Feed, Clothe, Care for, Educate….

A teacher’s remit is wider than people realise. Pretty much every teacher I know has worked with kids who come to school hungry – sometimes because there’s no food at home, some times because there is no one at home to make sure they have breakfast. I remember a kid who’d be given £1 to get breakfast on the way to school – and who’d turn up in form time with a massive slab of chocolate, pretty much every day for the whole year.

We’ve all taught kids with holey clothes, flappy shoes, no lunch, grimy faces, constant lice…. We do everything we can to plug the gaps. These are children not of ‘scroungers’ or ‘layabouts’ but of people who work so called ‘minimum wage’ jobs, on zero hours contracts, who don’t get tax credits any more. These people are part of the governments ’employment statistics’. Just because they are employed, it DOES NOT equate to improved standards of living – in fact quite the reverse. Parents working shifts, leaving kids to look after themselves, still not able to afford things like school uniforms, or the ever increasing price of the laundrette and prepaid electricity.

Meanwhile, the government bang on that teachers need to do more about this and more about that – if we weren’t so busy worrying about the welfare of the children in front of us and the increasingly poor circumstances many of them find themselves in, if schools weren’t being used as social catcalls for the poverty and deprivation in this country, required to: provide hot meals, after-school babysitting (sorry cross-curricula enrichment), social care and guidance, and prevent terrorism, then maybe we could focus on education but as it is, some things are more important.

It scares me how quickly the government seem to have undone our social welfare system and begun returning us to a Victorian morality – the rich get rich, the poor get cholera….. Anyway, enough ranting. The brass tacks are basically that more and more kids are being picked up at school because they need social care and because there’s no one else to do it, the teachers are.



An Article To Parents

Interesting article, by a father of 3 who is also the husband of an elementary school teacher. It’s very direct and an interesting reminder to parents that they need to think about what messages they are giving to their child by the way they treat or speak about their teachers. It comes down to one simple fact. It’s a parent’s job to teach children to respect learning and teachers,  the teachers can take care of the rest.

Parents, It’s Time To Stop Undermining your Child’s Teacher

On Student-Shaming and Punching Down

At any level, an educator holds a lot of power of their learners – the littlest things we do that we will forget moments later can last with them for the rest of their lives – so before you put down your students, think about what you are doing and how long your words might last.

SAS Confidential

Author: Kevin Gannon
Original: The Tattooed Professor

A few years ago, trapped in the midst of final exam grading, I started posting some of the real howlers I got as answers on Facebook. I didn’t use students’ names, and I don’t “friend” students on FB, so this sort of venting seemed like an OK way for me to keep my sense of humor during the end-term crush.

I have felt guilty about doing that ever since.

Now, I vent plenty on Facebook and (especially) Twitter. PLENTY. But I deploy my snark laterally, or upwards–not down. Not any more. If I am the advocate for teaching and learning that I say I am, then I need to walk the walk. If I argue that failure is not a defeat, but something on which to build successes, then how can I use others’ failures as fodder for cheap laughs?

When I was…

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Gove doesn’t want to inflict himself on children… teachers yes, but pupils no.

Gove doesn’t want to inflict himself on children… teachers yes, but pupils no.

Apparently Gove believes that only qualified professionals should teach…well that’s the first I’ve heard of it. I thought anybody could teach – in fact I’m fairly sure if you scroll down this blog you’ll find an article called anyone can teach. Also claims he has a greater understanding of teachin from talkin to professionals than he would if he tried the job and that he RESPECTS the teaching profession…. and if that’s not a lie then I dont know what is. Or maybe he respects the profession and just not those of us who follow it. Anyway… 

Sick of the Bullshit

I’m so fed up with all the bullshit being lobbed at the teaching profession at the moment – and the way it’s affecting the quality of life of some great friends who have given a lot of time to help other peoples children, above and beyond what they are paid for. The disparity between the a supposedly ‘fair’ workload and what we are actually expected to do is a joke and if anyone questions it we’re accused of being unprofessional. We’re treated like we don’t give a damn about the kids in front of us and that we haven’t trained for our jobs or worked hard to gain experience. We’re judged professionally on 20-30 minutes of outside observation by someone who probably couldn’t do half of the job we’re doing and doesn’t know the kids or any of the background. I’ve seen/heard inspectors comment on things that didn’t happen in the lessons they have observed – which HAD ALREADY HAPPENED BEFORE THEY CAME IN – only to say that they have to comment on ‘what they see’.  Well, why the fuck don’t we  all wait for them to show up and teach the whole lesson in half the time – which is what they seem to want us to do. Are their any other professions where there is such a snap judgement made?

It makes me so cross that regardless of what we do, we get shat upon and NONE of the reforms have raised standards, and all the ‘scrutiny’ that is supposed to ensure ‘excellence’ just causes hurt and stress and DOESN’T make better teachers.  All it does is demoralise dedicated professionals who are trying their best – because unlike the ministers and bureaucrats who think they know what they’re talking about, they actually care about and understand children and teenagers.  You can come out  with all sorts of bullshit about that not being the case for all teachers, but honestly in the course of my careers I’ve met only 2 or 3 teachers who genuinely didn’t give a shit about the kids and I doubt any of them are still teaching. This profession is hard enough if you love it, it’s hard enough to get right without the pressures of tickbox teaching and arbitrary target setting and league tables and twats like Gove.

That’s why I’m going on strike.

Who isn’t the education system failing?

If you read the education news you’ll find that the education system fails just about everybody – the latest 2 groups being the ‘invisible’ rural poor and ‘gifted and talented’ pupils. Are we giving anyone a good deal? I get really frustrated with these blanket statements about teachers and the education system that seem to continually paint the whole profession as incompetent, uncaring, lazy and unprofessional. I do the best I can for the kids I have, but I’m not magic and I’m entitled to time off from thinking about work. If the government want to look into anything, how about they start investigating why society no longer values the education system, and why so many people see fit to kick the free schooling they get in the teeth – I think they might find it’s to do with the fact that culture/the media scorns education – the ‘I never did good at school and it aint done me no harm’ attitude, and the value placed on non-academic talents as opposed to serious occupations. The media teaches young people to value the wrong things (in general) – making the job of teachers harder and harder – make school cool and raise national expectations instead of slagging off teachers and watch our children blossom. 

Have the ministers met any teenagers?

Have the ministers met any teenagers?

Not only is this patronising ‘brighter students from poorer backgrounds’ but it’s also massively out of touch – because every kid from inner city Brum dreams of being sent a letter by some t*sser in a suit who they’ve never heard of, who couldn’t pick them out of a line up… yeah that’s an incentive.

No confidence in Gove – really?

No confidence in Gove – really?

And about bloody time frankly.

We’re a powerful, creative and intelligent profession with swathes of talented, unique and inspiring people – it’s time we stood up for ourselves instead of being pushed towards government regulated mediocrity and conformity. As people dedicated to challenging and developing talent in others we know the difference between someone challenging us and someone bullying and degrading us, holding out hoops for us to jump through and trying to turn us into a self-fulfilling prophecy of apathetic awfulness.