The Inconsistency of @TESResources by @TeacherToolkit

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shutterstock_233436193 Desperate woman crying


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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How can we ensure paid-for-resources, designed by teachers, does not become a headache for all involved?


It seems to be an annual summer event for me to blog about TES Resources. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will be aware that I’ve not been happy with TES Resources for the past 2 years and I refuse to let this story go until there is a little justice in the world.

What’s Happened Now?

What’s happened now, you ask? Well, if you are a regular reader, skip down the blog until the ‘Then…’ section. If not, catch up below.

The full back-story is here which I won’t repeat, but this snapshot below is important reading;

shutterstock_261979895 Desperate woman anger crying

Image: Shutterstock

Last Month:

There was much more tumbleweed until I received this reply from @JByers, Director, Resources at TES;

” … I’m afraid the heart of the matter is this: ideas cannot be copyrighted … 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.”

Then …

Then, there was more tumble-weed until this tweet appeared on my time-line via @MissBsResources. The tweet essentially exposes resources that have been plagiarised by others, and then sold on for profit. The resource has since been removed; the link is here.

TES ResourcesYou can read the TES reply below;

TES ResourcesWhy am I so Grumpy?

Well firstly, the TES have respected the request of the teacher above (Danielle Bartram who also shares excellent resources – designed in her own time – and shared on her own website) and removed the resource designed by @Maths_Master; something they have yet to do for me, despite asking privately! I blog it here for attention and exposure of the inconsistencies. A large company such as the TES, should not allow this to happen. Here is the link again and the screen-shot below of the removed resource;

TES ResourcesInfringement:

Here is a link to resources being used that are an infringement of my idea / an idea under copyright in this book which features my TakeAwayHmk idea – published in September 2013. It is also published on this blog.

#TakeAwayHmk - Idea 56


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 will not share resources on the TES website – especially 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.

It seems this is not the case.


I wonder how Teachers Pay Teachers do it in the USA? More to follow, I’m sure …


@TeacherToolkit logo new book Vitruvian man

16 thoughts on “The Inconsistency of @TESResources by @TeacherToolkit

  1. Very interesting reading. Little old teachers stuck in the middle trying to do our best. Thank you for standing up for the little guys and girls

  2. Hi Ross,

    James from TES here, the @jbyers you quoted in this post. I know this continues to be a source of frustration for you and I’m keen to help in any way I can. However I do take issue with calling our behaviour inconsistent. We’ve done exactly what we said we do to protect teachers’ rights: act quickly to take down material that violates copyright.

    You’re seeking to apply copyright protection to your very good idea for Take Away Homework. But copyright doesn’t protect ideas alone. The resources you’re asking us to take down are original resources, created by teachers, that are based on your idea. If a teacher had copied one of your actual Take Away Homework resource examples, or the page from your book describing the idea, we’d take those down on copyright grounds immediately.

    Please do reach out to Bloomsbury — as I’ve encouraged you to do privately — to get their view of your concerns. I’m happy to answer any questions they have, or that anyone else might have about copyright and protecting teachers’ rights. I’m @jbyers on twitter, james.byers at tesglobal • com on email, and can be reached by phone at 020 3194 3350.


    1. Hi James. I may just upload my own version of TakeAwayHmk resource in order for you to remove resources that breach my copyright. Or would you rather me send this to you privately?

    2. James, I’ve finally got around to uploading my own resource/documents of TakeAwayHmk. I have shared them on the TES in order to have the other documents that breach my copyright removed. > The bigger issue remains, that if I have a resource – idea or not – it should not take an individual to upload an example of their work in order for the TES to consider removing a resource that breaches the copyright of an individual. Here is a link to the TES resources that breach my copyright:*&q=takeaway+homework&t=all&rpp=18&fi=id%2Curl%2Cprice%2Cdiscounts%2Ctitle%2Cdescription%2Crecommended%2CmodifiedDate%2CdownloadCount%3Afield%28downloadCount%29%2CratingAverage%3Afield%28ratingAverage%29%2CratingCount%3Afield%28ratingCount%29%2CscoreA%3Afield%28scoreA%29%2CscoreB%3Afield%28scoreB%29%2Cscore%2CviewCount%3Afield%28viewCount%29%2CauthorName%2CauthorId&s=-score&c=facet.limit%5B500%5D

  3. Hi Ross,

    Sorry I missed your previous comment. Posting the resources on TES doesn’t change this situation and I can only imagine how frustrating this must be. However this is not about you our your resources, about me, or about TES. It’s about how copyright works and what it protects. I’ve tried to say this here on your blog in my comment above (, on your previous post (, by our previous email conversation across June and July, on Twitter ( and others), and on our phone conversation on 30 June. And I’m very happy to talk about it more privately — you and readers of your blog have my email address and phone number above.

    Copyright protects a work. If someone copies and re-posts a work that you’ve written they are violating your copyright. If they write and publish their own original work inspired by your idea, copyright protection does not apply. In both cases it makes no difference if your idea or your own examples of the idea were posted on TES, before or after. They have to actually copy you, not just create something similar to something you created.

