Monthly Archives: June 2013

Disappearing Science Practicals?

No this article isn’t about science practicals which makes things disappear (although imagine the kind of fun that could be). Instead this article is about the apparent disappearing of science practicals in schools. The SCORE (Science Community Representing Education) report unearthed new evidence that a worrying number of children are not experiencing a complete science education because of the lack of resources for practical work.

I find this disappointing. Those of a certain generation will remember all the exciting practicals we had. I personally had experiments setting things on fire with a bunsen burner, making circuits (and blowing up a few light bulbs by connecting several batteries to it … yes I was that rebellious), and even dissected a horse’s eye (which I will add made a friend of mine faint in that lesson). These were just about the only thing I ever enjoyed about Science, so the thought of not doing those would make me hate science even more.

One of the most ominous messages to come through this report was a lack of equipment and support for practical activities;

“Secondary schools reported not having enough of some of the most commonly used equipment, such as microscopes, eye protection and connecting leads for circuits. The research also shows that many secondary schools lack essential support from qualified technicians to carry out practical work.”

I think the lack of qualified technicians probably isn’t so much as a surprise, but the lack of eye protection in a science lab is quite frankly disturbing. It also puts a horrible restriction on teachers of how many children can carry out the experiments at once. How sad would it be to have to split a class in half and say ‘right, this half is gonna experiment with the bunsen burners, while the rest of you can copy out of a textbook, and then we’ll swap half way through.’ It doesn’t even bare thinking about.

The report also found a wide variation in funding for science. In state secondary schools the annual spend on scientific equipment in 2011/12 varied from 75p per student to £31.25. 75p?! You can hardly buy a bag of Haribo sweets for that, no wonder they can’t do science practicals. Even the £31.25 is pretty poor, seen as a basic Bunsen burner like we know in schools costs around £15 on Amazon, but with some costing as much as £50. I don’t know how these schools do their practicals, but they don’t seem to have a lot of equipment. I would imagine if you take the cheapest bunsen burner, £31.25 will probably buy a bunsen burner and 4 maybe 5 pairs of safety goggles, assuming you go on Amazon’s prices. The only reason you would want more than one pair of goggles is because we all know these things break or go walkabout at some point during the year. So basically there’s not a lot you can do with that amount of money.

A rather surprising finding hidden in the report was the fact that in state-funded secondary schools, an average of 28% of the practical science budget is spent on photocopying. What’s more nearly 70% of secondary schools reported that staff had paid for items required for core curricular practical activities out of their own pockets, for which they were not always reimbursed. More than a quarter of schools’ science budgets are going on photocopying? Well this just proves how little practicals there are, if a lot of photocopying is being done. We all know what that means: worksheets, the unsightly piece of paper that every child hates. The fact that teachers are buying items out of their own pockets is just further proof that the budget is being wasted.

I hate to be a harbinger of doom, but this seems a little bit bad for me, especially as I know someone who is interested in becoming a science teacher in a few years time. I really hope if she does read this that she isn’t put off, because I’m a believer in chasing your ambitions, not destroying them.

What do you think? Should we keep the practicals going? What do you think about the spending, especially the 75p per student? Comment, like, share.

£60million spent on Free Schools so far …

The government has spent almost £60m on helping free schools in England before they open and during their first year of operation, figures reveal.

The figures were published by the Department for Education after a ruling by the information commissioner.

In January, the government lost a bid to withhold information on free schools that are state-funded but independently run.

The money is in addition to the funding schools receive to teach pupils.

Details of revenue expenditure on free schools on the Department for Education website show almost £40m was handed to 72 free schools in their first year after opening.

This “start-up funding” is to cover “essential initial costs, such as buying books and equipment” and other “additional costs associated with starting a brand new school”, says the DfE.

In addition nearly £20m was spent on schools before they opened “to cover everything they need to buy up to the point at which the school opens.”

