re working in an academy, check the pay arrangements because these can vary significantly between academies and academy trusts.

Time out n The NEU thinks all schools should have a work/life balance policy. n The DfE has also stated that schools should consider incorporating work/ life balance into the school development plan – check if your school has one.

Behaviour n Establish your own expectations and class rules and outline this with pupils at the beginning of the year. They are more likely to respond positively to rules which they have agreed. n Even experienced teachers find behaviour challenging. Make sure you read the school’s behaviour policy and discuss practice with your mentor.

n Keep these to a minimum length and set out in bullet points, including how learning objectives can be achieved.

We’re here for you

Professional development (CPD)

If you have difficulties in your school, discuss them with your mentor, department head, colleagues or your NEU rep. Your head teacher may also be able to offer guidance and support.

n The NEU’s CPD programme is delivered by a team of qualified trainers and offers a range of courses aimed at new teachers.

For advice and guidance contact the NEU AdviceLine on 0345 811 8111 or email adviceline@neu.org.uk

n Visit teachers. org.uk/learning

Lesson plans

Visit teachers.org.uk/helpand-advice

n The format is up to you – Ofsted and Estyn do not require a particular format. n You should not be expected to hand in plans for scrutiny. Speak to your NEU rep if you are asked to do this.

Teachers’ pension scheme n All new teachers will automatically join the ‘career average’ pension scheme. n Visit teachers.org.uk/pay-pensions -conditions/pensions

Extra activities n Activities such as breakfast or after school clubs must be voluntary. n If you do take on additional activities, in some circumstances you can be paid for the time if employed under the Government’s School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD). n The level of payment should be set out in your school’s pay policy. Classroom observations n The NEU believes classroom observations should be developmental and supportive. n A teacher should be subject to no more than three classroom observations per year, exceeding no more than three hours in total. n NQTs are not subject to appraisal, but observations may be used for other purposes.

n Payments to classroom teachers should only be made for activities undertaken outside the 1,265 hours of directed time or the appropriate proportion for part-time teachers.

Dealing with stress n Inspections are the most common cause of stress. The NEU believes all schools should have a policy on how to reduce and prevent stress. If you’re stressed, it’s likely your colleagues will be too. n Speak to your NEU rep so they can provide support on how to combat it. The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


360Ëš schools

There is a growing mental health crisis in our schools, with an epidemic of stressrelated illness among teachers. And it’s affecting children, too – according to the DfE’s own figures, an estimated three pupils in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression. We talk to teachers about their experiences of mental health problems and look at what can be done to tackle the issue.

Under pressure Words by Emily Jenkins

CORINNE Lamoureaux is a primary teacher from Cornwall. She came into teaching after retraining in her forties. Within three years she was signed off with work-related stress. “I went from earning a lot more money and having a lot more free time, to being a poor teacher who works 50-60 hours a week,” she jokes. “Because you care so much, you’re driving yourself to perfection all the time. You always feel like you’re failing. “We have school funding cuts across the board, so resources keep getting taken 24

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away. Yet the workload isn’t dropping – if anything, it’s mounting. “I was really struggling to juggle everything.” Corinne found herself working late every evening and at weekends, but still found it hard to keep on top of the workload. Her health began to suffer. “I got more and more behind with data and assessment and the whole thing started to mount up,” she said. “I went to my doctor and burst out crying, and he signed me off.”

Active union member Corinne received medical help but it was three months before she was able to return to work. “If I wasn’t actively involved in the Union and had support from my Union colleagues, both morally and emotionally, then I don’t know if I could have stayed in teaching. They gave me the courage to continue,” she says. Mental health Unsurprisingly, tackling mental health issues is a topic Corinne has become passionate about. She uses her experience to raise awareness of

“Teaching has never been an easy job, however in recent years, the pressure of workload has become too much.” Daniel Neale LIKE many other teachers, I sometimes feel I’m being crushed by workload. I’ve been a teacher since 2003 and it’s never been an easy job, there have always been many demands for my time. However, in recent years the pressure of workload for many has become too much. Workload affects mental health to varying degrees. NEU Derbyshire recently carried out a poll of members using Survey Monkey. The results were: n 17 per cent said they were stressed all the time; n 36 per cent were stressed most of the time; n 32 per cent about half the time. The survey also asked members what they believed were the main causes of their stress: n 86 per cent attributed it to workload; n 54 per cent to long working hours; n 77 per cent to insufficient time to do their job; n 60 per cent to unrealistic targets. The two previous Secretaries of State for Education seemed to want to tackle excessive workload and retention of teachers. As recently as October 2017, Justine Greening said she wanted staff in schools to have flexible working and close the gender pay gap. However, little appears to have happened. Education is facing a crisis on many fronts – including workload, retention and pay – and all these add stress to an already stressful profession. Something must be done. Daniel Neale, Derbyshire NEU: NUT section

“Because you care so much, you’re driving yourself to perfection all the time. You always feel like you’re failing.”

Corinne Lamoureaux

the problem and campaigns on the issue on behalf of the Union. She is now her school rep, health and safety rep, and represents the south west on the Union’s health and safety forum. “My experience has taught me that teachers need protecting,” she says. “If we’re not, how can we teach?” Corinne has also begun giving talks to teachers in Cornwall and Plymouth about how they can use health and safety legislation to help tackle workload. “There are tragic statistics that prove

it’s a real issue. In four years, 139 teachers committed suicide and the stress of the job was seen as a factor,” she says. Worth the stress Despite Corinne’s struggles with stress, she still loves her job. “Although it’s really hard, those moments when you get a child who didn’t think they could do something and, then suddenly, their face lights up because they realise they can. Those moments make it all worthwhile.” Continued on page 26 The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


“Anxiety knows no boundaries, if you are struggling with it, seek help to understand it.” Mike Evans MIKE Evans is a supply teacher in East Riding, Yorkshire. After 20 years working full-time as an English teacher, he left his job due to mental health issues that he believes were triggered by academisation and over-zealous accountability systems. “I’ve struggled with anxiety all my life. However, when my last school was taken over by a multi-academy trust, things got a lot worse,” Mike says. Prodded and poked “It seemed that teaching was no longer about turning the children into wellrounded human beings,” he says. Mike started to suffer from severe anxiety and mental health issues and eventually got signed off work. “The accountability system made me feel like I was constantly being prodded and poked.” Seeking help Mike sought help through counselling sessions. He began to write a blog (readafterburnout.com) to help him chart his mental health and the changing world of teaching. “It has helped me to remember what made me want to be a teacher in the first place, as well as to understand myself and my anxieties more.” New challenges Mike now works as a supply teacher and is passionate about the mental wellbeing of pupils and their teachers. “Schools are becoming like factory production lines and there is definitely a huge increase in mental illness in teachers and pupils. It’s extremely worrying,” he says. Mike’s advice is: “Find someone who can listen to you. Anxiety knows no boundaries and, if you are struggling with it, you need to seek help to understand it.”


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One in 83 teachers signed off on sick leave FIGURES obtained by the Liberal Democrats show alarmingly high numbers of teachers on long-term sick leave. A mass Freedom of Information request to all local authorities revealed 3,750 teachers were signed off on long-term sick leave last year due to pressures of work, anxiety and mental illness – a five per cent rise on the year before. This equates to one in 83 teachers signed off sick for one month or more due to stress and mental health reasons. These figures are likely to be underestimates, as a large number of authorities did not respond to the request or do not hold the data. Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said the figures show an ‘epidemic of stress’ in our schools. “Classroom teachers routinely work 55 hours or over a week – school leaders over 60. And it is not just the amount of work. It is the pressures of a punitive and non-productive accountability system.”

