Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teaching unions give a lesson in blind self-interest

Teaching is a vocation; a noble calling which demands dedication. Not in the same sense as Christian ministry, which is divinely inspired and concerned with the fruits of the Kingdom. But in the sense of feeling strongly suited and necessarily gifted to inspire the minds of the young, which is concerned with the fruits of future society.

One does not enter the teaching profession for the money: it is a relatively low-paid public service job in which incremental salary increases are meagre. And the only opportunity for career advancement is the path which takes one out of the classroom altogether: to progress in teaching is to sit in an office and administrate on matters of equality, diversity and ‘excellence for all’. Over the past decade, interminable days have been filled dealing with ‘initiatives’ from the Department of Children, Schools and Families for literacy, numeracy, ICT, inclusion, the Gifted and Talented, Work Related Learning, Every Child Matters, Extended Schools, Specialist Schools, workforce remodelling, changes to curricula, qualifications, inspections and buildings.

And all of these programmes have only succeeded in breeding a culture of mind-numbing, box-ticking mediocrity. Schools do not now so much inspire learners to a genuine life-long love of intellectual discourse; they produce citizens who are able to regurgitate bite-sized snippets of pro-forma answers which subscribe to the state-decreed orthodoxy. The focus is on exam results and league tables, for that is how schools are judged.

But the best teachers will know that, although qualifications are important for the nation’s GDP, education must also equip children of all abilities to make positive, lifelong contributions to their families, communities and to wider society.

On Thursday the UK’s largest teaching unions, the NUT and the ATL, will call their members out on strike in opposition to the Coalition’s plans to pay down the national debt, which will require an adjustment to their traditional ‘gold-plated’ final salary pension scheme. It is a lesson in rootless individualism, for virtually everyone else knows and understands that the nation simply can no longer afford such schemes: the UK is not quite insolvent, but we are in dire economic circumstances which require remedial and swift intervention. You might have hoped that teachers of maths and economics at least would understand that equations need to be balanced and that the Laffer curve is not mere theory.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, has urged headteachers to keep their schools open: he has reminded them of their moral obligation to do so. Not all teachers will be striking, and these can be complemented with retired teachers or a "mum’s army" of volunteers to keep the curriculum rolling.

The ATL’s Mary Bousted hit the roof at this suggestion. She declared: “The idea that you can have untrained people in baby-minding large numbers of children, with all the potential that has for accidents, for chaos, for poor behaviour, I think that is a nonsense.”

What on earth do parents know about educating children? There is perhaps no better example of the arrogance and ignorance of the teaching unions than the offensive assertion that ‘untrained’ parents are fit for nothing but ‘baby-minding’. A mother or father in a classroom is not merely child-minding; they will have a plethora of things to contribute: stories to tell, wisdom to share, life experience to impart. Having negotiated relationships, marriage and child rearing, they would doubtless find themselves skilled moderators in the discussion of highly sensitive topics. Sure, there probably won’t be a lesson plan in accordance with Ofsted criteria and conforming to ‘best practice’. But Michael Gove’s "mums' army" would be as well-equipped as any emergency service. And they’ll be able to see for themselves what textbooks and curricular materials are being used to induct their children into particular worldview.

Student-teacher interactions are the most important determinant of the quality of the education a child receives in school: this strike is a wonderful opportunity for parents to experience such dynamic interaction for themselves – to experience first-hand what happens in their child’s classroom. Some will be delighted; others will be horrified. Doubtless many will leave full of admiration for what an awful lot of teachers have to put up with every day.

But let us consider what this strike is about: pensions. The NUT and ATL argue that their members’ pensions are sacrosanct. While the rest of the country adapts to the dire financial context, the teaching unions seek exemptions for their members. This is short-sighted and selfish. It is also antithetical to all virtuous notions of communitarianism and self-discipline: the dominant morality conveyed is materialism and the dominant ideology taught is critical of political conservatism and fiscal prudence.

But one has to wonder why the ATL has chosen this issue as the reason to strike for the first time in their 127-year history.

The number of school visits has declined significantly over the past decade, due largely to increased ‘health and safety’ bureaucracy and a shortage of funding and time to plan trips and activities. This impinges upon the learning experience of children. Why have teachers not taken strike action over this?

As school playing fields have been sold off, PE and sport have suffered. And playground games have declined because fewer staff are available to supervise children. Why have teachers not taken strike action over this?

Modular exams and limitless re-takes have seen a decline in academic standards, with teachers reduced to providing model answers for students to memorise and regurgitate. This has severely restricted the university and career options for millions of children. Why have teachers not taken strike action over this?

Just seven per cent of the population attend private schools, yet they account for 75 per cent of judges, 70 per cent of finance directors, 50 per cent of top journalists and 33 per cent of MPs. Grammar schools were the greatest single engine of social mobility ever devised in our nation’s history. They were meritocratic, permitting the poorest students to compete with the privately-educated élite and attain the highest offices in the land. Why did their abolition not cause teachers to strike?

Working class children in these schools were ‘pushed’ to aspire in ways their parents never knew how. Academic aspiration has historically been the preserve of the wealthier parents, but those from deprived backgrounds have rarely spurred their children to achieve beyond the confines of their context, principally for fear of them ‘getting above themselves’. Low aspiration begets low expectation; low expectation begets low achievement; low achievement begets low income; low income begets poverty; poverty begets crime. Yet, until Michael Gove’s push on ‘free schools’, no political party sought to address this demoralising spiral. Why did teachers not take strike action to spur successive governments on?

During New Labour’s years of ‘Education, education, education’, the perpetual boast was one of revolutionised provision and raised standards. Yet in 2010 the OECD established that British children have a poorer grasp of literacy and numeracy than most other children across the developed world. During Labour’s period in government, the UK plummeted from 8th to 22nd place in the international league table for Maths (behind Hungary, just above Slovenia), with British 15-year-olds falling ‘below average’ in comparison with their peers in other countries. We fell to 11th place in Science (beneath Estonia); and sunk to 20th place in Reading (way beneath Poland and Belgium). Why did teachers not taken strike action over this?

It is the task of the teacher to inspire students to think for themselves: to provide them with the skills necessary to recognise, criticise and dismiss the state’s efforts to preach to them; to teach them to weigh what they hear in school with what they learn from their parents and the news media. A teacher’s democratic mission requires them to teach students to deliberate critically about the common good and aspire to the Aristotelian virtues. A skilful teacher will excite and engage the minds of the young, and mediate epistemological difficulties with insight. His or her attitude will determine whether students approach a subject with enthusiasm or boredom, sympathy or hostility, imagination or torpor.

Those who understand this vocation will be in the classroom on Thursday doing the job they love. Those who do not, deserve to replaced by a "mums' army" for the day – health & safety legislation and CRB checks permitting.


Blogger Ruth Gledhill said...