The first 24 free schools opened in 2011, with another 55 in 2012. This funding does not include capital for buying a site or refurbishing buildings or money for free schools due to open later this year.

Private schools which convert to free school status do not receive start-up funding as they are already open and deemed to be fully equipped.

The data also shows that some £441,000 was spent on eight free school projects which were withdrawn before they opened.

Stephen Twigg, Labour’s shadow education secretary called the expenditure “scandalous”.

“David Cameron and Michael Gove have wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds on free schools that haven’t even opened. And millions of pounds have been spent on free schools which are being set up in areas where there isn’t a need for new places or demand from parents.” If this is indeed the case, then this is another example of the incompetence of Michael Gove and his plans. If these schools are set up in areas where the demand for places is significantly higher, then, as much as I’m against free schools as they are, it would be understandable as this would reduce the number of children struggling for places.

The government said it made “no apologies for spending money on encouraging new people to come forward, offering new ideas and new ways to run schools”.

A spokesman added: “The evidence proves that new schools also encourage the ones which already exist to raise their game.” Well actually DfE, it is taking money out of the existing schools’ budgets, which could actually lower the standards as opposed to raise them. So instead of looking at it from a theoretical perspective, look at it from an economical one.

The spokesman also said: “Free schools are proving highly popular with families who expect better than the old ‘take it or leave it’ offer they used to get from the council. This process has a cost but the cost of educational failure is vastly higher.” It’s true that families want the best for their children, but what really is an ‘outstanding education’. Those who watch the Channel 4 program Child Genius will see an alarming difference between what education does for the top 0.1% and what children can do on average. Does the government expect these Free Schools to produce the top 0.1% children?

The DfE had rejected Freedom of Information requests for for details on free schools and on groups applying to set them up but the information commissioner backed the requests. Why DfE? What you trying to hide from us? Come on spill the beans!

The newly published figures include impact assessments on other local schools, funding agreements for the second wave of schools and details of expenditure for all the schools now open.

There are also details of all applications, both successful and unsuccessful, to open both mainstream free schools and specialist free schools, such as university technology colleges or studio schools.

In a letter to the information commissioner in February, the Education Secretary said he had resisted publishing the information because he wanted to protect applicants from “intimidation”. Oh come on Mr Gove! If you put a radical scheme like this in place, of course people will want to know the impact it’s having! If it’s having a negative effect then of course it looks bad on not only the schools but you and your plans. What can go wrong with that? If it does go wrong, you get removed and who knows? We may actually get someone in who has experience in education, not just some arrogant journalist.

Kevin Courtney of the National Union of Teachers, said publication of the information was a major victory.

“We will now be going back to them to insist that they publish the remaining impact assessments where a decision has been made whether or not to open a free school.

“Not releasing the impact assessment information has always been a totally unacceptable position for the DfE to take. Local schools and communities have a right to know the criteria by which new schools are being opened in their areas and now thankfully they do.”

Another 200 free schools are due to open from September 2013. In Wednesday’s spending review the Chancellor announced funding for 180 new free schools in 2015-16. We could end up being a nation of free schools if this carries on. Although if Labour win the General Election in 2015, all this may change once again. Only time will tell.

What do you think? Do you like the way we’re going at the moment? Are you surprised with all the money being spent on it so far? Do you think these new schools are having or will have the desired effect? Comment, share your thoughts 🙂

18 year olds – less full-time education, more in work, says statistics

The proportion of 18-year-olds in full-time education has fallen for the first time in England since 2001 but more are in work, official data suggests.

Snapshot data for the end of 2012 suggests the proportion of 18 year-olds in full-time education was down 4.3 percentage points on 2011.

There was also a slight fall in 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The skills Minister Matthew Hancock welcomed the lower NEET figures.

“I welcome the reduction in the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training. We want to see these rates continue to improve and our new programme of traineeships will prepare young people for apprenticeships and sustainable jobs.”

The figures, published by the Department for Education, are provisional estimates for 2012.

