Stand up for your employment rights | @FlyMyGeekFlag

flymygeekflag profile picSarah Bedwell is an Aussie teaching English and other things in the north west of England. She loves using technology in new ways to engage and excite learning, though she does believe in pedagogy before technology. Sarah is currently the ‘Lead Learner for Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Learning’ – otherwise known as an eLearning Coordinator.

The NUT’s ballot for action in relation the recent White Paper: Educational Excellence Everywhere closes on Wednesday. Papers need to be received by first post that morning if they are to be counted. If you haven’t yet returned your ballot, please consider the following.

There are two aspects to this campaign: the political and the legal. To be a valid trade union dispute, the ballot needs to relate specifically to members’ pay and conditions. The political campaign is based on the fight against compulsory academisation. This is important if the ballot is successful and strike action is called. In the recent sixth form college dispute, the government challenged the action in the High Court. One of their arguments used to attempt to stop the strike was that members were clearly indicating that they were taking action to protect their students and as part of the #standup4edu campaign. Yes, you read that correctly. The government produced thousands of copies of social media posts in which members had explained that they were taking action because what was happening to funding in sixth form colleges was having a detrimental effect on their students. This, according to the government, is not what teachers should be concerned with.

Therefore, the fight against forced academisation remains a political argument. Every day we see stories in the press about mismanagement of academy funds such as this, sponsors losing control of academies, and even Sir Michael Wilshaw has taken to criticising multi academy trusts. Given the millions, if not billions, spent on converting local authority schools to academies, there are serious concerns over the forced academisation plans and the NUT will continue to campaign strongly against it, even though it is not the focus of the current ballot.

The trade union dispute on which the ballot is based is intrinsically linked to the political campaign. If all schools become academies, whether they are standalone or as part of multi academy trusts of varying sizes (there is disagreement about the most effective size of MATs, which makes you wonder why moving from an LA to a MAT will make a difference), then pay and conditions will be impacted. We will no longer be in a situation where pay scales are negotiated nationally; each academy or MAT will offer their own. Working conditions such as directed time – currently 1265 hours per year – and rarely cover will likely become a thing of the past. Pay portability, which still exists in most areas, will disappear. Employment rights including maternity and paternity pay will revert back to statutory. Even the length of the school year can be altered by the boards of academies.

Teachers in LA schools have the protection of the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document and the Burgundy Book. You might not have seen these two documents previously, but they lay out pay and conditions for teachers in LA schools – PPA time, TLR requirements – even the minimum length of breaks during the school day. It’s not to say that all academies and MATs are run by bad people who want to take away your pay and conditions – but it can and does happen. It might be a little bit here and a little bit there – extending the school day by half an hour (which adds nearly 100 hours to the school year), removing rarely cover so that your PPA time is no longer protected – but over time your pay and conditions can be eroded until they no longer resemble what you started with. Without the benefit of being able to negotiate this on a national scale, teachers are disenfranchised and forced to fight on a case-by-case basis for what was previously an employment right under LA control.

If you haven’t yet watched this video, take a few minutes to do so and then consider which way you’ll vote. Irrespective of which way you choose to vote, please make sure that you return your ballot paper on time.

Last Week’s Posts on @LabourTeachers (Week Ending 18th June 2016)

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.

Sunday

School leadership can teach the party some things – the sequel | @RosMcM

A few weeks ago I wrote a short blog for this site on the topic “School leadership can teach the party some things” and got a piece of feedback that it was good apart from the last paragraph. I agreed absolutely – I got a bit sick of it and rushed to finish – so I committed to do a part two.

Monday

Blue sky thinking | @DebLFisher

In my last DET class we had to create a “blue sky” action plan of what we would like to be able to achieve as teachers. I was feeling particularly cynical on the day.

Tuesday

Yes, Another Europe Is Possible | @doktordunc

Supporters of so-called “lexit” have been sharing this article by Professor Nicol: Danny Nicol: Is Another Europe possible?

I agree with an awful lot of what Professor Nicol has to say. As Tony Benn famously argued, the EU has capitalism written into its constitution; it does, and this makes another Europe very difficult.

Wednesday

Consultation time again | @srcav

Is it cynical of me to question the DfE’s repeated tactic of releasing consultations either just before the summer, when most teachers are in the midst of high stakes exam testing, or over the summer when a lot of teachers are either away or spending time catching up with their families who they haven’t seen through the heavy term time?

