This is written as a partner post to @teachertoolkit blog.

For those of you who have been hiding from Michael Gove for the past 3 weeks, you may have missed @teachertoolkit #Vamoose I’m off! story, regarding teacher content uploading to The TES Resources website.

Although for those of you that read my website, it would have come as no surprise as you would have already read my post ‘Do you own your ideas? Part 1’ last year!!

When I posted my effort last October I had 3k followers and although I had an ‘off the record’ email chat with the then Head of resources but now editor of TES Ann Mroz there was no talk of a review by Lord Knight or any post on the TES website about their Terms and Conditions and certainly no meeting at TES Towers!

My post was swept under the carpet.

My valid points were ignored.

The incident was never reviewed.

No reassurances were ever made.

No public back-peddling ever happened.

Funnily enough though, it did create a little wave, the post has been read by 2789 people and the majority have said that they will never post their resources on TES again.

I haven’t and I’ve deleted all my resources off their site.

Fast forward 11 months and It’s amazing what an extra 20k followers on twitter will do to make a multinational company, owned by a hedge fund, sit up and finally take notice!

@teachertoolkit has some similar problems with TES, posts #Vamoose I’m off! on his blog and Whammo! The TES spring into action! Here’s an email sent by TES resources team in response to Ross’ article.

TES response on 9.9.13

I would like to highlight the statement ‘…content uploaded by a user remains the property of that user’.

Does this include asking the owner whether someone can upload their resource to TES sister sites? Does this include selling the resource for profit? Does this include adapting the resource?

There was a part of the ‘backstory’ of my TES experience that I didn’t mention in my original post, which I feel will further muddy the waters. The reason why my resources were on TES in the first place was because I was asked to be part of a TES teacher ‘expert group’ for ICT. It was a non-paid role, that I felt held a certain amount of kudos and would look good on my CV. I was constantly asked to upload my resources onto the TES site and eventually gave up being part of the expert panel, because I felt that there was nothing in it for me-the only benefit was for TES-free publicity from my blog,my twitter account and my network. Then months later came the ‘Sharemylesson’ Do you own your ideas? debacle.

What’s interesting is that TES are keeping up this ‘poaching talent’ approach to uploading resources to their site. A representative from TES India recently emailed me and said that I had a great blog (he didn’t look very much into-otherwise he’d have read the TES blog post!) and whether I’d put my resources onto TES India! I politely said that I was too busy at work to do this (which I am!). He said that if I emailed him the resources he would upload them for me. NO mention of the ‘sweat-shop’ Terms and Conditions or that once he’d uploaded them they were no longer my property. (I’ll not accept a line from an email thank you-change the T&Cs).

I’m expecting an email from the representative of TES Australia soon…

You will be aware that we were invited to attend a meeting with Lord Knight at TES HQ on Saturday 5th October 2013.

The teachers representing this article are:

  1. @IanMcDaid
  2. @Ideas_Factory
  3. @LeadingLearner
  4. @LGolton
  5. @MrLockyer
  6. and @TeacherToolkit

Points for discussion at TES HQ:

  • The underlying principle of “not for profit” sharing.
  • New Terms and Conditions that protect the rights of the author.
  • Payment to authors when resources are ‘sold’.
  • Use of resources on other partner websites must have the authors permission.
  • Links to external content being out of the control of the author, if the host (TES) places advertising out of their control.

So, what happened at TES HQ?

So, in true pop-star fashion; all of the team sent their apologies and I (@TeacherToolkit) turned up alone and late to an empty reception. Inside the meeting room, TSL had clearly gone out of their way to meet with us and discuss the teacher-community concerns.

In attendance were:

  • @JimPKnight (Lord Knight of Weymouth, Shadow Defra Minister in the Lords)
  • @AnnMroz (Editor and Digital Publishing Director, TES, and former editor of Times Higher Education)
  • @MrMichaelShaw (Director of TES Pro and former deputy editor of TES)
  • Ashid ? (tbc – Legal Terms and Conditions advisor.)
  • @TeacherToolkit-Tea and biscuits.

Our questions for TES HQ:

Answers in red.

We will update Terms and Conditions following the meeting (see more details below) for new content henceforth.

  1. Why haven’t TSL adopted a Teachers Pay Teachers model previously? We do not want to differentiate between judging what resources should be free and what should be paid for content.
  2. Is Lord Knight aware that new owners, Texas Pacific Group have met with the owner of Teachable, a UK business almost identical to Teachers Pay Teachers? No, but we have a positive impression of TPG.
  3. The TES Advisory Board that is ‘led’ by Lord Knight. When was it established and what is its remit powers? Who does it report to and is it really independent? We are advisory to TES and that is all. We meet every 2-3 months and have no legal responsibility. We report to TSL’s CEO. You can read who is on the advisory board here and who is TSL’s Executive Team here.
  4. Have other teachers previously raised these issues and why didn’t the management at the TES/TSL act previously if they were aware of this issue? There was no clear answer. It was apparent that my original post and followers had provided us all with the opportunity to gain attention of the board.
  5. Was monetising the resources on TES Connect discussed with potential purchasers during the recent sale process (very likely)? As highlighted by Michael Shaw, TESPro will make it clear on their website and banner adverts, that teacher-produced resources will always be FREE and that the TESPro is not a forum for restricting free content in return for annual subscriptions to the TESPro magazine and so forth.


From what I could minute, there were 8 clear outcomes.

