Why the school holidays break consumer rights

We broke the back of it folks. Us teachers are officially over half way through our summer holiday. For some of us we have just two weeks left of rest and relaxation. Some of us have already been into school a number of times this holiday. Most of us will be going into school to watch our graduating students collect their A Level and GCSE results. My point is, teacher’s are ‘sold’ the profession with holidays in mind. However, if school holidays were shoes we would return them as faulty.

Before I continue, I want to apologise to anyone who isn’t in the teaching profession for stumbling upon this post. It’s written by a teacher, therefore it has issues that some ‘civilians’ may find disturbing. Any ‘civi’ who objects to holiday’s for teachers may find this useful; they may find it enlightening or they may feel that I’m bleating and I should just be thankful for the rest offered.

Your consumer rights are sacred. Do school holidays break these consumer rights? You have the right that purchased items be:

  • of satisfactory quality – last for the time you would expect it to and be free of any defects (Well it lasts for the advertised time period but free from defects?)
  • fit for purpose – fit for the use described and any specific use you made clear to the trader (Not fit for use described, I’ll come on to that in a minute)
  • as described – match the description on packaging or what the trader told you (Fails spectacularly on this point, see below)

It’s the last one that strikes me as the most pertinent. Imagine, Michael Gove as a salesman peddling insurance (which is probably doing a disservice to such salesman). In his dry, scottish patter, he informs you that, with this exclusive, sort after, insurance package that he is selling you, you could take a payment holiday. You then discover that when you chose to take this agreed upon holiday he hits you with the unmentioned fine print. While you are taking your holiday, you are still required to make small put significant payment contributions. These contributions place a strain on the delicate nature of your finances and mental wellbeing.

This, I’m sorry to say, is exactly what most teachers experience during holidays. School holidays preclude the very definition of holiday. A holiday is defined as ‘a time or period of exemption from requirement, duty, assessment. I, like my fellow professionals, have spent a stupid amount of time organising work for next term. Furthermore, students aren’t except from completing work during these periods. As such, we might need to come up with another name for school holidays.

While it’s true that teachers have time off from teaching students, it would be wrong to say that they have 13 weeks off a year. With mounting expectations for further improvement in exam results and the need now to not only teach but to entertain, not having a ‘holiday’ means that even more pressure is being placed on teachers.

My message for future, would-be teachers? Well the USP of teaching are the holidays and if we’re not going to change their name, I suppose the solution would be, like when buying anything, you should always read the small print.

This post first appeared on The Huffington Post. A link can be found here…http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mike-matthews/why-school-holidays-infri_b_929860.html

The week in sport, 8-14 April (via The Week in Lists)

The week in sport, 8-14 April Another big weekend of sport: the Grand National, the Masters and the second race of the F1 season. And yet Mikey Matthews seems a little distracted by something going down at Docklands… 1. Golf: Masters Thursday 7-10 April. Augusta, Georgia – Sold Out (BBC and Sky Sports) Now I know this started yesterday and some might accuse me of forgetting that the green-jacketed event was even on. Well, that probably is the case. If like me, you don't subsc … Read More

via The Week in Lists

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

This afternoon Michael Gove and his Department for Education scaled new heights of arrogance.

“On the substantive points he [the judge] concluded that it was a rational decision and that the authorities involved had no expectation of being allowed to proceed with their projects.”  “The Secretary of State will now look again at his decision with regard to these authorities with an open mind, taking representations from them. “The judge set out, however, that “the final decision on any project still rests with him and…. No one should gain false hope from this decision.” – Department for Education

Such a bullish response considering that Gove had just been firmly put in his place. Today the councils of Waltham Forest, Luton Borough Council, Nottingham City Council, Sandwell, Kent County Council and Newham won their legal challenge on the scrapping of the BSF programme. This ruling opened up questions that need to be answered and answered quickly.

The judge allowed the legal challenge on the account that Mr Gove had failed to consult the councils before cutting the programme. He ruled that the decision was so unfair that it amounted to an abuse of power. Only Michael Gove can see any semblance of justification in his decision from this devastating assessment of his actions.

Three questions now need to be answered following this ruling;

  1. Does this now leave the door open for other councils to challenge the cancellation of their BSF programmes? If so, will we see the government scale back its cuts agenda to allow for additional capital funding to be channelled back into state education?
  2. Does this raise questions about the Free Schools programme and it’s consultation process. A process that should be taking place but is frequently accused of not happening with any degree of transparency?
  3. Does Gove’s response confirm that he is officially the most arrogant MP sitting today?

