10 Things You Will Probably Do Within The First 6 Months Of Starting Your Blog

cupcake-754960_1920

Along with fireworks, dark evenings and the first hints of Christmas, November brings my 29th birthday and the 6 month anniversary of The Girl on the Piccadilly Line. Prior to this blog my previous blogging experience had consisted of 6 posts during a summer in Italy. I am really enjoying blogging and have learnt an awful lot over the last six months. If you’re feeling in anyway inspired to blog yourself read on: here are 10 things you will probably do within the first 6 months of starting your blog.

1. You will Google: “How To Earn Money Blogging” every day. 

blogShortly after publishing your first post you’ll start spending a lot of your time imagining a life where your day consists of sitting in cafes tapping away at your laptop, researching your next post and sipping endless flat whites. You’ll contemplate selling space on your blog to generate advertising revenue but decide against it as you “don’t want to dampen the experience for your readers” (even if, at this point, your only readers are your Mum and Dad and your Mum’s friend Linda.) You imagine that somehow Lonely Planet, The Guardian or Cosmopolitan are going to have spotted the “potential” of your first 400 word post, that has been seen by 4 people, and email you offering you a 5 year contract to continue your blog. It wasn’t just me that did this right?

2. You’ll tweak. Obsessively.

The Girl On The Piccadilly Line went from grey, boxy and “grown up” to pink with a hand drawn London skyline in just 2 hours. I think I’ve given less thought to some of the flats I’ve rented than I gave to choosing my theme. Even once you’ve got your blog set up the way you want you’ll play around and change bits. You’ll scroll through other blogs and envy their theme, layout and font. Yes, you become jealous of fonts. You decide that your own blog looks clunky and amateurish by comparison. So you tweak and tweak and tweak…

blogging style

3. You’ll wish you knew more about coding

For those bloggers that can code – good work. My previous coding experience ends at programming a times tables game whilst teaching a class and that was with incredibly clear step-by-step instructions written so a 7 year-old could follow them. There are so many things I would like to change about my site but, at present, I don’t have the skills to do so. So in those first few months you’ll scour WordPress forums and sometimes cry in frustration at not knowing your CSS from your HTML or your Front End from your Back End.  That said, when you finally manage to customize even the most basic of features on your site, albeit with the help of a very patient 19-year-old computer science undergrad you found on Twitter, you’ll feel pretty damn pleased with yourself.

image1

4. You’ll hit refresh – and  then hit refresh again.

Page hits aren’t actually the most useful statistic but in the early days of a new blog there is something quite exhilarating about watching that number increase. If you’re anything like me you’ll start imaging who the new readers are “Oh another 2 hits – that’s probably the Obamas. They can’t get enough of my blog.” I think I actually whooped with joy with Girl On The Piccadilly Line reached a mere 3,000 hits (before moving domains and starting again at 0. Grr.)

5. You’ll lust after desks.

I’m desperate for a desk to work at. You know, with flowers, pictures plenty of light and colourful pens. At the moment I write all my posts from either the sofa or our kitchen/office (every home has a kitchen/office right?)  It’s handy being so close to the kettle but my aim is to have a more peaceful desk space some day in the future.

kitchenoffice 

6. You’ll become a social media expert (whore)

I use social media like a 16 year old. I’ve dusted off my Pinterest, got myself a Bloglovin account and created a Girl On The Piccadilly Line Facebook page. I’ve spent more time analysing stats for these accounts than is probably healthy and have worked out the best time to publish a new post for maximum exposure. Social media is excellent for finding like-minded bloggers and building a network of support and advice. Use it to your advantage. I follow #MondayBlogs, #BloggingGals and #SundayBlogShare avidly and use them to find new blogs to follow.

7. You’ll be hit by huge amounts of self-doubt

Writing is personal and blogging even more so; you are putting a little piece of yourself out there for others to judge. Of course if you really don’t want negative feedback you shouldn’t put yourself out there at all but then if you thought like that you’d never really do anything. I remember sitting on a train with The Man On The Piccadilly Line, who’d been watching in bemusement as I scrawled in my notebook like a maniac, I looked up and it said, “What am I doing?! Nobody is interested in this – only me! This is too niche; why am I writing this?”

“Just keep writing,” he replied, “There’ll be other people who will find it interesting and you’re enjoying it so don’t worry.” (The Man on the Piccadilly Line is very wise and very kind, you see.) I used to get embarrassed even showing him my writing but now I show him all my posts before publishing them and he proof reads and advises. He’s always positive and encouraging but also offers advice on how I could improve parts of my writing. Find a friend that can do this for you. Then marry that friend.

