Monthly Archives: August 2016

A matter of life and death?

Flotsam: an occasional series of ideas from other places…

Bill Gates is in conversation with Nate Bowling,  the Washington State Teacher of the Year for 2016 in the US. In the dialogue, the teacher tells Bill Gates that for many students learning ‘…is a matter of life and death’.

“If my students are not successful in school, they end up in the prison-industrial complex.”

Source: Accessed: 26.08.2016

The conversation reveals that in the US public school system, half the students enrolled live in poverty. With more than 70 percent of students qualifying for ‘…free or reduced price meals’.

In a separate publication Nate Bowling had published a blog article which has garnered a lot of attention. In it he declares that ‘…America does not care what happens to poor people and most black people‘. The article, entitled The Conversation I’m Tired of not Having, Mr. Bowling goes on to decry the lack of simple political will, in the US,  to effect change and re-balance equity in educational opportunity and achievement.

‘Polite society has walled itself off and policymakers are largely indifferent. Better funding for schools is and will remain elusive, because middle class and wealthy people have been conditioned over the last 35 years to think of themselves as taxpayers, rather than citizens’.

Source:     Accessed: 25.08.2016

In both the conversation with Bill Gates, and in his own article, Nate Bowling has some profoundly strong and supportive comments to make about teaching as a profession and the nature of the role his professional colleagues play, in the disenfranchised school system he works in.

The narrative has a strong resonance in the UK, with the laborious ebb and flow of educational policy, coupled to outcomes that continue to widen, not alleviate, the inequality gap for the many.

Bill Gates conversation with Nate Bowling originally appeared in Gates Notes. Nate Bowling’s reflection on teaching and the development of his profession originally appeared in .

Read both articles to get insights into the US public shool system from the perspective of a black teacher. It is interesting, and provocative, to those who would press for the continuance of the status-quo.

Turning the tide - making a difference
Turning the tide – making a difference




Meal ticket or reasonable personal allowance?


Education as it should be…?

The Guardian have recently published an article on the rewards to be had for rising to the top of an Academy management tree.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the newspaper has revealed the level of taxpayer money spent on salaries, meals out, travel in comfort, private health insurance and the use of leased luxury cars.

The article reveals the expense clams of a Midlands based chain Chief Executive, who whilst drawing a salary of £180,000 p.a. leases a top of the range Jaguar car and dines in Marco Pierre White restaurants. It is a deep irony that the samed named individual is quoted as explaining how education in the UK faces stringent financial challenges and is seeking to reduce his school chain costs by £500,000.

In total, The Guardian claims, some one million pounds of public money has been spent on executives pay in the last twelve months. This tally includes one chain Chief Executive of a Trust, drawing a salary of £195,354 a year, who claims for the wi-fi costs of her French holiday home.

The Chief Executive of one Trust, The Guardian reports, which runs 12 schools, pays its chief executive and founder, a total package of £225,000, while his wife receives £175,000 as executive principal and founder.

Of more concern is the issue of ‘related party transactions’. This is where Directors of Trusts use companies, with whom they have a ‘close relationship’, to charge for services to the Trusts they are responsible for.

It is difficult, from the continuing Guardian article, to see how the Education Funding Agency (EFA), the body charged with oversight of Academy finances can have the resources, time and attention to detail to adequately police this tide of public money.

‘Academy numbers have risen from 600 to 5,000…the EFA dealt with 125% more financial returns in 2014-2015 than the previous year, despite having 20% fewer staff…’

Source:          Accessed: 16.08.2016

We leave the last word to Head of Education at Unison, Jon Richards. “There are huge amounts of public money being shovelled around in the schools system, and unless the EFA ups its game, plenty of unscrupulous people out there will help themselves.”

You can read the full Guardian article here.

There is additional information on ‘related party transactions’ here.

Turning the tide - making a difference
Turning the tide – making a difference