Friday, December 22, 2006

Sleighbells in the warm grass...

A Merry Christmas to you all. I'm off skiing until the 30th. (Although given the current state of the Alps we might well be fishing, playing tennis or walking through flower covered meadows)

Anyway, best wishes for the New Year too and may 2007 bring you all lots of laughs and good times.

Rest assured that I shall, on principle boycott any Snowman (whoops, Snowperson) building competition on the grounds that all the entrants are white.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My new hero

From our South Korean correspondant:

And the hand wringers think I'm harsh on the kids...

Monday, December 18, 2006

My new vocation

I definitely (sorry Lilly) fancy turning to a life of crime, especially if I can end up in front of Judge Chalk (No relation) who was referred to a couple of posts back.

Here, in his wisdom, he has given a lady who stole £5000 a fine of £500, some Community Service (which nobody ever does) and a suspended sentence. Who says crime doesn't pay?

'avin a fag.

I hate smoking but I rolled around laughing at the sheer cheek of this daft bat

Her comment of "I am not encouraging children to smoke" is sheer brilliance and I would immediately promote her to a School Management position.

This should teach them a lesson

Chief Inspector Wringer is known for his vocal support of controversial hardline policies such as making violent prisoners serve the first week of their sentence without full access to the internet and occasionally only providing second class stamps for them to write home with. In 2004 he was once again at the centre of a dispute when he refused to donate a Harrods Christmas hamper to everyone on a life sentence.

"Marks and Spencers 'Finest' range are quite good enough for them" He is reported to have said.

He spoke to Chalk News today:

"These tough new Christmas Card policies won't go down well with everybody, but we believe that murderers, drug barons and thieves love their fellow man just as much as you and I; well maybe not the murderers... but the others certainly do."

He declined to comment on allegations that some detainees in his station's holding cells had been forced to go without Hungarian goose down pillows.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'd have hung him....

Gerald Chalk is no relation to me I can assure you. It's good to see that strong judges like this one send a clear message to the young offender. In fact pretty much the same one we give them in school:

"Do that again Sonny and nothing much will happen to you"

That should teach him a lesson.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nutcase kids... They're everywhere.

Thanks to our correspondent in Sydney for this

It's good to see that our Antipodean colleagues have as many problems as we do. I can only hope that he enjoys his 'multicultural sensitivities' course as much as I did.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

No More Games...

Have just opened the door for 12 Dec and found...

A Walking Stick!

That's it. This calendar is even more bizarre than that Japanese one we got a few years back. I'm declaring Mossy the winner and bah humbug to Christmas.

Hoorah for The GTCE

I've finally received a reply from the GTCE. Here's my initial email:

Hi, my name is Frank Chalk and I do a Teaching blog at

I've recently submitted a petition to No. 10 in order to try and improve standards of discipline in schools. I taught for ten years so I saw exactly how bad things have become and now I'm trying to do something about it. Could you publicise this petition on your website please? (I tried sending this to 'General Enquiries' but no luck)
Many thanks
Frank Chalk

And the reply:

Dear Mr Chalk

I have made further enquiries concerning your petition and your request to place it on the GTC website.

We would not be able to promote your petition without first seeking the views of our Council. I am happy to draw it to their attention if you wish me to, but it is only fair to say that there are limitations on the ability of the GTC to support external campaigns.

This is not to deny the seriousness of the issue, but the GTC’s remit is to offer advice to the Secretary of State based on evidence, both from formal research and from the experience of practising teachers.

