DOS for Dummies – a guide to politics by and for someone who wasn’t really paying attention

Over the past week or so politics has suddenly become interesting and much talked about. Inspired by seeing an episode of Murder She Wrote in which Jessica Fletcher goes into the Cabot Cove computer store and lingers in front of a copy of ‘DOS for Dummies’, I have decided to help ensure that those who haven’t been following the news get a chance to catch up. I have, therefore written a quick summary so that, in just five minutes, you can be up to speed on everything and not feel left out, or look foolish, in conversations with your fellow liberal elite members. Apologies if I am not 100% accurate all the way through, but I have been a bit busy too.

In 2008 largely because no governments dared to restrain them, bankers caused a massive crash which left economies around the world struggling. The British Prime Minister of the time and his chancellor (Brown and Darling) intervened to ensure that the country maintained growth and gently reduced spending to bring about a recovery. In a far more important matter Brown called a bigoted woman ‘a bigoted woman’ and lost his credibility. The new conservative leader, David Cameron, saw that Brown and Darling had averted crisis and did not like it one bit. He immediately and publicly vowed to create a Broken Britain. Using Brown’s catastrophic policy of not turning his microphone off in the car against him, and backed by his heavy weight supporters  (Michael Caine and Coldplay) he toured the country vowing to break it by making an imaginary number smaller, which he claimed would delight our grandchildren when they learnt about it, and protecting the NHS from the excess of money which was piled up in operating theatres getting in the way of surgeons etc(while showing his sincerity by winking every time he said it). The electorate agreed that Britain needed breaking and voted him into Downing Street (although he had to take in some lodgers to pay the rent). Initially it was thought that the lodgers would stop him breaking Britain, but in the event they just held his coat while he got on with it.

The main tool Cameron planned to use was the referendum. This was a process in which people volunteered to be broken, assuming they were voting to break other people. His first attempt, asking Scotland if it wanted to be poor and isolated, failed and he took out his frustration on the poor and disabled, somehow framing the banking failure as their fault. Britain was instantly broken in two parts, the skivers and the strivers. Interestingly though almost all of the skivers thought they were strivers and acted as cheerleaders for the attempts of Cameron and Duncan Smith to punch them in the faces. There was even a TV debate in which a skiver shouted ‘Go on punch the skivers in the face!’ at which point Cameron punched her in the face and she was horrified. Still not satisfied that Britain was broken enough Cameron drained money from the NHS, education and Social care while freezing all wages. In a final attempt to destroy Britain totally, he arranged another referendum, one which would not be binding but which would give him an idea of how people were thinking. The wording of the referendum was something like, ‘Do you want yourselves and your children to be really poor and the laughing stock of the world?’. He knew if he lost the referendum then the country would be destroyed, but having it was his best hope to hold on to power. Egged on by Cameron’s rivals Mr Blobby and Govlum (who both really planned to heroically lose the referendum and become leader) the people narrowly voted yes. At this point, with Britain broken and divided, Cameron, his mission complete and with a song in his heart, left power, like his predecessor Brown, by leaving his microphone on.

Meanwhile the heavyweights of his party including Blobby and Govlum, slugged it out in the style of boxers paid to take a dive all collapsing to the canvas together. Meanwhile the illegitimate offspring of Cruella DeVille and Imhotep rose from the ruins to claim leadership unopposed and, sucking out the life spirit of her rivals, take on the mantle of breaker of Britain. She was in a position to utterly destroy Britain by enacting the referendum result as if it was binding and thus fulfil Cameron’s legacy. With the full army of Mordor behind her and her ring of power ably wielded by the press she had the world at her feet, except for a small corner called the Corbinshire. Determined to be the one PM who ruled them all she took on the humble harmless and divided hobbits who lived there with her army of Orcs. All that stood between her and total victory was a rag tag band of elves and dwarves, led by a single bearded figure leaning on a staff barring her way on the bridge crying ‘You shall not pass!’ She looked down at the hooded figure and,with the full force if the Mail and the Sun behind her, she struck him down. To her and everyone else’s surprise (with the possible exception of Michael Rosen) powered by an army of children, he rose up more powerful than she could possibly imagine. 

And now Mayhotep sits in her bunker, her regime in tatters, wondering whether to get her husband to put her out with the bins or to swear allegiance to a band of Morlocks to hold on to power.

Meanwhile, we hobbits are left to await the final outcome so that we can begin to clear out the evil from our constituencies and town halls ready for a new and optimistic vision to flow across the country and plant the strong and stable oaks that will guarantee our country a genuinely strong and stable future. 

Ten strange years then and exactly as I remember them. But it will be up to the youngsters to decide what happens next.  By the next election whether it is months or years away, more of them will have turned 18 and more of us oldies will have shuffled off this mortal coil. I hope they will be in a forgiving mood after all the messes we have created for them.

However you spin it the moral of the story is that sometimes the young people surprise us in a good way! See also:
‘When William Came’ by Saki
https://archive.org/stream/whenwilliamcame00sakigoog#page/n14/mode/2up

Reality Check: What I tell myself VS what I really know deep in my heart


As one of those who broke up a week ago, I have now reached the 7 day low that we all experience as the dark first week of holiday of the soul, and from this uncharacteristically low point I inexplicably feel the need to reflect on the past 18 months. 

After all, 2016/17 has seen a huge change in the mood of our country and shown us a glimpse into the dark heart of our culture. We can’t close the alt-right/brexit/Trump door that has opened and pretend it doesn’t exist. However it doesn’t mean we have to accept it. I think we have to look deep into the fetid depths of these ideas that have unfortunately become mainstream and recognise and confront them in our own selves before we can comprehensively reject them. To me that means we (or at least I) have to stop kidding ourselves about our nature and some of the cultural garbage we have inherited. And then we will be free to decide that, just because we have these influences, it does not mean we have to act on them. We always have a glorious choice whenever we act.