Teachers need our help CASEWORKERS and officers in Norfolk have had heart-breaking experiences helping members through a mental health crisis – including talking people out of suicide over the phone. And this is not uncommon for officers around the country. An independent review on how employers can better support the mental health of employees has been published this month. The Stevenson/Farmer review, Thriving at Work, recommends that all employers adopt mental health core standards and professional bodies implement training and

support measures for their members. We want employers to take responsibility for employee mental health. And our Union can also take a leading role. We want to promote wellbeing, work-life balance and ethical leadership by recruiting and empowering mental health reps, training as Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA). This is not a ‘tick box exercise’ – it’s about developing a Union rep with confidence to support members through crisis and the strength to knock on management’s door and not be ignored. Our ambition is to have a mental health champion in every Norfolk school and, ultimately, in every one in the UK. Scott Lyons, Joint Division Secretary, Norfolk NEU: NUT section

MHFA rep in every school IN the north west, we recognised an urgent need for something that would highlight what mental illness looks like in schools and arm members with the skills to negotiate changes that focus on prevention rather than cure. Working closely with the North West TUC, we developed bespoke training incorporating Mental Health First Aid, England’s accredited model, and key elements of NEU health and safety rep training. Every course has been oversubscribed and we now have 60 new NEU MHFA reps. Many have gone on to become school and health and safety reps or local union officers. NEU MHFA training is an incredibly powerful organising and recruitment tool. We need to prioritise this training nationally until every school has a trained NEU MHFA rep. Ian Watkinson, health and safety officer, Lancashire NEU: NUT section

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em TEACHING can be the most rewarding but also the most stressful of occupations. Striking a good work-life balance is essential. But making this more than a platitude is a big challenge. One teacher from Kent thinks he has part of the answer. Paul Ursell, from Laleham Gap in Thanet – a school that specialises in teaching children with autistic spectrum and speech and language disorders – is also a fully qualified table tennis coach. ‘Ping Pong Paul’, as he is affectionately known, originally set up table tennis clubs for his pupils with a National Lottery grant for ten indoor and two outdoor tables. Smashing for kids, so why not staff too? “The success of the clubs for the children got me thinking,” explained Paul. “Clubs were doing great things for their physical, social and mental wellbeing. And, most importantly, they were fun. So if they were great for the kids, why not for the staff?” So every Thursday, Paul runs a staff table tennis club with the added incentive of an annual staff vs pupils trophy to encourage people to put the practice in. A total of 30 staff attend. One of the keys to its success is a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. “People lead busy lives,” Paul said. “We have homes to go to, meetings and marking to do and kids to pick up. They don’t have to stay for the whole hour – they can just drop in. Sometimes people are having so much fun it overruns, so latecomers get a good game. “The head teacher and deputies are regular visitors, as are support staff and teachers from all key stages and residential, allowing everyone to mix. Much of the success of the club has been people meeting and mixing with people they may never have spoken to otherwise. “It’s the perfect antidote to a stressful day. Much of the time is spent playing team games.

“We laugh so much, which helps after being in the classroom all day.” Secondary TA

“It’s great to spend time with staff who we usually just pass in the corridor.” Resources manager ‘Hit Mr Ursell’ – a game using me as a target – is popular. Towards the end, there is usually a ‘ladder’ so players can play matches and end up on top. The weekly ladder report is a hot topic in the staff room.” ‘Happy teachers are better teachers’ The weekly Effort and Achievement certificate, handed out in assembly, is much prized, while the biggest award is the end-of-year trophy. The club now plans to extend sessions and have a fun match with teachers from a local school. So, Ping Pong Paul’s advice? “Go for it! ‘Instant Ping’ sets are very cheap so any table can easily be converted for play. The benefits in terms of physical, mental and social wellbeing are huge. And happy teachers are better teachers.” n Paul can help those interested in setting up a club. Email teacher@neu.org.uk putting ‘Ping Pong Paul’ in the subject line.

Green Paper just won’t cut it TOO little, too late is the Union verdict on the woefully unambitious proposals set out in the Government’s mental health Green Paper. Schools and local authorities need sufficient funding for appropriate staffing and well-resourced care pathways. Simply ‘incentivising’ schools to have a designated senior lead for mental health is not the issue. More harm than good Mental health support teams comprising hastily trained, nonspecialist staff can not substitute for educational psychologists, properly resourced child and adolescent mental health services provision and other support services which have been culled due to the funding crisis in local government. In fact, the NEU’s concern is that these teams might actually cause more harm than good. The Green Paper fails to mention the effects of the arts being squeezed out of the curriculum, exam factorystyle assessment across all key stages and ongoing accountability pressures. Specialist teams supporting pupils with SEND are also omitted, raising serious safeguarding issues. The NEU response will be robust and raise concerns we know members have about these proposals. Proper funding of services and staff alongside a whole school approach, which fosters a supportive community atmosphere, with a creative curriculum and statutory PSHE, would at least begin to tackle the issue of mental health.

NEU advice focuses on the workplace, not the worker THE Union has a wealth of information and advice on improving workplace mental health and tackling stress. The NEU Mental Health Charter addresses the issues in schools or colleges which lead or contribute to mental ill health in staff. It aims to put the focus on the workplace not the worker, to challenge employers to develop healthy workplaces and promote a collective approach to good mental health at work. It contains advice on how to introduce a model mental health policy at work, including developing a safe

workplace, encouraging support and help from colleagues, instituting fair and equal treatment, clear procedures and stress risk assessments. Download your copy at teachers.org.uk/help-andadvice/health-and-safety/mental-health-charter The website also includes advice on protecting teachers’ mental health, tackling stress and step-by-step guides to stress risk assessments. Visit teachers.org.uk/help-and-advice/health-andsafety/s to download your copies.

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NQTs buzzing with great ideas

Conference calling NEU: NUT section will hold its annual conference over the Easter weekend. This year’s event is in Brighton, where delegates will debate motions from associations which will go on to form Union policy. This is the last year that the ATL and NUT sections of the NEU will hold separate conferences. Follow events online at teachers. org.uk/news-events/events/ annual-conference or on Facebook at facebook.com/nut.campaigns and Twitter @NUTonline

Trans support network THE NEU’s first trans teachers’ roundtable took place in January. The event, open to all trans and non-binary members of NUT and ATL sections, set about developing guidance documents on transitioning in the workplace and building a support network in the Union. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with participants describing the day as “inspirational”, and “profound”. One said: “I am seriously planning to come out at work.” David Braniff-Herbert, senior organiser for LGBT+ members, said: “The NEU wants to build the representation of trans and nonbinary teachers while creating a space for discussion, ideas and support.” n The group’s next meeting will take place at the NEU LGBT+ conference, which takes place from 20-22 April.

