Saturday, 27 November 2010

Concern Over Number of Emails

Michael Gove - Advisor to the Simple

Dear Michael,
I’ve just found out that I’m not getting as many emails as some of my colleagues and I’m obviously really worried about this.  The other day the NQT in our department was moaning about how many emails she gets and I was shocked to hear how much mail she regularly gets in her inbox.  I know it must sound like I’m just jealous but really I’m not – I’m really happy for her.  It’s just that I’ve been teaching for fifteen years and I feel like a failure.  Please help.

Julie, Telford
Dear Julie,
Hearing this makes my blood boil.  It’s really sad that in the 21st Century good, honest teachers still aren’t getting the emails they deserve.  You’re right to be concerned about the lack of emails you are getting, but there are a few simple things you can do to help you get more.  Try sending an ‘All Staff’ email saying that the owner of car registration xyz has left its lights on.  Nobody will recognise the registration number so you’ll probably not get more than half a dozen ‘Thanks but not mine’ emails but it’s a start and, more importantly at this stage, it will raise your email profile within the school.  You can boost this number by using an actual registration from the school car park.  You should still get your standard six, but you’ll also get a couple from staff who know whose car it is as well as one certainty that reads: ‘No I haven’t.’
You can also do a similar thing by pretending you’ve found a glove or purse.  Again, since nobody will actually have lost anything you’ll probably just get that standard six thanking you anyway.  It’s all about developing and raising a credible email profile.
Once you’re happy with your e-profile start sending emails to colleagues asking them to do little jobs for you.  If you begin these emails with phrases like ‘could you just’ and ‘I was wondering if’ they’ll probably not realise that you’re giving them extra and pointless work to do, and the emails they’ll have to send you as a result will be invaluable in rebuilding confidence in yourself. 
Good luck, Ducky,

Monday, 22 November 2010

Colouring-In Set To Soar As
Teachers Face Sticky Wicket

The number of difficult to complete colouring-in exercises set in schools is due to rocket as thousands of UK teachers struggle to stay awake for the Ashes Test series down under.

 With the start of The Ashes just days away the three biggest teaching unions are set to distribute thousands of 14 years + colouring-in sheets in an attempt to help teachers deliver their lessons after near sleepless nights, it was revealed yesterday.  With the majority of the five matches scheduled to be played between the hours of midnight and 7 am UK time – the time usually preferred by many teachers for sleeping  - unions hope the sheets will support their members as they struggle to stay awake at their desks.

 ‘We’ve tested the sheets and they should take ages to do’, said Jonathon Barnard, General Secretary for SNATWU.  ‘We’re urging our members to start preparing their pencils now, if the pencils are blunt, or too short, the sheets may not work.’ He added ‘Teachers should make sure they’ve got plenty of blues, you can never have too many blues.’

The first Test is due to start on November 24th with the once every four years cricketing event causing havoc to normal sleeping patterns.  Without the colouring-in sheets thousands of teachers would have no option but to block-book computer rooms and set ‘title page’ activities.  For Teaching and Learning specialist Clayton Hughes it’s a worrying time.  ’Setting title page activities so close to Christmas could prove disastrous’ he said yesterday.  ‘I’d like to see much more being done in the field of tenuously linking videos to curriculum areas.’

Last month the government issued teacher guidance on how to construct plausible excuses for not having marked pupils’ work over the six week test series, and it’s hoped that last year’s recruitment drive Teach for the Tests will see thousands of unqualified trainees taking classes while their mentors get some much needed sleep.

These measures are welcomed by John Simpson, a volunteer for UK based charity Ashes Support, but he remains cautious:    ‘You have to remember that it’s been four years since the last time England were involved in a Test series in Australia.  Anyone that’s become a teacher within the last four years will be unfamiliar with the pressures of trying to teach after a sleepless night listening to Test Match Special on Radio 4.  We’ll be working very closely with our colleagues in Australia to support UK teaching professionals through what promises to be a very difficult time.’

A spokesman for the government said yesterday:  ‘We are very keen that standards in teaching and learning are not allowed to slip during the test series.  We very much welcome the increased provision of difficult to complete colouring-in exercises and dubiously appropriate DVDs, at what is bound to be a difficult time for teachers.

James Andrews, The Bitter Root: Educating the Wayward Scholar

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Teachers Welcome A Week Off Supporting School Bullies.

Supporting the work of bullies in my school for the last 51 weeks has been exhausting – thank goodness for November’s Anti-Bullying Week.  It can be such a thankless task these days to support bullying in schools with so much negative media attention surrounding the issue. I can’t wait for the week beginning the 15th November and a well-earned break.  I sometimes wonder about the fairness of being pro-bullying for so much of the year and I’m really looking forward to stopping some instances of unkind behaviour during these five days.  It seems like almost a year has gone by since I was last able, with anything approaching real conviction, to insist that one child stop being horrible to another.  Anti-Bullying Week is 15th-19th November.
James Andrews, author of The Bitter Root: Educating the Wayward Scholar

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Cash for Mash!
Vacant school dinners send headteachers scrambling for the sprouts
Hundreds of thousands of surplus school dinners are being snapped up by cash-strapped headteachers keen to cash in on the government’s new Pupil Premium.  The school dinners, which were being stored in a warehouse near Gatwick, and which were expected to have been axed altogether in October’s budget review, have more than quadrupled in value since the government announced the new measure last week.  The Pupil Premium, dubbed ‘cash for mash’ because it is expected to be based on the number of free school meals, has started what one leading commentator is calling ‘the biggest food-fight since the Vikings’.  He added: ‘The rush to bag the spare school dinners is outstripping even the expected rush to secure underprivileged children.’

It’s believed that the school meals, which are mostly lamb roast dinners and pasta bake, will be offered to pupils for free - whether they are hungry or not - in a desperate bid to secure the extra government  funding.  Rob Hastings, headteacher of Willington School in Shropshire bought up 130,000 of the estimated 480,000 surplus meals:   ‘Every pupil in my school will be expected to eat at least five of my free school meals, regardless of their socal background.  We are always struggling to afford things that flash, blink and go ‘whirr’, the extra money will be very important to us.   The cash-for-mash-for-kids scheme is an excellent idea.’