Category Archives: Michael Gove and Government

Nicky’s Going to War

Five years ago we pondered what a new government would mean for education and though many expected change, few would have predicted the pace with which it arrived. Little did we know just how radical Mr Gove was going to be, or the extent to which education would become a battleground. After years of attacks on the profession, goalposts being moved, phonics screening, enemies of promise and strikes, Gove was taken away from us and in his stead we were given Nicky Morgan.

NickyMorgan

Ah, Nicky. Quiet little, butter wouldn’t melt, Nicky. Sure she had voted against gay marriage and supported all of Gove’s sweeping changes but we all knew she couldn’t possibly be as controversial or as divisive as her predecessor. For months, Nicky floated along without anything even close to controversy.

That is, of course, until today.

It should come as no surprise really; Nicky will no doubt have been keen to put down a marker. However, that makes it no less worrying. The message couldn’t be clearer- Nicky is going to war; not against mediocrity or bad practice in the way her rhetoric would suggest, nor even against teachers this time. Now it is the turn of SLTs and Headteachers to be dragged over the coals and demonised. Not only are schools which are deemed to be ‘underperforming’ coming under scrutiny, but also those deemed to be ‘coasting’.

There are two main reasons this causes me genuine panic. The first is that the body which will deem whether a school is underperforming or not, Ofsted, is so utterly inconsistent and subjective that any confidence in their judgements, credibility in the organisation or reliability in their findings is quickly wading. Many teachers simply find that Ofsted is no longer fit for purpose, and this is something that they really ought to seek to address as a matter of urgency. Secondly, Morgan has suggested that headteachers of coasting schools could be removed from their positions. This, from the Secretary of State for Education, simply floored me as it demonstrated the clear lack of understanding of the state of the workforce in this country. Headteachers are a rare breed, in that we don’t have enough of them. What we need is to train, support and guide headteachers and those aspiring to the position rather than seek to implement a football manager approach where we go through more headteachers than terms.

The motivation behind this move lies very close to the surface and will surprise nobody in education circles. “We will provide support. Of course we will look at the academy model too.” Nicky told Andrew Marr. The idea that academies improve the provision of a school, while unfounded in ANY form of research or evidence, is one that Morgan and her predecessor have flouted repeatedly over the past few years. My thoughts on schools being forced to adopt academy status can be found here, and I make no apologies for my viewpoint.

Nicky has had her time to settle in, and now she’s lining up her arsenal. If you thought the education battlefield would have time to settle with Gove out of the way, you were very much mistaken. The fight to stand up for education shall continue for what could be a very long and battling five years. Nicky’s going to war; I hope she’s ready for the fight.

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Academies are not the bloody answer!

NUT-No-Academies-placard

In 2011 the government saw fit to introduce the ‘Academy/Free School Presumption’ to the Education Act whereby if a Local Authority felt there was the need to create a new school in its area, it must seek proposals to establish an academy/free school. Schools must then find a sponsor and agree on a location for the school. Therefore, in effect, in time all schools will eventually be taken from the control of Local Authorities. Currently over 60% of secondary schools, and roughly 13% of primary schools are already being run as an academy or free school. So what, I hear you ask, is the problem?

From the outset, let it be known that I have no problem with schools who choose to be academies. There are highly effective Academies out there providing an exceptional provision to education for the pupils that attend their schools. They do a fine job and such schools should be congratulated and celebrated. What I do however oppose is the assumption that the Academy model, as a whole, is a winning formula that should be forced upon all schools up and down the country. The current government’s belief that converting every school in the country to an academy will instantly shoot the UK to the top of the International League Tables is as absurd as it is insulting to all of those who work tirelessly to provide an excellent education in schools outside of Academy run chains.

