Archive for August, 2016


The College Of Teaching gives more power to the powerful

August 26, 2016

The College of Teaching popped up again today on social media.

I have blogged about this very many times. There has been a prolonged attempt by the education establishment to create a new professional body for teachers, following Michael Gove’s abolition of the last one, largely on the grounds that it was a quango that teachers had no time for.

Despite early suggestions that this new organisation might be led by the profession, it ended up being set up by CPD providers in such a way as to squeeze out frontline teachers in favour of educationalists, consultants and managers. This was done through holding events on weekdays in school time, proposing that “anybody with an interest in education” be allowed to join, and making sure that non-teachers and managers dominated the board of trustees. An attempt to crowd fund the organisation revealed a real lack of support from the profession, unfortunately politicians popped in to provide public money to get it going. There had been a few signs of hope: there was an invitation for more teachers to join the trustees and the fact that the issue of who could be a member was going to be considered by a consultation. But the signs were that the organisation had already decided that this was about non-teachers and SMT telling teachers what to do and since I last blogged about them they have asked for “teachers, head teachers and teacher trainers” to take part in focus groups for refining their “offer”, rather than just saying “teachers”.

Today they announced that the CEO would be Dame Alison Peacock, who is currently an executive headteacher, and well known for a willingness to sit on government committees and the boards of educational charities. She has been a headteacher since 2003 and Wikipedia lists 15 different boards, committees and advisory groups she is currently thought to be part of. You could not hope to find somebody who is more firmly ensconced in the education establishment and further removed from the life of a classroom teacher.

I’ve spent a lot of today seeing this decision justified. Much of the argument was based around assuming that the job was beyond a mere classroom teacher and that this does not suggest a problem with the organisation. People have referred to the organisation being “large” which given that it does not yet have members and its membership target is apparently a tiny 5000 members in two years suggests “large” refers to the budget provided by the taxpayer, which the College of Teaching claims may be be as high as £5 million (or £1000 for every member they need to reach their membership target). The plan appears to be to set up an education super-quango, not a grassroots organisation, and that cannot be trusted to an ordinary teacher.

This comes down to the problem that has been surfacing since the College Of Teaching was first suggested. A professional body for teachers sounds like a good idea, if it genuinely means developing teacher professionalism. But professionalism would mean trusting teachers, giving them more autonomy and reducing the number of people telling teachers what to do. Developing teacher professionalism would involve trimming the powers of education bureaucrats, heads, other managers and external training providers and giving power to teachers in the classroom. A professional body for teachers would be a body that sets out what teachers cannot be told to do, what they should not be held responsible for, and what they can be trusted to do.

The alternative vision, and the dominant one, is one where the education establishment loses no power to control teachers, but gains powers from government. Dame Peacock wrote a paper suggesting what power and influence a (Royal) College Of Teaching should seek. It included the following suggestions:

A new Royal College of Teaching could help to establish the core purposes and aspirations of education for all children in this country…

There are a range of organisations that primary colleagues can choose to align with including, for example, federations and Trusts, faith schools, Teaching Schools and alliances academy groups , subject associations, CPR / ASPE / Whole Education local partnerships and trusts unions and professional associations HEIs and partnership schools. The importance of a Royal College of Teachers lies in the notion that such an organisation could form an over arching network within which smaller networks would flourish independently. It could be that smaller networks would seek affiliation with the RCoT in order to enhance their work.

The role of the Royal College of Teachers would be to offer CPD that was inspired by evidence and independent of political influence. Course providers and subject associations could seek quality assurance from the RCoT in order that they could badge their CPD accordingly.

…The benefits to unions would be that the Royal College would provide a single united lobbying voice on behalf of chartered teachers… We need a national organisation to support schools against the current trend for initiatives linked to political imperatives and we need to avoid the exhaustion that comes with feeling powerless to resist…

…As a nationally recognised professional body of experts the RCoT could have influence on the appointment of HMCI. An important culture shift would be achieved if HMCI (a supposedly non political appointment) were to report regularly to the Royal College as a means of ensuring quality and accountability…

…This vision for a RCoT that is ambitious for all children, would represent the voice of English education across the world.