Under-35s conference THE NUT section Young Teachers’ Conference takes place from 22-24 June at Warwick University. Open to members aged 35 and under, the event gives young teachers a chance to discuss the issues they face and work out practical solutions. Speakers include NEU Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney and author and journalist Melissa Benn. There will also be plays, a disco and a quiz. To apply, visit teachers. org.uk/news-events/events/ young-teachers-conference or email youngteachers@nut.org.uk


The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

WE all know about the struggles of getting newly qualified teachers involved in the Union: workload, no-one has time to sit through a two-hour meeting and, sometimes, ‘union’ is a dirty word. But what if we could make ‘union’ a different sort of word? One that suggested positive change, that things can be better, being part of a movement making the world a better, fairer place. On a mission to inspire NQTs Many of us already think of the Union like that, but it’s not always easy to see over a pile of marking. So, armed with a buffet, cookies and grand plans, the Northern National Education Union (NEU) borrowed a PGCE

cohort (pictured above) and tried to show them what a campaigning Union is really for. Volunteer mentors discussed NEU campaigns, the successes we’ve achieved and the vision we have for education. Students were handed a ‘Build your own campaign’ guide and were soon buzzing with ideas: developing and supporting diversity in schools; workload and mental health concerns; assessment reform; and curriculum suggestions around increasing accessibility and engagement. Students will present their ideas to a judging panel, including NEU Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney, at an awards dinner in June, and the strongest campaign will be funded by NEU Northern region. Nik Jones, Vale of Derwent, NEU: NUT section

Union focuses on Welsh policy A CONFERENCE, allowing members to set the agenda for the Union’s work, will take place in Wales on 3-4 March. More than 100 delegates from every local authority in Wales are due to attend the first policy conference since the formation of the NEU, which will be held at Celtic Manor in Newport. During the Saturday session, delegates will hear views from the frontline on the challenges we face, and be addressed by the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams AM, who will be updating members on her vision for the sector. Some of the key motions to be debated are the role and existence of regional education consortia; the implementation of a new curriculum;

workload, pay and conditions; child poverty; 3-19 schools; supply teaching; and funding. Wales at the heart of NEU’s agenda “This is a really exciting development for the Union in Wales,” said David Evans, Wales secretary of NEU: NUT section. “The establishment of a conference to allow Welsh members to set policy on devolved issues will really help put the expertise and experience of individual members at the heart of the Union’s agenda. “The fact that the Cabinet Secretary is attending goes to show just how important this conference is and how influential our growing membership is to the education debate within the sector.” Email cymru.wales@neu.org.uk

Obituary Mary Compton

Inspirational teacher trade unionist and former NUT president Mary Compton

Photo by Report Digital

A passion to make the world a better place Words by Ian Murch, NEU: NUT section executive FORMER NUT president Mary Compton has died. She was an inspirational teacher trade unionist and her passing has robbed us of someone who worked with passion and far-sightedness to make the world a better place. Mary, a secondary school teacher of modern languages, was active in the NUT throughout her teaching career. She was secretary of the Radnor Association for 30 years and of the Powys Division. After being an executive member for Wales, she became a national officer of the NUT in 2002 and served as President in 2004-5. At the time of her death, Mary was a trustee of the Union. Putting words into action Mary saw injustice as something to be tackled, not just complained about. In Wales and in England she thought about what needed to be done, committed herself and recruited others to the cause.

She made many memorable contributions to campaigns in both countries. In Powys, she led marches, lobbies and a strike against school closures as recently as 2015/2016. She was the NUT speaker at the million-strong rally against British intervention in Iraq in 2003. She began her speech: “I am speaking as a teacher. I extend my solidarity to the teachers of Iraq and the children of Iraq.” International perspective Mary was determined to internationalise the struggles of teachers against the global phenomena of privatisation and neoliberalism that so often undermine our professional status and drive down the quality of education in the interest of profit. She founded and obtained funding to develop teachersolidarity.com as a way of bringing together information about struggles everywhere in the world, some of

them matters of life and death as teachers fight repression in many countries. Mary was also a contributor to and editor of books that documented these struggles. She visited India a number of times to understand, report on and build support for teachers there. ‘No edge or self-importance’ Mary was the architect of the Global Education Reform conference held in 2014 that was the catalyst for our system of International Solidarity Officers. Her illness prevented her attending the NUT’s recent delegation to Mexico, which she had asked us to organise in solidarity with persecuted teacher trade unionists there, but she was keen to hear the outcomes. Mary, a lovely person with no edge or self-importance, leaves behind a wonderful family – her husband Hugh Pope, and children Clarrie, Helen, Blanche and Faith. The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


News No workplace rep? You can elect one WORKPLACE reps are the lifeblood of the Union and make a huge difference. If you don’t have an NUT section rep, hold a meeting of members in your workplace and elect one. Notify your division or association secretary – details on your membership credential and at teachers.org.uk/contactus Find out more at teachers.org.uk/ getinvolved If you have moved, tell us your new home or school address. You may also be eligible for reduced subscriptions. Visit teachers.org.uk/update, call us on 0345 811 8111 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm), email membership@ neu.org.uk or write to: Membership & Subscriptions, National Education Union, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9BD.

The Teacher reduces its carbon footprint WITH the use of plastics in everyday products in the news, we thought you might like to know a bit about the wrapping used to cover the Teacher. Our magazine is wrapped in lowdensity polyethylene, or LDPE, which is number 4-coded and commonly used to manufacture shopping bags, dry cleaning bags and flexible bottles and lids. LDPE 4 is often combined with wood to create composite lumber used in park benches and play equipment. Of the three most commonly used recyclable plastics, LDPE results in the most greenhouse gas savings during the recycling process. We’d urge you to recycle your plastic cover. You can: n Contact your local authority to see if it accepts LDPE 4 plastic in your curbside recycling bin. n If not, ask if it is accepted at your recycle centre. n Recycle LDPE 4 plastics at your local supermarket in the shopping bag recycle bin. We have also changed the plastic we use and reduced our carbon footprint by a third.


The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

It’s time to revisit the golden age of Plowden A CONFERENCE marking 50 years since the publication of the Plowden Report was held at Hamilton House. Children and their Primary Schools was published in 1967 by the Central Advisory Council for Education, chaired by Lady Bridget Plowden – it became known as the Plowden Report. Plowden promoted the concept of child-centred learning: “At the heart of the educational process lies the child.” Art as the fourth ‘R’ In the report, Plowden said that art was seen as crucial for children’s development – the fourth ‘R’ in education. Speaker Helen Featherstone, Associate Professor Emerita of Teacher Education, Michigan State University, visited UK primary schools from the late 1960s. She told conference how the school environment was beautiful, decorated with children’s art: “Teachers valued children’s beautiful creations as much as they valued their growth in skills,” she said. “You don’t see that today. All gets swept away – we’re on a staircase and don’t want to get left behind.” Plowden also saw play as vital to children’s learning. “Playing needs to return to centre stage,” south London teacher Scott Hartley told the conference. “We are regurgitating Victorian models of education,” and this is the main reason so many teachers are leaving, as they are “stressed out, overworked and disengaged”. Teachers complained about today’s assessment culture. “Rather than focus on the needs of the child, education is about the needs of the country,” said one. “Primary school prepares children for secondary school, then for the world of work.” Another said: “Schools are just teaching to the tests. The Union has an important role to play in campaigning against this culture.” The NUT at the time did not really engage with ‘Plowdenism’, National

Education Union (NEU) senior policy officer Ken Jones said. Reading through the pages of the Teacher in 1967, you are struck by how much the Union focuses on teacher salaries and funding for school buildings. Primary wellbeing back on the agenda Today, pay and funding have been joined by curriculum and assessment on the Union’s agenda. In 2016 the NUT declared: “Primary assessment is not fit for purpose. It is harming children’s learning, and in some cases, their wellbeing.” Teachers want a primary system which promotes learning and includes all children, and in many cases, these are the principles they work for in their own classrooms. Yet when you mention Plowden today you are “met with blank faces,” said Dr Emily Harper, a teacher at Lyndhurst Primary School in Camberwell, London. She said teachers who do recall Plowden see it as, “a monument to a lost golden age of progressive education”. In the current climate, said Ken Jones, revisiting Plowden and its ideas for progressive primary education is more important than it’s ever been. n Visit alecclegg.com/plowden

