Collective punishment

Collective punishment is the punishment of a group for the actions of an individual. The logic is that if one terrorist (or freedom fighter) launches some kind of attack on an oppressor, then reprisals will be visited on his or her community. The threat of such retaliation is intended to quell civil disobedience before it even occurs through peer pressure: if I know you are planning something the authorities will object to I will seek persuade you not to carry out your plan so that I and the rest of our community will be spared the punishment which should rightfully be perpetrated just on you as the culprit.

In the second century BC, Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang instigated the practice of punishing the most serious of crimes with nine familial exterminations – everyone in the perpetrator’s extended family (classified into nine distinctly different groups)would be wiped out.

In Texas, 1906, two white soldiers were shot. No one knew who was responsible but they were fairly sure whoever it was must have been black, and so 167 black American soldiers received dishonourable discharges.

It can be a pretty effective system. The British army used collective punishment during the Boer War as did the Nazis and Stalin. There’s one minor drawback though: it’s a war crime specifically forbidden under the fourth Geneva Convention.

Article 33. No persons may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

Today I picked my niece up from school. We were in a bit of a rush and I was irritated that she was almost 10 minutes late in coming out of her classroom. When I expressed my irritation, she told me her teacher had kept her behind. Normally she’s pretty well-behaved so I asked what she’d done. Nothing! Miss keeps us all behind every time one of the boys speaks.

Despite wanting to storm in and express just how unfair this practice is, in a rare moment of wisdom I managed to restrain myself. You see, I’ve been there. When a class is giving you a hard time one of the few deterrents available in to keep them behind after a lesson. Naturally no one wants to punish well-behaved children, but in the hurly burly of the classroom it can be difficult – nay impossible – to always correctly separate the guilty from the innocent. And so it’s easier – and, we tell ourselves, fairer, to punish everyone. But it’s a particularly stupid thing to do, for three reasons.

On the whole, kids that mess about in lessons don’t actually care if their peers are also kept in late. In fact, they tend to prefer it; it means they’re not alone to face the consequences of their actions. So it really doesn’t work as a deterrent.

There are bigger problems however. Collective punishment can create a perverse incentive to misbehave. If you know you’re going to be punished despite not having committed a crime, you might as well commit the crime – you’re paying for it after all. As a child, I used to take this view in disagreements with my younger brother. He’d tell me that if I didn’t do what he wanted he tell my mum I’d kicked him in his bad leg. Unmoved, I would then continue as before. He’d then shout, “Muuum! Agghh. David’s kicked me in my bad leg!” In the moments between his scream dying and the approach of my mother’s thunderous footsteps I’d think, what the Hell, and kick him.

The third problem with collective punishment is that it erodes the relationship between the teacher and the good kids. Even if they choose not to misbehave – and they’ll always be some who make the right choice (My daughter is fortunate to have inherited better genes from her mother!) – they’ll still feel the sting of injustice. They know their punishment is unfair. Of course they’ll resent the real culprits, but they’ll resent the teacher more. Over time more and more children tend to drift into mild and tacit naughtiness. Their sympathies shift and before you know it the bad lads are cast as Che Guevara and you, the well-intentioned teacher find yourself playing the Cuban dictator, Batista.

Whenever I’ve seen frustrated teachers deploy collective punishment, it’s usually a last, desperate act. The most frustrating part is that it’s actually very easy to avoid. Here follows my very simple solution to dealing with unidentified troublemakers in a way that doesn’t punish the compliant.

Firstly, you know who they are. You might not have caught them in the act, you might not be able to prove it beyond reasonable doubt, but you know. After all, they’ve often got form. You also know who is without sin. Some children never misbehave, whatever the provocation. It is never fair or acceptable to punish these poor, put-upon kids.

On those occasions (and there have been many) when I had to write minutes on the board to persuade errant pupils to follow basic instructions, when the end of the lesson came I would let the innocent go. Everyone would be made to stand quietly behind their desks and those I knew to be pure at heart would be allowed to leave. I would then launch into some variant of my ‘disappointed’ lecture. At this point there would be some pupils who tried the line, but it wasn’t me, or, but I wasn’t as bad as Tom. In response I would either say, Well, it is now, or, I know that, and the sooner I’ve finished speaking the sooner you will go and I will be able to speak to Tom privately. Now the next layer of minor miscreants can be released. They might not have done much, and they might not have been involved this particular time and you have shown you realise they are not the real problem.

Sooner or later you’ll be left with the hardcore. Now you can issue whatever punishment their behaviour seems to merit and is in line with your school’s behaviour policy safe in the knowledge that justice has prevailed. The innocent know you are a fair and even-handed judge and the guilty know they cannot hide behind the collateral damage of their peers.

Next time you’re tempted to stoop to collective punishment, remember there is an easier, fairer way.

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David Didau: The Learning Spy

Landmark: a million thank yous

I began blogging in July 2011. In January 2012 I signed up with Google Analytics and have clocked up over 2 million pageviews since.

The story so far...

The story so far…

Then in July 2013 I shifted the site over to WordPress and on Tuesday broke the million views mark according to their figures too.

About to clock over...

About to clock over…

Since then there has been an awful lot of change. The education landscape has changed in ways I never imagined.

– The death knell has sounded for graded lesson observations. Ofsted (at least as far as schools are concerned – FE is another matter. )have drawn a line under lessons and teachers being awarded grades. Some schools have seen the light and, I predict, the practice will disappear completely over the next few years. I can imagine a scenario where it takes legal action to force some schools to stop making up numbers, but if one teacher sues because their pay or employment is threatened by this ridiculous conceit, that will finally nail the coffin closed.

– It’s no longer anathema for teachers to talk. The misconceived nonsense that compelled teachers to stop speaking after a maximum of 5 minutes is also in its death throes. Ofsted have told us that inspectors must not criticise teachers for talking too long (although they can, I assume, criticise them for being rubbish at talking.) Maybe schools will begin to invest in training that improves teachers’ talk rather than seeks to minimise it.

– And on the subject of Ofsted, the current Inspection Handbook has been heavily influenced by my writing. How do I know? Because National director for schools, Sean Harford, sent me a draft copy last July and I edited and rewrote much of the Quality of Teaching section. For better or worse, a lot of what’s in there is my fault. I’m particularly proud of the line, “When observing teaching, inspectors should be ‘looking at’ and reflecting on the effectiveness of what is being done to promote learning, not ‘looking for’ specific or particular things.”

