The Antiracist Educator

This is an excerpt from the antiracist educator – The book covers everything from bias and curriculum to racialised trauma. Click here to buy the book.

Introduction to Antiracism for Teachers

“At a time like this, scorching Irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.” (Frederick Douglass, in Foner, 1999, p. x)


Welcome, folx. You’ve picked up a book designed to make you feel uncomfortable, to challenge your thinking and to make your practice and environment a fairer place. Common responses to this type of work include anger, tears, wanting to walk away and sometimes, threats of violence. It’s okay if you experience those feelings. I want you to remember that these feelings are defence mechanisms which stem from the systems and structures of our society. This book is not about you, but that society. The structures that our society are built upon means that there are people who are oppressed, and others who actively benefit from that as a direct result. For this to end, we must face up to the fact that we all have a role in racial equity and must take an active part in fighting injustice in our society.

Racism is often defined solely as acts of physical violence and the use of derogatory terms towards People of Colour. Although violence and words are used within racism, these actions should be seen as symptoms of a greater issue. Racism comes in four forms: Individual, Institutional, Systemic, Internalised.

In this book, we will mainly concentrate on systemic and institutionalised racism. Within school systems, these two forms of racism are the most active and pervasive. Together, we will look at how our actions, ideologies, and thoughts uphold a society in which the journeys of People of Colour are fundamentally different from those of white people.

Systematic and Institutional Racism

In describing society, let us use the analogy of a house. Individual racism is analogous to the violence (whether verbal or physical) that takes place in a room in the house. The impacts of individualised acts of hate are abhorrent. As a Man of Colour, I have experienced these frequently, and as a result, I am well-versed in the damage they can inflict. These acts stem from more ubiquitous structures that provide the impetus for that hate. The allegory stretches to having a hole in the ceiling, which damages the contents of the room. The leak is not produced or caused by the room’s contents but is a symptom of structural issues in the roof.

In our analogy, institutionalised or organisational racism are the rules of the house, which include who can enter which rooms, who can sit at the table, eat at the table, speak at the table, how decisions are made in the house, and so on. I am assuming many of you are asking, ‘How do our organisations propagate racism?’ This is because each school in the UK is part of a wider societal structure that upholds this propagation. By the end of this book you may be better versed to recognise this.

Systemic racism is pernicious in its very nature, but it is the proverbial foundations of society and the foundation of our house; taking it even further, it is the fact that our ‘house’ exists at all. It is essential for us to recognise that racism is not just who we are; instead, in understanding systemic racism, we must realise the structures and walls within which we reside dictate the outcomes for millions of people.

First, let us accept that systemic racism impacts People of Colour and simultaneously does not and cannot have the same effect on white people.

Yes, I am saying that white people cannot be victims of systemic racism.

On the face of it, this may sound unfair.

Come with me here.

Imagine that I, Pran Patel, hate white people (I do not), and in my relative position of power in schools, I refuse to employ white applicants. Think about the consequences. Would this be unfair? Yes, absolutely. Are the white applicants facing an instance of discrimination? Yes. But what happens tomorrow? Those very same individuals apply to any other organisation and are faced with a fair opportunity and an advantage. Nothing, in essence, changes for those racialised as white; the architecture of the system itself is designed by and for them. However, there are obvious stark barriers and differences when considering Teachers of Colour.

[BAME] teachers are, on average, paid less than their peers, commonly face

discrimination and prejudice when applying for jobs or promotion and

typically face both overt and covert racism in the workplace. (Keates, 2021)

Racial prejudice and discrimination are different entities although they are often conflated. An easy way of defining them is that racial prejudice is based around prejudged attitudes towards a group and discrimination is rooted in the actions that stem from those attitudes. Racism, whether individual, institutionalised or systemic, should be seen as a consequence

of the earth on which we built our house. The roots of oppression start with the fact we have inherited this land after a legacy of exploitation and theft. For centuries Brown and Black bodies, lands and resources have been fair game in the hunt for power.

The esteemed Jamaican philosopher Charles W Mills …

To read more click here.

