Teacher Retention : More Than Just An Image Problem

This is long. If you don’t like long, don’t read it. If anyone posts a comment saying “It’s too long”, after reading this warning, they’re a bit silly. It’s also personal: you’re reading essentially my internal argument about whether – and when – to give up teaching. As such, it’s a rambling muse more than an impassioned rant. It may prompt some thoughts about what we can, or should, do to retain experienced teachers. Or it may not. Sorry if anyone is disappointed by the absence of shouting. However, I make up for that by linking all my sub-headings to appropriate cheesy pop songs. Can’t say fairer than that.

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Mediocre Failures

My children are adopted. They were adopted at the ages of three, four and six. As with nearly all children adopted in this country over the last couple of decades, this means that their early life experiences were pretty terrible. As each was born, their collective experience of life became more damaging, as their circumstances worsened. So the eldest is least affected as her first years were perhaps less difficult experiences, while the youngest is most affected, as her entire first two years of life were appalling. I’m not going to go into detail here about their specific early life experiences, but if you want to read up on the sort of effects which can result from serious neglect or abuse, then you could read this .

Why am I writing this ? Especially now after midnight in the middle of the Easter holidays ? It’s because I’m so angry I can’t sleep. I can barely see the screen through the red mist.

Hyperbole ? No.

The cause ? This :


Pravda’s front page

I want to find the people who produced this policy, and tear their cold, dessicated, hearts out. I want to shove a burning copy of this mindless sociopathic rag up their shrivelled, self-righteous sphincters.

They just called my daughters “mediocre failures”. Continue reading

A Market in Children

This will be a short blog (by my standards), and it’s a simple cry of rage. It was prompted by two conversations I had recently. The first was with a friend of mine who left state school teaching after twenty years for many of the same reasons which I write about, but was forced by economic necessity back into a private school catering for the children of wealthy foreigners – mostly eastern Europeans. The second was with an ex-colleague I once worked with at the DFE. Although unconnected, both hit on the same theme : how the introduction of “the market” in education has produced awful consequences for our children. Continue reading

Will Gove’s Empire Outlast Him ?


This started as a small idea, and grew into a bit of a monster rant. I’d advise making yourself a cup of tea before reading. For those members of society with better things to do than waste ten minutes on my waffling, here’s a summary :

Some argue Gove’s reforms won’t last long without him. I argue that GERM reforms come in two flavours : ideological/religious, and financial/self-interested. The former classroom-based reforms may well change rapidly because GERM ideology is inconsistent, unpopular, faith-based not evidence-based, and even GERM zealots disagree with each other on various issues. The latter structural reforms are likely here to stay because they have created a cadre of self-interested “winners” who have a vested interest in defending the new system. I also pepper the argument with historical references which made a lot of sense in my head. Sorry. Continue reading

Gove the Incompetent

Michael Gove always fancied himself a keen amateur historian. His back-of-an-envelope first comedy draft of the new history curriculum demonstrated the amateur bit very well. So he’ll appreciate that when an English ruler is awarded a title to follow their name (Alfred the Great, Richard the Lionheart), then it’s because they managed to stand out from amongst their peers. I personally think Gove also managed to stand out from amongst post-war education secretaries. So I offer the epithet : “Gove the Incompetent” as a suggestion, to mark his truly impressive four years of catastrophe and disaster. Continue reading