– Many of the assumptions I had taken for granted since qualifying as a teacher in the late 90s have been under increasing attack. Daisy Christodoulou’s controversial book, Seven Myths About Education has struck a chord with many teachers. While her accusations of a ‘progressive hegemony’ don’t “ring true” with some, for me the big change is that we no longer have to feel guilty about actually teaching children.

– The work of Robert Bjork is starting to find an audience in the UK. Since being introduced to the concept of desirable difficulties in 2013 and beginning to write and speak about the ways they could change the way we think about education and learning, many others have taken up the baton. My new book What if everything you knew about education was wrong? will be out in June and I’m thrilled that Bob has agreed to write a foreword. I’m hopeful that it will help shape future thinking on how best we design schools and make education policy.

– All this reading and thinking has led me to challenge some of the axioms of modern education. If learning is invisible then maybe progress in lessons might also be a myth? And if that’s true, where does that leave assessment for learning? And possibly feedback, long considered the king of all education interventions, might be widely misunderstood and misapplied. I’ve been truly grateful to Dylan Wiliam for engaging with my critique of formative assessment – his generosity has been humbling.

As well as all this turmoil, blogging has changed me personally. I’ve described before the journey I’ve been over the past few years, but for those that don’t know, I’ve changed my mind about a number of things. Not only that, I’ve spent the past 18 months as a freewheeling education consultant sharing my ideas about literacy, curriculum design, teaching, learning and leadership with schools up and down the country from Stirling to St Helier. Next month I go international with a week-long visit to schools in Singapore. All this hasn’t really sunk in. In my head I’m still just a stroppy teacher with a big gob. I still have to pinch myself.

And change continues to be the one constant. Although I can’t yet reveal the details, excitingly in September it looks like I’ll be back working in a school.

Anyway, all this is in large part down to you. If you didn’t read what I write then I’d probably have stopped bothering a long time ago. Particular thanks to all those who regularly take the time to comment on what I’ve written: your criticisms aren’t always welcome, but they always make me think.

The post Landmark: a million thank yous appeared first on David Didau: The Learning Spy.

David Didau: The Learning Spy

AQA Question 2 – Fake Answer

Here’s a silly answer I used with a class when looking at Question 2. Every time I use it, there is at least one student who thinks it is a clear 8 out of 8.


Explain how the headline, subheading and picture are effective and how they link with the text.

The writer has used a picture to make the reader interested and want to read on. It is a picture that shows the reader what the article is about. It makes the reader interested and it links to the text as the text is about things in the picture. They have used a big picture to make it stand out and catch your eye because we like looking at pictures more than we like looking at writing. They also use colour to make it more eye-catching.

The headline is effective because the writer has made it bold so it stands out. The reader will then read it. They use interesting words also to make the writing stand out and so we read it. The headline links to the article as it sums it up so the reader will know what the article. It is written in an interesting ways so the reader wants to read on. The headline is also short and snappy so it isn’t boring and the reader wants to read the rest of the article.

The subheading gives the reader even more information so if they want to read the story they know a bit more about it. It is near the picture to explain what the story is about. It is after the headline to give more detail. It links to the rest of the article because it tells the reader what is happening in the story. If the reader is interested, then the reader will read on.

Learning from my mistakes: an English teacher’s blog

A Guide To Scenes From The Battleground

I have updated this guide for the holidays.

This blog is about the state of secondary education. There is an introduction to it here:

  • Welcome (or welcome back) to the Battleground

And some reflections on it here:

  • Now We Are Seven
  • Now We Are Eight

Here is a summary of my main points:

  • A New Summing Up

Here are a few posts written purely for a laugh (although some of them perhaps make a point at the same time):

  • The Driving Lesson
  • The Cult of INSET
  • The Theory of Multiple Fitnesses
  • The Kennedy Assassination: A Headteacher’s Perspective
  • Blood and Guts
  • Rewriting the Dictionary
  • What if Senior Managers Told the Truth?
  • You Know it’s Time to Quit Teaching When…
  • Charlie and the Inclusive Chocolate Factory
  • Back To Work
  • Negative Correlations in Teaching
  • Sports News (written by a friend)
  • 10 Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Tidy my House
  • Progressive Teaching Methods In the Primary School
  • The Two Types of Guardian Journalism About Where to Send your Kids to School

The following posts sum up what is typical in schools these days in various respects:

Behaviour:

  • The Top Five Lies About Behaviour
  • The Naughty Boy
  • The Disruptive Girl
  • How To Find Out If Your Teacher Is Gay
  • Getting “Terrored”
  • The F***-Off Factor
  • Excuses, Excuses: Part 1
  • Excuses, Excuses: Part 2
  • Excuses, Excuses: Part 3
  • Excuses, Excuses: Part 4
  • The Two Discipline Systems
  • “I Don’t Get It”
  • Zen and the Art of Going to the Lavatory
  • Ammunition
  • The Year 11 Tipping Point
  • The Good Kids
  • Obedience
  • Seven Signs of a “Good Enough” Discipline System
  • Newspapers Persecute Schools For Enforcing The Rules

Curriculum:

  • They Call It PSHE, I Call It Hell
  • Mixed Ability Teaching Doesn’t Exist
  • The Joy of Sets
  • Political Education Goes Down the Toilet
  • Values
  • English Language GCSE – Narrowing the Horizons of the Next Generation
  • Attitudes Which Cause Dumbing Down
  • Yes, Those Were Definitely Examples of Dumbing Down

Teachers and Managers:

  • The Appeasers
  • A Few More Words About Appeasement
  • Excuses, Excuses – This Time from the Grown Ups
  • Seven Habits of Highly Defective Headteachers
  • Heroes of SMT
  • The Illusionists
  • Good Year Heads
  • How Low Can Expectations Go?
  • The Job that Never Ends
  • How to be bad SMT

Special Needs:

  • Not-So Special Needs
  • Tourette’s, Turrets, Tourects
  • Total Eclipse of the SEN
  • Failing The Most Vulnerable

School Life:

  • Sports Day
  • Cover
  • 10 Things To Avoid in INSET

Miscellaneous:

  • Unsolved Mysteries of Teaching
  • Ten Things to Know About the Kids
  • 10 Things You Never Hear In Teaching
  • And On the Plus Side
  • Pointing Out The Obvious
  • Twenty Lies
  • Obstructions
  • Have Sixth-Formers Changed?
  • Some Pedagogical Resources
  • More Pedagogical Resources

As well as the advice for teachers included in many of the other posts, I have written advice specifically for new teachers:

  • FAQs for NQTs
  • Is This Normal?
  • How to Destroy NQTs
  • Lies, Damned Lies and Things You are Told During Teacher Training
  • Some Quick Tips for NQTs and Trainees
  • Why Most Behaviour Management Advice Doesn’t Work