Thursday

A Tragic Day | @oldandrewuk

Like most people I was shocked by the murder of Labour MP, Jo Cox, earlier today. My thoughts are with her family at this time. I was not familiar with her before today, (although it was all brought closer to home when I realised her husband Brendan was somebody I knew back when I was in Labour Students and, if I’ve remembered correctly, was also at school with me). However, I have been incredibly impressed by what I’ve now learnt about her dedication and service to her constituency and she is a great loss to the party and to the country.

Friday

Why voting to remain in EU is important | @RosMcM

I seem to have gone through a variety of attitudes to this “referendum stupido” as I describe it to my Italian friends.

At first I was cross that we would have to put up with endless EU stuff on the political programmes and podcasts which I am addicted to; cross that we are suffering it purely because it is Cameron’s way of managing the loopier elements of his party from going UKIP; cross that it would keep much more important issues out of the spotlight, and cross it would unleash and legitimise the little Englanders and racists.

 

Why voting to remain in EU is important | @RosMcM

JpegAfter 31 years of teaching, 15 of them as firstly  Headteacher, then Principal, and latterly as Executive Principal and CEO of an Academy Trust, Ros is now working independently in the sector. (Note: This was written a couple of days ago and none of the comments refer to yesterday’s events.)

I seem to have gone through a variety of attitudes to this “referendum stupido” as I describe it to my Italian friends.

At first I was cross that we would have to put up with endless EU stuff on the political programmes and podcasts which I am addicted to; cross that we are suffering it purely because it is Cameron’s way of managing the loopier elements of his party from going UKIP; cross that it would keep much more important issues out of the spotlight, and cross it would unleash and legitimise the little Englanders and racists.

Well that all happened.

I never expected it to get interesting. It was an obvious no-brainer: on the one hand Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling (the no books for prisoners man) with their overseas friends Donald Trump, Le Penn and Putin; on the other hand just about everyone, with overseas friends of the Pope and Obama.

To be honest I’m not a referenda fan anyway: smacks a bit like the head asking for a staffroom vote on a matter of real strategic importance. We elect leaders and we pay leaders to take the difficult decisions, not to abdicate responsibility. We all know why there has (absolutely correctly) never been a referendum on capital punishment. Remember the cartoon of the crowd being followed by “the leader” proclaiming “where are my people going? I need to lead them” – well, that is pretty much how I see referenda.

And now – what a mess! People who are normally quite sensible seem to think this is a vote about whether they are happy with how politics (including, but not exclusively, the EU) works; a way of “sending government a message”. The Remain Campaign (maybe taking a leaf out of the Brexiters book) are dealing with complex issues in simplistic ways and attempting to use fear.

So now I am beginning to feel very concerned that sensible strategic compromise is being replaced with emotional claptrap. And this was so predictable – whatever happens Cameron will never be forgiven for putting his country at risk.

Of course we should remain – not because it is perfect, but because mechanisms for working together are always preferable. Some idiot commentators reflected that Obama had a nerve as he would never put up with such a lack of sovereignty. Let’s all just think about that for a moment. The individual states in America are widely diverse with distinct tradition and culture – some of which is offensive and hard to understand. Obama is so frustrated at his inability to deal with guns he sheds tears in public; however, the preference is to stay as the United States, presumably because the alternative is unthinkable. Sometimes compromising on things we feel passionately about is just necessary because the alternatives are worse.

Our world is small and becoming smaller all the time; it has never been more important to prevent war, work with other countries and concentrate on aspects which unite us.

Britain leaving the EU would have consequences; the far right in other countries would be quick to follow suit and we might perhaps like to reflect that peace in Europe has not been the norm throughout history.

All the ridiculous little Englander emotions of “wanting to be in charge of our own futures” completely miss the point that this is no longer how the world works; we need to maintain, improve and grow all alliances if we want to have influence in our world. Imagine waking up on June 24th to find world news reporting:

“Britain has voted to come out of the European Union. The dominant issue was immigration. Le Penn is campaigning for a referendum for the French people on their continuing membership of the EU. Donald Trump congratulates the British public saying this is a victory for the ordinary man.”

Now that should make us all very afraid.

A Tragic Day | @oldandrewuk

Andrew is a teacher and editor of Labour Teachers (and writing in a personal capacity). 

