#Vamoose: @TESResources Strike Back!

Reading time: 4
Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Vamoose TES Resources


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...
Read more about @TeacherToolkit

With teachers now allowed to profit from their own resources, the issue of copyright and teachers sharing freely is even-more complicated. Are we moving towards the dark-side?

This is a blog about the humble teacher not being treated fairly by giant, conglomerate corporations.

“If you only knew the power of the dark side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.”
“He told me enough! He told me you killed him.”
“No Luke. I am your father …”
         ―Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker
                                                                                                                       Image: Disney


If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will be familiar of my relationship with TES Resources. We are in a love-hate relationship. Today, I was told over the phone from somebody at the TES, that I was to be admired for pioneering and leading the way with teachers sharing resources; particularly, new-found territory with (PPD) Paid-Per-Download resources which enables teachers to profit by selling. On the other side of the coin and in the same conversation, I was told that my resources and my ideas were NOT protected from others – yes other people – uploading onto the TES, and worst of all, from the TES profiting from my ideas without my knowledge or consent!

I do believe I have a legal case. So, if you do manage to get to the bottom of this blog, all will be clear. Here is a snapshot of the story so far;

Dry tumbleweed shrub against wire fence in desert grassy landscape/One Tumbleweed Shrub, dry in Winter, and known as Russian Thistle, lies against Wire Fence in Semi-Desert Countryside/A tumbleweed

Image: Shutterstock

First Objection:

The TES parent company is “harvesting” resources for their partner websites and charging for access; including to purchase teacher-made resources. This includes sharing your resources on other sister-sites in the USA (Share My Lesson) TES India and TES Australia –  with or without your knowledge and perhaps, even after you have removed them from the TES in the UK. All uploaded by you and I … Here is an example on my resource on TES India. I did NOT upload it there. It has been adapted.

Second Objection:

See this blog, which features my TakeAwayHmk idea featured in my book 100 ideas – published in September 2013. The chapter and Bloomsbury Books copyrighted material / idea in question is below;

#TakeAwayHmk - Idea 56
#TakeAwayHmk – Idea 56

Just Window-Shopping:

Last week, I thought I’d take a search/browse of teacher-paid resources on the TES. It came as no surprise to find my copyright material shared by many other teachers – freely – on the TES. You can see the results here. I have no problem with this. I am all for sharing. However, on closer inspection and when filtering to PPD material, I was disappointed to see the following results. Two resources for sale, using my copyright idea and an adaptation of my resource.

TakeAwayHmk TES Vamoose Resources

Example Resource:

TakeAway Homewortk on TES REsources

Of course, I contacted the TES immediately and this is the reply I received last week;

“Dear Ross,

My colleagues who manage our social media accounts have alerted me to an issue that you raised regards content shared on the TES Resources platform. I’d like to be able to make sure I understand the issue first, it would be very helpful to understand the detail of your concerns.  You can contact me directly on this email or I’d be very happy to speak on the phone if you’d like to have a chat through the issue.

Very best wishes,
Head of Content and Strategy”

Today I spoke to the TES – someone in post for one year – and this was the reply; “your resources and ideas are NOT protected from others uploading onto the TES for profit.” This reply and the history between the TES and I has prompted this blog. It is not acceptable.

For Profit:

The TES are clearly enjoying their new-found territory. So much so, they are offering a Summer Sale!

TES Resources Summer Sale


Does this issue breach my own copyright licence? Particularly Take Away Homework which is copyright material of Bloomsbury Books. Could a legal battle ensue between these two giants with little-old me in the middle? Read Copyright dos and donts for teachers in school. It’s vital reading!

Creative Commons LicenceI’m Off!

As for me, if I cannot share resources on the TES website – without my consent – If they will be downgraded, manipulated or used for profit and my intellectual property is not protected. At the meeting I last had at TES HQ in September 2013, Moral Rights could never be protected, but Intellectual Property was agreed when I met with Jim Knight and Ann Mroz.


If you manage over 8,000,000 resources, have the TES team just missed detail with my measly two resources? I hope so. I’m off for now …

Jim Knight Vamoose


@TeacherToolkit logo new book Vitruvian man




30 thoughts on “#Vamoose: @TESResources Strike Back!

