Trolls, bullies and stalkers incorporated

stalker

I HAVE been a published writer and hard-hitting investigative journalist for more than 30 years.

Over those years I have received letters of complaint and criticism when my words have struck a raw nerve – as a journalist it comes with the territory.

And it was always good to shine a light on the criticism and give the reader the right of reply.

But times have changed.

And technology now allows the trolls and stalkers to stay in the darkness.

I was active on the Telecom Gold internet in 1988 – long before the World Wide Web was born. Since the Millennium, I have been a member of almost every social media group imaginable, and for the past four years have written my own blog… the one you are reading now!

As a magazine and newspaper editor and writer, my name is well known; and if you search you will find me.

But internet trolls and weirdos have finally forced me underground – the anonymous keyboard filth who threaten, demean, bully, harass and follow.

Some 13 years ago, I had my first taste of these vermin through a football club website – one guy from Cardiff even threatened to drive 300 miles to “find” me! I laughed it off as football banter… at the time I knew no better.

Then four years ago the reality of these anonymous people hit home.

In May 2013, after I published my personal thoughts about the killers of Private Lee Rigby and the Islamophobia which followed his murder, I feared for my life.

Within an hour of my words hitting social media, I faced scores of threatening messages from far right Britain First and BNP extremists. Some had even hacked my Facebook account and downloaded photos of my children. More than a dozen people (including women) made death threats against me and my family, and one man threatened to find out which school my then 11 year-old son, attended… “it would be easy to find him,” he taunted.

So I closed down all my social media accounts, and by lucky coincidence we moved house and area two weeks later!

In the meantime I suffered a nervous breakdown.

I promised to take extra care with my social media activity in the future and re-entered the world of the internet in September 2013, when I began this blog.

So I wrote, campaigned, exposed and wrote some more.

Then it all came back with a vengeance early in 2016, while I was campaigning for the liberation of Palestine… and this time it was sinister and at the same time disgusting.

Over a number of weeks I was being trolled by Zionist Israelis with private messages and public postings of the most vile paedophile and sexual nature I will not repeat.

I managed to find out the identities of two of these trolls (one 35 year-old man and a 22 year-old woman) both based in Tel Aviv.

I reacted by publicly naming them, blocking them and withdrawing from some social media sites.

Although I must state here, that Facebook was toothless in dealing with these twisted bullies and perverts.

Over the ensuing 15 months I still fell victim to the occasional troll, but I had learned how to deal with them.

How wrong I was!

Three weeks ago, I began a daily writing campaign, through this blog, to support Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

My posts were being widely read (one had over 25,000 hits) and shared via Facebook, Twitter and other means.

And I received the occasional disagreeable comment from some readers.

But then it happened…

Three individual weirdos managed to find out my phone number (which is ex-directory) via Facebook and my other social media activity and the calls and text messages began.

I am still hanging up my phone and deleting texts as I write this.

It doesn’t frighten me, but some things in life are more important.

I will always stay true to my political beliefs, which are ingrained deep within me, and will continue to write my blog.

But today, I deleted my Facebook account – which I have maintained for 10 years – and am clearing my social media footprint.

I have had enough!

I am a writer AND a fighter, but family, peace, music and love are much more important.

 

Manifesto: the General Election choice is simple

Choice blog

NEXT month’s General Election is a pivotal moment and will change our country for a generation and beyond.

The choice is simple.

We have the “strong and unstable” Tories who are hell bent on turning our country into a Little Britain for the powerful and rich and let the devil take the hindmost for the rest of us.

Or we have a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government dedicated to serving and helping the “many and not the few”.

If we, the electorate make the wrong choice, I fear deeply for our collective futures.

For decades our country has been sleep walking into a world of personal greed, arrogance and self-importance with totems such as million pound homes, winner takes all, designer clothes labels and reverence to the aristocracy.

Human kindness, gentleness, peace, society and social justice were jettisoned for a winner takes all mentality and a scapegoating of the homeless, those claiming benefits, the disabled, Muslims, asylum seekers and the poor in general.

Once again, the choice is simple.

We must not again elect a UK government compiled of self-seeking rich Tory elitists who care more about their mansions and banking friends than about people.

And their shopping list for change is truly terrifying.

