Hindsight is a Beautiful Thing.

A victim of bullying: ‘10 internalised thoughts’

In September 2019 I wrote at lengths about bullying and spoke about the signs and symptoms of bullying in education. I must reiterate the seriousness of the bullying in education, its impacts on teachers and its insidious and entrenched ways of targeting people. Bullying is rarely in plain sight; it is covert which means it is difficult to detect and even more difficult to evidence. This doesn’t mean bullying doesn’t exist as Research from the NASUWT suggests 4/5 teachers have faced bullying of some kind in the past 12 months.


After spotting this on social media, I was certain many of us could spot the traits of a toxic person we have encountered in these illustrations.

As previously suggested, the signs of bullying include:

  • Inconsistent standards between you & your peers,
  • Your decisions, even the small ones, constantly challenged,
  • Threats to job security,
  • You are left feeling isolated,
  • Unrealistic targets set & obstacles at every turn. 
  • Your ideas and work are publicly criticised,
  • Being ‘encouraged’ to work into break & lunch times to deal with workload,
  • Sporadic meetings which give you no time to prepare or gather thoughts,
  • Feeling intimidated by senior staff or management,
  • Made to feel guilty for taking time out for yourself & your family,
  • No confidentiality, the idea that ‘everyone knows my business’
  • Gaslighting – your sanity is questioned therefore you’re deemed ‘inept’ in making rational judgments.

Although is not an all-encompassing and exhaustive list, it does help open dialogue on the issue. The purpose of this article is to build on previous work and reflect deeply on the internalised thoughts bullying creates for the victims. I will stick to just ten and again, this is not all-inclusive, but I truly hope it offers solace to people that have suffered. These awful practices need challenging, with victims needing support and accountability and re-education for the offenders. Again, bullying is a real part of the education system and its deep-cutting impacts on the daily lives, the mental, psychological and emotional wellbeing of victims requires a discerning eye.

10 internalised thoughts of victims


  1. It’s my fault” – Bullies use systems and institutional structures to shift blame and make victims feel as though they are being bullied because of their own practices. As bizarre as this sounds, let me give you an example. I remember during my PGCE, a fellow trainee was constantly being shouted at by his Mentors. He would be blamed for failing to control his classroom, not having marking up to date and everything in between. The poor guy worked tirelessly and continue to dwell into a realm of self-pity. The fact was his Mentors were not there for him. They never trained him to deal with poor behaviour or manage his workload effectively. In his own psyche, it was internalised that he was to blame when, the system let him down.
  2. “Maybe I’m not working hard enough” – From a personal point of view, when this thought process came to me, I would panic and even cry. How can anyone who leaves for work at 7am and returns as 6pm, spends most weekends working and refuses to go to family gatherings, weddings and even funerals because of work commitments, how can my commitment be questioned? Bullies thrive off catching people out and making a big deal out of even the most menial things. Whilst they do the minimum and then, rather contradictory, have sky high expectations of others, they will work people into the ground. The harder the victim works, the higher and more unattainable the expectations become. This makes the victim work harder for little or no rewards, which in turn can be incredibly demoralising.
  3. “Perhaps this is how they are towards everyone else” – ‘Maybe it’s not just me’ was the phrase that went through my head repeatedly. Bullies will use inconsistent standards to judge you and others, it’s a trait they use to push their agenda and enforce their authority over you. An example of where I have seen this was an NQT who was asked to create a display by her HOD. She produced a fantastic literacy display emulating the London Underground but her HOD was irate that she didn’t use the school logo. Ironically, neither did she but still made her tear down her display. Bullies will use their relative status in disproportionate ways, and this creates the impression that ‘that’s just the way they are’. Victims have an internalised idea that the person bullying them isn’t malicious and their behaviour is simply part of their personality which shouldn’t be questioned.
  4. “Maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was” – These were the words of an experienced English teacher with a PHD and over 20 years’ experience in education. When we are constantly under pressure or facing scrutiny, self-doubt begins to creep in. Bullies will thrive off the false hierarchy they have created, where their own elevated position may be under threat. They want to create the idea that they are better than you, usually as a false sense of security and even as a justification for their behaviour. When we keep getting ‘RIs’ as teachers, we do take it to heart. Working the endless hours and getting no internal reward from the schools, not even a passing complimentary comment, this can really create self-doubt. I know from experience that I lost all confidence in myself as a teacher because of bullying. I would question the most menial things, I became insecure about everything and even had regular breakdowns. The self-doubting bullying creates can destroy good teachers.
  5. “I bet it’s like this everywhere else” – ‘The grass isn’t greener elsewhere, it’s just a different shade of green’. Many people don’t leave their toxic working environments or relationships out of fear of the unknown. My old HOD said to me before I resigned “It’s better the devil you know than the one you don’t know”. I don’t want to know any devils! When people are bullied it creates a very inward-looking cycle where we cannot look beyond our immediate surroundings. I remember hearing a colleague, who was also severely bullied, telling me that she didn’t apply for her ‘dream job’ because she thought it would be ‘worse than here’. Bullying creates this perspective and when we lack confidence, we are unwilling to try something new. We sadly become comfortable and accepting of our fate which allows our bullies to continue, usually unchallenged. A truly awful cycle.
  6. “I don’t need breaks” – in a way bullying makes victims surrender their very basic rights as the alternatives may have more devastating consequences. The solutions a bully offer isn’t viable or conscious of workload or wellbeing. I was once told to ‘work smarter, not harder’ while trying to explain that I couldn’t possibly mark 100 assessments overnight. As a victim, we begin to lose our own sense of reality and humanity. We will put in extra work, often for the sake of work. We will work through our breaks and lunches, deny our own basic rights as human beings and as workers just to tick boxes. The days of eating lunch after work, usually in my car with a tear rolling down my cheek, gave me a profound point of reflection.
  7. “I should try and be like someone they are friends with or someone they like” – Bullies are selective of who they have in their circle and as teacher, we just want to do the best job possible. Bullying create a real self-awareness and self-consciousness. We see the person bullying us around friends or colleagues they have a good rapport, we want to emulate them. We just want to fit in and for the bullying to stop. An NQT who was being badly treated by her department went to see everyone in her faculty teach and began to adopt their ideas into her teaching. She even shopped at the same store as her HOD and changed her entire physical appearance to fit in. we should be encouraging individuality, autonomy and diversity among our teachers. Bullying internalises the thought “what have others got that I haven’t?”.
  8. “I shouldn’t bother to tell anyone, everyone’s busy” – When we see colleagues, all cooped up in their own lives and busy with their own work, we feel guilty. We don’t want to burden others and in the grand scheme of things, can our colleagues help us? Bullying can be incredibly intense and prevent us from making rational decisions (gaslighting escalates this). We don’t think that our circumstances don’t deserve the time of others, so we remain silent. I can almost guarantee you another colleague is going through or has gone through a similar ordeal. This internalised view stops us from crying out for the help we need.
  9. “How do I know I can trust you?” – With self-doubt also comes the doubting of others and their loyalty. When we are being bullied, it can feel as though our every movement is being monitored. We become mistrusting of our Managers as we know they are prepared to use the system to target and harass you further. As victims, we lose sight of who we are and our own personalities. There’s a real dissonance and detachment from the structures and colleagues that could potentially support us. Our lack of trust in others comes from people senior to us not having any trust in us. This create a barrier between us and support mechanisms, the mistrust can become mutual.
  10. “If I stay quiet, maybe they’ll leave me alone” – Bullying thrives in silence. With the accumulation of the other nine internalised thoughts, silence is the icing on the cake. Bullies do not go away without challenge. It shocks me to think that someone of them do not realise they are bullies until they are called out for it! Astounding! Remaining silent doesn’t help and although you may not want to be the person that upsets the applecart. Fact is, if you stay silent, your mistreatment will never be acknowledged by others which gives bullies the license to carry on, unchallenged and their actions unaccountable. You MUST speak up.

In Summary:

In summary, I think the emotional, psychological and mental impacts of bullying can never be understated. Confident classroom teachers with a real love and energy to help change the lives of their students can be left short of confidence, disillusioned and depressed. Bullying in education does exist, it is deeply entrenched and until School Leaders are prepared to eradicate cultures where it prospers, it will remain a problem. At the heart of the current teacher workload, wellbeing, retention and recruitment crisis, we must work together and help one another. The internalised questions and self-doubts bullying can create does not benefit anyone and to think the notion of ‘student progress’ and ‘resilience’ is used to veil such practices, this is abhorrent.

There are solutions. If you are a victim of bullying, you MUST speak up. The Teaching Unions offer fantastic free advice and the Education Support Network also are useful, even if you need an ear. It is important we recognise bullying in education, call it out and collectively fight it. I was once told by a senior colleague that “there is always a solution and if you cannot find the solution, keep looking for one within the problem”.

I truly hope this reaches those in need and I have left links to various support networks too. Also, I am still looking for contributors for my book ‘My Toxic School & I’. If you are interested, please let me know.

Thank you for reading.

Shuaib Khan

Twitter: @Shuaibkhan26

NASUWT Helpline: 03330 145550

NEU Helpline: ‭0345 811 8111‬

National Bullying Advice: https://www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/employees.html

Education Support Helpline: 08000 562561

I’m a Native.

Conversations about racism #sociologymatters

Do we live in a post-racial world? Have the key identity signifiers of Modernity vanished? I want to refer to Akala’s – Natives to critically assess this vantage point. Both relevant & well-researched, this excellent book is a must read.


There simply aren’t enough superlatives to describe this man. A genius.