The proportion of 18 year-olds in full-time education fell from 50.3% in 2011 to 46% in 2012. However there was only a very slight increase, of 0.1 percentage points, in 18-year-olds who were NEET. The reason for this was an increase in the employment rate for 18-year-olds who were not engaged in education or training, the statistics suggest. There was also a slight increase, of 0.3 percentage points of 18-year-olds in part-time education.

The overall figures for 16- to 18-year-olds showed a related drop in the proportion in full-time education from 68.6% in 2011 to 67.2% in 2012.

The proportion of 16-18-year-olds who were NEET at the end of 2012 was 9.6%, a little lower than at the end of 2011 when it was 9.8%.

Tristram Hunt, Labour’s shadow minister for young people accused the government of failing young people, having “damaged vocational education, undermined independent careers advice and removed the right to work experience”.

“We need to ensure young people have the skills to equip them for work. Labour would take real action by ensuring all young people have access to high quality vocational courses, working to a gold standard Tech Bacc at 18, and that all pupils study English and Maths to age 18 alongside getting a quality work experience placement.”

The figures follow last month’s report by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education which suggested a seven percentage point drop in the proportion of 17- to 24-year-olds taking part in learning.

Labour appear to be missing the point here. Studying Maths and English to 18 doesn’t make a great deal of sense as most jobs that don’t strictly involve the use of Mathematics requires a Grade C or above at GCSE. Basically this means what he’s saying is he wants everyone to stay in school till their 18, be forced into doing 2 A levels which may not have any usefulness or importance to the degree or job they want to get into, meaning less space for A levels which may have been important to their degrees, causing less people to get into higher education and more young people either NEET or in part time education trying to gather a host of courses just to make themselves employable. To me this doesn’t seem to be the answer to getting young people either into education or into work.

The other issue is that apprenticeships, whilst been highly touted by politicians as ‘the solution to young people who are NEET’, have not been advertised or made as readily available as they have suggested. Companies haven’t given that may apprentices a chance, and even with these apprenticeships they aren’t guaranteed work or anything afterwards, which means they could just end up unemployed again within the next couple of years, so whilst the unemployment figures might drop a little this year, it’ll rise again next year.

What do you guys think? How are we going to persuade young people into work or full time education in the climate we’re in now? Comment your thoughts.

One day strike in the North-West

Today is the day where the North-West teachers go on strike over pay and conditions. The NUT and NASUWT claim that this strike is affecting 2765 schools in 22 council areas. By reckoning, let’s say the average number of children in the school is around 200, that means that there are approximately 600,000 children not in school today, and thus causing trouble to several thousand families in terms of income and work.

This strike follows reports yesterday a union survey suggests that teachers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied, particularly with pay and pensions, heavy workload and school inspections making the headlines.

The NASUWT survey found more than half of respondents (53%) felt their satisfaction with their job had fallen in the past year – up 6% compared with those questioned in 2011.

Almost two thirds (65%) had considered leaving their job in the past year, while more than half (54%) had considered leaving teaching entirely, the survey claims.

The government’s changes, due to come in this autumn in England and Wales, mean that teachers’ pay will be linked to classroom performance with schools setting salaries as opposed to a national framework, which the government suggests will give more freedom to schools and allow the best teachers to be rewarded.

The action is in protest at the introduction of more performance-related pay, changes to teachers’ pensions with higher contributions, and later retirement and increased workload.

The thing that disappoints me the most about this is the unions are striking without showing any real offering of an alternative strategy for improving the way the education system is at the moment. The other thing is that the teachers who do strike do not get paid today seen as they didn’t work. I also have been talking to a couple of teachers in schools I’ve worked in previously and they have said that the strike could be construed as a ‘break in service’ which could have an impact on their pension, which basically suggests that the strikers could actually be damaging significantly the exact thing they are complaining about.

