The Journey of the Blogi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
From Bristol, Cheshire, Chelmsford,

To Aviation House,
Where the five invited blogi assembled,
To talk with Mike Cladingbowl,
Ofsted’s National Director for Schools.

So what made me take the milk-train (5:18am) to London that February (2014) half term morning? OK, of course, I was flattered (and slightly intrigued) to learn that Mike Cladingbowl (then Ofsted’s Director of Schools) had “read and enjoyed” my blog. (Though how much pleasure and entertainment can be got from reading extracts of the Ofsted inspection handbook or DfE guidance is questionable, so I dare say it was in fact the quality of the governance-related poetry that drew his attention …. )

Primarily though, it was the chance to engage in discussion around the inspection process, and how Ofsted plan to use social media to ensure that their framework is known to all stakeholders that was my reason for travelling 200 miles to London for a one hour meeting. And why me?  I am aware that one or two tweeters have questioned the make-up of the group (I just went for  a touch of lipstick – didn’t want to overdo things and inadvertently come across as too glamorous to be taken seriously ….) and asked why there was not more representation from women, or from primary teachers, or non-Scots. There were indeed four fellow bloggers wearing trousers that day, who happened to all come from a secondary background. And? Your point is? I wasn’t wearing my “I’m a lady” hat that day, or my (retired) primary teacher mortar board – I was there in my school-governing virtual balaclava of obscurity. There are plenty of wiser / more experienced governance-folk than me out there who could have been asked to attend, but hey – it was a small room, it was an invited bunch of itchy-fingered tweeters and bloggers and there was only one plate of biscuits …… A group of five is never going to be regarded as the basis for a stakeholder model of representation.

Five go to Ofsted (thanks to @JamesTheo)

(Image: @JamesTheo)

So what happened in the meeting? What was discussed?

    There were issues we all regretted –
    The lesson observations given individual grades,
    And the inconsistencies of approach
    Around independent learning, and teaching styles,
    And Mocksted consultants flaky, and charging high prices.
    Then @LearningSpy chidingly grumbling
    About the latest good practice guide for English,
    With its expectation of “fun”, and the references to “active thinking” …

Other pens than mine have already described the main points of the discussion, so there is little point my rehashing those things now. Read their excellent accounts here: Ross McGill (@TeacherToolkit), David Didau (@LearningSpy), Tom Bennett / his second report (@TomBennett71) and Tom Sherrington (@headguruteacher)

Tom Bennett, David Didau, Shena Lewington, Mike Cladingbowl, Tom Sherrington and Ross McGill

If you are expecting to find out something in this post about the future of school governance within the inspection framework, it is only fair to warn you that this topic did not feature terribly highly within the debate on Tuesday. Was that because it was unfairly marginalised? Not at all – within the allotted time, there was a fully inclusive discussion that focussed very appropriately, given the hour we had, on the badness of individual lessons being given grades for the quality of teaching, and how this practice is explicitly excluded from the official Ofsted inspection process. There was also attention given to “behaviour”, and mention of how schools risk criticism from inspectors for having high numbers of exclusions, but at the same time have to demonstrate their commitment to establishing an orderly and well-behaved learning environment for all students. The third topic was around the perception that Ofsted’s inspectors might still be endorsing particular teaching styles and approaches. I did mutter a few words about governance, and how the focus of governors’ activities is inevitably steered by that which will be inspected. I also hazarded a view that governance is occasionally judged to be good or bad by inspectors who may not have very much recent experience of what it is all about ….. let me know if you have thoughts on this.

   A hard time schools have of it, with the high stakes
   Around their Ofsted grades and reports,
   And the risk of being penalised for exclusions
   Whilst needing to promote an orderly environment for learning.
   All these things we talked of, and more –
   Frogs in boiling water, and snake oil,
   Whether a one-size-fits-all inspection regime was right,
   And how what’s judged gets made the focus.

