Bad Education

By: Phil Beadle


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 198mm x 129mm
Pages : 208
ISBN : 9781845906832
Format: Paperback
Published: June 2011

Bad Education is a collection of Phil Beadle's columns from The Guardian's Education section and is a laugh-a-minute romp through more or less every aspect of British education over the last decade, which makes the occasional, entirely accidental, serious point.

Picture for author Phil Beadle

Phil Beadle

Phil Beadle knows a bit about bringing creative projects to fruit. His self-described renaissance dilettantism' is best summed up by Mojo magazine's description of him as a burnished voice soul man and left wing educationalist'. He is the author of ten books on a variety of subjects, including the acclaimed Dancing About Architecture, described in Brain Pickings as a strong, pointed conceptual vision for the nature and origin of creativity'. As songwriter Philip Kane, his work has been described in Uncut magazine as having novelistic range and ambition' and in Mojo as having a rare ability to find romance in the dirt' along with bleakly literate lyricism'. He has won national awards for both teaching and broadcasting, was a columnist for the Guardian newspaper for nine years and has written for every broadsheet newspaper in the UK, as well as the Sydney Morning Herald. Phil is also one of the most experienced, gifted and funniest public speakers in the UK.

Click here to listen in on Phil's podcast with Pivotal Education - How to Teach Literacy'.

Listen to the ABC Conversations with Richard Fidler' broadcast.

ABC Conversations with Richard Fidler Broadcast date: Thursday 19 July 2012

Click here to listen to Phil Beadle's interview with TalkSport - Listen in at approximately 29:09.


  1. This collection of columns provides an engaging and thought-provoking read. There is something here for all teachers with an interest in what and why we teach and why we manage schools the way we currently do. Sometimes irreverent, sometimes ironic, sometimes farcical but never make-believe - these columns are rooted in recognisable practice, policy and process. Whether you are a teacher addicted to the instantaneous nature of tweets, or a teacher who slowly and steadily consumes the pages of the TES over your weekend, you will find something in this book to make you laugh, something else to make you cry and plenty to make you think. Having said all that, it would be easy to dismiss this book as a stocking filler, one to be glanced at rather than studied. While the humour is ever-present there is a strong sense of purpose and a genuine dose of professional wisdom. The columns are grouped into themes, including pedagogy, ICT, performance and politics and policy. For teachers who frequently feel engulfed by the demands of the job this book provides a critical and questioning voice. It would be difficult not to be provoked by it. It may cause you to challenge some of your routines, assumptions and beliefs. It may prompt you to question some of the policies adopted by your school. It may trigger debate in the staffroom, engagement with national consultation, or even a question to your MP. At the very least it will cause you to wonder what we are really teaching for, and how we might best achieve our aims.
  2. As a regular reader of the Guardian, I enjoy Phil Beadle's critical analysis of the education scene and his willingness to challenge to bulldoze the system. There is always a problem of focussing on historically based articles but Beadle stimulates reflection, challenge and at times frustration. Well worth a read.
  3. If like me, you have very much enjoyed reading Phil beadle's 'On Teaching' column in the Education Guardian over the years you will be delighted with this anthology ranging across Politics and Policy, Pedagogy, Performance, People and Personalities and Phil's great passion Literacy and English teaching. We have the authentic voice of this excellent classroom practitioner and education commentator who with wit and humour and penetrating insight provides an original, searching and provocative commentary into the educational changes over the last few years.

    This book will entertain you but it will also make you think again about educational policy and practice.
  4. This is Phil Beadle at his feisty, acerbic best. He surveys the current educational landscape and leaves it scorched and smouldering, taking on attention-seeking politicians and madcap theorists and putting them firmly in their place. It's a book that's full of humour, provocation and untarnished common sense - and which fights the all-important cause of good teachers and their pupils.

    Bad Education is written with Beadle's trademark passion and exuberance. Time and again, he reminds us why we chose to become teachers, cutting through all the clutter and distractions that can mar our day-to-day work.

