Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Strike Photos - send us yours.

West Sussex teachers on strike 26th March 2014
Wrongly reported as a strike over pay by the BBC
The NUT is fighting for education.

A qualified teacher in every class - no more teaching on the cheap with unqualified staff.
And end to the failed "Free School" experiment
Allow councils to open new schools where they are needed
Make sure changes to the curriculum and exams are positive and planned - no more exam fiascos
Ensure there are enough new teachers – stop picking fights with the ones we've got
Get our schools working together and fund them properly

based on 16 years of operating a helpline for stressed teachers.

Click here to try Classroom Teacher Manual before you buy it


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No books for prisoners

Grayling (the misnamed "justice minister") backs a "spartan" regime in prisons. Prisoners, who are naughty people, should be banned from receiving books. Books are a luxury, this Tory millionaire insists. They will be wanting Champagne and caviar next.

The idea that prisons have any role in education or rehabilitation has been thrown out of the window. The question of whether prisons are remotely effective in educating or rehabilitating prisoners is therefore no longer an issue. So long as the prisoners are punished, and punished by cheap privatised unqualified staff of course, the target is being fulfilled.

And will this appease the extremists of UKIP? Probably not. Well obviously they would argue he is not going far enough. It costs a lot of money to allow oxygen into prisons and let's face it, do they really need it?


Monday, March 24, 2014

All power to the teachers on strike on Wednesday!


I am retired so I will be leafletting on Wednesday in Worthing (the intersection of Montague Street and Montague Place at 10.30 to 12.30) Come for an hour, come for five minutes if you can. Take a leaflet, offer us some moral support, sign the petition.

There are rallies all over the place as this page explains

We need to spread the word. The politicians are hell-bent on employing cheap unqualified teachers. If you tell parents this they almost invariably agree with us. Our children deserve better. If "times are hard" then the politicians can take a cut in their expenses and the bankers can take a cut in their bonuses.

I think retired teachers can often afford to "buy a pint for the strike fund." It is Lent after all :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Worthing on Saturday: sunshine and showers

Join us on Wednesday. 10.30 to 12.30 at the intersection of Montague Street and Montague Place.
The photo shows the welcome arrival of sunshine. People do not take soggy leaflets in the rain. We have signatures on petitions which are also quite damp.

"Teaching is easy. You just give the pupils the work and if they talk you tell them to shut up."  Not Michael Gove but a pupil who came to the stand. And she was teasing.

Fortunately there is not the paranoia about tables in Worthing that there is in Horsham and Chris was able to position ours under the bandstand so we could huddle out of the rain.

Strike day is Wednesday and we will be back. Some of us will be at the big rallies in Brighton and London.

Join us on Wednesday 26 March . 10.30 to 12.30 at the intersection of Montague Street and Montague Place.

Click here to try Classroom Teacher Manual before you buy it


The Classroom Teacher Manual is the distilled essence of advice given over the helpline during my 16 year stint as Helpline co-ordinator. Chris Miles is keeping up the good work now.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Monkey attacks organ-grinder!

Sir Michael Wilshaw has promised the Association of School and College Leaders (formerly the Secondary Heads Association)  that there will be a radical overhaul of OFSTED which could end the use of private contractors to carry out inspections.

The three groups Tribal Group, Serco and CfBT Education Trust employ over 1500 "inspectors" who are not HMIs. By contrast OFSTED employs 300.Wilshaw's patron, Gove, worships at the shrine of privatisation

However Wilshaw has been stung by criticism from a right-wing think tank. The Policy Exchange concluded this week that the classroom observations carried out by these people are about as accurate a measure of a teacher's ability as the highly scientific method of flipping a coin. Heads you are excellent, tails you are "satisfactory". (For non-teachers I should explain: in the mangled language of OFSTED "satisfactory" means anything but. They can't speak the Queen's English).

Wilshaw promised ASCL that inspections were "too important" to be left to these cowboys and a radical overhaul was necessary. We shall wait and see how radical the overhaul actually is.

Wilshaw, pictured here with all his friends

Click here to try Classroom Teacher Manual before you buy it

Friday, March 21, 2014

Myth of "out of control" welfare spending

According to the i newspaper, "Karen Rowlingson, professor of social
policy at Birmingham University, said the idea that welfare spending had
spiralled out of contol was a "myth", as between 1995 and 2011
"expenditure on benefits , as a proportion of GDP, fell sharply and then
remained stable for the longest period since the foundation of the
welfare state."

This has not stopped the Tories putting a cap on welfare spending which
will mean that the poorest suffer most. Nor has it prevented the Labour
Traitors from agreeing right away that they will stick to this policy.
It goes without saying there is no cap on MP's expenses and no cap on
bankers' bonuses. The rich will continue to get rich and the poor will
get poorer.

None of the political parties will oppose this except the Trade Unionist
and Socialist Coalition (which was supported by Bob Crow). It would seem
that only TUSC policy is based on the truth of the situation while the
Condems and the Labour traitors base their policy on a convenient lie
parroted on every occasion.