Each of these areas has significance for governors, most particularly, I think, if your pay policy has at its heart the premise that those teachers whose lessons, when observed as part of their appraisal, are judged good or outstanding should benefit from pay progression, and that those whose lessons are deemed only satisfactory (“RI”) should have any pay increases withheld. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Hmmm ….

This deceptively simple idea may be in danger of being challenged on the following grounds:

  • Ofsted do not endorse the concept of the grading of individual lessons by the use of the grade criteria for the overall quality of teaching in the school (There is nothing to prevent your school drawing up its own criteria for judging good teaching, however, just so long as they are not defended on the grounds that these are what Ofsted are looking for in each lesson)
  • Some researchers have indicated problems around the reliability of lesson observation judgements. ie How likely is it that any two observers would give the same lesson the same grade? (A: Statistically, not very likely, apparently)
  • Others have questioned the validity of such observation judgements.  Is an “Outstanding” lesson, even when judged so by several people, really outstanding in its effectiveness? Does such highly-graded teaching lead to better longterm outcomes for students, in respect of exam success or retained learning? (eg TeachFirst Oliver Beach’s hard-won / much sought after / quite probably deserved “Outstanding” grade for his lessons was disappointingly not reflected in his students’ exam results, whilst, incredibly – and this incredulity is based on the footage we were shown of her lessons – Claudenia Williams’ Y11 group all passed their science GCSE at A* – C)

Hopefully, there are not too many schools who have their pay policy based critically on the outcomes of lesson observation grades to the exclusion of other measures of performance … (eg “Must have 80% lessons judged Good or better”) but there are some. Just check the wording of yours, eh?

   All this was so short a time ago, I remember,
    And we will do it again, but set down this,
   Set down this: were we led all that way for
   Listening or Telling? There was reassurance, certainly
   We had evidence of Ofsted’s stance on lesson grades, and no doubts.

Conclusions:

It was delightful to meet such a fine bunch of chaps, all very personable. It was particularly gratifying to encounter Mike Cladingbowl, and to find him so down to earth, receptive to ideas and keen to ensure that things are done right.
Was it a worthwhile session to establish the absolute clarity of view on the giving of individual lesson observation grades? Yes.
Did the meeting have any impact on how governance will be assessed by inspectors in future?  No.

Outcomes:

Mike has promised to ensure that the message is given loud and clear to all inspectors that grades on the quality of teaching in the school are not to be assigned to individual lessons. All those in the room were keen to make this message known to school leaders and teachers too – and it has been the key focus in the other write-ups of the day.
(Update 21st Feb: See message from Mike Cladingbowl on the Ofsted website.)

Q: How do we encourage teachers and governors to make use of social media, to keep up to date with changing expectations? What about: “All leaders and managers, including those responsible for governance, have a thirst for knowledge about Ofsted’s expectations, and engage appropriately and with enthusiasm in social media forums of professional discussion“. That should do it …

A Good Friday announcement? No promises were made about the timing or advance warning of any future updates to Ofsted inspection documents – my guess is that there will be some tweaks made to the Subsidiary Guidance and the Evidence Form used by inspectors in the coming days – perhaps this will be flagged up beforehand by Ofsted as pending. Watch this space!

   We returned to our places, our settings,
   Rather more at ease now, in the new dispensation,
   With the confirmations given by Mike.
   I should be glad of another update.

*******

Update: Others have contributed to this discussion over the past few days, so a selection of their views is listed below. It’s not intended to be representative of the debate – just what I’ve come across. Let me know if you think there is an important one missing …..

Postscript: Blogi? “Blogi?” What’s all that about?

The Journey of the Magi – TS Eliot

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
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Pride and Professionalism

Background: Every two years, the NGA present awards for school governance. In the category for effective clerking, they seek clerks who demonstrate the ten competencies of a good clerk in supporting the governing board.  The judges are looking for good organising skills; a scrupulous attention to the basic mechanism of running a governing body; a thorough understanding of what the roles and functions of a governing body are; knowledge of the law as it relates to governance; an ability to get on well with people, especially in the key relationships with the chair and head; the ability to be the governing body’s critical friend; and something special that they have brought to the governing body beyond the basics.