At this point I’m not sure what I’m going to do about the following, but I hope they will help me make sense of the world and be more effective at making some kind of a difference. 


I tell myself: People (including me) want what’s best for them, their families and friends. 

Deep in my heart I know: People (including me) have a strong drive to take sides and win. The consequences are not important until afterwards, and only then as guidance in deciding who to blame. 


I tell myself:  People (including me) vote according to self interest or sometimes altruism.

Deep in my heart I know: People (including me) most commonly vote for whoever is promising to hurt people they don’t like.

I tell myself: Groups are aggregations of the views of the people who make them up.

Deep in my heart I know: Groups are zombies controlled by the strongest feelings present usually hate, anger, lust and jealousy and are usually remote controlled by someone with a financial interest in the outcome.


I tell myself: We are rational beings who make thoughtful decisions 

Deep in my heart I know: We are influenced by, and at the mercy of, currents and rip tides of feelings from those we associate with either personally or electronically (as well as attitudes that have festered inside us since childhood.).


I tell myself: We want to do good things and be guided by love, but often don’t have time/money/influence to act on this. 

Deep in my heart I know: We really don’t care about much. We have sentimental attachments to things, people and ideas, but these rarely transcend into love or commitment; however since hatred can be fanned for far less effort than love it more often guides our actions.


I tell myself: People will love the subtle horticultural joke in the picture for this blog 

Deep in my heart I know: No one will read the blog let alone look at the picture and realise it is of Gertrude rather than Dr Henry, unless I put in a none too subtle hint disguised as a final paragraph. 

Please feel free to declare yourself an exception to any of the above, but be aware that that will just be ‘what you tell yourself’.

If you cut us, do not the children bleed?


When I started teaching we had it tough. My final teaching practice in 1987 was at Colmers Farm primary school in Rednal just up from Longbridge where the car plant was laying off workers. It was a pretty grim site at a pretty grim time. The infants were on the ground floor, the juniors upstairs and the secondary school was over the playground. It felt as though children were condemned to 12 years in the same prison like accommodation. The teachers were a great bunch and there was a lot of team spirit, but there were precious few resources and no teaching assistants. The the only port of call for teachers or pupils having problems was the headteacher in his office in the middle of the school. Staff were stressed, parents were angry and children unsettled.I had 35 year 5 children on my own in a classroom and some days I had to teach with my foot wedged against the classroom door or children would leap up, with much rattling of chairs, punch each other and run out. Few days passed without blood on the polished herringbone tiled floor and I’m not convinced that much quality learning went on. In the 30 years since then we have had more funding, especially since 1997 and have been able to improve the physical spaces, and have more teaching assistants to support learning, enabling troubled children to be included and helping the other children achieve. Boy have we come a long way! Neither I nor the children in that class would recognise a primary classroom these days: the calm working buzz, the number of adults helping, the sense of enjoyment and what children now can achieve.

With this has come additional responsibility, OFSTED inspections, the ever increasing expectations of the standards of attainment in tests, and we have absorbed a lot of this by making our TAs ever more skilful (and as I’ve said elsewhere gaming the system somewhat); but however you look at it, the prospects for being a child in school are so much better now compared to the way it was in the 1980s. Try a little experiment; read my first paragraph then visit Colmers Farm’s current website: http://www.colmersfarm.bham.sch.uk/tour.htm.

This is what my generation of teachers, together with support from governments of various hues, has achieved, not just at Colmers Farm but across the country. And are we proud? Damn right we are! What a success story, what an achievement! And that is why I am so upset today (it won’t last but it will turn into anger). The DfE now believes that we don’t need those teaching assistants any more, they think we should save money by letting them go.

Nicky Morgan believes we have to take the strain of cuts with other manufacturing (really? Is she referring to manufactured data?) industries. These children are worth investing in, they will, I hope, power us out of the next recession long after I am cold in the ground (next week at this rate), they must not be put in the position of those children I taught in 1987: no support, no one to help them and all children’s achievement brought down by the worst behaved. One teacher in a class on their own cannot deliver the highest quality, and certainly not the ludicrously high expectations teachers now have to ensure their children achieve.

This problem is not caused by the new fair funding formula, nor by local issues or falling roles. This is CUTS, pure and simple, the biggest cut in a generation. Keeping funding flat while allowing (and indeed causing) energy costs, resource costs, national insurance contributions, pension contributions and the apprenticeship levy to rise enormously. The scale of the problem leaves a school of 215 children trying to find 45k savings, and other local schools affected proportionally. This can’t be done and sending us patronising documents about efficiency in schools does not help. When the DfE submits to the National Audit office that it is optimistic as to schools’ capability of adapting to the changes as schools are being given the responsibility of making the cuts work, and the Audit Office office says ‘The department can demonstrate using benchmarks that schools should be able to make the required savings in spending on workforce and procurement without affecting educational outcomes, but cannot be assured that these savings will be achieved in practice’ (headteacher update March 2017), while Nick Gibb is sounding off about the importance of direct teaching (one teacher, one class) we should all be aware exactly where this is heading – 1987 at full speed. This puts the continuing statements from DfE spokesman that education spending has never been higher into its true context. 

And here I am not only talking about this year’s cuts. Just that we might be able to survive but we are told we can anticipate even deeper cuts over the next 3 years. Children’s progress, safety and mental health will be affected as will stress levels among teachers and the ability of schools to recruit and retain the best teachers.

