Saturday, 18 May 2013
Saturday, 2 March 2013
Has anyone else had a recent experience of Ofsted?
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Sunday, 24 February 2013
Sunday, 2 September 2012
No, Gove shouldn't have got involved in setting the bar for the grade criteria. He certainly shouldn't have changed the criteria during the academic year, effectively making it more difficult to achieve a grade B, for example, in August than it was to get the same grade for the same exam in January.
Yes, it is fairly obvious that he did those things in order to engineer a shift in exam policy and exam content towards the abolition of the current GCSE and A Level formats in favour of the eventual introduction of exams that are similar in content to the oft-lauded, so-called halcyon days of O Levels and their likes.
The recent debacle stinks and it is right and proper that Gove and his team are having to answer - or, more precisely, to expertly deflect - some tough questions.
However, all of that being said and understood, I cannot avoid being irked by the wailing response from many classroom teachers and head teachers o the outcome of Gove's meddling, namely that there has been the first recorded decrease in exam results nationally since the arrival of the current system more than two decades ago.
I realise that the change in criteria has messed with schools' predicted grades and other complicated, often unnecessary, number analyses. However, the angry reaction to the fall in performance is the polar opposite to the usual mumblings that greet the opening of large, brown envelopes during the summer: That exams are generally too easy nowadays and that something ought to be done to raise standards and to restore faith in this country's qualifications.
It is a fact that our exams are not challenging enough. This is only one among the many, serious problems that have plagued us for too many years. It is also a fact that, as I have said, something needs to change in order to bring about a renewed respect for the qualifications that our students are being awarded. So, while I disagree with Gove's tactics and while I sympathise with those students who have been treated unfairly, if the end result is a corpus of rigid, challenging and well-respected national exams at all levels - exams that students can be proud of having passed and that further education establishments and prospective employers can rely on as an indication of genuine, tested talent and future promise - then perhaps - perhaps - in this case the ends may well justify the means.
Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Saturday, 24 December 2011
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Saturday, 19 March 2011
When notified of this wonderful honour, I was asked to offer advice to anyone who is considering entering the world of education. I responded with the following pearls of wisdom:
"Don't do it! Seriously, unless you are absolutely determined to succeed as a teacher and you will let nothing stand in the way of the education of your students - rowdy kids, feckless parents, hopeless colleagues and mind-numbingly stupid mangers - then don't even think about becoming a teacher. If the only positive you can think of is enjoying long holdiays, then you are already doomed to fail."
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
Monday, 29 November 2010
It is a non-fiction book that tells the story of Charlie (not his real name), who spent a year travelling around England in a VW camper, working as a supply teacher in some of the country's most challenging state schools. What a brilliant idea! Why didn't I think of that?!
The book is immediately engaging. It is well-written and enjoyable and I found it very easy to relate to. Most teachers will identify with the students, schools and incidents that are mentioned. In fact, on several occasions I wondered aloud if Charlie might have been a former colleague of mine. Drugs, violence, profanity, poverty, disrespect and mismanagement, etc. All of the usual problems are included.
I liked it and I would highly recommend it.
Online Degree Programs
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers
Saturday, 6 November 2010
I am not in favour of the fact that she used actual photos and videos of, as well as quotes from, her students, even if she had permission to do so, as has been reported in some sections of the media. Also, criticising a system that had been heavily influenced, at least, by a Labour government for more than a decade in front of an audience of staunch Tories is very far from a difficult gig.
Having said all of that, however, I strongly agree with most of what she said, based as it was on ten years of teaching experience. Kids are unruly and subsequent sanctions are insufficient; exams have become much easier; and in general terms the "system is broken." In short, we definitely need to "glue our education system back together" because it is "in pieces." I know all of this to be true because I have witnessed it myself.
Katharine Birbalsingh came across as being a well-spoken, articulate and talented public speaker. Her opinions were considered and intelligent. I will not comment here on her current employment status because there seems to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding the situation. I will simply say that I respect her decision to speak out and I wish her well in her future endeavours.
Friday, 27 August 2010
The adults, for their part, will be hoping that the recently purchased uniforms still fit as they set about sorting out school runs, car pools and bus timetables. This country’s already overburdened roads will soon be even busier and, therefore, it seems appropriate to offer a timely reminder about the importance of road safety. It is an issue that I genuinely care about, which is why I support AXA Car Insurance’s “I Respect The Road” Campaign, geared towards bringing courtesy and respect back to our roads.