At the awards ceremony in 2015, Tristram Hunt, then Shadow Secretary of State for Education, presented the awards for clerking, and spoke about the professionalism of the clerks. He said, “Outstanding boards need outstanding professional support” and he referred to the “enormously important work of the clerks”.

Pride and Professionalism

“It is amazing to me,” said Charles Bingley, “how all clerks get to be so very professional as they are.”

“All clerks professional! My dear Charles, what do you mean?” said his sister.

“Yes, all of them, I think, are regarded as professional, and very accomplished at their role. They all sort out agendas, write the minutes, and send out the paperwork in good time. I scarcely know any clerk to governors who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a good clerk being spoken of by their governing body, without being informed that he or she was very professional.”

“Your list of the common extent of being professional,” said Mr Darcy, “has too much truth. The word is applied to many a clerk who deserves it no otherwise than by providing the draft agenda, or writing up the minutes. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of clerks in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really professional.”

“Nor I, I am sure,” said Miss Bingley.

“Then,” observed Elizabeth, “you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of a professional clerk.”

“Yes; I do comprehend a great deal in it,” said Mr Darcy.

“Oh! Certainly,” cried Miss Bingley, “no clerk can be really esteemed as professional who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A clerk must have good organising skills, a thorough knowledge of legislation, be aware of the latest Ofsted expectations, and be able to signpost governors to DfE statutory guidance, to deserve the word; and besides all this, he or she must possess a certain something in their ability to work effectively with the chair and the head, to guide new governors in their duties, or the word will be but half deserved.”

“All this they must possess,” added Mr Darcy, “and to all this, he or she must yet add something more substantial, in the continued improvement of their understanding of governance by extensive use of the internet and social media, and by attending training and conferences.”

“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six professional clerks. I rather wonder now at your knowing any,” said Elizabeth.

 

Recognise this as an extract from Pride and Prejudice? Read the original here :

“It is amazing to me,” said Bingley, “how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are.”

“All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?”

“Yes all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover screens, and net purses. I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.”

“Your list of the common extent of accomplishments,” said Darcy, “has too much truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse, or covering a screen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished.”

“Nor I, I am sure,” said Miss Bingley.

“Then,” observed Elizabeth, “you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished women.”

“Yes; I do comprehend a great deal in it.”

“Oh! certainly,” cried his faithful assistant, “no one can be really esteemed accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.”

“All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”

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Haiku Calendar for 2011

January 2011
Review to take place
of National Curriculum:
Call for Evidence

February 2011
First Munro report
on child protection matters
shifts safeguarding focus

March 2011
Targets for Year 5
no longer have to be set
by each December

April 2011
Discrimination
in all forms addressed by the
Equality Act

May 2011
“Learning from the Best”
– Ofsted’s view on outstanding
School Governance

June 2011
Teachers’ strike takes place
and industrial action
affects many schools

July 2011
Ofsted still expect
school self evaluation
but withdraw the SEF

The SFVS
replaces FMSiS as new
Financial Standard

August 2011
Provision of SIPs
by local authorities
is widely withdrawn

September 2011
Draft criteria
for the new Ofsted framework
are published this month

Go(ve) Compare website
gives access to database
of UK schools

October 2011
Ofsted’s Parent View
website offers means to give
feedback on your school

Charlie Taylor writes
“Getting the Simple Things Right”
behaviour checklist

November 2011
School Toilets Day
may not seem that important
but is worth a look

Education Act
2011
gets Royal Assent

December 2011
Expert panel make
their National Curriculum
recommendations.

and the predicted calendar for 2012

January 2012:
The Guide to the Law
is withdrawn, in order to
reduce paperwork …   (just joshing then but – guess what? )

(A haiku poem
has seventeen syllables
arranged in three lines)

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The Bare Necessities of Clerks

Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities,
Forget about the Ofsted grades and marks.
Prepare, record and now advise
The governing body organise –
They are the bare necessities of clerks!

