Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Is Headteacher One Word or Two?

Is it correct to write headteacher or head teacher? Which one is proper English and the official spelling? You would think that this is a simple question but unfortunately there is no clear consensus as to which is correct.

For example, consider that we have the National Association of Head Teachers that represents heads but the standards they operate under are the "National Standards for Headteachers" published by the National College for Teaching and Leadership. The leading institutions cannot even agree which is correct.

The association the represents heads says it is two words.

The standards they operate under uses only one word. 

Therefore the answer is: either is considered to be acceptable and correct. Best practice is to look up the head on the school website and copy their spelling in a letter or check how it is used in the context that you are using it. Otherwise you can just pick one (personally I prefer headteacher as one word). Additional considerations to bear in mind is that:

  • Not all heads are headteachers/head teachers. They may be principals or, in Scotland, Rectors. 
  • Professional organisations, documents or specific heads should be referred to with the same spelling as they refer to themselves. 
  • In my experience headteacher is more common than head teacher. 
  • The head of single-sex school is usually the Headmaster or Headmistress rather than headteacher. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

What is a Teach First Ambassador?

There is a joke in Teach First which says that the only way to leave Teach First is to die. The simple answer to what a Teach First Ambassador is, is to say that it is what you automatically become when you finish the program. Put another way, a Teach First Ambassador is simply a graduate of the Teach First program.

But what does being an ambassador actually mean? Once you have finished the two year program:

  • You are forever on the Teach First directory (on the community website). 
  • As the name implies you are supposed to represent the program and go forth to the world and encourage others to join (though you don't have any contractual obligation to). 
  • You will get invited to events.
  • They will not stop emailing you. 
  • Teach First teachers will ask favours of you if you leave teaching or not.
  • You can sneak in to PwC via the secret backdoor.  
  • If you leave the classroom you will likely be dragged back into school at some point. 
  • You are expected to make a lifetime commitment to ending educational inequality. 
  • You will get continuing support from Teach First to help you make a difference in education 
  • You can stay plugged into the movement. 
  • You can become an associate tutor at Summer Institute. 

I suspect that the reason you are here is that you are wondering what to write on the application form about the question that asks what you plan to do when you become an ambassador. Here are a few suggestions to help you: 
  • Think about how you will contribute to ending educational inequality after your two years. 
  • If you stay in education you could be a mentor to Teach First participants. 
  • You join the Teach First action network both as a participant and then as an ambassador. 
  • Consider launching a social enterprise around educational inequality 
  • Become a school governor.
  • Commit to teaching in a Teach First eligible school. 
Hopefully this post has helped you understand exactly what an ambassador is and exactly what it entails. This should help you with your application to the Leadership Development Program (LDP). If, however, you are looking this up on Google after having done the LDP you should have paid more attention at Summer Institute! 

How Does Betfair Make Money?

Betfair is a massive and revolutionary force in the betting industry that rakes in billions of pounds in revenue. In this post we will look at how it makes money. The business model is complete genius and, as a former shareholder, I have had the pleasure of riding its wave of growth prior to its takeover by Paddy Power.

Charging a Net Commission on Winnings

The fundamental way that the Betfair exchange makes money is by charging a fee on winning bets. This varies between 5% to as low as 2%. All users start at 5% but as you bet you get a discount based on the volumes of bets you put through. To get to the 2% level you need to turnover millions of pounds.

Betfair Salisbury Market trading
A small and unexceptional race on a Monday traded over £350,000

If we consider a betting market where a gambler makes a net profit of £10 (say they win £15 betting on a team to win and lose £5 betting on the score) Betfair will pay them £9.50 and withhold a 50p commission charge. When you consider that many markets can trade millions of pounds the commissions really ad up.

It is important to understand that Betfair does not take 2-5% of all bets but only charges on winning bets. The fees are only charged on a customers net win. Those who sell a bet on a losing horse are charged on their net winnings. Likewise those who backed the winner are charged. But those that laid the winner or bet on the loser are not charged. The exact amount that Befair wins is based on which horse wins. However the great news for Betfair is that - as the bets are between punters - the house can never lose.

Taxing The Winners

Headline in the Guardian newspaper about Betfair's premium charge

Bookies hate winners. The bread and butter of a bookie is the customer who wins a little then bets his/her winnings again and again until he/she loses the lot. That's the core of the old model. Get them hooked on betting and then get them on the machines until they lose their house. In the long run the bookie always wins and the customers are really all just mug punters.

Betfair, they said, was different. They claimed that winners were welcome. Betfair doesn't care if you win as they don't pay you anything - in fact you pay them a commission on your winnings. However as time went on some people began to win and win big. A breed of super Betfair traders developed and some of them did exceptionally well. One such trader has used the exchange to place around a quarter of a billion dollars of bets every year!

There are many complex Betfair trading strategies. The most basic and easiest to understand is betting on both sides of a bet at different odds. For example you could bet £10 on a horse to win at 2.0 and then lay £12 at 1.8 say. That way you win £10 is the horse wins and pay out £9.60 making a profit of £0.40 then pay Betfair 5% of that. If the horse loses you would lose your £10 bet but pocket £12 for the bet you sold making £2 before commission. This however is easier said than done and the odds can more in the opposite direction.