Many people are unaware that the number of fatalities amongst young people caused by road accidents is higher than deaths from other external causes, including those that receive much more publicity from the media. In 2008, 73 children aged 0 - 11 years were killed on Britain's roads. Another 1,436 were seriously injured. 2,222 people were killed on Britain’s roads in 2009, including 81 children. These horrifying figures only scratch the surface of the problem.
There is a need for all those involved with children to teach clear road safety messages effectively and consistently, working together to help children understand and manage risk.
It is hoped that this important initiative will raise awareness of the issue and reduce the death toll. If you would like to find out more information about the AXA Car Insurance Respect On The Road” campaign, click here for the website. You can also link to and “like” the Facebook fan page as well as look at relevant clips on You Tube.
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Monday, 2 August 2010
Pete is an example of this. He left one comment on the post Paper chase and two extremely rude comments on Peter Pan Week. For reasons unknown to me, he seems to have a strong dislike for teachers and he puts this opinion across by calling me a "fucking gormless, Graduate Failure, faggot." He then makes an unfounded challenge of my qualifications.
I was offended and angered by this, at first, but then I realised that Pete is nothing more than an ignorant, offensive moron. In short, he is a bit of a dickhead. I am sure that his comments would have had more of an impact if he had avoided homophobic content and had managed to spell the words correctly. For example, he tries to attack my education while using the word "dgeree."
Pete, if you insist on commenting on what I write here (thanks for being a regular reader, by the way), then I must insist that you get some manners and learn how to spell properly. Is that ok? Have I put that in easy language that you are able to access?
Monday, 26 July 2010
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
The hospital is really keen for families, schools and youth groups to get involved. If you would like to take part, their website provides fundraising packs and other resources.
Go on- get stuck in and help them go for the record while raising loads of dosh for a very worthwhile cause!!!!
Friday, 26 March 2010
Have you heard the one about the paper school? It's no joke.
The education system is awash with pieces of paper. We are drowning in it. On a daily basis, teachers and other staff are being forced to fill in a seemingly endless number of forms. Permission slips, late cards, homework diaries, appointments, agendas, meeting minutes, letters home, lesson plans, test papers, formative comments. The list goes on and on. The most prominent of them all is the non-stop focus on data analysis. Which students are on which grades? Why? Why not? There is a systemic obsession with targets, grades, assessments, progress, percentages, etc, all of which need to be written down. It stems from fear, blame, incompetence, bad judgement, bad management and lack of trust. It is supposed to fuel improved attainment but, in my experience, it does the opposite. Constant paperwork such as this eats at the clock, using up time that teachers do not have. I am not saying that these things are unimportant but they are not the most important.
Filling in forms, staring at numbers and analysing graphs will not improve student attainment. It will not improve teaching standards. Giving staff more time to prepare decent lessons should be the priority. This would lead to better teaching, better learning and better grades. If kids are to fulfil their potential, then their teachers need to be left alone to teach. This seems obvious but, unfortunately, does not reflect the current reality of what is happening in too many schools up and down the country. The focus needs to shift away from paperwork and towards quality lesson content and delivery. A wind of change is urgently needed before things blow beyond reach and out of control.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
Congratulations to everyone who made it through, especially the fourteen successful bloggers. The shortlist will be announced on Thursday 15th April. I will have my fingers crossed for the two anonymous public sector workers who are on the longlist and therefore still in with a shout of winning: PC Ellie Bloggs and Winston Smith. Good luck!
Monday, 22 March 2010
Joan takes the hot seat and is questioned over the pledges her party has made, including the pupil premium, class sizes and the Education Standards Authority. She faces questions from a panel of school staff, in a debate hosted by journalist Mike Baker.
The panel is made up of award winners from the field of education: Headteacher of the year Catherine Myers, primary teacher of the year Steve Mills, teaching assistant of the year Trish Gribble, and governor of the year Spyros Elia."
Baroness Walmsley answers a question posed by Mr Teacher, approximately thirteen minutes into the clip.