8. You promote other people’s blogs

I now follow dozens of blogs, comment regularly on them and tweet with the bloggers. You get out what you put in and self promotion is only going to get you so far – you need to work with other people. Also, they’re a really friendly bunch out there in the Bloggersphere so don’t be afraid to say hello! Everyone you interact with will be able to offer you some advice or teach you a new skill (or in my case explain in the MOST basic terms where I had to paste the code to create a side bar.) Get involved, share other people’s work and do so without the expectation that the favour will be returned (although it often will be.)

9. You’ll store blog ideas on your phone

Because they’ll strike you when you’re at work, out with friends or in the pub (be careful of those ideas though – 3 glasses of Rioja and I will become convinced the world needs a post about all the pets I’ve owned: 9 cats and a dog, since you asked.) Joking aside there will be times when you have genuine “I have to blog about this” lightbulb moments and inspiration nearly always strikes at an occasion when it isn’t socially acceptable to ignore work or social decency and start a new post, so have somewhere handy to write them down.

image1 (1)

10. You’ll learn a lot about when and how you like to work

Blogging regularly takes commitment. I write roughly 5,000 words a month for my blog and that’s mainly at weekends (or particularly inspired evenings.) In the holidays I can write three posts a week rather than three a month. I know I work better in the mornings and that when I have an idea that I really want to write about I’m impatient to get going on it (which is why most of Eat. Read. London was written by hand on the train from Leamington Spa to Euston.) I’ve also confirmed something I’ve always suspected about myself which is, when I am really interested in what I’m doing, I will become slightly obsessive about it. Without meaning to, it I have sat for 4 hours straight without looking up from my screen working on a blog post and stay up into the small hours writing – those that know me, know that I’m normally in bed and asleep by 10pm. So much of my working life is dictated by bells and being in certain places at certain times that it’s been interesting to see how I approach a completely different sort of work on my own schedule.

Eat. Read. London.

books

For a literature geek like myself London is a treasure trove of literary history. Walk through this marvellous city and you can find yourself in a pub with Keats, Byron and Shelley, strolling alongside Sherlock Holmes on your way to work or walking Kensington Gardens with Elinor Dashwood. London is full of nods to some of the most renowned authors and poets of all time. If you’re only partially/in no way interested in literature you’ll be relieved to know that many of these historically significant sites are also pubs. So, walk with me through my favourite parts of the city and I’ll share with you what you should eat, drink and read.

Fitzrovia

What Is It?

Famously the centre for artists and writers, Fitzrovia has been the stomping ground for Dylan Thomas, George Orwell and Virginia Woolf. It is well documented that Woolf walked the streets of London to clear her head of dark thoughts and get inspiration: “I’m so ugly. So old. Well, don’t think about it, and walk all over London; and see people and imagine their lives.”

Start by taking in Woolf’s home on Gordon Square which became the meeting place of the “Bloomsbury Group” – a group of writers and artists Woolf’s brother knew from Cambridge. Woolf would walk along Piccadilly, Whitehall and through the St James’ Park which I would recommend if you fancy stretching your legs. Make like Mrs Dalloway and buy yourself some flowers from the Flower Shop on Goodge Street on the way.

I’m Hungry!

Although she wasn’t a big drinker, Woolf was known to occasionally frequent the Fitzroy Tavern. Today it’s a Sam Smith’s pub which makes it one of the most reasonably priced places for a pint in London. All beers are vegan and additive free and there is also a very reasonable food menu.

If it’s too early for a drink then get yourself to Workshop Coffee for one of the best flat whites in the city served by the friendliest staff.

What Should I Read?

    

Baker Street

“It is my belief Watson, founded up my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”

What Is It?

In case you’ve been living inside a tree for the whole of your life Baker Street station is beautifully clear about its literary fame. This is the only entry dedicated to the dwelling of a fictional character rather than the writer. You can go and visit the home of Arthur Conan Doyle (it’s in Norwood) but why would you when you can go to 221b Baker Street and have your photograph taken wearing a long coat and a deer stalker? The museum itself is well worth a look although be prepared to queue.

I’m Hungry!