Over the next few years an unshackled Theresa May Conservative government will:

  • Bungle a Hard Brexit in which we will lose all the social and economic benefits and safeguards we have collectively fought so hard to preserve for the past 45 years.
  • Rip up the Human Rights Act, which underpins our legal system and protects all our basic freedoms and those of persecuted minorities.
  • Spend £200billion on replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons, which at the push of a button could wipe out millions of lives and pollute our planet for tens of thousands of years.
  • Make £12.8billion of cuts to welfare, leaving the poorest, the oldest and the weakest in our society facing the bleakest of futures. In turn this will ensure the need for a food bank in every town and extend child poverty ensuring suffering and a loss of opportunity for millions.
  • Begin a phased end to council housing, thus pushing up rents in the private sector and making families homeless. Once again – as under Thatcher – we are already seeing a surge in rough sleeping and begging.
  • Will enact tougher sanctions on migrants and refugees whether from Europe or beyond.
  • Involve the UK in further illegal wars in the Middle East and trigger an increase in racism and Islamophobia.
  • Back a return of the barbaric blood sports of fox hunting and deer coursing.
  • Extend zero hours contracts, thus massaging the unemployment figures and leaving thousands of the poorest people without any job security.
  • Legislate for more private schools and academies which will imbed the class system even deeper in our society, rather focus on improving our state schooling system.
  • Escalate and accelerate the privatisation of the NHS, so medical care will depend on wealth and power rather than need.
  • Then redraw constituency boundaries so these same corrupt capitalist elitists stay in power for another 20 more years.

But under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is offering a real and radical alternative which gives renewed hope of a better future.

Over the past two years this gentle political firebrand has packed out meetings and hustings the length and breadth of this country with his simple messages of fairness, compassion and change

His messages have caught the hearts and minds of millions.

Now those messages are wrapped up in Labour’s pledges for this General Election and will be spelt out fully in the party’s manifesto, which will be launched next week.

Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 Pledges to Rebuild and Transform Britain are quite simply breath-taking and wonderful:

  1. Full Employment – a publicly-owned National Investment Bank and regional banks will back up £500bn of investment across energy, transport and housing.
  2. A Secure Homes Guarantee – over a million new homes in five years will be built, with at least half a million council homes, through its public investment strategy.
  3. Security at work – people will have stronger employment rights “from day one in a job”, an end to “exploitative zero hours contracts”, repeal the Trade Union Act and the creation of new sectoral collective bargaining rights. Ensure that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad does not undercut workers at home – because it causes divisions when people are played off against each other.
  4. A secure NHS and social care – an end to any NHS services being outsourced to private health providers.
  5. A National Education Service – universal childcare to give all children a good start in life, allowing greater sharing of caring responsibilities and removing barriers to women participating in the labour market.
  6. Action to secure our environment – an expansion of green industries, using the National Investment Bank to invest in public and community-owned renewable energy.
  7. Put the public back into our economy – people will have “a real say in their local communities with increased local and regional democracy”.
  8. Cut inequality in income and wealth – the tax system will become “more progressive” so higher earners are “fairly taxed” and people on lower incomes will have their pay boosted through a higher minimum wage of £10 an hour.
  9. Action to secure an equal society – Labour will take action to tackle violence against women and girls, racism and discrimination on the basis of faith, and secure real equality for LGBT and disabled people.
  10. Peace and justice at the heart of foreign policy – human rights and social justice will be built into trade policy, while international treaty obligations on nuclear disarmament will be honoured as it encourages others to do the same.

A brave new world indeed, and those Corbyn led Labour pledges are forever true.

Fairness, compassion and equality can finally overturn the scourge of capitalist greed.

Hope is renewed.

The choice is simple: vote Labour.

 

Labour Party membership surges to new all-time high

Jezwecan

OUR perfectly balanced media <irony> keeps telling us that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable and members are leaving the Party in droves.

Oh, how wrong they are!

New figures show party membership is creeping towards 660,000, with more than 50,000 joining since Theresa May called the General Election.

Two months ago our unbiased press <irony> were in celebratory mood, reporting that members were leaving the Labour Party in record numbers, and it was all because Jeremy Corbyn was so unpopular.

The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and even The Guardian reported in March that 7,000 members had left after Mr Corbyn told MPs to back the Brexit bill

And Labour had lost nearly 26,000 members since last summer.

They claimed that the number of resignations in 2016 was more than the previous six years combined, while more than 15,465 had left since mid-December.

They further claimed that Labour membership was down to a new low at 517,000.

Yet they failed to note that in May 2015, after the last General Election, and before Jeremy Corbyn became Leader, membership was at a mere 200,000!

