Second jobs for teachers

The government wants to recruit up to 100,000 existing and former teachers to act as tutors to pupils falling behind in English and maths. There are worse ways of spending the money. Let’s hope it does help lift standards.

It leaves open the quesiton of why, after 12 years of large increases in cash for inner city and poorer performing schools are so many young people still in need of this extra teaching? What has gone wrong with Labour’s target driven top down system? Where has all the money gone that they have spent so far?

The government itself now says it wishes to end the top down system, and give more power to individual schools, Heads and senior teachers. This has been the Opposition’s song for years. Apparently the time for targets has passed, and the time for devolution has arrived.

The government has found some more money for this project – in other words it is going to borrow more. Given the size of the budget deficit, shouldn’t it be identifying items of spending elsewhere that are less desirable than this teaching project? Why doesn’t it listen to to the Commons, voting against more regional government this week, and make some economies there? If it can now see how unpopular its top down bureaucracy in education is, why can’t it see how more unpopular its heavy handed regional bureaucracy is in England? Why does it want to balkanise England?

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38 Comments

  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I am reading Chris Woodhead at the moment. Is he angry? A bit….
    Ask yourself this: “Would I like to be a teacher in my local Comprehensive this coming Monday?”
    I would rather eat the cat’s droppings.
    Why?
    I object to being threatened, shouted at, sworn at and treated as an imbecile by the very people I am trying to teach. I object to being hung out to dry when I appeal for reason and support from the Head. I loathe accepting very low standards and being told what to teach when to teach it and having the examination, which is now so dumbed down it is an insult, all done by the government – sorry, Mr Balls, OFQUAL. Above all, I hate working in an atmosphere of hatred and suspicion where all dreams and aspirations are destroyed in a prison of hatred, suspicion and anonymity.
    Maybe 100,000 (or is it a million?) people are going to prefer this to eating the cat’s droppings, but me, I doubt it.
    And – hey – it’s only money!

    • Lola
      Posted June 29, 2009 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Mrs Lola is a teacher and a bloody good one. Luckily she ‘works’ at a relatievly good comprehensive in a relatively nice area. But, there are a number of members of staff, who quite frankly extract the Michael every day. They are expert at playing the system. These teachers are a total burden on the rest of the staff who are forced not only to cover for them, but in Mrs Lola case, to actually do the work that they do not do. The headteacher has no power to discipline these reprobates and no power to sack them.

      And then there are the hours. Good teachers will have to work nearly every evening in term time and some of their holidays dealing with various school related stuff as well as marking. A lot of them organise out of school activities and the like.

      Good teachers also do an inordinate amount of pastoral work and this involves some very trying calls and meetings with often less than committed students and poor quality parents.

      Modern teachers are very highly skilled indeed, and are paid peanuts. The pension is some small recompense. Someone with an equivalent level of professionalism would be 50% to 100% more in private business.

      All these problems and the staff exploitation are entirely attributable to the Stalinist monopoly that is state education. Mrs Lola and I joke that she goes each day to attend the ‘state indoctrination centre’. Producer capture is endemic. Funds are short yet eye watering sums are squandered by Whitehall bureaucracy and the Local Authorities. The quality and rigour of exams has reduced each year and nowadays teachers literally spoonfeed the answers for coursework to the children. There is no excuse not to get a GSCE (or whatever they are called) as the teachers do all the work for the children.

      At the same time many parents have no sense of value of for the education that is provided for free. Both they and their children see school as some sort of sentence that must be gone through before getting out to work. Of course there are excellent students and great parents, but their ambition is swamped by the dross.

      The whole system is an utter mess. The stop go capital funding has started agains so no headteacher can make any sensible plans.

      BTW I also have some contacts in FE and some of the stories coming out of there now about how central government is reneging on funding and seeking constructive dismissals for vice chancellors as scape goats would make your hair curl.

