SecEd celebrates its 400th edition today – marking 12 years of independent educational journalism and support for the UK's teachers and school leaders.
In that time, I believe we have achieved a great deal and I hope we have become a shoulder to lean on for teachers, support staff and school leaders across the country.
With every one of these 400 issues, our aim has been to offer a voice of solidarity, support and empathy for teachers. Equal to this has been our drive to offer useful practical and professional advice and challenge for the professionals who work in our schools – teachers, support staff and school leaders.
Our ethos is one of listening to our readers and tackling the issues that matter to your everyday lives in our schools – we are your journal.
While the national media is so often filled with negative headlines about education, SecEd seeks to champion our schools and our teachers.
We are clear that the UK education system is among the best in the world.
We are clear that it is teachers and educationalists who must lead our profession, not politicians.
We are clear that it is our role to support teachers to do just this, just as it is our role to hold our politicians to account.
As I am often heard saying, we do not shirk from criticism of the profession, but we will always seek the profession’s view and tackle the many tough issues within education constructively and honestly, working with our Editorial Board of practising teachers and school leaders to give the profession a chance to have its say and to analyse whether the criticism is fair.
Indeed, it is our Editorial Board that drives so much of what we focus on. During the past 12 years we have played our part in raising awareness about false accusations by pupils against teachers, with a national campaign that received praise in Parliament.
We have also campaigned on other vital issues – asbestos in schools, league tables and accountability, GCSE grading, child poverty, skills education, workload, and teacher wellbeing – not to mention our focus this year on the children’s mental health crisis.
The one thing that these have in common is that they are all vitally important issues for school leaders, the teachers at the chalkface, and, of course, the students in our classrooms.
So I hope you’ll forgive us this small celebration of our 400th edition. I am proud of what SecEd stands for and that we are unashamedly a voice of the profession. I am also proud that SecEd remains a free publication, both in print and online, for everyone within the profession to access.
I hope that SecEd remains a valuable part of your life at the chalkface and that we can continue to support you over the next 400 issues.
Thank you for reading.
I’ll leave the final word to our long-time advisor and supporter, Sir Michael Griffiths, the recently retired head of Northampton School for Boys and former president of the Association of School and College Leaders.
He said: “In a world where most of the media focus relentlessly on the negative, and seek to promote antagonism and discord, it is reassuring that SecEd continues to seek to praise the vast majority of teachers, leaders and schools who do a remarkably good job, often under trying conditions.
“I look forward to the 500th edition, with the SecEd team refusing to be drawn into a world where what passes for ‘informed comment’ is actually aggressive criticism from people who have never done themselves what they demand of others.
“Keep up the excellent work SecEd – the profession needs you!”
Some messages from our readers and supporters
Brian Lightman, Association of School and College Leaders: “Congratulations to SecEd on your 400th edition. What sets SecEd apart is its commitment to show our profession in a positive light and to share the good practice that is happening every day in our schools. We applaud you for this and look forward to working with you over the next several years.”
Christine Blower, National Union of Teachers: “SecEd gives a good and well-balanced commentary on the latest developments in education, both in the UK and abroad. It is well written and informative, tackling often complicated issues with clarity. It does an excellent job of championing the profession. Well done, we look forward to the next 400 editions!”
Matt Bromley, SecEd author and school leader: “I rely on SecEd to keep me informed of the latest education news but I regard it as much more: its best practice articles constitute a community of teachers and leaders who, by sharing their own experiences and expertise, truly make teaching a profession.”
Paul Scutt, Bishop Fox’s Community School, Taunton: “I have been impressed with SecEd for the reasoned and rational way it positions itself on the educational issues of the day. While it is supportive of the profession it is equally willing to challenge on the issues which we face in our efforts to improve the school system.”
Pauline Walker, Royal High School, Edinburgh: “SecEd is a hugely valuable resource which gives up-to-date relevant educational news as well as sharing practice from across the UK. Both my staff and I find it to be a great resource and we have created many links through the huge variety of practice being showcased.”
Sean Harris, Northumberland Church of England Academy: “Rather than containing an array of articles written by individuals divorced from a classroom, SecEd contains insights and thought-provoking responses from those who seem to share the same moral purpose, drive and ethos that I want to underpin my work.”
Kevin Rooney, Queens School, Hertfordshire: “When an educational story blows up in the news I look forward to reading my edition of SecEd because I know it will have an interesting angle into the discussion. I don’t always agree with it, but just like my Guardian, it is an indispensable part of many educators’ lives including mine.”
Bernard Trafford, Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne: "SecEd: up-to-the-minute, relevant, pulls no punches, necessary reading."
Ian Potter, Bay House School, Gosport: "SecEd is a significant alternative to the TES in how it works to publish the stories that may get missed and provide an informed voice on many secondary school matters."
Phil Bevan, Hanham Woods Academy, Bristol: “I strongly believe that collaboration and sharing best practice is the way to transform education and SecEd provides an intelligent and up-to-date means of delivering this. The articles and editorials are always thought-provoking and we share these with staff on a weekly basis. Keep up the great work SecEd!”
Neill Morton, Portora Royal School, Enniskillen: “I have been a subscriber, contributor and advisor for this excellent publication for some years. I am proud of these multiple connections. The articles and features are wide-ranging and written by teachers for teachers. As a result, it is a testimony to the convictions that teaching really matters and education must remain at the heart of our social endeavours.”
And a word from Ian Whitwham, our ever present back page columnist
Congratulations to the only weekly voice for secondary schools. Or rather voices. SecEd gives voice to all teachers – NQTs, heads, management, experts, special needs, state and independent sectors.
It actually listens to them.
The Editorial Board actually teach.
The disconnect between those who do and those who don’t, seems to be getting even worse – between the prodigiously industrious teachers in a classroom and the blethering chorus of clots in the circumlocution office outside it – with their panic wheezes, gesture politics, condescension, crackdowns and plain ignorance. While teachers quietly get on with it – rather well.
SecEd recognises this – that teachers might know about the experience of teaching. So much of the media doesn’t. And when teachers are given voices, how impressive they are – just look at the recent, splendid Channel 4 “Educating” series, or check out the columns of the marvellous Michael Rosen.
It celebrates teachers – their empathy, energy, intellect, suss, passion, optimism and humour. Moreover there’s no dogma or jargon – just a recognition of how bloody hard the job can be and that there are different ways of doing it, of being effective in the classroom. Whatever works.
It’s on our side.
Mind you, the bloke on the back page goes on a bit, but you can’t have everything.
So congrats again, compliments of season and keep on keeping on.
- Ian Whitwham is a former inner city London teacher and the author of At the chalkface, SecEd’s long-running column.