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Letter to Nicky Morgan

Discussion in 'Education news' started by Orion, Mar 27, 2016.

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Do you overall agree with these sentiments or not?

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  2. Disagree

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  1. Orion

    Orion New commenter

    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.
     
  2. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Well done! A fantastic piece indeed.

    Deserves a much wider audience.
     
  3. Orion

    Orion New commenter

    Problem is that anything like this never seems to get a "wider audience" anymore.
     
  4. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter


    Post on Personal...

    Offer a version to the Guardian for their 'secret teacher' column?
     
  5. darklord11

    darklord11 Occasional commenter

    Absolutely brilliant, this is what the BBC should be writing about.
     
    Orion likes this.
  6. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    You need to distribute copies of this much more widely
     
    guinnesspuss and Orion like this.
  7. WJClarkson

    WJClarkson Occasional commenter

    I think this is excellent! Could you email a copy to national and local press? It might help it get a wider audience.
     
    guinnesspuss and Orion like this.
  8. Skeptical_John

    Skeptical_John New commenter

    Overall I really like this letter and hope it gets a wider audience. The part where teachers are treated like bankers in terms of performance related pay but without any of the perks is very apt.

    I do have two problems:

    1. The use of 'elitist'. 40% of the population voted tory and this legislation is only going to be defeated by a coalition inc tory MPs. By using that pejorative you will alienate those you need on your side. I just don't see the need for it. Some of the biggest voices in the news were from tory oxford councilors...

    2. The analogy to brain surgery is also a bit of an exaggeration. It probably takes 10-14 years of training to be a qualified brain surgeon. The slightest nick in the wrong place and someone's life has changed forever. Teaching is hard but it's not life or death!
     
    wanet, Orion and MacGuyver like this.
  9. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Occasional commenter

    I read this through quickly and then went back a second time to read it in more detail.

    I agree with a lot of it; who on these boards wouldn't/ couldn't? But with one enormous caveat.

    Related indirectly to the brain-surgeon analogy which one person has already criticised.

    I read that criticism before reading carefully that part of the OP and I agreed that the training needed to be a brain surgeon is so far beyond that to be a classroom teacher that the OP must be criticised for hyperbole in this department.

    However on reading carefully, the OP is comparing the stress of teaching to that of brain surgery.

    Now I still agree with the previous criticism of the brain surgery analogy; but much less so.

    Because the enormous defect with the OP is that it is written without any reference whatsoever to the routine and remorseless disaffection which is the daily lot of classroom teachers in England (where Ms Morgan is education minister as her writ does not extend furth of England.) And which might even, I venture to suggest, lead to stress levels well beyond what a brain surgeon experiences.

    Because a brain surgeon is, as I understand it, operating in a controlled environment where everything is geared to facilitate his/ her every move whereas in state school teaching in England, the reverse is the case.

    Which does, unfortunately, for me at least lead to a terrible conundrum regarding the OP:

    How is it possible to write the well argued and otherwise comprehensive post above, I ask myself, and nevertheless completely ignore that elephant in the room
     
  10. Orion

    Orion New commenter

    Certainly not trying to diminish any brain surgeon just draw a parallel as some jobs are not stressful like this and don't require you to multitask with 34 teenagers in a small room with limited resources and time!
     
    Shedman likes this.
  11. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    With reference to the brain surgery analogy. A surgeon doing complex surgery is very focussed and stress will arise as the patient's condition varies or if the surgery goes less well. However, the patient does not argue with the surgeon during the operation and is not in a position to withdraw cooperation. The surgery is (hopefully) a one off procedure and the surgeon will see the patient again once or twice in a follow up clinic before discharge. The surgeon does not operate on the same patient two or three times per week, the surgeon's interventions cannot be wilfully or petulantly ignored by the patient, the surgeon will not be held responsible for the future life choices the patient makes. During the surgery the surgeon does not suffer interruptions from numerous other patients. Both jobs are stressful but it is a different kind of stress.
     
    Anonymity, wanet and Orion like this.
  12. Skeptical_John

    Skeptical_John New commenter

    We can try and work out a way, talking to ourselves, to make the brain surgery analogy fit but at the end of the day those who we are trying to convince - the wider public - will scoff. And why wouldn't they? They have not been teachers.

    In all honesty a nurse is a much close fit. They will have several dozen plates in the air at any one time, they will be the ones who get shouted at by the people they are treating, obviously their length of training and pay is much closer as well.
     
    wanet likes this.
  13. Orion

    Orion New commenter

    In the end either way they are all hard jobs and equally being screwed by the Tory administration.
     
