Expert view

The NUT is committed to campaigning for an alternative model of education and believes that positive and critical engagement with the views of experts and academics is crucial to this. Expert View is a series of pieces by guest authors published on the NUT’s website on a twice termly basis that reflects this commitment to fostering debate on education issues.

Guest articles reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect NUT policy.

DfE petition response: misleading and dishonest
The petition to scrap plans to force state schools to become academies will not be debated despite attracting more than 100,000 responses. In this blog Janet Downs of the Local Schools Network critiques the Government’s recent response to the petition and rebuts claims about the success of the academies programme.

A parent’s guide to Key Stage 1 scaled scores
In 2016 seven year olds in England were assessed under a completely new testing regime. Primary teacher and education blogger Jack Marwood offers this comprehensive analysis and critique of the new system of Scaled Scores, which doubles as a useful and informative guide to parents who may be anxious about the change.

Free school provider with links to offshore company
Information derived from the leaked “Panama Papers” shows that Bellevue Education is part owned by a company which was set up by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Bellevue Education is one of two companies behind Bellevue Place Education Trust (BPET) - a state-funded academy trust that runs free schools in London and the south east.
The Department for Education (DfE) and BPET deny that Bellevue Education has any influence over the running of the free schools. However, the NUT believes that there are still serious questions to be answered about connections between BPET and Bellevue Education. This NUT dossier outlines allegations made against Bellevue Education and provides evidence of the clear link between the company and the academy trust. The DfE must investigate and publish a full report as a matter of urgency.

Telling isn’t teaching and listening isn’t learning
In this piece on the Government's White Paper, retired NUT member Roger Titcombe argues that, while it has generated huge amounts of negative media comment, there has been a lack of recognition of the scale of the catastrophe that this privatisation would inflict onto the English education system.

The mysterious case of the disappearing schools
The Government is intending to force all 17,000 state schools in England to become academies in multi academy trusts. Disappointed Idealist explains what this means in practice.

Forcing schools to become Academies will mean more inadequate schools and worse results
As the Government announces that it intends all schools will be forced to become academies, Henry Stewart, of the Local Schools Network, exposes the poor track record of sponsored academies and concludes it is hard to think of any educational policy in living memory more likely to lead directly to worse performance for schools.

Ten scary facts about school
Dr Debra Kidd is a parent, education blogger and former senior lecturer in education. In this piece she outlines ten key facts that parents should know about their child’s education.


Are teachers suffering from a crisis of motivation?

An NUT/YouGov survey has called further attention to the crisis in teacher morale, revealing that 53 per cent of teachers in England and 46 per cent in Wales were “thinking of leaving the profession in the next two years.” In an article which originally appeared in The Conversation, Dr Sam Carr of the University of Bath argues that this reflects an emerging “motivational crisis” in teaching and that current educational policy may be systematically stifling people’s psychological needs.


Do Academy chains exacerbate disadvantage?
The Sutton Trust has published its second report, Chain Effects 2015, examining whether academy chains are improving the life chances of their disadvantaged pupils. In this article, the Local Schools Network’s Henry Stewart provides a critique of the report. He argues that the research findings are “a damning indictment of the core component of the Education and Adoption Bill, the forced conversion of ‘inadequate’ and ‘coasting’ schools to sponsored academies”. The authors of the report state that, "our findings suggest that the government stores up trouble for the future by optimistically assuming that all sponsors have the capacity to improve schools". And they go on to conclude that, "far from providing a solution to disadvantage, a few chains may be exacerbating it".


A letter to parents from a deputy head teacher
In his letter to parents, deputy head teacher Michael Tidd explains how changes in curriculum expectations and the removal of national curriculum levels may impact on their child’s school report this year. He reassures parents that nonetheless, teachers and school leaders are doing their best to meet the new requirements and to provide the best possible education within the parameters set by the government.


Neurons and Narratives: The Human Need for Free Play in Early Years Development
The early years sector is currently resisting an effort to bring in ‘baseline testing’ - formal tests of children’s competency in literacy and numeracy – on their entry to Reception, which for summer-born children, is shortly after their fourth birthday. In this article, Pam Jarvis argues that an overwhelming body of evidence indicates that the provision of time and space for collaborative free play is a non-negotiable developmental requirement for young children. She concludes that parents and teachers should be acutely aware of the danger that baseline testing presents to early childhood development.


This is a story about heads who end up losing their self-esteem, their health or their livelihoods. It is a story about Ofsted
In this piece Geoff Barton reflects on the experience of a punitive Ofsted inspection and his school’s attempt to appeal the judgement “through the labyrinth of Ofsted’s complaints procedure.” He reflects on what his experience suggests about Ofsted and what it means for school leaders who are trying to support struggling schools.


The Progress Myth
Levels have gone and schools have an opportunity to develop meaningful systems of assessment that are more about learning and less about accountability. In this article, freelance data analyst and blogger, Jamie Pembroke, explores the rationale for measuring pupil progress and asks the question: have we been making it up all along?


The causes of London’s educational success
The London Challenge is recognised for its role in transforming schools. However, competing explanations for London’s success have recently emerged in the form of two pieces of quantitative analysis: one which cites the capital’s ethnic mix, and another which emphasises the significance of policy interventions in the late 1990s. In this article Professor Merryn Hutchings argues that, while these studies offer some insight into the reasons for London’s schools’ improved attainment, both make claims that go beyond their data.