Dialogue about race & identity politics remains controversial & open to challenge. Many believe we live in a ‘post’ world. Post-racist, Post-Sexist & Post-Modern universe whereby the power dynamics of modernity, namely, social class, ethnicity, race, gender, age, sexuality & age have all disintegrated. A friend of mine even rather naively said “In 2008 when Obama became President, racism died”. Is this the case? Through my personal lived experience, modernity’s discriminative structures are alive & well. This dialogue at a time where prejudice in its many forms has somehow received an ‘intellectual veneer’, well, it’s necessary, it’s political & it’s sociological.

Selective amnesia?

As a clenched up, screw faced, alienated, angry, agitated & socially conscious teen, racism rolled off the tip of my tongue instantaneously as soon as I saw injustice. Growing up in the 90s & 2000s, I wanted to integrate, assimilate, work & live in ‘Mother England’. The riots in the Northern towns, even 9/11 & 7/7 terror attacks, they filled me with shock & fierce patriotism. I was happy-go-lucky, never once thought I was ‘different’ from my White British peers at school. Yes, I encountered racism growing up but I assumed, as many children do, that as I got older everything would be okay. My Grandad (Bless his soul) assured me that if I, “Say yes, nod along & didn’t rock the boat” I’d be fine. What if I didn’t like the direction the boat was sailing in?

Who is Akala?

Kingslee Daley, also known as Akala is an award winning Hip-Hop artist. After extensive global tours & soul searches, as well as appearances in our mainstream media, Akala’s conversations about race, colonialism, identity, politics & social structures permeates from & into his music. I would throughly recommend his Ted Talks, Oxford Union lectures & also his poetic & powerful Fire in the Booth performances. Akala is a revolutionary thinker, someone who brings truth & realism into dialogue as well as integrity & empirical evidence into his work.

Days after the passing of my Grandad, a close friend sent me this. Still in awe, the best present ever. Thank you Danii.

Natives: Interlude, a guide to denial & the significance of Natives.

Yet, I know as a British Muslim of Pakistani heritage that there is a taboo, an unspoken truth & dare I even say, a dangerous set of misconceptions about us. Grandad in his grace always suggested that we have ‘selective amnesia’, that our social mobility in the UK was enough for us to subtly accept some level of racism. But I’m a third generation kid! I wanted to be treated equally to my peers, I had the same aspirations to them as we grew up on the same street. I didn’t want to be chased through town centres by the NF, confronted by the BNP, justify my citizenship rights to Britain First & stand up to UKIP. I didn’t want to fight racism, I just wanted to fit into the country that I always knew as my home. Racism needs confronting & despite my reservations on the past, it’s remained an important elephant in the room. The elephant that Akala’s – Natives challenges, the elephant I want to tackle through my personal lived experience.

The Twelve Big Questions

1. If we just stop talking about it ‘racism’ it will go away – I used to think this also. But just imagine any menial issue, for example, not doing the dishes. You avoid the dishes & day after day they pile up. The kitchen looks Dante-esque, eventually leading to you have no dish ware to dine with. Racism isn’t something we can dodge like the dishes. For many BAME people, it’s a part of our daily experience. I remember voting at the 2010 election, I was so fiercely proud of being British but minutes later, I overheard a lady say “I better not walk around here alone, there’s P**** on every corner”. She then clenched her purse really tight & headed towards the voting booth. Racism doesn’t go away without dialogue. Ignorance of prejudice is at the heart of racism. Both of these prosper when we begin to condemning racism or elevate one form prejudice as more condemn-worthy than another.

2. Stop playing the race card – This is a card that can be misused or misplayed. History tells us that racism was a process of labelling, institutionally engraining a deep discrimination, alienating the ‘ethnic other’. The race card isn’t something that people want to throw around willy-nilly but rather a mechanism to identify racial inequality. It shouldn’t be ridiculed. Yet in instances where race is a major factor or the only factor, can we simply ignore it? The race card doesn’t sit in the wallets & purses of BAME citizens. It’s an intangible but significant part of our daily experience. I’ve never heard someone say “stop playing the gender card”. The race card shouldn’t be used without context but denying its use at all, that’s subtly accepting responsibility for racial injustice.

3. Why can’t you just get over it, it’s all in the past – When do we reset our memory clocks? Earlier this year our PM was calling Muslim women ‘bank robbers’ & ‘letterboxes’. The year before, the Labour Party was being accused of anti-Semitism. We saw spates of shooting of unarmed African-Americans in the States by law enforcement. 2011, during the Riots? The 90s with the murder of Stephen Lawrence? 80s Rushdie affair? This idea of ‘forgetting the past’ is asking for the development of selective amnesia. We cannot travel back in time but we can learn from history. It may be in the past but giving racism & it’s allies either immunity or a lack of scrutiny, that feeds into the idea that racism of some form is ‘acceptable’. We learn from the past by studying the past. Ignorance of history is leaving us doomed to repeat the barbaric, genocidal & wicked atrocities of the past.

4. You have a chip on your shoulder – tell that to an inner-City youth who has been stopped & searched dozens of times, with few legitimate opportunities to be socially mobile. Why is it that people who stand up against injustice are accused of this? Do I have a chip on my shoulder or is it as sack of potatoes? I’m just going to refer to a social media post by Aleesha (@a_leesha1). This young lady receives death & rape threats, messages from trolls & all sorts for her activism. She is trying to give voice to British Muslim women growing up on a patriarchal, Islamophobic society that vastly simplifies their existence. Why is there such fear that a Muslim woman can be empowered & liberated? I’ve been accused of ‘creating animosity’ when I spoke about the role of the Hijab for a Muslim woman’s identity. I was simply trying to explain that we’re unable to conceptualise the lived experience of a Hijab-wearing female as males. Again, when we hold conversation about any taboo topic, we will inevitably hit some nerves. Yet claiming this projects negativity onto those in such dialogue, that’s absurd.

5. Why don’t you just go back to where you came from? I’m a third generation immigrant child. Britain is my home. I have little or no experience of my Grandparents motherland, how can I return somewhere I’ve never actually experienced beyond a fortnight long vacation? My aspirations as a child were similar if not greater than my White British peers. I wanted to wear the branded clothes, live in the big house with the white picket fence. Britain is my home. My parents, Grandparents & ancestors contributed to making Britain ‘Great’. As a sharp-tongues uni friend once said “I’ll go back when you leave my country”. Touché?

6. You should be grateful you have free speech – social media has definitely given everyone a voice, even the idiots! I am grateful that I’m not living in China or North Korea where my freedom of expression is totally suppressed. But having free speech doesn’t mean I can use it as a medium to attack others? I’m not Anjum Choudary who was poster-boy for Islam for so long. Free speech has more to do with protecting the rights of suppressed groups in supporting them to overcome their suppressor. Freedom of speech gives power to voices, even the hateful ones. I’m absolutely grateful of free speech but I just wish others would use their to educate & liberate, not condemn & spread hate.

7. You just hate Britain, you are anti-British – why can’t we critique OUR own policies without being branded ‘anti-British’. Growing up watching the tanks & military steamroll Afghanistan & Iraq, then reading about arms deals between the UK & Syria, why can’t we say “excuse me, this is wrong”. I’m a teacher & I’ll criticise, for example, Ofsted. May be Ofsted should be scrapped or frameworks should be changed to support teachers & not chastise them. That’s my opinion & inviting health opinion is important for any dialogue to gain direction & guidance. So the BIG questions, you know, Brexit, immigration, racism etc, why aren’t we allowed to offer an alternative opinion. No one labels me ‘anti-British’ if I criticise the government schools watchdog, so why am I anti-British if I don’t agree with other policies?

8. You are obsessed with identity politics – I am. The dynamics of social class, gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, race & disability are a part of my daily experience. I’m not a blank canvas, I’m not objective in every conversation I hold. I can’t be! From birth I was assigned a gender, later on birth certificates; a gender. Eventually I was placed under an ‘ethnic’ category & by the time I started school, I was already seeing visible differences in size & ability to my peers. We are all obsessed with identity politics. Looking back at the early to mid 20th century, social class was the key identity signifier. People were social class demarcate them from one another. It was life. Looking back at the Tudor days or even ancient history in ALL societies, there was a clear division between the have & have nots. In our more late/post modern times, social class, albeit declining in social conversation, remains an identity signifier. But the dynamics of race, ethnicity & sexuality are taking greater presidency. Our identity is shaped by societies power dynamics, all of which mean we’re all engaged in identity politics at some level.

9. You are trying to blame me for what my ancestors did – I’ve heard this, almost word for word by someone I was talking colonialism with. She was seething that I said “the world is shaped by post-colonial ideas” in relation to her thesis on Muslim women in western society. I wasn’t blaming her, I was pointing out that history shapes the present & detaching any social conversation from their context & history is dangerous. Her ancestors were probably lovely people. They never enslaved me or hurt my family. When we discuss race, there’s a deep fear that we are ‘passive victims’ of racism in society. By holding dialogue & considering alternative ideas, we are delving into what once divided us. Once we’ve touched upon this sensitive note, we can move forward. It’s an absurd idea that I’m blaming anyone for their ancestors misdemeanours. I’m not. As Akala tells us, let’s stop looking at the negatives of our ancestry but rather the positives of our forefathers. Like the millions of Indian soldiers that died in both World Wars.

