Friday, August 02, 2013

British grade-school dinner lady sacked for 'negligence, carelessness or idleness' after she accidentally served ham to a Muslim pupil

Even though the kid asked for it!

A primary school dinner lady has been sacked for accidentally serving pork to a Muslim pupil.  Alison Waldock, 51, 'forgot' the seven-year-old dietary needs when she asked if the schoolgirl wanted gammon and the youngster said yes.

The school's headteacher spotted the mistake as the youngster was about to tuck into the meat and swept the plate away from her.

The girl's parents were then told how close their daughter had come to eating the meat, which is banned in their religion.

They complained to the school's catering firm and Ms Waldock, a dinner lady for 11 years, was suspended pending an investigation.

She insisted she had made an honest mistake and had simply lost track of all the dietary requirements of the children at Queen Edith Primary School in Cambridge.

But she was dismissed a month later for gross misconduct due to 'negligence, carelessness or idleness'.

Ms Waldock, a mother-of-two, said: 'I feel the school and catering company made me a scapegoat so they can't be seen as politically incorrect.

'I was really upset when I found out what I'd done. I'd never have done something like this on purpose. It was a simple mistake - I was so gutted with the school's reaction.

'I'm now too scared to take any similar catering jobs with the council.  'I don't think I will ever work as a dinner lady again. I don't want to go through all this again - it has been horrible.'

Ms Waldock, of Cambridge, added there were around 40 pupils with various dietary requirements and it was impossible to keep track of them with the lists she was given.

British Muslim groups said Ms Waldock's sacking was 'heavy-handed' and an 'overreaction'.  Inayat Buglawala of campaign group Muslim4UK said: 'Mistakes occasionally happen. I'm sure the overwhelming majority of Muslim parents would be understanding.  'Dismissing a dinner lady for inadvertently serving pig meat is an overreaction.

'The most sensible way to rectify such mistakes is to improve awareness of the pupils' dietary requirements while apologising to the pupils and their parents.'

Ms Waldock said she immediately apologised after realising her error.  She said: 'I went out and apologised to the headteacher, who was obviously annoyed. I said I was sorry and that it was a mistake.

'A week later there was an investigation and I was told that the school did not want me on site.  'I was gobsmacked. I haven't been back since. I feel so let down by the school. I had worked there a long time. I just made a mistake and I am sorry.'

Lunchtime UK operations director Peter McAleese said: 'Anyone losing their job is regretful. But there was a full and transparent procedure that Alison went through - as well as an appeals procedure which she lost.'

A spokesperson for Lunchtime UK added: 'Following an incident involving Alison Waldock at one of our schools a full investigation was carried out prior to suspending her on full pay.

'A standard disciplinary procedure ensured which resulted in Alison Waldock being dismissed for gross misconduct.

'She was represented by the GMB union throughout the whole procedure and is now entitled to appeal through the tribunal system.'

But headteacher of Queen Edith Primary School said this was not the first time Ms Waldock had made a mistake over pupils' dietary requirements.

Head Teacher Caroline Peet, said: 'We understand from Lunchtime UK that this was not a one off event and due to the significant number of children involved the company treated the issue with the seriousness it deserved.

'As her employer it was wholly up to Lunchtime UK to decide what appropriate action to take.

'The school reflects and celebrates the diverse cultures that make up the community it serves and respects the beliefs and values of our children and parents.'

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: 'I feel desperately sorry for her. If she'd served gammon to a vegetarian would she have been fired? I think not.'


Most British  free schools (charters) rated 'good' or 'outstanding'

Three-quarters of the Government’s flagship “free schools” have been awarded the highest marks in official inspections, it emerged today.

New figures show that 18 out of 24 schools opened as part of the Coalition’s controversial education reform programme have been rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

The disclosure is being seen by ministers as an official vindication of the policy in the face of heavy criticism by teaching unions.

Under the reforms, a new generation of taxpayer-funded schools are run by parents’ groups, teachers, charities and faith organisations completely free of local authority control.

Unions claim free schools lack proper local accountability and have been placed in the hands of unsuitable organisations. It has also been claimed that some have been allowed to open in towns with an existing surplus of places – pulling pupils away from other schools in the area.

But the Department for Education said the results were an "encouraging start" to the programme, even though five of the schools “require improvement” and one was declared “inadequate” by inspectors.

The DfE insisted that those given a low rating would be closed or placed in the hands of another top performing head teacher if they fail to improve.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said: "Too often the best schools are only available to the rich who can afford to go private or pay for an expensive house in the catchment area of a good school.

"Free schools are giving all parents - not just the rich - the choice of a high quality school with great teaching and strong discipline."

Some 24 free schools were opened in 2011 – the first year of the programme.

All of these schools have now been inspected by Ofsted. Of those, four were rated outstanding, 14 good, five require improvement and one was inadequate.

The figures are roughly in line with the ratings given to all state schools across England.

Ofsted data shows that – as of March 31 – some 22 per cent of state schools are outstanding and 57 per cent were good.

In total, there are now 81 open free schools, with another 200 set to open from September onwards. They will eventually cater for around 130,000 pupils.

Natalie Evans, director of the New Schools Network, a charity set up to help drive the programme, said: “This year’s report card shows a strong set of results for the first Free Schools. These schools are pioneers in every sense and to achieve a good or outstanding Ofsted judgment in just two years, having set up a school from scratch, is very impressive.

“Free Schools that were open at the start of this academic year received an average of three applications for every place for the coming September – demonstrating a huge demand for these great new schools. I am sure that these results will only serve to intensify their popularity.”


Australia: State govt. Slams Federal Technical College Takeover Bid

Kevin Rudd’s latest plot to takeover Queensland’s TAFEs has been panned by Education, Training and Employment Minister John-Paul Langbroek.

Mr Langbroek said Kevin Rudd has just two answers to any policy question, throw more money at it or take it over.

“Mr Rudd wanted to take over hospitals a few years ago, but instead stood idly by while $103 million in Federal funding was ripped out of Queensland’s health system,” Mr Langbroek said.

“Now Kevin Rudd is in the process of trying to take over schools while today’s thought bubble is a TAFE takeover.

“After what he did to Pink Batts, the Carbon Tax, the School Halls shambles and other policy disasters, we don’t want him anywhere near Queensland’s TAFEs.”

Mr Langbroek said the Prime Minister wanted to accumulate responsibilities like properties on a monopoly board.

“The last thing we need to address a skills shortage is a federal takeover of TAFE,” he said.

“Time and time again, Kevin Rudd has proved his ineptitude at managing policy implementation.