The Government unsurprisingly has condemned the strike as ‘disappointing’ and ‘giving the profession a bad name’. At a time when more graduates are coming into teaching than ever before, it strikes me as disappointing that some teachers would consider leaving the profession. If I’m honest good riddance to those who do leave, the reason I joined the profession was because I care about the next generation of children and want to provide the best opportunities for them. I’m not saying that I would work for little money, obviously you need money in life, but we all have to accept that these cuts will happen, we are not exempt as much as we’d like to be. Yesterday’s Spending Review showed a lot of huge cuts, with some Departments taking a 10% cut in a couple of years time. We don’t see every other profession whining and almost a ‘why always me’ attitude.

What do you think about the strike? Are you with the strikers or do you agree with the government about it being ‘disappointing’? Comment your thoughts, share it with friends, colleagues, whoever might be interested.

The Spending Review – good news or disappointment?

Today comes the long awaited spending review by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

Here are the key points with respect to education;

Education department budget will rise to £53bn in 2015-16

The Department for Education and Skills spending has been ring-fenced once again

Schools spending will be allocated in a ‘fairer’ way across the country with a ‘New National Funding Formula” which, as BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson tweets, hails a ‘historic reform’ but it’s impact is unclear.

Education capital budget set at £4.6bn in 2015-16

Pupil premium protected in real terms, but no mention of increasing to £900 per pupil as expected before.

The government will provide funding for 180 controversial new Free Schools in 2015-16 to allow in increase in places for our children.

Well on the face of it, this seems a positive step in our system with a rise in budgets, ring-fencing budget once again, new funding formula to allocate to schools fairly across the country, increase in capital budget and protecting the pupil premium for the lower income families, and the number of places in schools looks to increase over the next couple of years.

However there are some things that I am disappointed by. One is Mr Osborne’s praise of Michael Gove’s work, which we all know how that went down. Even in the House, people were jeering at that remark. It’s totally obvious that bringing back an age old education system, schoolifying our early years education by shifting from play based learning, tampering with a primary curriculum and GCSEs, raising the tuition fees for higher education is totally a fantastic job.

The other big disappointment for me was the fact that the Pupil Premium has not risen to the £900 per pupil, however this has only been announced that it will be protected at £600. This means that there is not a potential improvement for those from lower income families to aim for targeting the 23% average achievement gap in GCSE results which we had last year.

The main factor which is depressing for me, is the fact that all these announcements are for 2 years time. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls rightly points out that we do not want all these actions in a couple of years time, we need these things to happen in the much shorter term. Although if you think about it, it’s all set for after the next election.

Ed Balls also makes an interesting point about Free Schools. He asks Mr Osborne; “Why are you funding Free Schools in areas with enough places for the local children, when there are parents who cannot get their children to a local school?” Mr Balls I’m sorry but you have added a bit to the announcement that wasn’t there. Mr Osborne didn’t make it very clear as to which Free Schools will be funded, and the locations of these schools, and how it will impact on the places for children in schools.

Overall, I am a little disappointed with this review, as I’m not a huge fan of Free Schools as they are, this new ‘funding formula’ is unclear, I’m gutted strongly about the Pupil Premium and no mention of funding to deal with the Achievement Gap we had last year, and none of these changes are happening now, they are happening come in the eve or some cases the day of the next General Election, which means that a lot of this may not even happen if Labour win the next Election and come into power.

What do you think? Did you get what you expected from this, or are you as disappointed as I am? Comment your thoughts, and share this, retweet to your followers, let’s get a big discussion going on what is a big issue 🙂

Play being ‘pushed aside’ in our Nurseries

The role of play is being sidelined in England’s nurseries because of government shifts towards more formal learning, experts say.

Nursery teachers and other child carers will no longer need training in how children learn through play under two key qualifications being drawn up.

Play is central to learning for under-fives and should feature heavily in the criteria, nursery groups say.

There is no contradiction between teaching and play, the government says.