10. Stop making excuses – personally, I’ve never accused anyone of racism. I’ve received looks, threats & had the feeling ‘you don’t belong here’. I’ve never used race as a barrier to anything in my life. Whether it be an interaction with a Teacher who called my group of friends “wild Hobbesian beasts that need civilising”, to the promotion I was denied because my “image was not the one the school wished to project”. I’m a Sociologist & I know that institutional racism exists. Is it an excuse when, in the context of education, BAME pupils are: more likely to be excluded, less likely to achieve good GCSEs or go to university. Issues within with & employment need their own blog entirely. Excuses? There are facts. Of course, when I heard young people from my community saying “society is racist”, I understand their sentiments. Yet, are they actively seeking to be a part of society or is society actively & institutionally seeking to cut them out of society? That’s the question.

11. I don’t see colour – if it doesn’t exist in my eyes, I won’t believe it exists at all. Colour blindness is something that has extensively been written about in race academia. No one is born innately racist. Race & our distinctions on any identity power dynamics are a by-product of socialisation. Not seeing colour is nigh-on impossible as race is deeply engrained into our psyche. Seeing colour doesn’t make you racist, it’s a natural curiosity to know about others, their heritage & culture. Not seeing colour perhaps homogenises the experiences of everyone, dare I say unintentionally.

12. It’s not about race – ‘This isn’t about race Shuaib’. Those words were muttered to me after a dispute about my employment contract that was not made permanent despite EVERY other member of staff attaining permanent posts. If it isn’t about race, that is it about? Someone even said to me “I don’t think Boris Johnson is racist, he just wants Brexit done”. So calling Muslim women ‘bank robbers’ or claiming black people have ‘watermelon smiles’, that isn’t racist? Race should never be used tactically to gain ground in an argument but denying racism is about race? If you want to cover your own back & not be labelled ‘racist’, eradicate the racist overtones in your interactions, words & actions.

For anyone interested in Sociology, History, Politics, Race Relations or simply humanity, this is a must read.

In Summary:

Doing Akala any sort of justice in tackling race is impossible. The intellectual genius is simply incredible & to even be able to create a forum with his ideals, that’s a privilege in itself.

My lived experience of race is somewhat sheltered compared to many who suffer from horrific experiences on a daily basis. Yet, lived experience alone has allowed me to confront the elephant in the room.

Finally, I truly hope we can carry on discourses about all power dynamics in unity as in isolation, they don’t exist.

Thank you for reading.

Thank you to Akala, Danii & Liam. Love to you ♥️

Shuaib

Twitter: @shuaibkhan26

The Staffroom: Another one of Modernity’s crumbling structures? A sign of the times.

There’s has been a large body of literature about the staffroom in schools. Many schools have designed or phased them out, others still value them. But why are they in decline?


The Staffroom: an apocalyptic view.

During my first PGCE placement, the staffroom really was the place to be. There was a real sense of belong, camaraderie, banter, collaboration & togetherness. This ‘RI’ rated school had the most incredible staff culture. In my 9 weeks at the school, I fell in love with teaching more & more because of the staffroom. Four year on from that incredible experience, staffrooms up & down the country are being replaced. My experience on Supply, sadly makes infant experience of a staffroom feel so obsolete.

What is a staffroom?

A dictionary definition translates to, a staffroom is: a room in a school is for the use of the teachers & staff when they are not undertaking their main duties. Staffrooms usually have small kitchens, a seating area & a handful of computers & teaching union displays. A simple design but their significance & what they say about a culture of a school, that’s what got Educationalists & union talking.

Staff rooms are now no longer a legal obligation for schools. The 2012 Education Premises regulations meant that schools do not need to provide teachers a place for work or social time.

So, amidst my holistic & somewhat romantic view of a staffroom, why are they in decline or losing value in school? Why are staffrooms becoming abandoned & feeling like post-apocalyptic entities? I want to bring some Sociological & pedagogical analysis into this discussion. Suppose I’m feeling a bit bewildered. We’re always to work with others, collaborate & moderate with teachers, get our students working in groups. Yet the epicentre of collaboration is losing its value? Time to discover why. This isn’t an exclusive list behind the decline of the staffroom in schools, more of a different angle to the debate. As Sociology teaches us, all angles must be covered to understand the full picture.

A typical staffroom layout. This should be a real place of collaboration & support.

Why are staffrooms in decline?

•Staffrooms are not valued by SLT – SLTs up & down the country tend to see staffrooms as a place of procrastination rather than productivity. When we value something, we give it time & care. Staffrooms that are valued by SLTs are ones that are occupied, used & promoted by SLTs. Yet, given the pressures on teachers & workload, having numbers of staff together, usually unregulated creates the fear, and wrongly so, that teachers aren’t productive thus slacking. The staffroom is thus seen as a burden rather than a benefit.

•Negative perceptions by staff – there’s an aura that the staffroom is inhabited by disgruntled teachers, agitated TAs & the atmosphere is both pessimistic & toxic. As an NQT, I was repeatedly told that the staffroom was overly political & I should approach with caution. This perception perhaps is true as many teachers collaborate, can have their daily moan & groan. This pushes staff away from using the staffroom, gives the impression that those who do use it are ‘negative’ or ‘mood hoovers’. A knock on effect is that staffrooms looking abandoned thus Senior Leaders begin to question its very existence.

•Workload – this is a national crisis. Teachers are working as hard as ever, their workload is a big as ever, & scrutiny is as intense as ever. The number of times I’ve heard “I haven’t seen you in a while” in a staffroom exchange between two colleagues, is countless. The interpersonal nature of work often means we say ‘hi’ & ‘bye’ doing our daily duties such as using a photocopier. My timetable was 23/25 teaching hours. This included duties on two separate days, lunchtime interventions twice a week & revision sessions on Fridays. I simply didn’t have time to use the staffroom, mingle with others & collaborate with colleagues. To me, the staffroom was not an option & for many others too, it’s just another room that we use haphazardly, not a safe haven or place to extend our professional outlook.

•A lack of space – with spending cuts, many schools simply cannot afford to dedicated a space for staff. I’ve seen school staffrooms being converted to internal PRUs, SEND basis, storage units and even laundry rooms! When a space begins to lose its social significance or usage, it becomes nigh on impossible to justify its existence. When a staffroom is needed by a department, it’s usually surrendered without question. With student numbers increasing nationally also, staffrooms are needed to help make ends meet.

•Staffroom Socialism – there is a real irrational fear amongst many people that staffrooms are enclaves for revolution. That union-endorsed rebel’s are in cahoot to overthrow the status quo whilst singing Bob Marley – Get Up Stand Up, with a cold of the Communist Manifesto in one hand & a Che Guevara portrait in the other! “They don’t want us talking” is a comment I’ve heard so many times. There’s a deep-lying suspicion that staffrooms are cesspools of radical ideas. Yes, someone might teach you how to reheat your soup or help you fix the photocopier! Damn!

•A sign of the times? – As promised, some Sociological analysis. If you’re aware of the work of Zygmunt Bauman, Anthony Giddens or Richard Sennett, you’ll see a pattern in their theories. These Sociologists argue that we have moved away from heavily industrialised, Union-centred, class-centric & monolithic social structures that dictate our lives. Societies, particularly in the Western world are becoming more individualised. May be the decline of staffrooms says more about our individualistic culture & the growing interpersonal nature of work & employment in society. Sennett wrote heavily about how colleagues & workplaces are becoming circumstantial thus collaboration isn’t something we either need or require to fulfil the requirements of my job. I once heard someone say “why do I need to use the staffroom when I’ve got everything I need in my classroom. Going there will make me talk to people who’ll never help me do my job”. I didn’t reply.

What does the future hold?

Has the school staffroom & culture become a dinosaur? Will staffrooms begin to look like post-apocalyptic ruins? A structure that late/post-modernity has left behind?

The staffroom isn’t obsolete. It’s valorisation is firmly in the hands of decision making personnel. Without a staff room, where do Supply staff have lunch? Is there a place for teachers to complete PPA?

It’s a scary thought that some teachers have never experienced a thriving, bubbling & prospering staffroom. A older for downtime, relaxation, reflection & sometimes even cake! Closing the doors to a staffroom can close the doors to collaboration between classroom practitioners & personnel in their given specialism. At a time where conversations are emails & friendship are finely coded through the archives of algorithms, there’s no harm in collaborating with others.

We work best when we collaborate. We preach it, we teach it & our staff culture should reflect it.

Thank you for reading.

Shuaib Khan

Twitter: @shuaibkhan26

Life on Mars: Life on Supply

All schools are like their own planets & your own school can feel like your own little world. Life as a Supply Teacher is like encountering a new universe every single day.


You’ll know a Supply Teacher that’s had this look on their face!

This article aims to build on existing literature about Supply Teachers and also give perspective to their unique experience in schools. Research from the NEU states that as of 2018, schools across the UK are spending £1.3billion on Supply Teachers. Work from the Guardians ‘Secret Teacher’ also claims that many Supply Teachers are given a ‘raw deal’ by agencies.

A tough gig

Having chosen to do Supply Teaching twice in my short career, I’ve been to many places, seen many faces & it has been, at large, a privilege as well as a tough gig. So many people ask me “Why are you doing supply?”. I get that ‘you’ve lost your mind’ look by so many students & teachers alike. I’m not here to paint a Mona Lisa about Supply teaching. It’s a tough gig.