These deal more directly with my own personal experiences, or the experiences of others:

  • The Corridor of Death
  • The SIG Group
  • The Anonymous Questionnaire. Part 1
  • The Anonymous Questionnaire. Part 2
  • The Behaviour Management Database
  • More from the Behaviour Management Database
  • A Good Class
  • Non-Discipline Day
  • Five Incidents That Didn’t Result In A Permanent Exclusion
  • The Culture of Blame
  • The Most Ridiculous Complaints Against Me Ever Made
  • Being Supported by a Year Head
  • Meanwhile, Elsewhere in the Education System
  • The Core Business of Schools
  • I Have A Dream
  • Doctor What?
  • I Have a Bad Relationship with the Kids
  • Insane Teacher Bothers the Prime Minister
  • God
  • Shoot The Messenger
  • A Personality Clash
  • Charlene
  • Holiday In Hell: Part 1
  • Holiday In Hell: Part 2
  • Higher Education? (written by a friend)
  • Success
  • Selling Out
  • Students and Detentions
  • With a Little Help from my Friends
  • Eight Out Of Forty-Three Ain’t Bad (If You’re a Member of SMT)
  • The School’s on Fire
  • Snow Days
  • The Hostile Observation
  • What I Didn’t Say During the INSET day on Special Educational Needs
  • The Outstanding School
  • The Failing Department (written by a friend)
  • Further Education
  • Parallel Universes at the London Festival of Education
  • A Reader Comments on their NQT Year (written by a reader)
  • A Primary School Mutiny (written by a reader)
  • A Maths Teacher writes… (written by a reader)
  • Should We Care About Our Students?
  • What I did during my half-term holiday
  • The Darkest Term: Teacher Stress and Depression
  • School Governor Writes… (written by a reader)
  • The Unintended Consequences of Teaching Schools (written by a reader)

I have also written a number of posts exploring and explaining how this situation came to be, discussing the arguments in education and suggesting what can be done.

Background:

  • Modern Education is Rubbish Part 1. Where Are We Now?
  • Modern Education is Rubbish Part 2. What Should We Be Trying To Do?
  • Modern Education is Rubbish Part 3. Why Are Our Schools Failing?
  • A Brief History of Education. Part 1. Educational Thought
  • A Brief History of Education Part 2. The 1944 Education Act
  • A Brief History of Education Part 3. The Rise of the Comprehensive
  • A Brief History of Education Part 4. The Assault on Professionalism
  • A Brief History of Education Part 5. The Battleground School
  • The Cast of Culprits Part 1. The Students
  • The Cast of Culprits Part 2. The Teachers
  • The Cast of Culprits Part 3. The School Leaders
  • The Cast Of Culprits: Part 4. The Bureaucrats
  • Was It Always Like This?
  • It’s Not Just Me

Apologia and arguments:

  • Why I Like Being a Teacher
  • Just For The Record, I Don’t Hate The Kids
  • Optimism
  • A Member of the Patriarchy Writes…
  • Why I Blog Anonymously
  • I felt a great disturbance in the internet yesterday
  • The State of the Education Debate
  • How the tide has turned…
  • Avoiding the Difficult Choices in Education
  • Has The Debate Moved On?
  • Witch-hunt
  • When Should Education Events Be Held?
  • Authentic Concern Versus Emotional Correctness
  • 3 Things I Strongly Disagree With

Progressive Education:

  • If Only They Didn’t Have to Learn
  • The Devil’s Own Education System
  • Group-Work
  • Education as a Religion
  • Childish Things
  • Why Students Aren’t Given More of a Say in Education
  • How to Argue for Progressive Education
  • Play
  • A New Primary Teacher Writes… (written by a reader)
  • That Primary School Teacher Post

Behaviour:

  • Bad Ideas for Dealing with the Behaviour Crisis
  • Bad Idea for Dealing with the Behaviour Crisis #1: Make Lessons More Fun
  • Bad Idea for Dealing with the Behaviour Crisis #2: Bring Back Selection
  • Bad Idea for Dealing with the Behaviour Crisis #3: End Compulsory Education
  • Bad Idea for Dealing with the Behaviour Crisis #4: Have More Vocational Subjects
  • Bad Idea for Dealing with the Behaviour Crisis #5: End Parental Choice
  • The First Law of Behaviour Management
  • The Second Law of Behaviour Management
  • The Third Law of Behaviour Management
  • The Fourth Law of Behaviour Management
  • “But They Have To Go Somewhere”
  • In Praise of Harshness
  • Detentions: Part 1
  • Detentions: Part 2
  • The Driving Lesson Revisited
  • The Denial Twist
  • The Three Main Debating Strategies of Behaviour Crisis Denialists
  • Shouting
  • A Solution to Poor Discipline in Challenging Schools
  • What Makes A School Discipline System Work?
  • The Behaviour Delusion (or “Why do Kids Kick Off?”)

Initiatives:

  • Gag the Student Voice
  • Teach First, Repent at Leisure
  • Snake Oil (BLP)
  • A.P.P.
  • Surviving A.P.P.
  • Inclusion and the Special Needs Racket

Education Policy and Current Affairs:

  • Why Education Shouldn’t be Run by Bankers
  • Strike!
  • Scabs
  • Who Is To Blame?
  • Why Sir Alan Steer Should Stick his Stupid Lying Report up his Arse
  • Lessons Not Learned (Or Why Sir Alan Steer Should Still Stick his Report up his Arse)
  • We Are The People We’ve Been Waiting For
  • Parental Choice
  • Parental Choice Revisited
  • Three Opinions Best Ignored
  • Bye, Bye, Mr Balls
  • Snuffy
  • The Education White Paper
  • Let’s Twist Again…
  • These Riots Prove Whatever the Hell it was I was Already Saying
  • The Exam Scandal
  • The Education Spectrum
  • The Attitudes Which Cause the Behaviour Crisis
  • How Not to Criticise an Education Secretary
  • A Reply To Fiona Millar’s Latest Exercise in Denialism
  • Dumbing Down: The Tory Way
  • Why Is Nationwide Funding A Campaign Against The Teaching Of Basic Numeracy?
  • A Note About The GCSEs
  • Actually, It Was About Cheating
  • The Exam Hysteria Continues…
  • More About Exams
  • A Note on Exams
  • The GCSE English Farrago
  • I Told You So
  • What good should follow this, if this were done?
  • Why those of us on the left should support Michael Gove’s efforts to “clever-up” the curriculum
  • Policy Based Evidence Making
  • Last Week’s Verdict on the English GCSE Farrago
  • Some Final Words on the English GCSE Farrago
  • A Response to Ben Goldacre’s Building Evidence Into Education Report. Part 1
  • A Response to Ben Goldacre’s Building Evidence Into Education Report. Part 2
  • Well, this is disappointing
  • A Very Short Summary of the Phonics Debate
  • Is Phonics Being Implemented Correctly?
  • A Response about the Implementation of Phonics
  • Why I’m against Performance-Related Pay
  • Michael Gove’s Favourite Bloggers (or why my credibility is now shot)
  • Spot the Difference
  • A Petition Against Passing Off Blogposts as Petitions
  • Seven Things All Politicians Should Know About Education
  • Michael Gove’s Mr Men Speech
  • Is it even possible to discuss education policy any more?
  • Where did Michael Gove find that Mr Men Story?
  • Should Language Students Learn to Translate? (written by a reader)
  • A Further Thought on Language Teaching  (written by a reader)
  • A Few Points About the Teaching Unions
  • The History Teachers We Don’t Hear From (written by two readers)
  • Discussing the 7 Myths About Education
  • Kids are failed by The System, not their genes
  • The Case against Michael Gove
  • The Case against Stephen Twigg
  • The Latest Iteration of the Phonics Debate
  • A Few Comments on Last Week’s GCSE Results
  • Shocking News: Labour activist (and NUT member) criticises Michael Gove
  • It’s because I agree with Gove about the curriculum that I disagree with him about pay and conditions
  • Bye bye, Mr Twigg
  • No OFSTED Hope From Tristram Hunt
  • How To Sabotage Your Own Policy
  • Liz Truss’s Textbook Speech
  • Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate
  • Tristram Hunt proposes something which may just be worse than OFSTED
  • Spot The Difference: Part 2
  • How To Sabotage Your Own Policy Part 2
  • The International Language of Edu-Platitudes
  • Revisiting the Debate Over the Davis Phonics Pamphlet: Part 1
  • Revisiting the Debate Over the Davis Phonics Pamphlet: Part 2
  • Revisiting the Debate Over the Davis Phonics Pamphlet: Part 3
  • Towards a Blue Labour Agenda on Schools Part 1
  • Towards a Blue Labour Agenda on Schools Part 2
  • Goodbye, Mr Gove
  • Will everything really calm down after Gove?
  • Spot The Difference Part 3
  • Spot The Difference: The ATL and Behaviour.
  • Workload

OFSTED:

  • OFSTED Must Die
  • What OFSTED Say They Want
  • What OFSTED Actually Want
  • Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know What OFSTED Good Practice Looks Like?
  • OFSTED Best Practice Videos
  • Did OFSTED just remove those good practice videos?
  • OFSTED Under Fire
  • The Strange Case of OFSTED and School Governors (written by a guest)
  • Do OFSTED pay attention to their chief inspector or their handbook?
  • Can Sir Michael Wilshaw order OFSTED to change?
  • Just when you think OFSTED have got their act together, the flip cameras are back.
  • The OFSTED Teaching Style
  • The Government Should Listen to Teachers. And By “Teachers”, I Mean “Me”
  • More OFSTED Good Practice that isn’t
  • A Brief Comment on OFSTED and Teacher Talk
  • New OFSTED Handbook
  • The Open-Ended Hypocrisy of OFSTED
  • What I’d do about OFSTED
  • When will OFSTED change?
  • I’ll Accept No Excuses for OFSTED
  • New Academic Year. New Inspection Handbook. Same Old OFSTED
  • More OFSTED Nonsense
  • Why I don’t think OFSTED can be reformed
  • Has OFSTED Changed Since Last Month?
  • Some Progress with OFSTED (and how little difference it makes)
  • They’re Back – OFSTED Subject Specific Guidance Notes
  • A Christmas Miracle – OFSTED Get It Right For Once
  • Why That OFSTED News Is So Important
  • Have OFSTED Changed Yet?
  • Missing OFSTED Reports
  • How have OFSTED behaved in the last 2 weeks?
  • Bizarre Developments and Unfair Judgements on the OFSTED Website
  • Ten Questions OFSTED Need to Answer
  • More OFSTED Reports Edited After Publication
  • Two More Edited OFSTED Reports
  • Arnold Hill Academy Responds to the OFSTED Shambles
  • Can OFSTED stop publishing ridiculous reports, even if they try?
  • Last Week’s OFSTED Story in the Times
  • OFSTED Quotations About Independence
  • That Gove/Wilshaw Spat
  • OFSTED go mad In Coventry
  • An OFSTED Round Up
  • OFSTED Culture
  • Are OFSTED Judgements Reliable?
  • An Example of OFSTED’s Inconsistency
  • My Meeting With Sean Harford, OFSTED’s National Director for Schools Policy
  • First Impressions of the New OFSTED Handbook
  • A Tale Of Two Schools (Or How OFSTED Are Still Pushing Fuzzy Maths)

The College of Teaching:

  • Why I’m Deeply Sceptical About A College Of Teaching
  • Why Evidence and Research Won’t Resolve Ideological Disputes Around The College of Teaching
  • What Would Make Me Join A College Of Teaching?
  • Why There Should Only Be Teachers In The College Of Teaching
  • What is the College of Teaching for?
  • It Seems I Won’t Be Joining The College Of Teaching
  • The College Of Teaching Debate
  • Nick Hassey’s Views on The College Of Teaching
  • Politician’s Logic and The College Of Teaching

Teaching and Teachers:

  • Lesson Observations
  • The Appeasers’ Creed
  • It
  • The Bisected Teacher
  • Wilful Stupidity
  • Hard Work
  • Never Forget: Learning Styles are Complete Arse
  • A Teacher’s Oath
  • The Insanity of Allowing Phones in Class
  • More about Phones
  • The Problem with AfL
  • Another Problem with AfL
  • Denying the Debate
  • Marking and Workload
  • Arguing over the Ridiculous: Brain Gym and Mantle of the Expert
  • Hands Up
  • A Question (and a Straw Man) About Lying to Children
  • Fluency in Mathematics: Part 1
  • Fluency in Mathematics: Part 2
  • Fluency in Mathematics: Part 3
  • In Praise of Explanations
  • On Just Teaching

Educational Ethics and Philosophy:

  • Professionalism
  • Ethics Man
  • Human Nature
  • Blamelessness
  • The Blameless. Part 1: The Young
  • The Blameless. Part 2: The Poor
  • The Blameless. Part 3: The Afflicted
  • Needs
  • Desert Part 1: Rewards
  • Desert Part 2: Punishment
  • Desert Part 3: The Purpose of Punishment
  • Corporal Punishment
  • Kindness and Justice
  • Self-Esteem: Part 1
  • Self-Esteem: Part 2
  • Health Versus Education
  • Why it is Annoying to Discuss Teaching Methods
  • Bad Ideas About the Aim of Education #1: Developing Character
  • Bad Ideas About the Aim of Education #2: Improving Emotional Well-Being
  • Bad Ideas About the Aim of Education #3: Fitting Children to their Future Role in Society
  • More about those Bad Ideas
  • The Aim of Education
  • Culture
  • The Porpoise of Education
  • Facts
  • Information and Understanding
  • Thinking Skills
  • Creativity
  • Autonomy
  • Inspiration
  • Skills or Knowledge?
  • Weasel Words #1: Engage
  • Weasel Words #2: Understand
  • Weasel Words #3: Skills
  • The Future Part 1: Another Argument for Dumbing-Down
  • The Future Part 2: Overseas Competition
  • The Future Part 3: Changes in the Labour Market
  • The Future Part 4: Technological Change as Normal and Unpredictable
  • The Future Part 5: Are We Living in a Time of Unprecedented Technological Change?
  • The Future Part 6: Does New Technology Mean We Don’t Need to Know Anything?
  • A Note About The Future
  • The Future Part 7a: What’s a Digital Native?
  • The Future Part 7b: Is there such a thing as a Digital Native?
  • The Future Part 7c: Whose silly idea was this Digital Natives thing anyway?
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Letter from a Professional Part 1: What is a Profession?
  • Letter from a Professional Part 2: What are professional ethics?
  • Letter from a Professional Part 3: Teaching and Professionalism
  • What’s Essential in the Education Debate Part 1: Truth
  • What’s Essential in the Education Debate Part 2: Reason
  • What’s Essential in the Education Debate Part 3: Refutation
  • The Problem With Knowledge Part 1
  • The Problem With Knowledge Part 2

Education Research and Academics

  • Statistical Data and the Education Debate Part 1: Effect and Cause
  • Statistical Data and the Education Debate Part 2: Why we can reach conclusions from limited data
  • Statistical data and the Education Debate Part 3: Errors and Gold Standards
  • Criticising the Obviously Wrong
  • Drawing the Line Between Research and Propaganda

Here are some videos I found on the internet which I thought were interesting, or relevant, enough to present in a blog post. Some will probably no longer be available, I hope to correct this where possible when I get the chance.

  • Blame The Teacher – 1947 Style
  • Guaranteed to Offend Your SENCO
  • A Helpful Video On Learning Styles
  • Another Helpful Video
  • Brain Gym Exposed
  • Performance Related Pay?
  • Schools on Film
  • Is Teaching an Art or a Science? – Dan Willingham
  • Dylan Wiliam’s Lecture and “Sharing Good Practice”
  • We all know David Starkey was a terrible teacher… don’t we?
  • My Interview with the OFSTED Big Cheeses

I wrote about some of the myths that are spread to teachers, often in INSET or during PGCEs:

  • Three Myths For Teachers
  • More Myths for Teachers
  • Technology and Another Myth for Teachers

I have also outlined what I would expect from schools willing to do put things right:

  • My Dream School: Part 1
  • My Dream School: Part 2

Here are my book recommendations:

  • The Battleground Bookshelf
  • More from the Battleground Bookshelf
  • Progressively Worse – A Subversive Text

This may be of interest if you are considering writing a blog:

  • Advice For Education Bloggers
  • Quick Tips for New Education Bloggers

You may also have found me…

  • in the New Statesman blog
  • on the Labour Teachers website (The Education Spectrum)
  • on the Labour Teachers website again (How Not To Criticise an Education Secretary)
  • on the Labour Teachers website yet again (Reflections on the Festival of Education) 
  • On the Fabian Society website
  • On the Fabian Society website again
  • mentioned in some print media
  • On the NUT website
  • On Radio 4’s The Report
  • On Radio 4’s One to One
  • In Academies Week (Teachers need the time to get out more)
  • In Academies Week (Top Blogs of the Week October 2014)
  • In Academies Week (Top Blogs of the Week November 2014)
  • In Academies Week (Top Blogs of the Week December 2014)
  • In Academies Week (Top Blogs of the Year 2014)
  • In Schools Week (Top Blogs of the Week January 2015)

I have also written sections in the following two books:

  • Progressively worse: The Burden of Bad Ideas in British Schools
  • Don’t change the light bulbs: A compendium of expertise from the UK s most switched-on educators

Please let me know if any of the links don’t work.

Finally, I can be found on Facebook (please “friend” me) or Twitter (please “follow” me).

If you want to keep up with education blogging other than mine, or to see some of these same concerns discussed by others, then you should follow my sister blog, The Education Echo Chamber. The blog is here. The twitter feed is here.


Scenes From The Battleground

This much I know about…school funding, on-costs and balancing the budget!

 

I have been a teacher for 26 years, a Headteacher for 11 years and, at the age of 50, this much I know about school funding, on-costs and balancing the budget!

Gold-pound-sign

News management is an essential art if you are a political party. On the same day that Lord Nash announced at the Independent Academies Association’s autumn conference that school leaders are going to have…to cut their cloth to drive efficiencies…schools will increasingly have to do more with the same money, Tristram Hunt announced his plans for teachers to take their own version of the Hippocratic oath. Guess which one made the news headlines?

New education minister John Nash, sponsor of academies through his foundation Future and Tory donor

Good Headteachers trust their colleagues to manage budgets. I was lucky to work under a Headteacher who gave me total responsibility (and accountability) for spending the erstwhile Technology College budget, some £150,000 p.a. It helped me understand finances and was the best preparation I could have had for the moment when I was responsible (along with the Governing body) for the whole school budget.

Don’t leave the money to someone else, it’s too important: so said Greg Dyke to an assembly of York Headteachers a few years ago. It was wisdom I already knew through my own experience. If you want to be a Headteacher, ensure you have a great grasp of the budget and someone to manage it for you who knows what they are doing, preferably from a business background.

I work in an affluent city. York is ranked 148th out of 150 Local Authorities for education spending.  We received £4,659 per student whilst the National Median for Secondary Schools with KS4 is £5,904. It is hard to balance the budget some times, especially when your recurrent capital grant was cut by 82% four years ago (from £160,000 p.a. to £28,000 p.a.) and you need to ring-fence old money as Pupil Premium funding.