For example, pupil behaviour was third highest in the list of problems identified by teachers responding to our 2005 survey, representing 16 per cent of respondents. As you will be aware, it is also high on the list of concerns for newly qualified teachers. In response to this feedback, our Engage network, which is an online community for newly qualified and early career teachers, is working on the issue of behaviour for learning. Some of our Research of the Month features have tackled the issue too. Both Engage and Research of the Month can be accessed through our web site:

David Brooks Web Editor

If you feel in any way dissatisfied by the attitude of the GTCE, then do not hesitate to email them at

Oh and don't forget to pay your subscriptions on time. They are working hard for you.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Christmas Message from St. Thickchilds

Dear Parent/Guardian/Window licking Inbred,

Just to remind you that this year we break up on Friday 15th December for the Christmas holiday. After this time we have no desire to see or hear from your charmless offspring until Tuesday January 2nd. The caretaker has asked me to remind you that your foul mouthed child should be kept away from the school grounds during this time. (He would like to know why this is so difficult when you seem to be able to manage it perfectly well during the term)

Before my telephone starts ringing to herald an earful of your witless prattle, I am well aware that the 15th is quite early to begin celebrating Christmas, but since you have had your awful glowing Santas up since mid October, you have no cause to complain. Frankly we are all heartily sick of your child demanding to be entertained with traditional Christmas activities (Mindless scribbling whilst watching violent DVDs) in lessons, rather than attempting what they laughingly refer to as ‘work.’

Many thanks to those of you who attended the Carol Concert last week. If any reader should know the current whereabouts of the computer and printer which disappeared from my office on that same night, perhaps you would be good enough to inform me. If the parent who decided to spraypaint ‘Mr. Morris is a qweer’ on the wall would like to get in touch, we do have a few school dictionaries left.

The Prize draw in last months ‘Quarterwit’ (a lever to open a car lock, should you have ‘lost’ the key) was won by Ryan, formerly of Year 11; now unfortunately behind bars. We will therefore hold the draw again next month.

Congratulations to Tamsin Sprouthead who has successfully completed her first term at Downtown University, where she is pursuing a Degree in Celebrity Studies. We also offer commiserations to Chavney whose Lottery winning parents bought her a swimming pool to celebrate her GCSE success (in Drama) only to have it filled in by the Council due to an unfortunate lack of planning permission.

Finally, let us not forget as you go about your alcohol fuelled mayhem; that Christmas is a time for giving as well as receiving. By this I do not mean that you should give a mouthful of foul abuse to the telephone receptionist when you receive your benefit cheque a day late; but rather… oh never mind.

Yours Faithfully
Mr Morris

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dec 9th

And what do we have behind the door?...
A Christmas Tree!

Mossy from Wakefield now has three points.

Thanks to Mr Hood for mentioning our petition on his blog.

I've emailed the TES editor to ask if they will help. Still waiting for the GTCE to make up their mind. (How did we ever manage without them?)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dec 8th

I opened today's door and saw...

2 Christmas stockings, so no winners I'm afraid. Mossy keeps his lead.

We're now up to 200 signings on the petition. Hurrah! Keep spreading the word.

I'm thinking of running for Parliament on a 'Hang a Hoodie' manifesto.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dec 7th Result

Dec 7th Result: 3 Candles!

'Mossy from Wakefield' moves into the lead with a total of two points.

The GTCE are still trying to decide whether to help the petition or not.

Thanks to PC. Bloggs for the petition link on her blog

Sorry I've not been doing more engaging posts for a while but I have been rather busy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dec 6th

Rate My Teachers have emailed me to say that they have put up a link to the petition, a discussion on their forum and wish us the very best of luck. The GTCE have emailed me back to say that they are considering what to do.

Today's result: two carrots (pesumably for the reindeer). A tricky one so no winners today.

172 signatures

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dec 5th Result

Dec 5th Result: a fairy on top of a tree.

Mossy from Wakefield, you are a winner!

Still no reply from GTCE re. petition, but thanks to the 158 of you that have signed so far.

Dec 5th

Received an email back from the GTCE and guess what they said?

"We are not able to respond to you on any specific queries sent to this inbox"

Well silly me, sending it to 'General Enquiries'

Will try again using another one. Maybe the 'Late Subscriptions Payment' address might get more notice.

The GTCE: "Serving Teachers"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dec 4th

A Christmas Pudding! Well done Ivy, one point to you.

Thanks to Lilyofthefield for suggesting we contact the GTCE about the petition. I've emailed them. (I was about to put up a post absolutely slating them but perhaps I'd better postpone it for now...)

