UK Teachers:  Reclaim your Tax £300+

 

This is easy, DO NOT use a third party company their cuts of 40%+ are completely unnecessary. It takes less than 30 mins.

As a teacher, I understand it, you are permitted to claim back £60 a year ‘to cover the cost of upkeep and replacement of specialist or protective clothing’; Teachers of Science this covers lab coats, aprons, etc. I’m sure lots of us also have other clothing to upkeep.

You are allowed to claim for the last 5 tax years. That means £60 x 5 years is £300 (a minimum you can claim tax relief on).

tax1

‘Thanks Pran YOU’RE AWESOME’

It and I get better. God I sound like a [insert expletive]

You could also reclaim tax on fees or subscriptions you pay to professional organisations but it has to relate to your job (sorry your membership to the professional gardener’s guild isn’t going to cut it). These cannot lifetime memberships and you have to pay for them yourself.

teachers-unions

Some common organisations,

  1. The NUT / ATL / NEU / NASUWT / NAHT / ASCL – Yes your union payments. These will add up. Either contact your union for the amount you paid or use your online banking app to find out.
  2. Royal Societies of Arts
  3. Association for Science Education (ASE)
  4. Chartered College of Teaching also fall in this bracket but I couldn’t find it on the list. (The College of Teachers is listed, is this the same organization?)
  5. For a full list go here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/professional-bodies-approved-for-tax-relief-list-3/approved-professional-organisations-and-learned-societies

278e78b1abddd5afed7fab7b51e33231c13de24a452c14af0a46bbf0f2db8a5e

“Please, sir could I have some more?”

Okay, just a little.

Conference, journeys to temporary places of work, trips, etc. if you are paying out of your own pocket, that means you don’t claim it back from school (like all of the above), you can claim, public transport costs, hotel accommodation if you have to stay overnight, food and drink, congestion charges and tolls, parking fees, business phone calls and printing costs. This does not cover travel to the normal workplace.

more

Any more Patel?

Erm Maybe

Yes one more and this is a contentious issue, I don’t think that teacher should be buying resources for their classroom. However, teachers do. If the upkeep of your uniform and the tools you buy to replace is more than £60, keep the receipts you can claim the tax on these back. I have never done this but it’s in the process below.

Steps:

  1. Go to https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/claim-tax-relief-expenses/who-claiming-for
  2. Then fill in the following – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-income-tax-relief-for-your-employment-expenses-p87
  3. Sign up and fill in the form. The link is called claim online. (example below)
  4. I think you will need your passport (or other ID) and your employers PAYE reference (on you p 60).

tax2

  1. Your tax code will now change – you don’t have to do this every year. If your circumstances do change i.e. you start paying more fees – you can do this via the phone.
  2. Then wait for them to come back to you.
  3. Feel awesome and if it helps pass it forward. I mean it; pass it forward do one good thing for someone else and ask them to pass it forward too.

 

 

 

Right Caveats this is down to my understanding, so please don’t try and sue me, if I misquote something here, remember I am not a TAX specialist/Accountant.

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RACE: What is White Supremacy in Education? 

I start this blog with a video of some google searches I performed.

Recently I have had lots of conversations with people around the term ‘white supremacy’ (Dr Di Angelo deconstructs the term far better than I can). I know the term conjures images of burning crosses and white hoods. White supremacy, is anything that supports the structures and systems which in turn hold back people of colour from the fruits of their endeavours, as educators how do *we* engage in white supremacy?

1. Not checking our privilege and bias.
2. Omitting the successes of people of colour  .
3. Not supporting people against the grain of oppression.
4. Engaging the white saviour complex.
5. etc.

Let’s delve into the source of the issue. We live in a world where the achievements of white, middle class, males, cis, heterosexual, etc. are celebrated and the achievements of others omitted. This has the impact of inculcating our minds towards this way of thinking. Many of us, I hope, would rebuke at the thought of denigrating the achievements of others and discriminating in our actions.
Recently I sat with a group of amazing (mainly primary teachers), this very same conversation arose when questioned about the last time they used a person of colour in their lesson as a figure of success. I was greeted with silence (in this case there was alcohol involved however this is relatively common).
Personally, I ascribe to the label of Global Majority over BAME, this is because, believe it not, there are more non-white (a microaggression in itself) than white people. Is this reflected in our lessons in our various curricula? If you can’t think of people of colour in positions of success I would suspect you to have been inculcated into the same mindset through similar ethnocentric curricula through your informative years in school.

