Time to punish teachers’ union for UK being bottom of the Class?

G20 protests in London. National Union of Teac...

G20 protests in London. National Union of Teachers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The recent flurry of  focus on teachers in the UK and disastrous educational performance compared to international benchmarks has prompted me to consider radical reform in a series of related blogs.

Let me summarize the focus to date:

With UK education deteriorating each year, compared to international benchmarks, surely the teachers are to blame?

If the teachers are responsible for the failing education standards in the UK, surely it is reasonable to punish the teachers or their proxies, the unions?

When I was at school, it was all very different. I remember vividly being caned or being clipped around the ear for talking in class; these days, of course, discipline is more of challenge for teachers.

Let’s take a simple input/output analysis. Here are a few factors that come to mind:


  • Raw ingredients, namely the children
  • Processes, including the National Curriculum
  • Context including physical, economic, social and political factors
  • Teaching


  • Educational achievement, measured by exams and term work
  • Preparation of children for further education, work and adulthood

In this blog, I want to focus on the teaching ingredient and it’s political wrapping.

In the UK, the largest teaching union is the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and their current policies are:

Can you see anything in the NUT’s policies about children or improving education? The answer is “No”!

NUT is essentially a political organization to promote the interests of teachers, regardless of educational achievement and the wider impact on society.

To some extent, teaching in the UK is effectively a closed- shop, making it difficult for outsiders to break-in. Also there is limited sanction over the quality of teaching, with many poor-performing teachers being protected by their union.

This leads me to two open questions:

  1. To what extent is the NUT responsible for falling educational standards in the UK, compared to international benchmarks?
  2. How should the NUT be sanctioned or punished for the UK education being bottom of the class?

Any thoughts?


Enhanced by Zemanta

A hard look at the context behind the gross failure of UK state schools – John Gelmini

Map showing the local authorities in England w...

Map showing the local authorities in England which maintain three-tier education systems, with purple showing those authorities which operate wholly three-tier provision (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr Alf makes good points about removing schools from local authority control because it is because of the collective failure of local authorities and what passes for the teaching profession, that we are now 44th in the world in terms of State education.

Looking more deeply into this failure, we see a number of common characteristics:

–Boys from traditional working class backgrounds, the so-called C1s, C2s, Ds and Es, doing much worse than girls and leaving school with few or no qualifications of any kind

–Lack of discipline within the school to the point where teachers can be abused, injured or attacked and a teacher who defends themselves robustly or tries to physically restrain the errant pupil will be sacked

–Disruptive pupils being allowed back into the school after multiple incidents of appalling behaviour and imposed on schools which wanted to expel them, by the local authority

–Examinations deliberately dumbed down to the point where a trained Armadillo could pass them

–“Everybody must win prizes and be a winner” pushed as a concept so that children’s feelings are not hurt.

This obscures the fact that real life has winners and losers which means that child is not ready for work, life, future study or citizenship

–Too many female teachers and not enough strong role models that boys, particularly boys without fathers or absent fathers, can relate to

–Unfit and lazy pupils who are effectively couch potatoes at home through hours of communicating on Facebook and playing computer games like Angry Birds, Splinter Cell and World of Warcraft

–Nutritionally deficient and poorly cooked school meals rendering pupils unable to study or concentrate properly

–A growing underclass of pupils with feckless parents who send pupils to school without food (breakfast), claim poverty and then expect the school or the teacher to feed their offspring. Where this does not happen pupils often fall asleep in class

–Over large classes in schools in areas of high deprivation thus causing the teacher pupil ratio to be out of kilter so that the underperforming pupils fall further and further behind

–Large numbers of pupils from different ethnic backgrounds whose primary language is not English,flooding into schools in areas where immigration is out of control.

In one Peterborough school which had previously been closed and then reopened by the City Council, 189 languages are spoken other than English

–Money which should be spent on schools wasted my profligate local authorities with overpaid and mendacious Chief Executives on pet projects, non jobs,  junketing and waste

–Trendy teaching methods involving “differentiation”,”wow factor” and even using pupils as part of the teacher selection process with the power to refuse appointments to prospective teachers whose lessons are regarded as boring

In this regard, whole class teaching of the kind practiced in all the 43 competitor countries with better education systems at State level than ours, has been abandoned

–120,000 dysfunctional families turning out children who are disruptive,lacking in proper food, parental love, parental guidance (the parents are incapable of providing it) or any concept of right and

Neither the Government, the media nor local authorities is prepared to look at this problem and the effect that the presence of such disruptive pupils has on the educational prospects of other pupils who have the misfortune to have to be in the same lessons

Head Teachers concealing bad behaviour from OFTED Inspectors by placing disruptive pupils into pupil referral units and other places for the duration of the OFSTED inspection thus massaging out of existence bad behaviour, because OFSTED Inspectors are there only to assess classroom teaching,pupil attainment,lesson planning and the like

–Disruptive and abusive parents verbally and physically abusing teachers who then leave the profession on the grounds of stress

–Using classroom assistants and teachers not qualified in the subjects being taught to teach subjects that they often know nothing about

This is done to save money but in the end costs money in dole, results in NEETS (ex pupils not in employment, education or training)

–Poor teacher quality with at least 20,000 incompetent teachers still on school payrolls

In addition to these problems there are the social problems of:

–Too many illegitimate births (1 in 5),the highest in Western Europe

–Too much divorce–The highest in Western Europe

–Pupils with mothers who have a series of “fathers” and “Uncle John’s” who do not care for the child, sometimes engage in violence and physical abuse against the mother and the pupil and are not known to local authority social services,thus falling outside the scope of the 120,000 dysfunctional families who are known about

–Drug taking and substance abuse by pupils

–Schooldays too short to cover what pupils need to learn

–Philosophy and language teaching in relevant ,export friendly languages not taught enough

–Parents going on holiday during term time due to their fixation with holidaying and the pricing policies of travel companies

–The teaching profession and head teachers all trying to pretend that they are doing a great job and that the solution is to give them even more money for what they like to call “excellent teaching practice”

The National Curriculum which Dr Alf mentions was brought in to ensure that everyone was taught
to a minimum standard at a time when no-one really knew the extent of what was being taught.
He would like to scrap it whereas my approach would be to broaden it, improve it and then extend the school-day to a minimum of 8 hours plus 2 hours of compulsory homework plus Saturday schools and much less holiday for everyone until we catch up economically and educationally,with our major competitors.

Outsourcing the management of the school to external providers, outsourcing the building of the school, grounds maintenance, cleaning, procurement/supply chain is fine but at present our State Schools are failing to deliver the basics, so we need an improved and extended National Curriculum and a clear-out and wholesale replacement of trendy and incompetent teachers and heads.

Dr Alf’s more liberal approach will work in places like Sweden, Finland and Denmark which are well run countries with educated and very polite populations who have better wealth equality than we do.

In the UK, whilst I would prefer a more liberal, gentlemanly approach it is clear to me that we are so uncompetitive as a country and that these problems are so dire, that direct and ruthless action is needed immediately to turn things around and ensure that we do not fall further behind.

John Gelmini


Enhanced by Zemanta