The Department for Education has been consulting on two new flagship qualifications, the Early Years Educator (EYE) and the Early Years Teacher (EYT), designed to increase the skills of those working with babies and young children. They will be required by nurseries in England from September 2014.

The A-Level-standard EYE qualification says the worker should “deliver children’s early education and development from birth to the age of five” and “have an understanding of how children learn and develop”.

It also requires them to “deliver effective teaching and learning” enabling children to progress and be ready for school.

While the EYT requires the teacher to have a clear understanding of synthetic phonics in the teaching of reading and appropriate strategies in the teaching of early mathematics, there is no mention of theories underpinning structured play.

This removal of structured play is a significant omission. Pre-school Learning Alliance Chief Executive Neil Leitch said: “Learning through play is the cornerstone of good practice in early years because play is how young children learn and make sense of the world.

“The ability of practitioners to support children’s play in this way is an essential skill in promoting children’s development and should be recognised in these qualifications. We are very disappointed that it is not.”

He said the role of the childcare practitioner was to create the right environment for young children to explore and learn in a way which extends their interests at their own pace.

“This is why we have concerns about the top-down pressure from government that could lead to the ‘schoolification’ of early years as a result of developmentally inappropriate practice such as having young children sit in rows and hold pencils.”

To me this all seems like the government are trying to go back to the old school system of 30 or 40 years ago, which is an out of date, inappropriate strategy for children in the modern era. What it also looks like it is doing is discouraging our children to learn in the early years, which begs the question of why go to schools in the early years, when education in other countries across Europe starts in most cases a year later. This means that there was a growing culture of “rushing children” to a point where they could produce a return for the economy, instead of following academic evidence that learning through structured play and self-development was the best way to prepare children for a successful education, reports Mr Leitch.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, said “play should be there in every line” of the criteria.

“Children and babies are learning all the time and they are learning through play – even when they go on to schools. You just can’t separate it,” she said.

While a spokesman for Pacey, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said: “These qualifications contain no requirement to have an understanding of play theory or practice.”

This was of particular concern as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the official guidelines on how children under five are cared for and educated, is meant to be based on play, it said.

“Early Years Teachers (EYT) must be required to know that children learn through well-structured play, when they have opportunities to explore and develop their own ideas.

“The expectation that teachers will be able to provide adequately for play, without being given any formal knowledge or understanding during their qualifying years, will only set them up to fail children in their early years, when learning through play is a crucial part of their lives.”

And Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Play is a fundamental and appropriate part of the early years phase of education and it is therefore disappointing, not to say incomprehensible, that the government has excluded it from their draft framework.

“Structured play is valuable to children in so many ways. Principally, it allows them to develop confidence and enjoy learning new skills. The government should stop sending a message that play does not contribute to child development.”

The National College for Teaching and Leadership, which has drawn up the criteria, said educators and teachers would be expected to meet the requirements of the EYFS.

“The EYFS has a requirement for planned, purposeful play and so is already included within the score of the standards and criteria.”

I personally don’t want to see the Early Years Framework being messed about with, in the same way that both the Primary Curriculum and GCSEs are going down at the moment. It is trying to build on far too much for children at far too early an age just for the sake of competing against other countries who don’t have any impact on our education whatsoever. This is the reason why teachers have no confidence in what the government is doing right now. If anything this looks more like further evidence that Michael Gove should be removed and replaced with someone with an ounce of common sense.

PE a core subject?

In the news this morning, PE should be given the same status as maths, English, science and Welsh in schools to help tackle obesity in Wales, experts have recommended.

A group chaired by Paralympic multi-gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson says it would be the first country in the world to take that step.

It would mean more time for sport, but unions worry too many core curriculum subjects could dilute their importance.

The Welsh government said it would consider the recommendation. Education Minister Leighton Andrews said he wanted to look into how schools can increase levels of physical activity in children and young people.