Photo Credit: @Rondelle10_B

Talking about microaggressions – at a recent educational event I prominent head teacher talked succinctly about cognitive load theory, the quality of the presentation was top notch. She continued to show a slide of what you are seeing and then what your students are seeing, in Mandarin script. Yes, the majority of pupils in the UK would not understand the Mandarin script; However, this denigrates the experience of those who do, it ‘others’ them.

There are numerous examples of omission and microaggressions, here are a few;

1. Modern Foreign Languages, who decides what a modern foreign language is? are Hindi/Arabic/Yoruba/etc. less useful than French, German or Spanish? I have had pupils describe their home language, their mother tongue, the one they actually think and dream in, as useless.

2. History – the omission of the numerous and vital roles of PoC, coupled with the hagiography around (openly white supremacist) figures such as Churchill.

3. Science – the achievements of the Muslim Arabian astronomy, etc.

4. One for the wider world, why are bandages and plasters, white and pink in colour? Remember more people of colour than people of no colour (financially this can’t be a reason)

5. The list goes on

I could debunk some of this through an interrogation of the BAME/gender pay gap, the initial results of the REC, the numbers of university pupils dropping out of their undergraduate courses due to overt racism, job applications from a non-traditionally British name, disproportionate numbers of black Caribbean pupils having their education dumbed down (https://www.bbc.com/news/education-47240580), etc. But that is for another day.

Some of you reading this right now will be shocked and question if this is the case. This may be due to the fact we are told that we live in a meritocracy it is prevalent British value and the tenets of our society. We judge people on merit.  To suggest otherwise rock the foundations of ourselves and the society we have built. This is natural. Dr R Di Angelo refers to this as ‘white fragility’ (https://libjournal.uncg.edu/ijcp/article/viewFile/249/116), where the label of ‘racist’ or ‘white supremacist’ is so important that they supersede self-reflection and growth. It is our duty as educators to let this get in the way of improving ourselves and the lives of those we serve.

That, in a roundabout way, brings us back to the title, what is ‘White Supremacy’? What is ‘racism’? I understand that these words are synonymous with good people and bad people binary. This polarised view is rarely helpful. Now when someone calls me a misogynist, antisemite, Islamaphobe, etc. I no longer take it as this personal slur or as someone calling me a bad person, I simply reflect where I am on the spectrum of oppression.

Racism isn’t about singular abhorrent act rather it’s an epistemology (your method of gathering knowledge) which causes the systemic oppression of people of colour, the same can be said for all protected characteristics. Here we should discuss the different intersections of class, gender, colour, etc. but my definition is a simplification of the individual journeys. However, it serves as one that is pragmatic and a great starting point.

The recent interviews with Angela Smith and Liam Neeson are an example of the consequences of systemic white supremacy, yet people will get caught up in the nuances of the act. This serves no one and does not even acknowledge the causes or remedies to the issue.

I will say it is impossible to grow up in a system which schools you and not feel its impact. Yes, that includes me, of course, I personally forward/promote a whole supremacist agenda, I went through years of training (schooling/media/working life) and I’m trained in its propagation. However, it is my duty to retrain, unlearn and undo the damage caused or I will fall into the box of becoming discriminatory.  I urge you all to do the same.

The aim of this blog was to make us all uncomfortable, hopefully, that energy will spur you to reflect and grow toward anti-racism.

An Ethnocentric Curriculum​, the Media and those Seeking to Make Change. #BankNotesOfColour

Growing up in the UK. As a man of colour, I had gone through the British system of primary, secondary and sixth form education. It was at this point someone first asked, your father is Indian, what did the Indians ever do for modern society. I honestly didn’t have an answer.

I searched for personal heroes and then I searched for successful people, the only person that came to mind was Gandhi, but surely the second largest nation on the planet must have produced successful people and achievements that changed and contributed the world. As a part of the British Empire, my father’s birthplace must have contributed to the country I call home.

I search through my memory and found very little. Although what I did realise is that my brain was riddled with white middle-class males in positions of power and success. You’d think that they have a superior genetic and gendered advantage in our meritocracy.

As an 18-year-old going to a Russell group university was the point where I never have felt more inferior. Oppression, in this case, is subtle, structural and systemic. The British education system and the wider context systematically denies and omits the achievement of people who don’t fit the atypical image of a British citizen.

Let’s be clear, Britain is built upon the blood, sweat and tears of those in its the empire. As a Londoner, I reap the rewards of years of the empire. Yet we deny their voices, their names are rarely uttered never let alone in reverence and gratitude.

Upon leaving university, wanting to make change, I entered the teaching profession. With the aim of propagating the truth, actually enriching the curriculum with the myriad of colours which make and made modern Britain. What I found was resistance from those in educational power, I guess where I grew up in a system which denied the achievement of people of colour through a system of omission.

