My books

The Last Day Of Term     It’s the last day of term at the Gilda Ball Academy and time is running out: a teacher faces the sack following an anonymous allegation of child abuse… Told within a single day, The Last Day of Term interweaves the gritty realities of teenage life in an inner-city school with a touching and comic story of a man in crisis. Teacher Martin Hick is about to get the promotion he s wanted for years, and has vowed to rescue his failing marriage. Cut to a grim council estate in east London, where Bela, an internet-addicted teenager, lives with his chain-smoking mother and aristocratic great-uncle both Hungarian emigres. Bela’s life has been ruined since Martin had him expelled from Gilda Ball a few weeks previously, and he is trying to plot his way back into the school. So when, on the last day of term, Martin is confronted with an anonymous note accusing him of abuse, he naturally assumes Bela to be the source. The truth, as he will discover, is never quite that simple.




Working The System — How To Get The Very Best State Education For Your Child   In the last five years the government has changed pretty much every aspect of state education – the admissions process, the national curriculum, exams and assessments, the approach towards Special Needs, the whole attitude to children’s general wellbeing. Working the System provides up-to-date answers to all your questions as a concerned parent. It includes tips and advice on everything from selecting the right school to helping your child make the right choices at GCSE and keeping them happy and motivated; and it is packed with informative case studies – such as “What could I have done to get more support for my son’s dyspraxia?” and “Can I do a Tony Blair and avoid sending my child to the local sink school?” Written by an experienced teacher who has taught in the state sector for twenty years and who has established a reputation as a voice of candour and clarity in the world of modern educational doublespeak,this highly readable guide will help you navigate the complexities of the system and get the very best education for your child. Parent Power — The complete guide to getting the best education for your child   Parent Power: The Complete Guide to Getting the Best Education for Your Child   This is the one-stop book for any parent who wants their child to get the most of the British education system (formerly published as The New School Rules). You name it, it’s probably in this book: choosing the right school for your child, how to help your child get the best results, how to help them settle into school, what to expect from your school, when and how to make a complaint, how to deal with bullying, drink, drugs… It’s all here. The book is truly comprehensive in that it looks at both primary and secondary schools, state and private, selective and non-selective, single and mixed sexed. It is jam-packed with advice and also parents’ own stories. Why should you be reading a book written by me, and not one of the other numerous leaflets, books, websites that offer advice to parents about schools? The answer to that is simple: I am one of the few insiders who tells the truth. What you read in this book is not government propaganda, left or right-wing rant, cynical sniping or over-optimistic piffle. The book is big and comprehensive. It’s got a great index so you won’t have to read it all the way through if you don’t want to, but you will find what you want to know quickly and easily. The chapters are:

  • Getting your child into a good school
  • Getting the most out of your school
  • How to tackle the big problems
  • Does your child have special needs?
  • Getting involved with your child’s education
  • Your experience and your child’s experience
  • When schooling causes conflict
  • What makes a good school
  • Getting the most out of the National Curriculum
  • Some New School Rules for the government
  • The five essential New School Rules
  • A great photocopiable section which enables you to evaluate your school
  • A guide to revision guides and a reading list
  • Loads of useful websites
  • A comprehensive glossary.


“Informative, clearly written and with a well worked and original organising principle, it is, to coin a phrase, ‘the book no parent can be without’.” Former Teacher Of The Year Phil Beadle in The Times “Choosing a school for your child can be a baffling and stressful experience. Teacher Francis Gilbert has written what could become the bible for parents.” The Yorkshire Post

Yob Nation

23 MARCH 2006

Yob NationThe truth about Britain’s yob culture

Francis Gilbert takes the reader on a frightening journey to the dark heart of Britain’s yob culture. Starting with his own encounters with yobs in his childhood and while working as a teacher, Gilbert moves beyond his own experiences to investigate the thuggery and foul behaviour that blights our streets, our workplaces – and even the heights of the British Establishment.