Cartoon by Polly Donnison

Mental health matters… but not that much Warwick Mansell is a freelance education journalist and former TES correspondent. Read his blog at teachers.org.uk/blogs/ web-editor-1

THE tweet from charity Barnardo’s was unequivocal. “School is the biggest worry for children… our new research shows half of all secondary schoolchildren feel sad or anxious every week.” School was cited as the main cause of stress by 65 per cent of English 12- to 16-year-olds taking part in Barnardo’s survey, while by the age of 16, “stress at school was a worry for 83 per cent”. In response, Natasha Devon, the Government’s former mental health champion, wrote: “My own research confirms this. ‘Academic anxiety’ now tops the list of young people’s worries, replacing bullying, social media and body image concerns. The school system itself is harming children and young people alike.” At a recent conference, Cambridge educationist Professor Diane Reay spoke of

her heartbreak at visiting schools, speaking to children in lower sets and learning of their feelings of low self-esteem. In December, the Departments of Education and Health and Social Care published a joint Green Paper on “transforming” children’s mental health provision. It comes complete with its own set of statistics, such as 850,000 UK children and young people having a “diagnosable mental health disorder”. Yet nowhere within this 54-page document is there any mention of even the possibility that education policy may be contributing to some young people’s anxiety. The document – which overall focuses on tackling symptoms rather than delving too deeply into causes – mentions the pressures of “social media” 14 times, presumably as this is an issue that can largely be parked at other people’s doors. Barnardo’s survey acknowledges that social media is a problem for some children, but the proportions were relatively low, at between 10 and 20 per cent. Yet national curriculum tests, for example, feature not once in the Government document, and the word “exam” merits a single mention, in a

sentence about how young people can be helped dealing with exam pressure. Any objective observer might wonder, for the sake of pupils, whether the seemingly anxiety-freighted pressure on schools, teachers, children and parents to raise results was having a negative impact. They might also consider whether policymakers’ desire to move “tougher” material earlier into primary school curricula, and make tests harder so more children fail them, might have negative effects. All of this is depressingly predictable when viewed through the lens of Whitehall calculation: why consider whether your own policies might be causing problems, when that could lay yourself open to criticism? But it is staggering when you take a step back. A Government department supposedly concerned to make children’s mental health one of its priorities has in effect ruled out pulling on the one lever it has the most direct control over – education policy itself – to make a change for the better. So children’s mental health is seen as important. But not, apparently, important enough for the Government to lay open its own policies, or their philosophical underpinning, to criticism. The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018



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The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

“You can’t just put that in a book and mark it”

A class act

Laura-Jane Fisher is a drama teacher at an academy in Wakefield. As well as a full-day teaching 11- to 16-year-olds, she is also an officer for the Union. Emily Jenkins finds out what makes her a class act.

LAURA-JANE Fisher didn’t start her career in drama. She trained as an English teacher, but found that acting helped pupils to express themselves. “In my first job in Bradford, a lot of the children had language problems or English as a second language,” she says. “I found that acting something out gave them a way into the English curriculum.” Soon, she made the move fulltime into drama and became head of department. That was 15 years ago and Laura-Jane speaks enthusiastically of the value of drama and arts in education. Learning through play “Drama is really important for both primary and secondary students,” she says. “Play is the basis with which we learn, and learning is all about experimenting. “The education system now is all about proving things – it’s all in books. The problem with drama is it’s not in the books, it’s in the child. It’s what the child has done that day and how they’ve grown. You can’t just put that in a book and mark it.” As a result, arts subjects are disappearing in many schools. LauraJane thinks a lot of it comes from the introduction of the Ebacc at GCSE level, which prioritises core academic subjects such as maths and science. Not only are children not being taught arts subjects but, as a consequence, teachers are losing their jobs. “I am extremely fearful for the future,” she says. “I know plenty of schools that are getting rid of drama, music and even PE. We need to have a wide spectrum of education. ” ‘Eton won’t stop teaching drama!’ She also feels there is a divide when it comes to the arts. “I feel it’s a class thing,” Laura-Jane says. “Eton is never going to stop teaching drama, so it seems to come down to

Drama teacher Laura-Jane Fisher, who is also an active Union member and officer. She is currently battling to save the teaching of music, drama and arts in our schools.

whether you think working-class children deserve the arts. “I don’t see why the children I work with shouldn’t have the same opportunities as those going to Eton.” After a full day at school, starting at 7.30am, Laura-Jane is usually to be found in rehearsals. “We’re always putting on a play of some sort,” she says. “I teach all day then rehearse with students until 5pm every evening. We’re currently doing High School Musical.” Not only does she direct the plays, but also organises props, costumes and sets. “It’s way more time than I’m paid for but the children love putting on shows,” she tells me. Protecting teachers and children Laura-Jane is also an active Union member and an officer for Wakefield Division. “My Union work is about protecting

our teachers and our children,” she says. “In particular, knowing the dangers in cutting the arts. I try to prevent that through the Union.” When I ask her how she fits it all in, she laughs. “I have a teaching life and a political life,” she says. Make a difference to the future of society Despite her hectic life, her enthusiasm for teaching never waivers. “I have the best job in the world,” she tells me. “There are very few people who can say they’ve made a difference to our future society. “In my classroom I will have future lawyers, doctors, even MPs – who can say that after a day at work?”

How was your day?

If you know someone who’s a class act, email details to teacher@neu.org.uk The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


Ask the Union

The workplace, not the worker, needs to change MY school is offering all its staff training on ‘developing personal resilience’. Is this a positive development or not? Teachers are overwhelmed with workload and need something to change. THE fact your school is offering this training indicates there is an awareness that workrelated stress is an issue. However, a whole industry has developed around providing ‘resilience’

training for employees. It tends to focus very much on the individual – looking, for example, at lifestyle factors and how to challenge ‘negative thinking patterns’. It often culminates with the preparation of an individual plan for maintaining and building on one’s own resilience. The problem with this approach is that it focuses on changing the worker rather than the workplace. The massive workload concerns experienced by teachers – which are driving many out of the profession – cannot be addressed solely through this approach.

The National Education Union (NEU) continues to press for change at national level. Excessive workload emanates from a punitive accountability regime and this needs to change to secure long-term downward pressure on teacher workload. However, there are steps that members can take themselves, in collaboration with school leaders, to bring about change. Organising a whole-school discussion on tackling the causes of excessive workload is likely to be more effective in improving the situation for all teachers than providing training on building personal resilience. The NEU has published a toolkit, giving advice on how to develop a workload campaign in individual schools – visit neu.org.uk/workload For details on resilience training – and why employers will be failing in their legal duties if this is their only response to tackling work-related stress – see tinyurl. com/y7hknfy4

British Lung Foundation advice on air pollution

Courses for the spring term Restorative approaches to conflict Grounded in the need to repair the harm that has been done to essential relationships, this course provides the opportunity to understand universal aspects of restorative approaches in schools and colleges. 20-21 March – Belton Woods, Grantham Philosophy for children Help your students develop the skills to communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively, to ask and explore

complex questions and critically examine the world and their place within it. 24-25 April – Hamilton House, London The ancient world in primary schools Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Lord of the Rings, Magnum ice creams – your students love the ancient world already! Find out how to weave their enthusiasm for all things Greek and Roman into your teaching as an engaging support tool for the delivery of the National Curriculum. 24-25 April – Belton Woods, Grantham

For venues, times and more information on all our training and professional development courses and to book a place, go to teachers.org.uk/learning


The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

MY school is near a main road. I’ve heard that, in this area, annual limits for air pollution have already been breached. What can I do to help protect myself and pupils from the effects of air pollution? THROUGHOUT the UK, levels of air pollution are at unsafe and illegal levels. Some schools are in areas, like inner London, which do indeed breach the annual limits by the end of January. Breathing toxic air can have serious implications for health – children and people with lung conditions such as asthma are particularly at risk. To help address concerns, the Union has teamed up with the British Lung Foundation to produce practical advice. There are a number of steps schools can take to stay aware of air quality, including installing air pollution monitors and checking the daily air pollution forecast. Your school should have an

Please write The editor welcomes your questions but reserves the right to edit them. Write to: Ask the Union, The Teacher, NEU: NUT section, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD or email teacher@neu.org.uk Questions for the May/June issue should reach us no later than 31 March.

