Dear Nicky Morgan, I thought I would contact you on this Easter Weekend to help explain some things that you seem to be unsure of in your recent interviews. To put my views in context I have worked now as a state sector teacher in several schools for the past 15 years and I am a Head of Science (Physics) at my current school. I thought it was time to explain some simple truths which are similar for many teachers in the state system in the UK as you and your party are really not getting it. Here is my handbook of “real” word definitions from a teacher to set you clear, think of it like a little red briefing box. This is my experience doing the job everyday for 3000 teaching days and 15000 lessons. Working hours: Most days we work for at least 9 hours followed by a good 2-3 or more hours at home to pull 12 hours in total minus a few minutes to dash to the toilet and grab a quick sandwich. Then we also work at weekends to, and don’t get any overtime payments for this. Also this is not comparable to normal office jobs as each hour spent in class is very stressful and highly charged. Best way to think of it is like brain surgery for 4 hours, you need a rest at the end of that, but sorry of course you understand that one so clearly as well! Benefits: We had our “Gold-plated” pensions cut radically again and ended up with only a 1% pay rise this year, which will in future be linked to “performance” meaning that in fact by the time I finish my career I could be cumulatively down at least 22% on my current pay as well. We have no free gym memberships, laptops and Christmas parties are usually out of our own pockets. There are no clothing allowances, company cars, housing allowances etc.. In fact when we go on a course we usually end up buying our own dinners, and certainly don’t get a subsidised bar. The final whammy comes with lots of schools asking in teachers contracts that they produce exam results in the top 25% of schools; we clearly can see that not everyone can do this. Also unlike a banker who gets a bonus, there is no bonus for this, just our regular pay +1%. Recruitment: Not only is it clear that nobody really wants to be a teacher anymore but the people who you are trying to recruit i.e. PhD Physicists, ex-army, non-specialists etc.. really don’t actually fit. The clear problem is that we don’t have enough Scientists and it is only getting worse as when they actually manage to get through a PGCE they fail after the first couple of years as the job is just not attractive enough. Pay is one issue, but a lack of any standard of life is clearly another. Most teachers are starting to crack up under the pressure and many are just leaving. It is funny but I have become one of the most experienced Physics teachers in the UK aged only 39! Holidays: Generally I take these after 7 weeks of working, I use them to go to be ill initially then I go to the doctor, dentist, buy some more work clothes, garden, cook, repair stuff, see my own children (if the holidays match up!). In essence having had 7 weeks of not living I generally get 1 week to have a life and catch-up. However, increasingly for most the drift into this period with academy chains cutting down this time and also asking teachers to work Saturdays as well is meaning that for some now they have no life at all. Academies: It is clear that the only freedoms that academies have are: lower staff pay, terms and conditions, no sick pay for some, lack of scrutiny so business can tap into public money, lack of experienced staff as they all leave, managers who are business people not educators! Clearly the evidence from us working in them shows they have failed. It is also clear to all of us that Tory “cling-ons” are being given access under the table to various projects to sweep even more schools out of the hands of the LEA’s so they can provide a money channel to their own businesses. Ofsted: The system has been rotten to the core for a long time and in fact for all the years it has gone on there have not been improvements in day to day teaching as the students we produce are no better for all the “ofsted” designed learning. The old chestnut... “Outstanding teaching produces outstanding learning” is a constant but clearly not the case in all these “outstanding schools”. Maybe it is time to inspect pupils at a school and reserve your comments to that instead of critising the people who work so hard to provide something special every day. It is also clear that last year they had to fire most of their inspectors as they could not even pass their own tests. So how many schools fell victim to them in past years? Teacher Training: The now devalued PGCE was a great institution and made sure that several academics and serving teachers had to actually pass you as teaching their own children and had no vested interest in the situation. Now we are clearly moving towards the situation of a free for all based on the lack of good, well qualified people actually wanting to do the job. Great analogy is have an SAS without the final pass out test or on-job training, not sure we would want them to try an extraction missing from the Iranian Embassy with that level of training? Teaching Unions: interesting that you say they come out with “negative comments” not sure what else they can say; “Well done to Nicky Morgan for the amazing job you are doing for not calling us the blob”. Maybe they could say “Thanks Nicky for diverting funding from Children’s education into the hands of a few people at the top and creating a mirror of capitalism for all the children to see”. In fact Nicky they are the last and only organisations that seem to care about schools and want to see teachers teach and children learn. Also of course the union is there for us when poor management and ofsted blame teachers for pupils not passing exams who have massive social and health issues. They are there to step in when we begin to be asked to start calling parents and pupils from home each evening and running Skype lessons at 9pm. Governing Bodies: There are good and bad in all of these things, in essentially most of them work hard to try and support schools. However, in recent times we have seen the subversion of the structures to enable the grubby hands of business run schools for a profit and hive off funding for non-essential ideas. They have in fact gone back to being a “Quango” for most academies unaccountable and mysterious. Why would we exclude willing parents from these bodies, unless we are worried they might say hold on a minute, why are doing this, my own child will have their entire life screwed up? Exams: Clearly the elitist Tory party has finally come back to the old ways with the O-Level exams passed by few and failed by most to replace the current GCSE’s. The simple laypersons explanation is would you take A2 Physics material and put it in a GCSE exam? Would you ask pupils who can barely add up to do algebra! I would like to push students to be the best they can be, but really Nicky we need to be realistic? Second to this the new Progress 8 system has now finally made any creative or hands on technical subject pretty much redundant with pupils forced to take a very narrow curriculum or schools will fail. How many pupils on the 1-9 scale will come out with 1 or 2 across the board and feel like total failure in a system where they cannot even pick the subjects they are good at. Art, drama, technology, music and similar are some of the most fundamental cornerstones of our society as much as Science, Maths, English and Languages. In fact I wonder why all pupils are being forced to learn a language when most of your party want to leave the EU in any case? So I hope Nicky you will read this short briefing guide but I do wonder as the Tory press machine, including the BBC usually make sure they edit out any real truths so you never have to face up to what you are really doing. It is such a shame that I as a lot of other teachers have spent most of their lives trying to educate children to be the best they can be, and have not really thought about the other things such as pay and conditions but now as with the doctors you are forcing our hand as you dismantle the whole system.