What on earth are on-costs? I didn’t go into education to understand on-costs (aka National Insurance and Pension Contributions), but I know all about them now. In 2002 Gordon Brown announced a rise in employers’ National Insurance contributions. The implications for school budget were severe. The first I knew about it as a Deputy was when my Headteacher interrupted me whilst photocopying and said, You know that £19,500 you have for implementing the KS3 strategy? Well, I need it. Twelve years on I know how he feels…

I have a sense of déjà vu. The employers’ contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Fund will increase by 2.3% to 16.4% from September 2015. National Insurance Category D, the contracted out rate, is to be abolished from April 2016. This will have the effect of increasing employers’ contributions by approximately 3.4% based on the current rates. I’ll leave it to fellow Headteachers to work out what that means for them. This time around it’ll be me interrupting my Deputy Head in the photocopying room…You know that grant you’ve got for running that CPD project? Well,…

Will Education funding be properly ring-fenced come Friday 8 May? Only George and Ed know that for sure, but Lord Nash doesn’t seem to think so…Given the state of the public finances we have inherited, this government has done pretty well to protect the schools budget, but I’m afraid that whichever party wins the next election there will be further cuts in the public sector.

Ed-Balls-and-George-Osborne

Austerity 2 the sequel…coming soon!


johntomsett

This much I know about…teaching students meta-cognition & self-regulation skills for the examination hall

I have been a teacher for 26 years, a Headteacher for 11 years and, at the age of 50, this much I know about teaching students meta-cognition & self-regulation skills for the examination hall.

Crim-Grad-Class-51707D51pf

Interventions to help students learn can be done for next to nothing. The now ubiquitous Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Learning Toolkit rates Meta-cognition & self-regulation as a cheap and highly effective strategy to improve students’ learning.

How do students learn how to train their brain to operate effectively during the 90 minutes of an AS level examination? Like many people, my students’ AS mock examination results were pretty disappointing. I know they know their economics theory, but under examination conditions they do not seem to have a sharp enough grasp of how to respond effectively to score as many marks as possible. Command words are ignored; diagrams are left unlabelled; answers are expressed carelessly. On the evidence within their examination papers, my students’ powers of meta-cognition & self-regulation in the examination room are modest at best. Instead of despairing, I thought hard about what to do next…

Modelling thinking so that students’ learning improves is a challenge. What I did in response to my students’ AS mock examination results was model for them explicitly my own thinking, something I had never done before. I completed the same examination paper, not answering the questions but writing on the paper what my brain would have been saying to itself, question by question, should I have attempted the paper. I then talked them through the pdf, showing them just how alert and alive my brain is when I am being examined, teaching them how to think about their own learning more explicitly.

View this document on Scribd

 

What makes great teaching? According to Professor Rob Coe et al, great teaching is defined as that which leads to improved student progress. The students who have re-sat the AS Economics examination because they attained a U grade first time round have all improved by three or more grades. Explicit modelling/teaching of examination room meta-cognition and self-regulation skills might just be the teaching and learning strategy I’ve been searching for these past twenty-six years.

 


johntomsett

Where can teachers have most impact?

Lots of teachers go in to the profession because they want to make a difference. A noble aim, of course, even if it is a consequence of a slightly inflated view of ones ability to do so.  Government campaigns peppered with inspiring rhetoric aim to seduce the quixotic, convincing us that teaching will turn us into classroom heroes who will land in a school and change lives left, right and centre.

 

Teaching is a constant roller coaster, and to help us cope with the extreme highs and lows, from: ‘YES- Jimmy can finally use quotation marks!” to “Please don’t make me enter any more data- I want to kill myself”, we convince ourselves that we are having enormous impact on the kids who need us most. We elect to work at the most ‘challenging’ schools, living under the romantic illusion that we can parachute into them and save the world. We love the feeling of being in a battleground, of transforming their lives one controlled assessment at a time. We feed off the possibility of being that one teacher who finally helps a troublesome teen to knuckle down, or being that one teacher who can get that class to behave, or being that one teacher who inspires a bottom set kid to love reading. It’s all a bit Dead Poet’s Society, and we berate ourselves for occasional bouts of ‘average’, or for delivering a run of the mill lesson on a Thursday morning because you made the call to go to bed before 2am the night before.

 

We want to be inspirational teachers because we love the kids and we know that’s what might make the difference for them. And in a school with a challenging intake, Ofsted-driven practices and a behaviour policy that doesn’t support staff, we roll up our sleeves and continue the fight. We keep fighting because we feel that we are having a huge impact.

 

But is such transformation possible in a battleground school where good behaviour is rare and underachievement is rife? Is it really likely that we will change a kid’s life because we work relentlessly against the tide of low expectation and poverty that drives mediocrity?

 

It feels like it might be, but I don’t think it is as possible as we think.

 

Yes, we may help them to get their C- hopefully we’ll help them to do even better than that. And yes, we probably make their lives nicer for a short time, and we may spark something in them that may have lain dormant without our intervention. We tacitly accept that poverty, Ofsted and rubbish SLT exist and cause most of the problems, but we set these things aside and focus on the impact that we- individual warriors against the orthodoxy of the system-can have. We practise ‘Zen and the Art of Teaching with the Door Closed’, and carry on under the misbelief that there is no other way. Whether or not we manage to do this for more than a few years remains to be seen. Do many battle-ground addicts stick it out for fifteen or twenty years? Or do they perhaps realise somewhere along the way that they aren’t having as much impact as they think they are? Maybe they come to see that they aren’t all that indispensable after all, or maybe they realise the arrogance of thinking they can singlehandedly transform a child’s life in the midst of chaos.

 

I would argue that there are two fundamental problems with the hero teacher mindset. Firstly, it sets many of us up to fail. The level of transformation we think we can have is fairly rare: nearly half of children in the UK leave school without 5 GCSEs, and most of those are the ones we never quite managed to crack. Whilst we remember the success stories of our careers- the occasional pupil whose destiny we helped to change- we conveniently forget the ones the system has failed.

 

Secondly, it is never a guarantee that you will have this much impact on a child. It’s not systematic enough. It depends on personality, on circumstances, on luck. You may end up being the next Rafe Esquith, but in a profession absorbed in pointless bureaucracy and oppressive accountability, it is less likely than you might think.