Imagine waking up to a 7am call, getting ready, typing in the name of a school you never knew existed until that earlier phone call into your SatNav, spending a day in an unfamiliar building, working with students you don’t know, delivering largely undifferentiated lessons, unable to come to terms with the plethora of names & behaviour thrown your way. Then, finally returning home not knowing if you’ll be at work the next day. A truly tough gig. The behaviour of students on supply can be challenging to say the least. I still remember the roars of jubilation I could hear down the corridors at school when we knew we had Supply. Standing on the other side of the desk, I now realise exactly how tough Supply teaching is. But I’m not deterred, not yet!

I want to look at why people choose Supply & aim to dispel some of the far-fetched myths that seem to follow Supply Teachers. This isn’t an exclusive list, nor is my limited time on Supply enough for me to dispel all of these myths. But I want to start a conversation as well as provide a handful of practical tips teachers themselves could use when they have Supply at their schools.

Supply teaching can feel like this. Undifferentiated lessons, a hostile crowd, not being in subject specialism. A tough gig.

Why people choose to do Supply?

•Flexibility – full-time teaching comes with its pressures. Some people can find a balance, have prosperous careers & blossoming family lives. But others can’t. Many people choose to either go part-time or do Supply because they have families, children or care responsibilities. Many even give up high-status roles to spend more time with their loved ones. I recall a lengthy conversation with an ex-Head who left teaching for 10 years to take care of his terminally ill wife. He returned to Supply because he loved teaching but loved his wife much more.

•NQT – many NQTs struggle to find a school to complete their placements. PE in particular tends to have a surplus of Trainees, many of whom end up on Supply. In the infancy of your teaching career, the enthusiasm can be seen from a mile away. Many NQTs won’t dwell on the disappointment of not securing a school to complete their training but rather will deep dive into the world of Supply. It’s income, albeit sporadic at times and also it’s more experience & time to work on your craft.

•Workload – perhaps the reason why I chose to do Supply. I remember hauling bags of books into my car ready for my weekend marking sprees! The 80hr weeks were, a) totally unsustainable & b) bad for my wellbeing. The Education Wellbeing Index published just a fortnight ago states that the well-being of teachers is in tatters because of workload. It’s not that I gave up, quit or that I’m not dedicated. I was always willing to put my job ahead of my life, which in hindsight, made me fall out of love with my job and despise my life. The workload is scary when it comes to teaching and so many leave the classroom as full-time practitioners to do Supply where the workload is significantly lower.

•Staff/School politics – my blog on toxic schools & bullying really fits into this nicely. As teachers, we spend a lot of time with people who we don’t know that well. We’re closely bonded together under ‘departments’ & as ‘colleagues’. If the children we teach don’t agree on everything, how can we expect adults to agree all the time? I’ve experienced bullying & I’ve seen predatory accountability culture whereby there’s a constant feeling that you’ll be banished from your very existence by Gestapo-esque management! Supply means you can walk in, teach & leave. Not being exposed to the more sordid side of schools perhaps is the biggest bonus of supply teaching!

•Last chance saloon – Many Supply Teachers want a last swansong in teaching. This can happen at any stage of your career actually. Bad experiences or simply not wanting to teach anymore, Supply can provide a last chance for teachers to galvanise their enthusiasm, get those nervous-anxious excitement goosebumps before a lesson! Supply can be a final gig for teachers heading towards the end of their careers through retirement. Their wisdom & experience can be so wonderful and enlightening!

Misconceptions about Supply

There are many other complicated reasons why people choose Supply. Yet with their decision to do Supply, comes many misinformed misconceptions about their role. Let’s break these down.

•Supply Teachers are mercenaries- I’ve heard this many times. The idea that Supply teachers can just dictate their terms & conditions, pick & choose the schools they go to, earn whatever rate their heart is set on & are rinsing schools of money. Rates are normally done to pay scales. Supply Teachers also still need to pay tax, National insurance & union membership. They don’t get holiday pay, work is sporadic at times & they often have little choice where they go work. Imagine not having any work for weeks & then being called into a PRU. Turn it down, you’ve missed income & the agency may not call back. Go in, have to deal with terrible behaviour & unpleasantness. Supply teachers don’t have the amount of power we’re lead to believe. Mercenaries? Why don’t you work for free then? Oh yeah, you got bills to pay too!

•Don’t like/want Marking – day to day supply rarely involves rigorous and arduous marking. You arrive, teach & leave. But what about those on long term supply? They are contractually obliged to mark & fulfil the full duties of a teacher. The idea that supply teachers have weekends free & are living a life of leisure is a misconception. Those on long term supply will tell you, the workload is an issue for EVERYONE in education.

•Leave at 3pm – “You arrive at 8:30 & leave at 3, don’t complain!” The exact words I was once told. I don’t think I’ve ever left when the students leave. Supply teachers aren’t usually expected to complete after school meetings & training but many don’t leave on the bell. Cover sheets are expected to be complete, many have to speak to safeguarding personnel about something they’ve heard or seen. Some have an hour or even two commute. It’s so wrong to say that they all leave at the bell. They’re not contracted to work beyond the school day; well neither are so many teachers but that’s a different story altogether!

•Couldn’t handle teaching – there’s a myth that people who are on supply are ‘weak’ or ‘inept’ in teaching full time. So they’ve taken the ‘easy option’ & gone into Supply. It’s usually the contrary! Many have taught, got the significant experience & handled themselves well. Supply is in fact not an easy option. You arrive, have 10 minutes to familiarise yourself with your room(s) for the day, teach students that will know that’s you’re only here for the day, deal with behaviour with little/no guidance of behaviour protocols, find somewhere to have lunch, park, etc. It’s endless! There’s no ‘easy’ job in education & to assume it’s easy is crass and misinformed. I’ve been racially abused, spat at and threatened whilst on Supply. I’ve seen Supply teachers walkout mid-lesson, others crying in staff rooms and shaking with fear. It isn’t easy but for some of us, it’s our livelihood.

•They are spies! – “Do you work for Ofsted Sir?” Said a Year 10 pupil. I was alarmed! The amount of time I see Supply teachers sat alone in staff rooms or wondering around looking lost, it’s shocking. Supply teachers aren’t spies! They come in to fill a void because one of your colleagues is not at work. They are informed, intelligent & very switched on folks! There’s a lot that we can learn from Supply teachers. Once upon a time, they were classroom practitioners with pedagogical expertise. As teachers, we’re told to always be willing to learn from others. So why not just have a chat? What have you got to lose?

Tips for Teachers:

Personally, I had no idea how to talk to Supply Teachers when I was a full-time teacher. I didn’t think much of it but when I went on Supply, the reflection started. Here are my five tips to Teachers:

•Don’t judge – we all have our pre-assumptions about others but try to avoid jumping the gun. The Supply Teacher who was run ragged by your Year 8s during a PE lesson, maybe the same Supply Teacher that helped cultivate a love for Shakespeare with the Year 11s before with their experience with Elizabethan literature! Most Supply teachers have good knowledge & experience of education & their expertise may come in handy. I remember a Supply teacher telling me that I should readjust my seating plan as certain students couldn’t work together. He was right! The same guy who got employed at the school as a Deputy Head!

•Support where you can – if you know there’s a particular class that may cause issues, just pop in. It may be at the beginning of the lesson, middle or end but your presence will reassure that Supply Teacher that they are supported. If they are struggling to login to a computer, there are issues with worksheets or textbooks, it’s just a humanly gesture to offer a hand. I absolutely think a good school is a welcoming school! Showing a Supply Teacher around, giving directions/guidance, are hallmarks of good schools.

•Be visible – this is perhaps more geared towards SLT. Strong leadership is a visible one. They know who the more vulnerable teachers are; Trainees, NQTs & Supply. SLT need to be visible & proactive in supporting these teachers as they have the experience of handling tough classes & cohorts. Being visible, reprimanding students & of course, seeing the type of job your teachers are doing, that’s leadership. SLT want their school to have a good reputation so they should work their utmost hardest to support their teachers, build good rapports with Supply agencies & protect their reputation.

•Say hello – So many teachers ignore supply staff. It’s understandable, we’re busy. We all are. Sometimes we’re so busy we forget to have lunch or sit down all day. 99.9% of teachers I have met on Supply have been lovely, accommodating & understanding. Yet, when Supply are ignored, left to fend for themselves with difficult classes & there’s a sense of arrogance amongst staff, this isn’t an environment I want to work in. Simply saying hello to a Supply Teacher can really be an icebreaker for you & them. Politeness costs nothing at all.

•Listen – I read an African proverb once “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground”. I suppose the same could be said about someone who retires or leaves their chosen profession. A wealth of knowledge, a mountain of experience & a well of wisdom is lost when a teacher leaves teaching. Many supply teachers have incredible CVs & experiences. Just last week I met a Supply Teacher who has been teaching for 50 years! He may have taught my father! This man has seen the transformation of education, been there, done it, worn the t-shirt! He told me he started as a Catering Assistant, then TA, before doing his degree at Oxford, taught in 10 different schools including a private school. He’s been a Governor, an Advisor, Consultant & has a PHD! I was in awe and tried to jot down some of his ideas! Supply teachers have experiences and skills that can enrich schools. Listen to them & learn from them.

In Summary:

Will you be working tomorrow? Is their life on Mars? Do we really know?

Teaching is an incredibly complex profession, one that deserves nothing but credit & support. When we have a day off, we’re unwell or there’s an emergency, someone has to step in & fill that void. Supply teaching is a tough gig. Not knowing where you’re working each day is a cause of anxiety itself let alone handling a class of 30 unruly students.

We’re teachers & our professional fraternity can be divisive but it costs nothing to be kind. How Supply teachers are treated by students & staff alike speaks volumes about a school. We are your guests & I know how I treat my guests. With nothing but courtesy. And although supply isn’t a career, behaviour can be poor, staff may ignore you, for now, I’ll enjoy life on Mars!