This is an incredible power grab. Power over CPD; over inspection; over school structures; over policy, would go to the College. It would also take on the role of representing the entire system and deciding what our education system is for. In this model, it is hard to see what role would be left with our elected representatives, other than getting to be lobbied by the College Of Teaching. For those unelected people who already have significant power in the education system – the educational establishment – this is a chance to squash all who might stand up to them. This has nothing to do with empowering the teacher in the classroom. This is about ensuring that those who already tell teachers what to do have less accountability and less democratic oversight. This is not going to increase our professionalism; it’s going to destroy it.


Top Blogs of the Week : Schools Week (May 2016)

August 18, 2016

Apologies for getting a bit behind with these. In MaySchools Week published my review of the best blogs of the week.

Andrew Old’s Top Blogs of the Week 2 May 2016

Purple praise: a spoon full of sugar helps the marking go down

By @Xris32

We all know that praise in marking is a good thing, don’t we? Many marking policies assure us that children need a “what went well” or “two stars” to encourage them. Not true, says the English teacher who wrote this post…


How to criticise without starting a witch hunt

August 11, 2016

I’ve been writing about schools being ‘shamed’ in the press or on social media.  In my latest post I had promised to look at how we, the users of social media, can avoid starting or prolonging the type of hate campaign I have been describing in previous posts:

…when it comes to how people should behave on social media, I really can’t think of any hard and fast rules. I am the last person on earth to advocate refusing to criticise schools. I am also hardly likely to suggest that social media is not a good way to whistle blow when things are going on in schools that the public should be aware of. But I do not think a hate campaign achieves anything other than to silence debate. And, at the very least, we can all consider the possible consequences of criticising.

I think the following points are all worth considering when criticising something. And, please note, these are a series of suggestions about how to judge one’s own behaviour, which I hope will influence my future behaviour, not a set of standards by which to judge others, or a claim to have always got these right in the past.