 

But there is hope. I maintain my optimism about the power of education – I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t. I do think it’s possible to change the course of a child’s future through schooling. I think it’s one of the biggest leavers we have for improving social mobility and life chances. However, in order for us to have as much impact as possible, we must get over the hubris of “I’m a hero teacher” because the hero teacher is a myth. We must have the humility to realise that we cannot change the world when we are alone in our classrooms, and that in fact, we will have a far greater impact if we work somewhere where every single teacher and member of SLT is committed to getting pupils out of bad habits and into good ones, and will not rest until they have achieved excellence.

 

When teachers are working seamlessly together and are all singing off the same song sheet, something magical happens. When everyone is working towards the same objectives and believes that education means more than C grades and compliance, it is truly amazing and has genuine transformative power. Every single moment in a school like that feels purposeful. Rather than the occasional stumble over moments of joy and hope amid a sea of indifference, you can’t help but feel that every single small thing you do is contributing enormously to something far bigger than you would be able to achieve alone.

 

My message to you is simple: when choosing your next post, think carefully about where you will truly have the greatest impact. Going to work in a challenging school for the kicks you get from it will not be completely futile, but you will feel as if you are having more impact than you actually are in reality. Working somewhere where you are just one member of a group of people who all share your desire to change kids’ lives will enable you to have a far greater impact than you could ever have as a lone ranger in a challenging, chaotic school. The steps you take with a great team of colleagues will take you- and more importantly, your pupils- further than you could ever have imagined.


Tabula Rasa

Politician’s Logic and The College Of Teaching

I was recently reminded of the politician’s logic described in the above clip:

Something must be done, this is something, therefore we must do it.

It stemmed from a number of conversations about the College Of Teaching on Twitter, and the argument of this blogpost by Tom Sherrington.

Even if the status quo is terrible, people will defend it inadvertently by resisting change and preventing initial ideas from living a while before they’re fully developed…

It sets out a process by which the College could come into being from the initial founder stage through to the mature membership stage.  If this road map is followed, it would be possible to have an influential College of Teaching fully run by teachers delivering on a number of areas relating to teachers’ professional lives – within five years.   I personally don’t have a better idea than this and I don’t know of one; I don’t like the status quo so I’m very happy to support his proposal…

It is also my experience that it’s a mistake to try to seek total agreement or have rules that are too tight before you get started; the experience of running a new initiative in practice will always throw up new possibilities; if you get too bogged down at the start, you never get going.  It’s like kids arguing about the rules of a game for so long that they never actually play it…

…But if we’d be much much better off with a CoT then it’s worth fighting for. I don’t think that message comes through strongly enough – not yet.  At this stage, I’d say it’s more important to promote the Why of a College of Teaching, above the Who or the How…

If the ongoing debate leads to a better process and a better outcome, that’s great.  Let’s have the discussion in that spirit.  But if the debate simply adds weight to the inertia; not offering any alternative except the status quo, then that’s what we’ll get.  That’s what we’ll deserve – and the chance will have gone.

Ignoring the ad hominem implication that anyone who objects to a plan to spend more than £10 million of public money on a loose and unaccountable assembly of interest groups, is somehow simply resistant to change, this argument amounts to:

We need a change from the status quo. This is a change from the status quo. Therefore, we should support it.

I suspect that this logic might indeed win over some of the politicians and the public will end up bankrolling this project. But let me be utterly clear why this won’t win me over. The status quo of having no professional body for teachers has existed for a grand total of 3 years. Prior to that there was a professional body called the General Teaching Council of England (GTCE) which existed for 12 years and which few teachers had a kind word for. So, the creation of a new professional body is not a once in a lifetime proposition, not a radical departure, but a second attempt at something that was tried and failed in recent memory.

Once we actually recall this little bit of history, we remember that the status quo of not having a professional body for teachers was deliberately chosen over an option (the GTCE)  that was seen as worse than the status quo. If we accept this as the case, then the precise details of the proposal do matter. If any professional body will do, then why was the GTCE not good enough? When the discussion of a College of Teaching started, the desire not to repeat the mistakes of the GTCE was a key theme. Only as it became clear that teachers would have as little, or even less, say over the CoT as they did over the GTCE has the GTCE disappeared from the argument.

Now, of course, it could be the case that the people arguing for uncritical support for the CoT proposal, would also have opposed the abolition of the GTCE. Perhaps they genuinely do think that any professional body is better than none. But if so, then they are keeping quiet about it. If not, then there is no excuse for suggesting anybody else accept the CoT proposal on the grounds that any professional body is better than none. For myself, I know from experience that having a professional body for teachers that is not accountable to teachers is worse than the status quo of having no professional body. And for that reason the issue of who will make up and run the CoT is not a “detail”; not something that can be adjusted later, and not something that can be decided by non-teachers and left for teachers to swallow.


Scenes From The Battleground

Predicting – the Macbeth way

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a crystal ball?

Wouldn’t it be nice to see whether the education system improves or not?

Wouldn’t it be nice to see if the workload for teachers reduces in the future?  

Wouldn’t it be nice to see the outcome of the next General Election now?


A lovely crystal ball would certainly be handy. Then again, the problem with knowing the future is that it influences some of the choices leading up to it. You become conscious of the choices you make and the implications of each choice. Listen to me, I sound like the ardent time traveller. Only, yesterday, I transported myself back a thousand years and spent a good hour stomping on butterflies. Nothing happened.  

One of the ‘great’ things about some of the recent changes to the English curriculum is the addition of more Shakespeare in the curriculum.  As a result of this, our Year 8s are now studying Macbeth. Interestingly, a play about predictions and choices. Oh, and, a whole load of other things.

Now, in the past I have always used prediction in a number of ‘predictable’ ways.

Based on the title, what do you predict the play is about?

Look at the names of the characters. What do you predict the story will be?

Here are some lines from the play. What is the story?

 Let’s watch this scene. What happens next?

Here are some objects. Predict how they could be used in a story.

In fact, all I have done there is copy and paste from a work sheet I use – only joking. But, generally, that’s what I tend to do. I might spice things up and start with some contextual background or some key words, but the prediction usually centres on the plot.’ Predict the plot’ tends to be the staple tool of an English teacher. I bet you were naturally predicting the content of this blog when you first saw the title ‘Predicting – the Macbeth way’.

I am allergic to working through a text in a logical and chronological way. In the age of spoilers and sneaky boys that read the last page and tell everyone on the bus, I like to be creative in how we, as a class, explore a story. Yes, there’s a time and a place for being genuinely surprised when reading a story, but the hard thing, often for students, is the plot of Shakespeare’s plays. This week I found a great little script on TES. It’s called ‘Macbeth for beginners’.

