Education – approaching a crisis? Teachers working 80 hours a week!

Gove’s reforms have been a disaster. He has restricted the curriculum, driving out creativity and individuality, and forced teaching into a method driven strait-jacket which completely blankets the teacher’s personality and prevents harmonious interaction. Education has become stifled.

In pursuit of the ridiculously narrow PISA international tables we have jettisoned the very things we were brilliant at in favour of teaching by numbers. Like Voldemort it sucks the life out of teaching.

As if that wasn’t bad enough the added bureaucracy and stringent marking and preparation policies have created a joyless workload that is numbing teachers and driving them into the ground.

At the end of a gruelling day (in which class sizes and contact time has increased due to budget deficits) they start the task of tediously marking hundreds of books (thirty plus per class – four/five classes a day – 3-5 minutes a book – you do the maths!) and preparing lessons for the next day.

I am hearing tales of teachers working between 60 and 80 hours a week. Many are taking early retirement or dropping out into other jobs, many are dropping hours in order to cope and keep their sanity. Probationary teachers are swamped and seeing the workload and demoralisation are opting out.

Add to that the years of pay freeze and you have a recipe for demoralised disaster!

Education is the most important element for our children’s future and the economy of the country. We need to invest in it!

Gove’s legacy is a dismal destruction of a fine system.


This is my book on education. I spent thirty six years teaching. The philosophy I operated on was the same one that informs my life: equality, tolerance, respect, responsibility, empathy and love.

I developed a school that was open, caring and friendly.

This book is packed with anecdotes from my own school days and my time in teaching that illustrate why I think the way I do.

Education is the only hope for the future.

Education is not about passing tests, examination of Ofsted inspections. It is about freeing the imagination and scope of students.

You don’t have to be in education to enjoy this one.

If you fancy a good interesting read that tells you the inside story just as it is then you’ll enjoy this. This is fun and passionate.

In the UK:


In the USA :

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29 thoughts on “Education – approaching a crisis? Teachers working 80 hours a week!

  1. For nearly 30 years I worked 60 hours regularly – 80 hours sometimes.
    Three quarters of the world, perhaps more, operate on a one day off per week system.
    Many Euro countries do and that’s another thing we didn’t take on. Had we done so, I very much doubt there would be so much support for being a member. It’s amazing how little people know about the EU.

    1. And as a Head I was easily doing that. But it is the sheer strain of performing in front of a class for so many hours a day that drains you. It is like performing on stage. You need to have time to unwind. To have to spend hours doing the most soul destroyingly boring marking robs you of that unwinding and drains the batteries. There should be life outside of work. The pay is not good enough for that commitment.

      1. You bet it isn’t. Don’t think for a minute that I enjoyed it either. Sometimes I’d be feeling knackered too, and have to deal with staff problems or the occasional asshole punter.
        That’s when I’d disappear up on the roof for a spliff, otherwise they’d all be getting told to fuck off. My natural diplomacy would crumble to ash without such “additives”.

    2. By far the most damaging and addictive substance. So many people, men and women wrecked themselves with it in my hotel industry as it was on tap. I noticed this very early on and there and then vowed that I’d never end up like them. Touch wood.

  2. When creativity and individuality start going out of education, we have a real problem. They are doing this in the U.S. too by testing the kids to death. Federal funding and teacher pay is all wrapped up in test scores. The kids learn skills of memorizing and filling in little circles with #2 pencils. Great eh? The ultimate goal I believe, is to change society into talking parrots.

    1. How right you are. The local kid that I know, who is actually doing very well at school as per today’s standards, can in actual fact barely write a coherent sentence. He’s 16, yet I reckon has the English language ability of a 12 year old.

      1. It keeps getting worse and worse. I could give endless examples. It is frightening!! I have, for example, a book that is a collection of diaries kept by children during WW2. (Anne Frank was not the only one who kept a diary!) Reading through these entries, written by children ages 12-17, they look like post-graduate dissertations compared to what kids come up with today.

      2. Kids need turning on to enjoy learning. Learning is a fun thing for human beings. We hate boredom and crave interest. When lessons are boring, formulaic and repetitive they turn off and become robots.

    2. An educated population is a troublesome population. They know too much and can see through the lies. They start questioning the establishment and rocking the boat!

      1. Yes that is exactly true. Which is troubling in itself. I can only speak for the U.S. — a country claiming it wants an educated population, then doing everything it its power to undermine that education.

      2. But politicians speak double-speak. They say one thing but want another. They are happy with a dumb population and an educated elite. That’s how they like it. They work on the basis that if they say something a lot of people will believe them even if they actually do the opposite. An ideal population is one that is stupid, docile and malleable.