I am at the end of my tether. I am not prepared to be part of the generation of heads who tear down what everyone has worked hard to achieve. So what can I do? Sadly my options seem to be closing by the day…

Why what I do isn’t necessarily right and why people who disagree with me aren’t necessarily evil


Having been in this profession too long and having, while I wasn’t paying attention, grown old, I guess I have seen a lot of changes and, just maybe, learnt a few things. I have also championed causes, led protests, taken sides, changed my mind, made a stand, given in too easily, got in arguments and talked myself into difficult positions.

Right now I am up to my neck in funding issues which could turn out to be insoluble, but they too will pass. However it still heartens me to see young(er) teachets getting passionate about their role and about the philosophy of education. I therefore feel I should make my contribution to these choppy waters, based on nearly 30 years in teaching, so that they can be rejected as the demented babbling of someone so out of touch that their ideas are no longer relevant. There are only two things I have learnt through somewhere near a hundred thousand hours of a career.

They are as follows

 

Pretty much anything done with integrity, hard work and compassion will probably work, whereas pretty much anything done in a half arsed, lazy or greedy way will almost certainly fail.

Pretty much anything can be made to look ridiculous if you extrapolate it to an absurd degree. This does not constitute evidence that it doesn’t work, or is misguided.

 

Here are two examples (one real and one imagined) that have led me to the second point (the first point is largely supported by what I have seen pretty much every one of the past 6000 or so working days):

1) Early in my career there was a big argument between those who favoured a phonics approach to learning reading, and those who preferred something that more closely resembled how adults read, namely whole word recognition or ‘real books’ as it became known. It was a very polarised debate, and somewhere along the line it was argued that the weakness of the real books approach was that children sometimes misrecognised words with similar shapes. The classic was that ‘aeorglane’ could be read as aeroplane, and therefore this approach was fatally flawed. This statement was presented as though no one using synthetic phonics ever made a mistake. Somehow, however, it carried the day and these days it is heretical to suggest that anything other than phonics works. Personally I now feel that it’s probably more of a horses for courses thing and using a variety of methods is the best approach, but then I am a bit of an ideological fanatic.

2). Dialogue marking. We have introduced a green pen/red pen system of marking. The idea is to support children in being more self reflective about their work (or learning if you have banned the ‘w’ word). It’s meant to make marking meaningful rather than a wasted effort. We don’t mark everything this way and recognise that it impacts on workload. We have therefore cut other stuff to make space and time. It is by no means perfect yet. However there has been a recent push back against this approach, someone is doubtlessly working on publishing an example ad absurdum:

Well done Josie. I enjoyed reading your story. The characters were well developed and their actions were consistent throughout. The ending was appropriately unexpected and, though rather gory, provided good closure on the different story strands in a most satisfying manner. Have a look through and see if there is anywhere you can use fronted adverbials (don’t forget the comma!) to slow down or interrupt the flow of your narrative and make it less easily readable.

Thank you for your nice comments Mr Swapboy. I have had a look through my work and decided the last paragraph could have started, ‘With her head attached by just one last sinew,  Jane lashed out and caught hold of the clown’s throat…’. What do you think?

That’s a great idea Josie, that way your writing will achieve the expected standard. Don’t forget to write out your spellings.

Sever…sever…sever…contusion…contusion…contusion… Thank you Mr Swapboy I have really enjoyed this sequence of work.

I’m glad you liked it. Thank you for the feedback.

Well, no thank you for being a great teacher!

And you are a great pupil keep up the good work. Now we need to stop this dialogue!

Ok, you stop first.

No you stop first.

No you!

You stop!

No you!

Hey why have you stopped commenting? Don’t you care about my progress anymore?

So my message today is that life may be a little more nuanced than twitter may lead us to believe. However in the interests of full disclosure you should be aware that hidden deep down inside me there is an unreconstructed part of my heart that believes that if you disagree with this message then you are evil.

Where’s Gibbo? – A Twenty First Century Mystery

Until his sudden reappearance on twitter last week pushing a fact-heavy, skills-light, fun-absent curriculum, my favourite politician, Nick Gibb, together with his boss Justine Greening, had been suspiciously absent for quite a while. Many of us worried, were they ill? Had they been abducted by aliens? Or had the embarrassment at the shambles they preside over at the DfE finally caught up with them.

Fortunately the Rogue Marker had been busy keeping an eye on them for us and has been updating me on their recent activities. So nothing to worry about…





Don’t have nightmares!

Got A Problem? For quality advice just ‘Ask The DfE’


Having received accolades for the quality and usefulness of their recent communications, the DfE have been asked to pilot a new government scheme in which members of the public can submit questions about their problems and the DfE will provide a high quality world class answer.
The service is called ‘Ask the DfE’ and here are the answers from the first day’s worth of questions:

Dear DfE

The Education Committee finds the Government lacks a long-term plan to address teacher shortages and consistently fails to meet teacher recruitment target. What are you going to do about it?

Neil Carmichael MP

Chair of parliamentary Education committee

Dear Mr Carmichael

School funding is at its highest level on record, at more than £40 billion in 2016-17 and under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost. There are more teachers in England’s schools than ever before with secondary postgraduate recruitment at its highest since 2011.

A Department for Education spokesman

 

Dear DfE

Despite a supposedly fair settlement for my county’s schools, in spite of it being one of the poorest funded authorities in the U.K., over 60% of its pupils will be in schools that are worse off. How is this possible?