The Volunteer

Nestled conveniently at the top of Baker Street is The Volunteer a cosy pub with log fires and comfy seats. Take a good friend and share a bottle of wine with one of their delicious roast dinners – there is no finer way to spend a Sunday afternoon. If you have the energy you can even have a game of Scrabble afterwards…

If you don’t have the luxury of an afternoon free to hole-up in a pub on Baker Street then never fear – take a quick walk to Marylebone Station to my new found favourite place in London: International Cheese. I could write a whole blog post about this place but I’d rather you went and experienced it for yourself. In fact, forget all the literary stuff and just go here. Now. Go, order the gorgonzola and apple croissant and a coffee and thank me later.

Cheese 1 Cheese 2

What Should I Read?

Hampstead

What Is It?

There are many reasons to visit Hampstead: the heath, the Everyman cinema, the pubs but next time you’re there take a walk to the home of John Keats. It is widely believed that Keats wrote “Ode To A Nightingale” whilst sitting under a plum tree in the garden of his Hampstead home. Look next door to see the home of Fanny Brawne (Keats and Brawne were a 19th Century Ross and Rachel.) Or at least they would have bene had Ross travelled to Italy and died of TB, alone and in terrible pain.

I’m Hungry!

Work up your appetite with a stroll through Hampstead Heath to Spaniards Inn – Keats’ preferred watering hole. An atmospheric pub with beams and dark wood panelling and an excellent menu. Order the steak sandwich and wash it down with one of their local brews.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA map

What Should I Read?

Highgate

What Is It?

Highgate Cemetery is the resting place of many a literary giant: Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Douglas Adams to name but a few. It’s certainly worth a respectful stroll and it backs on to Waterlow Park which is hands-down my favourite park in London.

Why are we here? Samuel Taylor Coleridge. For his final, drug-addled years Coleridge lived in Highgate with his friend (and doctor) James Gillman on The Grove. His house is not open to the public (although there was an opportunity to buy it a few years ago for those with a spare £7m lying around.)

I’m Hungry

In the evenings, Coleridge would wander over the road to one of my favourite pubs in London. I’ve dragged many a weary, hungover friend up the hill from Highgate station with the promise of the food here. It’s The Flask – a historic pub that claims to be the site of the first human autopsy and boasts Dick Turpin as a patron. Now I don’t know if either of those facts are a) true or b) related. What I do know is the Flask is the perfect place for risotto, crumble and a Mongozo banana beer or three. In fact, maybe just get a window seat and view Coleridge’s place from the warmth of the pub.

What Should I Read?

Clerkenwell

What Is It?

Love him or loathe him (and I LOVE him) you can’t write an article about London’s literature without mentioning Dickens. London is the opening word to Bleak House, one of his most famous novels. It’s difficult to pin down an area you should visit as Dickens wrote about vast areas of the city. Like Woolf, he would stroll the city for hours taking in his surroundings that he would later turn into vivid descriptive writing. I suppose, as always, his house is good place to start. It’s now been turned into a brilliant museum so jump off the Piccadilly Line at Russell Square and get yourself to 48 Doughty Street.

I’m Hungry!

“A man in a velveteen coat sits in the parlour of a low public house with a small glass strongly impregnated with the smell of liquor.”

The man in this case is Bill Sykes. The “low public house” is the fictional The Three Cripples. Surprisingly there is no pub that goes by that name but it is generally accepted that Dickens was writing with The One Tun in mind. Dickens was a patron of the pub between 1833 and 1838 and published the first instalment of “Oliver Twist” in 1837. Saffron Hill is a 10 minute walk from Dickens’ front door. There you’ll find The One Tun – order a small glass strongly impregnated with the smell of liquor and imagine you’re a Victorian pimp. 1833 the pub probably didn’t serve Thai food but we’re in 2015 so forget the authentic Victorian experience just this once and order the sambal prawns. Dickens would have done the same if he’d had the chance.

What Should I Read?

 

The Wrongs of Right-to-Buy

shutterstock_270470528

Haringey hit the (local) news recently for handing BACK £15m to the Government from the sale of council homes. Quite rightly people were outraged that in the midst of the most severe housing crisis this country has seen Haringey were giving back money that could be spent on building new homes. Last month I went to a fantastic talk on housing by Cllr. Alan Strickland that set out the challenges facing councils at the moment. I wish more people could have heard the talk for themselves as it was so clear and informative but, knowing that is unlikely to happen, I will try my best to outline some of his key points. I am by no means an expert and I am happy to be corrected on anything I may have got wrong….

