Thursday, July 16, 2015

Vindictive British school staff can't take criticism

A father of five who posted a picture of a joke T-shirt making fun of his autistic son's school has today revealed police later visited him to ask if it was a threat to staff.

Martin Gillingham, 47, claims a teacher at Matravers School in Westbury, Wiltshire, may have been monitoring his Facebook page and contacted police when they saw his message.

Mr Gillingham posted a picture of a humorous slogan T-shirt, which read: 'I may seem calm and reserved, but if you mess with my kids I will break out a level of craziness that will make your nightmares seem like a happy place.'

Underneath he wrote: 'I think I might wear this to the next parent's evening.'

Weeks later he was amazed when two police officers knocked on his door and told him they were investigating the 'threatening' message after an anonymous tip-off.

He believes the school reported him because he had previously clashed with teachers over the education of his autistic son, claiming they moved him to a new class during an Ofsted inspection.

Mr Gillingham said: 'I posted this picture of a T-shirt as a laugh.

'I thought it was quite humorous, and having had trouble with the school before I added the comment 'I think I might wear this to the next parents evening'.

'I posted it a couple of weeks ago, on May 24, then on July 9 I had a knock on the door and it was the police.

'The officer who attended told me that a complaint had been made about a picture on my Facebook profile. The complaint was that it was a threatening message, and had pictures of guns on it. It's ridiculous, everyone can see it is a joke.

'The police officer wouldn't tell me who had made the complaint, but I think it was a teacher at my children's school. The police aren't doing anything about it, as far as I am aware.

'The officer came across as apologetic. I understand it's normal police procedure so they have to investigate it, but even the officer who visited me told me he thought it was nothing more than banter.'

Mr Gillingham lives in Westbury, Wiltshire, with his wife, Lisa, 47, and their five children, Jordan, 21, Joseph, 16, Jamie, Samuel, 11, and Bethany, seven.

He claims problems with the school began when they decided to 'hide away' his son Jamie, 15, during an Ofsted visit.

Mr Gillingham believes that Jamie and three others were seconded to a mechanics class to stop them causing 'disruption' in front of the inspectors.

He publicised the incident in the local media and believes the school is seeking revenge.

'It appears the school are not trying to punish me for going to the press,' he said. 'But I was only doing what was right.

'I think the school are being vindictive, because I put in a complaint.

'I don't think they like me because I am outspoken, and raise problems when I see them.

'I think they are trying to find a way to discredit me.'

Headteacher of Maltravers School Simon Riding said they were not prepared to comment on the claims made by Mr Gillingham.

In a statement he said: 'We have a clearly accessible and transparent complaints policy which we always encourage parents to use when seeking to resolve a concern.

'As a school it is vitally important that we focus our time on the education of our students.'

A spokesman for Wiltshire police confirmed they visited Mr Gunningham's address after a complaint was made, but a spokesman said that no further action was being taken.

He said: 'We are not taking any further action and as far as we are concerned there is nothing else to add.'


UK: Pupils should stand when teachers enter the room and call them 'Sir' or 'Miss', says chief inspector of schools

Schoolchildren should stand up when headteachers enter the room in a return to traditional discipline, the chief inspector of schools said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said he was dismayed by behaviour in some schools and called for 'grammar school ethos' in every comprehensive.

He said pupils should call their teachers 'Sir' or 'Miss' and teachers should stop referring to youngsters as their 'mate'.

Sir Michael claimed that a quarter of headteachers in secondary schools are 'not good enough', and were hampering progress made in primary schools to improve achievement.

'We have to do something about that ... I want high academic achievement, a culture of no excuses and an atmosphere of scholarship,' he told the Sunday Times.

'I want every comprehensive school to have a grammar school ethos. I want to launch a national debate about the kind of head teachers we want and need.'

Sir Michael called for what has been dubbed a 'renaissance of respect', including pupils being expected to stand when headteachers enter a room.