As the British culture led to my inferior self-view, subsequently they grew up in the system which made them feel superior.  This brings me the ethnocentric curriculum which indoctrinates young people, us, towards an epistemological viewpoint which endorses the same view of white (Great British) superiority.

Through our history lessons we are often taught about the US, they came and rescued the allied forces in World War 2. How many soldiers of the empire fought and gave their lives? Did the greatest volunteer armies ever formed (in history) not play a part in the great wars? Well not according to my mind, and I suspect the minds of countless pupils, inculcated through the culture and community which raised us.

The current and past anti-immigration rhetoric is based around an us and them philosophy, the othering is a necessary part of collective which seek to propagate and ensure longevity. People often told what Britain did for the empire, I’m not to debate this here, but people are rarely ready to embrace the converse.

Hence I am in support of any program which recognises the contribution of people of colour, whether that be in education or the wider world.

#Banknotesofcolour is one campaign I would urge everyone to get behind. People of colour built, fought and died for his country. It’s time to stand up and recognise them. This is Noor Inayat Khan, if you don’t know who she is, follow the link below.

noor

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/16/new-50-note-must-become-uks-first-bank-note-feature-ethnic-minority/

The Johari Window Model and Valuing Dissonance

“… that greater understanding of self-efficacy and self-awareness is important for individual growth and can enable ethical leaders to empower themselves, their colleagues, and the organization in which they work.” Cam Caldwell 2016

johari1

Johari window model is designed to encourage self-awareness, looking at the window this area is in the top left called the Open Arena. I won’t go into detail here as it’s well known. The aim is to increase the open arena in both dimensions;

  1. To make the open arena larger in the y-axis is through leaders sharing information and giving honest feedback.
  2. Enlarging the x-axis is through gaining honest feedback.
  3. This process also decreases the unknown arena by the encroaching open arena.

johari2

This model like many aspects of leadership is built on trust, and trust is built through integrity and communication. In the case of small senior leadership teams, it is vital you amass or train a team who are humble enough to receive and give feedback. Even more important is to incorporate dissonance into your team, in fact, the acceptance and encouragement of active dissonance.

tweet

I recently tweeted on the value of dissonance (and blog) thinking and the value of having diverse leaders within your team. It is easy to be self-indulgent to have similar voices and follower who fawn over your every word. Come on every like to be told they are doing the right thing. The question, we as leaders, need to ask ourselves is ‘are these voices going to ever deliver honest feedback on your actions and decisions?.’

References

Picture from http://activitydirectorlive.com/the-johari-window-model/

Cam CaldwellLinda A. Hayes, (2016) “Self-efficacy and self-awareness: moral insights to increased leader effectiveness”, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 35 Issue: 9, pp.1163-1173, https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-01-2016-0011

 

Leadership: Creating an Organisation Where People Believe.

We have all worked in organisations, where leaders make us feel like we can do ‘it’, whatever that ‘it’ may be. Think about that leader who you’d walk to the end of the world for, scratch that, who you’d walk to the end of the world with. After 15 years in schools, I have seen this in various examples in peer collaboration, a singular visionary and even constructed through systems and structures.

How does this happen?

Albert Bandura’s defines ‘Perceived self-efficacy’ as being concerned with people’s beliefs in their capabilities to produce given attainments (Bandura, 1997). Well, I define it the feeling or the belief that you can lead or teach well, it’s well documented that teachers with high self-efficacy are more effective in the classroom. Teacher’s taking more risks with the curriculum (Guskey, 1988) to using new teaching approaches (Gibson & Dembo, 1984) and increasing pupil’s motivation (Midgely et al. 1989) and consequently their overall achievement (Brookover et al. 1979).

Having a greater sense of self-efficacy is linked to the Rosenthal effect (Pygmalion effect). If we swop ‘other‘ in the following quote with ‘self’ we observe a similar effect.

“When we expect certain behaviours of others, we are likely to act in ways that make the expected behaviour more likely to occur.”

(Rosenthal 1985)

As a side note: The ultimate aim of all leadership is organisational and efficacy and professional (the profession) efficacy but that is a blog for another day.

