The anonymous teacher…

the anonymous teacher….

This was on the TES site…it is of course an exaggeration (well some of it) but it is important that you understand the problems that teachers and schools are facing with the current government.

The amount of work (an average of 50/60 hours a week) and pressure of form filling and everything takes it toll.

A teachers career now last 5 years on average, this is something we should be very concerned about.

This teacher is waking in a cold sweat at the thought of starting another school year within the same old education system.

You dream that you are trapped in a failing education system where you are under appreciated and the government keeps moving the goal posts, while the kids misbehave and the parents are abusive and unsupportive.

The face of the principal keeps changing, as does the school’s name and uniform.

One by one the rest of the staff disappears under cost-saving redundancy measures, as more and more kids keep appearing in your class. Luckily, you are distracted by the mountain of last-minute emails and piles of urgent new paperwork. Meanwhile, all your lesson planning is washed away in the crashing wave of yet another new syllabus, at the same time that your students are required to take part in another subject’s catch-up session.

A snap inspection

You frantically search and search, but can never find the staff room. You are really thirsty and desperate for a hot drink. But there is no milk. No cups. No tea bags and no coffee. You find the teaspoon to be so filthy that it sticks to the table no matter how hard you try to lift it. Perhaps you can get a drink from the canteen, you think excitedly. You have a crisp five-pound note, but the cashless catering system switched to a new online-only system over the holidays, and the internet is down again.

Suddenly it starts raining very hard – as the fire alarm goes off. You end up standing in the rain for your entire tea break as the fire drill goes rather badly. The smaller children from the shoeless learning initiative are complaining loudly that their socks are soaking and their feet are cold. The caretaker seems unable to reset the alarm system.

Just then, a large black limo splashes up. Out step five identical Agent Smiths. It’s a snap Ofsted inspection. One walks up to you with a clipboard and demands to see your books. You try to explain that you’re not allowed inside because of the fire drill and that your books are there, but he just sneers, ticks the box marked “no evidence of marking found” and begins to move off to do the same to one of your few remaining colleagues. You try to protest, but the agent informs you, “You can’t challenge Ofsted’s findings”. The agent walks off laughing, in that sinister Agent Smith way…

‘Negative attitude’

A hush descends over the fire drill as the caretaker finally gets the fire bell to stop. The new, “new principal” announces that because of an administrative error, no one has been notified that there is a mandatory two-hour staff meeting after school tonight. When you point out that it will clash with tonight’s CPD session, the parents’ evening, a major school trip, the Ofsted inspection, a sports fixture and the school play, so no one is free to attend the meeting, you are then loudly and publicly castigated for your negative attitude. All the rain-slicked kids are staring at you and the principal with their mouths open in shock. Luckily, it is raining so hard by this point that it is impossible for them to see your tears. 

You wake up in a cold sweat and your heart is beating so fast that it feels like it’ll fly out of your chest at any second. It’s 4.30am. You are feeling much, much more tired now than when you went to bed. You really want to go back to sleep, but your body is not cooperating. Your first day of the school year is here, and the inset session that will “explain” the new syllabus and how you are expected to deliver it starts in less than four hours…

The writer works at an all-through school in the south of England.


University or apprenticeships?

Children from St Mary's Primary School with vice chancellor Prof Graham Baldwin (centre)

Children from Beechwood Junior School, Shirley Junior School, Moorlands Primary School, St Mary’s Church of England Primary School and Harefield Primary School were taking part in the Steps into Success programme – which aims to raise aspirations for seven to 16 year olds from the poorest parts of the city.

Since 2015 the programme has engaged with 4,400 pupils. Solent university recruitment manager Tracy Edwards said: “Solent believes that every child with the ability to success should be able to take advantage of the benefits of higher education, whatever their social background.

I do agree, however, there is also a selling point from the University to be aware of. I worked at one for 17 years and the scramble was on to get as many bottoms on seats on clearing days. Student numbers (according to UCAS) accepting places have grown by 1.5% this year and yet number of students at my local University have dropped by some 7000 places and with Brexit and the cost going up I would expect to see more places to go.

