How to Blog For @LabourTeachers

We are always looking for contributions to this blog. While there are times when we’ll want something different, we’re always happy to be sent a blogpost that:

  1. Is by a teacher who is a Labour Party supporter (or even better member);
  2. Is less than 700 words long;
  3. Has content relevant to Labour supporting teachers (regardless of the point of view);
  4. Has not been published anywhere else beforehand.

There is more detailed guidance here. Some suggestions are here. Some advice about writing is here.  Advice for new bloggers is here. I will update this post with links to further guidance whenever I add any to the site. You can email content  to me here. It will be easier for me if you include it in the main text of the email rather than as an attachment.

Thank you.

Lucy Powell’s encouraging start – Part 1 | @LeeDonaghy

FullSizeRender (1)Lee Donaghy is a former history teacher and assistant head who in February left teaching to be a full time dad. He lives in the East Midlands.

With conference season upon us both parties have now set out their educational stalls for the foreseeable future. Nicky Morgan’s speech on Tuesday featured a predictable rundown of the Tories’ perceived greatest hits: free schools unleashing greatness, a ‘rigour revolution’, academisation freeing schools from bureaucrats etc etc. The speech was given on the back of the Prime Minister’s announcement that child benefit would be docked from parents who failed to pay fines imposed on them for their children’s truancy, demonstrating that it isn’t only Teresa May who feels nostalgic for the days of the ‘Nasty Party’. There was also a surprise announcement about a new duty for schools to provide childcare from 8am to 6pm if enough parents request it, though where the money will come from for that is anybody’s guess. Perhaps once those truancy fines are being paid on time the DfE will be a bit flush?

Lucy Powell’s speech last week was inevitably more tentative given that she was only two weeks into the job when she made it, but it was wide-ranging and showed she has quickly got to grips with the brief. She exposed the soft underbelly of the Tories’ claims that their reforms are raising standards by pointing out that their neglect has led to the current teacher recruitment challenge and the shortage of school places which, combined with cuts to funding (especially for post 16), represent real threats to any progress being made.

To take just the first of those issues, we cannot hope to sustain a high quality education system if its foot soldiers are deserting the trenches and its potential new recruits are ignoring the call to serve. This is the corner of the battlefield upon which Powell should firmly plant her flag before inviting the profession to rally to it. The recruitment crisis is the result of a toxic brew of factors: an improving economy offering broader opportunities for graduates;  the squeeze on teachers’ pay; onerous workloads and suffocating accountability procedures. Finding the right policy mix to address this will, in the words of everyone’s favourite Beatle, take patience and time (and a whole lotta spending money, perhaps). More of this forensic identification of the Tories’ false promises will demonstrate that Labour wants to address the big issues that the government is currently fudging.

However, a big frustration for me was that the most headline-grabbing part of the speech was Powell’s announcement that there would be no new free schools under Labour. Perhaps it is too much to hope that a Labour government not run by Tony Blair would back a concept such as free schools, or that the exigencies of political positioning did not necessitate the renunciation of a flagship Tory policy in her first big set piece speech.

What Powell hinted at was an alternative mechanism that would see Local Authorities’ power to open schools restored (at the moment they have to tender for free school providers to open a school on their behalf if they need a new school in their area). This is sensible, though closing off the possibility of passionate groups opening innovative new schools such as School 21, Kings Leadership Academy or Michaela Community School through a central approval mechanism risks choking off potentially transformative new ideas before they see the light of day.

It seems this rehabilitation of Local Authorities would also see academies made accountable to them and LAs given the power to intervene in any school if it is deemed to be failing. Whilst uncontroversial in principle, the danger here for Powell is that she succumbs to the siren voices of the edu-Left that fetishise Local Authorities as the guardians of children’s and parents’ interests because of their supposed democratic accountability. Those who do so are just as wrong-headed as the Tories who insist that academisation is a panacea. For every Tower Hamlets and Trafford there’s an Isle of Wight and a Knowsley; just as for every Ark and Harris, there’s an E-Act and a Grace.

Hopefully, Powell’s desire to resuscitate Local Authorities is an attempt to restore balance to the structural landscape of England’s school system and not a bid to turn the clock back 25 years to the days of local monopolies on the supply of schooling. Part two will address this in further detail.