Monday, 15 March 2010
Venables and fellow murderer Robert Thompson abducted two year-old James Bulger from a shopping centre in Merseyside on 12th February 1993. The CCTV images of baby James being led away to his death, like the pictures of his killers, are instantly recognisable for British people above a certain age. James was senselessly tortured and the discovery of his half-naked, battered body on a railway line, halved by a train, sparked a manhunt that ended with the arrest and subsequent conviction in an adult court of Venables and Thompson, then aged ten. It was a crime that shocked the nation and there were calls from most quarters for the guilty pair to be locked up forever. However, this was not to be. Convicted of murder and sentenced to compulsory life sentences, they were freed at the first opportunity on life licences in 2001, aged 18, without having spent even one night in an adult prison.
The picture of Venables that has recently been in front of us once again is the same one that we first saw when his identity was revealed seventeen years ago. That is because two of the most notorious killers Britain has ever known were granted life-long anonymity on their release, which means that they are two of only four people who have ever been given this level of protection. The others are Mary Bell and Maxine Carr. Creating new identities and setting up new lives for Venables and Thompson, and their families, has cost millions of pounds of taxpayers' money. With the news that Venables has been sent to jail after breaching the terms of his parole, it has been strongly suggested that this money - much of which went towards rehabilitation programmes - has been wasted.
In addition to the outcry over Venables' apparently failed rehabilitation, lots has been said and written about how much, or indeed how little, information should be released into the public domain. I disagree with the public clamour for information. We do not need to know every detail of the current case. There is a big difference between curiosity and necessity. The same tabloids who are demanding to know exactly what he has done, and for his new identity to be revealed, would be outraged and equally critical if he were to be acquitted because of the impossibility of a fair trial. Bloodlust and vengeance, understandable in this instance, must not be allowed to outweigh the importance of a proper judicial process. I do believe, however, that James' parents Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger are entitled to know every detail about how their son died and about the two people who killed him. Certainly, they have a right to be kept fully informed about Venables' current situation. They deserve full disclosure. Current Justice Secretary Jack Straw - who has struggled to remember James' mother's name - and current Home Secretary Alan Johnson should be ashamed of their dithering and their lack of continuity over the issue. Their hopelessness is overshadowed only by the idiocy of children's commissioner Maggie Atkinson, who recently described James' death as "unpleasant." She should be sacked before she has the chance to resign.
She is not the only person who has been involved with, or who has commented on, this case who should be officially investigated for stupidity. Someone, or some persons, within the parole board are very much at fault. The revelations that Venables breached his licence conditions on several occasions by returning to Merseyside without authorisation, taking drugs and getting involved in public brawls and stabbings before finally being taken into custody for alleged child ponography charges, must lead to some level of formal inquiry. Why was he not immediately remanded in custody once he had taken the decision to breach his conditions? Why was he given several chances before his licence was revoked? Why were James Bulger's parents not notified immediately of his re-arrest? Also, it defies belief that he was prepared and able to access pornographic images of children while supposedly under close supervision. How could this have been allowed to happen? These are some of the serious questions that must be answered.
As for the allegation itself, it is of course shocking and serious. The murderous pair were never fully, properly questioned about the possibility that James' abduction and killing were sexually motivated. They reacted angrily and hysterically when this possibility was raised by the investigating officers. When James' body was discovered, his trousers, pants and socks had been removed - before he was beaten to death - and there were physical signs that suggested he was sexually abused. These facts were mentioned at the trial but have rarely been reported in detail in the media. In light of the most recent allegation against Venables, it is inconceivable that he should not be considered as a serious risk to children if re-released.
The suggestion that Venables could be re-released without charge and then given another new identity is as disgraceful as it is horrifying. In my opinion, he literally got away with murder in 1993 and, arguably, was rewarded for killing James Bulger. He spent eight years at Red Banks Children's Home, only thirteen miles from where his young victim lived with his family. In addition to structured rehab, private tuition, cookery lessons, trips to watch Manchester United and a holiday abroad, among other things, taxpayers' money paid for him to have a TV, a computer and cash gifts for birthdays and Xmas. After eight years of pampering - the likes of which neither he nor Thompson would have dared to dream about while still living with their dysfunctinal families prior to committing murder - he was released, as I have said, without having to endure any time in an adult jail. This was a mistake. Maybe if he had been sentenced to even a minimal amount of time in proper prison, the experience would have deterred him from committing further crimes? Instead, he was released into a world that he did not know and, it seems, where he was not properly supervised. Once again, this raises several unanswered questions.