So, when challenged by an angry member about this vast sum of money that the council had “refused” to spend, Cllr. Strickland explained that there were a number of restrictions on how Right To Buy money could be spent. These include:

  1. RTB money can only be used to fund 30% of any property development
  2. If RTB money is being used to fund a development the council has to contribute the remaining 70% and they are not allowed to use money from other schemes in conjunction with the RTB money.
  3. The money has to be spent in three years. Which sounds likes ages but it isn’t three years to get sale confirmed. That’s 3 years to get the land sold, surveys done and bricks laid.

So, it was with a heavy heart that the money was returned as Haringey desperately needs more social housing. The cut to benefits, the introduction of the bedroom tax and hugely inflated London rents have resulted in a 14% increase in homelessness in the last year; that includes 100,00 children that do not have a permanent address. But what does Right to Buy have to do with any of this?

When the Right-to-Buy scheme was first announced in the Conservative manifesto in May the promise was that for EVERY council house sold a new one would be built. As you can see from the figures below – that hasn’t happened.

Detailed borough-by-borough breakdown of Right-to-Buy replacements

Borough

Replacements

started

RTB

sales

Sales for each

replacement

Social housing waiting list

Barking and Dagenham

417

488

1

11,024

Barnet

3

229

76

1,045

Bexley

NA

NA

NA

3,481

Brent

0

168

zero replacement

5,102

Bromley

NA

NA

NA

3,126

Camden

21

195

9

22,409

City of London

0

23

zero replacement

476

Croydon

0

175

zero replacement

5,102

Ealing

0

274

zero replacement

10,676

Enfield

37

287

8

2,237

Greenwich

0

567

zero replacement

11,375

Hackney

70

203

3

7,926

Hammersmith and Fulham

0

130

zero replacement

433

Haringey

0

383

zero replacement

9,203

Harrow

0

81

zero replacement

687

Havering

6

212

35

2,271

Hillingdon

0

308

zero replacement

3,606

Hounslow

5

154

31

6,842

Islington

61

345

6

17,860

Kensington and Chelsea

13

54

4

2,677

Kingston upon Thames

0

77

zero replacement

6,436

Lambeth

0

258

zero replacement

15,264

Lewisham

14

220

16

8,294

Merton

NA

NA

NA

7,625

Newham

19

372

20

15,582

Redbridge

3

133

44

7,804

Richmond upon Thames

NA

NA

NA

4,008

Southwark

21

556

26

13,436

Sutton

0

163

zero replacement

1,496

Tower Hamlets

100

284

3

20,425

Waltham Forest

0

270

zero replacement

20,635

Wandsworth

25

251

10

2,788

Westminster

10

112.88

11

4,378

London total

825

6,973

8

11,024

So what happens to people those people that suddenly find themselves in desperate need of social housing that just no longer exists?

One solution is to approach private landlords and ask them to rent out their property to these tenants. In 2010 100 private rentals housed Haringey tenants on benefits, in stark contrast, last year only 22 private landlords were happy to do this. There are so many reasons why a landlord would decide to not rent out their property to a tenant on benefits and in the case of some buy-to-let mortgages there are specific terms that state the property cannot be used for social housing. The admin surrounding housing benefit can be slow and arduous – why go through the hassle or renting as social housing when you can quickly and efficiently earn a huge amount renting your property privately? So, quick recap: social housing being sold, not being rebuilt, private landlords turning away tenants on benefits. So now where do you go?

The answer at the moment seems to be “out of London.” Which is exactly what is happening. Families that have lived in London all their lives and rely on their community and network are given a train ticket to Peterborough/Luton/Basildon etc. This in turn puts pressure on those communities to quickly find houses and school places for these families. There is currently a legal battle brewing between Luton and the London Borough of Walthamstow over the number of families the Borough are relocating.

So what is the solution? We need to build a vast amount of social housing and affordable homes for first time buyers (and we need to discuss what that term “affordable” means.) Obviously this will take time so in the interim we need to offer long term, stable affordable rental contracts. There is no strong evidence that rent caps would solve the problem but it can’t be left completely deregulated as it is at the moment.

If the Government are going to going to continue with the Right-To-Buy scheme they will have to free up councils to spend the money it brings in. As Cllr. Strickland pointed out during his talk, whilst there is no single Conservative policy stating an aim to drive poor people out of London when you look at the policies as a “package”: cutting disability benefits, spare room tax, not replacing social housing and cutting tax credits they all point in that direction.

Housing crisis

Parents’ Evening

education-908512_1920


I’ll never forget my first parents’ evening – by the 28th appointment I was so tired I referred to the child by the wrong name. Twice. Parent teacher relationships are surprisingly tricky given we both care so much about the same child. I’m fortunate to have had some amazing parents over the years: parents who have helped on trips (and actually helped), parents who made a point of saying thank you just because their child had a good week and parents who have turned up to parents’ evening with Rymans stationery goodies. Equally brilliant are those parents who manage to get their children fed and to school on time every day before getting to work themselves.


