More tests…more testing!!

Tests to check whether eight- and nine-year-olds know their times tables will be trialled in some primary schools in England next month before being rolled out nationally.

The test, which ministers hope will improve pupils’ numeracy, will become mandatory in 2020 for all year 4 students.

Of course, all teachers know where there children are up to on their times tables – so another test that does not in any way benefit the teachers or children whatsoever.

The government says the on-screen test, which assesses knowledge of the times tables up to 12, will last no longer than five minutes and has been designed to avoid causing additional stress for children and teachers.

The Department for Education sought to reassure teachers that the results would not be published and would not be used by the schools watchdog Ofsted to enforce any changes.

So what is the point then?

More tests….

I sometime wonder if the DofE sit around and have a discussion that goes something like this.

‘We need to do something to help improve these children’s education’
‘How about some tests’
‘Great idea’

It seems that way because whilst cutting millions of pounds from schools budgets they just keep on testing, testing and testing. Same old, same old.

Nick Brook, the deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “We’re working constructively with the government on primary assessment generally so it’s hugely disappointing that they are still intent on the introduction of a multiplication tables test, which the NAHT opposes.”

Of course they will go ahead with this because they know best. They are not heads or teachers, have no or little understanding of education but are ministers…so they must know best!

The numeracy skills of students in England lag behind those of their peers in east and south-east Asia so that is why it is happening.

Educations arch enemy Nick Gibb, the school standards minister, said: “Just as the phonics screening check helps children who are learning to read, the multiplication tables check will help teachers identify those pupils who require extra support.

Clearly he is unaware of the difference.

“This will ensure that all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables by heart and able to start secondary school with a secure grasp of fundamental arithmetic as a foundation for mathematics.”

And does he not think schools are trying to do this already. We have already seen the mess they have made of ‘each child leaving school with a qualification in Maths and English’…how will that happen??

So these test won’t tell teachers and parents anything they don’t already know about their children. Results won’t be published but will end up on Ofsteds desk, just what every school needs.

More targets.




This Government is killing our schools


share_161117Lets just make that very, very clear. If you have a child at school and voted Tory – well done you just voted to take money away from their education.

91% of schools face real-terms budget cuts compared with 2015/16.

£2.8 billion has been cut from school budgets since 2015.

It appears my school will need to save £48,000 over the next two years.

So after 10 years of austerity, funding cuts we are still having to try and find more money from nowhere.

The chances are Teaching Assistant jobs will go. Some schools already have let teachers go as they quite simply cannot afford them anymore.

I don’t know what the answers will be…I may not evening have a job myself soon.

So what?

Well if you have no Teaching Assistants the children who struggle in the class will no longer have any help. As class sizes increase because of the cost of employing teachers is going to soon become to expensive there will be no one to help your child.

So you’d best hope you don’t have a child that struggles (as I do) because any help will be gone. Parents will shout and scream about this but there will be no one to help.

Senco’s will become snowed under unable to cope with the mountain of work which they will have to without Teaching Assistants to deliver interventions.

Don’t look at your teacher as they will not have the time to sit with a child for than a minute or two in a class of 30+.

I find this very depressing but it’s fine for those in government because their children are paid for at private schools with class sizes of 15 with two teachers.

So what’s the answer?

I have no idea…

Maybe a government that does not just cut, cut, cut for ideological reasons but one that actually care about the people they are supposed to serve.

Maybe education not being used as a political football.






Mummy needs Gin…

This interesting piece is from a blog called ‘Mummy Needs Gin‘…

Untitled 1My son is 5 and a half and in Year One. In my opinion, his early experiences of education should be a good mix of social interaction, play and learning. As after all, the purpose of schooling is to develop children in readiness for all aspects of adult life, not just educationally. Emotionally it should help to build their confidence, expose them to social interaction with all age groups, races, gender, backgrounds etc. and help them develop emotional intelligence as well as educational ability. Many schools do this, and do it well, however, the Governments latest high-jump bar of targets is leaving little room for children’s emotional development, as academic test results are being steam-rolled to the forefront.

My 5 year old is already expected to read aloud to me 5 times a week. He’s expected to learn to read, write, and spell a range of 50 words by July and also have his letter and number formation scored to make sure it’s at the correct standard. He’s expected to practise additional reading, writing and maths at home 7 days a week while getting enough exercise.

Today he came home with the following letter:

Not only is he expected to continue the current scheme of further learning, but the bar has now been raised even higher to include a weekly spelling test. Fair enough, I thought, it can only be a good thing. But there’s a catch. These children need to get 8 out of 10 answers correct or they will be kept behind in play times and ‘Golden Time’ (a free play time) to correct their errors.