He said one of his inspectors had been left 'aghast' by pupils refusing to move out of the way for the headteacher.  'She was walking round the school with the head teacher and there was a youngster on the floor in a corner sitting there with a couple of friends eating crisps,' he said.  'She expected the youngsters to stand up. They did not and the head teacher was forced to walk over those prostrate children. She was aghast.'

Sir Michael said he 'held his head in his hands' when watching reality TV shows like Education Essex which showed pupils misbehaving without ever being punished.

He wants pupils to be told to refer to teachers as 'Sir' or 'Miss' and teachers had to change their relationship with the children in their care.

He said headteachers had to stop behaving like social workers, referring to Winston Churchill's comments that 'head teachers are invested with the sort of powers prime ministers can only dream of'.

Sir Michael told teachers: 'Do not call children 'mate'. Do not put your arm around them... The best social work you can do is creating a very orderly, structured environment.'

Inspectors are to be deployed this autumn in a crackdown on 'casual leadership'.

His call for pupils to stand echoes remarks made by David Cameron in 2012 when he praised schools with traditional discipline, including where 'children stand up when their parents or teacher walks in the room... real discipline, rigorous standards, hard subjects'.

It comes after Education Secretary Nicky Morgan warned hundreds of coasting schools face being turned into academies over the next five years.

The Department for Education will introduce strict new rules in a bid to 'shine a spotlight on complacency' at under-performing schools.

The measure is expected to hit schools in middle-class areas which have high-attaining intakes but simply focus on raising pupils over the C-grade borderline.

Schools which fail to meet new standards on progress and attainment over the course of three years will be classified as 'coasting' and face intervention. Up to 900 primary and secondary schools are estimated to be coasting – with hundreds more expected to fall below the standard over the next five years.


Technical Malfunctions Mar Common Core Testing Rollout

The New Hampshire-based company Measured Progress, which developed online Common Core tests used in Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota, has acknowledged a major problem with the test’s rollout.

Technical malfunctions, such as servers crashing during testing, resulted in only 37 percent of Nevada students being able to take their exams. Montana and North Dakota only managed to test 76 percent and 84 percent of students online, respectively.

Though Measured Progress admits the online test completion rate in all three states failed to meet the federal mandate of at least 95 percent of 3rd through 8th graders, the company denies any breach of contract. Measured Progress had the task of rolling out the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced assessments online for all three states.

Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, says the testing complications are not surprising.

“The more parts a machine has, the more there is to break,” said McCluskey. “That’s what we’ve seen with Common Core testing, which is ideally supposed to be computer-based and adaptive, which may be nice if it works, but getting it to work well is tough. That’s a major reason to avoid top-down dictation of standards, tests, or anything else. Let small groups try things, and if they work, others can replicate them. If they don’t, not everyone goes down with the ship.”

Government Blames Vendor

Brent Mead, executive director of the Montana Policy Institute, says officials in his state who support Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) are trying to pass the blame onto Measured Progress for his state’s testing problems. In Montana, there was a testing delay until March.

“Montana’s Office of Public Instruction is the proverbial broken clock,” Mead said. “The OPI was correct in granting flexibility to local districts in administering the SBAC assessment this year, but is steadfast in its wrongheaded support of Common Core and high-stakes testing. While the testing fiasco was in full swing, OPI was going before the legislature opposing testing reform bills and asking for appropriations to write Measured Progress a $1.35 million check next year. Unfortunately, the leadership at OPI will continue to pursue a policy that does not benefit students but will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Measured Progress CEO Martin Borg released this statement concerning the testing failure in Nevada: “We regret that schools in Clark County School District were unable to complete their Smarter Balanced online assessments over the past few days, and we apologize for the frustration and inconvenience that students and educators experienced.

“We are actively working with the state of Nevada on a plan to resolve the difficulties and improve the testing experience for all students,” said Borg in his statement. “We are eager to move forward once we receive the state’s approval of the plan. We continue to work with officials in Nevada to deliver Smarter Balanced online assessments. To date, more than 115,000 students in Nevada have successfully completed Smarter Balanced assessments.”


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