Supporting Local Authority Supply Services
In this article, Bill Esterson MP discusses his experience in working to support his local authority's supply teacher service as a better alternative to commercial supply teacher agencies, both for schools and supply teachers.


The High Cost Of ‘Effective Feedback’ – The Triple Marking Fiasco
Despite the recent Ofsted Clarifications document, school management teams continue to require extensive written feedback, and teachers are continuing to spend hours writing and responding to pupils’ written work. Primary teacher and education blogger Jack Marwood investigates the origins of, and lack of an evidence base for, the phenomenon known as ‘triple marking’.


Reducing Teachers’ Workload Means Restoring Their Autonomy And Professional Discretion In The Classroom
Following recent announcements from politicians that teachers’ workload must be tackled, Disappointed Idealist argues that this can only be achieved by addressing the major national policy changes that have reduced the autonomy and professional discretion of teachers in the classroom.


The OFSTED Trap That Prevents Us From Planning And Teaching Effectively
An anonymous teacher speaks out about the workload pressures caused by Ofsted expectations on schools which get in the way of teaching and learning.


A World-Class Education System Needs A World-Class Teaching Force
Chris Waterman
, education policy commentator and Chair of the Supply and Teacher Training Advisory Group sets out the need for a national strategy on teacher recruitment and teacher education.


Lies, Damned Lies and Ofsted’s Pseudostatistics
Following Michael Gove’s departure as Secretary of State, Philip Moriarty, Professor of Physics at the University of Nottingham, reflects on the pseudostatistics underpinning Ofsted’s school assessment procedures.


What Michael did
Following the Government reshuffle in July 2014, Dr Jon Berry, Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Hertfordshire and an NUT Life Member reflects on the damage done to education by former Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove.


As I say goodbye to headship
Nigel Utton
, Departing Head Teacher of Bromstone Primary School in Broadstairs, Kent, explains why he has made the decision, after 23 years, to leave the profession that he loves. Current education reforms, says Nigel, mean that children with special needs are being marginalised, illegally excluded and concentrated in a minority of schools. In this article he argues the need to trust teachers and put children at the heart of a fully inclusive education system which values and builds lasting communities.


Educational Inequality in England
Finnish Educationalist Pasi Sahlberg explains why we should ignore the reform strategies put forward by successive British politicians who dismiss the potential lessons of Finish educational reform because of their ideological inconvenience. Sahlberg explains how equity results in higher educational outcomes and more equal educational opportunities for all children. Click here to see the video.


Listening but not Hearing – A Meeting with Liz Truss
Dr Debra Kidd is an AST for pedagogy, education blogger and former senior lecturer in education. Here she reflects on a meeting with Minister for Education and Childcare Liz Truss, DfE civil servants and teachers on 8 April 2014.


Designing a curriculum that is good for learners
Alison Willmott, an education consultant, writer and teacher who has tutored on the NUT’s ‘Year of the Curriculum’ programme, argues that as schools prepare for the introduction of a heavily knowledge-based National Curriculum dominated by English, maths and science, we need to remember that children learn best when there is real purpose, active involvement and emotional engagement in their learning. In the words of WB Yeats, “Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire”.


The Ongoing Saga of the Ofsted Teaching Style
Andrew Old, secondary teacher and education blogger, discusses the contradictions at the heart of Ofsted. Despite clear messages from the Chief Inspector, and changes to the Ofsted handbook, inspectors are still making judgements based on a particular model of teaching. He argues that this contradiction belies the fact that neither politicians, nor even chief inspectors, seem to be in charge of Ofsted, which remains a strange mix of public servants and private companies. Ofsted remains a remarkable case of power exercised without responsibility.


What can schools learn from the best education systems?
Peter Mortimore,
formerly Professor of Education at the Universities of Lancaster, London and Southern Denmark and Director of the Institute of Education from 1994-2000, argues that the Government can learn a lot from the education systems of other countries and that there is a better alternative to its current market-led reforms.


Why is attainment higher in London than elsewhere?
Professor Merryn Hutchings, Institute for Policy Studies in Education, London Metropolitan University and lead author of the DfE commissioned evaluation of the City Challenge Programme, explains how the London Challenge initiative was key to London schools’ 2012 GCSE examination success.


A Contemptuous and Contemptible Curriculum
Professor Colin Richards, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cumbria, argues that the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, is treating the teaching profession with contempt by failing to engage in dialogues over legitimate concerns about the new curriculum.


From Imperfect Indicators to Flawed Measures: A Critique of the Government’s Primary Accountability Proposals
Professor Colin Richards, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cumbria, argues that the Government’s proposals on primary accountability are flawed and dangerous.


A Curriculum for the 21st Century
Dave Peck, Chief Executive Officer of The Curriculum Foundation, considers the key elements that a world-class curriculum for the 21st century should contain and outlines how the partnership between the NUT and the Curriculum Foundation will offer an online programme through which NUT members can grow their skills and abilities as curriculum developers in ‘The Year of the Curriculum’.

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Clever Touch
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