      3. That’s a concept very much belonging to last century.
        Things have changed.
        Some people still think like that because they have never experienced revolution in their country. The opportunities and desires for this to actually happen have never been higher.

      4. It seems to me that the art of governing is to keep the balance right so that there is no revolution. They give to the rich and powerful as much as they can and maintain the establishment, profits and the economy. They give as little as they can to everybody else – just enough to stop them revolting. If they give too much it reduces profits for the rich and investment. If they give too little the poor become disenfranchised and start to reject the social order, strike, protest, riot and could even revolt.
        The result of this is great inequality – the super-rich and the poor. The system works because the economy is strong enough to keep the poor relatively contented while creaming off the billions to the super-rich can afford their giant yachts, penthouse suites and servants. They invest enough to maintain the system. The politicians balance it all to keep everyone on board.
        I would much prefer greater equality. The differential is far too great. The super-rich do not ‘earn’ their wealth through hard work or by being hugely better than other people.

      5. Too much extremity, with super this and super that.
        Very few of these people live here as our climate is crap, so that money was/is never coming here anyway.

        Opher, seriously, you make the proles out to be the most dumbest moronic assholes that ever walked this earth.
        However, in truth many are.
        In truth the majority of working class are really pretty weak minded people. They have a tendency to take what they are given. They seem to have a disability to make anything of themselves. So many live in this micro-bubble world where they have to live and work 5 minutes from their mam’s house etc. They spend their entire life at the beck and call of some sibling or relative. It’s pathetic.

        Have you ever heard the term ‘new money’? There are tons of these people floating around, who have nothing to do with any establishment what so ever.
        In fact the age old establishment as we know it in the UK is about 80% finished – they have no money left, they are over.
        Therefore, the theory of yours is utter crap. It’s early 20th century totalitarian, socialist bullshit.

        People, each and every one of us, if we want to, if we apply ourselves, if we stop wasting our lives spending endless hours listening to dumbass rock music, stop wasting time on vacuous pursuits, comatose in front of a TV or whatever it is, and perhaps took a leaf out the books of some of these very rich and successful people, may well have a good opportunity to make a bit more for themselves.
        I worked right in the middle of this whole ball game and saw it first hand. People that quite obviously had not been born with a silver spoon in their mouths, which was obvious from the moment these people opened theirs. Some of them were as common as muck, but they had extreme work ethics. Basically, in this life you get back what you put in. If you sit there on your fat spotty behind waiting for the magic wand – as countless millions of these proles do, then too bad.

      6. London is a bubble of new money! The new money is funding the housing boom. It is flooding in. The huge properties, massive yachts and pent-houses are all here in Britain. Fuck the climate – they have climate control and jet off to the sun whenever. The yachts go off on their circuits round the world. All very nice.
        The establishment is a mixture of old and new – the wealthy and powerful. I don’t think the ‘old’ establishment is as finished as you suggest. They own great swathes of land.
        There is an ‘old boy’ network that still runs the place and protects privilege. New money gets in but I don’t think it is based on hard work so much as ruthless exploitation.
        When I was young I made a conscious decision that I did not want to spend my life trying to be rich, that I was not after all the status symbols and crap. Money is very useful in terms of having time and possessing things that I want but the pursuit of that super-rich culture is plain daft. I prefer listening to my music, going to gigs, reading, writing and travelling. Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll is far better than hard work and nastiness. Power and wealth is an addiction.

      7. Not by a long stretch is London or Britain the centrepoint of the luxury lifestyle. We’re way off the top of the list.
        We don’t have the $55 million dollar apartments that are available in New York.

        Why does there have to be nastiness? That’s a ridiculous assumption.

        If you weren’t interested in making money, don’t complain.
        Nobody’s ever going to force you to do so.

      8. Andrew – do you really think that the guys that cream off the money are pleasant easy going people? Or do they screw every penny they can out of every situation? There may be the odd nice one but I don’t think they last long in that cut-throat world. I know a number of them and they are callous.
        I think London has its share of super-rich.
        The fact that I was never interested in playing that absurd game should not preclude me from commenting on the injustice and nastiness of an attitude of selfishness that promotes inequality that is busy fucking up the world.

      9. Really Opher, where do you get this stuff from?
        What you refer to as super-rich don’t come from here, but are mostly Russian and Asian. They are the people who are buying up London. What they do to get there is anybody’s guess.
        Plans are afoot to curb this but I don’t know at what stage this is at – nor care.