Headswapboy

Dear Headswapboy

School funding is at its highest level on record, at more than £40 billion in 2016-17 and under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost. There are more teachers in England’s schools than ever before with secondary postgraduate recruitment at its highest since 2011.

A Department for Education spokesman

 

Dear DfE

No matter what happens in my life I never feel happy. I can’t help but feel I’m missing out on something. How can I live a more fulfilling life?

John Smith

Dear Mr Smith

School funding is at its highest level on record, at more than £40 billion in 2016-17 and under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost. There are more teachers in England’s schools than ever before with secondary postgraduate recruitment at its highest since 2011.

A Department for Education spokesman

 

Dear DfE

My neighbour’s leylandii hedge has grown over 30 feet tall and is putting my whole garden in permanent shade. What rights do I have and how can I get him to trim it?

Mr Titchmarsh,  London

Dear Mr Titchmarsh

Leylandii growth is at its highest level on record, at more than 40 billion feet in 2016-17 and under the proposed national tree growing formula, more than half of England’s trees will receive a growth boost. There are more hedges in England’s gardens than ever before with further propagation at its highest since 2011.

A Department for Education spokesman

 

Dear DfE

My girlfriend has intimated that my penis might be too small to satisfy her. How can I check if it is normal, and what options are open to me to redress the situation if this is indeed the case.

Mr Smallpiece

Dear Mr Smallpiece

Penis size is at its highest level on record, at more than 40 billion inches in 2016-17 and, under the proposed national penis growth formula, more than half of England’s penises will receive a length boost. There are more penises in England’s trousers than ever before with secondary penis extension at its highest since 2011.

A Department for Education spokesman

 

Dear DfE

Since hastily deciding to leave my continent it has become increasingly clear that I have made a mistake and will be left destitute. I haven’t left yet, and am not committed to doing so. However, to change my mind now would be embarrassing. What do I do?

The UK

Dear UK

Buyer’s remorse is at its highest level on record, with more than £350 million a week now not going to the NHS in 2016-17 and under the proposed BREXIt formula, more than half of England’s wealth will be lost. There are more bigots in England’s pubs than ever before with far right recruitment at its highest since 2011.

A Department for Education spokesman

Progressive Teachers are from Venus, Traditional Teachers are from Mars


Do you want to find out whether you are a progressive or traditional teacher? Then read on!

Answer yes or no to each point.

You…

  1. Sit your children in mixed ability groups then tell them they are all equally worthless. 
  2. Teach them a knowledge based curriculum, but ensure the knowledge is either useless or of dubious provenance.
  3. Teach a ‘creative’ skills-based curriculum page by page straight out of a text book. 
  4. Sit children in rows then spend an hour discussing how it makes them feel.
  5. Wear a suit and brogues to work.
  6. Teach the same creative topics every year.
  7. Have a school song that makes grown up ex pupils cry when they hear it.
  8. Sit your children in groups named after the four OFSTED categories.
  9. Punish children who are not creative enough by making them write out ‘I must be more creative, and less repetitive in my work’ 500 times.
  10. Wear jeans and a kaftan to work.
  11. Have a school song that shares its melody with the Imperial March from Star Wars.
  12. Prefer your curriculum to be like your sexual partners: predictable, repetitive, inflexible and straight out of the 1950s.
  13. Expect children to work silently, even during sports (and singing).
  14. Invite people into your school and take offence if they don’t like what they see.
  15. Sit at the back of the classroom (or in the stock room if you have one) for as long as possible hoping the children won’t talk to you.
  16. Prefer your curriculum to be like your rock music and sexual partners: progressive with creativity and enjoyment.
  17. Do circle time, mindfulness, contemplation or yoga with the children.
  18. Tell the children that it’s their behaviour, and not themselves,that you disapprove of (although privately you disapprove of both).
  19. Prefer your teaching to be like your shopping and your sex life. Traditional, done in complete silence and with queuing for attention where appropriate.
  20. Spend each lesson stood in front of the class talking, or sat on a soft chair with them sat on the carpet.
  21. You prefer your teaching to be like your shopping and sex life, conducted largely online with a credit card and involving as little personal contact as possible.

You can now use your scaled score (see my 48 page technical document for full marking details)to find out what kind of teacher you really are. But come on now, does it even matter? Are we really so very different? Underneath the kaftans and elbow patches are we not pretty much the same, trying to achieve the same ends in our different schools. We are not prog, or trad, we are all just teachers and we should be supporting and helping each other, not doing each other down. I may not be a fan of academies but that doesn’t mean I rub my hands together with glee if OFSTED fails one. After all it means that for the foreseeable future a number of colleagues are going to have a significantly shittier time. What’s to celebrate there?

So here’s what I say: Let’s stop this infighting now, trads and progs everywhere, or else someone’s (feelings are) going to get hurt. We should be proud to say we are all just teachers. As a great man once said: ‘Hath not a teacher eyes? Hath not a teacher hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same school food, hurt with the same data, subject to the same inspections, healed by the same well-being days, warmed and cooled by the same dodgy winter heating and summer fans as any other teacher is? If you prick us, do we not bleat fronted adverbials ? If you tickle us, do we not laugh slightly hysterically? If you speak poison of us, do we not tut and shake our heads , and if you wrong us do we not whinge on twitter.’ It’s not about our petty differences, it’s about who we are, or should be: One big rough and tumble of a family of a profession. We may have different opinions but we should all be passionate about what we do and fiercely proud of all our colleagues. May the heavens help those who decide to take us on, be they Local Authority ignoramuses, DfEejits or malevolent Inspectors.

Now let us all join together in the profession’s unofficial Anthem.