Any more good ideas are of course, welcome.

Oh thanks to 'Anonymous' who sorted out a banner which can be pasted on to blogs. I'm so daft I deleted the message, thinking it was just an advert for another device to increase the size of my whatsit. (The blog is getting bombarded with these at the moment)

Here's the link.

126 signatures so far.

The following bloggers have put up a link to our petition:
Stan Still

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Spread the word...

I've now got a link to the petition on the right hand side of my page under the book adverts. Here's the code for it.

Feel free to send it to anyone who does a blog, or webpage or has the ear of Tony Blair. Try the newspapers or the TES (not sure how much they like me though)

I've also emailed the Ratemyteachers site suggesting that they might improve their image by putting a link up. You never know, they might go for it. (Thanks for that suggestion, 'Whacko')

There's been some debate about the wording of the petition. To be honest, I don't really think it's that important. My aim is simply to draw attention to the scale of the discipline problems we face in State Schools (of which the Government is in denial and the public are largely unaware.) We can worry about the details later.

This isn't a staff meeting so let's not endlessly debate. Let's just get on with it and do what we can.

ps. A robin on the calendar today! One point to HPB.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dec 2nd Result

Dec 2nd Result: A Turkey (No winners)

The BBC reported today that shops up and down the Country were selling out of Advent calendars as shrewd shoppers attempted to track down Mr Chalk's. Till worker Debbie from Koshushko's Department store, Downtown spoke to our reporter after a hectic day:

"People were just buying the calendars, ripping them open and throwing them away when they saw what was behind the first door"

A plea to all readers: don't let the excitement go to your heads. Don't do anything irresponsible that you might regret in the future. Remember, it's only a game.

ps 62 signatures on our petition in the first 24 hours

Dec 2

39 signatures so far on the petition. Isolated incidents of rioting in towns and cities across the UK last night as disappointed Advent Guessers vented their frustrations.

I'm going for a Snowman (sorry Snowperson) today. Results out around six pm

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dec 1 Result

Dec 1 Result:

A sprig of Holly.

One point to El Tel, but it's still early days and there's everything to play for!

ps My petition has been approved! Click on the link here and sign it. Then get everybody you know, to do the same. If anyone knows anybody in the media then see what they can do to publicise it further.

Let's show the useless gits in charge of education what we think of them and maybe, just maybe something will happen.

The Advent Calendar Game

For several weeks now, Mrs. Chalk and I have been keenly looking forward to the start of the hedonistic frenzy that we indulge in at this time of year. It is a simple game, but it gives us much pleasure (amid the odd accusation of cheating and occasional furious argument) and this year we would like to invite readers to join in the fun.

It's called "Who's behind the door?" and consists of trying to guess what lies behind today's door on our Advent calendar.

The calendar is opened each weekday on Mrs Chalk's return from work, by which time the atmosphere in Chalk Mansions has reached fever pitch.

Feel free to enter your guess each day in the comments box. The person with the most correct answers will receive a prize. Only one guess per player is allowed.

Tips: the calendar is randomly sourced each year by Mrs Chalk's mother. You tend to get a feel for its style after a few goes. Some have more of a religious theme than others. We still reminisce about the Japanese one of 2003.

Remember, you can't win if you're not in! Enter your guess for Dec 1st now.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ventriloquism for Dummies

A spokesman for the National Union of Ventriloquists announced today that performers will no longer refer to their work partners as ' dummies' in order to avoid any possibility of causing them offence.

From now on they will be known as 'People of Wood'

ps I'm still waiting for my petition to be reconsidered.
pps This new lot of spammers seem really bizarre. They tend to blitz me, then stop after a few days. I'll remove the ones I can find.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Steve Pope Properties, Sheffield

Steve Pope is the best Sheffield Landlord that we have encountered, Friendly, efficient and easy to deal with. He rents quality houses in Crookes, Sheffield to students from the University. He is one of the few landlords recommended by the University Housing department.