  1. What are your motives for criticising? I think this question is always worth considering. It seems fair to give examples of things happening in schools because people have denied that such a thing happens, or claimed they are uncommon. At times it may be fine even just to illustrate. If people make false claims about schools, I think it’s more than okay to correct them, even if that may reveal a less positive picture of the school. But while such things might upset individuals, upsetting should never be the aim. Deliberate intimidation, such as in Twitter storms, is even worse. I’d also warn against “virtue-signalling” as a questionable motive, i.e. condemning others in order to gain the approval of the like-minded. Sometimes somebody’s behaviour is so bad that it is worth saying it is disgusting, but do so because the person should know, not in order to vent, so save that for exceptional cases not just things you disagree with.
  2. Are your criticisms based on accurate information? In my descriptions of shaming, I didn’t want to restart the witch hunt, so I cut out any information about the actual concerns of the shamers. If I hadn’t though, I could have included as many tweets and emails that were factually incorrect as ones that were insulting. Never assume that the account of one disgruntled parent is accurate. Never assume that a newspaper story is accurate. Always try to check facts and find out the context. If that means contacting the person you are criticising first, so be it. Also be willing to admit the error, and make corrections when you have got your facts wrong.
  3. Are you criticising public behaviour? I should be careful here to state that I am not saying we should never discuss what goes on behind the school gates. Schools receive public money and should expect to be scrutinised. But I do think there is a difference between criticising what schools and teachers proclaim publicly, and weighing in on what is brought to light by their critics. In the first case, making something public invites (reasonable) responses and people should know if something they are saying in public is widely considered objectionable. Also, if it’s something you have posted online you always have the opportunity to remove it if there is a backlash you hadn’t anticipated. We should feel free to openly criticise the content of tweets or blogs, although I would suggest that deleted tweets or blogs should be forgotten about unless the author tries to pretend they never happened, or tries to misrepresent what happened (most commonly by claiming to be the victim in a row they started). In the second case, where the school has not put the information in the public domain, we can still criticise. However, when criticising we need to accept that we are now responsible for the consequences of sharing that information. It is not good enough to say “well, it was in a newspaper” or “it was already out there”, if the information is then misused, or prompts a hate campaign.
  4. Can those being criticised defend themselves? This is the “witch hunt” clause. Too many people claim they just want to debate what has happened in situations where nobody can express the opposing view without being insulted. When it comes to accusations about individuals, it is worse. If people have been genuinely forced off social media, (and I mean by weight of abuse, not because they flounced off) it is not fair to make accusations about them on social media. Don’t join in with a chorus of hostility when you know those at whom it is aimed cannot possibly reply. Also, if somebody is defending themselves, address the content of their defence. Don’t start changing the accusation to something different. I would also be careful about tweeting, or blogging about individuals who can be identified, but haven’t been named, or notified that you are talking about them.  Some people seem to think that criticising somebody in public without identifying them is a way to make debate less personal (see point 6) but the usual result is that the criticised person feels they are being slagged off behind their back in order to stop them defending themselves. With regard to avoiding Twitter storms, you can try to involve others in discussions that criticise, but back off if it could be intimidating. You may want to make people aware of somebody’s objectionable opinion, but try not to send the message: “let’s all pile in now”.
  5. Are you being insulting? This is one that always amazes me online. People often have a very odd concept of “insulting”. On the one hand there are people who see insult where there is none, and often reply with insults to an insult that exists only in their imagination. Common examples of this are those who think an insult can be defined by “offence”, so if they are offended by something, even just an opposing opinion, then they have been insulted. I have encountered people online who argue that you should never point out when somebody has passed on false information, even deliberate lies, because this is the same as calling somebody a liar. Also there are those who feel that if they think the person they are speaking to does not respect them, usually judged from the “tone” of comments, or their own insecurities, then they have been insulted. On the other hand, there are those who start with insults and then complain about the response (or lack of response). There are those who think that if they state something true, it cannot be an insult: “but your mother is fat and that’s just a medical fact”. There are also those who use analogies without quite realising that a comparison can be insulting: “No, I am just saying you are acting like a Nazi, not that you are a Nazi”. It is best not to start an argument with “anybody who disagrees is bonkers”, nor to resort too easily to the claim that somebody you disagree with has misunderstood. A “bully” is not somebody who disagrees with you. Similarly, describing anything you object to as “child abuse” is not the way to win an argument about whether it is right or wrong; it is just an insult. Finally, satire should be aimed at the powerful; some of the worst insults I’ve seen online have been defended as clever parody or just a joke, yet if the “joke” is that some ordinary teacher is pure evil and might do or say evil things, it can be indistinguishable from abuse.
  6. Are you making it personal? Even if you are not insulting people, arguments are not helped by making them about the people who hold the opinion rather than the content of the opinion. Some people do this so habitually that they cannot imagine arguing with somebody who is anonymous. Online argument often consists entirely of a series of ad hominems and appeals to expertise, where people are sorted into goodies (or victims) and baddies (or oppressors) where it is a priori wrong to disagree with the goodies, or agree with the baddies. Try to avoid these narratives. Be careful when using yourself, your school, or your children as an example; if you can’t bear to see any of these criticised, then don’t bring them up. If something is common, you do not need to provide specific examples. If you do not agree with a policy or teaching approach, you may not need to name examples of people (or schools) who agree with it in order to discuss it, although be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of criticising people behind their back (see point 4). People should not find that when they search for their own name, the name of their school, or their Twitter username, that they get your rant about them.
  7. Are you just repeating what has been said by others? This is probably a good way to avoid a Twitter storm. If you want to make a point to somebody you don’t need a 1000 others to say he same thing. Sometimes, you do want to get across the point that “this is not just me saying this”, but be careful that you are not getting dozens of people to repeat you. Sometimes a Twitter poll will help get the point across better than asking people to make comments. If somebody asks their timeline for their opinions, don’t bother if lots of people have already said what you wanted to say. It is okay to “like” a good argument that you agree with on Twitter, but read the responses first. Sometimes weak, or factually incorrect arguments (particularly about politics) are being liked on Twitter for days after they have been exposed as incorrect. Finally, if something is all over Twitter, we do not have to join in with a chorus of disapproval immediately. We can stop and think, look for the counter-arguments, or just wait to see how it plays out.
  8. Are you applying the same standards to yourself, or those you sympathise with? This is always one of the trickiest things to consider. We naturally apply all kinds of mitigation to ourselves and those we agree with that we don’t apply to others. But we should try to avoid it. If you are going to declare “nobody should ever do this”, but you know there are times when it is acceptable, it is best to mention the exceptions up front. It is best to think through the wider principles behind what we say, just in case we have just come up with a brilliant argument against our own beliefs. Sometimes it’s better to check your previous contributions to a discussion as you add to it, rather than ending up condemning somebody for doing something you started yourself. Furthermore, if you haven’t always got things right in the past, admit it. (P.S. I haven’t always got the things listed in points 1-8 right in the past).