So whilst I think this sort of project is good I do believe our young children should be given fair access to both University and Apprenticeships.

The Step into Success programme gives the children the chance to access a variety of activities, events and competitions, designed to instil a passion for learning and raise aspirations.

Pupils toured the university, asked the vice chancellor questions and played games.

Leanne Ross, Moorlands Primary School assistant head, said: “Pupils now want to go to university.”

Great, however these children need to be aware of the different options.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

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Not just angry – far more complex

Oppositional defiant disorder or ODD as it is known is a disruptive behavior disorder in children and teenagers.

Whilst my experience is limited it is generally played out with patterns of unruly and argumentative behavior and hostile attitudes toward authority figures.

I have seen children run out of school and act violently to other pupils. I have also had one child spit in my face and seen a teacher bitten.

The child may well scream and shout, hide under tables, have huge tantrums but like any other child can be scared and upset and it makes your hurt to see these young people so lost.

It is also difficult to recognise and some parents may find it difficult to recognize ODD, thinking they simply have a stubborn, emotional, or strong-willed child.

The behavior of a child with ODD is much more extreme and disruptive than normal but quite how you measure that is undetermined.

How is it diagnosed?

Probably when the parents or school are at their wits end.

When a child or teenager constantly behaves in extremely negative, hostile, and defiant ways that disrupt their home, school, and social lives and continues for at least six months. Symptoms appear as early as the late preschool years.

Children with ODD usually direct their anger, resentment, and spiteful behavior toward their parents, teachers, or other authority figures, though they may also have problems with their children particularity in their own age range and within their class.

This is incredibly hard work for both Teacher and Teaching Assistant. Parents will end up being involved along with the SENCo and Educational psychologist.

The reasons for this behaviour is not clear cut but it may be a mix of biological, social, and psychological factors appears to put children at risk.

It could be poverty, bad or abusive parenting, personal trauma, behavioral disorder, harsh discipline at home or other family instabilities. So one of these, some of these.all of these or none of these.

At least one study found that ODD symptoms are worse in children who struggle with peer acceptance in addition to family issues.

Treatment is very difficult as many children with ODD have coexisting conditions, such as mood or anxiety disorders, ADHD, learning disorders, or language disorders, it is important to determine whether this is the case, or if the child’s poor behavior is simply in response to a temporary situation.

Once the condition or situation is established, the appropriate course of treatment can begin. A combination of therapies is generally used to treat ODD, including behavioral and family therapies, parental training, and sometimes medication. In addition to treating the child, therapy attempts to rebuild the parent-child relationship and teach parents new techniques for dealing with the child’s behavior. Treatment is essential, and the earlier the better to help prevent ODD from developing into a more serious conduct disorder, mental health disorder, or criminal behavior.

You can find further information here ADDitude


what_is_creative_teaching-e1433788418645.jpegTeachers, I have worked with a fair few over the years and have seen many more in action.

I currently work closely with 8 teachers, most Teaching Assistants won’t but that is part of my afternoon role as an IT Technician.

Teacher are of course are human, that is to say they come in all shapes and sizes. Some are good and some are not, some have a great deal of experience and some are newly qualified and most, in my experience are lovely and I am sure they would say the same about Teaching Assistants.

As a potential teaching assistant there are things you need to be aware of:

  • The Teacher is one of your managers and will supervise your work.
  • The Teacher needs to know what you say you are going to do you will do.
  • The Teacher makes the class decisions, you can makes suggestions but the decision is not yours, so if you have a great idea and it isn’t needed…let it go.
  • The Teacher may well have a bad day or two and hopefully will tell you when they are. My suggestion is to try and support them as best you can.
  • The Teacher will work an average of 50-60 days, will be tired, fed up, irritable and the work will pile up. The current government knows this but do little to help. Again my suggestion is to try and support them as best you can, however do not take on work that is the teachers, not yours. If you feel like that is happening speak to your manager.
  • The Teacher and the Teaching Assistant are a team. Try and work well together.
  • Any questions about any children discreetly speak to your teacher.
  • Any issues with children always tell your teacher.
  • Any problems with your teacher talk to them first and if it is not resolved speak only to your line manager.
  • Try and stay positive this will help your teacher more than you can imagine.

