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  1. I do have all of these things as long as I serve a capitalist master who pays me less than I earn so to enrich himself. I am not a marxist. In fact I'm currently financially independent due to some poor young couple borrowing twice the amount I payed for a house in order to buy the house from me. What a flocked up system.
  2. Yesterday, my wife and I opened 5 bank accounts. Two cash ISAs with Nationwide @2.25%, 2 regular savers with Barclay's @3.25% and a regular saver with HSBC @4%. I already have a HSBC regular saver, so the new HSBC a/c was for my wife. We are currently living off our savings while unemployed, my wife quit her job in March. I am not technically unemployed, as I currently work for a teaching agency but it is as near as damnit to being unemployed. Despite this status of unemployment the nice lady at the world's local bank offered her a loan. I asked why they were offering to lend us money while unemployed and the nice lady said it's because we have "different circumstances". My wife declined.
  3. I wrote to my local (Conservative) MP to express my incredulity at Help-to-Buy and this sentence is quoted from his reply: "This will provide £3.5 billion of investment in England to help support up to 74,000 home buyers, as well as boosting the UK's construction sector."
  4. A couple of years ago my wife returned home from a job interview as horticultural manager for a newly opening garden centre, part of a garden centre group, a position in which she is very qualified and experienced. when she arrived home she was shellshocked. I asked how the interview went. It turned out that they (the HR team) asked her absolutely no questions at all related to the job, her experience and qualifications, all of her interview was along the lines of this psychometric BS, including "if you were a fruit, what fruit would you be and why?" She didn't get the job. She was glad that she didn't after the interview questions she was asked. The garden centre opened and 12 months later the entire appointed management team were fired. I think recruiting methods across the board are all a sham. I posit that a lot of the time the best candidate doesn't even get through to interview stage and that interviewers have absolutely no idea how to identify the best candidate for the job in spite of the fact that they are convinced that they do. It's hit and miss. Recruiting is an industry in itself, HR departments and recruiting agencies need to appear convincing so they have created a mystique around hiring people. They have made themselves 'necessary'.
  5. OFSTED is a big problem. Don't get me wrong, I believe that schools should be accountable and inspected, but OFSTED are the tail that wags the dog. Before OFSTED, HMI (Her Majesty's Inspectorate) inspected schools and teachers and then helped them to improve. My mentor as a newly qualified teacher was a HMI and he made a hell of a difference to me as a teacher in just a few months. Many heads are fixated on OFSTED. They are afraid for their jobs. They use statements from their OFSTED reports and hang them on banners at the school gates, OFSTED language appears all over teacher vacancy advertisements. Considering that every advert insists that they will accept nothing but 'outstanding' applicants we should have nothing but 'outstanding' teachers.
  6. You are not making any great revelation here. Sometimes we get the children to mark their own work but this approach does not lend itself to most work that children do. Marking a child's work isn't just a busywork task that has to be done, it is a medium through which I can assess. Ideally I'd like to mark a child's work with the child next to me every time so that we can talk about it. The opportunity for that is rare. In my experience, marking in lesson time is frowned upon; you are supposed to be teaching, not marking. I'm not saying I necessarily agree with this, it's just the way it is. We do share resources and planning. I have written subject schemes of work to be used for the whole school, from year 1 to year 6 and I hope that they have saved my colleagues some time, but I know that they haven't saved them from having to write lesson plans. Their lessons still have to be tailored to their class and to individual children. What the problem is is that everything has to be written and recorded. I can teach a lesson with one line written down - the learning objective, once I know the class and children then I don't need anything else. I know the needs of each child and how to individually prompt and question them and differentiate their work, but the powers that be demand that I prove it by writing it down. Manipulating the statistics to reflect well upon myself isn't serving the children well, besides the fact that it is soon discovered. We handle a lot of data in school. As for recycled reports, well we have our stock phrases and templates; that's great, but I myself have received a school report for my daughter with another child's name embedded several times in it. Reports are expected to be considered, demonstrating that you know the children and should be an accurate report of their ability and progress to their parents. If I could change things it would be to trust that teachers can teach lessons. I wouldn't make them plan each individual lesson, just write a scheme of work for the term (for each subject) and annotate it, if necessary. I'd trust that teachers know their children as individuals and are taking their needs into account. I'd significantly reduce class sizes, but that won't happen because it's too expensive. Instead of the artificial lesson observation where a teacher has to jump through hoops to demonstrate a perfect lesson while $h1tt1ng herself about 'failing', heads should be in and out of their teachers' classrooms frequently and "informally", talking to the kids, asking them about their work, perhaps even helping. I have had lesson observations where I have made the observer sit with a group of children; if there's an extra teacher in the classroom then they can bloody well make themself useful. I'd get rid of "marking policies" that insist on using "consistent" signs, symbols and approaches and insist on a comment on every piece of work. If I have a comment to make about a child's work, I'd rather talk to them about it. My daughter has been forbidden from being a teacher, not because it is bloody hard work, but because it is thankless. Worse than thankless, it is despised.