Further thoughts on shaming schools

August 10, 2016

I have been writing a series of posts about schools being publicly ‘shamed’ in the press and on social media.

The last three posts were pretty much just descriptive, explaining what being shamed is like, but controversy has followed them. The most common responses have been:

  • Arguing over what counts as a ‘shaming’ or ‘witch hunt’ rather than legitimate debate or criticism;
  • Claiming I am attacking free speech;
  • Deducing some implicit “rules of conduct” from my posts and then objecting to them.

I will respond to these points here.

My choice of the word “shaming” was largely a result of listening to and reading several interviews with Jon Ronson after he wrote a book on the subject of online shamings (which I haven’t yet read). I think the term “shaming” is entirely appropriate for the situation where there is large scale disapproval by thousands of individuals aimed at one, or a small number, of individuals. It’s not how I’d describe any and all criticism of anyone, but if the targets are few; the rage great, and the numbers joining in are large, then it really is not a debate and I think this is a fair way to describe it.

As for the other term, I’ve blogged about Twitter “witch-hunts” before. This phrase is the best way I know of describing a situation where accusations are thrown about, but the targets of the accusation either cannot defend themselves (for instance if they have been forced off of social media) or if any defence will be considered to confirm the original accusation or justify new ones.

Both terms describe a situation where there is no debate, little regard for context or opportunity for mitigation, just anger being directed at individuals who have limited scope for doing anything about it. Because these situations, force people off of social media denying them free speech, I really don’t feel that suggesting we all try to avoid creating such situations is an attack on free speech; it’s an attempt to protect it.

Finally, have I implicitly set rules for how people should behave?

To be fair, I think my views on the journalism that has started some of these ‘shamings’ are clear. I would want journalists to avoid the following:

  • reporting the views of a minimal number of disgruntled parents (often just one) as “news” about a school;
  • naming individuals, particularly children, where it is not in the public interest;
  • one-sided and biased reporting;
  • sensationalism.

However, I don’t propose any mechanism to enforce any of this. I’m just saying I’d expect journalists with any integrity to try to avoid those things.

But when it comes to how people should behave on social media, I really can’t think of any hard and fast rules. I am the last person on earth to advocate refusing to criticise schools. I am also hardly likely to suggest that social media is not a good way to whistle blow when things are going on in schools that the public should be aware of. But I do not think a hate campaign achieves anything other than to silence debate. And, at the very least, we can all consider the possible consequences of criticising.

In my next post I will discuss what we might want to consider before criticising a school or a teacher on social media.



What’s it like for a school to be shamed? Part 3

August 9, 2016

I’ve been writing about what happens when a school is “shamed” in the press and on social media.

In part 1, I wrote about what a school can experience on Twitter.

In part 2, I wrote about the emails a school can get.

This blog deals with messages left on a school’s website after a shaming.

As before I’m not going to name the school (although it won’t take much detective work to figure out which one it is) but the following applies:

  • the original story appeared in the Daily Mail;
  • it was based on the account of one disgruntled family;
  • the school’s side of events, even over matter of facts, was ignored in the story;
  • people sending these messages had apparently never visited the school or heard anything from the school’s side.

Again, these messages have gone straight to admin staff who were not involved in any way with the original story.

Greets from Finland and “congratulations” for creating a social media storm. … You should be ashamed.