  1. Terms and conditions: TSL wanted to clarify, that no IP is given away. The teacher owns the resource. In essence, the licence is a Creative Commons Licence – but has a waiver of Moral Rights. This appeared to be the real sticking point and one that TSL would not be willing to address as it would be far too complicated to police. For example, (a very crude one) I may agree for you to use my 5 Minute Lesson Plan, but may not agree for you to publish within a Primary School context. The TSL cannot monitor these individual Moral Rights. I stressed that the key T&Cs were written in plain English so that teachers understand clearly what they are agreeing to. If TSL do keep the T&Cs, then it should be emblazoned across the screen before any person uploads anything. Therefore, the uploader takes full responsibility for any copyright violations, links to external websites and that content can be used elsewhere.
  2. Moral Rights: Two issues here that cannot be resolved with the current T&Cs. a) Rights not to be identified and b) Rights to privacy. TSL cannot guarantee this with any content uploaded. There is also a Data Protection issue and how the TES look after the resource. The current TES waiver ensures they cannot be sued. They admitted that Moral Rights is a minefield!
  3. TES profiles: An example is my own TES profile here. I raised the discrepancies and how some profiles advertised blog links; books and products and how others had been identified and asked to remove content. I highlighted that my own page included my Twitter icon as my profile-photo, and that it wouldn’t take a genius, to work out that just three-clicks away, you could reach my own website, where I ‘could be’ advertising my own resources or products for sale. It was agreed, that teachers would be allowed to include their website address in their TES profile page.
  4. Resources: It was agreed that resources uploaded to the TES would remain ‘clean’. That is, no product advertisements, but as no. 3 above, individual teachers could include their own website links from their profile page. I highlighted the idiocy that TES moderators had asked me to removed direct-links on individual resource pages (linking back to my blog for readership clarification and not-for-profit) and copy and paste any references as basic HTML code onto a Word document; then upload these as additional attachments to the resource page itself!
  5. TSL Pledge: The TSL would review their current TSL pledge to include some of the changes listed here on this post. It currently reads here: Our pledge to you: TES Connect pledges that our members can download and share user-generated resources free of charge for ever. We are committed to protecting the privacy of our members’ personal data and promise never to sell or share it with any third party.”
  6. TESPro: would clarify their purpose of what is paid-for content and what is free. Michael Shaw stressed that all teachers resources are free and would remain so. The example tweet from Julia Taylor at the top of the page is an exception and if we encountered any more confusion, to direct the user to the Terms and Conditions which are soon to be updated. I also added the TESPro banner is long overdue for removal.
  7. Complaints: I asked for an easier mechanism to report ‘Complaints’ on the front page of the TES. As it currently stands, their is a ‘Report’ button on each individual resource page, but through the ‘Contact us’ page, their is no clear avenue in which to report any issues. It is currently, neatly tucked away at the bottom of the website.
  8. Lord Knight: The intention is, in light of all our concerns, that Lord Knight will co-author a blogpost with @TeacherToolkit informing the teaching community of the changes TSL have made. The predicted timescale was 2 weeks from today.

All in all, TSL and the team were incredibly hospitable and very open to our suggestions. I’d like to say thank you personally to TSL and the team today; on behalf of everyone in the teaching community who has taken the time to report their concerns. As a group, we can really shift sands. Our next task, is to collectively challenge the Secretary of State for Education! Grassroot teachers can do this, we just need a clear focus which is focused and not personalised …

What next?

TSL will make the necessary changes over the forthcoming weeks and report back. I left the meeting highlighting to The TES, that they have 3 options:

Resource content for partners (for profit).
Resource content for teachers (for free).
Resource content for teachers advertising their products (for profit).
TSL: If I have made any of the above details/answers inaccurate, please let me know and I will readjust.

What next?

TSL will make the necessary changes over the forthcoming weeks and report back. I left the meeting highlighting to The TES, that they have 3 options:

  1. Resource content for partners (for profit).
  2. Resource content for teachers (for free).
  3. Resource content for teachers advertising their products (for profit).

TSL: If I have made any of the above details/answers inaccurate, please let me know and I will readjust.

Further information:

TSL advisory board:

  • Lord Puttnam
  • Lord Adonis
  • Lord Knight
  • Owen Lynch
  • Baroness Morris
  • Click here.

TSL’s Executive Board:

  • Louise Rogers – Chief Executive Officer
  • Bill Donoghue – Chief Operating Officer
  • Matthew O’Sullivan – Finance Director
  • Click here.

A few things I noticed-

TES will only apply new Terms and conditions to newly uploaded resources and therefore still able to take financial benefit from the already uploaded resources!

No mention of ‘forced’ sharing on their sisters sites-does this mean that this practice will continue?

I’ll reserve my judgement till we actually see TES make changes-at the moment my stance has not changed.

I will not upload any resources on TES.

Thanks to Ross and his original can be seen here

Written by Julian S Wood -"rel="author"
  • SparkyTeaching

    Thanks for taking the time to post all this, Julian. Unlike TES India, your original blog was where we first heard of all this and still haven’t been back to TES. Doesn’t seem like we’ll be returning in the near future*.

    *Genuinely think this is a shame – the TES website has a lot going for it as a forum for teachers to talk / share.

    • Julian S Wood

      Thanks for the comment SP.

      I agree-I’m awaiting the ‘review’ by Lord Knight. TES seem to be making the right noises but are reluctant to put this down in writing on their T&C’s!

      Let’s hope they do the right thing-otherwise TES online may become a ghost site…

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