#WomenEd | @BLC_Head34

IMG_0194Keziah is Headteacher of the all-through Bridge Learning Campus in Bristol. She is also part of the #WomenEd Steering Group, who held their inaugural Unconference this weekend in London. Her daughter attends her all-through school.

Being part of the Labour Party has always been important to me. I was a teenager during the Miners’ Strike and Labour were the party of compassion and common-sense. Thus, at the core of my politics is equality and the importance providing a platform and to find solutions to address society’s ills.

At University I was the NUS Women’s Officer and spent a good deal of my time fending off jokey comments about why there wasn’t a Men’s Officer. To be honest, I’ve been having the same arguments since becoming part of the WomenEd Steering Group. In secondary schools 62% of qualified teachers are women and yet only 36% of headteachers are women; this is a statistic that has not changed nationally for the past three years. Women make up only 25% of professors in our universities. This is something that clearly needs addressing and in my privileged position of Headteacher I thought I owed it to the next generation of women to help make their path into and through leadership fairer and easier than mine had been.

This does not suggest that I am fine with other groups of educators that are underrepresented in leadership positions. I will stand with my colleagues and comrades in any struggle against inequality; but women in leadership is something I have first-hand experience of.

Ahead of our inaugural Unconference this weekend we wrote to Nicky Morgan calling on her to “set up an expert panel to immediately address these concerns and provide solutions that can ensure that every innovative, inspirational and encouraging woman can progress into leadership in the same way that her male counterpart can.” The letter, turned petition, was featured in the Guardian’s Education pages but a week later it had amassed only 104 signatures. Really? Is that all?

This weekend’s Unconference was a wild stab in the dark! Forty contributors, two hundred in attendance, we hoped we’d put something on to appeal to everyone. Not everyone would have found every session to their liking, but that is impossible to achieve. The vast majority of delegates that attended were incredibly positive but it is not the day that will matter – nor the subsequent days over the coming months and years. It is whether it will make a difference – and this will only be achieved through the solidarity of all in the profession, regardless of gender or level of leadership. Simply, children and their teachers need the best leaders available.

What I Learnt from the Labour Women’s Conference | @ZBrownie

image (1) Zoe Brown is an Assistant Head Teacher in East London and a member of the Labour Party. 

I spend a lot of time talking, thinking and writing about politics. I follow it the way others follow football, X-Factor or Great British Bake Off. So it is no understatement to say the Women’s Conference last week was one of my best days of 2015. It was a real privilege to meet so many inspirational, like-minded women. A week has passed and my post-conference buzz has just about worn off. So here is what I learnt the day on the day my Twitter feed came to life:

1) No Name Calling

For some party members coming face-to-face with a Corbyn voter must feel like bumping into an ex: stressful, painful and incredibly awkward. Equally for others, those that voted Kendall represent Labour betraying their roots. These tensions have been bubbling all Summer and came to ahead with the election of Jeremy Corbyn earlier this month. Whilst Mr Corbyn himself doesn’t do personal attacks, some of his supporters most definitely do. Twitter is littered with insults and abusive messages being flung back and forth. I was worried how this would manifest at a whole party event. Would the Corbynites be pelting Kendall’s 4.5% with cake? Would Cooper supporters heckle Burnham voters in the open mic session?

It is with a huge amount of relief that I can report that there was no evidence of tension at the Women’s Conference. If anything, it was a hugely supportive and respectful environment which was particularly welcome of newcomers. In her address to the conference, Harriet Harman called for mutual respect and support between new members and longstanding members. This very much set the tone for the rest of the day and all of my encounters were very positve. Paloma Faith’s “Never Tear Us Apart” was pretty much played on a loop all day in case any of use were unsure of the key message.

2) We need to get politics into schools

I wish I could remember the person that first raised this issue in the open mic session because it really resonated with me. How do we engage young people in politics? How do we convince them that it is not about men in grey suits shouting things at one another but about them and their lives? Obviously this isn’t ALL teenagers. With the work of Abby Tomlinson, Stella Creasy, the rise of Corbyn and role of social media in politics, more young people have been inspired to get involved. But we need to do more. We need to get politics into schools. I’ve been thinking this might be something I want to work on in the next few years: stepping out of teaching and creating a program that takes politics into Primary schools.