Two years after I passed the 11-plus and went to a grammar school, the school was turned into a comprehensive. It was not entirely the school's fault that those two years were the only two years of good education I had in my life. Most of the good teachers, great teachers, of the grammar days would not have dreamed of going on strike. This was a couple of years before the winter of discontent. After the great betrayal of everything they believed in about education, most just just left, quietly, making no fuss, leaving children like me bereft beyond measure. Some stayed and struggled on. For a good idea of what it was like in that place those days, post grammar, watch the films of Shane Meadows, who I didn't know because he is younger but who lived nearby. For poor people, like vicar's kids and council estate kids, grammar school education was then the only way to escape that desolate, forgotten, grim part of Britain. Perhaps it's not changed much, either. I understand that it was after visiting these parts, my dad's old diocese, that Rowan Williams was inspired to intervene through his New Statesman editorship. In my view, many of this country's problems in relation to social mobility, educational achievement, instilling basic morality and understanding competitiveness could be resolved, not immediately but in time, by bringing back grammars. Michael Gove has done the next best thing with free schools and in allowing remaining grammars to expand. I never understood why the Tories betrayed their grass roots by not having the courage to go back to grammars.

28 June 2011 at 10:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely you mean “indoctrination, indoctrination, indoctrination”.

28 June 2011 at 10:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ruth - I was fortunate enough to go to one of the few remaining grammar schools. It always struck me that the highly committed manner in which the Tories closed grammar schools belied the fact that they were doing the bidding of their grass roots, who one has to suspect never liked children from 'below stairs' families being supported with tax revenue to overtake their own children. The unholy alliance of defensive middle class parents and the egalitarian left was too powerful to resist. For anyone who believes in social mobility it is clear and stupid betrayal, but the forces ranged against GS are just too great to hope for a comeback.

28 June 2011 at 11:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...a culture of mind-numbing, box-ticking mediocrity.

Those 8 words pretty much describe the entire public sector 'management' layer.

28 June 2011 at 11:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Home-schooling is the only way to go these days. Why anyone would want their children corrupted by the screwed-up values of the enemy is beyond me.


28 June 2011 at 11:40  
Blogger Graham said...

The 11 Plus - it worked great for the third of the population not thrown on the scrap heap at 11. As for the rest. There wasn't much social mobility for the "vocational" students in the secondary moderns.

28 June 2011 at 12:09  
Anonymous MrJ said...

(Mr) Graham (12:09) That was not the fault of the grammar schools as such but in part what Anon. said at 11:35.

Two M.P.s who may be remembered with infamy in this connection are Anthony Crosland (educated at Highgate School and at Trinity College, Oxford): "If it's the last thing I do, I'm going to destroy every [expletive] grammar school in England. And Wales and Northern Ireland"; and Shirley Williams ("peripatetic education in the UK and USA before taking a degree at Somerville College, Oxford") and her misguided
enthusiasm for promoting the sham remedy of "comprehensive" schools.

28 June 2011 at 12:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just seven per cent of the population attend private schools, yet they account for 75 per cent of judges, 70 per cent of finance directors, 50 per cent of top journalists and 33 per cent of MPs."

And what a wonderful job they are all doing too! Is this an argument for or against private schools?

28 June 2011 at 12:49  
Anonymous Boris said...

what has the laffer curve got to do with current tory policy? the laffer curve says that, counter-intuitively, a cut in taxes can boost the economy so much that government revenue increases - that sounds more like ed balls than george osborne.

also lol at free schools being the first attempt to address education problems. funneling government money to rich parents will do little to help the poorest. academies were far more significant, that's why gove's making so many of them.

28 June 2011 at 12:52  
Blogger Gareth said...

@anon 12:49

I imagine it is a comment to set up a favourable comparison with Grammar Schools.


As most teachers are a little to the left of Trotsky, they tend to see the recession as a borgeouise tool for oppressing the proletariat. So striking is a form of class warfare.

28 June 2011 at 12:57  
Blogger Steve H said...

It seems that the job of teaching children is considered so important that teachers are expected to live on "relatively low pay", few job prospects and now not even the pension they were promised.

It's not the case that the nation can't afford the pensions, rather that it chooses not to fund them.

The nerve of a right wing Christian presuming to lecture others on the pursuit of self interest in breathtaking.

Presumably Cranmer doesn't pursue his divine vocation gratis.

28 June 2011 at 13:09  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Crosland was, and Williams is, a liberal, MrJ, and they don't like 'ordinary' people challenging their hegemony. They only feel secure when they have a raft of 'lower orders' to support them and compare themselves with.

State 'education' in this country is a scandal crying out to heaven for vengeance.
The teachers (and their union officials and all their council fellow travellers) should hang their heads in shame. They have not only been instrumental in destroying the life-chances of millions of our children, but they have mulcted the country of vast sums for their salaries and created untold future obligations for their gold-plated pensions. I can't allow myself to brood too long on this monstrous fraud - it becomes too distressing.

And it is the products of these same teachers' efforts that are the next generation whose efforts, we are told, are going to get us out of our financial mess - fat chance!

28 June 2011 at 13:11  
Anonymous IanCad said...

With the advances in technology the need for for schools/universities as we know them today is fast diminishing.
The opportunity of home schooling is still available. It produces better rounded students and reeducates the parents.
Teachers hate the idea thus providing evidence of its advantages.

28 June 2011 at 13:30  
Blogger Chalcedon said...

I went to an excellent Grammar school. The masters were excellent teachers. Most were soldiers too at one time or another. We had a CCF. I learned to shoot at school. When the comprehensivisation began my school and the girls grammar amalgamated and went private. Such a loss for gifted pupils with poor parents (there are bursaries of course). The problem is jealous parents whose children failed the 11+ wanted to see these grammars closed. They did not think of the bigger picture, of the country as a whole, just wanted them abolished because their little John or Jane failed to get a place. Of course, Labour spite helped.

28 June 2011 at 13:35  
Anonymous non mouse said...

I didn't think that anyone at my grammar school was 'below stairs' - or that they treated others as if they were. What I saw was very intelligent people measuring their accomplishments against each other, striking off each other, and helping each other to raise performance levels even higher. It was a wonderful place; I've never ceased to be grateful for the quality of that education.

Without understanding until later, though, I did see a few communists who were intent on promoting interests of the children of their comrades - over those of anyone they could designate as socially 'top drawer, but-not- quite-good-enough-or-they-wouldn't-be here.' The communists didn't always succeed, however, because most of their colleagues, and many parents, understood the agenda and worked against them to develop minds and talents as Your Grace describes.

The socio-political context seems to remain the same, then: whatever the system.

[I also seem to recall that a few people transferred to grammar schools, post 11+ ... if they proved themselves of academic calibre, but to have fallen short for some reason. Even if I've mis-remembered on that, everyone knew that some children are just poor test-takers and might do better come GCE time.]