Venables is no longer a ten year-old boy. He is a twenty-seven year old man. It has been suggested that he is a drug user and a heavy drinker with a violent temper. He is a convicted murderer and a suspected paedophile. He knew the broad consequences of breaching his licence conditions and, in spite of this, chose to do so. He made these decisions as an adult. Therefore, he must face the consequences and, if convicted of the alleged charges against him, should spend the rest of his life locked up in a cell, known to guards and fellow prisoners by his orignal name of Jon Venables.
Saturday, 13 March 2010
This was the headline and the opening paragraph on the education section of the BBC news website yesterday. Prompted, we are told, by the leaked identification in September 2009 of fifteen confirmed BNP members working as teachers, the government-commissioned review was carried out by a man named Maurice Smith. He concluded: "I do not believe that barring teachers or other members of the wider school workforce from membership of legitimate organisations which may promote racism is necessary at present." I am shocked and appalled by this statement, not least because it strongly suggests that hehas written the review while being fully aware of the BNP's intolerant agenda and the possibility that this could be allowed to infiltrate schools and therefore the impressionable minds of schoolchildren. The implications horrify me.
The first problem is that the BNP is a legally constituted political party. I am very much in favour of free speech and I believe that every member of a democratic society has the initial right to openly voice his/her beliefs without fear of persecution. However, if these beliefs advocate or encourage the persecution of other members of the same democratic society then that individual or group of individuals should forfeit their right to promote and practice these beliefs. In short, it is abhorrent that the odious Nick Griffin is at the helm of a legal, officially recognised political party and not, as should be the case, the gagged boss of a shunned, powerless mob. If banning current BNP members from teaching, or banning current teachers from joining the BNP, would currently lead to legal proceedings then there is clearly a systemic problem. The law needs to be changed in order to protect students and school staff from being subjected to the racist propaganda of a mindless minority. To suggest otherwise is to destroy the sense of community cohesion, the gel that holds many schools together.
The second problem is the idiocy of the Labour government's Education Secretary. It is damning and shameful that Ed Balls, who sought the review with the intention of preventing the promotion of racism in schools, accepted the findings without complaint. This absurd decision defies belief and, in a political system that professes to uphold personal responsibilty, his resignation should be forthcoming. Any lingering shred of trust that public sector education workers still had in him following the most recent announcements on pay has surely, finally disappeared. As a brilliantly written article on The Morning Star website points out: "When it comes to recommendations from statutory pay review bodies for public services, the government feels free to ignore as much as it wants, but, in the case of protecting children from the toxic growth of racism, it swallows the lot."
Griffin reacted to this gift from the government by saying: "Today is a good day for British democracy." He went on to make a comment that, on the surface, seems to be perfectly reasonable: "Teachers should... keep their politics strictly from the classroom." He is correct, of course. However, this does not mean that this despicable little man - who has described the country he lives in as "a multi-racial hell-hole" - has softened or in any way adjusted his racist views. It simply illustrates that he is perhaps less stupid than he used to be. Even he will have realised that the review's conclusions are favourable towards his modern-day nazi party and that another offensive quote from himself - such as "I want to see Britain become 99% genetically white" - would do more to hinder rather than help his fascist cause at a time when a former chief inspector of schools, Smith, has set a staggering precedent by giving the green light for teachers to admit to official BNP affiliation and, worse still, for BNP members to apply for teaching positions.
NASUWT General Secretary Christine Keats voiced her concerns at the review: "The idea that a person who signs up to membership of the BNP can simply leave these beliefs at the school gate and behave as a 'professional' when they walk into school is risible... The report is woefully inadequate." I agree completely with what she said. Smith's review is, at best, dangerously naive and he has opened up the very real possibility that legitimised fascists will be legally entitled to put themselves in a position to shape and to influence the thinking of children by promoting, for example, racial, ethnic and religious intolerance.