They also ignored Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, when he explained: “These figures are mostly seasonal or the result of the lapsing of members who joined last summer and were unable to vote in the leadership election.

“But Labour is now the largest party in Western Europe. And that is because people have joined Labour in record numbers under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, which is something other parties can only dream of matching.”

Now, some five weeks later, the silence on this subject by our fevered media is deafening.

Why?

Because the lie has been revealed.

New figures show the Labour Party boasting more than 650,000 members – the highest figure for 40 years.

Double the number of people have joined the Labour Party since the 2015 General Election than are members of the Conservatives.

By contrast, total Tory membership is around 150,000 people, according to the latest available figures, down from over 253,000 during the 2005 leadership contest.

So why aren’t the media reporting this?

Total Full Membership of the Labour Party is now over 490,000 – more than Tony Blair enjoyed at the 1997 election.

Add to this more than 160,000 Registered Supporters and Affiliated Members and the Labour Party now has a membership well in excess of 650,000.

This is the highest party membership figure since 1976.

The membership surge has allowed the party to pay off its £24.5 million debts and abandon its forced move out of Westminster.

Labour’s membership leap has been driven by a surge in joiners during and since the party’s leadership elections in 2015 and 2016.

And despite the dip earlier this year, people are turning to Labour again as the General Election campaign heats up, with 50,000 new membership applications in just three weeks.

The composition of the Labour Party is changing too.

The average age of the party membership fell by 11 years over the last nine months – from 53 to 42 – and more women than men joined.

Jeremy Corbyn hopes this mass membership will provide Labour with an edge over the Conservatives in the General Election.

His campaign team toyed with the idea of calling the membership drive “Make It a Million”, but discarded this on the grounds that it could turn into a hostage to fortune if they fail to reach that target.

This is a far cry from the dim days of 2006, when under Tony Blair’s leadership, warnings were made that Labour Party membership could disappear within seven years if the rate of decline at the time continued.

Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and a former Downing Street aide, said in December 2006 that the party had lost 160,000 members between 2000 and 2006 – the equivalent of one every 20 minutes.

He warned Labour must rally members and re-engage with the electorate through community campaigning, saying: “You need to build it from the bottom up. Activity on the streets, a local presence, continuously, year on year and not just at election times.”

And as recently as February 2015 a similar warning was made that if electoral defeats and a loss of membership continued then Labour’s ‘core’ support would soon be reduced to London and several other big metropolitan areas.

Then, under Ed Miliband’s leadership, they were reduced to hoping that the lost voters would somehow return by May when faced with the prospect of another Tory government.

And of course the rest is history.

Now fast forward to May 2017 and more than 650,000 paid up members and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party show that Labour’s new direction is more popular than anyone could have imagined.

It appears that the more the media spin against Mr Corbyn’s leadership, the more the general public react by becoming members.

“All the spin and bias has proved to be counterproductive because the more attacks on Jeremy, the more members we recruit,” added John McDonnell.

If the past two years has showed us anything, it is not to trust political pundits or the right wing media – and to believe that another world is possible.

 

Revolution 2017

HOPE BLOG

The time has come

We can take the flak

It belongs to us all

We’ve got to take it back

No more voting for the Eton elite

No more bowing at their polished feet

 

Poverty is a putrid cancer

Sectarianism is obscene

Take home your nukes

They are really not our scene

No more voting for the Eton elite

No more bowing at their polished feet

 

Can you hear it?

Can you smell?

Can you sense it?

Revolution is in the air.

 

It’s time to end the status quo

It’s time to grab the crown

Call an end to the upper chamber

Those in the Lords just look down

No more voting for the Eton elite

No more bowing at their polished feet

 

Take the power from the rich

Give that power to the poor

Don’t give shelter to the bankers

We don’t need them anymore

No more voting for the Eton elite

No more bowing at their polished feet

 

Can you hear it?

Can you smell?

Can you sense it?

Revolution is in the air.

 

Shelter for the homeless

And feed the hungry too

Education will unlock the door

We are many and you are few

No more voting for the Eton elite

No more bowing at their polished feet

 

Time to move as one nation

Time to speak with one voice

We the people demand justice

We now have a real choice

No more voting for the Eton elite

No more bowing at their polished feet

 

Can you hear it?

Can you smell?

Can you sense it?

Revolution is in the air.

