Express: Baker Days


Excerpt from  Jennifer Selway column in the Express: “days which teachers take off for no good reason, causing massive inconvenience”
 I’ve not been a teacher for some time but it still rankles when newspaper columnists re-state that old lie that schools are closed just so that teachers can (selfishly) have inset days.
Let me recount the truth, or, at least, my version of it. 
If you check the “school year”, pre-1980 and now, you will find that the number of days required for pupils to be in school has remained the same.
Kenneth Baker, Maggie’s education minister, as part of his package of measures to reform education under the guise of improving standards (to their present level) took 5 days of the holiday allocation and required that teacher’s come into empty schools and  “be trained”.
Initially this was claimed to be to ensure successful implementation of his new National Curriculum and the constantly amended versions of it.
Because of the high quality of teachers at that time, the training days were a headache for school leaders, who had to manufacture schemes to keep teachers busy (much like supply teachers often keep classes occupied until the real teachers come back).
Some of the leaders, of the more affluent schools, tried to lessen the angry mutterings of the “bored to death” staff, by using the allocated funding, supplemented by PTA funds, to hold these training days at more interesting venues. This was, with justification, met by cries of outrage.
A consequence was that these “Baker days” were dispersed during term time.
This disruption of school schedules adversely affected some exam classes, which upset staff, pupils and parents but by encouraging the notion that these inset days were, despite being opposed by unions, somehow the consequence of union action, condemnation shifted from Government to Staff.
So teachers have five days holiday taken off them (not a big problem), they are bored witless by pointless exercises, have the headache of trying to re-work deadlines and cousework to fit in with these missing workdays and they are vilified for the whole pointless concept, by people, who have swallowed Government propaganda, without any attempt to verify the truth.
reply from jenny and my response

Dear John,
Many thanks for your email. Yes what you say is all true – but parents still find inset days a pain and assume teachers are all off having pub lunches and watching power point presentations while half asleep. Go on, you know they do. Anyway I don’t quite see why teachers need to be trained any more. How much training can a person take? They tried to give us some new software training a few months ago. Hopeless. Came in the next day and couldn’t remember anything I was supposed to have learned the day before. Nobody’s noticed yet…
All best

Thanks! but it’d have  been nice if you hadn’t phrased your piece to sound as though you also considered this to be an accepted truth.  There are probably a few more young mum’s who now believe that teacher’s are just being selfish.


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