    Keep a copy close at hand for the times when the world of education seems to have gone mad (which is rather too often these days): Beadle's book is like a thermos flask of reassurance and unpretentious wisdom. It's one of those texts we all need to sustain us through the tough times - a rare combination of a work that makes us feel better about ourselves whilst also challenging us to raise our game. It's the kind of book every teacher - and everyone who pontificates about teaching - needs to read.
  5. Bad Education brings together and updates Phil Beadle's columns in the Guardian over the past six years. In them, he has brought a critical eye to bear on such topics as Michael Gove, Ofsted, the treatment of trans-gendered children, assessment for learning, ICT, the attack on political correctness and even chewing gum. His views are not always predictable - or entirely consistent - and the reader may be in for a few surprises. The book is in the best traditions of 'crap detection' and, even when you don't agree with Beadle, he makes you think and chuckle!
  6. Has Phil Beadle been writing his column for 'The Guardian' for only six years? It seems as if he's always been there, ready to comment on or more likely drive a coach and horses through the latest back-of-an-envelope government solution to the nation's educational deficiencies.

    Here, just in case you missed any of them, or simply to recapture and dip into at leisure is a Beadle anthology. The pieces deal with just about all of the staffroom coffee-break, anger-management, you-couldn't-make-it-up issues that came up during the period covering the long twilight of New Labour and the dawn of the multi-coloured swapshop that is the Coalition.

    Right at the outset he has the measure of what drives the Cameron-Gove approach to education. It's 'entirely concerned with lucre and its redistribution away from the pockets of school teachers.'

    This they will achieve, he explains, by sidelining local authorities and in the process diminishing the power of the teacher unions.

    It's that straight cut to the chase that makes Beadle essential reading. His swipes are widely distributed. He's bothered at the way 'teaching' is being pushed out by 'learning', for example 'whilst teaching will often cause learning, learning will only in very sad circumstances cause teaching.'

    That doesn't mean he's always in favour of the way teachers work or are persuaded to work. He has a go at the tyranny of the 'four part lesson', and the writing of lesson objectives on the board.

    Of course he can annoy us along the way he shouldn't forget that it was the very ICT enthusiasts he has a pop at who were the first to cry out against the abuse of PowerPoint and interactive whiteboards. That, though, is part of the relationship between Beadle and his readers. He isn't handing out comfort blankets.

    Part of that edginess is seen in some of the more serious and much needed challenges you'll find here. Every teacher knows, for example, that, in Beadle's words,

    'British schools are the final, blithe bastions of homophobia, which is, and has always been, at epidemic proportions in them.'

    His use of 'blithe' here is appropriate because, he goes on,

    'Homophobia, in British schools, is the last remaining acceptable prejudice.'

    Every teacher needs to read this book. More importantly, every head teacher and governor needs to read it. And even more importantly still, every administrator and politician needs to read it too. And when they encounter, as some members of all those groups surely will, passages that make them throw the book across the room, let me appeal to them to pick it up and read that bit again, this time with a bit of thought and a lot of humility. Because they'll find that Beadle`s great strength lies in the fact that behind the ire and the feisty polemic lies a lot of thought and humility of his own, and plenty of humanity too.
  7. Phil Beadle is a worthy successor to the late, great Ted Wragg as a chronicler of all that is best and worst in education and teaching. His 1000-word Guardian articles provide a dose of medicine that is guaranteed to alleviate the symptoms of teachers who look around them and find only contradictions. The articles are both amusing and deeply serious.

    Phil Beadle's well-written, extremely readable articles challenge both orthodoxies and cant. They show the effects of the solutions in search of problems to which the education profession is constantly afflicted and they cry out for evidence-based policy to underpin the work of schools. Phil Beadle always imbues the latest crazy top-down policy with timeless bottom-up good sense and wit.

    It is not only government ministers that come in for criticism, but also taxi drivers, quangocrats, editorial writers, academic selection, homophobia, ICT and much more.

    A book to be read, dipped into and returned to again and again. But, above all, a book to be read by all who have the interests of young people and their teachers at heart.

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