Cultural Capital – Part 1

This series of blogs will interrogate whose cultural capital is valued – Part 1 is based around the foundations of Bourdieu’s work.

French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu describes reality as being given meaning through the social experience of it. He refers to the ‘field’, which is where these three sources of power are exchanged. For example, In an educational setting, we have the macro field, the school on the whole, and then split up into micro ‘fields’. Here are three different examples of staff meetings, the playground and the classroom.

Bourdieu presents the three sources of control (or power) as interchangeable pots, which he refers to as capitals:

1. Economic Capital: This is measured in terms of money, property and other assets.

2. Social Capital: A measure of social influence.

3. Cultural Capital: Split into the institutionalised, such as formal qualifications, and the embodied, for example, a persons’ phonology (accent and dialect). The embodied cultural capital is made up of the implicit unwritten rules and etiquettes and knowledge we pick up within an environment and the objectified which are material artefacts such as works of fine art and books.

Economic capital for Social capital:

We may gain influence by spending money to inhabit the same spaces (golf club membership) to build professional and personal networks.

Economic for cultural capital:

Having the money and time allow people to be able to learn the rules and strive towards qualifications.

Social Capital for Economic Capital:

Social influence means you can exchange these networks for economic gain through winning contracts, selling your products and services to the number of connection you have.

Social capital for cultural capital: 

Having social connection makes you more likely to achieve qualifications. Knowing people who can support those journeys and being in the same spaces as those deemed cultured leads to the social osmotic learning those unwritten rules.

Cultural Capital for Social Capital: 

Knowing the (valued) culture in a conversation enables a connection such as talking about Foucault, Hegel and Hume at a party.

Cultural Capital for Economic Capital 

Cultural capital means you can not only connect with those with wealth but exchange it knowing the rules of engagement and having the formal qualifications in an interaction increase your chance of transacting for material gain.

What is the Habitus?

Eventually, through constant interactions with the rules and the unwritten norms, the cultural capital impacts people’s tendency to behave in specific fields. This set of behaviours is the physical of the embodied cultural capital Bourdieu calls the habitus.

Eventually, through constant interactions with the rules and the unwritten norms, the cultural capital impacts people's tendency to behave in specific fields. This set of behaviours is the physical of the embodied cultural capital… Click To Tweet

Each micro and macro field contains its specific cultural capital; actually, all three capitals; which are exchanged freely. This is evident when we observe school leaders and teachers behaving very differently in the classroom, staff meeting and playground (see diagram also draw a better diagram). This behaviour may give away the leader’s status, teacher or pupil in the hierarchy without any explicit statements. The habitus is not borne of free will or the structures rather; it’s the child of the interplay of both. There is no decree absolute of how a senior leader will act in a staff meeting or in a classroom. There are no fixed rules around what the teacher wears, but we all know the rules and etiquettes exist.

Isabel Wilkerson gives a personal example of observing the habitus in action while on a trip to India researching the Dalit class by stating. 

“began to be able to tell who was the high born and who was low born among the Indian people among us, not from what they looked like, as one might when in the United States, but on the basis of the universal human response to hierarchy is the case of an upper caste person an inescapable certitude in bearing, demeanour, behaviour, a visible expectation of centrality”. 

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste.

"began to be able to tell who was the high born and who was low born among the Indian people among us, not from what they looked like, as one might when in the United States, but on the basis of the universal human response to hierarchy Click To Tweet

Click here for Part 2

Click here for Part 3

Lord Kilclooney Thinks His Words Are Acceptable.

Referring to the Vice Present elect as ‘the indian’ is not only dismissive it upholds white supremacy.

Yes, people make mistakes, however, this was what the lord said about Leo Varadkar Ireland’s Former Taoiseach.

Any complaints alleging breaches to the House of Lords Code of Conduct can be made by following the link below.

Members of the House of Lords are subject to the Nolan Principles.

And here is harassment under the code of conduct.

The form and details are below.


A Headteacher’s letter to parents: Black Lives Matter

This is a letter from a Headteacher to parents. It’s anonymised but if you have any queries please do get in touch. The template is available here.