To the supply teachers out there reading this: you’re incredible.

Thank you for reading.

Shuaib Khan

Twitter: @shuaibkhan26

I’m only a TA after all.

“Behind every good teacher is an outstanding TA”


Conversations in pedagogy or education tend to focus on classroom practitioners or leaders. The voices & lived experience of what is often referred to as ‘support staff’ can be neglected. This is not to suggest there isn’t excellent literature on the role of support staff, but it is definitely outweighed by coverage on teachers.

Have been a student, volunteered at a school, become a TA, then Cover Supervisor, to eventually training to teach, I have some experience of the hierarchical nature of education. But I want to focus on the ever-changing and all-encompassing role or a Teaching Assistant (TA). The pastoral, teaching & learning, SEND, safeguarding, behavioural & non-classroom role of a TA is truly remarkable. It deserves recognition.

September 16th is National TA Day. Just reading these remarkable statistics makes us realise how valuable TAs truly are.

Some Statistics

According to the NAHT, as of 2018, there are 263,900 TAs in UK schools. Data from Unison suggests there is now only one TA per 67 pupils. I won’t go into detail but it’s clear that schools, usually down to funding, will aim to lay off their support staff first. ‘Support Staff’ is an umbrella term really that amalgamates TA, Year Lead, Catering Staff, Cleaners, Admin & pretty much all non-teaching personnel. Yet I want to focus on TAs as this huge category is incredibly populated, so part by part, we can discover the experiences of support staff.

What is a TA?

The DofE define a TA as:

Teaching assistants (TAs) as classroom-based staff employed in roles other than instructors, teachers, student and overseas-trained teachers. TAs are also often referred to as cover supervisors, higher-level teaching assistants, learning and language support assistants.

Again, this is an incredibly diverse categorisation. A role of a TA is not set, it’s not exactly a ‘one task at a time’ sort of position. The description by the DofE is very wide-ranging & TAs have incredible responsibilities as a result.

The Secret TA

Robyn is a TA at a primary school. She chose to speak to me because of a throwaway comment from a teacher who said, “You’re a TA, how come you’re tired?”. I’ve aimed to bring light to Robyn’s story.

So I’m employed at TA but everyone seems to think it’s a 9-3 job which is so irritating. I love my job, I love working with students & I know the work we do as TAs helps the school stay afloat. When I left university, I began applied for a TA job. This was in 2009 and I thought I’d go for it because I always wanted to work with kids. We had 20 TAs in our team, each assigned to a department & to particular students. 10 years on, our school has expanded by over 200 students but we only have a 8 TAs. Although I’m the most experienced, I’m still learning on the job.

A typical day?

Get into work, check staff absences, update the cover list, then go to canteen to support our Head in making breakfasts for students.

9am – Scribe for our SEN students.

10am – Cover lesson of absent teacher,

11-11:25 – Supervise our ‘quiet room’ for our more vulnerable students.

11:20-12:30 – Weekly parents meeting; helping organise foodbank collections & translating for parents.

12:30-13:30 – Support canteen staff with lunch & ensure FSM pupils have provisions,

13:30-14:30 – Support school inclusion facility (mainly behaviour),

14:30-15:30 – Assembly/Reading/Intervention or Phonics

15:30-16:30 – Liaising with staff, safeguarding concerns & admin duties.

Robyn went on to explain that she’s a mother of two herself & her salary often means she needs to visit her local foodbank. I was in awe. I literally couldn’t believe the dedication, commitment & skills needed for such a under-paid role. I used to think that my teacher salary was meagre but imagine supporting a family, having a mortgage & paying bills on a TA salary!

Like Robyn, Stacy (pictured) is also a TA who is dedicated to making a difference. Link left at the end of the article.

Role of a TA:

As a graduate myself, I used to think as a TA, my role was simply to facilitate teaching & learning. In my head, I was the ‘second teacher’. My naivety, even to this day didn’t enable me to realise how incredibly wide-ranging the role of a TA us.

TAs are routinely asked to:

•Undertake duties,

•Act as translators,

•Liaise with parents,

•Monitor behaviour,

•Update & maintain SEND records,

•Head behaviour & inclusion facilities,

•Support site staff,

•Work with/cover for canteen staff,

•Complete health & hygiene checks,

•Help teachers prepare for lesson observations,

•Cover PE lessons,

•Attend/Co-plan trips & visits,

•Photocopy resources for departments,

•Lead interventions,

•Organise charity events,

•Do domestic school duties (wash uniforms etc)

•Help with new staff induction.

This list could be absolutely endless! Payscale, the watchdog for salaried jobs in the UK estimate an average TA salary is £13,561. That’s around £1,103 before tax every month. Just look at the amount of roles they have to undertake, many of which they have little training or no qualifications for. That salary is absolutely abysmal!

What can we do as teachers?

Nationally, I would love to employ more TAs, give them real training & safeguard our incredible backbone in schools; support staff. I’m idealistic but let’s focus on what us teacher can do in the classroom to support our TAs. I have four practical tips (not exclusive but let’s start the dialogue).

1. Value your TA – they are here to help! TAs are spies or trying to get in the way. I remember the suspicion that would come my way when I was a TA. Make them feel welcome in your classroom, day hello to them, acknowledge them. I’ve seen teachers ignore TAs, literally denying their existences. Why? You’re missing out on an excellent resource & so are your students!

2. Differentiation – many TAs have an incredible insight into SEND. They know the students better than you do & just because during your PGCE you saw a PowerPoint on differentiation, it doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. Your TA will, more likely than not, developed strategies that work with particular students, have a deep rooted knowledge of student needs & really want you to do well as a teacher. I would always pull over TAs at break or lunch just to ask for advice on a particular student. There’s a lot of knowledge to be shared, especially on how you can cater for individual students. Your TA might just hold the key!

3. Your second pair of eyes – I’ve taught really tough classes where it can feel as though you’re just putting out fires from table to table. I remember having a class where we had 5 TAs! Yes, behaviour was that bad. As a teacher, you can’t be everywhere all the time. You won’t hear or see everything. Your TA can be your second pair or eyes as well as your insightful pair of ears.

4. Share lesson plans – before every lesson, just explain the gist of your lesson. Give them an indication of what you’re looking to achieve & what you want the students to achieve. This can really help the lesson & gives the TA a bit of a chance just to digest the content themselves. I remember TAing’ in a Media Studies lesson. Students were to analyse the film cover for the Woman in Black. I’ve never seen the film but the teacher was fab! He sent me link to the film trailer prior to the lesson so by lesson time, I felt very confident in supporting students. Sharing lesson plans/ideas will really help your TA help your lesson!

In Summary:

With reduced funding & cuts to support staff, having a TA in your class is like gold dust, a rarity yet a resource that needs to be protected & cherished. Their role is incredibly diverse, challenging & also rewarding. Support staff are underpaid & underrated but it’s our job as teachers to make sure they are never under-appreciated.

Thank you to all the incredible support staff out there.

Robyn, thank you too!

Shuaib Khan

Twitter: @shuaibkhan26

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/z7n4hbk

Teaching with your heart(break).

How the two loves of my life conflicted and the lessons I’ve learnt from both.


I’m not a relationship guru, consultant or counsellor. I’m not Hitch (great film by the way). My own experiences of relationships is, like many of us, a rollercoaster. But I have realised through life’s many unexpected twists & turns that, intimacy is very fragile. Relationships need time, mutual effort & respect. I’ve always wanted to know how teachers handle the demands of their jobs alongside the demands of their relationships.

Romance and relationships aren’t easy nor are they supposed to be. They come with their demands, compromises, stresses, strains, expectations, challenges, frustrations, anxieties, euphoria & everything in between.

The following blog is an interview from a good friend, Tom (I’ve anonymised names upon his wishes). Tom wanted me to bring light to this story & how teaching impacted on his relationship with his then Fiancé Rachel. This is Tom’s story & I hope we can all learn a thing or two from it. I certainly have!

Rachel & I

Rachel was the love of my life. We met in Sixth Form, suppose we gravitated toward one another studying the same subjects. She was my partner in Performing Arts in our schools end of year performance; Grease. We hit it off, even went to the same university! Rachel was funny, kind, caring & smart. I was perhaps the more emotional one but I knew she was one special. She would light up the entire room with her smile. We both graduated, moved into together and we wanted to become teachers. Rachel went into Primary, I chose Secondary. The PGCE was tough on her, her Father passed away during her first placement but she soldiered on. A year later, our NQT year was done & dusted. I proposed on our NQT graduation, she said YES! I had everything I ever wanted. The best job in the world, a loving fiancé and when Rachel fell pregnant, a family. What more could a guy ask for?!

2018-19

Rachel unfortunately had a miscarriage in August 2018 and our relationship was never the same. I was struggling to process what had happened so I just buried myself with work. I was chasing a promotion so I spent every hour of ever day making sure I could get that TLR. At home, Rachel & I grew distant. I began to forget anniversaries, birthdays & family gatherings. All of which I religiously worked around but now I was working to avoid. Rachel left teaching and took up a job at our local cafe. The money wasn’t great but she was happy not to bring work home.

I continued to work my 80 hour weeks. Rachel would tell me “Tom, when you going to make time for us?”. I would say “Just got to mark one more book” or “After I’ve done this reference”. I was coming home later and later. Totally oblivious to my partner because I thought I was building a future for us. I wasn’t. I was thinking about my career ahead of my family.