28 June 2011 at 13:37  
Blogger English Viking said...

Your Grace,

The UK IS insolvent. If it were a Limited Company, its Directors would have been disqualified years ago. Printing money and then lending it to yourself is not solvency.

Poverty does not lead to crime. A horrid slur on the poor.

28 June 2011 at 14:19  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"...the third of the population not thrown on the scrap heap at 11."
*takes out onion*

28 June 2011 at 14:27  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Some who taught or were taught in public schools and grammar schools were bright enough to know how wrong it was to say of those that did not pass an entrance test (Common Entrance or 11+ or both) were failures for life. But politically motivated interests were able to inhibit proper education for those others. The issues became confused over several generations and their cohorts of pupils and students. The result is widespread rancour, smugness and misinformation. Mr Gove seems to be trying to redress the mischief. Whether there has been a deep-laid plot, or thinking too shallow to devise ways and means, generations have been failed, to the loss of all.

Am I seeing things, or is the child in the picture being used to promote NUT propaganda? (Couldn't trace it on google)

28 June 2011 at 14:29  
Anonymous Red in the Bed? said...

What a load of poppy-cock.

I 'suffered' the joys of a grammar school education and joined the ranks of the good little middle-class boys whose dad's were bankers, insurance brokers and vicars. Barely able to afford the mandatory school uniform, let alone the cost of voluntary school activities, my parents did their best. During my time there I was known as 'clippy', my father being a bus conductor. The only lessons politicaly neutral were the sciences. The rest ... well, I won't go there.

Lets talk about MP's and their salaries - £60k plus a year with a non-contributory pension and lump sum regardless of time served. Or the Lords creaming it in for sitting all day half-asleep. What is it GP's earn nowadays? £100k plus. And London tube drivers - £40k plus?

Fortunately I survived, avoided University, and today run my own successful business. My children attend a Comprehensive School and are taught by skilled and dedicated teachers who offer a wide range of perspectives on the subject matters taught.

Good luck to the ranks of the teachers who have had enough of the hypocracy

28 June 2011 at 14:51  
Blogger Elby the Beserk said...

To the home schooler - I am all for it if it suits, and had friends in the 80s who home schooled their kids. But it is NOT the only alternative - the Steiner School system provides a profoundly different method of approaching teaching, based on the true meaning of education ("leading out"), and on Steiner's comment that education is about producing "free and responsible adults".

All four of my kids attended Steiner Schools - and are now free and responsible adults, all in work in socially useful jobs, and all self-supporting.

28 June 2011 at 15:23  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 June 2011 at 15:29  
Blogger Phillip said...

Teachers should never strike, not about money anyway. I'm a teacher and have lived through two pointless strikes (for a measly 1% extra). Non-striking teachers were chased off school premises and threatened with violence. Education is mostly about ideology now and not about maths, science, reading, etc. Governments want pliable complacent citizens not individuals who can think for themselves. I always was under the impression that the UK had a great education system and us here in darkest Africa could learn from you. Seems we are all in the same boat.

28 June 2011 at 15:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go back to the old hedge schools, were children can learn a useful craft, Its in the blood.

28 June 2011 at 15:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

28 June 2011 at 16:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s going to take a very long time to get back even to a standard of education some 30 years ago. The reason is that the teachers themselves have been badly taught over the last 30 years. And these have taught the present generation of teachers, so a vicious cycle. Its going to take just as long, or even longer, just to get back.

28 June 2011 at 16:16  
Blogger 13eastie said...

With no apparent sense of irony, union members will abandon school-pupils (in whose interests they claim endlessly to work) in order to campaign that the very same children be burdened maximally by their teachers' pensions.

A master-class in selfishness and hypocrisy*.

*Expect a similarly-titled, "skills-based", vocational GCSE on the syllabus presently.

28 June 2011 at 16:19  
Anonymous John Thomas said...

There's much discussion, above, of grammar schools as the working class kid's way out of poverty: I always think it's ironic where prominent left-leaning people (I'm thinking of Alan Bennett, but there are others) rose from the working class via grammar schools, to Oxbridge, the media, and thence celebritydom/power - and now support, or are part of, the political party that is most implacably against GSs; kicking away the ladder by which they ascended. Hypocrisy, or what!

28 June 2011 at 16:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at a Christmas party a couple of years ago and was sitting next to a work colleagues's wife who happened to be a GCSE English teacher.

Making conversation, I asked her who her favourite novelist was.

"I haven't got one" she replied.

Fair enough, I thought, she probably prefers poetry or plays. I asked her if she'd read anything recently that she'd particularly enjoyed.

"'My Booky-Wook' by Russell Brand" she enthused. "I'm actually reading it for the second time!"

28 June 2011 at 16:33  
Anonymous Tony B said...

You'd be happy to pay more and work longer for less then, I take it?

28 June 2011 at 16:56  
Blogger Owl said...

Why was Anthony Crosland so anti Grammar schools? They were obviously sucessful and were supplying top people in many branches including politics.

In fact, they were too sucessful.

Crosland was a Fabian socialist which is the same as saying "an intellectual elitist".

The idea of the plebs supplying quality material which matched or even surpassed the Fabian elite could not be tolerated.

Dumb down the plebs. They needed to be controlled not emancipated.

The Grammar school had to go, it was too dangerous.

It is not the working class which does not want Grammar schools, they would welcome them. The people who would try to make you think otherwise have their own vested interests.

Why did Edward Heath lead the UK down the EEC road and keep Maggie closing down the Grammar schools. Look no further than his mentor at Balliol.

The answers are staring us in the face.

28 June 2011 at 17:22  
Blogger English Viking said...

Tony B,

Teachers don't pay anything at all, not a penny, unless they are in the Private Sector.

As for 'work' - 13 weeks a year paid leave, 7hr days. Not bad is it?

More always wants more, especially when it's as easy as taking it from someone else.

28 June 2011 at 17:23  
Anonymous not a machine said...

A very pleasing piece your grace ,I wonder where the ATL was when all us knew our schools were becoming the nightmares of poor discipline ,that have such long term effects on community and society .
One I visited was having a typical day , with an parent/pupil exclusion going on down the hall and an urgent request for the "restraing team" to urgently attend another class .
The old line of balming the parents isnt particulary fair as they have had more lefty garbage pumped into there heads to make misplace educations imperative and function in the home setting.
education is not about plonking children infront a computer screen and uploading knowledge , labours whole efforts on schooling were based on uploading from computer , perhaps that is why they sold off over 2700 school playing fields , because they wanted zombie machine interface to become fabian reality .
There are some very good teachers who have values and headteachers who do work to achieve them , but I have to say under Labour , so many wrong basics were indoctrinated , parents sidelined ,and box checking to present the right political nosies , I am not surprised employers have been questioning , why they have 18yr olds that cannot do basic arithmatic or spelling and composition .
Labour utterly hollowed out the education standards and ideals to enforce a generation where they believe all is done via electonic gadget .Whole aspects of Human potential/experience have been trivialised , and authority removed .
It was perhaps a gradual event ,but non the less a disgrace on labour what they ended up creating , I just hope the adults that they have created , grow up into people not wanting an advisor or release slip , for every event in there lives , or depressed when the battery or credits run out .