The first two questions will be answered in due course but the third can be answered now. That answer is firm yes.

There have been question marks about his judgement and his decision making  from day one. Today’s ruling only confirms what we have known for a long time and that is Gove doesn’t care what people think. He has an agenda that is both blinded by arrogance and morally wrong.

Gove now needs to stand up and admit once again that he was wrong. He needs to say sorry for the pain that his unlawful decision has caused to thousands of students and teachers. Not just to today’s victorious councils but to all students and teachers that have been touched by this “abuse of power”.

School report for citizenship – could do better.

What a nice break that was (although adding another child to my family could/should hardly be considered a break).

I’ve worked nearly every day I can since the age of 16. I worked so I could put myself through college; I worked so I could put myself through university; I worked so I could experience all the trappings of ‘Old London Town’, recently I have worked to keep a roof over my family’s head. Cards on the table time….I’m a teacher, a nurse, a diplomat…I’m a public servant. I, like most public servants, pay taxes. I also pay student loan repayments and pension contributions. I don’t have a credit card or an overdraft, in fact, apart from my student loan I’m totally debt free. I have never been arrested…I am a public servant. However, I am the only bread winner in my beautiful family of four. By 2013 I will earn just above the cut off limit for child benefit. Since May I have seen my pay frozen for the next two years, my children’s child benefit taken away and now I face the prospect of a de-facto pay cut if the findings from the Hutton report are implemented. I am a public servant.

I am told that in order to be a good citizen it takes more than just, raising a family, paying taxes, abiding by the law and teaching the leaders of tomorrow. I’m told that I have to do more…my country needs me. I, like most citizens of this country, work extremely hard. Since September I have worked an average of 55 hours a week (this includes Sunday)…I am most definitely not on my own and there so many more people that work harder and longer, and for less. I am a public servant. I guess my point is, what more can I do?

I didn’t go into teaching for the holidays or the generous pension at retirement; I went into teaching because I wanted to offer children a better standard of education than I received…I wanted to make a small difference to the country in which I grew up in. I don’t feel that I should be bribed into doing it and I don’t feel that I should be bullied into leaving. I am a public servant.

We were told today by Emma Boon, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance: ‘It is not right for taxpayers to be subsidising million-pound retirement benefits for the public sector elite while seeing the value of their own pensions plummet’. I look forward to announcing to my colleagues tomorrow morning that we no longer pay tax, not only that, we also each get a million-pound on retirement. Now I’m not saying that being the campaign manager for the TaxPayer’s Alliance isn’t a proper job but Ms Booth is clearly not good in her current role as she has failed to understand, recognise that public servants also pay tax.

I’m sure that when the coalition have finished demonising the unemployed, public servants, the north, local councils, the police, the NHS, Europe, immigrants then I’m sure they will get around to the tax evaders and the bonkers bank bonuses. The coalition are some what correct in their approach to citizens that choose not to seek work or undertake work if they believe it beneath them. However, the proportion of those that fiddle the benefits system doesn’t come close to the proportion of those that fiddle the tax system. The top 10% of this country own 90% of it’s wealth, this leaves 10% of wealth to 90% of the country.

So to sum up, I need to work longer for less money, I have no right to financial assistance through the taxes that I pay and I have to work for free during the only time that I get to spend with my family. I am a public servant…is this fair?

Top Trumps – Labour Leadership 2010

September 1st 2010 is a significant date in the diary for many reasons. For most schools in Britain it heralds the start of the new academic year. It marks the 25th anniversary of the wreckage of the Titanic being discovered. Uzbekistanis celebrate the 19th year of independence from the former Soviet Union. For Ed, Ed, Dave, Andy and Diane the 1st of September takes on a special significance as it marks the day in which the Labour leadership ballot begins to drop. Throughout the month, Labour party members will be voting in their thousands until the 25th when the results are announced.

Regular readers of the blog will know that this isn’t the first time I’ve strayed from the subject of the coalition. As I’ve stated before you can’t separate the coalition from the Labour leadership election because the winner will have a direct impact on the success or failure of the Con-Dems. If the correct candidate is elected, then they will have the challenge of trying to form a credible opposition.