After her miscarriage, Rachel gained support from the Miscarriage Association. A fantastic charitable organisation that helped her through such a traumatic time.

Thursday September 13th 2018. I was pulling into drive after my interview to become a Trainee Mentor. I got the job and was going to tell Rachel about it over dinner. But I spotted her taking a load of boxes into her sisters car. I could see how distressed she was. We argued, we cried, we disagreed but ultimately we agreed that I spent too much time working. Rachel said and I remember this as clear as yesterday “Work! It’s all you talk about. Where’s my fiancé? Every second you spend on work. I’ve told you so many times but you won’t listen. I needed my fiancé when we lost our baby but all you wanted to do was mark f*ing books”. She left me. This battle between us which was created by my workload as a teacher lead to me losing the love of my life.

I knew she was struggling after the miscarriage that summer but she had left me. I tried to avoid that feeling of sadness by planning Friday’s lessons. That morning I woke up, got read and drove into work. I put on the radio to take my mind off the home truths I was hit with. OutKast – Ms.Jackson was playing. Oh the irony, her last name was Jackson. Ironically also, the song we wanted to play at our wedding.

Asking what happened to the feeling that her and me,

Had, I pray so much about it need some knee, pads,

It happened for a reason one can’t be, mad,

She was the love of my life & so was teaching. But my two loves couldn’t co-exist. This is not to say that colleagues and fellow friends don’t have prospering personal & professional lives. I would be lying to say that my old HOD worked with his wife, same department. They were lovely, planned holidays around work, had a young family and I was in awe. It can be done but something that does take time, dedication and commitment. Rachel & I couldn’t find the balance. Losing Rachel was so difficult but hindsight is a beautiful thing, I’ll always love her. I’ll always love teaching but I’d choose a life over a career.

Since that rainy day in September, I couldn’t cope with work. My taken-for-granted personal life was a mess. I was lonely, still in shock and reeling. I got my promotion, my TLR & I was being fast-tracked to be in SLT. Was I happy? No. I lost my soul mate because I dedicated all my time to teaching. Shuaib remember when you put that Tweet up about ‘Building a career & not a life’. The rest of 18–19 was terrible. I began to loathe my job, lost all my passion. My lesson observations dipped below my quintessential ‘Outstanding’. I couldn’t help my trainees. Coming home every night to piles of marking and not a smile in sight, I handed in my notice at Easter. I was signed off for weeks on end desperately trying to find some sort of work-life balance.

Advice:

As I’ve said, hindsight is a beautiful thing. I just want to share some of the lessons I learnt from both Rachel & from teaching.

• Prioritise – Rachel would always plan & mark to be on top of things for the next day. She would separate her books and mark them according to urgency. She had an uncanny ability to work until 6pm every night and ONLY do her immediate priority jobs.

• Cut off time – 6pm. She’d work till 6 and nothing more. Even when she had lesson observations and Ofsted, she would stop working and start something totally different.

• Weekends – I would work every second. Rachel would refuse. She would always plan days out with her Sister or friends. It was self-distancing which she mastered. You’d never catch her frowning. She loved teaching, loved her students and this was possible because had a balance between work & life.

• Supporting your loved ones – I wasn’t there for Rachel when she had a miscarriage. I actually didn’t take any time off as my exam groups were approaching a critical time. My Fiancé had lost our baby but I was too work obsessed and negligent to put her feelings before my own. In hindsight I would have been there for Rachel, taken time off, tried to understand and yes, grieved with her. We have to support our loved ones as they are all we’ve got.

Thank you

I know have a large readership Shuaib so thank you and all your readers. I’m a lot happier now working in the Finance sector. Rachel & I are on good terms. Could you please leave a link to MA for me too!

In Summary:

Tom & Rachel’s story is truly important. When we refer to wellbeing and work-life balance, we sometimes see it as an abstract concept. If anything, our loved ones, our families and our stories are more important than our jobs. I hope I was able to articulate this story as accurately as possible. With my love Tom.

Thank you for reading.

Shuaib Khan

Half Term: A much needed break.

When I look at the world, I see many people build big beautiful houses, but live in broken homes. We spend more time learning to make a living than we do to make a life’.


Half terms should be a time of relaxation & adventure. Yet for many teachers they are a time of loneliness & a chance to catch up with their endless to do lists.

Teaching can be a lonely profession. We are surrounded by people we spend 30+ hours a week with. We teach students of all ages, races, creeds & cultures. But once every lesson has been taught and book marked, we can rest, recuperate, recover & spend time with those we care about. But many teachers will sacrifice their lives for their careers, spend time away from loved ones, work unimaginable hours & don’t, either through choice or circumstances, have a personal life that allows them to enjoy their time off.

I tweeted this earlier this year. The coverage was incredible but I still stand by the message.

Many people I began my PGCE with were young, single, fresh faced graduates. All determined to leave their mark on education. Like me, teaching was a lifelong ambition, a childhood dream. I worked every hour to get there & once I was in my own classroom, I was in essences ‘living the dream’. I would occupy my weekends, evenings & half terms with more work. A new knowledge organiser, a new PowerPoint, a quirky new lesson idea. I was absolutely obsessed. Yet I knew it was only a matter of time till this dream would become a nightmare.

The Conversation

The day it dawned upon me that I was building a successful career at that cost of having a miserable personal life, it all hit me. This is not to say that many teachers don’t have vibrant family lives and incredible careers. Those who have got the work-life balance correct, I’m in awe.

So I was waiting at the photocopier & overheard two colleagues talking about their half terms. They had plans, were showing one another family photos & sharing plans. One of them, turned to me and said “Shuaib, what are your plans for half term?”. I was in panic. Ping ponged in my head was “SOW to do” & “Year 11 intervention to plan”. I froze, I had realised the I had nothing planned or to look forwards to. I had worked every half term, endlessly to escape that emptiness that was being left in my personal life. I walked away from the photo copier, went to the closest staff toilet & burst into tears. That was the most difficult moment & realisation of my life. That evening I drove home with ‘Passenger – Let Her Go’ playing on the radio, I got home and picked up The Soul of a Butterfly – the Muhammad Ali Autobiography and read

When I look at the world, I see many people build big beautiful houses, but live in broken homes. We spend more time learning to make a living than we do to make a life’.

Never has a quote ever hit me so hard. This was definitely a sign.

Half term really is a time for yourself and your loved ones. Photo by Ros Asquith

Offering a hand.

I love teaching. I absolutely love working in education & feel so privileged to be qualified to teach. I love the teaching community, Edutwitter & the challenges that come with it. I love improving & innovating. I love teaching. But do I love it more than I love my health, sanity & close friends & family? Were all the hours I was going actually making me happy? Or actually giving me fulfilment. Right at the beginning of my journey in education back in 2013, I always said “Do it while you love it”. Work felt life, well yeah, a job. My enthusiasm was leaving me, I was growing more & more distant with my role.

I’m not here to complete a personal rant. I know the choices I made, I fully stand by them. But with half term looming, I’m so keen to reach out to those who may have a difficult half term, a lonely half term or one spent working. These are my tips to support yourself & how colleagues can support you.

Be kind – If you know a colleague that finds their work-life balance difficult, talk to them. They may just need a sincere ear, someone to relay ideas too & gain advice from. Just be mindful, think about that colleague & how you can support them. Even when you’re talking about your half term plans, be mindful of the person that is struggling. We genuinely don’t know what others are going through. Yes, celebrate your successes but be modest in showcasing them.

Text or call a colleague – when you’re feeling lonely, it can feel like the whole world is against you. It can feel like no one cares! I know that feeling too well. But I would always text work colleague, I’d always keep it non-work related. A simple text can really make someone’s day, it gives them hope. Having that feeling that someone out there cares, albeit seemingly just innocuous, it really does help.

Make plans – even if it’s; going to the bank, post office, getting a hair cut, walk the dog, eating at your favourite restaurant, starting a new Netflix series, catching up with a friend, seeing nephews or nieces, beginning a new book or writing a blog (cough, cough), just make plans. Fill your diary with plans. As long as you’re not working, that’s a real victory.

Don’t work – I’m not advocating negligence of work or allowing your standards to drop. But what if you ‘accidentally’ leave your planner at work or ‘forget’ your USB. Not working is wellbeing. Switching off is not working. Work will always be there, your half term is a week or two. Enjoy the rest. You deserve too. Working all half term isn’t good wellbeing. Neither should you do it or be encouraged to do so!

In Summary:

Like with many students, for some teachers, school is the place where they make most of their meaningful interactions. May be the only place where someone says a simple ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ Classrooms are theatres of learning. Yet there’s significant pressures on teachers to be star performers every lesson. Excessive workloads, personal issues, limited work-life balance; can make a classroom feel like this; a lonely place indeed.

Half term is your time. Enjoy. I genuinely mean that, enjoy it. 7 or 8 weeks you’ve done an immaculate job. Now have 7 days to look after yourself and do some immaculate wellbeing.

Thank you for reading.

Shuaib Khan

Twitter: @shuaibkhan26

Empty plates, empty calories or empty minds?

Obesity: A Sociological Analysis #sociologymatters

After reading the news this past week about plans to ban fast food/snacks on public transport in an attempt to prevent childhood obesity, a sociological analysis is required. A simplistic correlation between personal choice & weight loss/gain needs to be given more context.

As an avid Dark Chocolate KitKat fan, I’ve realised that self-policing my health is so important.

The Obesity Debate: Why Sociology Matters.