        But how on earth did you get to know such people?
        Through my job I knew a guy named Rappaport, who was the fifth richest man in Europe, connected to shipping.
        A more cultured bloke would be hard to find. He used to slip me a grand (which he didn’t need to do) every time he stayed which was every 3 months for 1 or 2 weeks. He drank Louis XIII Cognac at £900 a bottle! That was the early 90s.
        Prior to him, I knew the richest Jew in London, a guy named Sofer, who would come every Sunday for brunch with his family. Best table and my best staff secured my regular £100 backhander. He just loved the jazz band music.
        There were many, many others who were all extremely decent people and very aware of the disparity that exists and spend a lot of their time and resources on altruistic matters. Nobody forces them, it’s off their own back.
        They tend to hold their fundraisers etc in such places, so I saw it all.
        In America, I knew a billionaire bank owner and we’d sit and drink at the bar many times. Another multi millionaire in the cattle business who I knew very well, as we’d go out together, asked me if I was interested in his daughter!
        These people possess confidence in their abilities as its tried and tested.

        It’s the ‘new money’ people that behave very badly as that’s how they think they should behave in order to get recognition. They just don’t understand real culture. They were the ones who want to see detailed breakdowns of their final account. They live and breathe money and invariably are most unpleasant, too. These are the people that invest in all sorts of quick money deals that by virtue make sure that somebody else gets screwed. It’s all that they’ve got available to them because they don’t hold the network connections. They are not quite so confident about their abilities.

        I knew many, many captains of industry who are successful because they treat people well, reward people well and are definitely not in the business of screwing anybody. Their business reputations thrive on good and fair relationships.
        It’s the fly-by-night operators that you are referring to. Those that live in perpetual fear that today is maybe their last and operate a ‘get as much as you can now’ policy. But anybody with any knowledge of business can see them a mile off.
        More often than not they’re in the financial investments, pensions, futures markets. The never-never type of deals where there’s nothing to show upfront for any premium value returns, except set-up fees, regular management fees, commissions and end of term fees. These are the people creaming off the top for doing basically nothing. I wouldn’t go near them with any of my cash. But many stupidly do. They deserve all the losses they incur for their greed, too.

        In Europe, there is one single family, albeit an extended one, named Rothschild. They own everything that there is to own.
        They are so powerful that every move they make manipulates the Euro.
        In the USA, there is another family (the name escapes me) who basically run the dollar. Both families vie off each other playing power games.
        These are the people who you refer to. They are invisible.
        They run the world.

      10. I think we have a few of our own – what about Jim Ratcliffe – the billionaire owner of the refinery at Grangemouth – forced his workers to take pay cuts and pension drops on fear of closing the plant and then went out and splurged on a new mega yacht and penthouse suite in London. More Rat than Cliffe I’d suggest.
        The ones I have met may not be in the same league as yours but were high up in Deutscher Bank or spent their life shutting firms down and buying assets – handing out redundancy notices. Very unpleasant.
        Those billionaires running the world need to get their act together and show a bit of compassion.

      11. Sure, shit happens.
        A heck of a lot of UK businesses went down because of the EU. They just couldn’t compete with the cheaper labour costs. That’s when banks step in and sell them off.
        Also the banks always have to pick up the pieces from people who should never have been in business in the first place.
        Interestingly, the small business on the high street is projected to increase by 17% over the next 5 years, with revenue of £4 billion.

    1. They are international tables to compare educational standards. They are very narrow, fact based scores. They are topped by Japan, Korea and China where kids are crammed to death (literally) to learn and regurgitate facts. In terms of a rounded education they are a disaster. Nothing creative or skill-based is tested. The suicide rate in those countries is atrocious and the tests are no measure of all the aspexcts most parents would want in an education system. They promote narrow cram courses.
      My daughter, who is a chemical engineer, worked on a plant in China with top Chemical Engineers from the Chinese system. They were great when everything was following the normal procedure but as soon as something went wrong they were useless. They had no ability to problem solve or think laterally. They had learnt it all by rote. I don’t call that education.

      1. I too experienced that mentality when I worked in Asia.
        They would wait until items completely ran out in the stores before they would re-order. I walked into that problem with every location I worked. It quite quickly gets to the stage where you automatically think for them on their behalf.
        They simply had never encountered what’s called ‘Par Stock’ control, where you set a minimum number at which point an order is automatically made, therefore, in theory, you never run out.

      2. Britain has always excelled at creativity, problem solving and lateral thinking. That is why we have so many great discovers, inventors and creators. I fear that if we move down the road of chasing ridiculous tables we will lose our flair. We should not be in thrall to such narrow and pointless targets. There are better ways of raising standards.

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