When I was growing up, my friends and I used to argue about who would win in a fight…who would win between Optimus Prime & Megatron; Dalglish & Kendall; Stallone & Schwarzenegger; Thatcher & Kinnock (ok I made that last one up). Optimus was a truck but Megatron was a plane; Kendall had Sharp but Dalglish had Rush; Stallone had Rocky but Schwarzenegger had The Terminator; Kinnock had Hattersly but Thatcher had Tebbit. We loved nothing more than debating the minute details of each opponent. Sometimes we would fall onto the statistical debating cards, Top Trumps, to assist us.

Well, in a throwback to those salad days, my friends and I were in the pub the other day sharing stories of our complicated lives. During one of our discussions, two of my more troubled friends started to debate the leadership election. As the debate grew to include all of the table, it became clear that we all seemed to share different views of the candidates.  One area where we were all in agreement was on the importance this election has on the country. We just couldn’t agree on how best to judge the candidates…who would win? David has more support from MPs but his brother has the overwhelming support of the Unions; Diane is a woman, the rest all look the same; Well, just for fun, I’ve made these cards to help me choose and I hope they help you decide…the Cameron card is also included in the pack. (Cards not to be used for serious debate…watch out for the ‘special’ election reform referendum pack soon).

Ed 'I'm not David' Miliband

Ed 'I almost lost my seat' Balls

Diane 'I'm a woman' Abbott

Andy 'I'm northern' Burnham

David 'I'm not Tony but by god I want to be' Cameron

David 'I'm not Tony or Gordon' Miliband

The one with politics all over the gaffe.

Cameron the new Bush

Source Guardian.co.uk

When the coffee house phenomena hit the States we still had the humble cafe (pronounced caff). Several years later the cafe has all but disappeared and in its place are the egregious green & white caffeine oubliettes. It took several years but America found a way of exporting them to our peaceful land. We lapped them up.

My first job was working in a coffee shop in a shopping centre, churning out ‘Expresso’ and ‘Frothy Coffee’ by the vat load like some Indian sweatshop worker (this was in the day before the minimum wage). I produced these bastardised coffees to the general public and they queued up in their thousands as if they were the best things since sliced bread (which is ironic really as we also sold that but like Pacman and Amstrad computers it just wasn’t that popular anymore, replaced by the grandiosely titled Wrap). We all wanted to be ‘Friends’, to sit around all day talking about sex & relationships. We couldn’t stop the invasion, in fact we welcomed it.

We’ve allowed it to happen again. Only this time it’s not addictive hot beverages, this time we get bad political oratory. We all mocked the Americans for voting in a man that was more into his gaffes than a cockney describing his house. You would have hoped that we learnt the lesson of history, well we didn’t.

Over the past week, our illustrious leader Dave Cameron, has thrown a few in of his own. What with his comments on World War 2, his demonstration of world class diplomacy with his ill-advised India pandering comments about Pakistan. Then came his comment yesterday when he stated that Iran had nuclear weapons. His PR machine span the line that the PM had simply mis-spoken, of course he knows that Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons (yet) and he just made an error. I’m not a politician, I didn’t go to Eton, I didn’t even do that well either at school, college or university for that matter. However, even I know that if you’re going to screw up, don’t do it about nuclear weapons. It’s probably a good thing that the Conservative pin-up, Lady Thatcher (or as she was known back then ‘The Milk Snatcher’ or ‘That woman who stole my job and then my community) was in charge during the Cold War and not him otherwise who knows what damage could have been done.

Having a quick trawl through the YouTube archives, I’ve found Dave’s recent gaffes as well as a couple of older ones, just in case we were thinking that the pressure of the job was getting to him.

The one with Cameron and the Gay gaffe

The one where Cameron equates China and Iran

The one where Cameron rewrites history

The one where Cameron accuses Pakistan of promoting terror and thereby pissing off nearly a billion people

The one with Cameron, the public, Iran and the Nuclear weapons.

… just for laughs The one where Cameron checks the cameras are on him and his excellent Blair impression.

A new era of suffrage? Women know your limits!

Are we entering a new era of suffrage under the Con-Dems? The evidence seems to point to a government with pre Pankhurst attitudes to women’s rights. The disproportionate cuts in the budget, the shelving of ‘Go-Orders’ and the proposed ending of council tenancy for life have hit women very hard.

Did we expect anything else from a male dominated cabinet? This is a ‘back to basics’ campaign through the back door…

Harry Enfield created the Tory poster boys ‘Tim Nice But Dim’ & ‘Loads-a-money’, he also created this, now rather accurate, depiction of the modern Tory attitude to women…enjoy.