Schools cannot afford to adopt a neutral stance on this issue. We should be openly and actively ant-fascist. There needs to be a blanket ban on BNP members working in education, as there is for the police force and the prison service. No ifs, no buts, no nazi bastards in our schools.
Saturday, 6 March 2010
So, I am not surprised to hear that he is threatening to treat us with a "£2.5 billion education package" in the wake of a miraculous Lib Dem victory. Well, my answer would be thanks, but no thanks, because education does not need more money. It is awash with dosh. There are already enough piles of cash floating around school corridors and lots of it is being wasted, wasted on unnecessary tiers of so-called leaderhips teams being paid mind-boggling salaries to hinder rather than help their staff; technology from the realms of science-fiction stories for kids who can touch-type and beat the end of level baddie every time but who can hardly write their names with a pencil and a bit of paper; fancy new buildings with no walls and big, soft chairs to replace the old buildings that were in need of nothing more than a lick of paint and a little bit of respect; and of course too many teaching and non-teaching staff who are, quite frankly, rubbish at their jobs. It would be remiss of me, also, to get to the end of this post/rant without pointing out that zero-tolerance on disruptive, disrepectful, anti-social behaviour costs much less than two and a half billion punds. In fact, it costs nothing at all.
Having said all of that, if Mr Clegg has made cuts elsewhere and now has an urge to splurge the money burning a hole in his pocket on things that might help kids pass those pesky exams, then perhaps he could start by funding parenting classes for the jobless baby-makers who continue to take full advantage of the all-too-easy quids-for-kids system that is sucking the rest of us dry. You didn't go to the class but went to the matinee bingo instead? Fair enough, but no benefits money for you. Next. You went to the class but didn't bother using the techniques you learned so your brats are still a burden to the school? Well, that was your first and last chance to turn things around so no cash for you either. Ever. Problem solved. And it wouldn't have cost me 2.5 billion to set it up.
Friday, 5 March 2010
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
1. I am a good teacher because... I love to teach. I have a passion for my subject and for the job in general and believe that I am capable of enthusing the students in my classes.
2. If I weren’t a teacher, I would be... a failed writer, an unemployed actor, an infamous adventurer or a reasonably regular recipient of the local pub's employee of the month award.
3. My teaching style is... undeniably firm but fair. I am laid-back and like to use lots of humour when appropriate but do not tolerate bad manners and can raise my voice with the best of them.
4. My classroom is... truly brilliant. I have spent lots of time and money out of my own pocket to get it just right and believe it is the best room I have ever worked in. This is backed up by the students' appreciation of and resect for their surroundings.
5. My lesson plans are... neatly filed in my head and, when I can be bothered, scribbled on scraps of paper.
6. One of my teaching goals is... survival. I seem to be on a career-long tour of Britain's worst schools so getting to the end of each week without filling in an application form for a grammar school is a genuine achievement.
7. The toughest part of teaching is... being able to ignore the morons, the lazies, the lambs in charge of lions, the politics and the bullshit paperwork. Monday mornings also tend to be quite difficult.
8. The thing I love most about teaching is... Friday afternoon. My second favourite thing is watching students whom I have taught for a few years make decent progress in school, on their way to making good choices and beginning good lives. This makes it all seem worthwhile.
9. A common misconception about teaching is... that, when teachers are not on holiday, we work daily from 9 > 3, at best. This really, really winds me up.
10. The most important thing I’ve learned since I started teaching is... to stay clear of the bureaucrats and to ignore the staff and students who keep me down by choosing instead to work with the competent colleagues and the ambitious students in order to make a positive impact.
Monday, 1 March 2010
In addition to setting a terrible example to her herd by imposing upon others the cost of "raising" her children, this lazy cow foisted her ridiculous, selfish judgement onto them by damaging them for life with names that only an idiot could deem to be a good idea: Peppermint, Echo, Rogue, Frodo, Morteus, Artemis, Blackbird, Baudelaire and Voorhees.
Well, it seems that this moron is not alone and that, in fact, her baker's dozen may have got a better deal than many others. For example, spare a thought for Stan Still, Mary Christmas, Hazel Nutt and Carrie Oakey.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
Friday, 26 February 2010
What? You haven't clicked on the link yet? Why the hell not?! Didn't you get the bit about loads of free cash at the click of a button? Go on, give it a try you silly thing....