The class of never fail is also the class of never aspire , or makes use of talents , and childishly never wrong on there rights .
Where was the ATL when standards were getting so obviously poor ?

28 June 2011 at 17:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The UK education system is designed to endlessly fall down world performance tables to meet the needs of politicians and is succeeding magnificently. The "insiders" are schools, exam boards and politicians. Any feedback which could improve the system could only come from outsiders such as universities and business and their views are assiduously excluded. The CBI has reported ever falling standards of numeracy and literacy for over a decade but can safely rely on being ignored. Universities are the biggest sufferer from grade inflation so A grades so tell universities little about their ability. The top few cannot be identified because of the grade inflation process which is exactly what politicians want so they can disallow the middle class student. It is to the advantage of all insiders to have grade inflation year on year. Schools want to look good by offering soft subjects that allow top grades for many. Exam boards invent new soft subject to fill the demand. Politicians need grade inflation to make themselves look good and so they can pretend 50% can benefit from a university education (i.e. never mind the quality, feel the width.)

28 June 2011 at 17:52  
Anonymous MrJ said...

"Why did Edward Heath lead the UK down the EEC road and keep Maggie closing down the Grammar schools. Look no further than his mentor at Balliol"

Edward Heath, educated Chatham House Grammar School and Balliol, Oxford; under A.D.Lindsay, 1st Baron Lindsay of Birker of Low Ground.

Margaret Thatcher, Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School (KGGS) grammar school for girls, and Somerville College, Oxford

The destruction of education mentioned by (Mr) not a machine (17:39) was well on its way under Mrs Thatcher (like PFI).

28 June 2011 at 17:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Childrens imaginations should be caught early, why the World is still a magical place to them.

Engineers of the future should not only know how to machine car parts, but how ore is mined and smelted and how this relates to the dominant name in English society having been Smith.

Give them a fuller sence of the evolution of their craft, then let them forge ahead blazing trails into the future. Make teaching holistic. Ancient seers like Aristotle were holistic seekers into the very nature of existence itself.

Conscience and natural science should be integrated with the essence of life and living.

This strike is a mere sideshow to the real problems we face. That of our enslavement to illusory usury and false debt.

Get the slavemasters off our backs!

28 June 2011 at 18:08  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Chalcedon said...
The problem is jealous parents....


What jealous or otherwise parents want or do not want, has as much to do with what they actually get today, as it did at any time in the past; which is absolutely NONE whatsoever.

The Education System is run by The Establishment, it is only payed for by us.

What the establishment wants, the establishment gets. What you personally want or do not want, has got nothing to do with anything at all. We have the kind of Education System the establishment long since planned and conspired for us to have.

Therefore get used to it, for it is not going to get any better, because what you have is the best the proverbial THEY want you have, otherwise they would have already given you better.

The education system, is not supposed to work, it is supposed to do what it does do.

Which is to render future generations with masses of stagflation inducing debts. Promote The Establishments, long, short, and medium term social and political agendas. Cost the taxpayer as much as the education systems controllers can get away with. Teach as little that is actually useful to the student as possible, for example anything about how the world we all live in ACTUALLY works, or anything that encourages genuine critical thinking, while spending much energy appearing to look as if they are very busy doing the exact opposite. Act as a baby sitter for working mothers, especially the tax paying middle-class variety.

A rather neat operation, where the capitalist system ends up quite deliberately creating a MARXIST one. Which is not wholly surprising, as the most powerful and richest people on this planet regard themselves as varying forms of Marxist socialist.

The end of private property, free thought, parenthood, the nation state, self-respect, human rights as common sense would know them, independence, democracy, self-determination, and ultimately spiritual, racial, and SEXUAL diversity, indeed most if not absolutely everything that is human, worthwhile, or notably desirable about being one.

The system works like this.

While you are shaking the establishment by its right hand, it will have its left in your back pocket. As, while you are shaking the establishment by its left hand, it will have its right in your other back pocket.

28 June 2011 at 18:10  
Anonymous MrJ said...

"...the kind of Education System the establishment long since planned..."

Church (of one denomination or another), Napoleon, Bismarck... Leviathan. Beat it or join it? Is there a choice?

28 June 2011 at 18:46  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

Not only a "Mums Army".
There are two Grandparents here who would only be too pleased to help.

28 June 2011 at 18:55  
Blogger Cettis Warbler said...

Actually the best thing WOULD be for a "mum's army" (note mums, not dads...) to come into the classroom and take over, because then they would see what teachers have to do on a daily basis and gain some appreciation of why we might feel so strongly about this that we have decided to strike.I would LOVE to see Joe Parent control 32 boisterous 14 year olds. After all, school is just free childcare for many parents.

The talk in the staff room currently centres on whether we actually have the physical ability to struggle on until 66 or 68 and if not, how we can jump ship to a better-paid, less stressful career when we hit 50.

Where are these 13 weeks off and 7 hour days then? I haven't had more than three days off in a row since last summer - or do you think that reports, planning and marking appear out of thin air? I had other jobs before becoming a teacher but nothing compares to this for sheer exhaustion.

Although I don't share your political views, Your Grace, I do enjoy the comment on your blog. However, this time I'm afraid you don't know what you're talking about.

28 June 2011 at 19:07  
Blogger English Viking said...

Cettis Warbler,

How many days off in total have you had in the last 2 years?

Marking? You must be exhausted, you poor dear.

Try 12 hour shifts in a factory.

28 June 2011 at 19:19  
Blogger Cettis Warbler said...

Dear English Viking,

As I said before, I had a whole other set of jobs before becoming a teacher, so I know about long shifts and physically demanding work. That's why I made the comment, because I know what I'm on about.

In the last two years the only complete time off I have had has been the 5 weeks of the summer holiday.

best wishes,


28 June 2011 at 19:37  
Blogger Gareth said...

Viking -

Try spending a day in a room with a group of insolent teenagers who view you with nothing but contempt, treat your carefully planned activities with derision, ignore all your instructions and spend their whole time throwing objects at each other and coming up with new ways of insulting you.

Then tell me that teaching is a walk in the park.

Or you could just keep your gob shut about matters in which you are clearly ignorant.

28 June 2011 at 19:54  
Anonymous IanCad said...

Teachers are like farmers. Forever lamenting their lot. If they don't like it why don't they do something else and stop whining.

28 June 2011 at 20:05  
Blogger Gareth said...

I wasn't whinging. I was illustrating to the terminally unpleasant and appropriately named 'English Viking' why putting the word work in inverted commas to describe the job of a teacher is both insulting, ignorant and stupid.

28 June 2011 at 20:36  
Anonymous tony b said...

IanCad yes, that would be a great improvement wouldn't it.