Dear Parents / Carers,

It has been a deeply upsetting few days seeing the shocking scenes unfold in the USA following the tragic murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests. There are clearly many factors in place in America that have led to the ferocity of the protests. A pandemic that disproportionately impacts on the BAME community, the economic difficulties the pandemic brings which disproportionately impact on the BAME community and finally, but most significantly, a political structure and systems that disadvantage people of colour.

It is too easy to look at the situation in America and dismiss the issues because our police officers do not carry guns. Whilst the right to bear arms clearly add to the problems in the USA, it is not the root cause of the issue. The root cause is the same both in the USA and UK. Our society is built upon white supremacy. On hearing this term our minds immediately jump to the Klu Klux Klan and Nazis. However, white supremacy is much subtler than this. In many instances it is the unidentified bias that sits within the majority of us that white people are superior to people of colour. The world’s systems and structures are built on this bias and this therefore creates White Privilege.

As a school, in a predominantly white area, we have a huge responsibility to ensure that children of all races recognise the existence of white privilege and white supremacy. The curriculum we deliver and class discussions we have, carefully attempt to do this at an age appropriate level. We are constantly evolving our curriculum as we better understand how to celebrate diversity. We aim to educate children so that they are able to make the small adjustments to their own actions which will erode, and ultimately remove, both white privilege and white supremacy.

However, we cannot do this alone. All teachers know that before you can support a child to understand something you must ensure you understand it yourself. We need parents and carers to talk about diversity with their children. Below are a series of links, these will be added to the school website and be updated regularly. They are an excellent starting point to recognise the unidentified biases we all have. During this unusual time the majority of you will have more opportunity than ever to talk to your children. The terrible situation in America can be turned into a positive if it becomes the catalyst for an honest and open conversation with your children. It may be uncomfortable and they will have questions. You don’t need to have all the answers, but opening the dialogue is something we can all do. It will be much more impactful than retweeting a Black Lives Matter poster on Instagram or sharing the latest Nike Video advert on Facebook.

It is not ok to just say you don’t see colour, it is not ok to aim to just not be racist. You must be, and our children must be, anti-racist.

Warm Wishes,


The following links and articles are for adults and are not appropriate to share with children. They are intended to support adult learning:

8 Ways to Remove Bias from your Classroom


The title is a bit of a misnomer as bias is a habit of the mind. Your brain is designed to take cognitive shortcuts. When I was a child, my parents made me go to cubs and then scouts. Yes, I hope you’re imagining a beautiful small chocolate coloured version of me with a cute neckerchief. In case you were wondering, yes, butter wouldn’t melt.

Bias is a habit of the mind. How are you breaking that habit? Click To Tweet

You must visualise the above, because either this confirms your biases about me or poses something new into the mix, importantly both associations are damaging. We should be aiming to make judgements and assertions after getting to know people in the present and exclude actions that happened years ago, but this isn’t easy. Yes, the above and below are true stories.

While in the cubs (younger version of scouts) I remember reading a book about snake before my first camping trip at the time, I learned a rhyme about as snake red before black… is safe and black before … or something like that is not. This rhyme was supposed to differentiate from safe and dangerous snakes.

Eastern Coral Snake on sandy surface

Now, thankfully I never encountered a snake at the jamboree (scout festival). I am not sure how my friends would have thought of me trying to show off my new knowledge proudly, and this is the most likely scenario since, and before, me running a mile. Our brains are not designed to reason and access the knowledge needed to assess the danger they are primarily designed for survival. These associations are natural, and sometimes these associations become distorted; these habits do not make you a morally evil person, but we must endeavour to try and stop them in the classroom.