“Queenslanders can’t afford for him to tamper with TAFE and jeopardise the quality of our training.”

Mr Langbroek said the Newman Government had released a detailed action plan for Vocational Education and Training in Queensland.

“Great Skills. Real Opportunities is a comprehensive policy response based on recommendations from an industry led taskforce,” he said.

“If we are to continue growing a strong, four pillar economy, Queensland must look at ways of increasing productivity and increasing participation in the workforce.

“To boost productivity and participation we want more Queenslanders gaining quality qualifications that are needed in the economy.

“We are lifting quality by creating a contestable training market which will encourage innovation in service delivery, course content and training outcomes.”

Mr Langbroek said the Federal Government had the opportunity to support these desperately overdue reforms but was resisting at every step of the way.

“We signed a National Partnership on Skills Reform in April 2012, but not one dollar flowed to Queensland for 14 months because the Federal Government played politics with the issue,” he said.


Thursday, August 01, 2013

Arkansas Teachers Head Back to School This Fall Armed with Concealed Handguns

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, the NRA  proposed putting armed guards in schools to increase safety. Now, one town in Arkansas is doing just that—but with school staff rather than professional security guards.

With 53 hours of training under their belts, more than 20 administrators, teachers and school employees in Clarksville, Ark., will head back to school this August packing a 9mm handgun, AP reports.

"The plan we've been given in the past is 'Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,'" Superintendent David Hopkins told AP. But as deadly incidents continued to happen in schools, he explained, the district decided, "That's not a plan."

Although most proposals to put armed guards in schools after Newtown went nowhere thanks to “resistance from educators or warnings from insurance companies that schools would face higher premiums,” Arkansas already had a law on the books that allows “licensed, armed security guards on campus,” according to AP. The extensive training school staffers in Clarksville received allows them to be considered guards.

Students will not know which faculty and staff will be carrying weapons, although signs will be posted at each school about the armed guards—already a greater deterrent than declaring schools as ‘gun-free zones’.


British Judge hits out at 'foolish, overbearing and demanding' parents who bombarded private school with complaints - then sued when children were asked to leave

A couple who sent a barrage of emails and letters to their children’s school have been strongly criticised by a High Court judge.

The unnamed French couple were described as ‘foolish, overbearing and demanding’ after swamping independent Hall School, Wimbledon, south west London, with complaints that verged on the ridiculous.

In one complaint the mother – who sent most of the communication – said she was unhappy that their six-year-old daughter had been scored an A and not an A+ in a spelling test.

In another, she wrote about her concerns over the 'unhygienic' position of her son’s water bottle in the classroom.

The school was left no choice but to ask the parents to take the children out of the school, sparking the legal battle in which the parents claimed a breach of contract.

However, taking the side of the school, judge Jeremy Richardson said their behaviour ‘went well beyond the realms of even the most zealous, some might say pushy, parents’.

Describing the ‘enduring nightmare’ that the school suffered at their hands, Judge Richardson said: 'The focus of any school should be on the education and welfare of the children who attend it. Of course, parents need to play a full role and take a keen interest in their children. That is right and proper.

'But equally , parents must - and most do - appreciate that school is a community which needs to be permitted to get on with its principal task of educating children collectively. No school should be bombarded with unwarrantable demands by parents.

'Teaching and other staff bear a high responsibility in what they do. Looking over their shoulders for fear of litigious parents is one aspect of their professional lives they could well do without.

'It is also of critical importance that teachers and others of whatever rank feel able to express their views with candour.'

The couple were seeking £50,000 in damages from the school, claiming teachers backtracked on a deal to give their children good references after they were withdrawn from the institution.

But the businessman and his wife, who cannot be identified to protect their two sons and daughter whom the judge described as 'delightful', were the 'authors of their own misfortune', the judge said.

He said the meddling parents' case was unseemly and without one shred of believable evidence to support it.

Tensions between the parents and staff worsened when headteacher Tim Hobbs insisted on being present during meetings between them and teachers.

But it was at a subsequent parents' evening last summer when the couples' behaviour left staff 'visibly shaken'.

The couple confronted teachers, kept one member of staff in discussion for 45 minutes and left two senior members of staff extremely upset.

The judge brushed aside the father’s insistence that the meeting had been simply 'lively', and described both the mother and father's conduct as 'appalling'.

Headteacher Tim Hobbs had then asked for the children to be withdrawn - or they would be expelled - as the relationship between the family and the school had broken down.

He said the children must leave through no fault of their own, with the next term’s fees waived and deposits returned, due to the irretrievable breakdown in trust.

Mr Hobbs agreed to write supportive references for the boys to the head of nearby Donhead School, Chris McGrath, but did not, as was claimed, say he would not disclose information about the parents if asked, as it would have been professionally negligent to have done so.

The judge rejected the couple’s allegation that Mr Hobbs had conspired with Mr McGrath, resulting in the boys being refused a place.

'There was no cover-up nor conspiracy nor anything else untoward. To suggest Mr Hobbs and Mr McGrath were bare-faced liars was frankly outrageous. They leave this court as honest and honourable men, as they arrived.'

The judge said that most parents would have been 'absolutely delighted' with the school’s observation that the couple’s children were a 'credit to you both' and there were no concerns for their future development either academically or socially.

Instead, the parents 'viewed everything in a self-centred self-contained artifice as though no-one else but them and their children mattered'.

'They interfered and meddled with the school and made unwarranted demands. Of course, all parents want the best for their children. Parents at fee-paying schools rightly demand the best but the school must be allowed to be a school.

'The conduct of the parents far exceeded the worst excesses of normal concerned parents by a considerable margin. I can well believe their domineering and demanding conduct became an enduring nightmare for the school.

'This parental misconduct - and it was misconduct - was such a shame as, whatever their failings, their children are a delight and were much liked by the staff at the school.

'If only the parents had been sensible, restrained and interested in their children’s progress, and there was progress, instead of being foolish, overbearing and demanding, events would have been, I am sure, to the advantage of all their children.'

He added: 'Whichever way one looks at this case from a legal viewpoint, there is simply not a viable case against the defendant. There was no breach of contract whatever. There was a variation of an extant contract to bring it to an end.'

After the ruling in London, Mr Hobbs said: 'We are very glad at the outcome. We don’t think it should ever have come to this stage and we are very glad that the children are settled in another school and are doing well.'


Fifth of British university leavers are unemployed or in low-paid jobs six months after leaving

A fifth of graduates are unemployed or in unsalaried or low-paid posts six months after leaving university, official figures reveal.