I ran a mock election with my Year 3 class last year – they had to create their own manifestos that addressed: immigration, tax, education, health and justice. These children were 7 years old but they understood these concepts and their ideas blew me away (although I’m not suggesting the government introduced an “I’m Sorry” tax for criminals like one group of children suggested.) I hear too many people say they “don’t know enough” to get involved with politics. I want the next generation to know that by having job, paying tax, using the NHS or going to school they absolutely DO know enough to have an opinion on how the country should be run.

3) That the women in our party are amazing

The conference confirmed something I already know: there are some incredible women in politics at the moment and the conference was a fantastic opportunity to meet women working at both a local and nation level (can I post my selfie with Yvette Cooper yet?) Labour has more female MPs than the other main parties put together but there is still more work to do. Stella Creasy raised the issue of the lack of woman in some CLPs and asked the party to consider how they will address this. I joined the Labour Women’s Network on the day – they provide training and support for women running for public office which is fantastic but I only found out about it last week and I consider myself far more engaged in politics than the average person.

4) Men allowed

A few people have asked my why there is a Women’s Conference and it’s a very good question. Some members of the Conservative Party (well, mainly Louise Mensch) have used the Women’s Conference to accuse Labour of segregation and sexism. I found out on the day that men ARE invited to attend the conference and it’s called the Women’s Conference because it deals with issues that affect women not because only women can attend. Obviously women’s issues are dealt with in the main conference too but I do wonder if in time the two will just merge.

5) Our party is amazing

Jess Phillips described the feeling as “warm and fuzzy” and that’s exactly how I felt as I took the long train diverted train journey back to London on Sunday. For better or worse our party is entering a new era and it is essential that we stay united. The Labour Party aren’t perfect but I feel so proud of everything we have achieved to date: introduction of the minimum wage, paid maternity leave, the NHS, the welfare state and so many things that we now take for granted. All of these things were fought for at one point and it was our party that fought for them. That is reason to feel very proud.

Faith Seeking Understanding | @mrpepperrs

Rob PRobert is a teacher of religious studies and deputy head of sixth form at a selective state school. He is also Youth Officer of his local CLP.

My constituency is classed as ‘ultra safe’ by, who also declare that the average UK voter has almost 5 times more voting power than those who live within its boundaries. This calculation is based upon how likely the seat is to change hands in an election. Although the constituency is relatively new, it is also blue. Very blue. As its antecedents were. And so, in all likelihood, it shall remain for many years hence. To compound this dispiriting circumstance, it is also one of the largest constituencies in England. It is more than fifty miles across, and those miles are literally up hill and down dale. To be a Labour activist in this part of the world is to risk ridicule. It is the calling of the arch idealist, or the lunatic. Those of us involved in the CLP are political alchemists, held together by a sense of duty and some, unquenchable, residual, hope. It is perhaps not a surprise that many of the members are teachers.

I have only recently joined. I spent the night of the general election staring blankly at the television as the political landscape of my country changed for the worse. I had done nothing to secure a Labour victory, and my despair was tinged with guilt. I pledged to join the CLP, and I was not alone: our membership has doubled since that night in May.

Two weeks ago I covered a few miles of Conservative ground handing out leaflets, inviting local residents to a Labour meeting. I managed to avoid an assortment of over-protective and under-exercised dogs, and I was heckled by an elderly southern woman who told me the Labour party was not welcome in ‘these parts’ (a council estate in the north of England). But I was mostly ignored, which, I suppose, is the best way to deal with harmless eccentrics.

Today we held that meeting, in a cold Methodist church in a handsome and affluent village. About 20 new people came to see us, which was a fantastic success. All were comfortably middle-aged, many were pensioners. There was talk of renewal and rejuvenation. Most had joined the party since the general election, some had joined in the last week since Corbyn was elected. But the over-riding attitude was of confusion and anxiety. No one is sure whether the Labour party of Corbyn is the one they longed for, or something radical and unelectable. Would the party split? What should we make of those in the parliamentary party who have refused to sit in the cabinet? Is Corbyn being isolated from the start?