I would like to see PE given the core subject status, not just for Wales, but for everywhere. It is obvious that the mentality of some teachers is to shepherd kids away from the rain or a strong wind as I have seen in a few schools. This denies the right of these children to develop within their own bodies. But as this is a foundation subject it almost makes it look as if it’s an optional subject as opposed to an important one. Giving this subject core status would make it more important and hopefully would persuade teachers to
stop making excuses for not teaching it and just teach it.

What do you think? Should PE be made a core subject, and will this make a difference to the amount that is taught? Comment your thoughts

Infant classes with more than 30 pupils have almost trebled in the past 5 years

The number of four-to-seven-year-olds being taught in classes of more than 30 pupils almost trebled in five years, according to official data.

Some 72,000 infant pupils in England are now in large classes, up from 24,700 in 2008, suggests data from the Department for Education (DfE).

The previous government banned classes of more than 30 for this age group, unless under exceptional circumstances.

A DfE spokeswoman said classes often fall back to 30 “after a year or two”.

A rising birth-rate and more immigration have led to a shortage of primary school places in England. In March, the National Audit Office predicted a need for an extra 240,000 primary places by next year.

All this demand for places is putting a real strain on not just our schools, but the parents of the children. In some cases, this could mean parents taking children a long way to get to a school as the demand and battle for places at schools closer to home is so high now.

A DfE spokeswoman said the government expected an extra 190,000 school places to have been created by September. This number falls short of the figure the National Audit Office state is required.

“Children are only permitted to join classes of 30 pupils in exceptional cases, if, for instance, they are in care or from military families. Classes often fall back naturally to 30 over a year or two.

“We are spending £5bn by 2015 on creating new school places, more than double the amount spent by the previous government in the same time frame. We are also building free schools and letting the most popular schools expand to meet demand from parents.” My qualm with this statement is the ‘most popular schools’ part. Does this mean the highest schools in the league tables? If that’s the case surely that would lead to closures of schools that are not so high up the league tables and replacing them with free schools, which don’t have a track record of success nationally so far.

Russell Hobby of the National Association of Head Teachers said: “Primary schools are beginning to experience pressure on places from the population boom and this is leading to larger infant classes.

“Class size is not the be-all-and-end-all for education standards. Other factors matter more, but very large classes are neither safe nor productive.” I can definitely vouch for this, as I was in a class of 40 in my middle school days. This meant that there were several children all with different needs in the same class, and it became unmanageable for teachers, particularly during school trips and PE lessons where Health and Safety Risks are everywhere.

What do you think is the ideal class size? Do you think even 30 may be too many?

Abusive teacher-pupil relationships? Surely not …

Well unfortunately it does happen. In fact it is often something that goes completely amiss. This comes from the news that teacher Jeremy Forrest has pleaded guilty to five charges of sexual activity with a child, having already been found guilty of abducting a schoolgirl and taking her to France.

This isn’t the only case that has hit the media in recent years. In 2011, Mark Westcott, 48, of North Wraxall, Wiltshire, was jailed for 16 months after having sexual intercourse with one of his students. Christopher Drake, 29, of Monton, who called himself the “Salford stallion”, was jailed for six years in April in the same year for having sexual intercourse with under-age pupils. It is not just male teachers either. Female teacher Eppie Sprung Dawson, 26, of Dumfries, is awaiting sentencing for having sex with a 17-year-old pupil. In 2009, private school music teacher Helen Goddard, then 26, was jailed for 15 months over a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

You might think this kind of relationship has been outlawed for years. But the surprising truth is that it has only been outlawed as recently as the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This means that it is illegal for a teacher to have sexual relations with any pupil under the age of 18, regardless of whether it is consensual. This applies where the child is in full-time education and the person works in the same place as the child, even if the person does not teach the child. Prior to 2003, the age of consent – 16 – was the only issue.

Figures on offences are hard to come by – the Ministry of Justice says it does not collate offences by occupation and the Department for Education did not respond to a request for figures – but it is widely reported that between 1991 and 2008, a total of 129 teachers were prosecuted for relationships with pupils.