Click on the link to view his properties. You will not be disappointed

Steve Pope Properties


My petition was rejected because I included my blog address in the bit where it asked for more background details.

However I have resubmitted it with the offending item removed and will let you know if it gets past the censors.

I'm beginning to understand how Guy Fawkes felt...

It's Christmas!

Whilst we wait with bated breath for my petition to appear, I would like to offer a small prize to whoever reports the first 'Christmas themed' lesson.

Decorations have been up for some time now in the slums and early sightings have confirmed that they will exceed all previous records in bad taste, so we need to get in on the action quickly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Petition (2)

Thanks for your comments, I'll go with Peter's version:

'To publicly acknowledge that there is a massive discipline problem in many State Schools and to give teachers and Headteachers the necessary powers to enforce discipline and to deal effectively with problem pupils and their parents.'

I'll try and get this on the petition site today. As several posters have pointed out, there's no guarantee that anybody will take the slightest notice of our efforts. However this is never an excuse for inaction so let's just do it anyway.

'Anonymous' came a close second with a proposal to make naughty children into dog food.

Stop Press: After sending off my petition and not receiving the necessary confirmation email (No idea why you should need one) I've just read the bit on the side of the site which explains that it doesn't work with Hotmail. My petition has now vanished off their site. This sums up the Government far better than my petition did.

Will try to set up a new email address later when my temper cools.

Stop Press 2: Have sent off petition again and it is 'awaiting approval'

Will let you know when we can all go and sign it

Sunday, November 26, 2006


For centuries people have handed petitions to our Government with varying degrees of success. Now a website has been set up here and I suggest that we make the most of it.

What is the single most important improvement that you would like in the State Education System?

Mine would be to improve discipline in schools. Sort that out and everything else neatly follows in my opinion. In fact this is the petition I propose:

'To publicly acknowledge that there is a massive discipline problem in many State Schools and to give teachers and Headteachers the necessary powers to deal with problem pupils and their parents.'

Now let's hear what you the readers think and between us we will put one together over the next few days. Let's keep it short and simple, then we try to get as mant people to sign it (via the website) as possible.

I can't promise that we will have any success, but I can guarantee that we won't if we do not try to do something. Education in many State Schools is nothing more than a joke and we certainly owe it to the kids to try to force an improvement.

So let's have your suggestions...

Thursday, November 23, 2006


If we accept that the main purpose of Education is to prepare children for later life, then Coursework, like many other things we do at school, gives them a completely unrealistic impression.

In any job; whether it be accountant, plumber or computer programmer, you get told to do something and it has to be done correctly first time. If there is an agreed deadline then penalties are incurred for not meeting it.

For example if you come to fix my boiler, but leave me shivering in the depths of winter then you will not get paid. If you build me a garden wall and it is not straight then you will have to do it again at much inconvenience and financial loss to yourself. If you are a solicitor and you have not prepared the necessary documents for a company merger due to take place tomorrow morning then you will have to stay in the office and finish them even if it takes all night.

With coursework however, the best strategy is to submit a half hearted attempt, let your teacher mark it and then (if you are not a teacher you might find this next bit hard to believe) hand it back to you with suggestions for how you could improve it. You then resubmit it and in many schools the same thing happens again. Do not worry if it is late or you simply cannot be bothered; your teacher will endlessly remind you, chase you and beg you to hand it in. You may even be given time off from lessons to finish it. No penalties will be incurred for your poor initial effort or lack of basic timekeeping.

Like so much of what we do in school; this is so far removed from what will actually be required of the kids in later life, that it is comical. Sadly it's also a complete waste of the teacher's time and any profession with a decent union (more on the farce that is the motley collection of Teaching Unions later) would have put a stop to it long ago.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

An Appeal

Today, Christians all over the World celebrate the feast of St. Dweezil, Patron Saint of Children with Silly Names.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask all new parents to pause with me for a couple of minutes at noon and spend the time in silent contemplation.

Then name your child Mike, Andy or Jane rather than Gandalf, Jabba or Mayday.