28 June 2011 at 20:37  
Anonymous tony b said...

Gareth - both of three things? Are you sure you're a teacher? ;-)

28 June 2011 at 20:39  
Blogger English Viking said...


If you don't like it, get another job, instead of constantly whining about it, holding children's education to ransom and expecting others to subsidise an already cushy number. You're not viewed as some kind of hero-figures anymore. Every man and his dog have got a degree nowadays. The contempt most parents of any quality feel for the State-sanctioned bullshit that comprises education nowadays, along with the State-sanctioned bullshitters that 'care' for children today, is at a similar level to their opinions on all the other things ruined by moronic Governments over the last decade or so, voted in, of course, by 'Public Servants'.

I assume you are a P.E. teacher.

28 June 2011 at 20:57  
Blogger Gareth said...

Good point - my usual standard of English was obviously momentarily overwhelmed by my feelings of indignation.

28 June 2011 at 20:57  
Blogger English Viking said...


You are evading the question.

How many days off have you had in the last 2 years? That would be from from, say June 1, 2009, until today?

I don't care if they were consecutive, just how many, or how many day's pay in lieu?

It's at least 26 weeks, isn't it? Not including the 30 weeks off in weekends, nor sickies, nor half-day training, etc.

Even on minimum, union sanctioned holiday rates, public sector school teachers are on holiday at least 50% of the year.

Poor old you.

Strike all you like. Perhaps educational standards will increase. It will certainly help the Gov reduce the deficit, by not having to pay your wages on strike days. Public sympathy will be slim to none.

28 June 2011 at 21:12  
Anonymous Old Codger said...

I disagree that "those from deprived backgrounds have rarely spurred their children to achieve beyond the confines of their context". I spent my teenage years in the Midlands, in the fifties, where working class fathers were either miners or production line workers in the car industry. I think that without exception they all wanted their children to do better than they had. That was why Labour tried to eliminate the grammar schools, to remove the perceived unfairness that less able children could not benefit from a grammar school education.

In fact I think there are still many exceptions to your generalist statement. My old school, in the West Midlands, is still a grammar school, setting its own entrance exam, yet a significant proportion of its annual intake comes from the most deprived section of the local population.

28 June 2011 at 21:18  
Blogger Gareth said...

Oh dear. An anonymous coward just made fun of me on the internet. I'm going off to my room now to cry.

28 June 2011 at 22:02  
Blogger Cettis Warbler said...

Dear Angry Viking,

How many weeks off since June 2009? Well, five weeks during summer 2009 and five weeks during summer 2010. Then about three days at Christmas and Easter each year. Other than that (and the odd day to take the family out), every day involves work. For example I spent Easter this year marking GCSE coursework. (2000 word extended essays before you ask). I do preparation and marking over the weekend. What exactly do you think that teachers do?

best wishes,


PS We don't do sickies.... apart from the ethical considerations it involves even more work in setting cover!

PPS Hang on in there Gareth!

28 June 2011 at 22:10  
Blogger English Viking said...

Oh dear,

Some nob thinks he's not anonymous because he calls himself Gareth on the 'net.

28 June 2011 at 22:12  
Anonymous chris r said...

English Viking 17:23

"As for 'work' - 13 weeks a year paid leave, 7hr days. Not bad is it?"

Facts straight please:

I, and many of my colleagues work at least 12, if not 14 hours a day, including many hours on a Saturday, and a few on Sunday. Many of us spend our so called holidays on essential school work; in my case, for example, writing, arranging and copying music for the school orchestra.

And, Your Grace,

I will not be striking, neither will any of my colleagues. I nevertheless think it is a poor argument to suggest that because teaching is a profession undertaken for love, not money then teachers can do without the money.

It seems self evident that our society rewards most richly that which is of least eternal consequence.

And contrary to Scriptural exhortation, fails to honour financially those who do the most significant work:

1 Tim 5:17-18

28 June 2011 at 22:17  
Blogger English Viking said...

Chris R,

I frankly do not believe you are working 14 hours a day, six or 7 days a week. The confusion probably stems from what you consider to be work.

You're a liar. And you should know better than to copy music, too.

With regard to your perversion of scripture, your sense of entitlement is utterly overwhelming.

Not a single child will miss your orchestral 'talents' come strike day. I'm sure little Timmy can master a tambourine without a step-by-step guide from you.

Florrie might struggle on the triangle though, eh?

28 June 2011 at 22:32  
Blogger IdiotZoo said...

Last time I commented here I demonstrated I was "incapable of reasonable or rational discussion". Let's hope I do better this time.

It's very interesting to read Ruth Gledhill's comments. My education was the product of the last tory government. Interestingly I was taught startlingly little of a great many things that supposedly are at the centre of Conservative education policy, but that's by the by.

His Grace says "There is perhaps no better example of the arrogance and ignorance of the teaching unions than the offensive assertion that ‘untrained’ parents are fit for nothing but ‘baby-minding’."

That could be turned on its head. Gove's suggestion that schools can be kept open by parents paints a picture of teachers as glorified child minders, something that hasn't escaped friends of mine who found these comments particularly irksome.

"A mother or father in a classroom is not merely child-minding; they will have a plethora of things to contribute"

Absolutely and it would be wonderful to increase the involvement of parents in the education of their children; something that in parts of our nation is lacking, but I hardly feel this is likely to happen. Instead we'd be much more likely to see well meaning parents totally overwhelmed by the reality of a school classroom.

"Having negotiated relationships, marriage and child rearing, they would doubtless find themselves skilled moderators in the discussion of highly sensitive topics."

By this logic, why do we bother to train teachers at all? The intensive year's PGCE course, or longer teaching degrees are a requirement before someone can be a teacher in a state school. That's something Gove doesn't value, and he's happy for unqualified teachers to be taken on by 'Free' schools.

As His Grace says, being a good teacher is about much more than the qualification, but that training is important, and for many of the excellent teachers working in our society's schools the training they've received is part of what makes them good at their job.

In fact it's puzzling that Gove is happy for pretty much anyone to take a class, yet he also wants to raise the standards of teaching.


My understanding of the ATL's argument is that teachers already pay more into their pensions, this was renegotiated a few years ago. The government have failed to provide any valuation data of the teachers pension scheme and yet are insisting on significantly reducing individual pensions. That doesn't seem reasonable.

This is very much the final straw for a profession that feels ignored by government (our feckless tory MP won't even respond to letters or e-mails from members of the RE Council). It's unfortunate that pensions is the issue the ATL are willing to strike over. Overall Gove's 'reform' of the education system is likely to be so damaging that this is going to be the least of their problems.

28 June 2011 at 22:33  
Blogger English Viking said...


My heart bleeds that you only get (according to your figures) about 50% more holiday than the people that pay your wages.

Sitting down with a coffee and a biro, reading 4th form clap-trap shouldn't be too draining, surely?