Like most people I was shocked by the murder of Labour MP, Jo Cox, earlier today. My thoughts are with her family at this time. I was not familiar with her before today, (although it was all brought closer to home when I realised her husband Brendan was somebody I knew back when I was in Labour Students and, if I’ve remembered correctly, was also at school with me). However, I have been incredibly impressed by what I’ve now learnt about her dedication and service to her constituency and she is a great loss to the party and to the country.

I hope that we can stay focused on the human cost of the tragedy, and that no political points are made from it as the details of what happened are established. If we must learn anything political from it, then it should simply be that politicians are human beings with lives and families and that hatred or anger at them can only be harmful.

I also hope that this tragedy does not change the willingness of MPs to go out and meet their constituents. One of the first things you learn as a an activist in a British political party is how accessible our politicians are – how easy it is to get in touch with MPs or even ministers if you need to. It would only add to the tragedy if this were to change in response to such an unusual and tragic event.

I’ll finish by quoting from the statement from her husband that was released earlier:

Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.

She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.

Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.

 

Consultation time again | @srcav

cavStephen Cavadino is a maths teacher (and fanatic) from Leeds. He is a member of the Labour party. You can read of his musings on maths, teaching and life at cavmaths.wordpress.com . When he isn’t teaching; writing about, or doing maths he spends the majority of his time with his family, watching rugby (both codes) and playing guitar.

Is it cynical of me to question the DfE’s repeated tactic of releasing consultations either just before the summer, when most teachers are in the midst of high stakes exam testing, or over the summer when a lot of teachers are either away or spending time catching up with their families who they haven’t seen through the heavy term time?

Anyway, this year they have released another one. It focusses around the new GCSEs, and more specifically the awarding of grades. The consultation states that for the first award there will be a heavier reliance on statistical methods to set the grade boundaries, allowing the same proportion of grade 4s as we currently have of grade Cs, likewise similar proportions of 1s to Gs and of 7s to As. The rest will be split arithmetically ie the boundaries in between will be equally spread. From Year 2 onwards it will revert back to examiner judgement, but use the statistical analysis as a guide as well as the national reference tests.

This immediately raises questions – how do we know that the first year to sit it should have a similar proportion of 4s as Cs? It seems that this has been decided without much thought about the prior attainment; the consultation certainly doesn’t mention it for the first year. It does going forward, but that doesn’t really explain how this prior attainment will be measured. I have been under the impression that the KS2 SATs are moving from level based assessments to assessments where the students’ scores will be reported as percentiles – surely then comparisons of prior assessment will always be the same? “This year, bizarrely, we saw exactly 10% score above the 90th percentile, what’s more bizarre is that is exactly the same proportion as last year!”

It seems strange to me to put such a heavy reliance on these prior attainment targets anyhow. We live (for now) in a society that has a fairly fluid immigration system, so the students who get to year 11 haven’t always been through year 6 in this country. There is also a question of the validity of the assumption that every year group will progress over the 5 years of secondary at the same rate.

The obvious elephant in the room is floor targets. By setting the boundaries so the same proportion of students get above a grade 4 as get above a C, but switching the threshold to a grade 5 you immediately drop the results of a whole host of schools down, what happens then remains to be seen, but I can imagine lot of departments will become under pressure and scrutiny for something that is statistically inevitable given the new grading formula.

This is all interesting, but it’s not much different to previous announcements and consultations, what is different is the formula for awarding grades 8 and 9. The formula looks to be a fair way of doing it, but it seems strange to me to use this formula just for the first year. Why then revert to examiner judgement about the grade standard? The government seem to be happy to use statistical analysis and similar grade proportions in parts of their grading system, but not in all of it, and that seems odd to me.

Have you responded yet? If not you can here (but hurry, the consultation closes June 17th). I’d love to hear other people’s views either in the comments or via social media.

Yes, Another Europe Is Possible | @doktordunc

me coolDuncan Hall (@doktordunc) is a lecturer in FE from Yorkshire. He’s a self-described “old Bennite” and always happy to engage in a debate, so comment away!

Supporters of so-called “lexit” have been sharing this article by Professor Nicol: Danny Nicol: Is Another Europe possible?

I agree with an awful lot of what Professor Nicol has to say. As Tony Benn famously argued, the EU has capitalism written into its constitution; it does, and this makes another Europe very difficult.

