Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Will Sir David Carter Stop the Rot Spreading?

It is reported here that another Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), Rebecca Clark, leaves the job to join an academy chain. This is the 6th RSC to leave the post since RSCs were created. Most of them have gone to work for academy chains that they were previously responsible for regulating.

The situation stinks.

The problem is that the Minister in charge of Academies bought his peerage and thereby his ministerial position. So he is highly unlikely to condemn others. It is a case of "follow my leader".

I feel concerned for any remaining RSCs. Any decision they make will be looked at with suspicion in case they are just lining themselves up for a big pay packet somewhere.

They say "the fish rots from the head". I cannot see anyone in a position of power who is able to cut out the rot. The gangrene is spreading, and we all know what happens if you don't deal with it quickly.

Sir David Carter should be making a statement on how we put a stop to this unsavoury practice, not least before he becomes a Chief without any Indians. If not Sir David Carter, who?

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The God of Faith Based Schools

At a time when the government says it wants to improve relations between different communities in the UK, segregating young people on the basis of religion seems to be encouraging the opposite.

The main reason for having faith based schools is to promote a view of the world that adherents believe is right, and better than the world view of other faiths. Those with a strong faith believe their God is better than your God: clearly they can't all be correct.

Constantly reinforcing the idea that other people have chosen the wrong God should not be the job of schools. Schools should be engaged in the business of encouraging students to make up their own minds on all issues, based on weighing the evidence.

Schools should not be engaged in indoctrination, which hinders community cohesion, and worse.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Education in a Banana Republic

There is a little known banana republic where dubious practices abound.

As a business man you can give large sums of money to the government, resulting in that government giving you a title or honour, and thereby enabling you to be appointed to a paid ministerial position.

The position you get as a minister is overseeing the area of public life where you run your own company, which takes money from the public purse to operate. As an unelected business man you are responsible for how £billions of public money is spent.

In a modern country you would be subject to the checks and balances of openness and publicly available accounts. But in this banana republic you can instruct your civil servants to keep financial dealings secret or if forced to reveal what is going on, can obfuscate or redact documents.

And the name of this banana republic?

The United Kingdom.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Is Universal Free School Breakfast Policy Half-Baked?

One of the unforeseen consequences of offering free breakfasts to all primary school children is that a lot more children will be arriving at school much earlier.

Without substantial supervision this is going to have negative consequences on pupil behaviour,
which will impact on learning throughout the day.

I don't see employing one teaching assistant as a solution.

Did any of the studies into universal breakfasts look into this potential negative effect?

The policy could be saving money on food but then costing a huge amount in supervision costs.

As a policy it seems a bit half-baked.

Is Teach First a Parasite?

According to Schools Week, Teach First has an arrangement to funnel new teachers into accountancy firm PwC after 2 years working in schools.

This latest initiative from Teach First only confirms what many career teachers have felt for a long time. Rather than helping the education system, Teach First is a parasite.

It is a big commitment for practising teachers to train new entrants, but they do that with the assumption that it is helping a new person join the teaching profession. They do not expect their expertise to be used on a continuous conveyor belt of training young graduates to become accountants. Teachers feel that they are being sucked dry by governments, and now they can see that they have to contend with parasites on the inside too.

Of course PwC are going to welcome new employees who have had 2 years free management training at the expense of the state.

The sad part about this is that there are genuine people who want to come into teaching. They will be undermined by those who want to come in and play with poor people's children as a way of climbing the corporate business ladder.

If this approach was happening in the leafy suburbs or the private sector, there would be outrage.

If something is not done about this quickly, the parasite is going to kill the host.

Friday, 19 May 2017

DfE Thinks "The Thick of It" Is a Philosophy Manual

I have a feeling that the DfE and the Brexit department are not on the same page with planning the future workforce needs of the UK.

With immigration destined to reduce after Brexit, the sensible plan being expounded is to train our own young people in the skills that we are short of.

So to further this aim of being self-sufficient in technical skills, the DfE are increasing the number of Geography Teachers, and killing off Design and Technology Teaching (amongst other subjects).

At the current rate of progress with this EBacc programme, in 5 years time we will have to import skilled Technologists, Artists, Musicians etc from outside the UK, whilst our own young people who would love to have a job in these areas, will be qualified in GCSE Geography.


It takes real skill on behalf of the DfE to display this level of incompetence. "The Thick of It" is like a philosophy manual in comparison to the planning strategies of the DfE.

Friday, 12 May 2017

MATs - Modern Day Slavery in Action

Most of us thought slavery had been abolished more than 100 years ago.

Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy and sell other individuals. A slave is unable to withdraw unilaterally from such an arrangement.

In this story in the TES, Governors of Greengate Lane Academy in Sheffield wanted to hold a formal vote on leaving Reach4  – a multi-academy trust (MAT) in Sheffield and South Yorkshire - which has since been rebranded as Astrea. But before the vote could be taken, the MAT dissolved the school’s local governing body on 4 April and replaced it with a transition-management board.

Governors of Greengate Lane Academy had been told that they would be able to leave Reach4 if they wanted to, but once the paperwork was signed their fate was sealed. Not only did the Governors of Greengate Lane Academy lose all control, they lost the school's surplus of £270,000 which was pocketed by Reach4. After complaining about this appropriation of control and finances, the Governors of Greengate Lane Academy were sacked.

The local community has lost all control of the school, the money that they paid into the school, and any influence on the strategic direction of the school.

The students and staff of Greengate Lane Academy are little more than chattels to be traded with other MATs. They have no say. The governors have no say. The local community has no say.

This is modern day slavery.

Most surprising of all is that this is all perfectly legal.

Greengate Lane Academy is a good school. It did not need to be rescued to improve it. It had a nice pot of cash reserves that someone had their eye on.

Your school, its buildings, teachers and students, can be taken from your community. Traded as a chattel.

Beware the MATs, the modern day slave traders!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Is the Future a Sky Education Subscription?

Is the school transfer market becoming like that of the football league?

Will outstanding schools wanting to join a chain, start to employ their own agents to obtain the best deal?

We already have rich sponsors owning MATs just like they own football clubs.
Super managers like Regional Schools Commissioners are being bought up by MATs (50% of RSCs so far).
Poorer performing schools are relegated so that no MAT wants to buy them.

All the money in "the game" is gravitating to the top and little money is left for grass roots education.
The poorer teams are left with part time professionals called teaching assistants. The richer clubs have season ticket "requests" and expensive uniforms which exclude poorer families who find it a struggle to purchase them.

Rupert Murdoch changed football with Sky TV sponsorship.

Michael Gove is back in Rupert's arms, so how long before English Education becomes part of "the glorious game"?

Get your Sky Education Subscription now and your child can have full colour, HD learning in a Premier School.

Teaching's Lost Compass

We seem to be moving towards the concept that teachers have to be researchers.
We all have to be researching the silver bullet.


The new Chartered College of Teaching seems to be majoring on the idea of giving teachers access to oodles of research papers. As if giving teachers lots of data will turn them into super teachers.

Teaching is a complex business.
How many lessons have you watched where all the boxes were ticked but the lesson was not good?

Somewhere along the way the profession has jumped on a treadmill that it cannot get off. Our only response is "go faster". Never mind the direction, "just go faster".

It seems safer to just go along with current fad. Prove your management skill by making your staff go faster.

We need direction, but who can provide it?

I recall a science lesson where a year 7 student told me that a compass always pointed forward.

The teaching profession needs a compass, but also the ability to use it properly.