On top of this, they now need to push their tiny bodies further as well as their minds. Currently, our school asks all children to complete a mile walk every day before class to energise them for the days learning. I have always thought this was an excellent idea. But now asking them to squeeze another 30 minutes of exercise into their days seems to be a little bit much.

This all comes from the Government who wants both parents to be working and preferably full time. How are we meant to  devote ourselves to work when so much is required at home? Similarly, how are we meant to ask our children to achieve more and more when we have no time to invest in them? Aren’t we simply going to produce a generation of exhausted young people before they’ve even stepped foot into their first workplace?

Besides this, I see no room for considering our children’s emotional well being. In his first year and half in school, my son has gone from being a vibrant confident boy, to now feeling that he’s not good enough, he’s not smart enough, he’s too stupid. He’s anxious that he’s always getting it wrong. He’s terrified of being put back a year and descends into tears when he confuses writing a ‘b’ and a ‘d’. The targets that the government are setting are also making some teachers look out for learning difficulties and disabilities that may not even be there. We are beginning to lose sight of the fact that these children are only five. They are not stupid, lazy, naughty or with an undiagnosed difficulty. They are simply not emotionally or physically ready for this pressure.

Wonderful schools and teachers such as ours are feeling the strain and are first in line to hear complaints from angry parents when they are simply doing the best they can. They are forced to amend homework levels and make changes to try and meet these ever changing targets. I wonder how much it affects them to have these targets. I should imagine their emotional wellbeing is also taking a bit of a beating.

Sally Goddard-Blythe, Director of The Institute for Neuro Pysiological Pyschology (INPP) in Chester says “Children are not mini-adults. The process of development – physical, emotional and mental – is a long one during which there are recognised milestones, which children are generally expected to reach at certain ages – but within and without of these milestones there is also considerable scope for individual differences, especially in developmental readiness for formal aspects of learning. In other countries the process of formal education does not begin until at least six years of age. Elsewhere the pre-school years focus on getting children ready for school in terms of physical, social and emotional development and it is well recognised that are differences in rates of readiness between boys and girls with the needs and skills of boys and girls being different at various stages.”

So here we have three different demographics of strained, stressed and possibly under-achievers:

  • The working parents: struggling to balance a career with being a parent. Trying to squeeze additional requirements in whilst trying to ensure that their children are also managing.
  • The child: under pressure, feeling that they are often not good enough, not clever enough. Exhausted.
  • The School/Teachers: trying to hit their targets and develop children in line with these. Trying to make sure that the children are emotionally as well as academically coping with these pressures so that they don’t become a bad statistic or Ofsted report. Many of these teachers are also balancing bullet point one and two.

So I ask the Government directly how they expect these hypocritical demands to be met? No one would argue that we want to develop the future generations to be achievers, but look to the generation that is growing, teaching and loving these little future stars, we are all struggling with your current demands in one way or another. Is that the lesson you want them to learn?

Academia is important, literacy, numeracy and vocabulary are all essential. But please don’t discount our children’s emotions. They may all go on to pass exams, but if they don’t have to confidence to go for an interview for fear that they are ‘not good enough’ then what was on earth was the point.

I have since been interviewed by the BBC further to this blog. Skip to 1:08 and listen to it here. Radio Interview

If you liked this blog and agree that schools, teachers and children are under too much pressure from the Government, please sign the petition to take this to Downing Street: Make a change 


UK education government mess causes drop in teacher recruitment

Austerity was something we were told was a ‘hard decision to make’ by the government, of course cuts and pay freezes didn’t effect the MP’s because they are all wealthy and don’t have to worry about case.
untitled-article-1434733775This policy is now coming home to roost with the mess the NHS, Education are in. Of course it would’ve been far easier to put up taxes to pay for it but that is another story.
So Teacher-training offers have fallen by 37 per cent over two years, despite a huge increase in recruitment campaign spending.
No one wants to work 60+ hours a week for the money on offer.

The government is spending millions of pounds on advertising for new teachers, but recruitment to teacher-training courses has hit some of its lowest levels since 2013-14 – so more money wasted.

New figures, released today by the university admissions service UCAS, reveal dramatic drops in the numbers of offers made for teacher-training places, compared with the same time two years ago.

Overall, 4,250 secondary offers have been made this year, across all subjects, compared with 6,790 offers at the same point two years ago: a 37 per cent drop.

The fall comes despite a significant increase in Department for Education’s spending on advertising and PR in an effort to recruit new teachers – £14 million last year, up from £5.6 million in 2014-15: a 150 per cent increase.

Across many subjects, the figures are among the lowest seen since 2013-14, when, at this stage, 2,790 secondary offers had been made overall.

John Howson, recruitment expert and visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University, said that the government had spent less than £5.5 million on advertising for new teachers in 2013-14.