Labour will go into the election with the inspiring slogan "Vote for us,
we are exactly the same as the Tories, we promise." That will get them
flocking to the ballot boxes :)


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why the teachers are striking

Government policies threaten the standard of education in all our schools and colleges. Help us to persuade Michael Gove to change course.

Ensure every classroom has a qualified teacher
Academies and free schools are now allowed to employ unqualified teachers. This is a big threat to standards of education

Allow councils to open new schools where they are needed
There is a huge pupil place shortage but councils are not allowed to open new schools. Many councils are driven to putting portacabins on school playgrounds to cope. The Government only allows new “free schools” and these are often in the wrong place.

Make sure changes to the curriculum and exams are positive and planned
Rushed changes are stressful for children as well as their teachers. The Government should start listening to what teachers and education experts say. It should work with them to develop an exciting and inspiring curriculum that equips children for the modern world.

Ensure there are enough new teachers – stop picking fights with the ones we’ve got
Michael Gove keeps criticising teachers. Morale is plummeting. Five years after qualifying, 2 in every 5 teachers are no longer teaching. On top of that the current system of training teachers is under-recruiting. Instead of dealing with this, Michael Gove keeps attacking our teachers, who are forced to strike to defend themselves and education

Get our schools working together and fund them properly
The evidence shows that schools working together is best for all children. Financial scandals at free schools show the dangers of privatisation. On top of this fragmentation, school 6th forms and 6th form colleges are facing 20% cuts while £1.7 billion has been allocated to wasteful and unnecessary free schools.

Please help us to make 2014 the year that we stand up for education

Visit to register your support and get campaign updates
London - meet 11.30 Duchess Street (near BBC) march to rally at Central Hall Westminster. Brighton - meet 10.30 Hove Town Hall (look for the West Sussex banners) march to Brighthelm Centre for rally at 11.30.

Click here to try before you buy

Sunday, March 16, 2014

If this is Saturday it must be Horsham

We leafletted in Horsham on Saturday. It can often be a hotbed of apathy but the local people were polite and many took leaflets and signed the petition.The public seem to want qualified teachers for their children but many are unaware that the politicians are trying to employ any Tom, Dick or Harriet to teach so long as they are cheap.

One gave us tips on leafleting. One was a former unqualified teacher but he did have two degrees so he was not totally unqualified.

Some people thought they were too old to care but they responded to the argument that they had qualified teachers and our youngsters deserve the same.

The only fly in the ointment was the market managers who said our table was dangerous. However we kept a close eye on it and we managed to stop it from eating any children or assaulting OAPs

One of them even came up and took our personal details and took photographs. Worthing and Crawley do not find a mere table hazardous. They do things differently (or stupidly perhaps?) in Horsham!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tony Benn

Tony Benn would not have lied like Blair nor would he have been a lapdog for Bush. People in Fallujah would not have seen their hospitals bombed as they were by Blair and his Master.

The Channel Four News had "even-handed" coverage on Tony Benn but they insisted he was "divisive" and he was "holding the Labour Party back."

He was holding it back from becoming the prophets of privatisation.
He was holding it back from becoming the worshippers of war.
He was holding it back from becoming the idolizers of inequality and the sultans of sleaze.

How divisive is that?

It was a constant surprise to me that he opposed the idea of a new workers' party espoused by Bob Crow and thousands of trade unionists. He cited the "piddling little sects" of Socialism as his reason but a party with trade union support will be no "piddling little sect."

Click here to try before you buy

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bob Crow - Don't mourn. Organise

It seems appropriate to use the last words of Joe Hill "Don't mourn. Organise." but it is likely that trade union activists will be doing both.

At a time when the trade union leaders have been tame in the extreme and the Labour traitors have been getting away with murder, it was good to find one union leader who did not buy that rubbish and stood up for his members. We need more like that!

It is hypocritical humbug for Boris Johnson to talk about respecting Bob Crow. Boris did not come close to understanding Bob Crow or anyone else outside his privileged elite.

Ken Livingstone pointed to the effectiveness of the RMT under Bob Crow's leadership and this was echoed in the Daily Mirror. I do not doubt the genuineness of these sentiments. Nevertheless they would have opposed Bob Crow when he was alive and feel safe to praise him now.

So the best legacy for Bob Crow will be to pursue the ideals of a trade union movement which responds to the needs of its members and acts as an organiser of victories not an accomplice of defeats. And certainly the goal of a new workers' party is one which will not be abandoned. Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we'll keep the Red Flag flying here!

Support your union and strike on 26 March

This is a video based on Martin Powell Davies' powerpoint for the strike with some jazzy public domain music. If you don't like the music (tastes differ!) you can always turn it off. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stand up for Education - appeal for help in Horsham

If anyone is available between 10:30 and 12:30 in Horsham on Saturday 15 March , please come along. The Carfax is where we will be. Come for five minutes if that is all you can spare! Come to take a leaflet. Come to sign the petition. Come to give us some moral support.
West Sussex NUT will be distributing these leaflets at various venues during the run-up to Easter.

