Education round-up 17/3/12

Education round-up 17/3/12

NUT London Pensions strike. Wilshaw joins Gove with his numeracy problems. Downhills Primary and Montgomery Primary academy struggles.

NUT London strike

According to general secretary Christine Blower on pensions:

“The NUT believes it is essential that the teaching profession stands united on this issue."

And with that in mind, presumably the NUT will be calling for all teachers to be out? Course not! NUT, along with UCU, is calling out only their London members on March 28th. UNITED OR WHAT?

The government must be quaking their boots, when only a small section, of a few unions, in one part of the country, go out, for one day. Apparently there's rumbles of rolling regional strikes. Basically minimising disruption, venting teacher frustration, and sharing it round the country in chunks pallatable to those who hold the purse-strings. Regional strikes over a national issue, brains of fucking Britain!

The NUT voted for discontinuous strike action on June 30th last year, that vote still stands. But instead of following up on that mandate to have more strikes, the union bosses, wanting full control over the struggle, sent out a rubbish little survey to check if people still wanted to strike. Now, given we're still going to get shafted on our pensions, and nothings changing by the looks of it, that vote should stand. Most people when given a survey on something they've already voted on won't respond - 'Oh I already voted for strike action'. So presumably the survey turnout was lower than the strike ballot.

November 30th, with almost 30 unions out on the same day, was the singlest biggest day of industrial action in 70-odd years. But the unions know only too well, that any more like that, more frequent, rolling, might actually stand a chance of changing things and building up working class confidence. So we see them performing their traditional role, carving up workers, even within the same union, to do more tokenistic, contained, 'responsible' strikes.

Wilshaw and Gove move to 'bottom set' in maths.
Head of Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, Michael Wilshaw, or to give him his proper title, Michael Wilshaw, has failed his latest maths test. On Newsnight. This follows hot on the heels of Michael Gove failing THE SAME TEST last month in front of the Commons Education Select Committee.

Which test was this? The test of how to measure central tendency. Everyone remembers their 'mean, median, and mode' right? Apparently these two brainiacs don't. They plowed through all the other questions with reasonable ease, but when it came to the question on averages they got stuck. Neither of them thought the question would come up so they didn't put it on the cheat notes up their sleeve doh!

Wilshaw's poor numeracy skills were evident in his Newsnight appearance during the week, when he complained that not enough pupils hit the average in English SATs at the end of primary school. Let's digest that. He thinks too many kids are below average.

Now, all measures of central tendency have their flaws, and depending on what you what to understand, or more strategically, what you want to convey, you can pick and choose which on you use. And 'average' or mean often tells us roughly where the middling or typical figures of a group are. It works pretty well for 'normal' ranges of figures. It's easily skewed by anomalies and outliers or alternatively rendered almost useless by populations that lack homogeneity (ie they're pretty samey, not much variation).

The school population is large, so outliers shouldn't skew it much, and it's got a large range of acheivement so plenty of variation. So average should say something. Wilshaw's problem is he condemns the kids who are 'below average', not realising, that BY DEFINITION some of that group will be 'below average'. It's a structural inevitability of using an average.

If those kids magically overnight became 'smarter' and did the test again, then the average would just shift up, you still have kids 'below average'. Accoridng to his office it was a 'slip of the tongue'. On Newsnight? By the schools chief inspector? FAIL.

So he joined Secretary of State, Pob lookalike, Michael Gove in failing this basic numeracy. At a Commons Select Committee meeting, Gove was responding to some 'downwiththekids' Twitter questions:

Chair: if "good" requires pupil performance to exceed the national average, and if all schools must be good, how is this mathematically possible?
Michael Gove: By getting better all the time.
Chair: So it is possible, is it?
Michael Gove: It is possible to get better all the time.
Chair: Were you better at literacy than numeracy, Secretary of State?
Michael Gove: I cannot remember.

Again, if everyone gets 'better', the average shifts up, so inevitably some will still be 'below average' by their measures. Secretary of State for Education, who, as I speak, is forcing communities against their wills to accept privatisation of education based on a bunch of not only ideologically contemptible motives, but daft flawed measures, fails at basic numeracy. FAIL

Here's my shit-sandwich feedback, two positives and a negative, for both of them:

"What went well - 1) don't worry lads, your matey mates will all just chuckle and think this is funny cos ultimately it's just poor kids this all affects. 2) You weren't in the same room as me
Even better if - you got a basic fucking grasp of measures of central tendancy

I think you should join the maths intervention group on a Thursday after school,

Mr Choccy"

Downhills and Montgomery Primary
Downhills Primary in Tottenham have now had their board of governors removed and a new academy-friendly board appointed. So much for 'parent voice'.

AET, an academies chain are the new sponsors of Montgomery Primary in Sparkbrook, Birmingham. This after local community opposition and two strikes by NUT and NASUWT over the planned academy change.

