A Guide To Scenes From The Battleground

September 2, 2018

I have updated this guide for the holidays.

This blog is about the state of secondary education. There is an introduction to it here:

And some reflections on it here:

Here is a summary of my main points:

Here are a few posts written purely for a laugh (although some of them perhaps make a point at the same time):

The following posts sum up what is typical in schools these days in various respects:



Teachers and Managers:

Special Needs:

School Life:


As well as the advice for teachers included in many of the other posts, I have written advice specifically for new teachers:

These deal more directly with my own personal experiences, or the experiences of others:

I have also written a number of posts exploring and explaining how this situation came to be, discussing the arguments in education and suggesting what can be done.


Apologia and arguments:

Progressive Education:



Education Policy and Current Affairs:



The College of Teaching:

Children’s Mental Health

School shamings and witch hunts

Teaching and Teachers:

Educational Ethics and Philosophy:

Education Research and Academics

The Curriculum

Here are some videos I found on the internet which I thought were interesting, or relevant, enough to present in a blog post. Some will probably no longer be available, I hope to correct this where possible when I get the chance.

I wrote about some of the myths that are spread to teachers, often in INSET or during PGCEs:

I have also outlined what I would expect from schools willing to do put things right:

Here are my book recommendations:

This may be of interest if you are considering writing a blog or are looking for blogs to read:

You may also have found me…

Here’s an idea for using Twitter to advertise teaching jobs:

I have also written sections in the following three books:

Please let me know if any of the links don’t work.

Finally, I can be found on Facebook (please “friend” me) or Twitter (please “follow” me).

If you want to keep up with education blogging other than mine, or to see some of these same concerns discussed by others, then you should follow my sister blog, The Education Echo Chamber. The blog is here. The twitter feed is here. The sister blog to the sister blog is The Echo Chamber Uncut which automatically shares all UK education blogs. The blog is here. The twitter feed is here. There are details of some “mini Echo Chambers” here.



  1. I thought I’d read all of the posts and then I found The Kennedy Assassination. So funny, so true.

    Thank you for this blog, it must take a lot of time and effort but it really does keep my hopes up to know that there are some sane and decent people left in education.

  2. Thank you very much.

  3. Granny is right. Great stuff. And HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! Isn’t it wonderful? Of course I’m about to go into school… but I’m so relieved I have time to get the work done!

  4. […] I Call It Hell The Naughty Boy The Disruptive Girl How To Find Out If Your Teacher Is Gay Unsol Source Art and graphic design schools – […]

  5. After the libertarian campaign to send a copy of 1984 to every M.P. with a message ‘this is a warning, not a template’, how about a similar campaign to send a copy of Frank Chalk’s book to every M.P.?

  6. At the risk of ignoring the main point of your comment, the misinterpretation of 1984 as some kind of parable about creeping authoritarianism is something that really winds me up.

    The book is inspired by Stalinism and Nazism, neither of which came about because mainstream parties gradually eroded civil liberties, but because of explicitly totalitarian parties, with their own armed groups, taking over the state due to the weakness (not the authoritarianism) of the established regimes. Both are cases where a bit more repression and a few less civil liberties could have nipped the problem in the bud.

    With regard to the point about politicians, MPs are not going to be able to change this. It would take an education secretary with the utmost determination many years to make a difference. No amount of lobbying by backbenchers will make a blind bit of difference.

  7. 1982 is my favourite book of all time. It doesn’t say how the circumstances came about but Hitler does say in his book (Mein kampt) that the way to control people is a slice at a time, if they saw the final goal they would be horrified. The Nazi’s didn’t do it all as soon as they achieved power, they did it bit by bit.

  8. It depends what you mean by “do it all”, but the Nazis most certainly didn’t discreetly erode civil liberties while pretending to maintain democracy. They were always explicitly anti-democratic and in favour of overthrowing the constitution. The myth that totalitarianism results from subtle changes in civil liberties over time by apparently democratic governing parties is precisely that: a myth.

  9. I love Old Blood and Guts! I know it was meant for laughs, and it is hilarious, but it really inspires me to go out there and be a better teacher.

  10. Neither the Nazis nor the Communists overthrew a functioning democracy by force. The Communists replaced the Tsar’s Russia, which had all the necessary apparatus of repression already in place. The Nazis overthrew the Weimar Republic which was the sort of authoritarian statist regime towards which we are now heading, ruled by presidential decrees overriding the Reichstag whenever the civil service thought that expedient. In short, the Nazis didn’t destroy democracy in Germany; the Social Democrats did that. The Nazis where the winners of the ensuing power struggle.

  11. I don’t think that anyone here has claimed the Communists in Russia over threw a functioning democracy. However, you are simply wrong if you think “the necessary apparatus of repression [was] already in place”. There is no comparision.

    As for the Weimar Republic being an “authoritarian statist regime”, in which parallel universe? And how would that contradict it being a democracy anyway?