When you need to flag up what governors should do
You’ll refer to the handbook and the DfE’s view.
Governance is buzzing in the news –
Sometimes for fraud or extremist views!
When you look into the legal scrolls
And take a glance at the three key roles
And maybe what inspectors write (“You read reports?”
You better believe it – Ofsted have very clear expectations of governance”
“Look out, though – the guidelines keep changing!”

The bare necessities of clerks will come in sight,
They’ll come in sight.

Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities,
Forget about the words to kumbayah.
Prepare, record and now advise
The governing body organise –
The bare necessities of clerks, that’s what they are!

(Dedicated both to Brighton and Hove Clerks, June 2014 and to Medway Clerks September 2014)

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I’m a governor

 

We called up the head: at the meeting we said,
Now look, we will give you one chance!
We want the key data, to be sent out no later
Than the statutory week in advance.
We told him we needed this info
Our challenging role to fulfil
But sooner than just asking questions
I think we should go for the kill * .

Chorus: I’m a governor, I’m a governor from Manchester way
We bring all our challenge the hard northern way
I may be a pusscat on Sunday
But I am a pitbull on Monday.

The trends are descending, but levels are ending
So how will we know how kids do?
Each one of us pores at the average point scores
And we scan RAISE for any dark blue.
We query the progress and tracking
The narrowing gaps we should fill
But sooner than just asking questions
I think we should go for the kill.

I’m a governor, I’m a governor from Manchester way
We bring all our challenge the hard northern way
I may be a pusscat on Sunday
But I am a pitbull on Monday.

Our SBM’s new and she knows what to do
But we can’t take the finance on trust.
Our SFVS is a bit of a guess
But answer the questions we must.
We monitor income and spending
We check the accounts for each bill
But sooner than keep asking questions
I think we should go for the kill.

I’m a governor, I’m a governor from Manchester way
We bring all our challenge the hard northern way
I may be a pusscat on Sunday
But I am a pitbull on Monday.

Our absence rate’s high, and as hard as we try
Education is not seen as cool.
But the things they are taught and the family support
Help the children feel good about school.
We look at attendance in SATS week
The numbers of kids being ill
But sooner than just asking questions
I think we should go for the kill.

I’m a governor, I’m a governor from Manchester way
We bring all our challenge the hard northern way
I may be a pusscat on Sunday
But I am a pitbull on Monday.

So we’ll check what we need, as the governors agreed
When we met to review our own goals.
The impact we’re making, the targets we’re breaking
We think we have plugged all the holes.
When Ofsted announce they are coming
It might make our hearts feel a chill
But rather than answer their questions
I think we should go for the kill ….

I’m a governor, I’m a governor from Manchester way
We bring all our challenge the hard northern way
I may be a pusscat on Sunday
But I am a pitbull on Monday.

END

.

* NB “Go for the kill” indicates that governors should follow up their questioning determinedly, and is not a recommendation that any headteachers should be physically harmed in order to extract answers from them.

.
Based on:

I’ve been over Snowdon, I’ve slept upon Crowdon
I’ve camped by the Waynestones as well
I’ve sunbathed on Kinder, been burned to a cinder
And many more things I can tell
My rucksack has oft been me pillow
The heather has oft been me bed
And sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead

Ch: I’m a rambler, I’m a rambler from Manchester way
I get all me pleasure the hard moorland way
I may be a wageslave on Monday
But I am a free man on Sunday

The day was just ending and I was descending
Down Grinesbrook just by Upper Tor
When a voice cried “Hey you” in the way keepers do
He’d the worst face that ever I saw
The things that he said were unpleasant
In the teeth of his fury I said
“Sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead”