One in ten are out of work and a similar proportion are on internships, doing voluntary work or travelling.

Those that have found employment are often stuck in menial jobs such as window cleaning, packing or bottling and stacking shelves.

The research by the Higher Education Statistics Agency paints a sobering picture for young university leavers who have spent at least three years studying and have built up large debts.

It shows many are emerging into a hugely competitive job market where they may wait years before securing meaningful employment.

The trebling of tuition fees last year to a maximum of £9,000 has created the prospect of thousands of students leaving university in two years with debts of £40,000 or more once living costs are added - and no prospect of starting to pay it off for the foreseeable future.

Details were released at the same time as a Confederation of British Industry report warned too many sixth formers were being pushed into the ‘default’ university route instead of considering vocational courses and on-the-job training.

Key industries such as manufacturing, construction, IT and engineering face a recruitment crisis as a result, it said.

Of the 190,000 full-time first degree leavers in 2011-2012 who took part in the HESA survey, more than 17 per cent said they had continued studying.

Two-thirds said they were working - but barely more than half were on permanent contracts.  Six per cent said they had taken basic, unskilled work such as manning rubbish trucks or sorting mail.  Two per cent were doing internships, 1.3 per cent were involved in voluntary work and 2.7 per cent classified themselves as other/unknown, a category which includes ‘developing a portfolio’.

Another five per cent had opted to travel or do ‘something else’.

Opportunities for university leavers have shrunk by four per cent since last year, according to a survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters earlier this month.

Banking and finance has seen 45 per cent of jobs evaporate, while accountancy and professional services firms have 17 per cent fewer vacancies.

At the same time the pay premium gained from higher education is being eroded, creating a double whammy for graduates.

Twenty years ago they earned 52 per cent more on average than workers with lower or no qualifications. Now that is down to 27 per cent.

National Union of Students president Toni Pearce said: ‘Many of those entering the work-place for the first time are finding it hard to find a job that matches their skills.

‘Those taking their first step on the career ladder are willing to work hard and pay their dues but employers must stop exploiting them through things like unpaid internships.’

The CBI report called for a university admissions-style system to be set up to help more young people apply for apprenticeships and vocational courses.

This is needed to prevent a chronic shortage of suitable workers as it estimated the majority of posts created between now and 2020 will be in high-skilled jobs.

‘What is now seen as the “default route” of an undergraduate degree is not suitable for all - young people have different talents and learn in different ways,’ the report said.

‘We should aim to inspire but also be realistic, setting out the costs and likely return on options open to young people, including the vocational options that have long been undersold.’

Policy director Katja Hall added: ‘We need to tackle the perception that the A-levels and three-year degree model is the only route to a good career.

‘When faced with a £27,000 debt, young people are already becoming much savvier in shopping around for routes to give them a competitive edge in a tighter job market.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Howard Zinn’s History Book is anti-American

It is self-evident fact that the books children are exposed to in public schools shape their worldview. Which is why the editor’s over at National Review Online are right to praise Governor Mitch Daniels’ (R-IL) now public condemnation of Professor Howard Zinn’s magnum opus, A People’s History of the United States, as nothing more than a left-wing and historically illiterate work of propaganda:

    "Mitch Daniels, whom some Republicans would like to see president of something more than Purdue University, is under attack because as governor of Indiana he objected to the use of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States in public-school curricula. In recently published e-mails, the plainspoken Governor Daniels described Zinn’s work as “anti-American” and “crap,” which, when expressed in sufficiently polite language, is the professional consensus: “a polemicist, not a historian,” says Arthur Schlesinger; his work a “deranged” “fairy tale,” says Harvard’s Oscar Handlin; a man who traded in “every left-wing clich√© with which the academy has abetted its sense of election these past several decades,” says Roger Kimball.

    The book is full of errors and deliberate distortions, as Handlin noted in The American Scholar, and these are not limited to minor issues. Zinn misrepresents everything from slavery in the Chesapeake colonies to American involvement in Cuba to the Tet offensive. He reports as fact the story of Polly Baker, a woman persecuted for having an illegitimate child, when the story is in truth a work of fiction, penned by Benjamin Franklin.

    Zinn himself described A People’s History as “a biased account,” that bias being in favor of socialism, a political tendency that Zinn favored and thought would be popular but for the fact that “the Soviet Union gave it a bad name.” Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro didn’t help much, either, though Zinn had kind words for their revolutions. Zinn denied being a member of the Communist party, though he was identified as such by several other members and served as an officer in a CPUSA front group. Presented with evidence (including a confession) that Soviet spies Zinn had defended were in fact guilty as charged, his response was: “To me, it didn’t matter whether they were guilty or not.” Later in life, he trafficked in 9/11 conspiracy theories."

What’s more, the editor’s make an important distinction between censorship and good-judgment:

    "Governor Daniels’s illiterate critics notwithstanding, it was not an act of censorship – there was no talk of banning publication of the bestselling book, only of declining to use it in school curricula. From kindergarten through graduate school, American education is a sewer of left-wing ideology, and Zinn’s work is an especially ripe excretion. Governor Daniels’s office was right to bring attention to it — shoring up the integrity of public institutions is part of what governors are there for."

Given that the book is (a) historically inaccurate and (b) widely regarded as having a strong left-wing tilt, is Daniels’ objection to teaching this book in government schools really all that controversial? After all, the dissemination of these types of works is harmful to our constitutional republic. The purpose of a public education is to teach civics and responsible citizenship -- not to mention to equip students with the basic tools and skills to be successful.

Left-wing indoctrination undermines the very institutions the nation was founded upon at least in part by completing ignoring (or trivializing) historical events of great importance. According to NRO’s editors, the Gettysburg Address, the Normandy Invasion, and the U.S. moon landing are all completely omitted. This is an immediate red flag. At the same time, they write, “[t]he thought of Joan Baez receives more prominent attention than does that of Alexander Hamilton.”

It’s hard to have a deep appreciation for one’s country when civics lessons are wrapped in revisionism and the chief architect of the “American experiment” is all but ignored. Still, this is not to say that the Left’s favorite failed utopias of the twentieth century -- communism and socialism -- should not be taught in public schools. They definitely should be. But they should be presented in ways that are factually accurate and do not inspire anti-Americanism.

Isn't that a reasonable request?


Girls of NINE told they can't wear skirts: British school introduces trousers-only rule after youngsters copy celebrities

A school has become the first to ban skirts for girls aged nine as youngsters tried to copy risque pop stars such as Rihanna by raising their hemlines.