Teaching unions say they are rare, with the number of cases that go as far as court tiny, and the number that end up in conviction tinier still.

However anecdotally, it seems to be more widespread. In 2007, a YouGov survey of 2,200 adults found one in six knew of someone who had had an “intimate relationship” with a teacher while at school.

Sometimes the victims never complain. Many don’t even consider themselves as “victims” until years after the relationship took place. Some never change their mind.

Sarah (not her real name), 37, from Hertfordshire, had a nine-month relationship with her 33-year-old male teacher when she was 16.

“He was the head of department – the young, cool one everyone liked. We had got talking, we got on well. Occasionally he’d give me a lift home from school. Then, two weeks after my 16th birthday he called me into his office and kissed me, saying he’d wanted to do that for ages,” she says.

At the time Sarah – who had only kissed a couple of boys before – felt flattered. They later had sex. A fantasy had suddenly become reality, with secret trips to the countryside and nights in together when his flatmate was out. Even though she knew he had a girlfriend, Sarah says she was in awe.

“I thought I was in love and was very up for it – even though he didn’t always treat me well. I think some teachers had suspicions, and my friends knew, but I was a good student, and a mature 16-year-old, and we were never found out,” she says.

In some ways there’s echoes of the evidence that Forrest’s victim gave. In court, the schoolgirl, now 16, eloquently defended her former teacher, saying she had “no naivety” about what having a sexual relationship meant.

“It was what I wanted, and I probably encouraged it.”

She told jurors they had spoken “a lot” about whether “it was the right thing” as Forrest didn’t want to take advantage, and that the plan to go to France was “kind of [her] suggestion”.

For Sarah, the court case brought back mixed emotions. Now a married mother of three, she believes her pupil-teacher relationship – which finished after her GCSEs – didn’t have a lasting impact on her life, but concedes it could have been different for a more vulnerable 16-year-old.

Looking back, she recognises the relationship was an abuse of power.

“It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first child that I realised how angry I was, or how insane I’d feel if it happened to them. I’ve thought about reporting the teacher – he went on to be a headmaster – but even now, the thought of my dad finding out makes me feel slightly ill. My parents would be absolutely devastated,” she says.

At the same time, she says she can’t help thinking that if Forrest and the schoolgirl had been left to it, the relationship would probably have fizzled out and they’d both have been fine.

“I find myself strangely hoping he is treated fairly leniently, without really knowing why. I think it’s for her sake, that on some level I identify with her,” she says.

Sarah isn’t the only person that believes pupil-teacher relationships aren’t always clear-cut. Prof Pat Sikes, of the University of Sheffield, fell in love with her 22-year-old teacher when she was 14. Now she’s married to him.

She’s also conducted research into pupil-teacher relationships, which while stressing girls need to be protected against predatory male teachers, challenges the notion all girls are powerless victims.

However for child protection experts, there is no grey area.

Even if Forrest and his pupil, now 16 but 15 at the time of the offences, might believe they have a genuine relationship, it’s still an abusive relationship, said Jon Brown, the NSPCC’s lead on sex abuse prevention.

Such relationships can become “incredibly confusing” for the victim, whether they are 10 or 15, with all tending to be “left feeling duped, tricked and quite bereft”.

Tales such as that of Christina, who says her affair with her teacher, when she was a naive 16-year-old, damaged her for life show some struggle to ever get over it.

Chartered educational psychologist Alan Mclean says fundamentally it’s an issue of trust.

“It’s an asymmetrical power relationship and the teacher is always the abuser because they are abusing their power, authority and position. Teachers are obviously not in a unique position of trust [others include sports coaches, mentors and foster parents], but the point is they are in a position of trust. Trust is the glue that holds everything together and an abuse of trust is rightly seen as a crime,” he says.

This is a sad but honest truth about the state of the profession. Message to all teachers: don’t be the next one, it’s not worth destroying your career over.