28 June 2011 at 22:36  
Blogger IdiotZoo said...

My goodness the trolls are out this evening. Anyone who isn't a teacher, hasn't been a teacher and isn't married to a teacher is probably not in a position to comment about the length of holidays, workload or... probably very much about the reality of being a teacher.

But hey, don't let that stop you ;o)

28 June 2011 at 22:39  
Anonymous chris r said...

English Viking

Copying music involves writing out individual parts of orchestral pieces written by oneself. It is not considered sensible practice to put on each musician's music stand a copy of the entire score!

I have no triangle or tambourine players. Just a few violins, cellos, double basses, flutes, saxophones, clarinets, trumpeters and trombonists.

Considering your image of me copying music is mistaken, as is your concept of the orchestra I write for, perhaps it is also possible that you are mistaken in your view of me as a liar.

28 June 2011 at 22:56  
Anonymous MrJ said...

IdiotZoo said..."... hope I do better..." Those remarks are certainly a great improvement on some of those before it, which amply demonstrate "The issues became confused over several generations ... The result is widespread rancour, smugness and misinformation." (14:29). Wish it were otherwise.

28 June 2011 at 23:04  
Blogger Gareth said...


Click on my name, you will then discover that I am not, in fact, anonymous.

Unlike someone who feels free to throw insults around from the nice, comfortable seat he is sitting in, with no fear of reprisals.

Which is the very definition of a coward.

28 June 2011 at 23:06  
Blogger English Viking said...


Yep, done that.

Totally anonymous. Doh! When I was looking at the definition of 'coward' in the dicky, I stumbled across 'half-wit', and it gave 2 definitions. 1. a P.E. teacher. 2. Gareth.

Chris R,

Anything's possible. I was once in the Town Orchestra. No, really.
'Liar' was harsh. Exaggerator is better. I apologise.

Idiot Zoo,

I've never been to the North Pole, but I know it's cold. Never been bitten by a crocodile either, but I understand it's rather painful. Never been a teacher (except to my 3) but...

28 June 2011 at 23:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bet you're a great dad English Viking.

29 June 2011 at 01:44  
Anonymous Oswin said...

The classroom would be a far pleasanter place without hordes of immigrants, or the children of immigrants. Then the 'chavs' might be more easily sorted.

Unfortunately, any teacher saying such a thing would be kicked-out of their union, or even prosecuted!

29 June 2011 at 03:33  
Anonymous Mr. Chips said...

I think parent involvement in the classroom situation is a great idea but only if it involves English Viking types with full attire and weaponry. It is what is needed to maintain classroom discipline since teachers are no longer allowed to tweak ears, hurl books and desks as missiles at uncooperative pupils.
During the Russian revolution teachers use to have a loaded gun
on their desks(to protect the pupils)so they said. It worked:)

My sympathies to Gareth. I would rather busk on a street corner than work in a State School.I certainly would never send my children to one.

29 June 2011 at 03:53  
Blogger Gareth said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 June 2011 at 07:15  
Blogger IdiotZoo said...

"I've never been to the North Pole, but I know it's cold. Never been bitten by a crocodile either, but I understand it's rather painful. Never been a teacher (except to my 3) but..."

Well you seem to have a complete understanding of allthe details there... In fact with such a grasp of the teaching profession, and it is a profession despite the fact you seem to consider teachers lying, lazy halfwits... Well, you're qualified for education secretary ;o)

29 June 2011 at 07:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I know nothing about the teaching profession but I know what is happening with people.
The idea of 'service',of the welfare of others and service to others seem to have all but 'gone out of the window 'so to speak.
Primary care now seem to be with self and with 'ones rights'.
Interest seems to be now focussed inward, on self ,rather that outward, on others.
In our Society now 'rights' are paramount but ones own rights seem to take precedence on the rights of others.
What about the rights of Children to an education, what about the rights of Children in the womb,these rights are obviously secondary rights.
Most people will have no pension, a lot of people will have no job,a lot of people live on far less than a teachers salary.

29 June 2011 at 08:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is relatively low paid..." Relative to what? It is a myth, as with nurses, that teachers are low paid. My daughter is on almost £50,000 a year and she teaches in the classroom. She does not sit in an office looking at equality and all the other nonsense mentioned. This blogger is ill-informed and many years out of date.

29 June 2011 at 09:19  
Blogger IdiotZoo said...

The views of many are hopelessly outdated when it comes to education. In fact most people base their view of education entirely on when they were at school, which could have been some time ago and chances are things have moved on.

Anonymous is right that teaching isn't badly paid, however his/her daughter isn't a regular classroom teacher on almost £50k. That's simply not true. A salary like that only comes with a lot of responsibility for a department or whole school issues.

That responsibility comes with an enormous amount of work. It isn't unusual for such a teacher to have a pretty much full teaching timetable (with all the associated planning, marking and reports, etc) plus having to run a department or handle significant whole school issues such as PSHE/Citizenship. Often the financial rewards are quite good, sadly money doesn't buy time.

29 June 2011 at 10:26  
Blogger English Viking said...


Oh, so you're not a school-teacher, you work at a tech-college.

Not really the same thing, apart from suckling the tax-payer tit, I suppose.

The next time I find myself unfortunate enough to be in Chesterfield, I'd be happy to drop in and show you where you're going wrong. If you're not on holiday. Or on a sicky.

PS You are a P.E. teacher, aren't you?

29 June 2011 at 11:57  
Blogger English Viking said...


Little present for you.


It's the one you left out of 'contemptible'.

You can see why I think your main academic prowess lies with teaching P.E. and not English, don't you?

29 June 2011 at 12:02  
Blogger Gareth said...

Well spotted, I did indeed commit the mortal sin of including a spelling error in an internet post.

At least I managed to complete a post without gratuitous swearing, the first refuge of the truly linguistically imbecilic.

29 June 2011 at 13:03  
Blogger English Viking said...


Getting bored now.

I have not sworn, unless, being one yourself, you consider 'tit' to be swearing.

Haven't you got a netball 'lesson' to 'teach'?

PS I'd rather be linguistically imbecilic than syntactically inept.

PPS Not long now, a couple more coffees and a free period for 'lesson planning' and it's home-time. You must be shattered.

29 June 2011 at 13:37  
Blogger Gareth said...

You seem to be very interested in demeaning other people's line of work. I wonder what it is you do for a 'living'. Go on, I could do with a laugh.

29 June 2011 at 14:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IdiotZoo: My daughter is a classrom teacher on £46,000 a year. The school is set up into houses and she heads one of the houses. On her own admission this takes little of her time and she is almost totally in the classroom. Please don't call me a liar when you are obviously ignorant of the little ruses used to increase teacher's pay. She does, however work hard at her teaching and I have no problem with her pay. I do despise idiots who still believe teachers are badly paid - relatively speaking of course.