The awfulness … is beyond comprehension. Your school leadership should be ashamed of itself. My own view is that the most democratic way of resolving this would be … having the leadership of he school placed on a final warning for potential removal…

Rest assured I wouldn’t dream of sending my kids to your vile school. You should be closed down…

Absolutely disgraceful. You scumbags.

I’m reporting you to the police… you bullies.

Shame on you. … [the headteacher] is an enemy of the poor. [the headteacher] must resign.

…one of the most DISGUSTING and and insensitive things I have EVER heard of. [the deputy headteacher] should be fired IMMEDIATELY for his obvious lack of concern for the well-being of the students at your school… Shame. Shame on you.

You two (you know who you are) need to think about resigning as soon as possible. Neither of you are fit to be in charge of a school or the children therein. What you are doing is absolutely disgusting.

you are a facile disgrace… due to the paucity of your compassion and care.

Dear idiots, Given your torture techniques …, will you consider holding some Gitmo detainees at your school? I’m sure your Thatcher of a matron is well accustomed to numerous torture techniques

what the fuck is wrong with you people? i thought the usa school system was bad, but jesus. i hope your school burns down with only the staff in it.

My 2 cents is you should sack your current ‘deputy head’ and find someone with a nurturing soul, for scum bags like yourself are th every reason this countries upside down. Doesn’t anyone know how to teach anymore? i come from a family of teacher … sort yourselves out. Also reported your school

…You should be ashamed of yourself.

Fucking idiots. … Eat a dick!

…dickhead… like your power do you?

[Deputy head] …Your school really does suck and your ethos too…

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

I’m not starting this message with the formal dear sirs or madams because quite frankly your school does not deserve that level of respect. I need to explain something to you all about humanity. … This really is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard of in modern education. …Your attitude is vile and repugnant. None of you deserve to even breath the same air as anyone else on this planet let alone be allowed to teach anyone’s children.  It”s nasty, selfish and ridiculous people like you that make me feel embarrassed to tell people here that I am British… Please find an island somewhere else where you can all devise equally stupid and horrible plans for each other. Fuck you.

…Honestly the last time I heard of behaviour like this is when I read Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort was running amok of Hogwart’s.

…You should be ashamed of yourselves. Don’t bother getting in touch with me – though you can if you like. I have plenty of time and would quite happily get into a time-wasting argument so that perhaps you can let the kids get on with being kids and not being belittled by an institution.

I consider your treatment of children … to be an example of child abuse and morally bankrupt. What sort of message does this send to your students? … This at best is similar to the tactics used by the Fascist Government of the Third Rich!

 …It’s bad enough to be bullied by pupils, but to be bullied by the actual school a child attends … is utterly unjust, not to mention cruel. The same applies to punishments for lateness or lack of uniform clothing items, which also may well be due to parents’ problems over which they often have no control. Parents not only have a right but a duty to protect their children from your fascistic rules … I hope you as a school will be ashamed enough that you will change your policies to teach kindness instead.

This is institutionalised bullying… and every person of authority in this school ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. You are bad people.

…iam from scotland but remember facebook is a massive place , … that old cow margaret thatcher took our milk from our kids , i hope she rots in hell , … i will be contacting child services about this , that is child abuse , … hang your head in shame … there will be lost jobs here , … scum teachers

You should be ashamed of yourself. What a shit fucking school. … I am also going to set up an e-petition for the sacking of H. teacher and deputy. Thanks

You are disgusting!!!! Evil, evil people.

Read the news recently? Ha!

You are shameful.

Shame on you and everyone involved in …despicable abuse…

Hello [deputy headteacher], We can see what you are doing at your school. We can see your disgusting abuse of power, … We can see how cold and callous you are …  your probably thinking to yourself that I don’t know how to use paragraphs by now… I do know how to write in paragraphs…. I’m writing this on my phone. … shame on you. I hope you don’t need me to tell you this … I hope the last 48 hours has already presented you with yourself and your actions in a light that gives pause for thought. For reflection. Just remember that we can see you… We are watching. Many thanks, peace and blessings to you and your school.

You should be absofukinlutely ashamed of yourselves … You bunch of Nazis.

You can keep your … second rate education. Pathetic.