The middle school, for children aged nine to 13, is bringing in a trousers-only rule from September.  It is also introducing a blouse ban next year, after which girls will be required to wear shirts like their male classmates.

The ban comes as increasing numbers of young girls copy the ‘sexy schoolgirl’ look popularised by celebrities such as Rihanna and Katy Perry. Pupils of TV’s fictitious Waterloo Road school are also often seen in short skirts.

David Doubtfire, headmaster of Walkwood Church of England Middle School in Redditch, Worcestershire, said the ban would eliminate ‘unladylike’ short skirts.

He added: ‘Some of the older girls were beginning to wear extremely short skirts. It was becoming difficult, especially when it came to them sitting down in the hall. It was very unladylike. We would ask them to make their skirts longer, but they would just roll them up again when we turned away.

‘Parents seem to be all right about it, although 20 have written to us to say they are not happy.’

But one parent, who did not wish to be named, said the ban was ‘crazy’. The mum-of-one added:  ‘You hear about the over-sexualisation of children but to call a nine-year-old girl unladylike is absurd.  ‘They aren’t ladies, they are young girls. And to stop them wearing skirts is going to confuse them.’

The campaign group School Skirt Ban has asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission over whether skirt bans are legal.

A spokesman for the group said: ‘We were told that the Commission would strongly advise schools against doing this because such an action would be considered a case of indirect discrimination.’

He said skirt bans exist in 63 secondary schools, but none had been imposed on nine-year-olds before.


International Baccalaureate: no government intervention, no grade inflation

While Britain's A-level students wait expectantly for their results, for IB students the wait is already over. That's just one advantage of the qualification, writes John Walmsley

This year's IB (International Baccalaureate) results – published earlier this month – showed that for the fifth consecutive year, pass rates for the diploma have remained unswerving, with an international pass rate of 78.54 per cent and 108 IB students obtaining the maximum score of 45 points (equating to roughly five A*s at A-level).

Such consistency in exam results rarely makes the headlines. It seems that it is far more exciting to see year-on-year increases and claims that exams are getting easier. But the net result of such claims has led to the government’s latest series of reforms to state exams.

These changes aren’t without justification; few teachers will deny grade inflation exists in state education. My aim is not to self-righteously condemn the state controlled examination system – plenty of others are already doing that.

I simply want to point out that the IB system, which was created by and is governed by educators, is not crippled by the burdens of league tables and politically orchestrated reform.

Of course, IB comes in for some criticism. It has been suggested that the nature of the IB is best suited for a particular type of student, those who are commonly referred to as ‘all-rounders’. But isn’t that the same with A-levels?

The IB's goal to develop young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect has also been called idealistic. But its academic successes have made the IB universally accepted by universities around the world – Harvard, Cambridge, Ivy League and top tier universities around the world all recognise that IB students are proven independent thinkers.

Moreover, the IB has developed a reputation for preparing its students for the demands of undergraduate higher learning courses.

While it is by no means the most important benefit of the IB, at this time of year we must also address university Clearing. The fact that IB results are published ahead of A-levels does not give students first pick of clearing places, but what it does is provide UK-based IB students with an extra six weeks to contemplate their next move should the need arise.

But don’t be fooled, the IB is not a soft route to university. The academic standard required from IB students is highlighted by the fact that while 45 is the top mark in the IB, a score of 36 will get you into medical schools which require A*s at A-level.

Though the numbers of students studying the IB are comparatively low compared with state education, the IB has achieved a 45 year legacy of success. The sustained year-on-year achievements of over 1 million students studying in over 3,600 schools worldwide cannot be ignored.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Neoliberalism and the Commercialization of Higher Education

The Leftist writer below bewails the increasing vocational emphasis in British education.  She says it is a move away from "values of critical-thinking and challenging basic assumptions".  She might have a case if universities had in fact been teaching such things.  The fact that they were on the whole teaching unthinking lockstep Leftism leaves her without a case

Cuts in spending and the replacement of academic staff by technology are not the only pressures faced by British academia. Increasingly, education is fashioning students into a productive labor force rather than teaching them more traditional academic ideals.

Last year’s plans to raise tuition fees in Britain to a maximum of £9000, $13,731 at today’s exchange rate, were coterminous with cuts of £2 billion in funding for education. Universities’ lack of funding caused them to compensate for lost income by hiking up tuition fees. This is perceived as disastrous for Britain’s progression up the global league tables, which, conducted by the Times educational supplement, rank universities by teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. With increasing competition from universities around the world, the UK’s University and College Union warns that Britain is at risk of being left behind.

The neoliberal turn to privatization and the commercialization of education is an area of concern for British universities. Since the 1980s, neoliberalism has been expressing itself in university syllabi. Abandoning previous values of critical-thinking and challenging basic assumptions, the focus leans towards teaching vaguely defined “skills” such as “teamwork,” “communication” and “leadership.”

Such effects are evident in the recently “enhanced” course guides at the London School of Economics (LSE). The LSE is a private university that specializes in the social sciences and ranks third in the university league tables for the UK. The university’s new course guides include ‘skills’-sets that lecturers have to tick off as they incorporate them into their lessons. Such an approach propounds an entrepreneurial attitude over the goals previously associated with the social sciences. As sociologist Stephen Ball claims, in such institutions students as commodities transforms education into a “big business” rather than education for education’s sake.


British ‘Superhead’ Greg Wallace suspended over claims he gave IT contract to boyfriend

A so-called “superhead” who was praised by the Education Secretary Michael Gove and runs five primary schools has been suspended along with a federation’s entire governing body, it can be revealed.

Greg Wallace has been forced to stand down as head of the five primary schools in Hackney, east London, while allegations are investigated over the awarding of a computer contract to a firm run by a man with whom he has a close personal relationship.

The decision to suspend him and the governing body – whose members include Henry de Zoete, one of Mr Gove’s special advisers – is the latest in a series of financial controversies surrounding the superheads.

These include a headteacher knighted for his services to education, Sir Alan Davies, former head of Copland Community School in Wembley, north London, who is going on trial next month where he denies conspiring to defraud his school.

Hackney Council moved to suspend Mr Wallace and the governors after launching an investigation into the running of the school last April. A statement on the website of the Best Start Federation, which runs the schools, said: “We understand the HLT [Hackney Learning Trust – which runs education services for the council] has concerns about the computer contracts and Greg Wallace’s relationship with the provider C2 Technology.”

Peter Passam, who was chairman of governors at two of the schools in the federation – Woodberry Down and London Fields – when the contract was first awarded, said Mr Wallace had always been “open with me about his connection with C2 Technology”. He added: “The contract was judged on its value and its quality.”