Recognise and accept you have an array of biases, as societal privilege is geared toward white, cis, male, middle class, native english speaking you probably have a propensity towards these groups. Click To Tweet
  1. Recognise and accept you have an array of biases, as societal privilege is geared toward white, cis, male, middle class, native english speaking you probably have a propensity towards these groups.
  2. Anonymous marking, by this I mean swopping a set of assessments with a colleague and labelling the front only with a number. This process is not a perfect solution, although it will help remove some of the bias.
  3. Try and learn some of your smaller preferences, by that I mean I worked with exam boards for years, and I can tell you that handwriting bias seriously exists.
  4. Negative behaviours are linked to teachers making worse assessments of academic progress, be aware of this in all of your assessments.
  5. Avoid setting, apart from the data that states this is fraught with bias, as soon as you assert that ability based on an arbitrary number/ranking top set, second set, etc. you are leaving yourself prone to bias.
  6. Check your positive biases; these can be as damaging as the negative ones.
  7. Words not tone, when working with pupils of colour this often arises in the behaviour statistics. Check your behaviour logs are Black pupils receiving disproportionate numbers of defiance, talking back, etc. Why is this? When you enter your behaviour logs, try and hold yourself to account by only including the words that were used, not the tone. You’ll be surprised at the difference of what and how you remember.
  8. Start again, we should start lessons with a clean slate and leave discretions that happened in the past in the past. The drawing of a line under experiences is tough, we are prone to leaning back on memories even if this is not conscious. I would advocate a process of accepting and ameliorating. That means understanding that if a pupil has a legacy of annoying you and then asking yourself in each and every interaction, how much of the past annoyance is impacting on your perception today?
Start again, we should start lessons with a clean slate and leave discretions that happened in the past in the past. The drawing of a line under experiences is tough, we are prone Click To Tweet

There are lots and lots more. Bias, racism and misogyny are part and parcel of our minds. We have the choice to be better to counter the ingrained schema; we have that choice. Over to you.

Bias, racism and misogyny are part and parcel of our minds. We have the choice to be better to counter the ingrained schema; we have that choice. Over to you. Click To Tweet

Photo: Patrick K. Campbell/Shutterstock)

Free Guidance and Resources for your Recovery Curriculum

There is a lot of talk about ‘recovery curriculums’ right now and there is a huge amount of guidance available.  Most of this revolves around social and emotional learning (SEL) and for it to be most effective as a tool to support emotional health and wellbeing it needs to be within a whole schools approach.  This ‘C19 recovery guidance for primary schools’ from MmeNdiayeUK is in PowerPoint form to enable it to be used as CPD; it aims to be accessible for those new to SEL as well as expert practitioners; enabling a secure base to be built.  It comes with some resources; further tips to effectively delivering SEL and a menu of activities allowing a flexible curriculum and ‘readjustment period’ so schools can meet the emotional needs of staff and pupils.  There is hope that this pandemic will force the education system to prioritise child welfare and wellbeing (for all) so that it is on a par with academic achievement; something that many of us have been demanding for a while!

Click here for your resources.


Imagine – A School Without Sanctions. Or Rewards.

This is a guest blog from Rachel Tomlinson this blog can here. headteacher of the award-winning Barrowford Primary School in Lancashire, on why her school is a sanction-free and reward-free zone. Controversially.

As many of you know, Barrowford Primary School in Lancashire is reward and sanction free.

The reasons for this are many and varied.

Interestingly there is always a lot of interest in the sanction-free element of our practice – we do not punish children – but the reward-free element seems to attract less attention.

Sign of the times maybe?

Actually, I think the reward-free nature of our practice has as much, if not more, impact as our sanction-free approach. It is now the element that I feel most strongly about.

Others seem to feel strongly about it too if Twitter is anything to go by.

It is important, therefore to clarify that reward-free practice does not mean children go unvalued and unrecognised. Actually, it means the complete opposite. It means that we value an achievement for the effort it has taken at that stage in the process. It is personal recognition on a very individual level.

Why do we do it? Well, amidst the myriad of reasons for not extrinsically rewarding, the one that is keeping me awake right now is about equity.

I have seen so many posts in recent weeks where schools have taken their Celebration Assemblies online and are identifying Stars of the Week or putting children’s work in Halls of Fame or who are critiquing the quality of home learning with red, yellow or green stamps and more.

I completely understand wanting to praise and encourage children who are doing brilliant learning and are engaging with different activities. That’s something that doesn’t have less impact if you do it privately and specifically.