In November 2012, despite having no legal authority to do so, the government announced its intention to turn 400 under-performing primary schools into academies. Governing bodies were warned that failure to comply with the government’s wishes would result in their dismissal, being replaced by those who would force through the conversion. In cases where the pupils, staff and parents voiced strong opposition to such a measure, the government sped ahead with their plans regardless. They have, in the time since, maintained the supposition that academies improve standards. The more sceptical of you may also wonder what would motivate ministers to deviate away from Local Authority intervention.

Academies, as independent state-funded schools, receive their funding directly from central government rather than through a Local Authority. This gives them more freedom over their finances, curriculum, term dates and pay and conditions for staff. Upon conversion to an Academy, a school will be awarded £25,000 and can receive access of up to 10% more funding which would previously have been allocated to the school through the Local Authority (This is money that would have been used to provide services for the school, and so isn’t extra funding per se). Should the Academy acquire the services it acquires more cheaply, it can benefit financially from becoming an academy. As such, large academy chains are now emerging being run by companies. Although they have the freedom to employ teachers without Qualified Teacher Status and pay teachers less, it is often the case that they follow the pay structure implemented in state run schools. They do, however, often differ in terms of conditions and expectations from their staff. Therefore academies can expect teachers to work longer contractual hours and alter their sickness and maternity arrangements should they wish to do so.

‘So what if academies have the potential to offer a slightly rougher deal to teachers; it will provide my child with a better education!’ I hear you say. Not quite. Yes, the government have been quick to point to academies that have rapidly improved following their transition from state schools, but careful interpretation of the data available suggests that there is a general upward trend in under-performing schools throughout the country. Many cases have been brough to public attention whereby schools that have already begun to see rapid improvement have been forced through the conversion process irregardless and then can be held up as examples of the process working. Despite countless soundbites by the current government, few of their claims stand up to any form of serious analysis. On the whole, progress markers as well as school improvement figures suggest that state schools and academies are working at strikingly similar levels. However, removing a school from Local Authority control removes their access to:

  • specialist help for pupils with special educational needs as well as monitoring of this provision
  • support for governors
  • CPD for staff
  • legal advice and guidance to make sure schools comply with the law to keep children safe.

Crucially, the Local Authority also has the ability to liaise between schools to co-ordinate admissions. With more than half of secondary schools now working independent of this body, organising schools admissions has become increasingly unclear. Gaps are appearing in accountability, admissions monitoring, school support services and school place planning. By 2023, it is estimated that there will be a surplus of 880,000 pupils in England alone and schools are already beginning to run out of places. The current government have spent £5bn in an effort to tackle this. Unfortunately, due to the amendment to the Education Act, sponsors of new academies haven’t always sought to place these new schools in areas of need. According to the National Audit Office, there have been no applications to open mainstream primary schools in half of the districts with a high or severe forecast need of new school places by 2015-1016.

I’m not here to argue that state schools are better than academies or vice versa. There are fantastic and terrible academies much in the same that there are fantastic and terrible state schools. My objection is to the rational that all schools must be academies; that academies are the savour of our school system and must be implemented all over the country. They do not raise standards any more dramatically than state schools already do. They are no more viable. They are the result of dwindling coffers for our local councils and efforts to break the unions. This policy of conversion at all costs bears the potential to be the onset of privatising the education system and is opening the door of our children’s education to businessmen with ulterier motives. The current government have raised many questions within education; academies are not the bloody answer!

Secret Teacher

The Importance of Effective Middle Leadership

For the last twenty years or so, the means by which a school’s capabilities are judged has been on a perpetual pendulum of change. In 1992, under a government which (largely speaking) had been privately educated and had no real trust or respect for the state school system, OfSTED was given the task of externally assessing a school and so the pendulum made a great stride to the right. Then the more liberal Labour government came about, a government that initially did place a great deal of trust in schools. They placed more emphasis on Local Authorities and school’s being responsible for their own judgements and development (although OfSTED was always used parallel to this) and so the pendulum swung back to the left. These Local Authorities had teams who would observe practice, develop staff and lead school improvement. Such teams are rarer than the ill-fated Dodo these days. Eventually Gove came along and pushed the pendulum so far right that it entered space that had previously been unknown to exist. A distrust of teachers and a climate of fear has hung over the education system in this country like a sullen mist ever since. And so, a year before the next general election, the only proverbial clogs of the pendulum that have remained unchanged since it first began swinging continue to churn out students and strive to provide the best learning opportunities for their pupils.