As I sat under the shadow of the lectern, I thought about writing this blog. Since the relaunch, I have written twice for Labour Teachers. My first article aimed to question the insular thinking of political parties, who falsely believe that their members are representative of the electorate and share the same concerns. My second article urged those with a vote in the leadership election to think pragmatically when selecting the leader. An ideologically pure candidate who allowed five more years of Conservative rule was much worse than someone who knew that compromise was essential to get things done. This article is the third in the triptych. The first two were ignored, and the consequence is Corbyn.

The meeting I was at today is not representative, of course. Corbyn’s success is not contingent on winning over the socially conscious denizens of rural North Yorkshire. He must win the vote of the youth, and of the cities, and of the ‘floaters’. However, the challenges he faces are almost insurmountable. Even the idealistic political exiles in the moors can see them. My thoughts turned to how we would fare in Corbyn’s Labour party. When we knock on doors, will the voters be more likely to listen to us because they empathise with our leader? Will our party be able to present a united front, when spear-headed by a notorious rebel? Can people really imagine a prime minister who doesn’t sing the national anthem?

I don’t speak for anyone at my CLP: these views are my own. But to counter the prevailing excitement about Corbyn, I doubt whether he has made my job any easier. I also doubt whether he will be able to successfully solve the problems that face him. That being said, I wish to play no part in a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have a leader now, and we must back him. We must stay united as we have but one simple aim: to win power at the next election, and Jeremy will need all our help to do this. Perhaps all our CLP meetings should take place in a church.

HMCI, squirrels and some home truths | @lisaharford1

IMG_0375Lisa is a primary teacher and former deputy head teacher in Cambridgeshire. She has particular education interests in mentoring and coaching, EYFS and gender.

Comments made at Select Committee recently by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Michael Wilshaw, about the high numbers of young teachers leaving the profession have been identified by some as being overly defensive of his ‘not so loved organisation’. For me, his words rang the bells of truth! HMCI is right and I acknowledge the accuracy of his words in calling to account the profession’s responsibility for its newest recruits.

Stats vary, but we are looking at somewhere between 25%-40% of young teachers leaving their posts in the first five years. Sir Michael disputed the idea that this exodus is about fear of Ofsted and that it has more to do with a young teacher’s daily struggle with the behaviour issues of pupils and the unsupportive nature of headteachers in the schools where they work.

Now I know HMCI has a very particular viewpoint on both behaviour issues and the role of Heads, but it seems wholly plausible that new teachers might be concerned with the daily struggle to maintain discipline with their classes. Similarly, when new teachers are faced with issues causing them concern, the lack of quality support from Senior Leadership can be a contributory factor to feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and subsequent resignation. I would also hazard a guess that workload issues go some way to explaining the high attrition rates we see. All these things seem to me to have a significance way beyond the spectre of a couple of inspectors turning up every three to four years. I have mentored NQTs throughout my career and when I see them struggling and uncertain, doubting themselves and unsure of their next step I have yet to get a reply from one which indicates the ‘Big O’ is the problem! Their concerns are in the here and now. Their problems stem from the rewarding but demanding job they have chosen to do.

There is no doubt that the concerns of new teachers need addressing and fast. The people who work with them in schools are best placed to tackle and address them and we should accept the responsibility for doing so. An ATL survey published in March this year, found heavy workload, feeling under-valued, constant changes and challenging behaviour from students as the top reasons given for NQTs leaving the profession. Ofsted did not even get a mention in the top five. The same survey identified work with young people, the variety of the job, the fun of teaching, being inspired by former teachers and a love of their subject as reasons for choosing the career in the first place.