I understand the value of sharing it with others too. We all love a bit of positive feedback after all.

I understand too that here is a huge variation in how much capacity families have for home learning – on all sorts of levels. All families are grappling with this at the moment, whoever they are and whatever their context. This is all the more complex as the children in our classes have never been more diverse. We are not a massive institution but there are almost 400 different stories in our school alone.

Replicate that across the country and we can’t begin to visualise all the different situations and experiences. That said, I think it is worth highlighting a few though as it sheds light on why being reward-free is so important to us.

Imagine you arrived in the country and started school two weeks before that school closed.  You don’t speak English. Your parents don’t speak English. They can’t help you access anything online so, even though you are really good at maths, you can’t log on to the system to complete any of the tasks.

Imagine that your mum and dad are both key workers and you are going to school every day. You can’t concentrate on your learning because you are worried about them getting ill – you’ve heard such a lot on TV. But you don’t want them to be worried about you so you don’t tell anyone and just try and smile and look OK. They get a bit cross when your teacher feeds back that you aren’t demonstrating what you are really capable of.

Imagine that you are a young carer for your mum and, now that school is shut, you’re looking after your two younger siblings too. You don’t have time to sit and do your own learning because you are trying so hard to make sure everyone else is safe and cared for.

Imagine that the only device in the house is your dad’s mobile phone. There are four children and it is really hard to get any time on it to access any home learning. Your dad also needs it for his work. You wish you could get on and do some learning but it is impossible.

Imagine your mum is really strict about getting home learning done even though you feel really sad about missing your friends. She isn’t interested in that though, as her main concern seems to be that she doesn’t want your teacher to think she’s not doing a good enough job. You get lots of virtual Star of the Week award but, you know what? You’d rather just have cosy afternoons every now and again watching films snuggled up with your mum or go for a walk.

Imagine that your world has been turned upside down because you love school! Normally, you love learning and are enthusiastic about it but at the moment you don’t have any energy to do any because you are missing your routine, your teacher and your friends so much. You feel even worse because your teacher keeps sending emails to your parents saying you haven’t accessed the learning and they are getting cross with you.

Imagine your aunt died last week and your dad can’t stop crying and getting angry because he couldn’t go to see her in the hospital before she passed away. You’re not allowed to go to her funeral. You miss her a lot and your cousins keep Facetiming you because they are sad and scared.

Imagine you have really engaged in learning this week and have written the best story you have ever produced. But someone else has got Star of the Week.

Imagine that your mum cries every day because she has so much of her own stuff to do as well as looking after the children, that she feels inadequate because you need her help to get into the Hall of Fame and she can’t give it.

Imagine you have done all the home learning as you always do and you get Star of the Week. You wish you hadn’t, though ,because now all your friends are calling you names on the PS4.

Imagine that you have your own room and a variety of devices that you can choose to complete your learning on. Your parents have loads of time and energy to support you.  When you have finished, it is great because you chat to your friends on whatever social media platform you choose. Life is ok – it’s a bit different from normal and sometimes you are a bit worried, but usually you are good. You got Star of the Week that first week so you know you probably won’t get it again but that is alright, you will still get everything done. You’ll be ok.

When we made the decision about ten years ago as a school not to reward in this fashion, we involved the children in the discussions about it.

When we asked them what they felt about our Star of the Week Awards, they replied, ‘We know you like them!’, ‘When we get it we just know it’s because it’s our turn!’, ‘We know when we’re not going to get it, no matter how hard we work, because it isn’t our turn!’.

When we asked what they needed when they had done something they were proud of, they told us they just wanted someone whose opinion they valued to know about it and share that brilliant feeling, in the moment.

So that’s what we do. All day, every day. Online and offline. It’s personal.

Every single member of our school community is navigating their very own personal boat in this very unusual and seemingly endless storm at the moment. Surely each and everyone deserves celebrating and their individual achievements – whatever they might be – noticing.

Life isn’t a Pinterest board. It is far more gritty and complex and colourful and unpredictable and, let’s be honest, exciting than that!