…What a backward-looking travesty you people are presiding over. Has your clock gone back a century and beyond to Dickensian times. You people should should hang your heads in shame – pathetic. Don’t worry – I will not be expecting a response from cowards who exploit children.

Where is your compassion and humanity, …Shame on you.

Just wanted to say hi and fuck you to [the deputy headteacher] and whomever else … Hope you starve …you sick piece of shit.

I just want to say your school is absolutely disgusting and pathetic….

I am shocked and disgusted … You should be ashamed of yourself. Anyone who works for this school… well. I hope that justice comes of this and you all loose your jobs. I will do my best to make sure that happens.

I hope that this, along with all the tweets and the emails in the previous posts give some idea of the scale of what can happen if a school is ‘shamed’ in the press. I also found a blog threatening to organise a demonstration outside the school later in the year (i.e. not in the holidays), by people apparently unconcerned that schools have children in.

I’ve framed this so far simply as a call for people to reflect before passing on a “school shaming” story. In my next post I will discuss what we should reflect on.


What’s it like for a school to be shamed? Part 2

August 8, 2016

Last time I showed what a school that had been “shamed” in the press and on social media could face on Twitter. As unpleasant as it was, and although it effectively silenced debate, it could be avoided by logging out of Twitter.

What follows, however,  can’t be avoided as it was emailed to a school. No school has the option of ignoring all emails, so all of the had to be read. Inevitably, they had to be read first by admin staff who have literally no part in the original story.

As before I’m not going to name the school (although it won’t take much detective work to figure out which one it is) but the following applies:

  • the original story appeared in the Daily Mail;
  • it was based on the account of one disgruntled family;
  • the school’s side of events, even over matter of facts, was ignored in the story;
  • people emailing had apparently never visited the school or heard anything from the school’s side.

Again, I share this only so people, including myself, can consider whether sharing a “shaming” on social media is really worth it. I have edited identifying features out of the emails, including the original controversy, but have not removed anything that would imply that any of the people emailing had any direct connection to the school other than what they’d read in the press or on social media.


I don’t want a reply or an excuse I just want to make you aware of what I read and im absolutly disgusted.

Deputy head …, shame on you! I hope every sandwich, piece of fruit or food stuff that you consume, forever contains some kind of ironic isolated shit incident!

You are a complete twat with no more grasp of your demographic than Captain Scott.

I suggest you:
Wind your neck in.
Get off your high horse.
Extract your head from your arse.
Wipe your mouth.
Get a fucking grip!

You are the absolute worst my income tax pays for. Get out of teaching because all you will do is perpetuate your wankers attitude onto kids that don’t need tgat sort of input.

Dear [Deputy Head]

… you seem to have a lot of power but no compassion … you surely do not have inteeligence, if this is anything to go by. In my opinion you are an insult to education.

Just read the news about your school! Don’t you love social media!!

What nasty teachers you have!! Also read and shared the behaviour policy! Are you running a Nazi camp? Let children learn and have fun!

…Anyway, I’m sure ofsted will be visiting soon, there’s a petition to get some of the senior teachers sacked!!

[Deputy head]:

You are a terrible piece of shit and should never be allowed to be near children…

Go die in a cave.

If this is for real it amounts to child abuse and you should be shamed of yourselves!

…May I suggest you refer to UNICEF 47 articles that protect child from people like you. I will be writing to UNICEF, NUT and will hopefully cause enough strip to protect child from the likes of you.

Consider another career. !!

Dear idiots (yes, you are all complicit, you bastards),

…will you consider holding some Gitmo detainees at your school?

I’m sure your Grand witch of a matron is well accustomed to numerous torture techniques … May I ask if the infamous CIA torture manual makes up a substantial part of your staff handbook? Also, what’s the average IQ of your workforce as I can’t fathom why there has been no internal resistance to your torture techniques?

[The Deputy Head] should consider his position, as should [the headteacher] for her appalling original decision.

I truly hope the public outcry causes your senior staff permanent professional harm.

You bring shame on the concept of education.

Hello non-human being,

…This is truly sick and deviant behaviour…

Your school should be burnt down… with the staff inside.

Just wondering if this school is affiliated with any concentration camps or prisons? Seems like it is.