      Overall this is more evidence that New labour couldn’t run anything. They couldn’t even run a bloody bath. The sooner the whole ‘New Labour Project’ is consigned to history the better. Mr Redwood, old son, if you get in you’d better show me that you can actually successfully manage something. If your lot fail as well…..

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:56 am | Permalink

        Thank you for this revealing reply. Chris Woodhead, the ex Chief Inspector of Schools certainly confirms what you say. Me, I would very much like a return to how it was before the Comprehensive debacle. I want to see smaller schools with a far more independent exams system and lots more real choice for children over 15 so they are not herded into the University system willy nilly.
        Your poor wife!

  2. Mick Anderson
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    It’s a miracle – they’ve noticed that there is a problem! What’s the betting that it all dates back to David Camerons time in the Treasury?

    Anyway, even if they can find 100,000 suitably qualified and willing people to do the teaching, they are going to require at least 250,000 more Civil Servants to adminster the scheme.

    Isn’t trying to teach all these youngsters during their holidays going to interfere with their Human Rights?

    Any problems can’t be the fault of the Labour administration – they’ve only been in power for twelve years….

  3. Paul
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    If you have a teaching system, syllabus and methods that do not work, throwing more money at it will simply give you more expensive systems that do not work.

    DfSC/Government will never admit failure, merely the usual lefty excuse of ‘insufficient resources’ (e.g. it would work if you gave us more money).

    Many teachers think the current schooling system is an absolute shambles, and not only those from the right of the political spectrum. However, promotion and even sometimes survival is down to slavish adherence to stupid Government ideas whether they work or not.

    IMO the Government will *never* abandon its top down micromanagement system. It is more likely that Brown will cut his own leg off.

    What we will get is more supposed “handing control back” that will make no difference (still will have to do what DfSC/OFSTED says or be crucified, still no place for schools who are different in ethos (and are open about it)).

    This happens regularly (like “giving teachers powers to tackle behaviour”) with no effect.

  4. Jon
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I just saw Ed Balls on The Andrew Marr show. He is basically bringing forward money from the next Parliament to spend now. He gleefully boasted he found savings from 2011 and 2012 of 600 million to spend from September this year. They are a disgrace.

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted June 28, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      He should bring forward saving from 100 years ahead, no one will know, ha those suckers in the future wont know what hit em and we will be long gone by then.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Yes, Eductaion is vital.

    But one has to ask the question whey are so many students failing to learn the basics.

    Perhaps the following reasons are part of the cause.

    1. Too many parents do not teach their own children to read and write before they go to school.
    2. Too many Schools have inexperienced teachers who cannot impose any form of discipline.
    3. The Headmmaster or Headmistress always sets the tone and aspirations of their school, Poor leadership results in poor results.
    4. Some Schools have a real language problem, with English being only the second language of many students.
    5. Many Schools are now too large for their own good, and so do not have a community spirit.
    6. Years of change bought about by change in Government policy with regard to testing.
    7. Years of constant change of the curriculum and how it should be taught.

    There are many many more.
    I simply do not understand why teachers have to keep on changing methods, or thir presentation time after time.

    Surely for many subjects the content is the same as it has been for years.

    Mathematics has not changed 2 +2 still equals 4.
    The English language is still the same.
    Past History is still the same and is only added to each day.
    Foreign lauguages are still the same, and have not changed.
    Physics has not changed, we still have gravity.
    Chemistry has not changed.
    Geography is still the same although some names of Country’s have changed.
    Football and Cricket are still much the same.

    Education was and still should be simple and enjoyable, yes of course we all have different abilities, and perhaps this is the real reason.

    A lack of willingness to understand that some will be better than others, some will achieve more than others.

    The failure to accept this is probably the reason, and the cause for much of the Dumming down to a lower level.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 28, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Sorry should be Education is vital.

      No excuse other than in a hurry to get out to a charity breakfast BBQ.