We need to unite and not divide our communities right now.

And, actually, always.

Rachel Tomlinson is the headteacher of Barrowford Primary School in Lancashire and is the embodiment of our philosophy that there is always another way. The “hang ‘em and flog ‘em brigade” hate her.

Finding Your Dream Job Part 3

The daunting bit, you found a school you know yourself and now to put yourself across on paper to be considered. This whole process is a scary proposition as in applying for any role we make ourselves vulnerable.

If you haven’t read my two previous blogs on you and the school please do have a look at those here and here.

Vision boarding

Vision boarding is the first part of a method that I put together a decade ago to align my actions with my thoughts and beliefs strategically. We started this process In the ‘you’ section of these blogs. Get yourself a piece of paper and a pen. In the corners of a triangle, write ‘my vision’ ‘the school’s vision’ and finally ‘our joint vision’.

Let’s start with the school, look again at the OFSTED report, the school’s dashboard, school website, Facebook, Twitter and Mumsnet. To find out the way the school operates, what is the school’s day today? You must build an idea not only in your head but on this sheet of paper. The next task here is to write the culture of the school in the language used in your research. 

For example, in applying for a head of year role when talking about behaviour systems if the website talks primarily around social justice and restorative practices use that in the vision boarding process do not be tempted to bastardise these into your lexicon.

Now move onto the ‘you’ section off the triangle. First, read the job description and write down your vision for the role, do not consider any obstacles here, this is magic wand time; If you had all of the resources and all of the time what would the position look?

In the centre of the triangle now write down every single leadership and teaching experience that you are proud of, this is not the time to be humble, write down everything supporting colleagues in the next classroom, pupils across the school, everything.

Now, we are nearly at the stage where we start writing. The trick is to merge the visions, examples and language while putting your best self forward. Before you do there is another task structure your examples in the form of the STAR method (keep these somewhere they’ll be used in both application and interview stages).

Situation: Describe the task that you needed to accomplish. Think specifics this not a generalised description of what was done. Details here are crucial and remember the person reading your application usually doesnt know you.

Task: What were the aims?

Action: What did you do? Describe your efforts, keep this centred on you. Here write in the first person or write in the third person and adapt back from we to I.

Result: The time for humble pie is over; what was the outcome? What part did you play in it? What were all the positives? Was there any personal reflection and learning involved?

Time to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. I always start with a paragraph dedicated to core purpose, if you are struggling, ask yourself why you are teaching. Then ask again until you get down to the root of your reasons for your chosen career.

“I fundamentally believe that all pupil should be afforded the same life opportunities regardless of…”

Now for the rest of the application. 

  1. Your statement is about including the best things; it is not a chronological plot of your career, remember your letter comes with your job history. Why duplicate what is already there? The trick is in the choosing of what to include more is not necessarily better. 
  2. Use the examples from the above task to show off your skills related to the job description.
  3. Use a formal setting, salutations and keep the tone professionally engaging.
  4. Avoid abbreviations, yes you may know what LAC, CLA, HAP, HPA, NSR, etc. are but does the reader?
  5. As you rise the ranks, where you have to cut, remove your practice in the classroom. It is already assumed that you are an excellent practitioner at senior levels. Don’t include bumph is serve no one.
  6. Proofread, proofread and then proofread the letter again. I personal believe grammar and the quality of English shouldn’t be a consideration in an application, but it is. I once had feedback that I had a single typo in my letter.

The next blog is on the interview and links to the previous two on You and the School. If you want a personalised career coaching session do get in touch.

How Many Teachers Have Actually Died of COVID 19?

This piece is from Karam Bales, a member of the national executive of the NEU. Karam is writing in a personal capacity.

I’ve been looking into deaths of educators, the few reports of death figures circulating in some parts of the press came from my original research on the day the ONS figures were released. When it was released there was much talk about the number of COVID deaths in various occupations but no mention of educators, which I did find odd as I had seen several reports in previous weeks regarding the number of educators who had died. 

ONS data on deaths by occupations: The data as of 20th April and I believe collection began around 10th March.