No Frontiers / Sans Frontieres

no_frontiers_EG

Andy is a plumber

He works from dawn till dusk

Barrie is a banker

Money fuels his lust

Colin is a carer

Looking after his old mum

Derek is a beggar

Seeking food to fill his tum

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Edward is a baron

In a mansion cold and grey

Freddy is a homophobe

But he is secretly gay

Gregory is a millionaire

Funding international genocide

Harry is his best friend

Knowing how he lied

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Indira is a seamstress

Making dresses for the rich

Jakinda she sews trainers

One rupee for every stitch

Kondo was a warrior

But HIV has made him sick

Leandro he is starving

Earning a dollar for a trick

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Mendel is a Rabbi

Living in the Promised Land

Noam is quite pleasant

Though no one sees his hand

Ovadia he buys weapons

For the IDF to fire

Pesach is an agent

With 40 guns to hire

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Qasim is a builder

He works to earn some bread

Radi is an Iman

Saying prayers for the dead

Saha she smiles bravely

While burying her mum

Tasnim lost her legs

In the heat of the Gaza sun

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Ursula is the Scottish wife

Of a paedophile parish priest

Vanora owns a town house

On a street in Inverleith

Willie wants independence

From the bastard English rule

Yolanda says he crazy

And a brainless Indy fool

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

While bombs rain down aplenty

On helpless Palestine

The yanks they start to blitz

The bloody ISIS line

The rulers keep us under

With lies and racial fear

They sip their Pimms and cocktails

And serve us promises and beer

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Think again Boris – a song for our Islington Herbivore

SONG for jc BLOG

Go ahead and smear him because he makes you doubt

Because he has denied himself the things you can’t live without

Laugh at him behind his back just like the others do

Remind him of the knives behind him when he comes walking through

 

But he’s loved by all of us

Resent him to the bone

You got something better?

You’ve got a heart of stone

 

Stop your conversation when he passes on the stairs

Hope he falls upon himself, no-one really cares

Because he can’t be exploited by media moguls anymore

Because he can’t be bribed or bought by the things that you adore

 

But he’s loved by all of us

Resent him to the bone

You got something better?

You’ve got a heart of stone

 

When the whip that’s keeping you in line doesn’t make him jump

Say he’s hard-of-hearing, as ridiculous as Donald Trump

Say he’s out of step with reality as you try to test his nerve

Because he doesn’t pay no tribute to the Queen that you serve

 

But he’s loved by all of us

Resent him to the bone

You got something better?

You’ve got a heart of stone

 

Say that he’s a loser because he uses common sense

Because he doesn’t increase his worth at someone else’s expense

Because he’s not afraid of trying, he embraces others with a smile

Because he doesn’t threaten immigrants, say he’s got no style

 

But he’s loved by all of us

Resent him to the bone

You got something better?

You’ve got a heart of stone

 

You can laugh at austerity, you can play your nuclear games

You think that when you rest at last you’ll go back from where you came

But you’ve pocketed your bonuses and you’ve changed since the womb

What happened to the real you, you’ve been captured but by whom?

 

But he’s loved by all of us

Resent him to the bone

You got something better?

You’ve got a heart of stone

 

(with thanks to Bob Dylan for the song pattern)

Eton Mess: education the election winner for Labour

schools blog

EDUCATION is the biggest dividing line in the General Election.

And it is one battleground where Jeremy Corbyn and Labour can win big time.

Education determines an apprenticeship, a university place, job opportunity, home, happiness, health, career, earning potential and a person’s whole life.

It also divides our country on class lines and underpins the status quo, where the rich get richer and the rest of us do the best we can with what is left.

On one hand Theresa May’s Tories offer SAT tests and selection at every level, privatisation of schools via the sinister academy system, grammar schools and private institutions such as Eton and Westminster, charging up to £36,000 a year for the very wealthy to educate their offspring.

On the other hand, Labour is offering a free and fair education system for everyone, where success does not depend on wealth, social class or exam results.

Ironic, because today, MPs questioned “how much of a grip” the Tory government’s Department for Education has on providing school places where they are really needed.

The system is “increasingly incoherent and too often poor value for money,” says the Public Accounts Committee.

And the government is spending “well over the odds” on free schools or academies while other schools are in poor condition, concludes the cross-party committee.

But Theresa May has already tied her education policy to so-called free schools and the failed grammar school system.

Last September she put grammar schools back at the heart of Conservative thinking for the first time since the 1970s.

For May, the return of selection is part of an attempt to redefine the Conservatives as a party of meritocracy and exam success.