Mr Gove has often lavished praise on Mr Wallace and the schools in speeches made as Education Secretary. On a visit to Woodberry Down last year he said he had had high expectations of the school before his visit and they had been “totally surpassed”.

All the other four schools have seen significant improvements since joining the federation – London Fields going from special measures after failing its Ofsted report to outstanding in three years.

In an email to staff Tony Zangoura, head of C2 Technology, said he and Mr Wallace were not together in 2009 when the first contract was awarded to the firm and accused HLT of “going on a fishing expedition within the schools to find dirt”.

The schools, which had announced their intention of converting to academy status in May, but had to put the plan on hold once the investigation was launched in April, have appealed to Mr Gove to intervene in the case.

“While no system ever operates perfectly, we refute entirely that there was lack of governance or worse, malfeasance, by this governing body,” they said.

A spokesman for Hackney Council said: “The council has withdrawn financial and staffing powers from the governing body as part of an ongoing investigation.” It declined to elaborate on the reasons for the decision.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said it had received a letter from the body, adding: “We will consider this in due course.”

Must do better: Controversial heads

Sir Bruce Liddington, a former “superhead” who became Schools Commissioner under Labour, had to quit as director-general of the E-ACT academies chain after being condemned it for lunches at London’s Reform Club.

Jo Shuter, headteacher of the year in 2007 and awarded a CBE in 2010, quit her job as head of Quinton Kynaston school in London’s St John’s Wood, after she spent school money on personal taxis, flowers and staff refreshments.

Richard Gilliland quit as executive head of four schools run by the Priory federation in Lincoln and Grantham after auditors found extraordinary purchases, including sex aids, had been delivered to the schools’ office.

Dame Jean Else, head of Whalley Range High School for Girls in Manchester, was found guilty of financial irregularities – including employing her twin sister



Overseas students targeted in new British  export strategy

The government has said it is “realistic” for UK international student numbers to grow up to 20 per cent over five years under current visa rules.

The estimate is part of the coalition’s new industrial strategy for international education, of which overseas students at universities are a key part.

International Education – Global Growth and Prosperity, which was launched today, estimates that international students contributed £6.3 billion in living expenses and £3.9 billion in tuition fees to the UK economy in 2011-12, the lion’s share of the £17.5 billion that education is thought to contribute overall.

An increase of 20 per cent would mean an extra 90,000 international students over the next half decade, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

However, the coalition has also pledged to bring net migration down to the “tens of thousands” by the next general election in 2015. In the year to September 2012, the figure stood at 153,000.

Asked whether an increase in student immigration could have an impact on the net migration target, David Willetts, the universities and science minister stressed that there were “no plans” for a cap on the number of legitimate international students who could come to the UK.

The message that Britain was open to international students went “right up to the prime minister”, he told an event to launch the strategy in London this morning.

For the rise in international students to occur, “we must show that the UK values international students, will provide a warm welcome and support while they are here and will keep in touch after they go home”, the strategy says.

It also set out a number of other plans, including:

- a cross-government Responding to International Student Crises committee to help those who have difficulty accessing money or renewing visas because of disasters in their home countries, for example the current civil war in Syria.

- a new Education UK Unit to support large-scale commercial partnerships abroad, which aims to win contracts worth at least £1 billion by 2015 and £3 billion by 2020.

- the development of the UK’s FutureLearn platform for massive open online course (Moocs). British universities involved in Moocs “need to be flexible, entrepreneurial and willing to form partnerships, which may cross old public-private boundaries”, the strategy stresses.

- an “enhanced website” and expanded recruitment service will be rolled out to advertise UK universities abroad. The “GREAT Britain” advertising push will expand its campaign promoting education into rapidly growing economies such as India, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil.

- the Department for International Development will double its investment in development partnerships for education

- the Chevening scholarship programme, which attracts future politicians and “high fliers” to study in the UK, will be expanded.

- Eric Thomas, who is currently president of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol, is to become the new “UK Education Champion”.


Monday, July 29, 2013

College Republicans Deemed Security Threat at Obama Speech

On Wednesday President Obama gave another speech on the economy at the University of Central Missouri. But apparently 10 college republicans wearing Tea Party t-shirts or other patriotic, Republican themed clothing were turned away from attending the event. The students who all held tickets to the event and had waited in line for 2 hours, were deemed a threat by security personnel at the front doors. Security made sure to explain it wasn't about their politics, but about the President's security. Really?!

The students had protested some of the President's policies on campus earlier in the day, but had put away their signs in order to attend the event. Security turned them away at the front doors of the recreation facility and told them to stay hundreds of yards away from the area.

"It just didn't make any sense," Courtney Scott, the State Treasurer of the College Republicans told The Fix. "A lot of us traveled several hours to watch the speech. We were very disappointed not to be able to attend."

According to The Fix:

    "The students' protest earlier in the day was a peaceful one, consisting of holding political speech signs and talking to passersby throughout the morning, Scott said. They were asked to protest at the "public speech area" on campus, not anywhere near the rec center. They were not allowed within eyesight or earshot of people who were waiting in line.

    The Mizzou Republicans were among about sixty protesters, half of whom were college students, who had voiced concern Wednesday over Obama's economic policies in the wake of the country's ongoing recession.

    Some of the signs called for capitalism, others illustrated discontent with Missouri's 16 percent unemployment rate among college student youth, and the increasing share of national debt students are saddled with year by year."

Hmmm. These kids really sound dangerous. Some 2,500 other people managed to get through security just fine, but the ones wearing Republican gear were turned away? Yeah, this seems a bit sketchy. Why is the President afraid of some college students disagreeing with his policy decisions? Maybe their impending graduation and the lack of jobs for them is making him worry about their approval?


The Cancer That College Has Become

If you are a regular reader of this column you have been alerted to the problems of the current college system in America and some of the sources of the problems. As a parent of two children who recently graduated from well-known universities, I am as guilty as anyone of falling into the trap of believing that a college degree ameliorates all future problems for a student. We learn that one could suffer eternal damnation without said degree. That is obviously not true. College has created a system to insulate itself from the outside world when it comes to decisions about your children. Buyer Beware.

There is no doubt that college has become a significant problem in America. Our leaders run around and talk about Armageddon for those who do not go on to college. This is partially because the existing school systems do not adequately prepare students either for a career without a college degree or for the educational rigors of a sophisticated college-level education. Additionally, there has been a proliferation of useless degrees that prepare students for a career after college that can only exist within the confines of a college campus. There is no sign at the door of these departments warning students that their predecessors did not get jobs in those fields, and their hopes are just as bleak. It is truly caveat emptor -- which interestingly the faculty would ferociously dispute for the private sector. At the same time the costs related to college have soared 1,000% over the past 30 years as analyzed by economist Tyler Cowen, far exceeding the inflation rate.

