Dear @TESResources: Better later than never by @TeacherToolkit

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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It’s taken me 4 days to break my ‘one-blog-a-week’ policy/promise over the summer. Why?

Well, today – a week too late – I saw this from TSL Education’s Chief Executive Louise Rogers, regarding changes to the TES Resources website.

Perfect timing TES!

Let’s announce an overhaul to terms and conditions (and more) when all teachers are away on holiday!

In this blog, I discuss my own TES story, licensing for resources created by teachers, paid-for-resources, the TES as a conglomeration and of course, the announcement published in the TES. If you want to read this letter and the key proposals, you’ll need to skip to the foot of this blog.


To cut a long story short, one year ago, I blogged about how the TES removed or edited many of my uploaded resources because I was a practising teacher and now a published author. The main issue was that I was now advertising my book for sale, with references from my TES resources page, back to this website.

I wasn’t the only teacher, but apparently I breached TES terms and conditions as soon as I started to advertise anything for sale i.e. my book and not classroom resources. The issue being, that I was indirectly making money out of free resources shared by the community.

I’ve used the TES online since 2006. I shared my first resource in 2012. Over the course of 18 months, I’ve shared 33 resources.

Each of my TES resources, which were all uploaded containing website hyper-links, all made references to further reading on my blog (and at the time, with no explicit links to anything for sale). Either way, all the 781,599 views on my TES profile (circa. July 2014) has generated significant traffic to the TES, their TESPro banner pay-wall and to my blog.

Despite me pointing out TES hypocrisy, I received these TES email alerts and as a result I blogged about it in September 2013, causing quite a furore. By doing so, despite a TES award in July 2013 for contributing my own resources, everything changed one month later when my book was published. From then on, in August 2013, I was no longer a fan of the TES – and the TES of me – and this appears to have remained the case (I think) for the past 12 months.

I then publicly challenged the TES to review their terms and conditions for the 800,000+ resources, shared freely by 3.1 million users across the world. I was invited to a meeting in October – which was deemed a landmark for all teachers who blog, tweet and share ideas/resources online. The outcome to this meeting was this blog and a co-published article by Lord Jim Knight here in November 2013.

Today marks a possible reunion?

The TES state: “This is primarily about compensating teachers.” However, I do hope that Ann Mroz and Lord Jim Knight understand, no matter how the shifting sands of teacher-blogs have impacted on the TES, that some of us continue to push for ‘a change’ from a sensible standing point, for the thousands of teachers who share resources with the TES.

The landscape is changing. The TES I can now report, are too. But, what are their motives?

100 ideas TES Vamoose

So, what is changing?

The following responses are taken from the TES FAQs page to support the TES announcement.

The TES are making a raft of improvements to make it easier to use the site. Thank goodness. The platform is clunky and hideous to use. Apparently, the proposed changes will include upgrading the registration process, as well as the search, upload and preview functions. The TES will also be changing their terms and conditions (again – for the 2nd time in one year) and introducing a Creative Commons licensing model for resources. You can see my licence in the bottom-right of this webpage. This new model will include the ability to charge for resources, allowing teachers to be compensated for their shared resources if they wish.

I know this particular issue will divide the profession.

It did when I announced @TeacherToolkit is FOR SALE in March 2014, after 6 months of contemplating whether or not to sell resources, as a result of my initial fiasco with the TES. When I did decide to sell my first resource, I took a little bit of abuse to go with it. Here is what I have to say about paid resources.

Don’t schools have rights over resources created by their teachers?

You may need to check your employment contract for clarification over this. Some teachers may have clauses in their contract whereby the school retains the right to resources created in school time. If you are unclear about what this means for your resources on the website, the best thing to do is to bring it to the attention of your line manager.

A word of caution on licences, take a look at this here.

Who owns my uploaded teaching materials?

You or your school, depending on your contract. You retain all intellectual property rights and the introduction of Creative Commons licences will serve to strengthen that. What the TES cannot do (ever) is protect your Moral Rights, which you can do, by hosting your own (free or paid) resources on your own blog.

Trading performance:

You may also want to take a sneak peek at their history and the conglomeration that TSL is today. A remarkable success story. Take a look at their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) published in their annual reports on the TSL website. “The financial position of the Group is presented in this balance sheet. Total shareholders’ deficit in net liabilities as of 31 August 2012, was £415.1 million, comprising fixed assets of £125.8 million. It also mentions a long-term liability of £334.9 million-pound bank loans! As indicated in this report, “the ‘Interest rate risk’ has a high level of debt and changes in interest rates could a significant impact on the groups financial performance …” Interestingly, TSL also state that did not make any political donations during the year 2011, 2010 or in 2009.

TES report

When you look into this report in more, detail, TSL discuss their ‘Competitive risk’:

“A key objective of the group was to drive up the quality of UK education. This will continue to deliver value to our customers. The main competitive threats facing the Group are from current competitors, potential new entrants and potential technological changes in the industry. In the opinion of the directors, the TES has a sufficiently well established position in the marketplace to defend against potential threats.”

I represent a tiny cog in the wheel. I believe my blog and the shifting sands of teachers who are blogging and authoring, does represent a potential threat to TES finances; particularity TES Resources.

I’m no expert, but that’s what I sense.

Letter from TES:

Louise Rogers was appointed CEO of TSL in 2009 and is responsible for all aspects of strategy at the group. This is her letter.

It ends with this pertinent sentence:

“In effect, the world’s teaching community has taken control of the content agenda within the classroom.”

and what I said to the TES one year ago, is featured in the main part of this letter. It reads:

Teachers should have the right to be compensated for their content creation – certainly more than any textbook publisher – so we are going to try to make this happen.”

Louise Rogers finishes with asking readers what the TES need to do to make the website better. It appears that this project has been in the pipeline for months, possible since my last meeting with them (and its outcome)? As the TES state, they do not have all the answers yet, which is why we want teachers to join us a beta-website group. Email them at

Pay per download:

It’s up to you to decide … and do read ‘If you work in school who owns the copyright for the original work you do?’ I wonder how the TES will address this issue when teachers upload resources to the TES (for free or for sale) when the resources teachers share, perhaps belong to the school in which they work? Meanwhile, until the TES get organised, you can download all my FREE self-hosted resources here (all with my own Creative Commons licence) and my paid-for-download resources here which I can highly recommend this. I’m sure if I shared my statistics with all classroom teachers, you would find the results quite startling!

Meanwhile, TES I promise to contribute to the beta testing group and hope that this letter is the start of things to come …

TES Resources Vamoose


As as a result of this spat, below are the 6 paid-for-resources I have online. A small snapshot from the 100s of resources I have created and shared freely.


p style=”text-align:left;”>In a nutshell, proving teachers can self-host and share freely (or not) for all.

Sellfy Vamoose

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