Tory Ministers also say controversial free schools are key to meeting demand for school places.

The government pledged to open 500 more free schools, which are state-funded but independently run, by 2020 and has plans for a further 110.

It is a huge mistake, which panders to their friends in big business.

For the past three months I helped campaign against the academisation of a vibrant primary school in Hastings, in East Sussex.

I saw at first-hand how schools and children’s futures were being handed into the private control of multi-millionaire businessmen, who in turn had unhealthy links to senior politicians.

Those running the academies, or free schools, earn vast salaries while the education of the children often suffers.

One head of a primary academy chain took home a salary in excess of £200,000, after being handed a massive pay rise.

He also received £28,316 in pension contributions, which took his overall remuneration package to £229,138.

This is more than the Prime Minister and many city bankers.

Last year delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference in Liverpool, heard that growing numbers of academy heads were now also earning more than the PM’s salary of £149,440 a year.

“When schools were under local council control, it would have been unthinkable as well as impossible that a headteacher, of even a group of schools, could earn more than a director of education, let alone the Secretary of State for Education, let alone the Prime Minister,” Simon Clarkson from Leicestershire told the conference.

“We need to guard against the rot of greed.”

Mr Clarkson concluded: “Our state schools are paid for by the public. They need to be accountable. Let me remind you whose money is being used to do this… ours!”

Now the National Audit Office agrees that further academisation of schools is a “significant risk to long-term value for money”.

The Public Accounts Committee MPs say that having enough school places in safe, high-quality buildings, where they are needed, is crucial.

“Without this, parents may have less choice, pupils may have inconvenient journeys to school and the learning environment may be less effective, putting educational outcomes at risk,” they say.

They note that 420,000 new school places will be needed by 2021, many in secondary schools where provision is more expensive than at primary level.

“In the context of severe financial constraints, it is vital that the department uses its funding in a more coherent and cost effective way,” say the MPs, adding that too many free schools are in unsuitable temporary buildings, lacking outside space and sports facilities.

Committee chairwoman Meg Hillier said the free schools programme was “diverting a lot of money” from school maintenance.

“What we want to see is a much more balanced programme of capital funding so that existing poor school buildings get the funding and investment they need and those new schools are built.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the report reflected head teachers’ concerns.

“Creating surplus places is an inefficient use of public money and damages existing schools where spare capacity is created,” he said.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, added: “Free schools do not address the school-place crisis, often being built in areas of no need and often in unsuitable premises.

“This policy is not evidenced based and is nothing to do with the wellbeing of children or providing a sound education.”

Labour’s Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, says the free school programme was incoherent and inefficient.

“In the recent Budget, the chancellor announced plans that would only create one-sixth of the school places we will need by 2021, and even those plans were drastically underfunded,” she said.

“Tory academy plans are in complete chaos. 

“The impossible job the Department for Education has set itself in trying to directly run thousands of schools from Whitehall is fully exposed as we learn over half of existing academy chains have refused to take on schools and 70% of inadequate academies have been left languishing with poor academy chains.”

Labour’s plans for education are, in contrast, broad-reaching and inclusive.

Jeremy Corbyn made education a central theme of his campaign for re-election as Labour leader, lamenting the “commodification” of the education system.

Labour’s proposed national education service is impressive.

It starts with a principle that education is a public good. Learning should be provided from cradle to grave.

From there, it goes to universal free childcare, building on the success of Sure Start – something which has been dismantled by the Tories.

Next, Labour pledges decent schools for all, including class sizes of under 30, an idea so universal that the only question it raises is why it’s not already the case.

Labour also advocates free tertiary education and the abolition on university tuition fees.

Finally, the promise of investment in adult education is a huge vote winner – who could possibly want adults to be less skilled, less fulfilled, than they could be?

And today Labour pledged to bring back maintenance grants for the poorest students and restore the abolished financial support allowance.

Labour will reverse the decision to replace means-tested grants for university students with loans, announced by George Osborne in his final budget.

It will also reinstate the Education Maintenance Allowance, a means-tested cash payment, for 16- and 17-year-olds from poorer families choosing to remain in education.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank suggested the EMA, which was worth £30 a week, helped boost participation among teenagers.

But it was abolished in 2011 as part of the Tory coalition government’s efforts to reduce the deficit and replaced with a much less generous bursary system.

Ms Rayner said the twin announcements: “Show that while the Tories continue to burden our young people with debt, the Labour Party is committed to investing in our young people.