Very skilled traders (many of whom used to work in finance and have advanced degree in engineering or mathematics) can earn a very good return on the exchange. Betfair has decided it wants in on the game so has introduced a premium charge. They now get a sizeable cut of the profits of this breed of super trader.

Betfair Casino, Betfair Sportsbook and Betfair Everything Else 

Betfair Diversification Casino and virtual sports
Betfair is much more than an exchange

The clever people who run Betfair eventually figured out that there is more money in running a casino and bookmaker than simply running a betting exchange. The only people that are interested in using exchanges are those clever enough to figure out how they work. These people tend to be more sophisticated bettors. Thus Betfair now rakes in money offering casino betting and regular sports betting which draws in the usual punters thus expanding their profitability.

Betfair is also active in race broadcasting and publishing as it owns Timeform which it bought for £15M in 2006. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

OnePoll Surveys and OnePoll Cashback: An In-depth Review

The Basics

One of the most popular online survey sites in the UK is OnePoll. The site offers very short surveys typically lasting only a few minutes but pays a very low rate per survey. The company is legitimate and does pay (I've earned over £200) however the company has gotten quite greedy as of late (the surveys are now too long for the money). Also getting to £40 in 10-30p steps is quite a task and requires a lot of dedication. You must login regularly and if you don't get to £40 you leave with nothing. OnePoll is a slow burner and one for only the most serious survey takers.

Now that's just great...

The key information you need to know is summarised below:

Typical Payment per survey: 10-50p
Typical Length; 1-5 mins
Payout: £40
Payments via Paypal or Bank Transfer (takes around 1 month to receive the money)
Have to login (rarely sent out by email)

The most annoying thing about OnePoll is the fact that you get screened out of so many surveys for the same reason. For example if you say your single you might get screened out and then the next day you are asked if you're single again which screens you out again. This wastes a lot of time and slows down the earning rate considerably. Some days you see £1 of surveys and waste 5 mins getting screened out of 60p of them.
Typical Surveys 

Refer a Friend

One way to boost your earnings is by referring a friend. You are paid once you initially refer a friend and then this payment is topped up as they pass various milestones. This does help you towards your £40 payout and referring near the end can tip you over.

Joins = 50p
Hits £20= £1
Hits £40 = £2.50
Total = £4.00 per person

However annoyingly you can only contact 10 people. If one of them does not join after getting an email you lost one of your 10 chances forever at getting a sign-up. That sucks.

OnePoll CashBack Review

To cut a long story short I generally would not advise that you bother with OnePoll cashback. The rates paid are almost always worse than Qudico and TopCashback. Using OnePoll cashback is just a way to earn less money than you could otherwise get. On average that is. If your not lazy the story is different...

Perhaps the rate might be higher occasionally so it is worth checking but I certainly would not make OnePoll your main cashback site. If you are really into Cashback do sign up and add it to the list you check - sometimes they are the best. The following example shows how important it is to shop around when it comes to cashback. Sometimes the differences can be extreme (sometimes it's the other way around but usually TCP is best).

Hotels.com at TopCashback
Hotels.com at OnePoll Cashback

On the other hand occasionally there are good offers unique to OnePoll cashback which are worth taking. Particularly the "easy money section". Occasionally you can get a little bit of money for signing up for other survey sites (I'm sure you were going to anyway) and taking other offers. Those who are very good at mathematics and have rock solid discipline can occasionally find advantage play opportunities in the gambling cashback offerings (not advised for 99% of people).

A Few offers worth looking into

What About OnePoll+?

OnePoll+ allows you to do longer surveys that pay much more. Typically 50p to around £3. However, like OnePoll Cashback, I don't think that it is worth bothering with. The dirty little secret here is that it is basically just a clone of the survey site Crowdology but with double the payout minimum (currently £8 at OnePoll+ against only £4 at Crowdology). Worse still OnePoll plus earnings do not get added towards the £40 total so you now have two separate minimums to get to before you get paid out for all your survey time.


If you are really into surveys add OnePoll to your list. They do pay and your total earnings will go up. However as far as survey sites go it is low down the list as many pay more for less. Most people joining will never manage to get to the £40 payout. If you are not willing to put in the hours don't bother joining.

We got there eventually

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Is Cash Flow One Word or Two?

This is an issue that I recently came across when writing up the finances for a report. I was in charge of discounted cash flows so I needed to figure out whether it was "cash flow" or "cashflow". There appeared to be no simple definitive answer so I decided to write one. My conclusion is:

Although both are used cash flow is much more commonly used and so should be used.  

Tellingly performing a Google search for "cashflow" gives results that all use "cash flow" with the exception of brand names. 

Results obtained from searching "cashflow". I'm logged into two Google accounts which is why I have to use incognito (before you start accusing me of anything)

Furthermore when I took a look at the annual reports of a few companies such as Drax Plc, Lancashire Holdings Ltd and Standard Chartered Plc they all use cash flow. Hence I would say that if you use cash flow you are in good company. 

I guess this is a matter of prescriptive (how it should be) vs descriptive grammar (how it is actually understood). If we take a descriptive approach its clear that cash flow is the one that is best used.  If you stick with "cash flow" in your reports you should be fine. If you are challenged on it just quote some of the references I've given you.