This is all well and good, but what has it got to do with middle leadership I hear you ask? Although OfSTED have the right to inspect schools under Section 5 of the Education Act of 2005, they very rarely do. They claim to carry out an ‘idependant external evaluation’ of a school’s effectiveness and state that their judgements are based upon a national framework. Such a framework might ensure that the information provided to parents and the Secretary of State for Education was consistent and reliable, and based on this OfSTED have a reputable place amongst the mindset of parents the width and breadth of the country. However, those who work in the education system know that this is a facade. Beyond the smoke screen, OfSTED are a much more haphazard, ill-informed and inconsistent group of self-employed ‘experts’ than is generally stated. OfSTED has carved up the country into six large zones, each sub-let to an independent and privately run company which carries out inspections on behalf of OfSTED. These companies work independently of each other, but are nonetheless expected to follow the guidance on how to inspect schools. The problem is that most of the inspectors are retired or have left the profession and have, at best, failed to read the guidance and subsequent updates and, at worst, simply ignore it. Whatever their reasons, OfSted are anything but reliable, consistent or reputable. More often any Tom, Dick or Harry subcontracted to a shady contractor shows up to inspect your school whatever way they see fit. If you’re lucky, you will have a well-informed, professional team who are understanding and know what to consider when making judgements that will impact upon every person in the school. If you aren’t, it’s time for your leadership team to earn their pay… and that is when it pays to have a strong middle leadership team.

In order to see off any OfSTED team, but more importantly to improve the opportunities of the children in the school, the self evaluation process cannot be overemphasised. A strong leadership team will ensure that the school has a strong vision and that staff are united in their determination to reach the aims which are set out in order to achieve this. The school will then need to gather evidence to support any judgements it makes, identifying areas of strengths and areas to be developed. This will then be fed forward to the Senior Leadership Team which shall decide upon the school action plan to move the school forwards. Middle Leaders are pivotal the to self-evaluation and evidence gathering elements of this process. Through strong management and gaining an accurate picture of where they are up to with their area of the school or curriculum, middle leaders can gather the evidence needed to ensure the school continues to improve. The best schools in the country develop their middle leaders and afford them time to get to grips with their responsibilities. They also utilise them effectively and develop them professionally so that the school ultimately isn’t being led from the headteachers office only. A strong headteacher, although responsible overall for the running of the school, will have the ability to delegate responsibilities and develop staff whose judgements are dependable and constructive.

The pendulum is ever-changing and out of the mess of the Birmingham ‘Trojan Horse’ affair, things looks to be getting worse for teachers in this country. Despite most of the schools involved being part of Gove’s pet project of Free Schools/Academies and therefore out of Local Authority control, Gove has seen fit to say that there is an epidemic problem in schools. Although the minutes of their governors meetings should have been forwarded to Michael Gove himself, and although Gove was in a position to send two advisors to the academies to prevent this mess (perhaps even resulting in Gove being guilty of dereliction of duty, you might conclude), he has managed to spin the situation so that we are ever closer to no notice inspections; a concept that drives fear into the hearts of teachers everywhere. Whether or not they ever arrive, the pendulum has a chance of swinging back over the next year as Gove seeks pastures new and we seek any other government on offer to us. Regardless, we will still have an OfSTED force who are very inconsistent. To give yourself the best chance of fighting your corner, and indeed to truly improve your school, the development of middle leaders is pivotal.

 

Besides all of this, we are in the midst of a headteacher crisis. You may just find that by the time you next reach work, your head will have jumped ship! Middle leaders are going to be headteachers very soon. Within years we are going to have the youngest set of headteachers this country has ever known, many of whom are middle leaders now. If we want the education system to continue to flourish, we have to prepare them adequately now.