A multitude of reasons have been given for the problems with college, but one has not received enough focus. Once you send your bright shining child to college, they all of sudden become "adults" on their own. To varying degrees as parents you get information back, but your rights to information are strictly limited. It is as if colleges have created their own HIPAA (medical records) law. Ask - but we don't tell unless there is a release by your child.

We send our children to college to get educated and to facilitate that next step of growing up. Some of us have actually prepared them for the event. But they are not prepared to make all decisions. They can choose strawberry yogurt versus blueberry yogurt, but there are decisions that have deeper and more lasting resonance, yet they are on their own.

Not really; they have the aid of those charming people with nice titles and advanced degrees at the college of the student's choice. Can you think of a worse group of people to be advising your budding young adult? My friend, Dennis Prager, thinks anyone who went from high school to college to grad school to working/teaching at a college campus is yet a child. They have never left the educational womb. He is pretty close, but it is also the chickens guarding the hen house.

Each person at the school has a financial motivation to uphold the good name of the campus. If kids are drinking themselves into a stupor, they don't want to become known just as a party school unless that brings in more applicants and more dollars. If young women are being sexually accosted, the college is not playing up how frequently that occurs. The federal government requires colleges to do a study each year of the incidents related to students. It is as easy to find at a given college as is the detailed list of charges are before you enter a hospital. Unfortunately, it is even less helpful.

The bottom line is that we parents send significant dollars to these colleges and they have no accountability to us. If our kid is a boozer, they don't have to tell us. If they quit school, they don't have to tell us. If our kid is now a Selfhood and Social Interaction major, they don't have to tell us. Just send us money - those many thousands of dollars.

Worse yet these young adults are being advised to encumber themselves with huge debts that will restrict their financial future. Does anyone at these colleges tell them not to do it? Do the kids really understand what having $50,000, $100, 000 or more of college debt means to them? Is there a major in the finance department - Advising Students on College Debt? You better not bet on that.

There is no doubt that colleges in the country add something positive other than college sports. But they are operating a scam that the Boys in Jersey would have loved to have thought of. These colleges are not as bad as people who prey on seniors citizens with phony financial programs, but at least the seniors can have their adult children intercede without a special dispensation and a secret password.

If that phony baloney board Elizabeth Warren set up (you know the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) really wanted to do something, they would set up standards to protect students from being gouged by universities and protected from taking on ridiculous levels of debt. That is a trillion-dollar problem where people are being sold pipe dreams. Let us all live to see that happen. God knows we parents have no say.


A realistic teacher talks

Getting quiet for teaching was job one. I'd separate inveterate chatters, then I'd move the worst offenders to the front groups, and then, if one of them still didn't shut up, I'd pull the desk forward all the way to a wall (with the kid in it). The rest of the class would snicker at the talker -at, not with.

"It's not like I'm going to pay attention to you up here. I'll just go to sleep," one of them said, defiantly.

"You say that as if it were a bad thing."

He or she often did go to sleep, which gave me some quiet from that corner, anyway. Otherwise, I wrote a referral. I also wrote referrals when they called me a f***ing [noun of your choice, profane or not], a sh**ty f**ing boring teacher (boring! I ask you), when they threw things, when they got up and wandered around the room refusing to sit, when they texted in open view and refused to give over the phone, when they left the room without permission, when they howled I HAVE TO PISS at the top of their voices (usually one at a time), and so on-all during the time that I was trying to teach the lesson "up front". Once I released them for work it got easier, as I wasn't trying to maintain order and some notion of what I'd been doing before the last interruption, but rather walking around the room helping students and telling others to shut up.

As bad as I make it sound, every senior teacher I worked with was astonished at how well I did, given the pressure; all the previous teachers stuck with all algebra all the time had routinely lost control of the classes and had supervisors posted. Administrators didn't approve of my approach, alas; since my kids were mostly Hispanic, my referrals were, too. So I was caught between an administration who would really rather I'd have flailed ineffectually than kick kids out for order, and the bulk of my students, who opined frequently that I should boot students more often and earlier.

The beginning of the way back up that year began in second period when I'd thrown out the third kid of the day, and Kiley said "Could you toss out Elijah, while you're at it?" and much of the class laughed. Elijah stood up and said "Yeah, send me, too! I don't want to be here! Let me go!"

I tend to stay pretty focused on teaching; rarely do I give A Talk. Today, I have no idea why I made an exception.

"Why don't you want to be here, again?"

"Because I hate math? F***ing duh."

"What is it you think I want?"

"You want me to shut up."

"Well, yeah. But why?"

"So you can teach!"


"Because it's your job!"

"Because I want everyone to pass this class." And to this day, I thank all that's holy that I caught the class's sudden silence and realized that my remark had an impact.

"Maybe I need to make that clearer. I want every single person in here to pass algebra and move onto geometry. Remind me again, how many people have taken algebra more than once?" Almost everyone in the class raised a hand, including Elijah.

"Yeah. Don't raise your hand, but I know at least ten students in here are taking it for the third time, including some people who get tossed out of class regularly. I don't kick kids out for fun. I kick them out because I need to teach everyone. I have kids who want to excel in algebra. I have kids who would like to get better at algebra. I have kids who simply would like to survive algebra, although many days they think that's a pipe dream. And I have kids who don't want to be here at all. I figure, I kick kids out from the last group, I'm meeting everyone's goals but mine." I actually get a couple laughs; they're listening.

"But make no mistake, that's my goal. I want everyone in here to pass." I looked at Elijah, who'd slipped back into his chair, his eyes fixed on me.

"You could tell me about your troubles, and I'll give you an ear, but here's a basic truth: there's not a single situation in your life that gets worse if you pass algebra. And there's a whole bunch of things that improve."

"I could get a work permit, for one thing," Eduardo muttered.

"Get back on the football team," said DeWayne.

"And now I know some of you are thinking sure, there's a catch. No. I didn't say I want you to like algebra. I didn't even say I want you to understand algebra, although I guarantee that trying will improve your understanding. I'm making a simple commitment: show up and try. You will get a passing grade. No catch."

The rest of second period, the toughest class, went so well that I decided to repeat that little speech for every class, and in every class, I got utter quiet. I don't say that all the problems were solved that day, but from that point on far more of the kids "had my back". Psychologically, their support made it much easier for me to develop a strategy to teach algebra in the face of these challenges.