[Staff need an] exercise in compassion for being disgusting stuck up snobs..

Borderline child abuse…

I am disgusted.


This is outrages

…Is it not the whole point of being a child that it has no care in the world and are supposed to be in a safe place and not in a detention camp at your school.

Dear Fascist Scumbags,

What the flying fuck is wrong with you? … You make Hitler seem like a pretty cool guy by comparison.

I saw a disturbing post about your school … If this is true then your school is vile and I would never send my child to ANY place you own…
All you are teaching is how to abuse a child…

How can you work for these cowardly bullying shits?

You are terrible people

What a disgrace your school is…
…Wtf is wrong with you?

Shame on you!

…How could you be so evil? … You emphasis on discipline. Is this discipline or is it your attempt at making a class system? By the way, your promotional video is great. It covers up your true colours pretty well. … Sort yourselves out. You have absolutely ruined my day.

Dear [Deputy Headteacher],

I am appalled at the stance you are taking with your children.  Have you no compassion …? Perhaps you will experience the heaping on of shame for your actions in the receipt of my email and no doubt many more that will tumble into your inbox.
Shame on you for your abhorrent act which gives good measure of the man you are.

… just wanted to say what an absolute disgrace you are.
Words fail me, education eh ?

I pray with all my heart that the … policy maker gets cancer, sincerely pray for this,

…you are not fit to be caring for other people’s children and should be removed from your job immediately. I will be writing to the school governors and hopefully many others will do too

I have just read on social media about your school … I think this is an absolute scum approach for anyone, especially a so called professional body working with children,

Yours disgusted

To whom can be bothered to read this email

…Since when did deputy heads or heads of school … have the power to carry out what pretty much amounts to the abuse of children …

So where the hell do the repulsive creatures at [the school] get off … you nasty, nasty horrible people!

I sincerely hope the Police take up this issue and investigate [deputy head and headteacher] for what is tantamount to child abuse!

You are clearly not the kind of people who should be put in charge of children or their welfare.

I’ve shared the story about your practices to my social network of 10,000+.

You’re supposed to be preparing children for life after education…

You people are utterly, irredeemably fucked in the head.

I’ve already had responses to my last post accusing me of trying to shut down debate, judging others or of saying that you cannot criticise a school on social media. Also people claiming that, therefore, I should never have criticised anything on social media, even the behaviour of people who abuse others on social media.

Just to be clear, all I am saying is that we should all stop and consider what we are doing, if we criticise a school on social media. And I include myself in this; in the past I’ve shared critical stories that name a school or individual without giving it a second thought. But I would not do that now; I would stop and think through the consequences. I hope to discuss the issue of how we might encourage debate, but discourage hate campaigns, in more detail in a later post.


What’s it like for a school to be shamed? Part 1

August 7, 2016

I’ve written a couple of posts recently about how schools can be “shamed” in the press (usually the Daily Mail) and on social media.

Here, I’m going to show what that is like. I’m not going to name the school (although it won’t take much detective work to figure out which one it is) but the usual patterns apply:

  • the original story appeared in the Daily Mail;
  • it was based on the account of one disgruntled family;
  • the school’s side of events, even over matter of facts, was ignored in the story;
  • people reacting on social media had never visited the school or in most cases heard anything from their side.

If your school is shamed on social media, this is what you can expect sent to the headteacher on Twitter.

What an absolutely vile creature you are.

one nasty piece of work you turned out to be, “lady”. Shame on you.

You’re also vile & not suitable to be … at a children’s school so I hope [you are] maybe 300 [times more likely to be shot dead].

She’s a nasty and vile woman who shouldn’t be anywhere near children!!

I dont think you can even buy compassion for someone like [the headteacher]

What a horrible school and horrible Headteacher…  #ChildAbuse

…an absolute bitch

…she has zero right to be anywhere

…is your name the fuhrer. Seems like your running a nazi regime

[the headteacher] is a typical narcissist. No interest in anyone’s wellbeing but her own. Ignorant, entitled, indulged.

what a creature you are, hope you get the sack fucking moron

fuck off …  you shameful cow

You are a terrible fucking human being, shame on you and your classist bullshit. Resign.