 

Secret Teacher

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Am Going On Strike

On 26th March, for the third time in three years, I will be taking strike action against the current Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove. I genuinely don’t want my pupils to miss a day of their education of which they are entitled, nor do I want to disrupt the lives of countless families up and down the country. I don’t want to inconvenience colleagues who are so close to retirement that it could affect their pension and I can barely afford to lose a day’s pay myself. Why then, am I choosing to go on strike?

Three years ago I entered the teaching profession with a naive enthusiasm. This vivacity has since been crushed out of me by a system that cares more about statistics than students. The almost daily attacks on the profession in the media and the climate of fear that most teachers work in is enough to break the hardest of Newly Qualified Teachers. The negative structure of lesson observations and accountability sucks the life out of the vast majority of educators, and so it comes as no surprise to anybody in schools that 40-50% of teachers walk away from the profession within five years. And yet, those that remain are a steely bunch. We take the flack, disrespect and disregard that a small portion of this society would see fit to throw at us, and we focus on what we do best. We plan to engage and develop your children; we seek to help them overcome whatever barriers to learning they may encounter; we prepare them for life. In return, we don’t ask for a great deal. The vast majority of us aren’t motivated by power or money. All we want is a little respect, trust and for attacks on us to stop.

Pensions

The main concern to me is the change in relation to pensions. I entered the profession as the economy began to die on its feet. Austerity measures were introduced and teacher’s pay was frozen so that it didn’t rise with the annual rate of inflation. Pension contributions were then increased (as a result, teachers have actually seen a pay cut over the last few years). Now the government want me to work until I am 68… sixty-eight. I am currently in my mid twenties and I am exhausted. In reality the vast majority of teachers are not going to be fit to work to 68 and so, after a lifetime of service and devotion to children, they will not receive their full pension. Overall, teachers will pay more into their pension only to receive less at the finishing line, even if they manage to stay in the profession until 68. This, to me, is disgusting.

Pay

After completing a four-year degree so that I would enter a profession, safe in the knowledge that to progress I would need to continually attend CPD events and take diplomas/university courses outside of school hours, I was happy to accept the relatively low starting figure (in relation to other professional entry points) for teachers. This was because I knew that I would progress up the pay scale within the first few years of entering the profession, as I gained experience and became more competent as a teacher. This has now been removed, so that this progression is not automatic, being replaced by a target driven system. Many business minded people agree with such a process, but what they fail to realise is that teaching is not a business (as much as the Education Secretary would love it to be). Research suggests that performance related pay does not work in education. OECD research on the impact of performance related pay in teaching has concluded that “the overall picture reveals no relationship between average student performance in a country and the use of performance-based pay schemes.” Performance related pay undermines and disrupts effective school improvement.  It encourages teachers to work for themselves rather than pooling their expertise.  Schools are learning communities – good teachers build their students’ achievement on foundations laid by other teachers and support staff.  Teachers work best when they work collaboratively and are trusted to do their job; not when they are constantly held to account over statistics on a sheet of paper.

Workload, Inconsistency and Buffoonery

When I entered the profession, I thought I did so with my eyes wide open to the workload that was coming my way. I was wrong. Although I anticipated hard work, I thought I might have a work-life balance. For at least the first year I didn’t. I was in work early, stayed late and took work home with me. If I had an hour to eat tea and sit down each day, it was a good day. Slowly I have clawed my life back but this is not due to the fact that the workload has subdued; quite the opposite is, in fact, true: Displays, working walls, an inordinate amount of planning and bureaucracy, creating resources, adapting lessons, two stars and a wish, play time duties, assemblies, after-school clubs, pupil progress meetings, staff development meetings, parent-teacher meetings, school plays, recitals, sporting events, performances, faires… the list is endless and can literally take over your life. As a teacher, this is just something we accept; but the camel’s back is weakening and there are only so many more straws it can take.