Contrary to one member of the public last Saturday, Stand up for Education is not a comedy act. Gove is the clown.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Stand up for Education

Chris Perry, Steven from Brighton and Hove and I kicked off the Stand up for Education action leafleting in Worthing. I can say straight away that the reception was better than my previous experience in Crawley with about half of the people taking leaflets, some signatures on the petition and some interesting discussions. The weather remained dry which was a blessing.

It would seem that the public favour the idea of qualified teachers teaching their children while the politicians realise that unqualified teachers would be cheaper. So would unqualified surgeons and nurses. I expect that is what Peter Bottomley will want next time he goes to hospital :)

One self-confessed OFSTED inspector refused a leaflet. OFSTED will not stand up for education apparently. A pity because it is a small step from unqualified cheap teachers to unqualified cheap OFSTED inspectors.

At least one person thought the leaflets were "Cool" but one member of the public was disappointed that "Stand up for Education" isn't a comedy show. You can't please all the people.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Hypocrisy over Crimea

There was a good letter in the i this morning from Terence Roy Smith:

"I find British and American hypocrisy quite astounding.

"With their selfish interventions, these two countries are largely responsible for most of the world's current conflict, ostensibly to liberate the oppressed or defend the defenceless while actually safeguarding their own interests.  Yet, when Russia does precisely the same in Crimea it is accused of illegal occupation".

Brief and to the point, I thought

Anti cuts candidates

THE FIRST 183 Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates for May's local elections have been agreed by the TUSC national steering committee at its meeting last Wednesday.

The candidates cover 43 of the 160 English councils with elections on May 22nd.

In addition three mayoral candidates - Chris Flood, Lois Austin and Hugo Pierre - were agreed for contests being held on the same day for, respectively, the mayors of Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

Clive Heemskerk, the TUSC National Election Agent, told the meeting that "with eight weeks left until nominations close TUSC is well on course to have the biggest trade union and socialist based left-of-Labour challenge in local elections since the immediate aftermath of world war two."

The leisurely cruciverbalist

I cannot envy those who complete a complex crossword in thirty minutes. I get the i on Saturday morning. On a good weekend I have more-or-less finished the crossword by Sunday night.
Think of the value for money. I get ten times as much as they do for my 40 pence.

And whereas they have finished a crossword in half an hour I rejoice over solving one clue. That's my Everest. I have more Everests than they do :)

"Behind counter spot former pin-up" is my favourite today. Bar=counter Dot=spot. You have to be my age to get that one :)

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Qualified Teacher Status
We will be distributing these leaflets at various venues during the run-up to Easter. If anyone is available between 10:30 and 12:30 in Worthing on Saturday 8 March , please come along. The bandstand at the intersection of Montague Place and Montague Street is where we will be. Come for five minutes if that is all you can spare!

The NUT information about Qualified Teacher Status follows:

  • No education system can be better than the quality of its teachers1. The most successful countries, from the Far East to Scandinavia, are those where teaching has the highest status as a profession; South Korea recruits from their top five per cent of graduates and Finland from the top ten per cent. Both of these countries have demanding initial teacher education programmes, completion of which is required for entry into the profession.

  • The rigorous criteria involved in achieving Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) ensures that teachers possess solid knowledge and understanding of educational values and subject matter, and high standards of planning, monitoring, assessment and class management. QTS represents a formal set of skills, qualities, and professional standards that are recognised as essential aspects of an effective educator.

  • Unqualified teachers may have difficulty coping with pupils with behavioural issues and special educational needs. They may be an expert in their subject specialism but they will lack the classroom experience and pedagogical background needed to maximise children’s learning potential and properly support their educational development.

  • It is impossible to guarantee consistency or quality of teaching unless the merits of QTS are universally recognised. All schools, regardless of their status, should adhere to the same criteria and requirements when appointing teaching staff to ensure that all pupils are afforded the same high standards of instruction.

  • Allowing academies and free schools to hire unqualified teaching staff may lead to a decline in educational standards. Schools need a properly resourced team of qualified teachers and support staff, not lower investment presented as freedom of choice.

  • Unqualified teachers are cheap alternatives to trained and qualified staff. They may be expected to perform the same duties as qualified teachers but they do not receive the same financial remuneration. A recent survey2 reported that over half of all schools in England now use unqualified teachers. DfE figures show that one in ten teachers in free schools is not qualified and almost half of free schools employ at least one unqualified teacher.3 Swedish free schools have made profits by reducing the number of qualified teachers they employ. However, that country’s educational standards have subsequently fallen4.

  • The NUT-commissioned YouGov survey of parents’ views on education5 shows that the overwhelming majority (89 per cent) do not want their children to attend schools where teachers do not have professional teaching qualifications. Only one per cent of parents felt comfortable with unqualified teachers taking charge of a class. The survey also showed that the vast majority of parents believed that employing unqualified teaching staff in free schools was designed to save money, not improve standards.6
33 DfE, School Workforce in England, November 2011,