Many Thanks
Rev. Frank Chalk

Monday, November 20, 2006

Rate My Teacher Again

Have a look at this:

If I had ever been rated on this site I am quite sure that I would have set a new record for the worst ever score. Mostly I taught my subject using the simple method I knew to work- ie explain something, then get the kids to do lots of examples. I tried to get them to work quietly and sit in neat rows where they were told to. (And I often failed miserably as you can see in my book)

Most education experts would wring their hands in horror at all this. I never attempted to make a martyr of myself by working endlessly, as I had lots of outside interests and I was never overly friendly with the pupils. I reckon the site would have given me a special award as 'Britain's Worst Teacher.'

What shocks me about this article is that she was actually bothered about her rating on a site designed for children's amusement. It seems that nowadays, popularity with the pupils is an important aim for many young teachers. I hope we're not just attracting the neurotic and those with no self confidence.

Previous post about this site here and here

Friday, November 17, 2006


This was sent to me whilst I was away by a teacher who occasionally regales me with stories from his school. He asks to be referred to as 'Genghis'

It's an email he sent to colleagues a few days ago:

Just thought I’d share this one with you: During p5 today, as I was walking back to my room from the upstairs photocopier, I saw **** ******* urinating in a corner of the corridor outside the Music rooms. **** ******** was with him and they were both quite unabashed by my presence. So much so, in fact, that **** calmly finished what he was doing, zipped up and they both walked off, laughing hysterically and leaving a large puddle of urine on the floor behind them. I find I am unable to add anything to this.

All the best

I can't think of much to add to this either, and obviously I can't promise you that it is true. I suspect that it probably is; as actually it's no more bizarre than dozens of other stories I regularly receive.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Davy Jones' Locker

Sorry about the lack of posts recently, I've been on a dive trip to the Red Sea.

I always rate airports by how many carvings of non indigenous animals are for sale in the Souvenir/junk shop. Marsa Alam scores a '3' (elephant, giraffe and penguin) Connoisseurs of tat will find much to admire whilst waiting for their plane.

Ahmed the cleaner/handyman, might not know how to fix a shower but did show me how to make a crocodile from six towels, a bedspread and two bottle tops. You can see his work below. (Try it and see if you can keep your drongo set amused)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Drama and Film Studies

I can't believe that some people think Drama is a Mickey Mouse subject. I wish we'd had more of it when I was at school...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Police in Schools

More than 400 schools now have their own Police Officer either based at the school or on call. We used to have one and he was great. He knew many of the kids' families (in a professional capacity) and provided our pupils with the only positive impression of the Police that they had ever had. Usually their encounters with the law involved one or more of their 'parents' being dragged away whilst screaming, swearing and fighting with a current lover, uncle, neighbour or both.

From my point of view (although sadly not all of the staff) he was useful for two other reasons:

1) He had the power to search pupils whom we suspected of carrying weapons or drugs. Obviously some would be found not to be, as I am not Sherlock Holmes. Their 'parents' would invariably complain and make threats involving solicitors, lawyers and other words that they could not spell.

2) He had powers of arrest. He very rarely used these but the sight of him frog marching Shane out of school is one that stuck in many pupils' minds.

However the funding ran out and he was withdrawn.

Let's see what the experts have to say for our entertainment:

Shauneen Lambe, director of 'Just for Kids Law' is outraged that a van full of police arrived to arrest a 15 year old boy. (Doesn't say what he'd done or if he was carrying a weapon) Given the pitiful list of approved restraint methods that the Police are allowed to use, I would have sent a coachload. She is concerned that these criminals will find it harder to get a job than their honest counterparts. Hmm...

Not to be outdone, the Time Educational Supplement is shocked to find that a 12 year old was arrested for stealing a mobile phone. Maybe they don't think that stealing is a criminal act any more.

There is a genuine concern amongst those whose job it is to be permanently concerned; that misbehaviour which would once have been dealt with by the school is now ending up in court. This is simply because we no longer deal with it.