Although teaching professionals are covered in the major subgroups I went through the extensive data to find other occupations working in education settings. This is what I found:

Seventy-five confirmed COVID deaths for Education & Childcare staff.

.Teachers 43 

.Teaching assistants 10

.Lollipop ladies 6 

.Childminders 6 

.Principals 4 

.Nursery & play-workers 4 

.School secretaries 2 

And the total number of deaths from all causes for teachers was 238.

For comparison:

Nurses COVID: 38 total: 127

Police officers COVID: 9 total: 39

Bus+coach drivers COVID: 30 total: 79

Postal workers COVID: 20 total: 80

Cleaners(work/domestic/street) covid: 42 total: 206

Of course, this is only raw data, and we need to look at a measure like the percentage of deaths per thousand workers for a more accurate picture. There is more data available for teaching professionals, so I decided to look at them in more detail.

The comparison that has been made that the death rate in teachers is lower than healthcare workers and equivalent to other similar professions. The comparator being used is Business, civil and public service professionals (this is quite a broad category covering office workers to those involved in social services and public health). With everything going on in the past few weeks.

In the data, the death rate of confirmed COVID deaths in teaching professionals is around 8% higher than the Business and public health professionals, this does seem statistically significant.

However, what does concern me is the total deaths of teachers in these two months being 238. I believe this could show a significant excess of unconfirmed. I wanted to find a five year average of in-service teaching deaths to calculate an excess deaths figure, but I haven’t been able to find it when searching in the occasional scraps of spare time I have.

However, I did find this report from the NAHT that had looked at the 2018 school workforce statistics that are published annually. Total deaths for the whole of 2018 for in-service deaths was 130.

I find the fact that 130 teachers died in the whole of 2018 compared to 238 in a two month period alarming, suggesting a possible excess death rate of upwards of 200. The question has to be asked what is the cause, and how many are undiagnosed COVID?

Considering testing is only recently becoming more readily available and was reserved primarily for healthcare workers, I feel it can be assumed that there would be less unconfirmed COVID deaths in healthcare workers than in teaching professionals. It is also worth noting that while some of these deaths will be from infections contracted before the partial closure of schools, for most the period covered by the ONS report we have only had an average of around 2-5% of students in the building. I think it is essential to know the risks before student numbers increase particularly considering that many infant schools which aren’t attached to a junior school will be expected to have around 70% of their students back in school within a couple of weeks.

With the safety of increasing student numbers in schools a pressing issue, with statements being made that teachers are less at risk than other occupations. I believe that trying to make sense of these statistics is vital in informing the debate. 

The data is openly available from ONS we would welcome any answers from anyone. I have been told today that official figures will be released in the next few week to make a better comparison, I’ll update this piece as soon as I have that data.

“SATs are about the Accountability of Staff not about Students’ Education” Nick Gibb

This piece is from Karam Bales, a member of the National Executive for NEU. writing in a personal capacity. Here he analyses the responses to the education committee and matches them with tweets sent out by @commonsEd.

Who is convinced by these answers on increasing student number?

Education Committee


🚨On Wednesday 27 May we’ll be questioning @NickGibbUK and Andrew McCully from @educationgovuk on the DfE’s response to and plans to reopen schools.

Read more about the session here: 

And follow this thread for live updates 👇

We are questioning Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for School Standards. Watch live on Wednesday 27 May at 9.30am.
SAGE said an effective contact tracing system should be well established before increasing students, Social distancing is essential and that RO should be lower than it currently it.

Education Committee


Chair @halfon4harlowMP asks Nick Gibb which of the reopening scenarios modelled by SAGE was chosen by the DfE.@NickGibbUK says that the DfE is ‘totally led by the science’. SAGE will announce tomorrow whether the 5 tests have been met and if it is safe for schools to return.

Children with symptoms can get tested, Isn’t the main reason they say it’s fine to open schools is that most of them are asymptomatic? How does that help to prevent transmission into the community?

Education Committee


Chair @halfon4harlowMP asks whether there will be a full track and trace mechanism for schools.