But another Britain is very difficult too. We have a constitution that essentially means that nothing can be done without a parliamentary majority and, even with one, there are all manner of forces of conservatism lined up to prevent radical action. Again, Benn taught us about this, when it was the bureaucrats in Whitehall, not Brussells, who prevented radical action in his 1970s ministries.

So we must start from the acknowledgement that there is no short-cut to socialism. The idea that, free of the Nice and Lisbon treaties, Britain will ride forward to socialism, is no less a fantasy.

Professor Nicol correctly identifies that the EU constitution is much more rigid than the UK’s because of the complexities of treaty change and the legislative process. However, it is not entirely inflexible and does not limit member states in practice quite as it appears to on paper. For instance, it is true that the Treaties prevent state aid of various sorts (without Commission approval) yet we know that state aid occurs all the time. Even this awful Tory government just took a 25% stake in Port Talbot steelworks and made up to £1bn of loans available to the new buyer. And of course the EU might have acted collectively against Chinese steel dumping were it not for the intervention of the sovereign UK government! Other countries like Germany and Italy have given significantly more state aid to their steel industries.

Article 345 of the TFEU makes it clear that the Treaty “in no way prejudices rules in Member States regarding property ownership”, so it is not clear that there is an explicit prohibition of national public ownership. Furthermore, if clearly the result of a democratic mandate, there is plenty of evidence that the Commission would accept “proportionate” Treaty violations. The EU constitution is structurally rigid but both practically and linguistically flexible. Nationalised enterprises can easily comply with the Treaties if they behave “reasonably” (very problematic, I agree) or “in the national interest” (less so). More interestingly, there are no rules against municipalised public ownership and, increasingly, that might be a preferred model in any case.

TTIP presents a bigger threat, but – at this point in history at any case – I feel it is more likely that an EU member state will veto TTIP than that the UK government would not negotiate the same or worse bilaterally.

Finally, one neo-liberal member state would not prevent favourable Treaty change any more than (more than) one social democratic member state prevented unfavourable treaties. We need to gain hegemony and win the arguments. We do not need Treaties that enforce nationalisation, after all! The power of reasoned argument can improve the legislative framework in which all EU countries operate.

If I’m wrong – and I might be (I was a genuine floating voter at the start of this) – then if all else fails we threaten to leave. But not with THIS Brexit; over immigration and alleged “red tape”. If in the end there should ever be a so-called “lexit” let it not be one skulking under the coat-tails of a Tory Brexit.

Blue sky thinking | @DebLFisher

DebbieDebbie has been a member of the Labour Party since her eighteenth birthday. She teaches history at a general FE institute. She believes passionately in the importance of everyone having the opportunity to develop and thrive and that education is key to this.

In my last DET class we had to create a “blue sky” action plan of what we would like to be able to achieve as teachers. I was feeling particularly cynical on the day. Mine included:

“…to be able to teach …enough resources including books”.

Thinking about it, none of these two should be blue sky thinking. I should have a secure contract that allows me to teach, and I should have enough resources to do my job effectively. My blue sky thinking aspirations should include:

“install passion, curiosity and a love of learning within my students; share my love of my subject and expertise with my students; help students to thrive whatever obstacles they face; always continue developing as a teacher to become the best I can”

I love my job. I get paid to share my passion with a great group of young learners. I have excellent subject knowledge and I think I am a good teacher; my students generally enjoy History lessons and learn well. I’m pretty good at supporting students and helping them achieve their potential. I expect students to try their hardest and be the best they can be. However, as someone with low self-confidence it has taken me four years to reach a stage where I can say this. Don’t think I am being conceited, I know I still have much to learn and I still make mistakes. But I should be able to focus on constantly improving as a teacher and meeting my learners needs and helping them achieve the best possible outcomes.   I should have a secure contract and be able to focus on teaching not worrying about my future.

I should have enough resources for my students to be able to develop the skills they will need at university including being able to access a range of academic books to allow them to conduct independent research outside the classroom. I should be able to focus on my real aspirations. I will continue to teach well despite the obstacles. But the current policy of austerity, particularly in FE, is making it that bit harder.

Nevertheless, I will continue with my real blue sky aspirations: to install passion, curiosity and a love of learning within my students; share my love of my subject and expertise with my students; help my students to thrive whatever obstacles they face; always continue developing as a teacher to become the best I can.