Posted By

Choccy
Mar 17 2012 11:29

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Comments

gypsy
Mar 17 2012 11:40

Any word on the NASUWT? What the fuck London only strikes?

fingers malone
Mar 17 2012 13:00

Yeah this is really shit. People are getting seriously demoralised. And it's been so uncertain for the last couple of months, yes we are striking, no we're not, only if the NUT do... we only knew for sure yesterday, which gives us no time to prepare.

NASUWT... don't know much but they had a strong ballot rejecting the offer and afaik they are continuing with action short of a strike.

Ernestine
Mar 17 2012 13:20

If collective bargaining is going out the window anyway, will local school union branches be in a stronger position to take action independently of national union sell-outs?

fingers malone
Mar 17 2012 13:23

To be official you still need to get your ballot approved by regional, they don't always even tell you that you can't have a ballot, you just never hear back from them.

Chilli Sauce
Mar 17 2012 13:43

Is the NASUWT work-to-rule still on?

fingers malone
Mar 17 2012 13:44

afaik

Chilli Sauce
Mar 17 2012 13:49

Is the union doing anything to encourage it, support it, etc?

gypsy
Mar 17 2012 13:56
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Is the union doing anything to encourage it, support it, etc?

Yeah but the success depends on the school and how strong the NAS are in each school.

gypsy
Mar 17 2012 14:37
Croy
Mar 17 2012 17:37

Good blog once again. Im going to write up an update from the ProShare thing today or tommorow.

Between Your Teeth
Mar 17 2012 19:19

I'm not an education worker but i thought i'd flag up a development happening locally. The local Labour council is attempting to restructure the traditional 3 term school year into 5 shorter terms. Whilst education minister Michael Gove has stated that he is nominally in favour of a shorter summer break, this is the first attempt to try and put this into effect. They've gone ahead with a local consultation which even on it's own rigged terms only indicated a 50% agreement amongst local residents. Even so it's attempting to be forced through with 1700 teachers amongst 4200 employees at 70 schools being told if they don't sign the new contracts they'll be sacked and re-employed on the worse T&Cs.

NUT have balloted with an 88% yes vote on what i work out to be a 50.9% turnout. And NASUWT

I'm told there's currently 3 days of strikes lined up, whether this is concurrent or non concurrent i couldn't say.

Local rag article here

TES article on this here

This bit leapt out at me:

Quote:
The NUT has offered to cover the pay of any of its members who go on strike

Blimey, that's a lot of money. Which is a sign that the NUT may think this is the thin end of wedge and that it'd be strategically useful to try and put on a display of strength to indicate the difficulty of getting the proposal through else where. Worth keeping on eye on this i would have thought.

Choccy
Mar 17 2012 19:22

Cheers for that. I'd heard about the shorter summer break thing being hinted at but had no idea there were serious plans, defo worth keeping an eye out.

Between Your Teeth
Mar 17 2012 19:31
Choccy wrote:
Cheers for that. I'd heard about the shorter summer break thing being hinted at but had no idea there were serious plans, defo worth keeping an eye out.

Yep, that article says Hull and East Yorkshire were planning to go ahead with it too, but dropped it at the last minute. Possibly keeping an eye on the outcome of this first.

What's your view on it as a teacher? How would it impact your working life?

Choccy
Mar 17 2012 23:53

it's obviously a significant attack on our conditions.
We already do a job with a suicide rate 40% higher than the population average.

They're already performance managing us to the hilt, and wanting to bring in accelerated capability procedures for people not making the cut - ie making it easier to sack people. So taking away part of the holidays is a really significant attack.

billzant
Mar 18 2012 08:40

The NUT leadership don't desire confrontation but it is pointless to blame them. The real issue lies with the membership. Historically when some of the membership did push the leaders into action, overall the union lost membership. As a result the leaders choose action that will vent some feeling but essentially will not lose the membership because it will not affect pay.

This is a typical scenario of representational democracy as opposed to grass roots action. The teachers let the leaders and their reps negotiate and they sit back. All teachers themselves(not just a few) need to become more active and make decisions for themselves. Whilst there is no grass roots action the authority knows there is minimal danger.

2 million on the streets in November and they have cut back on pension reductions at least for the time being.

Chilli Sauce
Mar 18 2012 11:34
Choccy wrote:
it's obviously a significant attack on our conditions.
We already do a job with a suicide rate 40% higher than the population average.

They're already performance managing us to the hilt, and wanting to bring in accelerated capability procedures for people not making the cut - ie making it easier to sack people. So taking away part of the holidays is a really significant attack.

And we die, on average, two years sooner than the rest of the population.

Steven.
Mar 18 2012 15:32

Another great blog post choccy. That's hilarious with the comments about too many kids being below average!

(Well, hilarious and terrifying in equal measure)

Choccy
Mar 18 2012 16:14

Yeah it's with a nervous laughter that I read these stories. It's of course hilarious that they fail at even basic maths, you're right that it's terrifying that they don't even care about being consistent within their own parameters, and will happily plunder public education based on these measures, shafting communities like those srved by Downhills for being below average when it's a statistical impossibility for everyone to be above average!