No Surrender by Bruce Springsteen :

Well, we busted out of class
Had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three-minute record, baby
Than we ever learned in school…

…Well, now young faces grow sad and old
And hearts of fire grow cold
We swore blood brothers against the wind
Now I’m ready to grow young again…

Well, we made a promise we swore we’d always remember:
No retreat, baby, no surrender!
Like soldiers in the winter’s night
With a vow to defend:
No retreat, baby, no surrender!

And as Mr Gump would say, ‘That is all I have to say on the subject of progressive and traditional teaching methods.’

The Yapping of the Poodle Teachers


My publishers, Reedham & Wheap, who handled my bestseller ‘How to Break your Dependency on self-help Books in just 12 Weeks’, tell me that since the publication of The Battle Cry of the Tiger Teachers they have received a number of similar submissions, many critical of the Tiger Teachers’ approach. Their main criticism is that Katherine Birbalsingh and her colleagues are simply too wishy washy, too liberal and too progressive. Mr Wheap showed me the following, which he has slated for publication later in 2017. I print it here in summary form only. You will have to wait for the publication of the full 730 page volume. You will also note from the wrongly addressed letter that accompanied it, that this school also sent the manuscript to a number of other publishers in order to give it the best chance of being published.

Dear Mr Faber or Mr Faber (depending on who opens the post),

I enclose a treatment for the book we discussed. If you are happy with it I will get the staff to use our next training day to expand this into a full book.

Yours etc

Ms Faisisteach Bhurraidh Head Teacher, founder and holder of the Google-Translate Chair of Gaelic studies

The Yapping of the poodle teachers

(Or why you should do it our way)

Introduction by the head teacher.

From the day I arrived on the planet and, blinking, stepped into the sun I realised there’s more that progressive educationalists do wrong than can ever be seen, more for me to do to set them right than can ever be done. There are far too many wrong headed people to put right here. More to teach than can ever be taught. My traditional Gaelic upbringing gave me the strength to realise that one Faisisteach Bhurraidh was never going to be enough. If I was to make my mark on the world I was going to have to create many others in my own image…

As soon as I came into education 7 years ago I realised that everybody was doing everything wrong. By pointing this out at every opportunity I not only made lots of friends but also helped the schools I worked in to improve to such an extent that they felt they no longer needed my services, but I also soon found myself, through ruthlessly cultivating powerful political patronage, in a position to set up a school where everything is done the right way, and yes I am not afraid to say that there is only one right way,which I practise, and lots of wrong ways, which others practise. I have since gathered round me loud and outspoken young teachers who it has been my pleasure to tutor in the right things to be loud and outspoken about. I am pleased to report that they have all developed individual and personal visions of education which are identical to my own. Having spent 18 months working together we have amassed enough experience and expertise to tell everyone else how to run their schools. It is my pleasure to present their controversial, visionary and above all correct, blueprint for how education should work in every school in the nation. Though I should first explain how we overcame our first challenge together: What should we call this mould breaking institution. Then it came to me as a vision. The perfect name for the school that would revolutionise education. The rest of the team made their contribution by agreeing that it was a brilliant idea, and thus was forged from the fire and ice of our determination, the greatest school this nation, even this planet, has ever seen, the one school to find them, one school to guide them and in the darkness lead them. We had created the mighty Michehtaka School, the Free School to last for a thousand years!

Thus, after years of uninterrupted work, I have now been afforded for the first time an opportunity to embark on a task insisted upon by many and felt to be serviceable to the movement by myself. Therefore, I resolved not only to set forth, in two volumes, the object of our movement, but also to draw a picture of its development. From this more can be learned than from any purely doctrinary treatise.  That also gave me the opportunity to describe my own development, as far as this is necessary for the understanding of the first as well as the second volume, and which may serve to destroy the evil legends created about my person by the progressive press.

With this work I do not address myself to strangers, but to those adherents of the movement who belong to it with their hearts and whose reason now seeks a more intimate enlightenment. I know that one is able to win people far more by the spoken than by the written word, and that every great movement on this globe owes its rise to the
great speakers and not to the great writers. Nevertheless, the basic elements of a doctrine must be set down in permanent form in order that it may be represented in the same way and in unity. In this connection these two volumes should serve as building stones which I add to our common work.

Ms Faisisteach Bhurraidh

Head Principal, Founder, Supreme Leader and Head of Gaelic/Google translate Studies

 

The Michehtaka School Approach to Managing Behaviour 

Deputy Head Mr Ed Youkate

Unlike other schools we at Michehtaka want children to behave well. While others are content to allow children to riot round their classrooms, setting fire to the displays and ritually sacrificing the class hamster, our staff insist that children don’t do this. It may not be considered trendy in this politically correct era to have high expectations of behaviour, but we find it effective.

A typical day in my classroom:

9.00 registration, children answer without swearing, abusing each other, drinking alcohol, taking drugs or throwing items round the room

9.00 10.00 children sit and refrain from firebombing the resources cupboard.

10.30 Playtime. Nobody dies and unlike in so called progressive schools, no paramedics are required either!. We achieve this by using ideas other would do well to copy. We have teachers on ‘duty’ who enforce ‘rules’ that govern behaviour. They don’t just watch children commit crimes and encourage them to bully each other as happens in some other schools I could mention. These are dreadful places where you can rarely walk past playground fences without seeing a jeering bunch of teachers shouting ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’ and placing bets on the outcome as they crowd round an unfortunate pair of grubby bare footed children with raised fists. And so the day continues, but not just in classrooms. Conduct in corridors is exemplary too. We pride ourselves that committing murder or robbery, assault and battery are against the rules in our corridors and, unlike in less enlightened schools these things only happen rarely.

