Today someone posted an edited picture of me, depicting me as the devil with a caption: I will make your school days hellish!
Last week there were lies circulated about me on Facebook saying I take photographs of Y10 girls on my phone and that, on another occasion, I had to be forcibly escorted off a junior school site for photographing children.
All these accusations are completely without any foundation.
As a school, we’re always being accused of off-rolling and not supporting SEND kids. All lies, all without any foundation.
We’re accused of permantly excluding kids for dropping pen tops or wearing trainers. None of it true.
I’ve been accused of calling kids fat, of being racist, of bullying children, the list goes on. None of it true.
Charter kids, when I see them in the street, are super polite. They’re amazing. We shake hands. It’s magical. I’m so proud of them.
School age kids I don’t know, know me from the press. Invariably, if I’m in the street, some will shout after me, telling me I’m a ‘baldy c*nt’ and that my school is ‘f*cking sh*t’. You get used to it after the first three or four occasions.
Local shopkeepers often tell me how Charter kids have transformed, how they’re really polite and friendly now, how they hold doors open and say thank you, in a way they didn’t in the past. That’s nice.
Visitors, savvy teachers who know what schools are about, they come, they lavish praise on us. I manipulate the visitors, apparently. I hide the truth from them, apparently.
Ofsted came, invedtigated all of the lies, were hugely impressed. It was all a set up, apparently.
Our results at gcse have doubled. That’ll be all the off-rolling, apparently.
How much of this are we expected to endure?
Staff are happy and safe. Kids are happy and safe. (Yes, they are. Not one of our detractors has visited the school. Remember that, not one!) Results have doubled. Ofsted loved what they saw. Actual visitors love what they see.
Clearly, some won’t be happy until I resign or I’m sacked. Or do they want me to be so filled with self-loathing that I top myself? What is the motivation of the haters?
I suspect, in most cases, it’s nothing more than a desire to grab a little bit of fame. I don’t believe for a second that any of them genuinely want to help kids. It’s fame hungry virtue signalling.
Fear not. I’m impervious to detractors. I’m incredibly excited about what we’re going to achieve this year. I’m more determined than ever to keep doing what I believe in.
So where does this self belief come from?
I’ve a fantastic home life. Fantastic. Work is work. It’s part of my life. I love my work but it’s not my world.
I like kids. Kids like me. My entire teaching career, 21 years, kids have always liked me and me them. I know my motivation.
Anyone who’s seen me teach can see how much I love teaching, how much kids enjoy being taught by me. Ask Tom Bennett, David Didau, Tom Sherrington, Doug Lemov. They’ve seen the relationships. They’ve heard my kids speak French.
I don’t believe in gaming and ticking boxes. I don’t do as I’m told to curry favour. I do what I believe is morally right.
I spent a decade teaching teachers and, again and again, I stood up to all the nonsense, teacher-crushing fads.
I gave courses, over fifteen years ago, decrying differentiation, learning styles, tick box AFL, group work, mixed ability. Whatever fad du jour came along, I slayed it.
I did all of that, knowing that I risked not getting paid for the course I was delivering.
As a freelance trainer, I put my money where my mouth was. I lost jobs but I stuck to my principles.
I sometimes wasn’t paid because I refused to offer teachers kinaesthetic games to ‘raise boys’ achievement’.
I sometimes wasn’t paid because I refused to advocate ‘brain friendly’ teaching.
I sometimes lost work because I wasn’t prepared to advocate 10% teacher talk to get to ‘Outstanding’.
So, what drives me to be away from home four nights a week to live in a BnB in Yarmouth?
What makes we get up at 4.30 on a Monday morning to travel three hours to work?
What makes me impervious to the lies of the hate-mongers?
It’s easy. I can see, every day , the difference we’re making for the kids of Charter.
We’re asking more of them than anyone’s ever asked of them. And they rise to the challenge, every day.
Kids who used to cower in a corner and hide under desks, kids that used to cry in lessons, kids that used to habitually swear at staff, kids that never used to participate, now, they’re all succeeding.
Staff who were desperately searching for a way out, staff who were looking to leave teaching, staff who had to lock themselves in classrooms to be safe, staff who, out of stress, used to vomit over themselves on the way to work, now, they’re happy, confident, safe.
I love working with the team at Charter. They’re funny. They’re kind. They’re warm. They support each other. They support me.
That’s why I’m more determined than ever to do the right thing, no matter what lies are told about me and my staff.
Long way to go, just getting started.