The inconsistency within the education system is also deeply worrying. Government comes up with fad after fad, and before it has soaked down through the system and been moulded into anything that resembles something that may be of any use to teachers and pupils, it has been replaced by a new fad or buzzword. The truth, though it may seem obvious if you look at it logically, is that politicians are not the best qualified to be making decisions about education, particularly when they advocate testing so much. Testing is the approach that those who know least about education advocate most. And Gove, who knows nothing of education, loves testing.

He moved the goalposts for English students in the middle of their GCSE course; he introduced tests which assess pupils spelling, punctuation and grammar, despite opposition from headteachers and other educational experts; he tests six year olds on their ability to read words that literally have been made up, although research has shown it has no additional educational benefit and now he want to test four year old’s literacy and numeracy within weeks of starting school.  He even allows your children to be taught by people without qualified teacher status. In fact, some schools only request that their teachers have four GCSEs. His buffoonery knows no bounds.

I don’t take strike action lightly, but the fact is that there are too many grievances to allow myself to be flatly ignored. Action short of strike action was taken for months, went largely unnoticed and didn’t work. The unions have tried to engage in talks with Michael Gove, to no avail. There is little else to do, but strike. He may ignore this action, but never underestimate the power of the individual. MP’s are elected to parliament to represent the people, and if they fail to do so then they must be held to account.

On Wednesday, 26th March, I will be joining the strike action being taken by the National Association of Teachers. I hope you will support me.

Secret Teacher

Open Letter to Mr Gove Revisited

Over my half-term in October, I gave up a day of my holidays to attend a CPD session with the legendary education speaker Gervase Phinn. During the excellent session, we examined different ways in which we could tackle the problem of boys underachievement in Literacy. As explained in my blog, I left the session with my blood boiling. It dawned on me that I will have more than 40 years in the profession before I reach pension age, and I was disillusioned with the way in which politicians were interfering negatively with the education system.

As I made the 80 minute journey back down the motorway, I switched off the radio and allowed the blog to write itself in my head. When I reached home, I opened my battered old laptop and allowed my thoughts to spill out onto the computer. At that point, I had left my twitter and blog idle for over three months. I had few more than an accumulated amount of 3000 views altogether, on all of my previous blogs in the few months prior to that, around 200 followers and I genuinely didn’t think that the piece would be read by many. The broken (temperamental) apostrophe key and absence of a ‘J’ button did little to discourage me as I found the experience deeply therapeutic. When I had finished, I tiredly and lazily did a spell check through the blog, which must have an American dictionary, and hit post. (With hindsight, this was a mistake. I appreciate that many of you will feel that these errors may damage my argument but having left it for so long, I am reluctant to change the piece. I ask that you can see past that to focus on the issue at hand.) That night it had 60 views which exceeded my expectations. What followed humbled me greatly.

In the coming weeks, my blog was shared among educationalists and those who have an interest in the education system. The blog stats went through the roof as the blog was repeatedly shared on Twitter, Facebook and various other forums. One Sunday afternoon, the blog had 25,000 hits. It dawned on me that my anger at the system was shared by many of you out there. I dismantled the moderation on comments so that all views could be expressed on the blog. Although there were several negative comments, many echoed their support of my views and ideas. Indeed one day I sat in my staffroom as my blog post was passed around on a mobile device and one-by-one the teaching staff read and stated their admiration for the articulation and conviction of the post, unaware that the author sat among them.

Tonight, after a resurgence which has seen the post gain another 30,000 hits in 3 days resulting in my blog passing 200,000 views, I wish to thank all of you who have taken the time to comment on my blog, share my links or simply read what I have written; regardless of whether you agree or disagree with what I have said. As a classroom practitioner who looks towards this blog in my free time, I never expected it to have the audience that it has had so far. It is clear that many practitioners disagree with what is happening in our schools, and I sincerely hope I get to see the day when politicians release the system back into the hands of educational experts who can base their policies on tried and tested strategies to improve education in this country for the better.