So just so we’re all clear: parents you’re amazing; I don’t know how you do what you do. You have my upmost respect. That done here is my Parents’ Evening in 30 statements. For the record, these are ALL things I’ve said/heard said to parents over the years.

1) You need to read with your child. Actually start with talking to your child you can build up to reading later.

2) We did send out a letter about that. You can get another one from the office.

3) No, I’m afraid I don’t know where her jumper is. Have you checked lost property?

4) Please don’t worry. Your child is happy, learning lots and making friends – you don’t need to worry.

5) I’m not going to set extra homework. You can find plenty of worksheets on the internet if that is the sort of thing you are after.

6) No, your child is not being bullied they just need to stop ruining other children’s games.

7) Your son is so kind, and considerate of others – you should feel incredibly proud.

8) Your daughter is working her socks off; I’m working with her and together we will get there.

9) We’ll be sending a letter out about that.

10) Teaching your son has reminded me why I do this job.

11) I’d like to talk to you about why your child licks walls.

12) You need to make sure your child goes to bed earlier. He’s too tired and isn’t able to focus. Well you need to unplug the Xbox then. And take away his tablet.

13) I’ve become a better teacher since I started teaching your son.

14) Your daughter needs to stop pinching other children.

15) Sorry, you can’t just turn up you had to make an appointment. There was a letter.

16) No, I can’t tell you where he ranks in the class because we don’t do that.

17) She needs a coat and some tights. We can provide you with those if it would help but you need to make sure she puts them on before coming to school.

18) No I won’t be setting extra homework.

19) Your daughter makes me laugh every day.

20) I think she would really benefit from engaging in conversations with adults at home. Is there anyone that could do that?

21) What would he enjoy reading? Can we get him some more books about that? I’d really like to get him reading more.

22) I’ve been working with  your son on using the toilet – perhaps you could work on this with him at home?

23) Your daughter needs to go to bed earlier. Well you need to take her tablet away then.

19)  Well yes, if your son does the wrong thing he will be moved down. Then he needs to stop doing the wrong thing.

20) Can you explain to your daughter that “halal” only refers to meat? She’s not eating salad and bread at lunch because it’s “not-halal”

21) How long has your son been eating glue?

22) Now about this love triangle your daughter is caught in.

23) I think she needs a few more friends. Would you consider having another child over to play or letting her go to a classmate’s house?

24) Could you show your daughter how to use a knife and fork?

25) Your son is delightful. It’s a privilege to teach him.

26) Obviously we cannot tolerate racism in school. We take it very seriously.

27) Your daughter has only been here for 12 days in the last month. You need to bring her to school every day.

28) No I’m afraid I can’t tell you how she ranks in the class. We don’t talk about children like that.

29)  Thank you for everything you’re doing for your daughter. It really does make such a difference when they come to school every day ready to learn.

30) Yes, there was a letter about that.

What I Want To Hear

Hustings

As anyone that follows me any sort of social media/anyone that would listen to me last week knows, I attended the Labour Leadership hustings on Sunday. I felt how most people probably feel waiting to see their favourite band: “I can’t believe we’re going to be in the same room as them!” “It’ll be so strange having followed them all these years to see them in the flesh” “Should I wear my “Hell Yes” t-shirt or is that too last Labour Leader?” I found the whole process fascinating and what surprised me was how my perceptions changed having watched them in the flesh. Yvette Cooper is far more impressive, Liz Kendall far less, whilst Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn were pretty much what I expected. At the end of it all I was still hugely undecided about how I will cast my vote.

All four leaders seemed to agree that education needs to, once again, be at the forefront of the Labour agenda. It was barely mentioned in the 2015 campaign and given the damage Gove has done to the education system there is a lot of work to do. So I started thinking: what would I want to hear the future Labour Party leader say?

1) Boost teacher morale

This has to happen quickly and it applies to all public sector workers who have been made enemy of the state over the last few years. Nurses, doctors, social workers, midwives and teachers criticised on an almost daily basis in the media. The constant drip, drip narrative of “public sector workers are lazy“, “public sector workers are incompetent” needs to stop.