He called me a louse and said “Think of the grouse”
Well i thought, but I still couldn’t see
Why all Kinder Scout and the moors roundabout
Couldn’t take both the poor grouse and me
He said “All this land is my master’s”
At that I stood shaking my head
No man has the right to own mountains
Any more than the deep ocean bed

I once loved a maid, a spot welder by trade
She was fair as the Rowan in bloom
And the bloom of her eye watched the blue Moreland sky
I wooed her from April to June
On the day that we should have been married
I went for a ramble instead
For sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead

So I’ll walk where I will over mountain and hill
And I’ll lie where the bracken is deep
I belong to the mountains, the clear running fountains
Where the grey rocks lie ragged and steep
I’ve seen the white hare in the gullys
And the curlew fly high overhead
And sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead.

written by EWAN MACCOLL

Lyrics © THE BICYCLE MUSIC COMPANY

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WHISK

A way to focus your school-governing thoughts, shown here in haiku form* ….

W

  • What is our main aim?
  • Where are we up to so far?
  • What’s holding us back?

H

  • How will we fix this?
  • Are there any hindrances?
  • Have we help on hand?

I

  • Is this plan the best?
  • Is there an alternative?
  • Is a tweak needed?

S

  • Strategic approach?
  • Self-evaluation?
  • School Development Plan?

K

  • Know how we’re doing
  • Know evidence for Ofsted
  • Let wider world know

………………………………………………………………………..

  • * A haiku poem
  • Has seventeen syllables
  • Set out on three lines

See below for more information on WHISK  in non-haiku format.

WHISK is a way to focus your school-governing activities, requiring no actual kitchen equipment. It is a little acronym, with three items for each letter:

W (What, where, why not?)

  • What are the main things your GB needs to be focussing on as the priorities for your school? (eg attendance, progress in maths, boys’ writing)
  • Whereabouts are you now in your journey towards achieving this?
  • Why do you consider you are not there yet? In what ways are you not there yet?

H (the “how”)

  • How will you get to where you want to be? What are the first steps?
  • What are the hindrances and hazards? (eg funding, people, national policy?)
  • What help / external support is available to you?

I (Is this the best way? ….. double-checking)

  • Is this plan the only way to achieve your goal?
  • Is it the best way?
  • Is there any improvement that can be made to your plan?

S (SEF / SDP)

  • Strategic approach
  • Your assessment needs to be part of the school’s self evaluation process
  • and should feed into the School Development Plan

K (Knowledge and dissemination)

  • Knowledge of how you are doing – your self-review of GB effectiveness
  • Knowledge by external agencies (OK, I mean Ofsted) of how you are doing. What evidence will you be able to provide?
  • Knowledge by the wider world of the lessons you have learnt or the success you have achieved (eg publishing an account of your work online, sharing good practice with other governing bodies, contributing to research)

With your WHISK, you make some BISTO as concocted by Shena Lewington

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Wholly Right?

The first part of the NGA’s eight elements of good governance is having the right people round the table. That means those with the necessary skills and experience, or with a readiness to learn about what is expected from governance.

Sometimes, for the sake of the children and the school, it might be better that a long-standing governor should step down, however hard that decision may be, if they are no longer wholly “right” …… (note that the video takes a few moments to start)

“O Wholly Right?”

O who is right, to sit around our table?
This is the question we really should ask.
Are we to check performance data able
Can we the pay and the finance issues grasp?
It’s good to have the loyalty and interest
But that’s not quite enough to do the job
Fall on your sword
And leave the governing body

It’s time to go
If you’re not wholly right
It’s time to go
It’s time, it’s time to go …

Now that the bar is raised for what’s expected
The role has changed from the one we once knew
Governors are now as leadership inspected
The school is judged by the things that we do
Inspectors look for evidence of impact
We’re not just here as our headteacher’s friend
Fall on your sword
If you’re a local worthy

It’s time to go
If you’re not wholly right
It’s time to go
Perhaps it’s time to go?
Truly, it’s fab that you should hear the readers –
I’m sure they’re grateful that you volunteer.
But is that what we need from our school leaders?
Are you quite sure that you have the right idea?
If you’ve no time to go on governor training,
And you don’t know what Ofsted’s looking for,
Fall on your sword
And give your resignation

It’s time to go
If you’re not wholly right
It’s time to go
Maybe it’s time to go?