  12. […] I have found OldAndrew’s blog to be a fascinating source of information about British secondary school education. I especially recommend his Guide to Scenes from the Battleground […]

  13. This is an absolutely brilliant blog. I’ve only just stumbled across it and am so impressed by the range of blogs and how informative and funny they are. I will certainly be recommending it to my friends and colleagues. I am a Further Education lecturer but so many of the issues are relevant and it seems our concerns re. bureaucracy,Ofsted and incompetent senior managers have a lot in common! Keep up the good work!

  14. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mister Teacher, Andrew Old. Andrew Old said: A Guide To Scenes From The Battleground.: As usual I have updated this guide for the holidays. This blog is about … http://bit.ly/ahrGXB […]

  15. to oldandrew

    another suggestion for the blogs:

    “The Whinger?”

    ‘I have more marking or classes than anyone else’
    ‘I always get the bottom sets’
    ‘I always get the rubbish classroom’
    ‘I should not be on the duty/break rota as I work harder thatn everyone else’
    ‘why doesnt anyone listen to me in meetings’
    ‘this school only appoints externals’
    ‘this school only appoints internals’
    ‘why should I be a tutor this year?’

    • Can’t do that one. I remember the year I did get the rubbish classroom. It half-killed me, so I’m sure I whinged and I feel I had every right to whinge.

      (Actually I would be annoyed about anybody who whinged about getting bottom sets. I love bottom sets. They are so grateful that anyone can be arsed to teach them.)

  16. fair enough re the classroom.

    but what about the other things?

    i’m sure your readership would recognise the type

  17. oldandrew I’ve been taking your regular postings for granted. You’re obviously busy but this is just to let you know how much you’re missed!! I check your site every day…hope the next post isn’t too long coming…

    • Here here. I hope you find the time soon to continue posting.

  18. Thanks for the guide. I have a lot of reading to do at least I know where to start.

  19. I’ve recently started reading your blog, and I find myself glad to be in the area I’m in. I am not one of the ‘good’ kids at my school, but I find myself appalled at these kids’ actions. Not being as morally constrained as others would allow me to act faster than the others and knock any kid(s) acting out like that down a peg or five. Admittedly, violence and/or psychological scarring would be higher up on my list of actions than most others, but mainly because I’ve seen it work. I vaguely remember a quote about a similar topic. It goes along the lines of “Those unwilling to dirty their hands with blood should be honoured, but we should be vigilant that they not get to make these difficult decisions.”

    There’s more than one way to take a kid down a peg.

  20. I would like to clarify a point. In your introduction to this you state ‘This blog is about the state of secondary education’. This is inaccurate. The blog is actually the rumblings of an intelligent but cynical and deeply out of date individual. The viewpoints expressed are not fact; I would suggest that many of them are as far from fact as humanly possible. You seem to spend your time taking apart anything that doesn’t match your very narrow view of education rather than embrace difference and parental preference as a driving force for whether the education being offered is suitable or not. It is sad that whilst using social media you seem to go out of your way to belittle other viewpoints whilst expecting everyone to accept yours as some sort gift from above!

    I stumbled across this site and I won’t be returning to see your no doubt pithy and belittling response

    • I’m a parent. I love this blog.

      What I see happening in my kids’ school fills me with horror but I really don’t want to teacher-bash.

      It’s great to know that there are (many?) teachers out there who see what we parents see and are as appalled by it as we are.

      Parental preference is for kids who behave, allowing teachers to teach.

  21. I am a current teacher.
    I work in a reasonably good school.
    I have worked in good and bad schools over the years.

    I think Old Andrew has an excellent and profound grasp of the reality of UK state education.

    I dont always agree with him, but I have always found him to be civil and coherent in debate.

    Having said that, I do actually agree with 90% of his opinions- as does virtually every teacher (and parent) I have ever met.

    My only compliant about him is that he doesn’t post enough….

  22. A fantastic, well written account exposing the ‘state’ of state education. Can’t fault the ideas; I agree wholeheartedly. The only problem: how the hell do we change things?

  23. […] Old Andrew, Tom Bennett and redorgreenpen for […]

  24. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  25. Only just found this blog & have shared the link on Facebook. Blunt, matter of fact, true, with a witty spin … I recognise so much of my own experience and observation in what I’m reading here, which is comforting in some degree (it’s not just me), frustrating that the powers that be do not get the realities of teaching that are so clearly expressed here, and sad that the blog posts present such an accurate picture of the state of secondary education today.

  26. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  27. […] was also impressed with @OldAndrewUk‘s updated collection of articles here: A blog about secondary education: an enormous wealth of […]

  28. […] you haven’t read Scenes From The Battleground already, @oldandrewuk has curated his blog to summarise his whole philosophy. Cutting through the hype and hypocrisy, one post at a […]

  29. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Really like what you’re doing. Keep it up from everyone here are Hashtag Tuition HQ!

  30. […] mentioning this blog. It’s been going over nine years and there is a guide to all the posts here. I am hoping it will be more active this year than last year, and it will remain the first place to […]

  31. You are a legend. I spent a whole sleepless night reading your blog and I love it. In NZ the problems are the same: teachers blamed for poor behaviour, excessive workload and the removal of knowledge from the curriculum. Hence this will be my last year teaching. After 9 years I admit defeat. Shame because I actually love teaching when student behaviour is under control.

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