Before we begin our analysis, I just want to openly state that Sociology matters. The subject matter of sociology is to analyse the social structures that shape the lives, actions, choices & life chances of social actors. Thus to detach the obesity discussion from sociological analysis, well, that’s un-sociological. Social structures dictate our perceptions of healthy & unhealthy lifestyles & body images. To individualise obesity through the neo-liberal veneer is to ignore social structure, that’s also un-sociological. To Foucault-esque ‘medicalise’ obesity, this also ignores socially contextual factors; again, un-sociological. To say obesity is an individualised dysfunction, yes, that too, is un-sociological.

In the UK alone, the obesity moral panic continues. Around 28% of adults are ‘obese’ in the medical sense. This article is not intended to challenge empirical evidence, as I too agree, obesity is a concern. But rather, I’m hoping to coalesce sociological perspectives to begin the prevention of crass misinterpretations of a really difficult topic.

Obesity is linked to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure & even depression. Conversations about childhood obesity have permeated into schools. Jamie Oliver famously began his motion to help create a healthier snacking culture amongst children. It’s clear, despite rising living standards, greater nutritional knowledge, vastly improving health care & technology, Western societies are having to cope with the demands of degenerative diseases. The evidence is stark, as a society we need to be doing more.

Obesity has become a hot potato for commentators. Despite costing the NHS over £5bn, a context-driven approach is imperative.

The classic structure-agency debate.

Sociology is marred by the question “what it society or is it the individual?”. In relation to crime, divorce, educational outcomes, life chances, and yes, in relation to obesity! We tend to take the more neo-liberal ‘lifestylism’ approach with obesity as quite simply, we’re brought up with the ‘it’s your body, you take care of it’ ideology. We are accountable for the decisions we make. If we don’t follow the law, we’ll be punished. If we don’t revise for examinations, we’ll fail. If we eat too much, we’ll become, yes, fat. The crackdown on fat shaming is picking up steam but that’s an altogether different discussion. As Wann (1998) notes, there’s been consistent but failed efforts to reclaim the word ‘fat’ and de-derogatory it.

Tv shows such as the Biggest Looser, they create hierarchies of bodies. A construction of what is and isn’t an idea body image is around us ubiquitously. Through the processes of socialisation, we do have tacit knowledge on what is deemed ‘healthy’. This dictates our choices. The frown a colleague receives when he bites into a Jaffa cake, the approval we attain from a light salad lunch! The health sector have worked hard into making these images & health choices so widespread. This ‘Bio-Citizenship’ which Kelly et al (2018) refer to is site of struggle. Body politics are as value and ideology laden as Westminster politics.

Obesity needs some historical context too. Murray (2010) notes that the archives of history are important. Obesity was once considered the ‘disease of the affluent’. As only the wealthy could afford to eat well. To over-indulge and be excessive. The wealthy had access to good quality food, the poor didn’t. Foods high in processed fats, sugars, salts, alongside alcohol consumption & smoking, these were the hallmarks of the wealthy. Over the past 60 years, we’ve seen changes in the social distribution of obesity and this is what needs to be taken with a pinch of salt!

A sociological perspective:

Neither Marx or Durkheim were able to witness this obesity epidemic. But their ideas remain important for the purpose of sociological analysis.

Marxism on Obesity:

Marxists would argue, when have capitalists ever cared about their workers let alone what they consume? Marx famously and in depth wrote about the exploitation of capitalism.

Albritton (2009) used a Marxist perspective to tackle the issue of obesity. He noted that global inequality whereby “one half of the global population is either: overfed, underfed or badly fed”. Albritton claimed that global transnational corporations deliberately enable consumers to over indulge & thus put on weight. Sugar levy’s and taxation are used as token gestures as it’s the poorest that have the limited resources & often knowledge to select healthier lifestyle options. TNCs need us to over-indulge, they need a Man Vs Food tv shows. Capitalism thrives off our overindulgence, it actually also creates it.

Functionalism:

Does obesity have latent functions? Functionalists tend to say little about health and although obesity for them might not be ideal, it does create jobs (health care sector, medicine, paediatricians). Although obesity is a choice, it can create a distinction or boundary between healthy and healthy, normal & deviant. This hierarchy then helps us self-regulate our bodies.

A word from Bourdieu:

I’m a huge Pierre Bourdieu fan. I think his analysis was beyond his years and his book Distinction is a MUST read for us all. His overall idea, using a Marxist perspective, was that the middle classes are in a constant internal battle in the hope to draw a distinction between themselves & the working classes. Bourdieu stated how the middle classes once preferred the pale skin tone look when the working classes would be tanned following copious & back breaking work in the agricultural community. Once the working classes began to move towards factories through industrialisation, their pale indoors completions meant the middle classes had to draw a distinction; thus the tanned look.

The body according to Bourdieu was a site of constant struggle. When the working classes began to attain a higher standard living & could eat better, the middle classes began to prefer the more slimmer look. This distinction concept ties into Bourdieu’s work on cultural capital. In a case study, he wrote about a Foreman who was middle class by income but still brought a basic staple lunch to work. Class is in our psyche. So therefore, class is also a huge part of our decision making. Some have wider range of options to decide from, others have a much smaller menu.

So, structure or agency?

My guilty pleasure is a dark chocolate KitKat. I have choice, I have freedom & I know the implications of having too many of these treats. I am also aware that some people have limited choice due to access. The class gradient of health inequalities is one that cannot be ignored.

Research indicates:

⁃ Children from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be obese,

⁃ Life expectancy is lower for those from more deprived backgrounds,

⁃ Rates of smoking & drinking also tend to be higher,

⁃ Cardiovascular diseases also have a skewed class distribution.

To really wade in on this debate, I want to look at access & in particular refer to Lynn Hanley’s biographical piece Estates. Growing up in a deprived council estate, Hanley notes that the obesity moral panic is laden with class inequalities. She notes how in poorer areas, access to healthier lifestyle options is limited. Healthier big branches like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s & Waitrose have a particular customer clientele they aspire for. These chains tend to be reluctant to open in poorer areas. Many of these stores are inaccessible by public transport.

In deprived area, residents are left with a narrow set of options, many of which (Aldi, Iceland, Lidl) offer a narrower range of options. Hanley believed that agency is crucial but the social-economic organisation of soviet is of paramount importance to consider too.

In Summary:

Is it culture? Is it agency? Is it structure? Obesity as a lifestyle choice needs to be carefully considered. Without context, we’re lead to believe that people, by choice and nothing else, wish to be overweight and suffer from degenerative diseases. As Sociologists we have to consider all angles, not sensationalise the issue, begin the structure-agency dialogue & then assess the evidence in front of us to come to a sociological analysis.

We live in a world that can provide all of us with diverse and rich diets. Yet we are still seeing people suffer from obesity, starvation, anorexia & suffering from the effects of poor quality foods. Yes, it’s agency, yes, it’s culture & yes, it’s structure.

#sociologymatters

Thank you for reading.

Shuaib Khan

Twitter: @Shuaibkhan26

Biocitizenship: The Politics of Bodies, Governance, and Power

edited by Kelly E. Happe, Jenell Johnson, Marina Levina (2018)

Stratification: Social Division and Inequality By Wendy Bottero (2005)

Doing Politics or Selling Out? Living the Fat Body by Samantha Murray (2010)

FAT!SO? : Because You Don’t Have to Apologize for Your Size – Marilyn Wann (1998)

Let Them Eat Junk: How Capitalism Creates Hunger and Obesity – Robert Albritton (2009)

Estates: An Intimate History – Lyndsey Hanley (2012)

Mental Health Awareness Day – A Reflection

As we all may know, it’s Mental Health Awareness Day. As a teacher, there’s the added pressure if not only keeping our classrooms together but also hold ourselves together. Life can be challenging & as professionals, we do everything in our power to prevent the stresses & strains at home impeding us at work.

Education Support Partnership have noted a 28% rise in cases of mental health for teachers between 2018 & 2019.

Well… I’m a being but am I a ‘well being’?

As a boy, I was brought up around the stern toxic masculinity. ‘Boys don’t cry’, ‘you can’t show your feelings’ & ‘man up’ we’re terms I heard pretty regularly both at school & with peers. To be very honest, I was actually very arrogant about mental health issues. My arrogance was the result of lack of lived experience, & yeah, self-distancing. I didn’t understand depression, anxiety or any emotion.

It was with my own loss when I lost my own arrogant & pretentious ways. The Tommy Hilfiger jackets lost their appeal & time talking deep with peers was something I’d prefer on demand rather than at a sporadic social gathering. My Teaching with Grief blog uncovers exactly how I understood loss & ‘coped’ with it.

It’s so important to remember that at the heart of mental health dialogue is the word of the moment ‘Teacher Wellbeing’. Not the Cookie Monster, forced staff gatherings, support planning, dodgeball playing teacher wellbeing. But the holistic, empathetic & workload tackling teacher wellbeing that people like Tom Rogers tweet about daily.

My big reveal.

When I realised I had anxiety, I did absolutely everything under the hot sun to avoid it. Same for when I was suffering from depression. ‘It can’t be me’, ‘this happens to older people’, ‘there’s nothing wrong with me’. I continued to lie to myself and make up ways to avoid thinking about it. It took months to accept that crying for no reason or constantly fidgeting was just not right. I loved my job, I loved teaching & in no part do I think it made me feel so low. But then it hit me, teaching, it’s pressures & workload were part of the problem. I’d bury myself in work, deliberately avoid the mental health question by making a new resource or jazz up an old SOW. The time came, I had to open up. I initially called up the Education Support Network and then Sane. I now wear a red Sane mental health awareness wristband at all times. I’ll leave links for both organisations at the end of this blog.