“It is only by investing in education that we can ensure that all of our young people, whatever their background, are able to succeed in whatever they aspire to.

“When we can help improve the education of over a million young people with a small increase in corporation tax, it is an investment we would be foolish not to make.”

Labour says the policy could be paid for through a 1.5% increase in corporation tax.

Analysts say such a move would raise £3billion a year.

Meanwhile education trade unions have urged all parents to turn education cuts into the election battleground.

The National Union of Teachers says the General Election offers an opportunity to fight for better resourced schools and teachers.

Kevin Courtney told the union’s annual conference the snap election was an opportunity to challenge the funding shortages in England.

“In the run-up to this election, parents must demand of all politicians: will they invest in our country, will they invest in our children?” he told delegates in Cardiff.

“I don’t believe there’s a parent anywhere in this country who voted for their child’s class size to go up, or voted for their child to lose the opportunity to do art or dance or music.

“We can reach parents with this and we can make a difference in the general election.”

The NUT’s call on funding was joined by other unions, including those representing headteachers.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Our top message is that there is insufficient funding in the education system. We call on all political parties to commit to investing in education as part of a long-term economic plan.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said his union would also campaign over the school funding cuts.

“There are crises, like teacher recruitment and the £3billion of cuts the government expects schools to make, that should not be forgotten during the election campaign,” he said.

The education battle lines are drawn and it gives Jeremy Corbyn and Labour its best platform to win the General Election.

  • If you are not yet convinced, read the words of one teacher, Rebecca Bee:

“Let me start by saying that I am not concerned about my pay. I don’t want more money.

What I am concerned about are the cuts that the Conservative government makes to education are huge, life-changing cuts that are having a detrimental effect on the mental health and well-being of a massive number of children and young people.

Michael Gove started his annihilation of the A*-G GCSE system back in 2010, and this year we see the first string of examinations take place.

“More rigour” was the battle cry. However, did you know that the new GCSE English Literature exam is a closed-book?

This means that no student will be given a copy of the text in their exam – not even SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) students, many of which have recall and memory problems.

The GCSE English Language exam uses extracts from heritage texts that carry a reading age of approximately 17.

The average reading age of a GCSE-level student is 14.

So why are we asking our students to read and analyse texts that are aimed at someone with a reading age 3 years above their own? Some of my students have a reading age of 9. They cannot in any way access the papers.

We still don’t know how the new GCSEs are going to be graded.

Schools are in disarray as they know one thing to be true – if their GCSE results are bad, Ofsted will swoop in, prepared to announce them as “requiring improvement”.

Excessive testing at ages 7 and 11 has led to children prepared for tests, but little else.

These exams are completely arbitrary and do not test the skills required for success at GCSE and in adult life.

I agree that students need to leave primary school ‘secondary ready’.

But, I do not think that testing students’ ability to identify grammatical items over their ability to compose a creative piece is the best way to do it.

I have a firm belief that testing students does not make them better learners.

We do not need grammar schools. We don’t. Not until all other schools are funded well, and equally.

If we increase funding to all state schools to a level reflective of needs, we allow teachers to develop a ‘grammar curriculum’ and give schools ‘grammar resources’ and invest in better pastoral care, then we won’t need more grammar schools.

Why do we need to build more schools when we can just give more money to existing ones? Why, at a time where funding is in crisis, are we investing in new grammars and not existing schools?

When I entered teaching in 2005, most classes had a learning support assistant (you may know them as a TA).

These people were incredibly important – they worked with SEND students, BESD (behavioural, social and emotional difficulties) students, assisted with students who had been absent or were having trouble accessing the curriculum and they did this on minimal pay, with minimal complaint.

This government has cut spending on education to the point where these TAs are rare, or simply don’t exist.

The excessive cuts to education also mean that many schools are now in a situation where they are considering making cuts in the curriculum and getting rid of specific subjects, usually the arts – the subjects that make them well-rounded thinkers, evaluative learners and creative, motivated individuals.

Why the arts? Well, because they don’t add “rigour”!

These decisions are being made every damn day, because the government have headteachers over a barrel.

You must succeed. You must get above average pass rates. You must push out students with E-Baccs. If you don’t, we will academise you.

Are we here to provide exam factories that churn out identikit students?

Don’t be blinded by May. She wants you to be blinkered and she wants you to ignore the massive demolition of education. Don’t give her what she wants.”