HMCI’s reference to ‘bright eyed, bushy tailed’ young teachers although rather jarring and conjuring up images of squirrels, made me feel even more protective towards our NQTs than usual. Young teachers have hopes and dreams and a desire to make a difference to the lives of pupils. These are the fundamental drivers that got us into the profession in the first place, unless of course you were seduced solely by the idea of long holidays! I believe we have a duty to keep those feelings positive and purposeful in schools and to try to mediate and reduce some of the issues causing concern. We all know the culture and ethos prevalent in schools are crucial, and whilst Heads should ensure that they support NQTs, we should also recognise that schools are made up of amazingly talented teachers who are able to offer a combined skill set that one Head alone could never possess. High quality, trained mentors should be in place to support NQTs but that isn’t enough. Experienced teachers need to offer their expertise, challenge and reflective skills in support of new teachers wherever and whenever they can. A quiet word of support in how a pupil has been handled can work wonders. At another time, professional dialogue questioning the merits of ability grouping may spark a classroom revolution! The African proverb says that it takes a whole village to raise a child. I believe it takes a whole school to nurture, support and develop a new teacher. Let’s stop using Ofsted as an excuse and set about supporting young teachers, keeping them in the profession for as long as we can.

Advice For New Bloggers on @LabourTeachers

The general advice for writing for us can be find in the links here. However, I have come to realise that there may be some advice particularly relevant to people who are new to blogging or new to political blogging that I should share, and I apologise for not doing so sooner.

The first thing to realise is that everything you write on a blog is available to the public. If you wouldn’t want your current (or future) employers or your students’ parents to read it, don’t publish it under your own name. There is no shame in using another name or using a picture you can’t be identified in. For instance, while my real name is no longer a secret, it is not “Andrew Old”, and while I have no problem with people who read my blogs knowing who I am, I wouldn’t necessarily want everyone who knows me to read my blogs. That little difference in changing a name does help maintain some boundaries and I have never yet been told by a colleague or student that they recognise me from my online life. Many teachers don’t use their actual surname on facebook for the exact same reasons.

The second thing to realise is that politics is controversial and adversarial. One of the greatest signposts that you have made it as a blogger is if people want to write blogs and comments responding to you. If they are Labour supporting teachers they might well want to write the response on Labour Teachers, and I love to publish such responses. However, if they don’t, and they respond on their own blogs or on Twitter then neither I nor anyone else can control what is said. Please be aware that there is very little you can do about that, and if you don’t want your name, picture, a direct quotation or your job title to appear in a critical blogpost you should avoid putting them in the original post.

There are, of course, things you can do to encourage more constructive responses. Here is my guide for keeping the argument sensible:

  • Ask me for advice if you are not sure about the likely response. I haven’t always responded to such queries in the past (sorry) but I will try to do so in the future.
  • If expressing an opinion try to back it up with an argument. When people have no argument to address, they are more likely to respond in a personal or critical, rather than constructive way. If you really don’t have room for the argument, because it’s something you mentioned in passing, try linking to another article or blog that does make the argument.
  • Ask yourself who is likely to disagree, and consider whether the way you have phrased the point is likely to make them take it personally. I don’t like to cut out every claim that people who agree with a particular point are “right wing” or bonkers” but if you make such claims then you cannot expect a response that’s designed to protect your feelings.
  • Be careful about using humour or irony that people won’t get.
  • If you don’t want people talking about you personally in their arguments, don’t talk about yourself in your arguments. This is actually one of the best reasons for anonymous blogging.

Thirdly, do be aware that my priority on Labour Teachers is to keep debate going and to keep it open. I avoid editing content rather than spelling and grammar, and only make occasional suggestions if I think a particular phrase may obscure a point, or get an undesired response. I’m neither quality control nor a bodyguard. So if you aren’t sure about a post, please ask me directly what I think; you may also want to run it past some like-minded friends.

Finally, please be aware that debate is a good thing. It is good to be challenged. It is good to read things you don’t agree with. It is more than good to have your blogs widely shared by people who disagree with them. It is what we are here for. Please join the debate, but please be aware that it is debate that you have signed up for.


If Jeremy Corbyn was a Headteacher | @kevbartle

SubstandardFullSizeRender (1)Keven Bartle is the Headteacher of Canons High School in Edgware, NW London, which is a Teaching School as part of the Canons Park Alliance. He is a lifelong Labour supporter from one of the few remaining bastions of Labour support, the North East. He tweets as @kevbartle, blogs here and does so in very much a personal capacity.

Watching the furore surrounding the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party and the tumultuous first week he has had in that role, it got me thinking about my own feisty first weeks as Headteacher a year ago. By extension, that got me wondering how his current challenges might compare to that of a newly-appointed Headteacher.