AdviceLine’s crucial role as ‘safety net’ THE Union’s AdviceLine has moved to bigger and better offices in Doncaster. A launch party was held at the new premises in January, which has space for 30 advisers. The event was attended by Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney and NUT section Assistant General Secretary Amanda Brown. “The AdviceLine is absolutely central to the Union’s strategy to grow and to shape the future of education,” Kevin told staff. “You are a safety net where we don’t have reps or accessible local officers. You are our ear to the ground, and can spot national trends and problems that are harder to see locally.” AdviceLine has had more than 130,000 contacts since 2014 and deals with 82 per cent of all member enquiries. “These calls really matter,” said Kevin. “You are relieving divisional

individual school travel plan, which sets out how parents can be encouraged to use means of transport that do not contribute to air pollution. Schools can also look at ways to reduce their own emissions, such as installing energy-efficient appliances and ensuring computers and electronic devices are switched off when not in use. The NEU guidance also contains details of lesson plans and resources that teachers can use to educate children about these important issues. For more details, visit tinyurl.com/ y8qonpdg Members can check the air quality near their school by visiting clientearth.org/ poisoned-playgrounds/

Kevin Courtney cuts the ribbon to open the new offices in Doncaster

secretaries and regional staff to allow them to concentrate on finding new reps, recruiting members, as well as

Should performance scores influence pay? AS a sixth-form college teacher, the A-level Performance System (ALPS) scores derived from my students are being used as an indicator of my performance and will influence my pay progression. What is the Union’s view on this? THE Union continues to oppose in principle the use of numerical appraisal objectives which are linked to student exam performance. However, the use of scores derived using ALPs is particularly fraught with problems, and advice specifically on this area has recently been produced for

dealing with more complex case work.” If you have a problem and need to contact AdviceLine, call 020 3006 6266.

members by the NUT section’s National Organising Forum for Sixth Form Colleges. This advice is now available at teachers. org.uk/6fcs Many head teachers and principals will argue that ALPS can be used as a robust and reliable benchmarking system. Our analysis shows how ALPS is intrinsically flawed, making it potentially more unsuitable as a basis for pay progression decisions even than other numerical measures. In addition, using ALPS puts the temptation in front of school and college leaders that performance figures can be dramatically improved simply by bumping weaker students from their courses. Feedback from members on the new advice would be welcomed. The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018


International Building a united society Words by Louise Regan, President, NEU: NUT section

Fact file In 1992, Bosnia – a Yugoslav republic with a mix of Serbs, Muslims and Croats – voted for independence from Yugoslavia. Bosnia’s Serbs, backed by Serbs from other parts of Yugoslavia, resisted. Over a million Bosnian Muslims and Croats were driven from their homes in widespread ethnic cleansing. By the time the war ended in 1995, 100,000 people, predominantly Muslim, were killed.

IN October last year, I was invited to attend a fact-finding mission by Remembering Srebrenica. The organisation is working hard to raise awareness of the atrocities that took place in 1995 in Bosnia Herzegovina, when over 8,500 people were killed in or around Srebrenica and an estimated 20,000-30,000 women were systematically raped. It was an extremely thoughtprovoking visit. We heard survivor testimonies and met organisations working to ensure that there is justice for those affected by what happened. We visited Potocary, a supposed ‘safe area’ which proved anything but for the thousands of Muslims who arrived there in the hope of sanctuary. Potocary is now home to a museum, documenting the crimes of the genocide that followed. Opposite is the cemetery, where thousands of white gravestones stand as a memorial to those who were killed. Despite the atrocities, all the

Louise Regan (left) during her visit last October

people we met were keen to build a united, tolerant society and to overcome the hatred that existed at that time. One of the most shocking things was how quickly it changed from a peaceful society, where people from different faiths and cultures lived

alongside each other and were often close friends, to one where hatred and intolerance allowed atrocities to take place. We must continue to speak out about what has happened in the past but also learn from it. We must build a more tolerant, caring world.

Walking through shelling to leave a note for her students RETIRED teacher Safija Trbonja (pictured with her son Rešad) was in her fifties when the Bosnian war broke out. Born and raised in Sarajevo – Bosnia’s capital city – she spent much of her career teaching in primary schools in the city. “I couldn’t believe that war could happen in Bosnia,” she said. “But one morning in February 1992, after the independence from Yugoslavia referendum was completed, barricades appeared in the streets and trenches were dug.” So began the Siege of Sarajevo, the longest of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. Bosnian Serbs encircled Sarajevo with a siege force of 13,000 troops. Under constant shelling Safija attempted to teach students from her apartment. “We patched together that school year, so that the children could finish something,” she said. “We were surrounded, with nowhere to go; no water, no electricity, not to mention

food. But life continued, no matter what.” Eventually they found a space to set up a school but whether it could open depended on the strength of the bombardment each day. Either way, Safija would have to walk through the shelling and leave a note on the door to let the children know if school would be open that day or not. On the days that it was open, protecting the children on the journey to and from school was extremely difficult. Safija’s son Rešad, who was 19 at the time, immediately joined the army to help protect the

city. But this just added to Safija’s worries. “My cheek was never dry in that time; I was always crying,” she said. “I couldn’t say I was afraid for my life, only that my Rešad stayed alive. “You could bear everything: the cold, and not having anything to eat, and the shortage of electricity, all of that was bearable. But the fact that you could lose your child, that’s something you could never understand.” The family was so close to starvation that they had to resort to extreme measures. On his days off from fighting, Rešad would often go to the hospital – several days in a row – to give blood, just so he could get the single tin of beef he would receive in return. The siege lasted until 29 February, 1996. A total of 13,952 people were killed, including 5,434 civilians. Somehow, Safija and her family managed to survive. Safija is now 79 and still living in Sarajevo. She now spends her time encouraging her grandchildren with their school work. The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018





STEM Learning

A TO-DO list and project organizer, featuring timed reminders, notes and additional information for each item. You can quickly create different folders for different types of to-dos and lists, for example: ‘movies to watch’ or ‘shopping lists’, which makes managing tasks much easier. The app synchronises lists across your devices, and can also share lists and folders with others and forward emails to the application to save as tasks and to-dos. Clear and easy to use. Clara Cavendish Wunderlist. Free. Available on iOS, Android, Windows, Kindle Fire and the Web


DESIGNED to replace old-fashioned physical flashcard games to boost students’ vocabulary. Players receive clues and have to connect word tiles to construct the answer. A star system is used to track progress and keep players engaged. While various card sets come bundled with the app, including Spanish and Japanese, users can also import their own flashcards using Quizlet, if they are prepared to pay a one-off fee for the privilege. Younger users, English as an additional language students, or those working in modern foreign language subjects should find enough here to keep them occupied. Joseph Allen Phrasebot. Free. Available on iOS and Android