School leadership can teach the party some things – the sequel | @RosMcM

JpegAfter 31 years of teaching, 15 of them as firstly  Headteacher, then Principal, and latterly as Executive Principal and CEO of an Academy Trust, Ros is now working independently in the sector.

A few weeks ago I wrote a short blog for this site on the topic “School leadership can teach the party some things” and got a piece of feedback that it was good apart from the last paragraph. I agreed absolutely – I got a bit sick of it and rushed to finish – so I committed to do a part two.

In part one I talked about the different groups of staff in the average staffroom and how they needed to be managed to get the best from them. The groups I identified were: impassioned idealists; technocrats; magicians; careerists, survivors and born cynics.

I finished the blog by saying that Labour had elected an impassioned idealist to lead it, and that while impassioned idealists have their place, it is not as the leader. Hence a large part of the Labour’s current unelectability problem. Now I’ll try to expand on that.

Firstly, great school leaders understand how to manage each group because they have been members of each group (with the possible exception of magicians) during their preparation for headship. All great leaders have managed to retain a bit of the impassioned idealist about themselves and they know that impassioned idealists need to be developed so that the sense of great moral purpose does not go, but is joined with pragmatism and the ability to use judgement effectively in areas which demand compromise. Until and unless impassioned idealists develop this ability, they cannot lead others effectively or manage decision-making in a way which inspires confidence.

The way this is all playing out in the Labour Party is a tragic comedy. There is no respect for, or management of, the technocrats. We have hugely skilled and able people in the area of managing media and PR and yet these colleagues are ignored in favour of either the inexperienced or other impassioned idealists. Hence we have the disasters of that Vice News 30 minute documentary and the booing and hissing of the BBC’s political reporter. It is like watching a group of NQTs and staffroom cynics plan the open evening and write the headteacher’s address – only it’s worse than that, because we are condemning our country to a conservative government for years to come.

A great school leader wants their staff to be interested in their careers and develops careerists to put their talents and skills to the service of the greater good. This is really important because when staff feel their careers are going nowhere they either leave the organisation which has then lost their talents, or join the cynical group. Let’s have a look at how the PLP are being managed in this regard. As our MPs see the chance of a Labour government become less and less likely, people who are intrinsically loyal begin behaving disloyally. I have seen this happen in staffrooms and there have been times in my career when I’ve been close to behaving like this myself. And then of course there are those who simply decide that seeing the chance of having political power elsewhere is too great a temptation. (Manchester Mayor anybody?)

Teachers and MPs have a lot in common, not least because they are motivated by principles and public service. There are some teachers who will always be happy to just continue doing good in their own classroom, but most want to feel their school is making a difference to their community and want to be proud to be part of changing the community for the better. Most MPs want to be in government because they want to improve things for ordinary people, not to be part of a protest movement. Unfortunately they are being led (or perhaps NOT being led would be a better description) by someone who appears unprepared to put seeking government as his number one aim. Principles without power are completely useless. The thing I don’t understand is why the PLP are allowing this fiasco to continue – maybe it is because they don’t have a governing body, LA or MAT to make representation to?

Last Week’s Posts on @LabourTeachers (FLOATING VOTERS WEEK 2: 5-11th June 2016)

floating

Here’s a round up of the posts from Floating Voters Week 2.

Sunday

The Point of No Return? | @kennypieper

I like Kezia Dugdale. She seems like a nice person. I even believe in her principled vision for a future Scotland. However, Scottish Labour’s disastrous performance in Thursday’s Scottish elections doesn’t need to be her legacy. A year down the line from an equally cataclysmic result in the General Election, Kezia – and, yes, we get to call our politicians by their first names up here; I give you Nicola, Ruth, Willie, Patrick and that guy from UKIP – has had the weight of her predecessors on her shoulders. Decades of negligence from a once dominant Labour Party is now in the process of nailing down their coffin lid in Scotland; and unless she begins to distance herself from those that came before her, she has no chance of reversing that.

Monday

What education policies could make you vote Labour next time? | @warrenvalentine

As a young teacher, I cannot claim to have an extensive voting record like my grandfather who boasts of having voted for the same party all his life. My slightly more idiosyncratic claim, which might be a (slight) exaggeration, is that I have never voted for the same party twice in a row. It is becoming increasingly difficult to answer the question ‘why vote at all?’ If Labour were to offer some clear, strong education policies, one might be more inclined to vote for a left-wing government, regardless of what those policies might be!