The first, and most obvious, contrast to draw would be the notion that the mythical Headteacher Corbyn finds himself in the role having never held a position on an SLT, nor even as a Head of Department or other middle leader. That’s a big leap to make. Suddenly he finds himself responsible not just for the policies he enacts, but for the finances, the media relations, the links with other Headteachers, and a myriad of other logistically and legally labrythine structures and systems that come as part of the job.

Added to that, Headteacher Jeremy has had to contend with the sudden and en masse resignation of many of his leadership team and key middle leaders, necessitating the need for him to appoint a significant number of others who, like him, have held virtually no leadership responsibilities. Some of these are colleagues fresh out of their NQT year, and all have to acquaint themselves rapidly with their respective briefs in a school that is, at best, requires improvement. And although a full Ofsted inspection lies a distant five years away, there will be masses of monitoring visits to contend with, some of which are imminent (not least of which is whether to remain within the local authority of the EU, or to go it alone as an academy).

Not at all unexpectedly, the former Headteachers Blair and Brown (with whom Headteacher Corbyn had a distinctly uneasy relationship – they would happily have hoisted him ‘off the bus’) have used their influence with staff and parents to undermine his proposed vision for the school, arguing that it will undo all their reforms from the National Strategies era: incessant target-setting and rigorous monitoring in particular.

Of course, the local media have picked up on this and are enjoying playing to gallery of parents’ fears that a movement from a standards agenda to one rooted in values will, by necessity, see a further decline in standards. They would rather see the Labour Comprehensive swallow ever more of the medicine/koolaid and deepen their dependency on it. After all, if the Tory Academy down the road has done so well taking that tonic then it must be working, right?

Most notable about Headteacher Jeremy’s mandate is the fact that his success was not the result of SLT and Governor deliberations, but the now-so-obvious outcome of a deliciously democratic staffroom ballot.  Fed up of years (nay decades) of learning walks, book scrutinies, graded observations, mockable mocksteds, inauthentic consultations and dreaded diktats, the newly-empowered educators finally had an opportunity to vote with their hands rather than their feet, and boy did they do so!

And the outcomes of this seemingly-outlandish appointment so far?  Pupil numbers are significantly up already, arresting the sharply declining roll that was the product of the perceived purposelessness of the previous pedagogies under the aforementioned erstwhile Heads, and there is a strong (if still amorphous) vision being formed that threatens to inspire and despair in almost equal measure.

But if a week is a long time in education (as in politics), five years is almost an eternity. Headteacher Corbyn needs to back up his virtuous vision and romantic rhetoric with promising policies and resounding results (and not only in terms of pupil outcomes, although he must know that that is a given). He needs to mobilise those who entrusted him in this role, but also win over those who didn’t by building upon their strengths: a big tent rather than a big bus approach is necessary and would do more to set him apart from his predecessors than anything else he does.

Within two years he needs to have the Labour Comprehensive humming with a vibrant and potent energy if he is to have any hope of leading a magnificent MAT (as opposed to the charity-less Chain that currently dominates the educational and social landscape of this borough) by 2020. Whether he sings along to the words of the school hymn as he does so is utterly irrelevant.

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: Last Week’s Posts on @LabourTeachers (26th September-2nd October 2015)

MiniBlogsWeekHere’s last week’s posts. You may have noticed that there’s a lot of them, as it was Mini-Blogs Week and we tried to publish 3 short posts a day (failing only once). Thanks to everyone who contributed, particularly first timers and those who contributed two posts.


MINI-BLOGS WEEK begins on @LabourTeachers

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: Losers in the brave new Ebacc | @JulesDaulby

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: A Huge Disparity | @FergusonMr1


MINI-BLOGS WEEK: What I want from Labour | @MichaelT1979

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: Ofsted’s Domestic Violence | @LeeDonaghy

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: Spruiking Schools | @FlyMyGeekFlag


MINI-BLOGS WEEK: The Private Schools Debate | @DoWise

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: Ulysses | @mcallister1

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: The “Shift Happens” video | @AislingM87


MINI-BLOGS WEEK: How Can Further Education Colleges Cope? | @gwenelope

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: A Report From Women’s Conference | @lisaharford1