…..

“O Holy Night”

O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees

O hear the angel voices
O night divine!
O night when Christ was born
O night divine!
O night, O night divine!

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name

 

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Deliberations and Delegations!

Deliberations and delegations!
It’s time to set up each committee that you need
There is no de/fence, the terms of ref’rence
Must by law each year be formally agreed.

So will the finance, staffing and re/sources committee
Be given rights to authorise spending from the kitty?
And should the governors link to subjects areas and cohorts
And present reports
On their visits to school?

Deliberations and delegations!
It’s time to set up each committee that you need
There is no de/fence, the terms of reference
Must by law each year be formally agreed.

You may decide to allocate policy reviewing
To groups of governors  – those who know what they are doing.
Some matters of the school are a special feature
For the headteacher,
Not anyone else.

Deliberations and delegations!
It’s time to set up each committee that you need
There is no de-fence, the terms of reference
Must by law each year be formally agreed.
There is no de/fence, the terms of reference
Must by law each year be formally agreed.

Must be –  by law  – each year – formally agreed.

Sing up, over Cliff, for the tune ..

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The Pay Policy Disaster

Oh, Beautiful Governors’ Policy on the Teachers’ Pay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That not all governing bodies had got this underway
By the autumn term of 2013,
Even though they’d known about it for a very long time.

When Ofsted came to visit, the inspectors did say
“Where is the evidence for performance related pay?”
Even though, for main scale teachers, PRP was not in the current
School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document.

’Twas the new performance related pay
That made the teaching staff in sadness say
“This may mean next year I don’t get a rise
Which would be a rather unpleasant surprise.
In the past, we knew we’d be moving up the scale
But the new policy will make our hearts for to quail”
And many of the teachers with fear did say
“I hope there’ll be guidance on this Policy on Pay.”
For it wasn’t clear if it was a pay-and-appraisal policy
And whether it also included the bits about capability.

So the governors knew that they must approve a policy on pay
And it was an agenda item for the meeting one day.
The governors’ hearts were light and felt no grief,
When the meeting began, they hoped it’d be brief
And the shortness of the item seem’d to say
They’d soon be able to agree a policy that day
Though some of the governors in fear did say-
“I hope there’ll be clear guidance on this Policy of Pay.”

The DfE had produced a model policy
Which with all of it the unions did not agree
So finally several versions were made available
That seemed to be useful to put on the table.
But the school about which this poem tells
Didn’t heed any of the warning bells.
“Let us devise our own policy on pay.
How hard can it be?” the governors did say.

And when the new headteacher put forward his plan
For linking pay to pupil progress they agreed to a man.
A consultation process had been undertaken
Which made them think they were not mistaken,
And for all those little details that didn’t yet feature
They delegated full approval to the new headteacher.

So the meeting sped on with all its might,
And the end of the agenda soon hove in sight,
And the governors’ hearts felt light,
Thinking they would be home a bit earlier that night
With their friends and family they lov’d most dear,
Now that they’d agreed what would happen next year.

Some of the Y7 teachers set up a great roar
About the progress of children who’d come in with a four,
And said, “They’re now working at a level three –
Have we “untaught” them things? How can that be?”
And the answer they had which made them feel abused
Was that the reported attainments were the ones being used.

For the primaries too had their necks on the line
And their Y6’s they’d been cramming for a very long time.
And this made the teachers in Y7 go pale
And the hearts of those with bottom sets began to quail
For the targets they’d been set might not ever be achieved
But this was a scenario that was not widely believed.