As of this month, there have been 80 offers made for places to train to teach physics, compared with 150 offers that had been made at the same time two years ago.

The lowest-ever number of offers made at this point in the application process was in 2013-14, when 70 offers had been made.

Professor Howson pointed out that Ucas rounds its number of offers made to the nearest 10. “So 70 offers could be 74,” he said. “And 80 could be 76.”

Maths has also been badly hit. There have been 410 offers made this year to applicants wanting to train to teach maths, compared with 610 offers two years ago. The lowest number at this stage was in 2013-14, when 390 offers had been made.

Music offers have also dropped, from 150 two years ago to 70 this year. The previous lowest number of offers at this point in the application cycle had been in 2013-14, when 150 offers had been made.

And only 80 offers have been made for places to train to teach design and technology, compared with 350 offers two years ago. No records were kept for design and technology in 2013-14, but 90 offers had been made to teach design as a standalone subject.


And that is the state of play until someone stop using our children’s education and future as a political football.


Faith School Issues

Faith Schools are again at the centre of controversy as Governors at an Islamic school have lodged a complaint over a highly critical report.

Ofsted found pupils at the independent Olive Tree Primary School in Luton had to ask for toilet paper and wash their cutlery in toilet sinks which is appalling and there is little excuse for this.

_99603340_b27c0aac-220f-4958-8eb3-5ecd06f417efHowever, the Chair of governors Dr Nurul Islam said a number of issues had been “rectified” and a formal complaint lodged over the report’s findings. I find this rather odd behaviour as the asking for toilet paper etc is unacceptable and you will get a critical report if these things are found.

Another worrying aspect of this is that Inspectors found a number of standards were not met, reporting that “inappropriate books” that “did not promote British values” had been found during a previous inspection.

Despite school leaders stating the titles had been removed, the books, including some by a banned author with “extreme views about punishment by death”, were still on the shelves when inspectors re-visited the establishment in November.

It would appear that this school does not wish to follow the Ofsted guidelines and therefore it seems rather odd that you would then complain about Ofsted…maybe it is time to shut the school down if it unable to operate within the law.

This really does no favours for all the excellent faith school that we send our children to.

The report also raised concerns about health and safety standards in the school, for which Luton Borough Council has safeguarding responsibilities. There are standards that all schools have to live up to the same framework and standards is there for all schools.

Ofsted said “We do not expect faith schools to abandon their religious principles. “We do, however, expect them to ensure pupils are adequately prepared for life in modern Britain.”

Quite rightly.

Labour councillor Mahmood Hussain said the council had a “high level of concern” over the quality of education and health and safety practices at the school, which it had shared with the Department for Education and Ofsted over “an extended period of time”.

“If [a good a quality education] cannot be achieved at Olive Tree then we would want to see the DfE as regulator for independent schools to take robust action,” he said.

Looking at the Ofsted Report there are many more areas that need attention:

Independent school standards relating to the curriculum were not met at the May 2017
inspection because the curriculum policy did not reflect the practice in the school.
Leaders did not ensure that pupils’ personal, social and health education (PSHE) was
considered in the curriculum plan and the curriculum did not encourage respect for
others, paying particular attention to protected characteristics set out in the Equalities
Act 2010.

Since the inspection in May 2017, the proprietor has reviewed the curriculum policy. A
new policy was ratified in July 2017 but it remains the case that the policy and plans do
not reflect what is actually taught.

Leaders outline their rationale for the curriculum and explain that the requirements of
the national curriculum are followed for the teaching of English, mathematics and a
range of other subjects. However, the policy and the curriculum plans do not take into
account the changes made to the revised national curriculum framework and
programmes of study, devised by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2013 and
implemented in 2014 for all subjects.

The curriculum plans are organised into long-, medium- and short-term programmes but many do not reflect current teaching. Therefore, the plans are out of date. The policy
states that music and dance are not taught to pupils. However, the long-term plan for
pupils in Years 3 and 4 identifies that pupils learn music and are taught to play the violin
and this does not happen. In the class for Years 5 and 6, the plans outline the teaching
of dance in physical education lessons but this does not happen. The headteacher and
pupils confirm that the subjects taught in lessons and the timetables do not reflect the
curriculum plans that leaders provided to inspectors.

Pupils are not taught the hours outlined for each subject in the curriculum policy. Pupils
in key stage 1 are taught physical education, which forms part of PSHE, for 50 minutes
each week. The policy states that physical education is taught for three hours per week,
two of which will happen outdoors, and the policy does not refer to a difference for age

Inspectors reviewed schemes of work that had not been adapted well enough to meet
the needs of individual pupils, particularly those who are the most able and those who
require additional support. In too many subjects, pupils are not able to demonstrate
age-related expectations. Teachers’ subject knowledge of the current national curriculum
expectations is not secure enough to plan learning to meet the different needs of pupils
in their classes.