You’re disgusting


You fucking wet lettuce

that[headteacher] bitch is really crazy , i hope this school gets shut down soon

you have a bigotry inappropriate for education,

head lines should be Racist teacher allowed to run school, abuses children

is this not child abuse?

totally pathetic !

you despicable lady You abuse poor children … We should jail you You are a nonce simple as

You failed as a human!

You are a despicable hypocrite,

I shall be among thousands of parents reporting You to Ofsted, expect a visit soon. Your actions are deplorable, a disgrace…

A genuinely poor excuse for a human being..

I grew up on a Salford council estate being patronised & punished by NASTY folk like [the headteacher]

[The school is a]…Victorian workhouse-cum-prison complex w/ more than a hint of techniques & oppression as practised against Aboriginal children in Australia

you are a despicable human being.

I’m pretty sick of living in the same country as likes of [the headteacher]

Pupils should be taught by teachers who care for their wellbeing, not what they earn or popularity.

You’re a disgrace to the profession.

[Deputy head] seems a total c**t

More Miss Trunchbull than respectable teacher.

suck biatch

oh dear. Looks like you should keep your elitist mouth closed. Still, good to identify the cunts in this world. Well done

what a hideous school

What training does this woman actually have as an educator?

You are clearly unqualified to be in education. All lives should matter – point is, black lives in US do not matter right now.

This woman is vile, she runs a school to take her sick fantasies out on children.

You should be stuffed in a oven…. then fed to hungry children.

Bloody lying cunt!

Really nasty bullying of the very worst kind and abuse of power.

[the headteacher] appears to believe that Oliver Twist was a guide on how to run a school

Cruelty promulgated in the name of discipline

it’s hard to believe anyone could be so cruel

what an absolute bunch of heartless cunts

anyone who degrades children in that manner should be absolutely nowhere fucking near them.

[the headteacher] is a piece of work.

You disgust me

[the headteacher] has no place anywhere near childhood education! Disgusting!

she should be banned from teaching, that’s child cruelty

absolutely horrendous to abuse the child like that.

Disgraceful. [the headteacher] should not be allowed near children.

These bullies make the children they have a duty of care over just role play [Charles Dickens]

christ, imagine hating children as much as [the headteacher] does, then imagine actually wanting to go into education with that attitude

Who is her role model? Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS?

I’m pretty sure it ammounts to child abuse

you belong in prison

they’ll be asking the kids to wear a triangle next to further stigmatise them

u r exceeding ur remit madam ,really WTF do u think u are ?

I am interested in what makes you qualified to run a school ? … As you seem to lack the basic qualification, Humanity !

It’s supposed to be place of learning not a f*cking gulag.

What a horrible place your school must be


[the school] Is an example of everything thats wrong with education in the UK … The head is a prejudiced bully destroying kids lives

Hello … You fucking disgust me. … Resign.

I think your behaviour toward the children in your care is despicable.

I actually want to go see her face to face I’m so angry about the treatment of these innocent children its upset me

heartless horrible cow

what an absolute bitch of a woman

stupid cow should be sacked

This is the worst of what I saw tweeted at the school’s headteacher. However, it does not include what was tweeted at other members of staff or at the school Twitter account. There are also lots of other tweets, some simply pointing out to others the Twitter accounts of individuals they can join in with attacking. It gets far worse if you search for names rather than Twitter accounts (I saw one wishing the headteacher “die a slow painful death”). I also missed out some of the more incomprehensible insults, like one suggesting the headteacher, who isn’t white, was a white supremacist or ones claiming the deputy head denies climate change is happening.

I show you this, just to get some of idea of what might happen if you help spread a news story criticising a school. Even if you just intend to debate, or you are convinced the criticism is legitimate, you are helping to subject people to this sort of treatment. You are also ensuring that if you did have some sensible criticism to make of the school, there is no chance it would get through to anybody at the school. And if you do decide to make accusations about a school while this is going on, then you should be aware that nobody will be in a position to answer them, like in all good witch hunts.

Next time I hope to discuss the sort of emails a school gets after being publicly shamed.

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