How do I achieve this minor miracle? Quite simple really; I have been teaching 13 months and in this time I have picked up from our inspirational head all the techniques I’ll ever need to help manage poor behaviour. I use these and my hard earned experience to ‘control’ my class. I know a lot of progressive teachers will be shocked to hear me use the C word in this way, but I am not ashamed to say that I do control my class’s behaviour!

That is why I count my blessings that I work at an orderly school, like Michehtaka, rather than a school that does not believe children should be well behaved. Our approach is fully evidence based and builds on solid research papers including a very insightful and damning 1954 study by William Golding that shows that children don’t have any desire for order and that unless it is stamped into them they are capable of terrible acts. In spite of this and the terrible fate of one of the children in this study, simply referred to as Pigg, many progressive schools fail to comprehend the problem as well as we do, and continue to employ weak ineffective ‘child centred’ strategies. Many question whether Golding et al should have allowed their experiment to run to its full conclusion, but I for one am grateful for his determination to see it through and provide academic rigour to our policies. The Michehtaka solution to behaviour management is simple: If you want children to behave you just have to decide what you want them to do and just tell them to do it! And you know what? They do!

 

Learning

By Miss Thepoint
Junion Teacher in charge of teaching

At Michehtaka we don’t do ‘learning’ it is a weak and ineffective ‘progressive’ myth. At Michehtaka we do ‘Teaching’. Now I know that this is something that has gone out of fashion with modern progressive teachers, but we feel that it is an essential part of a teacher’s job.

So what do we teach children then? I hear you ask, and this is one of the big questions we wrestled with at Michehtaka for a long time until Ms Bhurraidh told us the simple answer. We then abandoned the failed policies of decades of ineffective progressive modern theory and teach children facts, just facts and nothing but facts. It’s as simple as that. The only other option would be to teach them no facts at all. But where would we be then? If you don’t teach facts how do they know where the dinner hall is*, or the playing fields? I remind my class of these facts every day, first thing in the morning, and they never go astray. Not like in so-called progressive schools where children can wander about for weeks failing to ‘discover’ where the dinner hall is. If only their teachers followed the Michehtaka way and realised they could just tell them. Studies have repeatedly shown that if you want to teach a child something you just have to decide what you want them to learn and just tell them to learn it! And you know what? They do!

*which is a truth progressive teachers can’t handle.

 

School Dinners at Michehtaka

We may be unique among schools in believing that children need to be fed, but recent research by Oliver et al has supported our view that without food children are in danger of starving to death. This is one thing that parents who send their children to other schools fail to take account of, and by not sending their children to Michehtaka school they put their children in danger of malnutrition and themselves in danger of being prosecuted for neglect. Now I’m not saying that it would be fair to do that, after all we only have 2000 places in the school. However those who are in our catchment and could send their children to Michehtaka but negligently choose to send them elsewhere should face the full force of the law.

If only the other schools could learn from us. The Michehtaka solution is simple! We find that if you want a child to eat dinner, decide what you want them to eat and then just tell them to eat it! And you know what? They do!

 

Troubled families

by Ms Sue C O Path

We believe there is no such thing as a troubled family, just families who have not yet been indoctrinated into the Michehtaka way. All families are welcome at our school but sadly some, having failed to live up to our high expectations, rather than change their ways choose to go to schools that don’t challenge them, and where their children will be ‘happy’ and develop that worst of afflictions, a lifelong love of learning, become hoodlums, socialists or other kinds of undesirables. The Michehtaka solution is simple: If you want families to mend their ways you need to give them a list of all they are doing wrong and what they need to do to be more acceptable to you and then just tell them to do it. And you know what? They do!

 

The Life Long Love of Learning Myth

By Deputy Head of Curriculum Mr Si Kho-path

Let’s be clear here, no one likes learning, it’s not fun and in fact it is pure drudgery. Even reading this is sheer torture for you, and writing it for me doubly so. Let’s face it no one reads books for pleasure. I don’t and I am pretty sure that you don’t either. Some people might pretend they do when lying on sun loungers in Lanzarote but really they are just pretentious so-called ‘intellectuals’ showing off. For most us this attitude was formed when we were children or even before birth, and it is our responsibility to ensure that this tradition should be kept up for every new child. At Michehtaka it is not our mission to instil in children a love of learning. While we do want children to learn and achieve while at the school and give us good data, what they do later is of no interest or concern to us, and frankly their problem, unless they make great successes of their lives and we can use it in publicity. If you ask our children if they are happy in school they will tell you they are and that they love school. They do this because they know that if they depart from the agreed forms of words then they are unlikely to remain ‘happy’ or ‘in school’ for very long. The Michehtaka solution is simple: If we want children to feel a particular way about our school we simply decide how we want them to feel, and just tell them to feel it! And you know what? They do!

 

Parental responsibility

 by Ms Faisisteach Bhurraidh Head Teacher

The King James Bible, as kindly provided by the inestimable Mr Gove, describes ‘ visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me.’ At Michehtaka we consider that this would be a pretty despicable and unfair principle upon which to run a school and we would happily condemn all the schools who do, after all we are, above all, a humanitarian institution. At Michehtaka, unlike many other state schools, we utterly reject this unfair principle, we only visit the inequities of parents on one further generation. For example, if a parent does not pay for school dinners we merely display their child in the school stocks until they pay. We generously concede that there is no need to pay lunch money during this period as the child can get the required nutrition from the rotten food thrown at them. We are aware that this provides a loophole whereby children who are being brought up by grandparents can get away with not paying. We have engaged a team of lawyers at a very reasonable rate to rewrite the policy to find a way round this. The Michehtaka solution is simple: If we want to engender a culture in which parents pay for dinners on time all we have to do is find out how much they owe and tell them to pay it! And you know what? They do!