Leaders say that they provide for pupils to learn aspects of PSHE, fundamental British
values and respect for people with protected characteristics through circle time in key
stage 1. However, from the information provided by the school, there is no evidence to
show when this learning occurs. Leaders’ new spiritual, moral, social and cultural
development plans do not currently include lessons for key stage 1 to show how they
plan to teach pupils these aspects of PSHE separately from whole-school assemblies.

It goes on and on.

These are some of the most worrying aspect for me:

‘Leaders have not ensured that these independent school standards are met’

‘The headteacher confirmed that checks on the quality of teaching and learning have not taken place’

‘there were no resources available for pupils to use to support them’ (in maths lessons)

‘that school leaders do not fulfill all of their duties to keep pupils safe, and the welfare of pupils continues to be compromised’

These are schools you could find yourself working in. Do not get drawn in to protecting anyone but yourself.

Do not put yourself at risk.

The Ofsted Report is here and makes sad and shocking reading.

Any school in which we are likely to work MUST be up to standard.

I hope that this school and any school like this are closed for the good of the community and the children.


A real gift…

This is just wonderful…

A group of children from Dayton Elementary surprised their teacher Monday with a rare surprise — the gift of color.

Beau Scott, the 4th and 5th grade higher ability teacher at Dayton Elementary School, is color blind. At stoplights, the colors look the same.

A few of his students wanted to do something special for him. Claire De Lon, a 5th grader, and Nori Patterson, a 4th grader, both were trying to raise money for colour-seeing glasses for Scott.  An amazingly thoughtful gift.

“It must be really hard for him to see that way,” Claire said.

Nori said she and her family wanted to do something nice for Scott, and the two girls found out they were both trying to do the same thing.

Scott is one of Claire and Nori’s favorite teachers, so it made sense to do something for him.

So the two joined forces and started to raise money for the glasses.

Claire sold decorative mice with candy cane tails, and students in the class donated anywhere from $5 to $10 each to raise a little more than $300 for Scott’s glasses.

Both Nori and Claire were nervous because, in some cases, the glasses don’t work for everyone.

636491925372539110-IMG-0313-1-The students told Scott they wanted to perform a Harry Potter “magic trick.” So when he closed his eyes, the students gave him a wand, a broom and his Quidditch goggles — also known as the color-seeing glasses.

Then, on the count of three, the kids held up a sign saying “Merry Christmas” on different colors of paper.

At first, he didn’t notice the change, he said. But after lifting the glasses slightly, he could see the difference.

“Oh my gosh, guys,” he said. “Oh my gosh. This is awesome. I can see the colors.”

His wife, Aliya, was in attendance, and the two discussed what he’ll be able to do with the glasses.

One thing he’s looking forward to is picking out clothes for his children, he said with a laugh.

“Now you can see at stop lights,” Aliya Scoot, his wife, said with a smile.

Just the best don’t you think!


Head teacher banned for pay rise ‘eyesight’ trick

From the BBC.

This is appalling and thankfully a rare case amongst many great and hardworking Headteachers.

_99409224_school.jpgA head teacher has been banned from his profession for tricking a colleague “with poor eyesight” into signing off a £19,000 pay rise.

David Bishop-Rowe, 61, taught at Sutton School and Specialist College in Dudley from 2002 until 2014.

A professional conduct panel heard he got the rise in 2013-14 without the governors’ approval.

Mr Bishop-Rowe was guilty of “serious and sustained dishonesty”, a professional misconduct panel found.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership panel heard a colleague who signed off the pay rise said she “didn’t know what she was signing”.

They also saw evidence that Mr Bishop-Rowe had carried out private consultancy work during working hours, instructed the deputy head teacher to falsify an invoice and wrongly claimed additional salary payments.

He owned a company called Education Development Consultancy Limited and carried out paid, private work without the governing board’s permission.

‘Absolutely disgusting’

In December 2013, a whistleblower complaint was made and shortly afterwards the school began an investigation into Mr Bishop-Rowe’s behaviour.

He was suspended in April 2014 and resigned the following month.

The school caters for around 160 pupils aged 11-16 with moderate learning difficulties.

In a statement to the panel, a colleague described Mr Bishop-Rowe’s 21% pay rise as “absolutely disgusting”.

Mr Bishop-Rowe was told by Alan Meyrick, acting on behalf of the Education Secretary Justine Greening, that he was banned from teaching indefinitely and would not be able to apply for restoration.

Mr Meyrick said the fact Mr Bishop-Rowe had offered “some apologies but no reasonable explanation for his behaviour” meant there was a risk of repetition in the future.