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: The Tradgressives | @Oldprimaryhead1


MINI-BLOGS WEEK: How Labour won the biggest education argument | @LeeDonaghy

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: A New Member Writes | @danielharvey9


MINI-BLOGS WEEK: The Devil’s in the Detail | @JulesDaulby

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: Give Teachers A Voice | @travelgeordie

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: Teacher Retention | @NussbaumSimon


MINI-BLOGS WEEK: Chekhov’s Gun | @JamesTheo

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: Inspiring Women To Leadership | @thinshadow

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: A Warning About Expanding Multi-Academy Trusts | @BrianRDickinson

If you are a Labour supporting teacher and you’d like to write something for us, please get in touch (but remember it’s back to 700 words with a picture now).

Also, please get in touch if you have an idea for the next “off-schedule” week. Remember the point of such weeks is not to give a theme to the week (we can do that any time) but to break the usual rules of the site about who can post or what the style or content of the posts is. I’d love to do a “video blogs” week but it will be hard to get 7 contributions. I wonder about whether it’s possible to do an “international week” where the contributions come from teachers overseas. Perhaps a week of interviews might be possible. Or perhaps it would be possible to have a guest editor week where somebody else chooses or chases up the posts. If you think you could help with any of these ideas, or you have a better idea, please let me know.


MINI-BLOGS WEEK: A Warning About Expanding Multi-Academy Trusts | @BrianRDickinson

MiniBlogsWeekBrian Dickinson is a former History and Sociology teacher but is now a part time Sixth Form College Lecturer.

A recent submission to the Education Select Committee has warned the government that forcing schools to become academy’s prevent Multi Academy Trusts from helping failing schools to improve. In his report to the committee, Joe Nutt reported that he worked with TKAT back in 2012 and warned them against increasing the number of schools they take on

without compromising their ability to improve schools that joined the trust, and taking into account their already wide geographical spread.

When he returned earlier in 2015 he discovered they had increased the number of academies to 41:

“One reason was that they had been under pressure from the RSC to take on specific failing schools, even schools as distant as Cornwall and Manchester. In 2015, at 41 schools, their capacity to deliver improved standards in all their schools was now being seriously questioned by the department and by Ofsted”

He has warned that Academy Trusts, the Department of Education and Ofsted need to reconsider they way they measure improvements. During his time with TKAT Joe Nutt found that:

“At present many teachers regard such measurements as externally imposed, peripheral to their real work and divorced from the children they teach.”

He  also observed that:

“In 2012, I also cautioned the trust that the changes they were implementing would create a high risk around teacher cheating, and I made recommendations to mitigate this. After revisiting them in 2015 I still believe this to be a major risk, and one that is seriously underestimated at a national level.”

MINI-BLOGS WEEK: Inspiring Women To Leadership | @thinshadow

MiniBlogsWeekRodney Reid is a primary Deputy Head teacher and has 20 years’ experience working in behaviour, supporting children; young people and families.

Hanging on the wall in front of me I have a large framed picture of my teenage daughter holding a banner saying ‘I Am A Feminist’. Having re-joined the Labour Party, it is only now I understand my return.  My membership lapsed, in line with the lacklustre leadership of recent years and the infighting between supporters of established clans. However, intrigue pulled me back; I wanted to have my say. I wanted to force its direction. Ultimately, I wanted the Labour Party to be led by strong women who could and would stand up for those less fortunate. I had pinned my hopes and votes on two specific candidates, Yvette Cooper and Caroline Flint, leading the Party thus giving it a different dimension. After the Labour Party Conference this week, I can see it has another dimension. Jeremy Corbyn ‘The Wise’ is now leading the Party, so I guess it is different.

Being the father of a teenage daughter I realise my comments and actions are measured and stored to be used by her, in how she will see the world around her. I want her to be confident, strong and successful.  I want her to aspire to be like the women around her, in positions of leadership. I don’t mean being a head teacher (not that this is a bad thing!) but I wanted, with my vote, to create alternative avenues for her to consider. Unfortunately this isn’t the case now, but maybe it will be her generation that breaks the hold and moulds the future female leadership of the Labour Party.