 

Staff car parking

Mr P Dantick

At Michehtaka we only recruit well organised teachers. Therefore, unlike in so called progressive schools, if you visit us you will find our cars neatly parked in bays in the car park, rather than abandoned randomly in the surrounding streets. This is an arrangement that my 8 months teaching at Michehtaka suggests that all schools should adopt. I know that less enlightened management teams will face opposition from so-called ‘progressive’ teachers in trying to implement this, but this is one area in which the traditional method really is the best. More importantly it brings you one step nearer to ‘being like Michehtaka’ which should be the ambitions of all schools. If a candidate interviewing for a job at our school parks untidily they should be shown the door before they even have time to take their coat off. In any case they’d probably just throw it on the floor, eat all the biscuits and urinate in the stationary cupboard. These are teachers our school can live without. At Michehtaka we have a simple solution to these kinds of teachers. If they need to leave we just tell them to leave! And you know what? They do!

  

Work life balance

Miss Tick-Megg teaching in charge of Futurologist department

We have to ensure that our staff are not over worked. They must have leisure to take part in health giving non school related activities such as writing books and defending the school on twitter. It is really important for their health, and the health of their children and pets who we have in a secure camp in South America, that they have time to do these things properly. That is why we make sure that the children and families that take up such a lot of their time are encouraged to attend other schools who are weak enough to put up with their nonsense. We only accept high achieving and photogenic SEN children. At Michehtaka we have a simple solution to work life balance. If we want staff to have a life we simply tell them to have it! And you know what? They do!

 

Blame culture.  

Miss Informed, assistant head in charge of media studies and advertising.

We have a strong blame culture at Michehtaka. It is part of who we are. It is part of our DNA, if you like part of what what makes us not just the greatest school in the uk, but in the whole world. On the staffroom wall we have what Ms Bhurraidh likes to call the ‘hierarchy of blame’. It’s not set in stone, but if anything does go wrong it guides us on where to look first for the blame. It’s something we recite at the start of every staff meeting. It goes like this: progressives, trade unions, education bloggers, education ‘experts’, parents, children, the government, our staff, Michael Gove.

When something goes wrong we just work out way down the list from the top until Ms Bhurraidh head recognises the culprit.
The most recent time we applied it was when the toilet hadn’t been flushed. We followed the hierarchy and only needed to get to the first group. Immediately we took action and banned all visits from teachers, citing safeguarding. The Michehtaka way of doing publicity is very straightforward. If we want the press to blame someone else for something that’s gone wrong then we just tell them to print it. And you know what? They do!

 

Marking

By Deputy Head of Curriculum Mr Si Cho-path

But what about marking, you may ask. How much marking do we do? The answer will blow your socks off. Quite literally! Here it comes! Are you ready for this? We don’t do any! Can you believe that? I’ll say it again but louder this time. At MICHEHTAKA WE DON’T DO ANY MARKING. It’s hard to believe I know, but it is the simple truth. Other than in the children’s books, worksheets and homework we do absolutely no marking at all! Isn’t that great, don’t you just want to join us? Think of all the saved time, think of all the progressive teachers across the country wasting their time slaving into the night when they could be on twitter. We have done extensive research, based the work of Hattie and her seminal study with Eric Sykes, which strongly suggests we are right to adopt this approach. In the time saved we gather together to write hymns in praise of our glorious leader which we sing in assembly. We don’t have to do this, but the Michehtaka solution is simple. Ms. Bhurraidh just tells us to compose them. And do you know what? We do!

 

Field trips

Mr F. Renchfries who has refused to write his piece on this subject will be in permanent lunchtime exclusion until he submits it, or his family pay his fees, or ransom as we call it at Michehtaka. Any further individuality displayed on his behalf will lead to further trips in the school field, like the one that has currently laid him up with a broken leg. Meanwhile Ms Bhurraidh says ‘This may be an unfashionably traditional attitude but I think it is important to bring back the same number of children, and ideally the same ones, that we left with. So called progressive schools may abandon children to their fates, but at Michehtaka we hold ourselves to a higher standard.’

 

Pupil Premium

By Ms Faisisteach Bhurraidh head teacher etc etc

This book will help fund our support for pupil premium pupils in two ways. Firstly it funds our teachers going on home visits to familiarise themselves with the kinds of homes we don’t want to draw children from, and secondly the printing costs of the pamphlet they take with them on these visits entitled ‘Why you child might be better suited to the school down the road’.

 

False Dichotomy

by deputy head of publishing Mr Ed Youkata

I have asked round the staff and no one knows what this means, so it’s safe to assume it’s not an important idea. It seems there are only two types of teachers, those who know what false dichotomy means and those who have not wasted their time on irrelevant left wing theoretical nonsense.I have been teaching nearly 3 years and as such have learnt all there is to know about education and I have never heard this expression. I fervently believe that anything I have not heard of is not worth knowing so that is all I have to say on the subject of false dichotomies. I now see it as my mission to pass on all I have learnt, to become a teacher of teachers a guru who will bring enlightenment where there was previously only progressive chaos. Our Michehtaka solution is simple. So when our staff hear irrelevant expression like false dichotomy, creativity or child centred learning I just tell them to ignore them. And do you know what? They do!