    By analogy let’s pretend that Ian Flemming invented the spy novel when he first wrote about James Bond in “Casino Royale”. I think we can agree that like TakeAwayHmk, this was a great idea. His copyright prevents me from republishing his work in whole or in part. I can’t rename and republish the book, I can’t copy a few chapters in my own book, I can’t pretend I was the original author and sell it as my own, I can’t even copy his characters and use them in a similar story. But I can write my own spy novel with different characters and plot, even if my spy also has fancy gadgets and drives fast cars.

    It’s the same with TakeAwayHmk. You had a great idea and wrote about it, and now teachers are using your idea to create their own resources. In fact their works are now protected by their own copyright — free or paid, hosted on TES or not. I strongly encourage you as I have in the past to talk to your publisher, Bloomsbury, about copyright. Give them all the detail you’ve given me. Our response to you — which I appreciate must be infuriating — is not specific to TES, our policies, or our terms. It’s how copyright works, and in this case, doesn’t work.

    I am not a lawyer, and you shouldn’t take my word or TES’ word for it. Do your own research. Talk to your publisher. Ask for another opinion from someone who knows the law. I’ll do whatever I can to assist you — just let me know what I can do. It’s incredibly important that we help teachers understand how copyright works in a digital age that’s really just beginning.

    Director, Resources, TES Global

    1. So, why have TES taken down other teachers’ examples as shared in my ‘Inconsistency’ blog?
      On the ‘report to TES’ button, can you add a function that says ‘question for the owner’. I’m certain the teacher will remove with a simple email and respect my wishes.
      I am in contact with Bloomsbury and will not let this go, nor will I ever share another resource with the TES until this is resolved. I will drop Lord Knight an email too. I’m sure he will be disappointed this has all happened again.
      Thanks for taking time to reply.

      1. Hi Ross,

        The circumstances of those takedowns are different. Someone copied someone else’s resource — the exact resource, words, images, etc. They were clear copyright violations and we acted accordingly (and quickly!). They didn’t write their own original resource based on someone else’s idea, which is the case here. These authors did not copy your words or your images — they just used your idea. I implore you to consider this quite important difference in circumstances.

        I imagine that Lord Knight, ever vigilant, is reading these comments on his own. But in case he isn’t please do feel free to email him.


  4. It’s just a shame that no-one has noticed the fact that take-away homeworks are a really bad idea. I admire your dedication to your work, but if you want pupils to do some homework then set them the work to do. If you don’t really want pupils to do it, then don’t set it!

  5. Ross

    Interesting. I have had a quick look through all of this. And thanks as always for keeping us challenged to deliver for teachers.

    I too am no copyright lawyer but have no reason to disagree with the notion that the basic idea can’t be protected, nor the title of takeaway homework unless it is registered. Obviously how the idea is then presented can and should be.

    I’ve looked at most of the 99 resources on the site that come up under the search “takeaway homework”. Clearly it is an idea that resonates and there are some fabulous versions of it – most of which credit @teachertoolkit for the idea. What I have not found are any that look the same as the one in your Bloomsbury published 100 Ideas book.

    All but 5 are free. In copyright law my guess is there is no difference between free or paid but if you think someone is making money by copying your work that would be galling. It looks like only one has sold anything, with gross revenue of £18. But the principle is important and, as I say, that applies equally to the free resources.

    For my part I think it is very important that if someone simply copies someone else’s work and passes it off as their own, then that should be taken down. However that can not apply to someone taking a good idea and making their own original version of it.

    Teaching resources will evolve as people download change and upload them. I hope that copyright doesn’t prevent that because we know that such collaborative practice is important in improving teach quality. Good manners would credit the original idea and it’s creator.



    1. Hi Jim,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and reply.
      Are expressions of ideas automatically copyrighted? I am researching this with various people. So far, I have established… Ideas are not copyrightable. Only tangible forms of expression (e.g., a book, play, drawing, film, or photo, etc.) are copyrightable. Once you express your idea in a fixed form — as a digital painting, recorded song, or even scribbled on a napkin — it is automatically copyrighted if it is an original work of authorship.

      However, it is not completely clear (yet). I do believe that TakeAway Homework is an idea – written clearly in 100 ideas book – and under Bloomsbury copyright.
      What you and James state is correct. I cannot protect interpretations of my idea, but I do believe the idea is expressed in the book as ‘promotional literature’, which would be an infringement or indeed ‘content from my book to promote their own product.’

      Anyway, good to bring this to your attention. I can only see paid-for resources becoming a little murkier for education. Teachers are far-from the best persons to use as role-models when adapting resources and recognising others’ copyright. Even moreso with profitable resources. I am happy for teachers to use the idea, but not for profit, and not via the TES. I guess I am still a little coy from my first experience with TES downgrading my resources the moment I started linking my book for sale on my OWN blog (outside of TES website) in 2013. I’ll get over it one day …

      Guess we will see how this pans out once I gather a few more facts.
      See you soon.

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