Here’s last week’s posts. If you are a Labour supporting teacher and you’d like to write something for us, please get in touch.
Halfway through their last term in government, the centre-right Liberal-National Coalition government in Australia ditched its leader, Tony Abbott. Abbot had become increasingly unpopular. The media ran with his personal qualities and choices such as his decision to award a knighthood to Prince Phillip – roundly derided from even within his own party – and his awful, cringe-making public comments such as when he threatened to ‘shirt-front’ Vladimir Putin. Yet there was a policy angle. The 2014 budget was a complete disaster. It was ostensibly an attempt to get the public accounts back on track and reduce the deficit but the opposition Australian Labor Party were able to paint it as an inequitable. Instead of taxing the rich by, for instance, removing some of the tax breaks on large pension pots, the coalition had chosen to introduce measures such as the GP co-payment and the deregulation of university tuition fees.
This week the NEC put an embargo on branches holding meetings (with a very few exceptions). We are told that this may have been an attempt to calm down the rather febrile atmosphere in some parts of the party. I understand that, but the effect in my constituency Labour party (with more than 4500 members) was to force the cancellation of our AGM. Our party officers had put in a huge effort and were told on the morning of the ruling to call the meeting off. I extend my sympathies to all those who had worked so hard and were naturally upset.
We are all a blend of different faces. What defines us, on this blog, is that we are educators and we are part of the very broad church of Labour. A church that currently stretches from Jeremy Corbyn to Tony Blair- but who knows how long that will last? Teacher and Labour is the point where the circles of our venn diagrams intersect.
There’s something that I found out a few weeks ago that’s been churning around in my brain. Something that absolutely shocked me, even when logically I shouldn’t have been shocked at all. No, it’s not that we have a new chair of Ofsted, Secretary of State for Education or even Shadow SoS (we do have one, right? I’m genuinely not sure as I write that). It’s that an NQT is legitimately the single most expensive member of staff in the school, outside of the Senior Leadership Team.
Recently I was sat with four bright young Teach First teachers, their mentors and my Executive Principal. Beforehand the notes I scribbled covered a positive message telling them they are about the enter the best profession there is, how they will change lives and how there will be good days and bad days, the usual, and wholly true, script.
For a teacher my age (early 30s), it’s hard to imagine a school functioning without the ability to email. But it did happen. Schools ran perfectly well for many many years without the constant contact (or distraction, depending on your view) of the email. Now I know you could say that about a lot of things; schools functioned without the internet but few would say that internet use at schools hasn’t enhanced how schools run. Have emails done the same? I have a few issues with the constant email contact culture in schools. Firstly it’s the merging of teaching with an office job. It isn’t. The more time spent in front of a screen is less time spent in front of eager young learners; this must be wrong. How often do you hear “Did you get my email?”. Err, well no actually. I was teaching a year 9 class. The disdain sometimes exuded when you haven’t had the chance to read an email between the hours of 9am-3pm is palpable. The bigger question is surely sometimes, why haven’t you been teaching, marking or preparing instead of emailing all day?