  14. jermar

    jermar New commenter

    So glad I moved to NZ. Although it is going that way here too. Same party in power so no surprise there.
     
  15. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    On this subject I got sent this youtube clip this morning. It's about Gove but applies equally to NIcky Morgan:

     
  16. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    That was very clever - who wrote it?
     
  17. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    No idea but it's damn good.
     
  18. Math-Worksheets-Galore

    Math-Worksheets-Galore Occasional commenter

    Dare I use the oft used line "political football". Teachers now have a universal motto, "We sometimes teach" The majority of teachers came into this profession for all the right reasons and not as I was told when I started "for love and not money" ... I have remained in this noble profession since the 1980's and been through a great deal of party political manipulating over the years - little wonder that many who now enter the profession do so for a few years and promptly depart. I cannot blame them - I think that you know where the blame lies Ms Morgan and please stop the Tory/Labour blame game. You will need to engage more with teachers, and more specifically with those at grass roots level. Allow the teachers to teach! I have been in a leadership position and I for one would campaign for teachers to be better paid, be afforded better working conditions, the time to teach and far less meaningless administrative paperwork. Well done "Orion" - your open letter to ms Morgan deserves a wider audience ...
     
    stupot101 likes this.
  19. Math-Worksheets-Galore

    Math-Worksheets-Galore Occasional commenter

    Apologies, forgot to add and compliment you "Orion" on making a valid point re benefits that Ms Morgan will not and cannot address in Parliament - glossed over at the mere mention ...

    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%.

    I still cannot believe that these same MP's can argue that 1% pay rise in this day and age is not outrageous and disgusting when they have (whether they the MP's want it or not!?) 'awarded' themselves a far higher 'thank-you' pay increase and extra benefits!
     
    Orion likes this.
  20. Math-Worksheets-Galore

    Math-Worksheets-Galore Occasional commenter

    This from the Daily Mail / Mumsnet - not everyone's cup of tea, nevertheless ...

    Nicky Morgan's plans to make all schools academies have taken another blow – this time from parents on Mumsnet who branded them 'despicable'.

    Mothers and fathers said the proposals were 'utter rubbish' after the education secretary wrote a guest post for the parenting website about her vision for education.

    The blog, which aimed to reassure parents that academies were 'the best way forward', appears to have backfired after attracting almost 1,000 mostly negative responses form forum users.

    [​IMG]

    Nicky Morgan's plans to make all schools academies have taken another blow – this time from parents on Mumsnet who branded them 'despicable'

    [​IMG]


    The blog, which aimed to reassure parents that academies were 'the best way forward', appears to have backfired after attracting almost 1,000 mostly negative responses form forum users

    But the post was inundated with angry responses from regulars on the forum, who branded her post 'despicable' (pictured), 'patronising' and the plans 'rubbish'.

    But the post was inundated with angry responses from regulars on the forum, who branded her post 'patronising' and the plans 'rubbish'.

    One said: 'What a load of absolute c***. If I were even considering voting Tory next time, this above all else would stop me.

    'Paying big bosses of academy chains hundreds of thousands of pounds while being unwilling or unable to recruit, pay and retain qualified and experienced teachers? No thanks.'

    Another said: 'Complete and utter rubbish. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for peddling this as an improvement for children's educations.'

    The assumption that what's good for one is good for all is quite simply wrong - and demonstrated by looking at the variability of success of academies in England now
    Mumsnet comment
    A third said: 'Academisation has NOTHING to do with improving our children's education.

    'The assumption that what's good for one is good for all is quite simply wrong - and demonstrated by looking at the variability of success of academies in England now.'

    Another said: 'This is so horrifying. And you're incredibly patronising.'

    And a fifth poster raged: 'This is a joke, right? Despicable.'

    The government wants to force all schools to become academies by 2020 – or at least be in the process of conversion.

    Mrs Morgan believes schools improve faster as academies, but critics say there is not enough evidence to prove this and argue that they could be less accountable if free from local authorities. The plans were outlined in a paper earlier this month, which also announced the end of compulsory elected parent governors.

    Mrs Morgan said that parents would be able to play a part in their child's education through a new online 'parent portal', which would provide information about how to raise issues.


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ne-parenting-forum-Mumsnet.html#ixzz44CnKuUwU
     

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