If you have websites or apps useful to teachers or pupils that you think we should review, or you would like to become a reviewer, email teacher@neu.org.uk


The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

STEM Learning is the largest UK provider of education and careers support in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As part of its offering for educators, the website contains a range of resources to support the teaching of STEM subjects. Registration is free, and the library of resources is large, with chapters of text books nestled alongside activities that

can be used without tinkering. It’s possible to ‘favourite’ specific resources for ease of use and a rating system helps filter the most popular. With such a wide variety of resources, STEM teachers are sure to benefit. And the fact it’s free is a welcome bonus. Joseph Allen stem.org.uk/resources

Lesley Clarke Synthetic Phonics CREATED by a National Education Union (NEU) member, this one-stop phonics website provides lots of time-saving classroom resources, useful information and links to help teachers, TAs and parents support children’s knowledge and skills. Resources include activities to use in phonics lessons, adult-initiated tasks, detailed lesson plans and accompanying

resources for teaching phases 5 & 6 of Letters and Sounds. There are table-top mats, materials for display, links to useful internet resources, all the past phonics screening check materials in one place and sound files parents can use to help with enunciation of phonemes. Clara Cavendish lesleyclarkesyntheticphonics.co.uk

Books for teachers

Kids’ books

Lightbulb revision guides

Let’s Talk About the Birds and the Bees

A NEW series written by NEU member Janet Oliver, designed to help students aiming at grade 5 or above in English literature GCSE. The guides are clearly laid out using key quotations from texts which can be analysed for language, structure and context. The quotations are then ‘recycled’ to fit different themes and characters within a text, which really helps students to be focused and efficient with their revision. There is also a detailed model essay for each chapter, plus a grade 9 exploration box to encourage students to consider alternative interpretations. There are also free videos on Youtube for teachers to use in class – visit www.lightbulbrevision.com Helen Watson Lightbulb GCSE English literature revision guides by Janet Oliver. Vega Publishing. £9.99

Developing Self-Confidence in Young Writers WITH the help of this book, cries of ‘I don’t know how to write!’ may become a thing of the past. The book lists dozens of practical suggestions to help children feel more confident when developing their writing. It offers two approaches: providing children with a toolkit of different techniques, alongside encouraging them to think for themselves. It also promotes their development as writers through a series of activities designed to boost their selfesteem and confidence. Aliss Langridge Developing Self-Confidence in Young Writers by Steve Bowkett. Bloomsbury Education. £16.99

Making every primary lesson count PRIMARY school teachers Payne and Scott share good practice and advice for really making a difference to young learners. Written in an engaging style, this is both practical and accessible and a book for primary teachers to return to again and again. It combines theory with practice: providing practical examples while sharing six pedagogical principles – challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning. It illustrates these with realistic classroom strategies to help develop growth of pupils. Aliss Langridge Making every primary lesson count – six principles to support great teaching and learning by Jo Payne and Mel Scott. Crown House. £12.99

AIMED at parents and carers to share with their children, this informative book is sensitively written in a child-friendly style. Each double page has a question that children might ask, such as: what does puberty feel like? and how are babies born? Cindy Shanks Let’s Talk About the Birds and the Bees by Molly Potter, illustrated by Sarah Jennings. Bloomsbury. £12.99

The Everything Machine IMAGINE you were expecting a new rabbit hutch in the post when, upon unpacking, you find a 3D printer. Elevenyear-old Olly makes sweets, a swimming pool and even a working dad replica. Heart-warming and compelling, if there is a moral it’s be careful what you wish for! Len Parkyn The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen. Scholastic Children’s Books. £6.99

The Secrets of the Stone NINE-year-old amateur sleuth Lottie Lipton lives in the British Museum. In this adventure, she finds herself caught up in a mystery involving the Rosetta Stone. A set of secret clues send Lottie across London looking for historical sights. Packed with fun facts and riddles for the reader to help solve. Sian Collinson The Secrets of the Stone by Dan Metcalf. A&C Black. £4.99

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018



Educating mermaids Upon qualification, they sent me out to sea A long and lonely journey, just my book for company, To educate the merfolk. Oh, how naïve it was to be So, aloof in my conviction that these creatures ‘needed’ me. Of course, they didn’t need to learn their times tables by rote And it was fruitless too to analyse the sonnets Shakespeare wrote. Gawking at long division, they decided all by vote To teach me how to become more morally ‘afloat’. Shortly after, followed my letter to the education board Recommending no more teachers to be allocated overboard. Because no teaching was required, indeed I felt a fraud. To consider merfolk uneducated, the system must be flawed. I returned from sea triumphant, new knowledge to impart

Teacher’s pet

On kindness, care, compassion; actions from the heart. Yet it seems to be with humans that they take longer to start They need written methods, data, facts, analysis, a chart. How is it we have become so inwardlooking, so myopic? When really, you could hardly call the answers microscopic. Education reaches out to us, if we only care to look, And understand that not everything can be taught or learnt from books. R Waspe

Cuba is achieving its goals IT WAS somewhat ironic to see the ‘Goals for the globe’ article in the January issue of the Teacher – explaining the involvement of the NEU/NUT with the campaign to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – illustrated by a picture of Cuban school children. Although the children’s country is not identified, their distinctive uniform is easily

Meet Jane, Lizzie and Marianne CHICKENS Jane, Lizzie and Marianne are the teacher’s pets of City of Leicester teacher Jessica Edmonds. “They’re fantastic!” she writes. “They need free range time every day and watching them scratch and peck around the garden is not only relaxing, but a great way for me to get outside. “They’re endlessly entertaining too: dust bathing or jumping to catch flies or spiders!” n If you would like to show off a much-loved pet, send your highresolution picture, with 50 words about them, to teacher@neu.org.uk


The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018

recognisable. The use of the picture was somewhat contradictory since Cuba is one of the countries in the world which has already achieved – and indeed surpassed – the majority of the targets identified in SDG Goal 4. Boys and girls have equal access to completely free pre-primary, primary and secondary education. All tertiary education in Cuba, including all university graduate, post-graduate and doctorate study, is completely free of charge. Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world and has been so successful that its system of teaching literacy has received recognition by UNESCO, contributed to the eradication of illiteracy in Bolivia and Venezuela, and even been used in “developed” countries such as New Zealand and Spain. Cuba has a strong equality policy with women constituting the majority in many professions, while education is viewed as a lifelong process ensuring everyone has access to appropriate education to equip them with the skills for work. The curriculum within the Cuban education system ensures that children learn about threats to the environment and the need to develop initiatives to achieve the SDGs. Cuba is continually trying to improve the learning environment for its students but is hindered by the impact of the USimposed blockade which pushes up the costs of building materials, computers, Braille machines, musical instruments and many other resources. Cuba’s record in providing scholarships for students from developing countries is amazing. The Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), estimated to be the largest medical school in the world, helps educate students to become doctors and medical practitioners. Tens of thousands have graduated. Students from the USA who cannot afford to train as doctors in their own country have graduated from ELAM and returned to practice medicine. Children in Cuba are taught in classes that are smaller than those in many countries in the so-called developed world and the training of teachers is

Please write The editor welcomes your letters but reserves the right to edit them. Write to: Letters, The Teacher, NEU: NUT section, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD or email teacher@neu.org.uk Letters for the May/June issue should reach us no later than 31 March. Please note we cannot print letters sent in without a name and postal address (or NUT membership number), although we can withhold details from publication if you wish.