Something to consider.

A good experience:

The teacher I have worked with for the last two years is a wonderful teacher, experienced  and we had a lot of fun as well as the inevitable class problems. Within our class we dealt with special needs, classroom behaviour, death, bullying, playground injuries and a variety of other things.

A bad experience:

A teacher at another school would not talk to me and would not look at me when I was in the classroom. In the end I actually asked if she liked me because I felt I was being treated quite badly. She said she did but nothing changed so in this instance I could only believe the issue was her and her alone.

She is not longer a full time teacher.

So there is a bit of pot luck but on the whole I have had only positive experiences.

Trouble with reading?

A good place to start

My daughter just didn’t to read, just not interested and I was at my wits end to know what to do.

She read what she wanted to in class and then I stumbled across an article which explained that the way to get children reading was to start them on comics!

I was an avid Beano reader when I was a child and had kept 25 Beano Annuals in a box which I retrieved from my attic and the rest is history. She loves comics, just loves them.

So we moved on to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Barry Loser…sort of half comic, half writing.

However I am now slowly moving her onto chapter books. I know she finds them a little boring so it’s Harry Potter all the way.

harry-potter-10.jpgI have never watched or read any Harry Potter but it is brilliant and with ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them’ now seems a good time to start…

There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”  J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Children used in gender neutral experiment on TV

gender-neutral-lanesend-primary-pupils-with-dr-javidTonight, that is Wednesday 17th August sees the first of two hour-long programmes that shows an experiment with 23 seven year olds from Lanesend primary school in Cowes.

The BBC have produced a program called ‘No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?‘ and the experiment is for the children to spend a term ‘gender neutral’.

I am a little surprised that a whole class and a whole term can be devoted to this experiment. Certainly in my school the children have a curriculum that is full and there would be little room to run an ‘experiment’ with them for the BBC.

Dr Javid Abelmoneim asks this question:

Is the way we treat boys and girls in childhood the real reason we still haven’t achieved true equality between men and women in adult life? And could stripping away the pink and blue – and the other more subtle ways that boys and girls are shaped to be different – be the way to raise kids with abilities and attitudes that are the same regardless of their gender?

An interesting question but experimenting on 27 children for a whole term?

This strikes me as slightly odd:

  • What effect will it have on the children?
  • Should we really allow this sort of reality TV to interfere with children’s education?

The experiment has attracted some criticism from Wiltshire councillor, Mary Douglas, who claimed it was “abusive” and “inappropriate”, she has also been slammed for suggesting transgender people are mentally ill which seems a little unfair if you are to take Transabled into the equation, and of course she is entitled to her opinion.

There does seem to be some confusion over gender identity with an ever growing list of of terms and is being added to on a daily basis. However Dr Javid claims that ‘this is absolutely not about gender identity’ and that ‘in no way could you imagine anyone ever trying to steer children in a way that’s harmful’

I would disagree with Dr Javid and actually many children have been steered in a harmful, abusive and cruel way by adults over the years.

He goes on to say: We’re talking about the BBC. I’m a Doctor. Their parents and teachers were involved.

Which may suggest that because he is a ‘Doctor’ that some how we should defer to his authority and that it is the ‘BBC’ that it has no bias.

and finishes saying ‘watch the programme and then if you still want to hold that view – well, then you’re daft.’

Well I hope I am not ‘daft’ for not holding the same opinion as the BBC and a Doctor and yet this programme is steering children in an experiment and we obviously can’t tell the results until it is finished.

A little disingenuous from a Doctor I feel.

So I am looking forward to the viewing.

Tune into BBC2 at 9pm to see the first of the two programmes. It will be on the BBC iPlayer after the broadcast if you are unable to watch tonight.