2) A qualified teacher in every classroom

Quite a simple one. Only Qualified Teachers are allowed to have a class. Allowing unqualified teachers to teach is damaging for children’s education and hugely undermining of trained, skilled professionals. I wouldn’t want an unqualified doctor performing an operation neither would I want an unqualified lawyer representing me in court. By allowing unqualified teachers to teach it suggests teaching requires no specialist training and anyone can do it.

3) Build community schools not free schools

I’m not sure what I find more distasteful: chains of soulless academies run by Whitehall that can change teacher’s pay and conditions at a drop of a hat or schools set up by groups of parents, religious fanatics, business owners and Katie Price  funded by the tax-payer. These schools do not have to follow the National Curriculum and can select their pupils which risks creating a “sink school” situation and further increases social segregation. The academy scheme was started by Labour to try and improve failing schools however has it actually worked? Other than the fact that academies can be more selective at the pupils they take on there is little evidence that suggests academy status actually improves schools. Rather than spending their budget on free schools and academies if the Government focused on building more community schools that served the children of the local community we could begin to address the school places crisis. At the moment state schools are being asked to take on extra classes in porter-cabins to try and place all these children without schools. This is a temporary solution to an ever-increasing problem. The Labour party established the Building Schools for the Future scheme and Primary Capital Programme in 2006 to prepare for the number of places that would be needed in 2011. Michael Gove famously scrapped both of these schemes in 2010.


4) Address the teacher recruitment and retention problem

Well step one is acknowledge there is a teacher recruitment and retention problem. There is a 7% shortfall expected for this September, the third in a row. We need to make teaching the job that graduates want to go for. This doesn’t mean necessarily offering more money. If teachers were given the same level of respect as lawyers or bankers I think that alone would attract people to the profession. For those that have chosen teaching we need to work hard to keep them  Currently 4 out of 10 teachers leave within their first year. Either the training is not equipping them with the skills they need or the ever increasing demands made of teachers are making the job unbearable. At the moment, unless you decide to go into leadership you are fairly capped as to the amount you can earn. I know that the Advanced Skills Teachers role was meant for teachers that wanted to stay as class teachers and would be given the career development and financial incentive to do so.

5) Address workload

Closely linked to teacher retention  the issue of workload. I’d like to start with a disclaimer: I know teaching will always be a difficult job and teachers will always be required to work outside their contracted hours. It’s the time spent on tasks that has no impact on children’s education I resent. The time spent evidencing what I do in class and updating endless spreadsheets. The endless focus on data without acknowledging we are dealing with children not numbers. It’s generally accepted by teachers entering the profession that they are giving up any hope of a work-life balance. When  first started teaching I think the adrenaline and the novelty of having my own class meant I didn’t notice I was working a 60 hour week and half of my evenings and weekends. I loved it and loved my class and would happily spend hours working. I remember going to the cinema with the same friend twice in a four month period and both times I fell asleep in the first half an hour of the film. My friends and family generally accept to get any decent time with me they need to wait until the holidays. I get a strange sort of buzz from working like this but it’s wearing off. The DFE workload survey found teacher’s workload increased by 9 hours a week between 2010 and 2013. Forget work-life balance or teacher’s mental health. Children need and deserve passionate, enthusiastic teachers with the energy to go the extra mile for them. At the moment most of the teachers I know are struggling to just get through the day.

6) Address child poverty

You can redefine it however you want but child poverty 3.5 million children live in poverty. All research shows the direct link between child poverty and low educational achievement. Children living in poverty start school 19 months behind developmentally. A study done in America found that children from more affluent backgrounds are exposed to 30 MILLION more words than children growing up on benefits. Closer to home, a study carried out by Bristol University with a sample of 12, 644 5 year-olds found children from the poorest 20% of homes had an average developmental age of about 4 and a half. In stark contrast children from the wealthiest 20% of homes had an average developmental age of 5 years and eight months approximately 15 months ahead of the poorest childrenAs the gap between rich and poor widens state funding is cut so schools have fewer resources to address this gap.  As state services are cut schools are left to pick up the pieces with ever decreasing resources. I know of schools that take pupils to the doctor and the dentist to teaching them how to use the toilet. Investing in children’s formative years is essential. Invest in the state support, health visitors, midwives, social workers. Oh and by address child poverty I don’t mean redefine it. With the cuts to tax credits, and child benefit caps I sadly don’t see how we’re going to help children out of poverty under this government,

These are, in my opinion, some of the top priorities and yet I haven’t begun to address the curriculum, changes to testing and the ever changing goal posts and Ofsted criteria. Ultimately I believe we need an education system we can feel proud of and a Government that treats public sector workers with the respect they deserve.