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Why doesn’t it recognise how unpopular the government is and call a general election?

  7. Demetrius
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    As someone born fifth generation Scotland Road in Liverpool, along with most of my generation I attended an All Age Elementary School, in let us say, one of the more disregarded parts of the town. There were barely any who left those schools who did not have the essentials of basic literacy, and other competences. There is a photograph I have of a 1901 Class in a school in one of the poorest parts. The teacher was the son of ships stoker, the boys more or less all from labouring families. One went on to become a Cardinal, and many of the the others made their way in life. Up until the mid 1970’s, the idea was that education might be nationally governed but it was locally administered and substantially in the hands of Headteachers and local persons. So how come it has all gone down the drain?

    • jean baker
      Posted June 28, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Leftish liberalism ….

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      I think one of the reasons was that your system (I was there too) was very violent. Remember the cane? Or the ruler on the knuckles? That is most unfashionable now.
      Then there is the huge fear of pedophiles which has made teaching and even being with children very, very dangerous for men. Women are, by nature, very often much more understanding and, perhaps, therefore, less willing to force pupils, especially boys, along into work. I find they want to set up a sort of friendly family atmosphere in the classroom where the children play rather than actually learn competitively.
      Finally, there was the excitement caused by the (disastrous) Comprehensive experiment which closed all the best schools (Secondary Moderns could be – and are today – excellent too) and put them directly under State control.

  8. figurewizard
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    As it happens Balls was interviewed by Andrew Marr this morning. When he was challenged as to why, after twelve years of this Labour government a quarter of all primary school leavers go into secondary education unable to read or write properly and with problems in numeracy, he countered by saying that Labour had in fact ‘transformed primary school education.’ Given that they have managed to significantly lower standards since they came into office, I have to agree with him.

    On another (slightly off topic) note I noticed that as Marr questioned him further on Labour’s performance in general Balls referred to Alistair Darling’s recent efforts in glowing terms on several occassions. He did not mention Brown’s name once.

    • jean baker
      Posted June 28, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      One would have thought he could, at least, have publicly thanked Brown for retaining him as Education Minister having wasted over £126 m of taxpayers money on the SATS fiasco.

      It seems Ed Balls has no manners as well as no understanding of the key factors of effective methods of education.

  9. Martin
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Groan – extra jobs for retired teachers OR well off gold plated public sector pensioners.

    We know who will be paying for this – us private sector workers with rubbish pensions through higher council tax.

    I expect that central government will take the money out of some other pot.

  10. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Now when the government spends four pounds, it has to borrow one of them – “lend us a quid, mate” – ; it’s borrowing close to a billion pounds every working day just to keep going – “lend us a billion, mate”- ; and it’s blindingly obvious that this can’t continue indefinitely.

    And it can only borrow on this stupendous scale because the Bank of England is creating new money and using it to buy previously issued gilts from private investors, at the same time as the Treasury is selling new gilts to (in many cases, the same) private investors.

    Last week, the Bank created £6.5 billion and used it to mop up excess gilts from the market, while the Treasury borrowed £4.5 billion by selling new gilts into the market.

    This coming week, the total quantity of new money created by the Bank will top the £100 billion mark – at the moment it’s £99.094 billion:

    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/markets/apf/index.htm

    of which 97% has been used to buy up previously issued gilts, for no good reason except to make sure that the government can continue to borrow and spend.

    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/markets/apf/schedule.htm

    On Monday there’ll be another £3.5 billion spent buying gilts, taking the total including the purchase of commercial assets to £102.6 billion, and on Wednesday a further £3.0 billion spent buying gilts, taking the total for purchases of gilts to £102.9 billion.

    • Cliff.
      Posted June 28, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      I am neither an accountant nor a lawyer but, it sounds to me that you are describing a ponzi scheme……I thought they were illegal. Aren’t the American authorities currently pursuing a major business man for a similar scheme where he pays “profits” to his previous investors out of money paid into the scheme by new investors?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        Well, essentially the government is rigging the market in its own bonds.