Feelings are like limbs, they can hurt too’

Teachers are seen as brave, resilient & strong creatures. Some people think we’re indestructible, that we can withstand anything. This is, of course, not true. Are teachers immune from emotions? Are they void of mental health issues? Do they not have an emotional compass? With the pressure of workload, we too need time to understand things. To understand how we feel, to understand why things are the way they are.

I remember a conversation with a colleague who told me “Shuaib, your feelings are like a limb, they can hurt too. They can ache. If you’d go doctors for a headache, why not go to him for heartbreak?’. As the term ‘wellbeing’ is being socially sanitised by Educationalists, it’s true, before we expect any empathy or kindness from the schools HR department or Head PA, we have to accept that feeling down, hopeless, anxious, nervous, scared, worried or fearful is not okay. Neither is not eating or sleeping. Wellbeing starts with you. It’s unlikely your workload will be significantly cut but you can take care of yourself.

In Summary:

Given the extraordinary number of blogs on this topic, I’ve kept it short. Its absolutely imperative to use the vast educational networks to support yourself and your colleagues with mental health.

Do we talk about it? Absolutely. Be brave. Start the conversation. Reducing the stigma will only begin with us starting the dialogue. Avoiding such conversations will only exacerbate the issue. If we suffer in silence, those we love will also suffer. If we don’t start the dialogue our students will be socialised into thinking the mental health taboo is ‘normal’ or acceptable. It isn’t. We have to lead from the front.

I would like to end with a poem. I was an aspiring Rapper once you know. Now I write poetry & wear cardigans! This ones called Barking Mad

Barking Mad

He’s barking mad”, continuously sad, no smile or apparent reason,

Like Breaking Bad, watched continuously, season by season,

Mental health is the buzzword on everyone’s lips,

Friends, neighbours, strangers, even the Postman offers tips,

Are you mindful or is your mindful?

Phobias, depressions, worries, anxiety; the mental health waiting room is full,

Awaiting news, diagnosis, prescriptions & therapy,

Tablets & remedies, come in all shapes and remedies,

You see, we all cope, albeit others better than some,

Some are in turmoil, some turn to drink, some pray & some run,

Doctors should prescribe patience & empathy to our loved ones,

An ear, a shoulder, to show love to loved ones,

Not cliches, brochures & broken promises,

A lack of education the true nemesis,

A depressive soul will often compare themselves to a progressive soul,

Through this comparison they suffer further heartbreak,

There’s seemingly no escape,

Others plaster their successes over social media,

We’re easily made to feel inferior,

But there’s no obvious cure,

Until you seek help, time shall pass, that’s for sure.

“He’s barking mad, continuously down but I won’t ask for his reasons,

Like Breaking Bad, I’ll keep watching, season by season.

Thank you for reading.

Shuaib Khan

Twitter: @Shuaibkhan26

https://www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk

http://www.sane.org.uk

Are you taking the PISA?

A nebulous comparison.


In December this year, the 2018 PISA results will be published in the media. We need to take these with a pinch of salt. Let’s make it clear from the get-go, more children than ever before are achieving 5 A-C (9-4) than ever before. Teachers are working as hard as ever, we aren’t a failing education system. Within its inequality-ridden context, the UK isn’t actually doing that bad. Poor PISA results don’t mean failure on behalf of our students, this is a terrible comparative ideology.

These 2015 PISA results scream ‘OMG’ but without context, just hang fire.

What is PISA?

PISA stands for the Programme for International Student Assessment. These are pen to paper, 2 and a half hours long tests that are completed in stone cold silence. 79 countries in total put their 15 years olds head to head in an international battle to see which education system is the best. PISA, at the core, is pretty much an IQ test. Being a holistic educator, your PISA scores say little about the real life skills & credentials you need in real life. But hey, with PISA, TIMSS & PIRLS, we are developing some sort of comparative method of how effective our education system is.

So what’s the issue?

We have an international comparison of our young people. This is fab. At face value, we can now begin to see how our children do compare to those in Sweden or Japan. The issue isn’t with PISA as a testing mechanism, the issue is with its distorted use by politicians to enforce and thrust through educational policies without assessing the context of stakeholders in the UK education system. My critique will focus on; context, ideology & concerns around PISA.

Context is everything.

Would you ever compare apples and pears? Their texture, taste & even colour is totally different. The climates in which they grow vary. Alterations in soil & farming methods differ. Agriculturally, they are simply two different fruits. I would hate to think if I went into my local supermarket to buy an apple pie & left with a poached pear that I’d realise the difference immediately.

Context is key. So why are we comparing the UK’s education system to other leading nations? They are fundamentally different & therefore cannot be measured using the same standardised assessment.

We can not compare the UK education system to our Scandinavian or Japanese counterparts. Let’s start with Scandinavian nations who have higher taxation therefore less division between the richest & poorest in society. Whereas here in the UK, inequality is rife. The richest 10% of the population own 1/3 of the nation’s wealth. The poorest 10% own just 1% of the UK’s wealth. In Britain, we do not have an equal society which has far-reaching ramifications on the educational attainment of the poorest & richest students as well as impacts on health, social mobility, crime & poverty to name a few. The context is different so can we make such a neatly-sealed comparison? Apples & pears!

As the graph indicates, the UK is amongst the most unequal developed nations. Our Scandinavian counter parts tend to have less of a income chasm. Should we be making comparisons with countries that are so contextually different? 🍏 🍐

In Japan & other Asian nations, great emphasis is placed on education. I grew up in a South-Asian household. This is not to imply homogeneity but rather to prevent comparisons that simple duck & dodge the contextual issue. I remember the emphasis placed on education growing up. The constant push & internal sibling competition at home. British politicians aren’t looking to change the culture of British families. But rather, they want to reorganise the schooling structure. Yet this makes little or no sense when high educational standards & etiquette are installed into Asian children at home, not at school. A comparison, again, just isn’t plausible here either.

Ideology

It’s totally understandable for someone like Michael Gove to want to shake things up, leave his legacy and mark on education. Education is part of the political arena and each political actor has their own view on how schools should run. But people’s careers, their children’s education & the future of the country are on the line. Should your own ideological obsessions but others at risk?

People like Michael Gove often quoted PISA scores to help usher his ‘new’ educational reforms. We were falling behind all other nations hence the push for more free schools, academies, performance related pay & accountability of teachers.

These PISA scores were used as empirical fact to begin Gove’s revolution. The Free Schools bill was passed, heavy focus on standards, ‘functional skills’ became a regular buzzword. Although this article isn’t a critique of Gove (and there’s plenty of them out there), the over-reliance on PISA without context has largely simplified & distorted the reality of attainment in the UK.

Free Schools originated in Sweden. These weren’t simply built out of a European jolly-boys outing. Sweden is a country where Free Schools were established in areas where they received political support & in more affluent areas. This country had decentralised school funding, teacher-led curriculums & less routinely collected assessment data. Therefore to openly parade the idea that Free Schools have been a success, that’s empirically impossible to validate. Research from Allen (2010) found that children attending Free Schools have no real difference in terms of attainment to those attending other regional educational establishments.

With lower-income inequality & division in terms of earnings, the notion of ‘choice’ for parents is reduced as all schools have a similar socio-economic composition. Free Schools in the UK tend to be in the hands of those who can afford them; wealthier families. Of course they will excel as it’s virtually biblical that your parental background dictates your educational outcomes. This whole ‘cherry-picking’ of Free Schools without context by the likes of Gove is one hell of an expensive experiment. Evidence suggests that policies such a performance related pay & the ubiquity of academies have done little to improve standards. We have to be so careful at the inferences we make.

Was the glass half full or half empty? Inferences from PISA need a transparent context-driven oversights.

Concerns with PISA

The OECD has openly said that PISA does not measure school curriculums, knowledge or competencies required in school. Yet politicians are using this data as Gods word & to push forward more educational reforms. PISA does measure the competences in the core subjects, namely, Maths, English & Science. PISA itself has been vocally considered as a measurement of “skills for life”. In a test scenario, does PISA relate to the real-life situations young people encounter on a daily basis? Svein Sjoberg of the Univesity of Oslo strongly criticised PISA for being agenda-driven & at face value, distorting results to fulfil the ideological dreams of politicians.

There’s also a mismatch in terms of when PISA assessments are sat, some countries even prepare their students to undertake PISA tests. PISA tuition isn’t uncommon. Some countries place a HUGE emphasis on PISA. Topping the rankings internationally, for some nations means a lot. A real sense of pride. Most students in the UK probably have no idea what PISA stands for let alone its prestige & the gravitas it strains from a child in Singapore. Context!

In Summary:

International comparative data has its place, its incredible deductive principles & possibilities. However, the UK is going through rapid socio-economic changes, with education also a by-product of these changes.

Context-driven research should equate to context-driven conversations, in turn leading to context-driven policies. Nothing exists in a vacuum & until we begin to rectify issues of inequality, deprivation & inequity in wider society, PISA-centric reforms alone will not be the magic wand to accompany the magic money tree that’s being planted. As Basil Bernstein reminds us “education cannot compensate for society”.

Thank you for reading. A massive thank you to Dr Emma Smith & Dr Patrick White for your incredible insight into Social Justice & Empiricism respectively. Sentiments of my undergrad massively reflect this article.

Shuaib Khan

Twitter: @shuaibkhan26

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