Until then, thanks again for your time and support.

Secret Teacher

Gove Up to his Old Tricks

Oh dear, I must admit I feel rather silly this morning after realising I’ve been doing it all wrong for years now! I’ve been trying to plan engaging lessons which will focus the pupils on learning, using non-verbal strategies to challenge bad behaviour in a timely fashion, praising positive behaviour and using my school’s behaviour management system to sanction pupils who go beyond the boundaries. How foolish of me! Well, from here on in it will be straight out to weed the garden, pick up rubbish or indeed I will stick them up the chimney with a sweep to get to the hard to reach areas!

What utter nonsense emanating from the DfE this morning. Maybe I have a class that differs somewhat from the norm, but tidying my classroom seems to be more of an incentive than a punishment. Kids quarrel over who can keep the library tidy, clean the tables and organise the surroundings. Perhaps that is because they take pride in their work and their environment. They don’t settle for second best. I help to embed in the kids a set of values that will assist them in later life. Are all of the kids eager to clean up? Of course not. Do teachers already have enough strategies to tackle challenging behaviour? Of course we do. Yes, primary will differ somewhat from secondary, but a good school will have a clear policy that teachers know and works effectively. When even the Daily Mail sees it as a gimmick, you know it’s absolute blather.

Mr Gove takes us all for fools. He thinks that if he throws enough nonsense into the press (in this case about behaviour) or slips policy through when other major headlines are in the news, then we will fail to notice the way he is interfering politically with the education system. The real news here this weekend is about the removal of Baroness Morgan, the head of Ofsted. Despite (at the Education Secretaries’ own admission) giving ‘distinguished service’ and doing a ‘really good job’, Baroness Morgan has been relieved of her duties after one term in office in order for the government to bring a ‘fresh perspective’ (though I think that is read as ‘Tory appointment’). Baroness Morgan has claimed to be the victim of a determined effort from Number 10 to appoint more Tories, and you might be hard pressed to disagree. Indeed, Lib Dem minister David Laws was said to be so furious that he told a friend of his displeasure. Well you showed Gove, and indeed us, Mr Laws that the Lib Dems are no pushovers! Whatever next; maybe you’ll actually tutt about policy in public or shake your head in disagreement? Great leadership.

Don’t be fooled folks, this morning’s headlines have nothing to do with behaviour. It is merely an attention diverting exercise by Mr Gove, as Andrew Marr sits across from him ‘gooey eyed’ and not asking any probing questions. But hey, what do I know? I’m only a teacher. Now I’m off to put my blackboards back up in the classroom so that I can get the naughty kid to bang the dusters together at break time.

Secret Teacher

An Open Letter to Tristram Hunt, the Shadow Education Secretary

This post is part of the January #blogsync project. Other blogs on the theme are available here.

Dear Mr Hunt,

Please allow me to begin by explaining the context in which I write to you. I am a primary school practitioner based in the North West of England, currently in my third year of teaching. During my time as a trainee, and then as a teacher, I have watched as the coalition government was formed and took office. I have watched as the current Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, was instated and began to run the system in an almost antonymous manner. I therefore have come into the profession at a time of great instability and change.

I was shocked and saddened, initially, by the daily attacks on my profession, my pension, my pay and conditions and indeed my credibility as a teacher. For months I waited for your predecessor, Stephen Twigg, to interject; but to no avail. You now, as Shadow Secretary of State, have been given the challenge of convincing the public that you are fit to hold the office with the greatest potential to influence the world of tomorrow. As you set out on what is undoubtedly an arduous task, in what will be a defining year for you and your party, I ask you to consider the following points:

Consistency

The teaching profession seems to be perpetually floating on a sea of change. I would never advocate that we shouldn’t be consistently reflecting and altering our practice slightly, but as teachers we already do this on a daily basis anyway. Like our pupils, in order to flourish we need some sort of stability and consistency of approach. With the changing of governance in this country, the education system has always ebbed and flowed from the left to right and vice versa. However, even by those standards the vast amount of change enforced on the current education system in such a limited period of time since the previous election has, in my opinion, proved to be detrimental and risked the futures of the pupils it serves. If you plan to make changes to policies or to the curriculum, Mr Hunt, they must be well thought out and enforced in a realistic and supportive way. Take change one small step at a time; it is better to implement one change properly than to make multiple alterations in a hasty and shambolic fashion.