Minister @NickGibbUK says that testing will be available to all staff and pupils with symptoms, including children under the age of 5.

Regarding insurance and liability, DfE hasn’t spoken to insurers, particularly important for Independent sector.

When asked about developing trust Gibb used the stock answer denied real detail for many questions ‘led by the science’

Education Committee


@DSimmonds_RNP asks about insurance.

‘Insurance is critical issue for schools. What discussions have there been with the insurance industry to ensure they are happy with risk management?’

Andrew McCully says there has been no direct discussion with insurers.

This is an answer for @MoreThanScore when asked why year 6 and not year 5? Nick Gibb confirms SATs are about accountability of staff not about student’s education.

Education Committee


@JEGullis asks about Year 5 and SATs.

He is ‘baffled’ that the DfE is not bringing in year 5 over year 6 as they are the ones who will be facing SATs exams, and will be under pressure to catch up.

Nick Gibb says SATs provide accountability for the school, not for pupils.

On PPE across education settings, it pointed out the guidance is similar to that which originally applied to care homes and led to disaster. Gibb says he’s led by the science, but then a few minutes later gives an answer that appears to be more a supply issue

Education Committee


But @IanMearnsMP says that @educationgovuk advice for schools on PPE ‘echoes what was told to care homes two months ago, advice which has had to change’.

Nick Gibb says ‘I can only give you the advice that we have. PPE is a scarce resource’.

Education Committee


@JEGullis follows up on SATs.

‘They do have a huge impact on children, because they are used by the Fischer Family Trust to determine target grades. They impact the educational path children may go on.’

Nick Gibb says that no-one asks people how they did in SATs in later life.

DfE not modelled impact on disadvantaged, when questioned about online guidence taking a month after lockdown he said priority was resources. Someone should have asked if any planning was done before lockdown? I’ve seen no evidence of planning b4 lockdown

Education Committee


@halfon4harlowMP now asks about the timeliness of DfE guidance.

‘Why did @educationgovuk take a month to issue clear guidance on remote education to schools?’

Nick Gibb says the most urgent task was to get free materials online.

Interesting contradiction here, when it comes to keeping track of disadvantaged and vulnerable it’s down the heads judgement, however, when it comes to the timing of increasing student numbers and which students the heads aren’t trusted.

Education Committee


@halfon4harlowMP asks about children not in school.

‘There are a lot of children not getting education. Are you monitoring those children and schools, to check learning is going on at home?’

Nick Gibb says they trust schools, and schools are accountable for their results.

Gibb dodged a question on why FSMs are not being offered over the summer holidays, just pretended it hadn’t been asked FSM vouchers had bumpy start but are doing fine now Is that the case?

Education Committee


@KimJohnsonMP asks about funding.

‘With more children now defined as vulnerable as a result of the crisis – what additional funding will be made available to help those children?’

Nick Gibb says the voucher system had a ‘bumpy start’ but more money per meal is now available.

What the @CommonsEd havent put up here are some of the questions on laptops, luckily I took my own notes. Gibb began with ‘I want to pay tribute to officials for tremendous work’ 200k laptops will be delivered this month and next. Shouldn’t this have been in place in March?
As with the guidance for increasing student numbers, it seems work on supporting students during lockdown only began after the announcement was made.
There is already a ridiculous amount of confusion about the guidance regarding reception, are they early years or primary? What size bubble should they have?
Appears the DfE doesnt know and leaders have 4 days to plan
KT Thompson #instinctive 🇪🇺@thepetitioner

The Government’s own guidance for children aged 5 & under in schools (half the year groups being sent back) states they are not expected to socially distance, making this a v dangerous & contradictory comment from @NickGibbUK @karamballes @MaryBoustedNEU @NAHTnews @RLong_Bailey 


Clinically vulnerable teachers are safe to work in schools, provided social distancing measures are in place, the schools minister, @NickGibbUK, has said 

As for the clinically vulnerable, Gibb comments about as long as social distancing is possible goes against the DfE’s own primary guidance

Issues around vulnerable staff already occurring with advice being put out to schools, see here.