We read the script as a class. Then, I separated the story into twelve episodes. Students were given the task of scripting a scene in pairs. The only rules I gave them were:

[1] It must be tense and dramatic through the language choices and stage directions. Not by adding gore or violence.

[2]It must be close to Shakespeare’s style of writing, using the kind of imagery and techniques Shakespeare usually employs.

[3] It must be two minutes long.

[4] It must all be written in iambic pentameter. Okay, maybe not that rule.

They were predicting the dramatic choices rather than the plot, which in my book is a lot more stretching than: It has witches in it – what do you think will happen?

For a lesson, the students worked busily on their scripts, making some interesting choices. I had to snigger with a pair of boys writing the scene after the murder of King Duncan. The only description for the scene they had was: Lady Macbeth waits for Macbeth to return from murdering King Duncan. This is a rough approximation of the conversation I overheard:

Student 1: We can’t have her talking to herself for too long. What about a noise?

Student 2: Yeah, and she can react to it. What kind of noise? A bang.

Student 1: Nah, how about a cat?

Student 2: Yeah, a cat.

Student 1: Or, what about an owl?

Student 2:  Yeah, an owl would be better. You would know it was a cat straightaway, but if it was bird, it might make other noises.
The great thing about this for me was the discussion on dramatic choices. The students, from the start, were thinking of the play in terms of dramatic context. What would make things dramatic? What choices are important for creating tension?

I have always had the frustration of students focusing on the plot more than the linguistic / dramatic choices, but this approach seemed to change things for me. Teaching Shakespeare can be endless decoding or translating for students. This allowed students to engage in the dramatic choices pretty soon in the reading process.

The next step for me is to get students to write a commentary on the choices they made as playwrights. Then, as we read through the play, we can compare the student version with the original Shakespeare version and compare and contrast them. From the start, the focus is on the construction of the play, rather than the story.

But what is the implication for other aspects of English? Take this scenario:

Tell students that they are going to read an article criticising Jamie Oliver. In the article, the writer cites the following reasons for not liking him:

[1] He pretends to be like ‘Joe Public’ when he is very rich.

[2] Has endless supply of famous friends.

[3] Uses ingredients that most of us would never use.

[4] Rarely gives precise ingredients.  

 
The article is humorous. Write one of the paragraphs, thinking how you could make it humorous.

Then, compare with the original article.

 

As a teacher, I spend a lot of time analysing extracts. Put a sheet in a student’s face and then get them to search for things. However, this predicting the writing hold more weight for me. A lot of activities are based post reading and this approach allows us to focus on the writing pre-reading. Predicting how things are written makes things far more interesting than predicting what is written.  

Thanks for reading. I am off to check the tea leaves at the bottom of my mug. Or, I might go back and squash a few more butterflies.  

Xris  

 

Learning from my mistakes: an English teacher’s blog

This much I know about…why we are developing Growth Mindset Learning tools

I have been a teacher for 26 years, a Headteacher for 11 years and, at the age of 50, this much I know about why we are developing Growth Mindset Learning tools.

If you always do what youve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. If you haven’t heard Henry Ford’s ubiquitous aphorism by now, I really cannot imagine where you’ve been these past few years. It’s such a cliché, but it is behind the conclusions drawn by Yeager, Walton and Cohen in their overview of research into the impact of Growth Mindset strategies in schools.

View this document on Scribd

Their conclusions are important for any of us developing a Growth Mindset in our schools:

YWC 1

YWC 2

YWC 3

Hard work alone is not enough. When I learnt how to play golf, I practised until my hands bled. But I always thought about the outcomes of my shots and would change things if a fault crept into my game. And I always had a coach; I knew what I was doing, but I needed an expert to point out to me any subtle failings in my game which I hadn’t identified. What I had to prevent, during my endless hours of belting balls up the practice ground, was ingraining faults. The same applies to our students. Whilst Growth Mindset emphasises the importance of hard work, the danger is dismaying students who work hard and don’t improve, who keep doing what they have always done and get what they’ve always got.

GML logo

What we are realising is that a Growth Mindset culture and effective learning are as one. Consequently, at Huntington we are developing a range of Growth Mindset Learning TM tools. The tools will help students with the process, rather than just us exhorting them to make more effort. Watch this space…

 


johntomsett

Employment figures for 2014 in the UK

Employment is the most basic requirement for the development and growth of an economy and United Kingdom is not an exception in this regard. From the past few decades, the world economy is in the grip of unemployment and even the economically developed country like UK had to face the brunt of this situation. However with the arrival of the year 2014, there seems to be a lot of improvement in the employment situation of UK. In the recent report drawn by the Statistical Authority, it was found that the unemployment rate in UK has reached its all time low of 7.1%. It is pertinent to know that this rate was 7.4% in the last three months of 2013 and economists around the world had anticipated for a decline of merely 0.1% which is very low as compared to the current reports.

According to office of National Statistics(ONS), there is a fall of 167000 people who’ve been affected by unemployment in the current year. Now there are just 2.32 million people in UK that are devoid of employment. The decrease in unemployment rates in the present year even indicate that now maximum number of people in the UK are having work and are capable of supporting their families. This value even indicates the biggest ever quarterly increase in the employment levels of UK. Despite of all the predications made by labor markets around the world, today Britain is experiencing an economic revolution that certainly needs more fuelling from the government.

This rate of unemployment at 7.1% is the best so far, ever since the economy of UK has started recovering from economic depression. According to ONS, following statistics relating to employment in UK in the year 2014 have been generated so far:

  • The rate of unemployment among the active population in UK is around 7.1% in January, 2014.
  • The total number of people that have a job and are actually working comprise of the 30.15 million of the total population.
  • UK government grants certain allowances to the unemployed population and it is astonishing to know that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s allowance in January 2014 fell by 27600 people. So now the total number of people claiming such allowance is just 1.22 million.
  • The ONS conducts employment and unemployment survey every month but compares between data of three months i.e. quarterly comparisons are made.
  • In 2014, the economy of UK experienced a major change because the employment rate jumped by 280000 points to reach the biggest quarterly high of all times to record a number of 30.15 million. An important thing to note down is that such an increase in employment was last seen in Britain in the year 1971. The employment though increased well, it was the wage growth of people that drew attention of various governmental agencies. The wage growth in UK is going flat at 0.9% from the past 5-6 months which is not even at par with the current inflation rate of 2% here. Thus much of work is required to be done in this regard and a lot of major policy changes could improve the same numbers.

    There are many learning based employment apprenticeships schemes in Birmingham available for young people (aged 16 - 19 etc) - one provider of apprenticeships (Gordon Franks)