  1. Hi Ross, this copyright issues is one (of the several) reasons I would not become a teacher in the current system until stuff is sorted out. Having an institution hold copyright on creative works by an individual (just because of an employment contract) is a fantastic way to suppress creativity within a system. After completing my degree I enquired about getting my hand-drawn field data from a self-funded 6 week mapping project: “we retain the primary field data in terms of the field slips and field note books” what nonsense! I don’t understand! Are you on teacherspayteachers? That site looks better than your account of the TES, though I’m not too familiar with either. Though I do need to ask this, Ross as your ‘takeaway homework’ argument confuses me a little; if another teacher creates their own takeaway homework with their own exercises, then aren’t they OK to sell that as their work? It would be great if they saw the ‘takeaway’ idea in your book or on your blog for them to mention you… but I’m certain somewhere at some time other teachers have created homework in the same ‘takeaway’ style. It may be an original idea to someone else and I’d rather them act on it than not. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    1. My issues are mixed. I support teachers sharing resources and sharing. In their own time, this resource belongs to them. They must be wary of copyright, use of images and references when sharing as their own; selling or not.
      Imagine I took your thesis for your degree. Adapted it slightly and made it my own. Uploaded it to the TES and sold it for a small sum of cash; would you be bothered? Want credit? Copyright protection? The teacher to ask you? The company to remove the resource on your request? If not, send me your thesis and I’ll get working on my next book for sale 🙂

      1. Haha, well Ross, if you can get the originals off the university, they’re all yours. They actually gave me the prize for my report, so it can’t be bad, but alas – no conversation about my work, which is all I ever wanted. As far as I know it’s already been used or been incorporated into some research project, which is fine. Who cares about me right? I’m just some chimp grad student. That’s the system. So as far as I’m concerned if that work has helped the world in some way (without me knowing it) or if you reckon it’s be an interesting book for your readers… go for it! I’m intrigued! Take the royalties. I’ll settle for a funny story about my last-minute dissertation that turned famous 🙂 Here’s an article for you: http://www.free-range-humans.com/advice/copycat/

  2. I am in total dismay at the thought of teachers charging for their resources and couldn’t believe it when the TES introduced the whole idea. Whatever happened to being a supportive profession? One of our biggest issues is workload so we should be happy to share anything that makes life a little bit easier for our colleagues.

  3. Fear of copyright infringement is one reason I have never uploaded resources to share our sell on teacherspayteachers.com I’ve lost track of how many of my resources started and I don’t want to claim credit for merely adapting someone else’s hard work. I do share resources with others through other sites but never for sale.

  4. Hi Ross,

    James from TES here. I’m the person you talked with yesterday. I’ve emailed you as well, but in brief:

    Your Takeaway Homework idea is a great one and I hope many teachers use it in their classrooms. I’m afraid the heart of the matter is this: ideas cannot be copyrighted. Please don’t take my word — look it up on a copyright guide you trust. The site you linked to is a good one; see point #4 here: http://www.copyrightsandwrongs.nen.gov.uk/ipr-and-copyright/what-is-copyright – “you don’t copyright the idea itself, you copyright the expression of an idea”.

    When we get a report of a resource — free or paid — that violates someone’s copyright, we take it down immediately. In this case teachers have published resources that do use your great idea, but unfortunately your idea is not something that copyright can protect on TES or anywhere else.

    We know there’s more we can do to educate and support teachers in protecting their rights online. I’m very happy to continue the conversation online or in person. I’m @jbyers on twitter, james.byers at tesglobal • com on email, and can be reached by phone at 020 3194 3350.


  5. Hi Ross,

    Actually – I think you will find that is you are a teacher in a school and are developing resources then under UK law it is the school (ie the employer you are working for at the time of creating resources) who own the copyright to the resources.


      1. Ross – your work is very much related to your employment. Are you telling me that you did not share your good practice with colleagues in your school? Did you use any of the your work in the course of training at your school? Did you even think for 1 second about what you would be writing about while you were in school? I would be very surprised if you did not. And so . . I think you will find that the IP of everything you have done belongs to the school who employed you at the time (unless you have a written understanding from them?). If not then it is a very very grey area. I certainly think that with regards your argument with the TES this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black :).

        Also – very interesting to see how commercially minded you are:


        . . I thought it was all about supporting colleagues :).

