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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Uncomfortable truths?

Reading some posts earlier, brought to mind  past memories.

In the 1970s, education was one of the 'best' careers to be in. There was respect amongst educators, pupils and parents. They were a well-oiled team working to do the best with limited resources. Prime Minister Harold Wilson (Labour) gave teachers their best pay rise ever. Staff-rooms buzzed with promise. It was not all good news, there was bullying of female staff by male staff 'in authority'. 

One Deputy in particular would walk into the staff room and exclaim, ''Ah, my dear, you appear to be 'free'.'' Then delegate a class in need of cover to the unfortunate female. Rumour had it that the guy kept a 'wee dram' in his desk drawer.

Then came the 1980s when the seeds were sown and nourished by the incumbent Tory party which was almost communist-like in its zeal to oppress and to brow-beat the population, with the coal miners and school teachers as their targets of opportunity.

In came G.C.S.E. and out went C.S.E.

Once again England was a nation of discontent. 

The Tories ground down the miners and the teachers. Social engineering was carried out on a grand scale. 

There were strikes, the Govt.. saw the Unions as outright foes. London developed a 'get rich quick' - devil take the hindmost 'culture'. 

Unrest continued, social engineering went on at a pace. After the miners had been 'dealt with', teachers were in the spotlight, told they were not professionals. The annuity links between teachers and Civil Service were scrapped and millions ££££££ disappeared into government coffers. 

Traditionally, learning had been disseminated from universities to colleges and schools. Now the government intervened with its National Curriculum which still blights lives today.

For some 30 years the curriculum has been at the beck and call of ideologies, whims and fancies of successive governments.

What has happened to the teaching staff during that time?

Staffrooms are war zones where staff are bullied by line managers, Wooden Tops (aka senior management) and in some schools the bullying is done more often by parents and pupils. 

To adapt a well-known song...

Dark sarcasm in the classroom
Pupils - leave those teachers alone!

One school Head targeted senior staff and threatened them with loss of early retirement. He sought ways to remove senior staff, first demeaning them, then increasing workloads and belittling their efforts.

Simple maths 
Remove senior knowledgeable renowned and respected staff as a way of gaining 'control'. 

Next, promote yeah-sayers and lick-spittle. Those most malleable who would ask no questions. Bring in newbies with no experience but 'good' on paper. Saving money as you go.

Sign up your staff for mindlessly boring, time-wasting 'training'. Set one session in an hotel, pay for the cronies and lick-spittle to stay overnight at the school's expense...all in the name of 'training'.

As was common knowledge at the time...you ought not to accuse the then Sec. of state for Education because he had been sectioned and spent time in a mental institution before release complete with cert. of 'sanity'.

Then, another incumbent of that position was said amongst teachers to be....
quite literally...
'the blind leading the partially-sighted'.

One of the leading unions issued members with a work diary to fill in. That was when the Govt. claimed teachers' salaries were 'generous', since they were paid for 2765 hours per year.

The diaries were completed and made telling reading. Some conscientious staff had passed the requisite number of hours before Christmas. Others lower down the pay scale and with fewer responsibilities had clocked more the half the national hours. 

Then the bright sparks at the DoE (Dept. of Education) worked out a cunning wheeze. They enacted legislation instructing staff to do all reasonable to fulfil their obligations. No matter what the hours actually spent on preparation, form filling and all forms of mindless bureaucracy and red-tape involved plus contact time...hours officially remained at the notional 2765.

Part way thro' the 1980s and on into the 1990s pressure mounted on teaching staff. 
One of my friends left yo become a prison warder...seeing it as far less stressful, which turned out to be true. 

Another committed suicide.

Despite the fact that a member of staff was fulfilling her duties responsibly, the time-table was redesigned to make her surplus to requirements. That particular trick was used several times. 

Senior management harassed anyone with the temerity to really be ill, by demanding work from them.

Being signed off by a Consultant wasn't 'good enough'. One guy had a nervous breakdown and was forced back into the classroom.

By 2000 the gateposts were being moved and it became harder to qualify for early retirement. 

The Head that took over saw illness as a slight and personal insult. Her solution was to target the staff member by setting in motion the dismissal process. 

Fortunately, one of the governors was paying enough attention and when the dismissal proposal was put forward spoke up in the teacher's defence. 'You must not do that to 'n' all my children have been taught by 'n' and 'n' deserves better treatment.


The rest as the saying goes is history...

That school no longer exists, and in the year that 'n' retired staff were given a bonus because of their achievements.

The school that replaced it...completely new building from 'scratch' but lacking those members of staff that had shown moral fibre over the years....has slid further and further down the league tables...







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