        Rather like Guinness quietly buying up its own shares to help its takeover of Distillers:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinness_share-trading_fraud

        There are two important differences.

        Firstly, Guinness couldn’t simply print the money it needed for the share purchases, in the way that the Bank of England is printing money to buy gilts.

        Secondly, the Guinness operation was kept secret from investors, while in this case gilts investors are well aware of what is happening, but are willing to go along with it for now because they can make a profit from each turn of the money-go-round.

        It would be more straightforward if the Bank bought gilts direct from the Treasury, but that is forbidden by the EU treaties.

        (Article 101 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, pdf page 83 here:

        http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2006:321E:0001:0331:EN:pdf )

  11. pipesmoker
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    JR your party should pledge to bring back grammar schools.

    From a working class family I benefited from going to grammar school in the 1950’s. On today’s tick in the box assessments I failed because of my home circumstances. earning my pocket money was more important than school but that education has served me well in my life and was not wasted. I will not bore you with the details.

  12. jean baker
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Labour gives the impression of re-empowering teachers – ‘re-empowerment and direct accountability’ being one of David Cameron’s aims and promises. I think they’re hitching a ride and, if true to form, will not fulfil the rhetoric.

    Home life, discipline and methods of teaching are the keystones to a child’s success in school and beyond. Since Labour came to power, all 3 keys to a child’s success have been gravely undermined by government obsessed with ‘interference, dictate and ‘box ticking’.

    Labour continues to deny parents and teachers concerned with childrens future their right to a referendum and vote on the Lisbon Treaty – directly affecting, many suspect, their chances of employment as adults.

  13. Michael
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Well I must admit I’m considering it. The rates appear to be about £25 per hour which will make a welcome addition to my salary. Currently I do not teach (it appears that being a later entrant into teaching via industry and finance, schools do not appear that interested in people who have worked in the “real world”) but would love to return to teaching applied mathematics and statistics.
    However, you are entirely correct, the top down, centralised “tractor factory production” model is stifling teaching. As to where the money comes from, I’m sure that our forces will not mind going without food and ammuition when Gordo announces/leaks to the media his next Defence cuts. I receive reams of bumph from the DCSF and assorted Quangos which, frankly, I do not have time to read but am expected to create a new school policy on the fly secure in the knowledge that within weeks (and sometimes days!) that the entire thing will change after the next turf war between the assorted parties.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Personal Tutors google it. I have worked with them for ages and they are excellent. I have also had lots of fun and, dare I say it, been very useful too.

  14. mad tony
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    This begs the question whether the goverment is trying to incorporate state sponsored personal tuition. If so then it may be the right way to go but is too expensive. Why not just give parents £1,000 to spend on tuition for each child? Or worse still vouchers?
    Alternatively, the government has to decide which approach is right? Should education allow an elite to develop the same way as sport is encouraged? This seems to involve throwing most money at the best to encourage the rest (lottery funding etc and LTA illustrate this)? If extended to education then it would be radical and back to the future.
    The government prefers a them and us (a new elite ie politicians and their clique – family and friends) with a superior education for their family and scraps for the rest of us. The more educated and wealthy are always able to exploit the system, rightly as family comes first.
    Finally, this begs another investigation for the newspapers, a review of which school MPs’ childrens go to and how good it is compared to the others in the area and any contortions they made to get into the school as well as the education. Tony Blair is the most famous for this of course. It could be argued that this information is better than league tables for parents.

  15. Man in a Shed
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    The Balkanisation of England has always been Scottish foreign policy for obvious reasons, and Gordon Brown is very much a Scot.

    • jean baker
      Posted June 28, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      It’s an EU ‘initiative’.

      • Man in a Shed
        Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        They have similar interests in keeping England down.

        I heard the Scottish foreign policy objective line from a radio interview with Alex Salmond about 20 years ago.