given high priority by the government. Cuba strongly supports the SDGs. It is a pity that successive British governments have fallen far short of these achievements. Cuba’s educational achievements deserve to be recognised and emulated. Bernard Regan, NEU/NUT Trustee and secretary of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign

Pensions’ poet Dear Teachers’ Pensions, Hear my plea, all I want is a P60 Delivered through my letter box the way it used to be. I tried to use your website to get what I require. But several hours later was floundering in a mire Of passwords, numbers, questions, ticks and 100s and 100s of bloomin’ clicks. So, next I tried to phone you – at last a voice came through. Telling me, quite politely, to join a queue – of 62. And now I’ve read the Teacher mag – a few other people having a nag. Although I knew I was not alone – on the phone. Perhaps you need an Ofsted (I think that’s what they call it). Even a review would do, but definitely an audit. But meanwhile, please, come April, it’s not too much to ask. Put my P60 in the post, it’s not an onerous task I’ve sent what’s called an envelope, attached a stamp (it’s licked, what’s more). And then my dear old postman can drop it through my door. L Seed, NUT Surrey Division

Gold star for the Teacher! I FOUND the current issue of the Teacher considerably better than previous ones. I’m not sure what changes you have put in place, but it is working well and making the magazine more interesting. Roy Wilkes, Bury NUT

Star letter

Taking the local authority out of education: a cautionary tale IN 2008, I left the brutal world of further education (FE), where I had spent the bulk of my working life, for the calmer waters of a high school. This `brutality’ emanated not from students, but from the management culture which had firmly taken root throughout the sector. Not that FE was always such a hostile place in which to work. Back in the mid-1970s, when I first started out as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young economics lecturer, it was the place to be. A wonderful document, called the Silver Book (FE’s equivalent of the Burgundy Book) stipulated national conditions of pay and service to which all colleges had to adhere, and which ensured good annual holidays and maximum limits on teaching hours, amongst other things. But, come the early 1990s, a Tory government, still on a high over its defeat of the miners, discovered a hitherto unnoticed group of workers – the college lecturers – who, horror of horrors, seemed to be enjoying decent pay and conditions of service. At the dawn of the age of `internal markets’ and the belief that direct local authority control of FE had led to unresponsive, inefficient suppliers, this clearly would not do. So in 1993, local authority control was removed and each college was given corporate status – providers of further education would now manage their own budgets and be forced to respond to the wishes of their `customers’ as funding would be determined by the numbers `signed up’. The reality turned out to be somewhat different. The very first thing to happen was that principals re-designated themselves `chief executives’ and awarded themselves, and their ever-expanding army of top managers, eye-watering pay increases and perks such as company cars and lavishly furnished executive suites. The CEOs’ next task was to sort out the lecturers by getting them onto `flexible, professional’ contracts and to kick out the Silver Book. What followed in subsequent years was excruciatingly painful for the frontline troops who did the teaching: no nationally agreed conditions of pay and service; widespread casualisation; holiday times slashed; substantially increased teaching loads, sometimes with no weekly limits; hand-picked, largely unaccountable, undemocratic governing bodies; publicly funded institutions crawling with private sector `consultants’; an obsession with `quality assurance’ and ever greater levels of bureaucracy. And, all the while, executive salaries and perks continued on their upward path, as did cases of financial mismanagement and corporate corruption. So, what a good idea it is that schools should now also be able to `take control’ of their own affairs and free themselves from the `dead hand’ of the local authority. Somehow, I don’t think so… Henry Tiller, Redbridge NEU: NUT section

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018




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The Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) School Competition is free to enter, open to young people of all ages and abilities and is a great follow-on activity to educational work about racism. Young people are welcome to produce work in any medium – artwork, creative writing, song and film. If it's about racism, we want to see it! Participants should work with SRtRC resources before producing entries. If your school already has a copy of the SRtRC film and education pack there is no need to re-order. Schools registering for the Competition can order the SRtRC film and pack at a reduced price of £25. Closing date date for for registration registration Closing is entries 28th February 2018 and is 16 March 2018.

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THE Royal Horticultural Society has begun its annual search to find school gardening’s brightest stars. The RHS School Gardeners of the Year celebrates passion and creativity in school gardening, encourages schools’ ambitions with a range of top prizes and shines a light on the powerful impact that gardening can have on children’s learning, development and wellbeing. Nominate your Young School Gardener (aged 5-16), School Gardening Team or School Gardening Champion by Wednesday, 25 April. Visit schoolgardening.rhs. org.uk/competitions/schoolgardeners-of-the-year

AN organisation supporting language and communication development is taking bookings for its 2018 conference. NAPLIC’s Developmental Language Disorder (DLD): Making Change Happen event will take place on Saturday, 28 April. Previously known as Specific Language Impairment, DLD is the new internationally agreed term to describe significant ongoing difficulties in understanding and/or using spoken language. The conference is open to anyone with an interest in speech, language and communication needs and will provide useful resources and examples of good practice to help delegates make change happen locally. The event takes place at Conference Aston Meeting Suites, Aston University, Birmingham. To find out more and to book visit naplic.org.uk/conference

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Free disability awareness training A CHARITY dedicated to raising disability awareness is offering free training to state schools within a 40-mile radius of its Littlehampton office. Enable Me expects that, given the budgetary restraints on schools, disability awareness training will be greatly reduced, so it has allocated funds to try and plug the gap. The training is delivered by volunteers and staff, who are all people with disabilities, both physical and hidden. If you are a school staff member within 40 miles of Littlehampton and interested in the training, call 01903 734400 or email vicki@enablemeproject.org.uk

Enable Me specialises in providing disability awareness enrichment days for children of all ages

Help teachers in Africa over summer holidays THE Charity Street Child is calling on UK teachers to take part in its International Teacher Training Programme in the 2018 summer holidays. The programme gives teachers a unique opportunity to travel to Sierra Leone or Liberia, and spend two weeks mentoring local teachers and improving the quality of education for thousands of children. Participants stay in local communities and visit rural schools where Street Child is working with some of the most vulnerable children. The focus is on building schools, training teachers and empowering families. Visit street-child.co.uk/ international-teacher-trainingprogramme/

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018




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Staffroom confidential

Reader’s rant

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Of myths and mums

Girls are


Desk yoga

Every girl is different

Yoga has lots of health benefits – it releases tension, improves flexibility, ups your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. Here are a few bendy poses you can try at your desk.

Seated forward bend Sitting straight, place your arms behind your lower back, interlacing your fingers. Bend forward from the waist, bringing your interlaced hands over your back. Hold for five to ten breaths. Repeat three times. Relieves tension in back and shoulders.

Forward fold Stand up straight, then fold forwards in half. Let your shoulders and head hang down and hold for five to ten breaths. Slowly stand up straight, take a few deep breaths and repeat three times. Decompresses neck and shoulders.

Desk shoulder opener Stand a couple of feet away from your desk. With your head between your arms, bend forward, placing your hands flat on the desk. Hold for five to ten breaths, and return to standing. Repeat three times. Improves shoulder alignment.