29 June 2011 at 14:25  
Blogger English Viking said...


I run my own company, repairing/replacing auto and boat interiors. Mostly leather re-upholstery/re-trimming.

I've been doing this kind of thing for around 20 years. Before this I was a factory worker in numerous sweatshops, a dustbin-man, cashier in a petrol station, clerk in a Magistrates Court (not The Clerk of the Court, just the hoppo dealing with all the paperwork, fines, etc), a painter and decorator, gardener, builder and various other rubbish.

Other people's livelihoods depend on me; if I make too many mistakes, if business goes bad, real people suffer.

I have a total of zero paid holidays per year, zero paid sick days and no pension paid for by others. I pay at least 60% taxes on my turnover and at least 55% on my income.

Can you not see (you don't need to agree, just understand) that someone in my position has little time for persons who are paid ENTIRELY out of the wages of people like me and who constantly complain about supposed hardships? When Public Servants complain about pay (too high, IMO), holidays (too many), hours (too short) and pensions (la-la land economics) they irritate, because they are not exposed to the realities of life in the same way as the people who pay for them are. Make a mess? No problem; lessons will be learned. Stressed? No problem; sick leave on full pay, followed by compensation and early retirement. Totally inept at you 'profession'? No problem; we'll retrain you, ad infinitum, or just turn a blind eye, because the performance of the Public Servant is not linked to his pay.

If your salary was linked to the amount of A level grade A's your students achieved, with the examination set by a non-public body, there would either be a steep up-turn in educational standards or mass-sackings of incompetent teachers, replaced with more successful ones.

You know, like real life?

29 June 2011 at 14:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us forget the Pensions dispute. This is simply the peg that the teachers' and other public sector unions have chosen to hang their dispute on.

The real reason for Thursday's walk out is that we have a coalition government led by (shock horror) The Tories!

Just as Arthur Scargil used pit closures in his vainglorious attempt to overthrown Lady Thatcher's democratically elected administration.

29 June 2011 at 14:59  
Blogger IdiotZoo said...

Personally I'd call £46k, well £46k rather than "almost £50,000". After all £4,000 is a lot of money.

It almost sounds like you and your daughter feel she's overpaid. I'm glad she feels appropriately remunerated for her work. Close teacher friends of mine do too, they just don't have enough time to do it. Your daughter must be a well regarded teacher because, you're right there are 'tricks' to raise the pay of some teachers, but only when those teachers are valued professionals.

29 June 2011 at 16:24  
Blogger IdiotZoo said...

@English Viking, thanks for sharing that last post. So far your comments have come over, to me at least, as entirely trollish, ignorant and unreasonable, BUT putting the reasons for your views across, I may still disagree but I can begin to understand.

Always a good place to start ;)

29 June 2011 at 16:27  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Anonymous : 14:59:

You have the truth of it, it is as you say.

The teachers, as are many others, are being 'lead by the nose' to help stack-up a weight of pressure against a Government that has already shown that it can be bullied into changing its policies. Said Government having decided upon some quite ludricous policies that needed to be changed, or dropped; but that's another matter altogether.

Teachers are indeed paid a reasonable wage; and, in comparison to many, they are extremely well-paid.

More than money and further changes, they require a prolonged period of stability to simply get on with their jobs.

Education has been in turmoil since the 1960's, for no good reason that I can figure, other than the near-constant interference of fools, amateurs and bunglers.

The small adjustments required, necessary to meet changing needs, have been swamped by cataclysmic upheavals. How difficult could it be; it's all rather simple really.

Gareth @ 07:15 : now you didn't want to say that, did you? Not wise, not professional, and most decidedly risky. Just stick to 'comments' is my advice. You just never know who is listening, and I don't mean English Viking!

29 June 2011 at 16:50  
Anonymous Oswin said...

'ludicrous' - forgive!

29 June 2011 at 16:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IdiotZoo: An appropriate name. Having shown that you were wrong and insulting all you can come back with is a trivial point. Wow. I stated quite categorically that I have no problem with my daughter's earnings. Can't you read. The problem I have is with ignorant people who claim teachers are badly paid or, just as bad, don't know the "rules" under which they operate. Please stop replying until you know something about the subject.

29 June 2011 at 17:24  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Oswin: "Gareth @ 07:15 : now you didn't want to say that, did you? Not wise, not professional, and most decidedly risky. Just stick to 'comments' is my advice. You just never know who is listening, and I don't mean English Viking!"

Definitely. I'd delete that Gareth, even now. There are forum people around who are willing to go to extreme lengths to rectify a perceived slight on the internet.

29 June 2011 at 17:28  
Blogger Gareth said...

@Oswin/DanJ0 -

Duly noted, and comment deleted. In fact I'm pretty ashamed of my behaviour the last couple of days, allowing myself to get thoroughly goaded into a stupid slanging match.

Apologies to all teachers who I've rather let down, and to Cranmer for defacing his blog. Consider me thoroughly chastened.

29 June 2011 at 19:34  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Gareth: We ALL of us here get overly excited at times, so no worries mate; but it's always best to keep yourself safe.

If nowt else, it's seen DanJo and myself in agreement for once! :o)

29 June 2011 at 20:02  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I expect we agree on lots of things. Forums encourage polarised exchanges on certain topics, that's why they're not to be taken too seriously in life.

29 June 2011 at 20:17  
Blogger The Last (Chance) Dodo said...


I've followed your exchanges with English Viking with some interest. Do resist the temptation to fight 'fire with fire'.

I can't make out if he is as ignorant as he presents or whether he just enjoys being abusive and gets thrills from this.

Either way, ignore the way he says things and stay focussed on what he says. It's mainly ill-formed nonsense dressed in provocation to draw you into a comment you will regret.

Glad to see you've removed your personal name etc.

29 June 2011 at 20:28  
Anonymous tony b said...

Oh, it was riveting stuff while it lasted though. Made my days sucking on the taxpayers tit much less boring.

29 June 2011 at 20:59  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Mr.Dodo : was that really necessary; not quite in the same spirit of reconciliation, what?

Plenty of time to sharpen the old axe(s)later...

29 June 2011 at 21:56  
Blogger IdiotZoo said...

Dear Anonymous... (the one with the daughter who's a teacher). I do know about the profession. A great deal. I've worked in education, members of my family currently work in education, a great many of my friends work in education.

You seem to think my comments personally attacked you.

They didn't.


A confessed idiot ;o)

29 June 2011 at 22:09  
Anonymous berserker-nkl said...

Ir seems to me that this worthy and educational blog is becoming like the House of Commons with its Yahoo
exchanges. Perhaps a limit to these practices - like only one 'refutation' allowed. It gets very boring for the rest of us.

29 June 2011 at 22:36  
Anonymous tony b said...

Oswin, not all kids at state schools are 'chavs' you know.

30 June 2011 at 07:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IdiotZoo: Thank you for your apology. I did take your statement that what I had said was totally untrue to be accusing me of lying.