Teacher on the Run

11 MAY 2006

Teacher on the RunTrue tales of classroom chaos

After three years of teaching at Truss, an inner-city sink school, Francis Gilbert has been offered a job in the English department at his old school, a nice suburban comprehensive. Like a prisoner out of Colditz, he feels like he’s just landed a job in toytown. But, with Mr Morgan, the deaf old English teacher, still cackling, the staff room politics in tatters, alarming complaints from the parents and, worst of all, the memories of his own disturbed childhood suddenly rushing back at him, how long can Gilbert’s dreamland last?


“Teacher On The Run is a compulsively readable confessional.” Bill Greenwell, Independent, Oct 2005 “Gilbert spends lesson after lesson desperately waiting for the bell to release him from his misery and, night after night, wakes screaming, drenched in sweat from dreams in which he is facing the dreaded Year 9 dressed only in sheets of grammar exercises that the mon­sters proceed to Hoover off him.” Chris Woodhead, Sunday Times, Sept 2005 “Gilbert hesitates at one point about whether to write or teach. My guess is he will never give up teaching, because he could not do without that violent, volcanic, life-affirming roar that writer only ever hears at second hand.” Hilary Spurling, Telegraph, Dec 2005

I'm a Teacher, Get Me Out of HereThe book that tells you the unvarnished truth about teaching

By turns hilarious, sobering and downright horrifying, I’m a Teacher, Get Me Out of Here!contains the sort of information you won’t find in any school prospectus, government advert or Hollywood film. In this astonishing memoir, Francis Gilbert candidly describes the remarkable way in which he was trained to be a teacher, his terrifying first lesson and his even more frightening experiences in his first job at Truss comprehensive, one of the worst schools in the country. Follow Gilbert on his rollercoaster journey through the world that is the English education system; encounter thuggish and charming children, bad and brilliant teachers; learn about the sinsiter effects of school inspectors and the teacher’s disease of “controloholism”… spy on what really goes on behind the closed doors of inner-city schools.


“This is a frank and vivid account of a young teacher coming to terms with the horrors of real life in a real inner-city school. It brought back my own training and probationary year (thirty years ago now) with a hair-raising immediacy. Clearly Francis Gilbert is a gifted and charismatic teacher, and his pupils are lucky that these gifts are combined with a modest patience and sympathy. He also has a talent for swift and lively description. Schools like the one he describes, a system like this, lives like those of these pupils, need to be transformed, and the only lasting way to transform them is to put the best people we have into them – and the same level of resources that’s enjoyed by the pupils of Eton, Winchester, Harrow, Westminster, and so on. But while people like Mr Gilbert are coming into education, there is no need for despair quite yet.” Philip Pullman “This is a funny, moving and worrying memoir. It follows Francis Gilbert’s experiences as he goes through teacher training and takes up his first job at an inner-city comprehensive. The story is one of disorder, low achievement, and disillusioned and burnt-out teachers, mixed with flashes of affection for the children and commit­ment from some of the teachers…I’m a Teacher, Get Me Out of Here is funny and poignant, but is also a cry of pain. It should be compulsory reading for successive secretaries of state and all senior staff at the DfES.” Clare Short, New Statesman A fantastic book, a cheeringly horrifying and right on the nail description of the sheer terror of being deep-ended into teaching – Gilbert writes so well that you half-suspect he could give up the day job.” Independent Francis Gilbert’s book reminded me strongly of the 1955 classic Roaring Boys…We feel what Francis Gilbert feels: the pressure of the job and the commitment to demanding classes. The word has recently become debased, but when an older colleague tells him ‘You care, Francis’ it is well earned.” Jonathan Smith (Author of The Learning Game), Sunday Telegraph Review, April 2004 Gilbert is a natural story-teller. I read this in one jaw-dropping gulp.” Tim Brighouse, Commissioner for London Schools, TES “I liked this humane, funny, sharply observed book. Francis Gilbert started with the idealistic wish to make a real difference… He is a born teacher and a good writer. He has an eye for detail and the telling phrase, writes a great deal of good sense and is in love with literature and with words. There would be nothing much wrong with our schools if every teacher was like him. But the social problems are harder to solve.” Eric Anderson, Spectator

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