ONE of the most prominent memories from my childhood is sitting in the car with my mother, listening to a radio segment on teachers who were on strike that day. Parents complained about finding alternative childcare and quoted statistics on how much a teacher made, while the presenter laughed at their long holidays. I remember wondering how my mum felt, listening to them trample over her achievements. I’m almost 20 now and would like to take on some of the myths about people like my mum. 1. Teachers work from 9am to 3pm Teachers are in school before the first student arrives and long after the final bell. Today, my mother was in from 8.30am until 5pm (on a day with no afterschool clubs). On an average night, she works for “an hour or two” at home, and past midnight during assessment season. 2. Teachers get long, paid holidays Though a teacher’s wage is staggered throughout the year, they are technically not paid for holidays. I have many memories of summer days spent at school, helping mum tidy things and decide where displays would go. 3. Teaching is a back-up plan Teaching requires dedication, a passion for enabling students to learn and grow, leadership skills and an understanding of how children and young adults think and behave. Mum studied for four years to be a teacher. For the past year, she has been taking a course to enable her to apply to be a head. 4. Teaching, especially KS1, is easy. The workload is immense – my mother often works through all her breaks during the day and at home as well. There are playground duties, trips, extra-curricular activities and keeping an eye on students’ wellbeing. When I ask my mum why she does it, her answer is simple. “There’s nothing better than watching a little one sound out letters and begin to read, to hear their laughter, their awe and wonder, enjoy their excitement… it can be the most rewarding job in the world.” I hope that parents and the public can see the amount of care and hard work put into each school day. Name and address supplied

The Teacher: Mar/Apr 2018



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Crossword Across

1 ___ Zuckerberg: co-founder of Facebook (4) 3 Famous cricket series (3,5) 9 Ruth ___ : author and creator of Chief Inspector Wexford (7) 10 Brother of Moses (5) 11 Boy band who took part in The X Factor in 2010 (3,9) 13 Ointment used to treat bruises (6) 15 Roman statesman and writer (106-43 BC) (6) 17 Actor who played Maximus in Gladiator (7,5) 20 Gordon ___ : former Prime Minister (5) 21 Infectious disease of the small intestine (7) 22 Nationality of composer Joseph Haydn (8) 23 Virginia ___ : British tennis player who won Wimbledon in 1977 (4)








8 9


11 12 13


15 16



19 20






Answers at bottom of this page1 - Culinary herb (8)

1 - ___ Zuckerberg: Facebook co-founder (4)


1 Culinary herb (8) 2 ___ Zellweger: US actress in Bridget Jones’s Diary (5) 4 ___ Caulfield: protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye (6) 5 English cricket captain succeeded by Joe Root (8,4) 6 Eg insulin (7) 7 A form of silicon dioxide (4) 8 Actor who starred in Waterworld (5,7) 12 Ada ___ : English mathematician and daughter of Lord Byron (8) 14 Cells that transmit nerve impulses (7) 16 ___ Keys: US R&B singer (6) 18 Final letter of the Greek alphabet (5) 19 Swedish pop group (4)

3 - Famous cricket series (3,5)

2 - ___ Zellweger: US actress in Bridget Jones's Diary (5)

9 - Ruth ___ : author and creator of Chief Inspector Wexford (7)

4 - ___ Caulfield: protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye (6)

What's in your lunchbox? 10 - Brother of Moses (5)

11 - Boy band who took part in The X Factor in 2010 (3,9) 13 - Ointment used to treat bruises (6)

5 - English cricket captain succeeded by Joe Root (8,4) 6 - Eg insulin (7) 7 - A form of silicon dioxide (4)

Leek, tarragon and mushroom risotto

8 - Actor who starred in Waterworld (5,7)

12 - Ada ___ : English mathematician and daughter of Lord Byron (8)

Faced with the choice of school dinners, sandwiches from the 17 - Actor who played Maximus in Gladiator (7,5) 14 - Cells that transmit nerve impulses (7) 20 - Gordon ___ : former Prime Minister (5) local Spar or a snack in between midday activities, many 16 - ___ teachers Keys: US R&B singer (6) 21 - Infectious disease of the small intestine (7) 18 - Final letter of the Greek alphabet (5) opt to bring in food from home. Send us your tasty lunchbox ideas 22 - Nationality of composer Joseph Haydn (8) 19 - Swedish pop group (4) 23 - Virginia ___ : British tennis player who won for our recipe column. Wimbledon in 1977 (4) 15 - Roman statesman and writer (106-43 BC) (6)

Serves 2

This recipe comes from NEU: NUT section executive member Alex Kenny, who suggests eating it while watching an episode of detective series Endeavour. The dish serves two, or one and enough for lunch the next day.

Ingredients 3 small leeks 50g butter 225g chestnut mushrooms 2 tbsp chopped tarragon 275g Arborio rice A litre of hot vegetable stock 2 tbsp chopped parsley

3. Cut the mushrooms into bite-sized chunks. Add them to the pan and stir for two minutes.

4. Add the rice and tarragon. Stir to make sure the rice is coated. 5. Add a ladleful of stock. Cook until the rice has absorbed the liquid. 6. Repeat, adding a ladle of stock at a time. 7. When all the stock is absorbed, the rice should be ‘al dente’. 8. Add a large knob of butter and the chopped parsley.

1. Cut the leeks into small rings and wash.

9. Serve with shavings of Parmesan cheese, tender stem broccoli and a glass of chilled Verdicchio.

2. Melt half the butter in a large saucepan and cook the leeks over a moderate heat for 7-8 minutes.

Email your recipe to teacher@neu.org. uk with LUNCHBOX in the subject line. Don’t forget to attach a picture!


Crossword solution



Poverty and mental health


Words by Jen Daffin

Fact file

Jen Daffin is a clinical psychologist in training at Cardiff University. She is part of Psychologists for Social Change, a network of professionals working to create the social conditions for a psychologically healthy society. Visit psychchange.org or on Twitter @Psych SocChange

GROWING numbers of people are becoming increasingly oppressed and marginalised by current political, social and economic choices, generating psychological distress. Psychologists for Social Change aims to ensure that policy changes are scrutinised for their impact on marginalised groups, and works towards reducing structural inequalities which improve the nation’s mental health. Ignoring the root causes A Green Paper, Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision, released by the Government for consultation in December, is an example of a policy development which sounds positive, but actually is a huge diversion from the real issues. The paper’s main thrust is about increasing mental health provision in schools, which we would not deny is important. However, it ignores the root causes of the growing demand on mental health services. The implementation of austerity policies has been a disaster for the mental health of the

UK’s most disadvantaged families. Rising income inequality and poverty, reduced social mobility and the growing number of people living in insecure, overcrowded housing are all problematic social issues associated with poorer mental health. Intergenerational cycles of distress Between now and 2021, child poverty is forecast to rise at more than three times the rate of poverty overall. According to the Child Poverty Action Group, there are nine children living in poverty in an average classroom of 30. By their GCSE year, there is a 28 per cent gap between children receiving free school meals and their more affluent peers in terms of the number achieving at least five A*-C grades. Evidence shows that these experiences lead to lifelong mental and physical health problems and intergenerational cycles of distress. The Government should be working towards bringing an end to unnecessary austerity policies and reverse the rise in childhood poverty, inequality and housing insecurity. This would prevent socially adverse childhood

experiences and reduce the strain on teachers and children. The current system of measuring pupils’ attainment and using this to judge teachers and schools does not support teaching or learning, and nor does it lead to a balanced education. We support the National Education Union’s call on the Government to stop turning schools into ‘exam factories’, which affect the mental health of pupils. We also back the demand for a review of school ‘accountability’ measures, which lead to repeated and unhelpful testing of pupils. Broaden Government ambition We have written a letter asking the new Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt, to broaden their ambition and take a public health perspective on the mental health of children, young people and their families. We want Government to accurately reflect the evidence base for socially adverse childhood experiences and review the current education system’s ‘accountability’ measures and their impact on pupils’ mental health.

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Profile for Educate Magazine

The Teacher – March 2018  

The membership magazine of the National Education Union: NUT section

The Teacher – March 2018  

The membership magazine of the National Education Union: NUT section