30 June 2011 at 09:21  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Oswin said...
"Mr.Dodo : was that really necessary; not quite in the same spirit of reconciliation, what?"

I know, I know.

I was tempted just to call him a 'tit' but then remembered these have their uses!

Anyway, that was post was made before I came to realise the world would be duller place without the likes of English Viking.

30 June 2011 at 09:22  
Anonymous Sydneysider said...

So is 'Dodo the Dude' a more compassionate, less arbitrary transformation from 'The Last Chance Dodo'?
I hope Dude is more in keeping with the 21st century. Good to see you jettisoning the old Dodo:)!

30 June 2011 at 12:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a teacher and completed my schooling back in the late 80's. However, in the last 12 months, I have returned to full time further education in an attempt to change direction in my career, and I have seen many things that have changed in the 20 years since I was in education.

Not much of it good, I might add. However for some of it, I don't blame the teachers, more like society. I've encountered students who only turn up to get their EMA, those that treat starting times and attendance as negotiable and have little respect for the lecturers and teachers to name but three examples.

However, one thing I do feel is that this strike has been on the cards since May last year, and we all know what happened then. To me it seems that the most militant unions have been seeking an excuse to flex its muscle against the Coaltion, and that this is it. There may be some truth in what they say as regards the public sector pension, but to call and then go on strike while negotiations are still in place, albeit moving slowly, doesn't suggest the unions are too concerned about reaching a mutually beneficient settlement.

And why is it the public sector feel that they should be treated differently to the private sector? We're all working longer, having to contribute a greater percentage of our incomes to a pension we shan't see for many years and yet we're told to get on with it. It appears that some sections of the public sector find this too much of a thing to take.

Just my 0.02

30 June 2011 at 12:19  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Tony B : 07:02

Quite so. I did not imply that all children were 'chavs' ... merely that those who were 'chavs' would be more easily dealt with, once other problems were removed from the classroom.

Mr. Dodo : there now, I KNEW you had it in you! :o)

30 June 2011 at 17:27  
Anonymous tony b said...

My dear Viking,
You do seem to have a view that all, or almost all, public servants are parasites. Do you wish for a world where services were available only to those who could pay, and bugger the rest? Is that a Christian world, a Christian vision? Do you imagine your tax bill would be any the less?

30 June 2011 at 21:12  
Blogger English Viking said...


I hope for a world that taxes the mutli-billion pound corporations at the same levels as the man in a factory.

You are correct that I view most public servants as parasites. Useless wastes of oxygen. Most, not all.

My tax bill would be very considerably less if muppet teachers and council 'officers' didn't keep putting their hands in my pockets.

I have ALWAYS found that where the state provides a service which the private sector also caters for, the private sector does an infinitely better job. I have also found that where the state provides a service which the private does not, it is because it is completely unnecessary.

I hope for a system of government which allowed me to keep the money I earn, and spend it on whatever I need. Those that are unable to pay through no fault of their own (not many, in the UK) should be assisted by their friends, family and charities. You know, like a civilised society?

One of the reasons that brings about an inability to pay for certain things is a punitive level of taxation, which has been the case in GB for decades, and is getting worse, year on year.

You don't think Jesus is a socialist, do you?

(Let me guess, you're a middle-class public 'servant', who thinks the world would benefit from your immense intellect and experience? If only everyone was like you, the world would be sooooo much better, hmm?)

2 July 2011 at 18:24  
Anonymous tony b said...

Para. 1 completely agree.
Para. 2 a limited amount of agreement
Para. 3 Did we get any tax cuts when Thatcher went around privatising everything in sight? I think not.
Para. 4 Where they do a better job, it may be because they have more resources and more money because they overcharge. My experience of private sector operations suggest that 'rip off uk ' is very near the mark.

P 5 you were very disparaging about charities too? Anyway, I think we've tried that and it didn't work.

P6 yes

P7 No

P8 Why get personal?

2 July 2011 at 20:08  
Blogger English Viking said...

Tony b,

You were doing so well. and then you said 'Fatcher'.

Let's forget the last 13 years of Labour, shall we?

Like I said: middle-class socialist muppet.

BTW I hate the Conservatives, just as much as Labour.

3 July 2011 at 00:08  
Anonymous tony b said...

Viking. It was an example.

Don't be a tit.

BTW: ditto.

3 July 2011 at 16:38  
Anonymous Markus said...

Given the failure of our education, and the fact that smaller, 'inferior' countries are surpassing us, countries which spend far less money per pupil then we do, it seems obvious that part of the blame lies at the hands of the teachers. It's not rocket science. Discipline is a problem, but are we to believe that 50%+ of classrooms consist of feral children? If that were true the entire country would be falling apart. There are no doubt plenty of excellent teachers, or good teachers, who are trying their best, and feel a duty to their fellow Britons to help educate its youth; but, there are surely a great number who are simply not good enough to be teachers, and, if schools were run by companies, would have been fired in little time at all. There should be no need to take offence but we should also keep in mind no teacher is going to admit that he or she is a poor teacher, or that he or she is merely in it for the money and pension. For all the good teachers out there, there must be incompetents: if this were not the case, the quality of our pupils, given the extreme amounts of money Labour pumped in, would be better, and certainly NOT have declined. Lack of funding isn't really the problem, religious schools receive less money (10% less?) and provide better education. Other countries do better. America spends more money per pupil than everyone as far as I know, and with no results. Teaching is just seen, by many teachers, as a way to secure a decent pension - which is why they are protesting: as if they deserve more than those who work in the private sector. Do teachers work harder? In many cases yes, in many cases no. The paperwork and planning is horrible, yes, but many other jobs, public and private, take work home with them. What a poor excuse! For some, the children are horrible, yes, worse than we can imagine. But for many this simply is not the case, unless we're to seriously believe that a generation of children have become savages overnight.

Teachers - a number of them, and not a minority - are simply not doing their jobs, why is this so hard for us to admit? And the ones that are are held down by degenerate children. I'll tell you exactly what is happening now. Graduates are coming out of uni and not able to get the jobs they dreamed of, so they fall back on: teaching. They're going into it for the money and the PENSION. They want to pay back their debts and teaching is a good way to do that. Yes, they learn that the paperwork is horrible (and play the martyr card), and they might be unlucky enough to teach poorly bred children. Not great but it's reasonably good pay (£22,000 - £30,000) compared to a lot of other jobs, and the pathway is secure for them, it's not to difficult to pass the relevant tests: it's not too hard to become a teacher (note, that's not the same as BEING a GOOD teacher). I'd prefer my teacher to be one who's come to the job with a duty to teach rather than someone after the pension - UNLESS the case was that the school was merciless in firing bad teachers, which is impossible in the public sector. The public sector is parasitical on the private sector, teachers need to learn to respect those who pay their salaries, and at least appreciate that the private sector, the majority of which have poor pensions and no security, have it far rougher then they do.

4 July 2011 at 03:37  

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