        England has been the country that the fate of the world has turned on, others recognise this even if many of the English don’t.

        • Adrian Peirson
          Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

          Not really the English, more the Bank of England, which owns the Federal Reserve.

  16. thespecialone
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    This government really has completely run out of ideas hasn’t it?
    Actually has it had any useful ideas in the past 12 years?

    I will start a ‘Labour’s Good Ideas From the Past 12 years list’.

    1. Errrrr
    2. Ummmmm
    3. Ohhhh

    Nope. Cannot think of anything at present!

  17. Pol-e-tics
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    An article in The Times last week written by the CEO of McDonald’s UK criticised UK companies for not being prepared to employ and educate school leavers in literacy and numeracy!

    He does have a vested interest with the McDonald’s Academy, which apparently is about to receive endorsement for its exams from the Q&CA.

    Perhaps corporate education for teenagers is the way forward.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Think you will find the training at McDonalds is to be called apprenticeships, and they are planning 10,000 openings.

      This is why Dear old Gordon can say he has succeeded with the apprenticeship schemes the Government is pushing.

      It bears absolutely no relation whatsoever with what normal working people think of as Apprenticeships where you had to complete 5 years, often as an indentured apprentice, which involved proper structured training, day release at college for either City and Guilds, HNC or HND qualification.

      Its where most of our qualified engineers, toolmakers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, draughtsmen, project engineers, designers, and proffessional management used to come from.

      The rest who left School either did lower skill manual/office type jobs (nothing wrong with that) or went to University.

      NVQ’s are now the standard it would seem. Dumming down again.

      We just seem to get dummer and dummer, and talk it up.

      Its one of the reasons we are failing as a Nation

      Many talk the talk, but cannot walk the walk.

      • alan jutson
        Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        Oops Dummer should read Dumber.
        I am getting angry again.

  18. ManicBeancounter
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    To achieve this The government will no doubt.
    1. Create a quango or new sub-department.
    2. Employ said teachers on fixed rates of pay.
    3. Have special centres for the teaching.
    4. Offer this universally, regardless of how good the schools are.

    The take up will be mostly by middle-class parents whose children attend average or above average schools and will cost maybe three times what is paid privately.

    Much better to have a voucher scheme to be done meet 95% of the cost for pupils from the lowest decile of performing schools down to nil for the top 30% of schools. We will help the disadvantaged most & keep the costs down to boot. In so doing we would not eliminate the thriving private sector.

  19. Adrian Peirson
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    There is this conspiracy theory going round that the New World (dis)Order doesn’t want thinkers, it wants workers.

    and that the Educational and chemical dumbing down is all quite deliberately engineered by our NeoFuedalistic Elites.

    I’m sure I recall Aldous Huxley talking of this in his book ‘Brave New World’

    Of course, they would never do anything like this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxvfCUXpRDQ

    For more search for info on beliberate dumbing down or chemical dumbing down, lots of academics are speaking out about this.

  20. Adrian Peirson
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Where is the money coming from to pay for these new teachers, oh yes, my children and theirs will be footing the bill.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yREOUxo6Qdc

  21. Bazman
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    A bonus scheme to incentivise all the teachers is clearly the answer.

  22. Simon
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    This is from the government that is threatening home-schoolers like my wife and I with regulation! What an excellent idea. Take the most successful segment of education and destroy it!

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Can’t have Parents influencing thier children, the state must be the parent, the time is not far off where once born they will be whisked away to Govt Nurseries, for their own safety of course, we parents are not to be trusted, I suspect that is why these cases like baby P are played out on the News over and over again, so we will all cry, something must be done by the Govt…
      Sadly, in a country of 60 million, these cases are going to occur now and again, especially with the soaps they have on TV Brainwashing the children growing up that that is the way society is.
      In that respect, I blame the BBC and Mass media for these cases just as much as I do the adults involved.

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