So the terms mov’d slowly along till the next autumn
Until it was time to agree pay rises according to PM,
But those whose performance was deemed not good enough
Started to claim they’d been treated too rough.
“Do children really make progress on a steady line
Or is it only measurable over a very long time?”
And the panel convened to hear the appeal
Agreed that perhaps the starting points had not ever been real.

Then the pay policy with a crash gave way,
And union reps now entered the fray!
The cost to the budget of fighting each case
Meant the finance committee soon had a red face.
And the deficit budget for which they must pray
Was not considered viable by the LA.
Then the Secretary of State did loudly bray,
Because the delegated budget had been taken away,
In the autumn term of 2014,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o’er the schools,
Good Heavens! The Pay Policy had broken the rules!
And an IEB was set up on the morrow
Which fill’d all the parents’ hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the governors were sav’d to tell the tale
Of how the disaster happen’d in the autumn term of 2014,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness them under the media spotlight,
While the Twitterati did laugh, and mockingly did bray,
About the Governors’ Policy on the Teachers’ Pay.

Oh! Ill-fated Policy on the Teachers’ Pay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your pay and appraisal system will not give way,
(At least many sensible men do say)
If it’s supported with a well-thought out policy,
(At least many sensible men agree)
For the better we implement our PRP
The less chance we have of getting a Three.

 ………
Please note this set of verses has been created for comic effect only. The events described are entirely fictional and should be regarded as entertainment rather than a considered view on the likely outcome of implementing any pay policy based on performance as judged by lesson observation grades or pupil progress from dubious starting points. Please do not eat the daisies ….
 

Inspired by ….  The Tay Bridge Disaster by William McGonagall

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!

Alas! I am very sorry to say

That ninety lives have been taken away

On the last Sabbath day of 1879,

Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

’Twas about seven o’clock at night,

And the wind it blew with all its might,

And the rain came pouring down,

 And the dark clouds seem’d to frown,

And the Demon of the air seem’d to say-

“I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”

When the train left Edinburgh

The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow,

But Boreas blew a terrific gale,

Which made their hearts for to quail,

 And many of the passengers with fear did say-

“I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.”

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,

Boreas he did loud and angry bray,

And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay

On the last Sabbath day of 1879,

Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,

 And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,

And the passengers’ hearts felt light,

 Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,

With their friends at home they lov’d most dear,

And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay,

Until it was about midway,

Then the central girders with a crash gave way,

And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!

The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,

Because ninety lives had been taken away,

On the last Sabbath day of 1879,

Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known

 The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,

And the cry rang out all o’er the town,

Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,

And a passenger train from Edinburgh,

Which fill’d all the peoples hearts with sorrow,

And made them for to turn pale,

Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale

How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879,

Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,

 To witness in the dusky moonlight,

While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,

Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,

Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,

I must now conclude my lay

 By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,

That your central girders would not have given way,

At least many sensible men do say,

Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,

 At least many sensible men confesses,

For the stronger we our houses do build,

The less chance we have of being killed.

 See more at: http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/gems/the-tay-bridge-disaster#sthash.JCKTYsdk.dpuf

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The Skype Vote Song


Heed the advice you get from your clerk;
Laws they will clarify.
“But for your help, we’d be in the dark –
Thank you!” the governors cry.

We’re in the room, ready to start
But we’re still missing folk.
If they’re not here, can they take part?
How might they get to vote?

Heed the advice you get from your clerk;
 Laws they will clarify.
“But for your help, we’d be in the dark –
Thank you!” the governors cry.

How shall we know what we must do
Without your guiding aid?
The pay policy we’ve still to review –
Look what a mess we’ve made!

Heed the advice you get from your clerk;
 Laws they will clarify.
“But for your help, we’d be in the dark –
Thank you!” the governors cry.

Oh how we miss the Guide to the Law!
(Tearful sobs rend the air)
What shall we do when we’re not sure
How to elect the chair?

Heed the advice you get from your clerk;
Laws they will clarify.
“But for your help, we’d be in the dark –
Thank you!” the governors cry.

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