  7. Do you meet many people who literally can't read or write? What the data tends to show is that some children are average, some above and some below. Not everyone excels at school, even the chief inspector of OFSTED doesn't understand averages. He complained that 20% of primary school children don't achieve the national average in English. Gove thinks all schools should be at least "good" and that "good" means that pupil performance exceeds the national average. When children work hard and achieve, their achievements are taken away. My daughter (older now, doing GCSEs) works damn hard and gets top grades only to be told that it must be because the exams are easier.
  8. I used to work full time as a senior teacher in primary school. I don't anymore. Lesson planning is becoming more and more detailed and specific to individual children. I used to have to name individual children in my lesson plans and indicate how I would target them individually with individually tailored prompts and questions. I'd have to indicate how I was addressing the needs of individual children, by name, both in terms of their specific needs and needs identified from assessment of them in the previous lesson. I have rarely taught classes of less than 35 children. One teacher cannot plan for the others, every child is different, every class is different. Year group team planning does take place, but even then lessons have to be adapted right down to the individual child. As a primary teacher, I had no "free lessons" for planning and preparation for a long time, then that changed 2005/6 ish (can't remember exactly) and I had a half day a week. I have worked under one head teacher (at the beginning of my career) who worked to drive down the paperwork and bureaucracy for us, bless him, but it was a losing battle. Every other head since then has required a form to be filled in for everything, you know, in case OFSTED ask. Writing considered reports took me over an hour a report, in all the primary schools I have worked in, their report formats have been 3 or 4 typewritten A4 pages. Writing reports always took up a half-term. The only difference to a normal school week being that I got to have the evenings off. Marking was a nightmare, I always kept my marking up-to-date. I would teach 5 lessons a day, if just 3 of those lessons resulted in marking, say maths, English and 1 other, then I would have at least 120 books to mark a day. If I just spent a minute per book, that's 2 hours. A minute isn't enough to read, mark and assess a child's work in a way that they deserve. Discipline can waste a lot of time, and teachers often speak out about poor pupil behaviour. A culture has developed whereby poor pupil behaviour is seen to be the sole fault of the teacher, this is how OFSTED considers it. Teachers can be reluctant to seek help in managing pupil behaviour from senior teachers because it is increasingly viewed as them being incapable teachers. Meetings. Lots of meetings. Morning meetings (before the kids arrived), lunch time meetings and after school meetings. Sometimes, meetings at 7pm. I have never complained about my pay. Except for one thing, I became a senior teacher quite quickly and found my pay to be significantly less than teachers with less seniority who had been teachers for 20 years. My working conditions were a different matter, that is what needs improving. I gave up full-time teaching after a revelation one Sunday lunchtime. My wife was at work (she worked P/T at the weekends) and I was at home doing school work at the computer, my very young daughter was sat on the living room floor, as good as gold, being babysat by videos. I realised that I was neglecting my own daughter to plan for other people's. I resigned at the end of that year. I've worked mainly as a supply teacher since then, I'd like to leave teaching completely and work in the private sector, but the private sector thinks that we teachers can't do. Taylor Mali on What Teachers Make:
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