Here's how I taught it, and here's how they did. I only failed 10 kids out of the final 90, or 11%. (Elijah had left. Eduardo got his permit, and DeWayne made it back onto the football team.) That's the highest failure rate I've ever had, but then it's the last time I taught algebra I. It's easier to work with kids in geometry and algebra II-they've got skin in the game, and graduation becomes a real objective as opposed to the remote possibility it presents to a sophomore taking algebra I for the third time.

The wise reader can infer much about my students and a great deal, although certainly not all, about my values and priorities as a teacher from that tale.

First, I mostly teach kids from the lower third to the middle of the cognitive ability spectrum, with a few outliers on each end. That's who takes algebra in high school. No more than 10% of my students in any year are capable of genuinely comprehending an actual formal math course in geometry or algebra (I or II). Another 30-50% of the rest are perfectly capable of understanding geometry, algebra and even more advanced topics in applied math, even if they couldn't really master a formal math course, but they'd have to try a lot harder and want it much more. About a quarter of my students each year are barely capable of learning basic algebra and geometry well enough to apply it in simple, rote situations. A much smaller number can't even manage that much.

For other teachers, the percentages are skewed heavily to the first and second categories; some of them don't even know there's a third and fourth category. A teacher covering precalc and honors algebra II/trig in high-income or Asian suburb, teaching mostly freshmen and sophomores, would have a much higher percentage of students who could master a formal course; their notion of "struggling kids" would be those who aren't working hard enough. But that's not my universe-and it's not the universe I signed up for, although I wouldn't mind visiting occasionally.

Until this year, my assignments weren't deliberate. I was just an unimportant teacher who schools didn't care about losing. In fact, the following year at that same school the administration assigned Algebra II/Trig classes to a teacher who was not qualified to teach the subject while I, who was qualified, was given the lower level Algebra II classes. The administration knew full well about the distinction, which necessitated a "your teacher is not highly qualified" letter to some 90 kids, but that teacher was more valuable than than I was, and so it goes. I'm not bitter, and I'm not marking time until I get "better" kids. I'm doing exactly what I want to do. But every teaching decision I make must be considered in light of my students' cognitive abilities and, related to that ability, their motivation.

Second, I am a teacher who doesn't overvalue any individual student at the expense of the class, which means I have no compunction about kicking kids out for the day. You run into these teachers philosophically opposed to removing kids from class; how can these students learn if they aren't in class, they bleat. These teachers never seem to worry about how all the other kids learn with a disruptive hellion wreaking havoc because, they strongly hint (or outright assert), the right curriculum and caring teachers would eliminate the need to disrupt.

I ask these teachers, politely, do you have kids with tracking bracelets and/or probation officers? Do you have students who have fathered two kids while wearing that tracking bracelet, or gave birth to one? Do you have students who have been suspended or expelled for putting other students in the hospital, or for having a knife in their backpack? Do you have students who routinely tell you to f*** off and don't bother me? Do you have all of these students plus twelve more who have just enough motivation that, given no distractions, would be able to learn some math but with a distraction will readily jump over to the side telling you to f*** off? And with all that, are you math teachers trying to help students with a four-year range in skills figure out second year algebra? Because otherwise, you can go sing your smug little songs of no student left behind to someone with kids who really shouldn't be kicked out of the classroom. Okay, maybe not politely.

Come back the next day or even the same day, hat in hand, and no harm, no foul. I don't only act like it didn't happen, I have completely forgotten it happened. But get out of my class if you won't shut up or can't consider the day a success unless you've sucked in three other kids with your distractions.

The biggest pressure on teachers like me these days is the huge pushback they get from administration, district, and state/federal education agencies when they try to maintain an orderly classroom. And charter schools' ability to a) have none of these kids to start with and b) kick moderately ill-behaved kids back to public school when they act out can't be overstated as factor in their "success".

That's a shame. Because invariably, the bulk of my unmotivated rabble-rousers realize that I really mean it about that whole "passing" thing, if they would just shut up and give the class a shot. And so they do.

Next, I am a teacher who explains. I don't mean lecture; my explanations always take the form of a semi-Socratic discussion, leading the kids through a process. But when I start to talk, the conversation has a direction and that directed conversation, to me, is the heart of teaching.

And as I began to develop, I realized that teaching is not synonymous with explaining. Still. It's my go-to skill, it's what I do best, it's a big part of my success with low ability students, and it's why I prioritize getting my students to shut up while I'm teaching up front.

Next, the story reveals that I adopt my students' values and goals, rather than insist they adopt mine. The kids were shocked into silence when they realize that my most heartfelt goal was to pass everyone in the class.

I learned a key lesson I still use every time I meet a new class, and make it clear I want to help them achieve their goals, which usually involve surviving the class. I do not understand why so many teachers set out objectives based on the assumption that they will successfully re-align their students' value systems.

And in a related revelation, you can see how I frame my task. In his TED talk, Dan Meyer asks the audience to imagine:

"you really loved something.and you recommended it wholeheartedly to someone you really liked.and the person hated it. By way of introduction, that is the exact same state in which I spent every working day of the last six years. I teach high school math. I sell a product to a market that doesn't want it but is forced by law to buy it."

All math teachers can relate to this statement; it's clever, funny, and does a good job of introducing the fundamental dilemma of high school math teachers: most kids hate math and are required to take it. Many dedicated math teachers would not only relate, but agree with Dan's framing of his task as a sales job, regardless of their teaching ideology. When I say I disagree, it's not because Meyer is wrong but because we approach our jobs in fundamentally different ways. I don't love math, and I'm not selling a product.

And those math teachers mostly would agree with me. Teaching math, for us, isn't about creating mathematicians. It's only occasionally about working with kids who want to be engineers, doctors, or architects. Mostly, it's about giving kids enough math skills to pass a college placement test so they won't end up spending a fortune on remedial math classes and never get any further-or at least enough skills so they'll pass a remedial math class and move on. Or giving kids enough math so they look at a trade school placement test and think, "Hey, I can do this." Or just giving kids the will to pass the class and keep them out of mindless credit recovery in alternative institutions, letting them feel part of the educational system, not a failure who couldn't cut it at normal high school.