Qualified Teacher Status

It seems an absolute travesty to me that pupils in this country are allowed to be taught by teachers without QTS. The pretence that the removal of this requirement in Free Schools was to enable professionals to stimulate the minds of our youth has been by eroded by the emergence of schools actively seeking to employ non-qualified teachers in an effort to ease their budgets. The simple fact is that pupils deserve better. If you take power in the next general election, I implore you to reinstate the requirement of QTS in ALL schools in the first instance. It is issues such as this with the current government that has led to a massive deal of mistrust between the teaching profession and those in power. The lack of transparency and constant vilification of teachers has eroded whatever relationships we, as a profession, once had with government. Reinstating QTS at the earliest opportunity would go a long way to building positive links with the profession again.

Teaching Licence

So too would trusting us, as professionals, to do our jobs. In order to teach in a state school, I am required to have QTS, somewhat like a licence you might say. There are various methods of obtaining this, but for me this meant training to be a teacher for four years. Over these four years I had professional training and a substantial amount of practice in school. When I qualified and found employment, I then needed to complete my induction into the profession. Since then I have continued to develop professionally. I receive or attend CPD numerous times each term. I take my work very seriously, and am good at what I do. I know this because I have continual observations, book scrutiny and data meetings which hold me to account. If I were found to be underperforming, the structures are in place to support me adequately. If it was still the case that I was not fit for the profession, my school has the power to remove me from my post. I simply do not need a licence to teach as it would serve little purpose.

Invest in the Future

If you are going to spend money, spend it wisely. Put a stop to academies and free schools being built in areas where they simply aren’t needed. Take that money and invest in updating existing schools which are crumbling in around the pupils. Invest in providing teachers with quality CPD. Invest in our amazing Teaching Assistants who do the most incredible job and ensure that no child is left behind. Provide teachers with the tools they need to produce the workforce that you will need.

Quality of Teaching

A number of months ago, when writing to the Education Secretary, I included a quote from Mr Gove. He had stated that we currently have “…the best generation of teachers ever seen in our classrooms- including the very best generation ever of young teachers.” In short, Mr Hunt, I ask you to realise that we have a teaching profession in this country to be very proud of; one that is ever improving and which is only going to get better. We have some of the most talented and hard-working practitioners in the world; engaging, challenging and stretching the minds of our youth on a daily basis. The methods teachers use to engross children in learning nowadays, incorporating new technologies and new teaching strategies are having a profound impact on pupil’s development. Despite continuous attacks from Ofsted and the government, we have continued to provide a public service that is second to none, regardless of what International League Tables may state. It isn’t perfect but, but none are. Data can be manipulated, but thanks to the diligent effort of those in classrooms up and down the country, we are preparing our pupils to emerge into a world where some of the jobs they will obtain don’t even exist yet. Champion your teachers, Mr Hunt, and champion your education system.

I don’t envy you, Mr Hunt. You face a daunting trial. Should you be elected, you will inherit a battered and bruised profession that will be guarded towards you, at best. You will accede to an education system which will require much toil and labour, if you will excuse the pun, but I assure you it is a surmountable challenge. If you wish to be elected, indeed if you genuinely wish to advance the education system in this country, begin by valuing teachers and the job they do. The current government has sought to fight, divide and conquer. Why not be more radical than that, engage with us and allow us to work together. After all, our goals are the same.

I wish you every success in your endeavours,

Secret Teacher

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