        Dr Andy Burns

      2. Hi Andy. My issue is regarding a resource I wrote in my own time at home and not in school time. It is copyrighted by Bloomsbury Publishing and now features as a paid-for idea on the TES. p.s. I was advised to open TT as a business to declare additional earnings from selling my book. 40% goes to the taxman which leaves a little left behind to pay for the hours spent at a PC.

      3. Hmmm . .it does not sound that way according to your own blog:


        “Over the past two years, I have been aiming to improve delivery of homework in my own classroom.”

        . . and then. . .

        In many ways, the challenge of setting homework was ultimately about raising standards; coping with teaching multiple in subjects/classrooms led me to creating #TakeAwayHmk as a featured chapter in my book.

        . .it sounds there very much like this is employment related . . it may well be “copyrighted by Bloomsbury Publishing ” (a fairly giant, conglomerate corporation.) . .but I am still convinced the IP belongs to your employer. As a teacher you have no set “start and end” time to a day in your contract . . they own you . . which is why I spend my home hours planning, marking books and giving my pupils feedback rather than trying to make cash out of other teachers.

        This is still the pot calling the kettle black.

      4. My teacher contract states 32.5 hrs per week and 1265 per year according to the Burgundy Book. Very clear start and end times. We will just have to disagree … I’m preparing a legal case over the summer. Watch this space.

      5. “My teacher contract states 32.5 hrs per week and 1265 per year”

        Hahahah .. I wish!! Maybe when I make it to the dizzy heights of SLT like yourself – but I think if a mere mortal teacher like myself just did those hours I would be out of a job long ago.

        Legal case. . . exciting . . but I have been in the same position as you when I was working in science industry and lost out to IP law – would otherwise be a millionaire by now. My money is on the giant, conglomerate corporation who can grind you into the dust with overwhelming resources and expensive legal teams – I dropped my legal case after I was £10k in . . after I realised they would suck me dry before I win – hence my bitterness, strong opinion and decision to then pursue a career in teaching.

        Good luck though!

      6. Of course, 32.5 hrs is far from reality for all of us… At the end of the day, if I raise awareness and berate the TES, I will be pleased with just that in itself.

  6. Ross, the takeaway homework copyright issue is a little ridiculous. Are you copyrighting the idea of a shorter lesson plan with boxes too? Can someone copyright the idea of “flipped learning”?

    1. I know you cannot copyright an idea. I’m more miffed about the fact that the TES continue to profit from teachers’ expertise and the teacher is left out of pocket. n.b. as a designer, if we could modify the Copyright Act, I’d be looking to include copyright of ‘ideas.’ However, Copyrights do cover “original works of authorship” that the author fixes in a tangible form (written on paper, typed on computer, scribbled by crayon on a napkin, etc.) If you take a look t my 100 Ideas book, you will see TakeAwayHomework written in black and white and the format clearly explained in black and white – September 2013. In other words, this protects the specifics of ‘a book’ and its content after it is written. Although, no matter how hard one may try, you cannot safeguard the idea behind where it is written…

      1. I’d say you amalgamated two existing ideas, homework and takeaway menus, and while novel, hardly gives you blanket ownership of the concept.

        I think teachers charging £5 or so for a resource that someone would create at home is fair – You’re paying £5 not to do the hours work at home yourself – something I’m happy to do with well made resources.

  7. Tricky but feel passionate that frankly none of us have re- invented the wheel here and probably never will – and ideas should be shared freely without any expectation of profit. If anyone begs to differ and has a spare year – write a book and publish. What goes round – comes round

  8. Hi,

    This has had me thinking. On one hand I feel the same frustration that something I share for free might be used by someone to make money. On the other hand, could it be argued that through royalties you have been given financial reward? The person with the math takeaway homework has spent a few hours (possibly) creating a tangable resource from your idea and so should get some financial reward?

  9. So frustrating and this has hit a nerve with me – whilst on maternity leave ‘intellectual property’ of mine was shared with our local diocese as it had been deemed ‘outstanding’ and was specifically mentioned in the report – I was happy for people to use it as I was flattered people were impressed enough to want to use it – then found someone was actually publishing a book on it – seemingly straight from the INSET my school had led – I know I could do more to chase it up but it hardly seems worth the hassle, as frustrating as it is that someone else is getting the recognition!

  10. Hi Ross,

    I wanted to note that we’ve moved TES India back over to the main TES Resources site. Your example above, and all other resources, now redirect to their original versions on tes.co.uk.

    Director, Resources – TES

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.