 

Being a Governor at Michehtaka

By Miss Elfpublizizt

It is my pleasure to be a governor at Michehtaka school and be surrounded on a day to day basis by enthusiastic and brave teachers who, though I have never met them due to being extremely busy running my celebrity advertising agency and writing my daily Mail column, I am told, love working in the school and are totally dedicated to the children’s data. Unlike the rabble of lazy teachers in so-called progressive schools our staff want the children to succeed in useful academic subjects, rather than just picking up socialistic Trotskyite anti
-establishment attitudes which will make companies such as mine have to pay them minimum wage in future. The Michehtaka way is simple and right! If we want our pupils to grow up to become compliant citizens we just tell them to do what they’re told. And do you know what? They do!

 

An afterword by the Head Teacher

So there you have it. Written by a group of experts in the field with a combined teaching experience of nearly 25 years, you have in your hands a manual for how all schools should be run. Our staff came to Michehtaka with disparate ideas and visions of how education should work, but through my rigorous induction process they have now seen the light, and all unswervingly share my one true path to educational enlightenment. I can think of no better way to end this glorious book than with a burst of our wonderful school song:


Tomorrow Belongs To Michehtaka

The sun on Michehtaka is summery warm

The poodle in the forest runs free

But gathered together to lead the storm

Tomorrow belongs to Michehtaka
The branch on the linden is leafy and green

The head shines her gold on the sea (Gold on the sea)

But somewhere a glory awaits unseen

Tomorrow belongs to Michehtaka
Now Michehtaka, Michehtaka, show us the sign

Your children have waited to see

Tomorrow belongs to Michehtaka

The morning will come

When the world is Michehtaka’s
Tomorrow belongs to Michehtaka

Tomorrow belongs to Michehtaka

Tomorrow belongs to Michehtaka

Tomorrow belongs to Michehtaka

 

References

The Lion King, The Circle of Life – lyrics by Tim Rice

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Mein Kampf (introduction) A Hitler

The Lord of the Flies By William Golding

A Few Good Men screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Jamie’s Dinners By Jamie Oliver

King James Bible, Deuteronomy 5:9

Forrest Gump script by Eric Roth

Cabaret soundtrack Tomorrow Belongs to Me: writers John Cander/Fred Ebb

Wishing you a very Guantanamo Christmas 



With apologies to Charles Causley

Listen the great version by the legendary Show of Hands on YouTube  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-rL8jT3xf0U

I’m sure we will all spare a thought this festive season for the unfortunates in our modern society. This year I’d specifically like you to think of two groups. This year is going to be particularly hard on the homeless, the disabled, refugees, the starving and all those alone for Christmas and I’m sure that many of you,angry at the politics of this year will be campaigning on their behalf and I would encourage you to continue to support them. However some less fashionable groups will be suffering too. I am of course referring to bad men and naughty children.

Today a large number of men are incarcerated by the US government in the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay. George W Bush referred to these inmate as ‘Very Bad Men’ to deflect a question about why they were being held illegally without charge, away from the fact that a free society needs to extend its freedoms to everyone , even if it disapproves of them or fears them. That is the price you pay for freedom. Everyone should have the right to have a fair trial. To be condemned to rot in prison on the simple say so of one powerful man, with no recourse to the law, no appeal and no due process or opportunity to prove their innocence is not justice. And the fact that this takes place in a foreign country, Cuba, does not make it acceptable. Some of these men could very well be innocent. They should be tried, or if there is not enough evidence released. Unfortunately George’s successor did nothing about this and it seems very unlikely that his successor’s successor will either so we will just have to keep up the pressure.

Tonight a large number of children will find out that they are not going to be getting any presents this year. Santa Claus referred to these as ‘Naughty Children’ to deflect a question about why they were being denied presents without being formally accused of being naughty, despite the fact that a free society needs to extend its generosity to everyone, even if it disapproves of their behaviour or fears they will spoil Christmas. That is the price you pay for celebrations. Everyone should have the right to have gifts. To be condemned to miss out on the simple say so of one powerful old white man, with no recourse to the law, no appeal and no due process or opportunity to prove their innocence is not justice. And the fact that this takes place in a foreign country, Lapland, does not make it acceptable. Some of these ‘children could very well be nice. They should be tested, or if there is not enough evidence they should receive their presents. Sadly Rudolf has shown little leadership in this matter and Prancer seems unlikely to break ranks so we will need to keep up the pressure.

Have a Merry Christmas Y’all

We are the Salmon Teachers!


We are the salmon teachers. We don’t roar all over Twitter telling everyone else they are wrong. We don’t wrap up one good idea with a host of questionable ones in a slickly presented package and call it obvious truth. We don’t believe there is only one way to learn. 

We inspire children by doing what works, what delights and what intrigues. We will swim up the rapid channels of inspiration, jump the waterfalls of SATs and navigate through the treacherous whirlpools of OFSTED. We may find ourselves swimming against the strong currents of newly established orthodoxy, against tired old ideas championed as new discoveries or against bits of supposedly better systems being touted as magic bullets. We just glide on past. We have seen it all before. 

Our heads are up, looking ever forwards for better ways. Not for us the obsession with a mediocre past seen through rose-tinted rear view mirrors; not for us the leap and the hot grip of jaws when a child doesn’t conform, we just move alongside, guide, support, listen and in doing so earn commitment and understanding; nor for us the dubiously overused semicolon. 

We are too quick and too smart to fall for the lures of predatory heads and academy trusts, too slippery for OFSTED to pin us down and too much in love with the ride upstream to ever give up. When we finally reach the spawning grounds we will have earned our long rest, and passed on a love for learning to children whom others might have discarded.

We are the salmon teachers, see us leap.