Finally, though, the story indicates that I am acutely aware of all my students' motivations, that not all my students just want to pass. I have bright kids in almost every class, I have highly motivated kids, I have kids with specific objectives, most of whom want to learn as much as they can. I never forget them, and if I can't dedicate my entire teaching agenda to meeting their goals, it's only because I owe allegiance to all my students. I never stop looking for better ways to give these kids what they need while still ensuring I meet my overall responsibility. Many other teachers say these kids should come first. I always worry they might be right. But as I said above, I do not overvalue any individual kid over the needs of the entire class.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wisconsin Teachers’ Unions In Full Collapse

Remember all those dire predictions about the damage Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s public employee union contract reforms would do? Remember the angst of Wisconsin’ teachers and other “vital workers” over what they saw as the end of the line for their cushy jobs and control over their state? Well, they were right to be worried. They are getting crushed and put out of existence.

Now that two years have passed and the dust has settled, it’s safe to say that the union protesters who filled the legislative offices and camped out in Wisconsin’s state capital were actually optimistic. The results of Walker’s changes have been more devastating than either side could have feared or hoped for, depending on their point of view.

Since Act 10 passed two years ago, public employees’ unions have been in a steep decline they may not be able to come out of. Like a plane whose engines have failed will crash and burn, these unions are on their way to crashing and burning.

Savor this roll call of collapse in just two years.

Among Wisconsin’s fastest declining unions is AFSCME Council 24, which has seen a jaw dropping 88% (5,900 to 690) reduction in its dues paying members.

Another union, the WSEU, has shrunk from 22,000 members before Act 10, to less than 10,000 as of last December.

Wisconsin’s AFSCME Council 40 has lost 35% of its membership (31,730 in 2011 to 20,488 today).

Council 48 situated in Milwaukee County had 9,043 members two years ago. Today, it has 3,498 dues paying members.

Wisconsin’s teachers’ unions have lost 29% of their members, and there is no reason to believe the bleeding will stop anytime soon.
More than this, the whole state is experiencing a collapse of union membership, according to a  Bureau of Labor Statistic release that set union membership at 11.2%, down from 13.3% just two years ago.


South Carolina Tries School Choice

South Carolina has a new, temporary school choice law tucked within its recently-passed state budget. The bill, H.3710, authorizes nonprofits to offer scholarships to in-state students with special needs. Individuals and corporations that donate receive state tax credits in return.

Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill June 27 and its provisions are now in effect, according to House Education Committee staff.

The final House vote on the bill “was high drama—it passed by one vote,” said Rep. Robert Brown (D-Charleston), vice-chair of the Education and Public Works committee. “The large majority of Democrats voted against the bill because of that provision.”

Lawmakers included the provision in the state budget after years of similar, independent bills failed to pass.

Opportunities for Families
The program’s tax credits are capped at $8 million. It allocates each student up to $10,000 or the cost of private tuition, whichever is less.

“South Carolina has about 730,000 students, so this program helps about 0.1 percent of the students in South Carolina. It’s a very limited pilot program,” says Jason Bedrick, a policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.

The program also expires after one year.

“Next year we will see a bill coming out of the Senate to expand the program and make it permanent law,” Brown said, “now that the camel 's nose is under the tent.”

The donation and scholarship caps mean that about 800 students could likely participate this year, depending on the severity of students’ disabilities, said Vicki Alger, a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum. Scholarships average less, however, than $10,000 per student in the country’s largest special needs scholarship program, she noted.  Scholarships from Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program average $6,900.

Brown believes, despite U.S. Supreme Court decisions to the contrary, that the law sends public money to private schools: “I do not like the voucher system because it will destroy the public school system.”  The tax-credit scholarships can be used at public or private schools or for other educational expense.

School choice advocates, however, say it is a win-win for students and schools.

“What we know from more than 15 years’ experience with tax-credit scholarship programs nationwide is that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared them constitutional, they ease the burden on state and school budgets, and most important they expand option s for students who desperately need them,” says Alger. “Quite frankly, every child has special educational needs in one way or another, and all parents deserve the freedom to pick the schools they believe are best.”

Since 2014 is an election year for all statewide offices, including governor and education secretary, Brown says “you can bet this is going to be a campaign issue.”


British teacher who faced 18 months of abuse from schoolchildren is facing dismissal after pushing boy who spat at him

A teacher is facing the sack after he pushed a 12-year-old out of 'pure frustration' when the boy spat at him and hit him in the face with snowballs.

Dean Macfarlane admitted that he had knocked the boy into a hedge but said that it came after 18 months of antisocial behaviour outside his house in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

The problems for the IT teacher started in 2011 and since then the youths have gone into his garden, climbed on cars and garage roofs, damaged vehicles, and used tennis racquets to hit stones at people's property.

The situation reached boiling point in February when the 55-year-old said he confronted two boys who had hit him in the face with snowballs.

He reacted by pushing a 12-year-old boy, who spat on the ground in front of him, into a hedge.

Macfarlane ended up at Barnsley Magistrates' Court last Tuesday, where he admitted assault and was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work.

He is now waiting to hear from the regulatory body, The National College for Teaching and Leadership, as to whether he can keep his job of 34 years.

But pupils and staff at the Doncaster school where he works have reacted with a flood of support for the well-respected teacher.

Following the court hearing, Macfarlane said the incident had resulted from 'pure frustration' last February, when he momentarily lost his temper after confronting two boys who had been snowballing him.

He said: 'For three days the house had been pelted with snowballs, covering all of the windows.

'On the day in question I was getting changed and heard "thud, thud, thud”.  I ran to the front door and saw the car had about eight snowballs splattered on it.

“I looked over the fence and saw a group of about seven lads, all aged 12 or 13m who gave me a load of verbal abuse and then set off running.

'A couple of them threw snowballs at me and I was hit in the face and body.'

At the time he shrugged off the attack, but 15 minutes later he went out and saw two of the youths who had thrown the snowballs and warned them to stay away from his house.

He said: 'The smaller of the two boys said, "It wasn’t me, I wasn’t there” and I told him I had just seen him as he was less than five feet away from me.

'Then the other boy spat on the floor in front of me. It escalated from there and pure frustration took over. I pushed the lad and he went into a hedge.

'It was completely out of character for me. I did not go with the intention of hunting down these lads and I wasn’t aggressive, but did end up pushing one of them which I am sorry about.

The former art and design teacher said: 'I’ve been a teacher for more than 30 years and this error of judgement has put my job under threat.

'It is all hanging up in the air and I’ve now got to wait to see if I can go back to work in September.'

A Department for Education spokesman said: 'The National College of Teaching and Leadership receive notice of police cautions and convictions given to teachers.

'If it is decided a case should proceed to a formal hearing before a teacher misconduct panel, our aim is to conclude all cases within 20 weeks of receiving the referral, but this can take longer in some cases.'