We can increase our self-efficacy through

  1. Mastery experiences (repeated successful experiences doing it)
  2. Vicarious experiences/Role modelling (seeing others do it and learning from that experience)
  3. Verbal persuasion (being told that they can do it)
  4. Controlling Physiological arousal (controlling your emotional states such as anxiety, etc)

(Bandura 1997)

selfefficacy

Ways to Increase Self Efficacy Implications for leaders
Mastery Experiences Creating an environment of trust that allows teachers to develop their practice.
Vicarious Experiences Making the capacity for practitioners to see great practice.
Verbal Persuasion All organisations are built on trust, where teachers are told and convinced that they can achieve their goals. This has to be exhibited by leaders at all level.
Controlling Physiological Arousal Imposter Syndrome, fear, anxiety, stress, etc. of followers have to be managed. Yes, some followers will have an innate propensity for resilience, however, others will not. I advocate a coaching and mentoring system which factors in the above.

References

Guskey, T.R. (1988). Context variables that affect measures of teacher efficacy. Journal of Educational Research, 81, (1), 41-47.

Brookover, W., Beady, C., Flood, P., Schweitzer, J., & Wisenbaker, J. (1979). School social systems and student achievement: Schools can make a difference. New York: Bergin

Midgely, C., Feldlaufer, H., & Eccles, J.S (1989). Change in teacher efficacy and student self- and task-related beliefs in mathematics during the transition to junior high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81 (2), 247-258.

Gibson, S., & Dembo, M.H. (1984). Teacher efficacy: A construct validation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 569-582.

Bandura, A. (1997), Self Efficacy: The exercise of Control. New York. W. H. Freeman & Co. https://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Bandura/BanduraGuide2006.pdf

Rosenthal, R., and E. Y. Babad. 1985. Pygmalion in the gymnasium. Educational Leadership 43 (1): 36–39.

Race: Race/Class Societal and Systemic Change – Exclusions.

Most leaders are endowed with a core purpose and vision which are relatively radical and dissident. To climb to the top of an organisation this is almost a prerequisite. I have often heard people say we must be strategic in moving the culture towards the ultimate vision, once people have ‘bought in’ change will follow naturally.

However, sometimes it is time for action. Waiting for individuals to buy into a culture is not an option when damage is being done while we wait and attempt. Direct action here is the only option.

I’m old enough to remember being in the pub when a patron grabs his car keys, jingle them out of his pocket and the barman proclaims ‘one for the road’, this was the norm. The idea that any of my friends or myself would even entertain drinking and driving is not only an aberration but is worthy of disownment.

Another example would be the UK smoking ban (in public places), everyone knew the well-documented dangers of smoking and whether personal or passive. We have known for decades yet nothing changed regardless of the posters, the adverts, the burns and butts.

Today if you light up a cigarette in a restaurant, even the smokers in the room will tell you to put it out. What happened?

In both of the above scenarios, the change came because sanctions were in place and culture followed. Severe consequences pulled the collective mindset towards the visions. The damage was so great, that it was deemed that the conversion period was too long.

That brings me to society today. In my own educational context,

  1. In 2016/17, pupils from the Traveller of Irish Heritage and Gypsy/Roma ethnic groups had the highest rates of both temporary (‘fixed period’) and permanent exclusions
  2. Black Caribbean pupils were permanently excluded at nearly 3 times the rate of White British pupils.
  3. Across the broad ethnic groups, Black and Mixed ethnicity pupils had the highest rates of both temporary and permanent exclusions
  4. Black Caribbean pupils are educated in pupil referral units at nearly four times the expected rate. (London)
  5. Gypsy / Roma children are consistently overrepresented in exclusion figures, as are children eligible for Free School Meals and Looked After Children.
  6. London schools have seen a 26% increase in exclusion rates in the last three years.
  7. Pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are also overrepresented, accounting for 14 per cent of the pupil population but 42 per cent of exclusions in 2016/17.

Anecdotally through my career, I have heard these phrases used commonly from teachers, bear in mind I am a man of colour,

‘*They* use that word in songs’

‘The Asian kids are all related because they sleep with each other’s brothers and sisters’

‘Their parents don’t care about them, why should we shoulder that burden’

Is it not time we did something about exclusions from mainstream stream schools? It is not damaging enough for the pupil whose chances of achieving 5 GCSE’s drop to 1%. This is from the standard,

“Every day, 35 students (a full classroom) are permanently excluded from school. Only 1 per cent of them will go on to get the five good GCSEs they need to succeed.”

Isn’t it time we put in serious sanctions to organisations excluding at these rates, in some cases, the most vulnerable pupils? Or is it left to society to pay the price, when these pupils end up incarcerated or unable to gain purposeful employment?