Tuesday

Return of the prodigal son | @Bottoms_bray

After flirting with Green, temporarily trying TUSC and sometimes spoiling my ballot I am once again a labour voter after almost twenty years. I have been impressed with messrs Corbyn and MacDonnell in the face of a predictable reaction from the establishment within and without the Labour Party. The potentially corrosive anti-semitism charge seems to have been dealt with promptly and well, thus far. (What WERE you thinking Ken?). The vision of a socialist agenda has begun to be shared and a little more dignity applied to the roles of Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Chancellor.

Wednesday

What the parties are saying on education | @RobBrown1991

I am a voter looking for a home. I left the Labour Party a few months after Corbyn’s takeover. As a teacher, education is a priority of mine so I took a tour of the Party websites to discover who I should be voting for next time.

Thursday

What education policies could make you vote Labour next time? | @hibs1974

I should start by stating that this post is about policies that would make me consider voting Labour at the next election. I qualify for the ‘floating voter’ category in these posts by not having voted Labour in one of the last 2 elections. I should also point out that this post is about what policies could make me think about voting Labour. I am not suggesting that anyone needs to agree with me, I’m just putting my thoughts out there.

Friday

Objects in the Rear View Mirror | Anthony Alonzi

 I am one of the voters who, up to 9 months ago, would be considered a firm Labour voter. I joined the party back in 1996, mainly as I was unaware that joining Warwick Labour came with the added “bonus” of joining both Labour Students and the Party itself. Since the summer I have most definitely become a floating voter. Though who I would vote for, if an election was called tomorrow, is beyond me.

Back to normal next week.  If you are a Labour supporting teacher and you’d like to write something for us, please get in touch.

FLOATING VOTERS WEEK 2: Objects in the Rear View Mirror | Anthony Alonzi

floatingIn Floating Voters Week we are accepting posts from teachers who may not vote Labour at the next general election.

This is by Anthony Alonzi, a teacher of mathematics for 15 years.

I am one of the voters who, up to 9 months ago, would be considered a firm Labour voter. I joined the party back in 1996, mainly as I was unaware that joining Warwick Labour came with the added “bonus” of joining both Labour Students and the Party itself. Since the summer I have most definitely become a floating voter. Though who I would vote for, if an election was called tomorrow, is beyond me.

Looking back over Labour’s time in Government, one education issue that was never addressed properly, was that of school funding. We currently have an incredibly unfair system whereby a school in the best funded areas can receive over £1500 more per pupil than in the worst funded areas. For a school with a 1000 pupils that’s a £1 500 000 difference in budgets. (This doesn’t include London schools, as then the difference is almost 4 times as much). It should be clear that the reason this needed to be changed during a boom period is to protect those schools who when funding is made fairer would have been notional losers. Yet in a time of boom they would simply have needed to gain less to create a more equal system. In fact, often they gained more as deprivation funding in some areas could count twice.

We are now in a period of severe cuts to education funding, the recent changes in NI contributions being another example in a long line of stealth cuts that started with post 16 funding. In the most poorly funded schools it has not been a decision between employing a Feng Shui consultant or spiritual advisor for the Leadership team, but shall we cut music, art, Latin, drama? Who shall we make redundant? These schools at the bottom of the funding pile are crying out for a change to the funding formula while looking for ways to raise extra funds. Nearly all schools are increasing class sizes, with class sizes in state schools almost double that of the independent sector. At the extremes some schools are asking for a contribution towards such expenditure as text books, GCSE entries, computers or a £30-£50 a month school fund contribution. These changes are necessary so that schools can provide a good quality education, but as the Labour Government did not address this when our cup overflowed, it is being changed when any losses will be keenly felt and schools in Nottingham, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Slough and Coventry must be viewing their budgets with a great deal of trepidation. I imagine headteachers in those areas will be looking at the results of the consultation as nervously as those in Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Poole will be crossing every finger they have that they may be given enough money to provide their pupils with the education they deserve.

When it comes to education policy in the next election I’m not going to be swayed by flashy ideas, training for jobs that don’t exist yet, or just an increase in funding. I’ll be more influenced if the inevitable promise of more funding comes grounded in the realities of getting schools to work and it’s direct impact upon the basics: number of teachers, class sizes equipment and resources.