When is it time that we see ourselves as servants in servitude to society and the children we serve? And those who do not see this, need to face sanction and their culture will fall in line

Reference

1-3 https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/education-skills-and-training/absence-and-exclusions/pupil-exclusions/latest

4-7 https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/london-assembly/london-assemblys-current-investigations/getting-behind-secondary-school-exclusions-statistics

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/london-students-highlight-school-to-prison-line-on-gcse-results-day-a3918846.html

Race: ‘White Supremacy’ “I’m Not a RACIST!”

‘White Supremacy’ those words hold power, an emotive language which evokes a picture of white men in hoods with burning crosses, or the brutalities of chattel slavery. Recently I have been advised to stop using such language as it has the tendency to shut down peoples propensity to listen as people become defensive and reject reason.

‘White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviours such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviours, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.‘ (Di Angelo 2011)

If you (regardless of race) act (or use discourse) in a way that serves to reinforce the existing structures which oppress people of colour, you are promoting a white supremacist agenda.

I Don’t See Colour

 

tablerce

Gillbourn (2000) Discourse and Policy – Chapter 2 – Racism and Anti-Racism in Real Schools.

The only time any discourse should be deracialised is in the bottom right quadrant! ‘I don’t see colour’ ‘I only see people’ this ‘Colour blind’ rhetoric often falls into spurious de-racialisation. This only serves to reinforce the structures of power which lead to the existing norm.

‘White fragility and privilege result in responses that function to restore equilibrium’ (Di Angelo, 2011). That equilibrium restores white superiority and the norm, the current systems, like it or not, hold people of colour down.

‘President Donald Trump said Friday that European leaders “better watch themselves” because immigration is “changing the culture” of their societies’ CNN

Lady Olga Maitland (Conservative UK) stated:

We should not allow non-believers to undermine our traditions… It is a tragedy that the teaching of the Christian faith has become woefully neglected in the face of multiculturism which is promoting minority faiths at the expense of Christianity. (quoted in CRE/Runnymede Trust 1993)

Although the words race, racist, black, white, etc in statements such as the above are not explicit. It is not difficult to see that this leads to the othering, the highlighting the lack of decency of non-followers in the idolisation of the national collective.

I’m Not A Racist You Can’t Say That To Me.

You do not need to think of yourself as superior – you do not even need to dislike or blame those who are so different from you – in order to say that the presence of those aliens constitutes a threat to our way of life. (Barker 1981:18)

I am not a fan of the term unconscious bias (see blog), however, here I must concede there are elements of racially motivated action which seek to restore the norm. I’m not convinced that any of these shifts or microaggressions are deliberate.

Di Angelo 2011 argues when challenged within educational programs, and I would expand this to the wider world, that “common responses [to challenges to orthodoxy] would be anger, withdrawal, emotional incapacitation, guilt, argumentation, and cognitive dissonance (all of which reinforce the pressure on facilitators to avoid directly addressing racism)”

Anger towards the non-congruence caused by personal evaluation and external stimuli is due to human being’s fear of embracing that uncomfortable truth? This does make it difficult for these individuals to even reflect or even consider the concept.

Entitlement to Racial Comfort

In the dominant position, whites are almost always racially comfortable and thus have developed unchallenged expectations to remain so (DiAngelo, 2006b). This is further compounded by Bordieu concept of habitus (1993), where systems seek to reproduce a societal subjectivity which ultimately impacts on the actions of those within it.

As a result, we see the existence of the white saviour complex, The racial norm, looking at the entertainment industry. Bear with me, this is a little random and a probably blog for another day.

Let’s talk protagonists, Tarzan a white male lost in a jungle develops the ability to talk to the animals, the indigenous people don’t have this ability although they’ve been there for thousands of years. Next, Django Unchained, other than the obvious explicit racist overtones in the film, can someone explain to me why there is a need for ‘Dr King’ (the white saviour of the black slaves, named ‘Dr King’, I know).

Within education, this is has percolated into the inculcating nature of the curriculum with the lack of the diversity and the colonisation of the curriculum (see blog). Ask yourself who discovered Australia? Who discovered the Americas? Where was modern mathematics, algebra, medicine, universities and hospitals first devised and conceived?

Which leads me to the various photos of poor starving African children in assembly slides along with their white saviour charity workers I have been subjected to. White people are not the saviours of people of colour, the white man’s burden (Kipling) is a lie told to justify colonisation, abuse and to alleviate empire guilt.

This all leads to further oppression or the continuation of the kyriarchal structures.

Therefore, I shall not be mute and nor should anyone else who claims to be anti-racist. In not challenging the habitus leads to society to acquiescence back to the norm, back to the oppression.

Call white supremacy out, be brave, cause dissonance, take people from habitus to hiatus and ultimately do what is right.