There is also a concern that we are criminalising young people. I would say that they are criminalising themselves by committing crimes but then what do I know?

Police in schools. We shouldn't need them but we certainly do in a lot of places.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I'm gonna make you a star!

This is probably something you wouldn't want to happen to you, nor is this. They neatly illustrate what is certain to be the next big problem in teaching.

Type in 'Teacher' on Youtube and you will be amazed (hopefully) to find that there are about 13 000 videos. Some show teachers being beaten up, some show teachers purportedly drunk, losing their temper or doing the sort of things that people do. Others just show teachers teaching and some are probably faked.

This has all the signs of a future nightmare. Cameras on phones are constantly improving and becoming ever cheaper. It's very easy to post stuff on Youtube but virtually impossible for the subject to know if they are on there.

Requesting that material be removed should be fairly straightforward (especially now that they have been bought by Google) but if you are unaware of its existence then you will only find out that you are a film star long after your entire school has; maybe when someone kindly mentions it at Parents Evening for instance.

Any school that doesn't at least try to ban mobiles is utterly mad and has only themselves to blame.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Book Review

There was a review of three teaching books in the Times yesterday (Sat Oct 28th), one of which was mine. The reviewer described it as 'vituperative'! Far from dictionaries or the internet, I spent the whole day in blissful ignorance of whether this was good or bad.

You can now read it here

I have no idea what 'narrative drive' means either, but apparently I have less than one of the other authors. Mrs. Chalk believes it is due to lack of fibre in my diet so I have bought one of those new fangled breakfast cereals and will keep you informed of the results.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Half Term

I'd like to wish all those readers who are teachers an enjoyable Half Term, as I won't be posting until Monday 30th October. If you've not got a tonne of marking to do, then why not relax with a copy of my book (or work yourself up into a fit of righteous indignation)

If you are one of the Conspiracy Theorists who believe that David Copperfield and I are the same person, then I'd advise you to buy both my books just to make sure.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

'Veilure' Is Not An Option.

After reading this, I immediately ordered Mrs. Chalk to cover up in preparation for work tomorrow and am rubbing my hands with glee at the prospect of an £1100 payout. Hoorah!

I would also like it noted that I was the first to refer to this debacle as the 'Veils for Cash' scandal.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Non Uniform Day

Dear Parent/Guardian/Dreg of Society

On Friday October 20th we will be holding a 'Non Uniform Day' in order to raise money for the new School Burgervan (in partnership with Koshushko's Fast Food) To allow your child to attend school without its uniform, you should ensure that they contribute 50 pence to their form teacher before this important day. Please do not claim that this is too much money as we all know that it is but a tiny fraction of your weekly expenditure on illegally imported cigarettes and alcohol.

Those of you who do not have the faintest clue what our uniform consists of should consult the School Handbook. No doubt you will have lost this valuable booklet that we provided at great expense, but try looking for it under that vast glowing rectangle that you worship in the corner of your living room. If having found the Handbook you are still unable to decipher it, then frankly we give up.

Those of you whose offspring pay no attention whatsoever to our regulations will be glad to hear that in accordance with the School's general policy on rule infringements; no sanction will be applied to any pupil who does not hand over the money.

Last year, the majority of parents allowed their daughters to come to school dressed as prostitutes. Boys should dress as Rap stars and spend the day speaking as usual with a bizarre Los Angeles accent. As it is 'Non Uniform Day' there is a tradition for standards of behaviour to be even lower than usual. Just about anything will be tolerated in the name of a good cause.

And a Good Cause it is indeed! We take this opprtunity to announce that the contract for the future provision of school meals has been awarded to local favourites Koshushko's Fast Food Emporium. As an example of their gourmet cuisine, they do a partly organic deep fried pizza with free range chips and a choice of brightly coloured drink for only £3.50

Please fill in the form below so that we can estimate demand.

My foulmouthed child will be:

a)A proud guest of Koshushko's Food Emporium

b)Queueing at the new school burgervan

c)Roaming the streets engaging in petty acts of vandalism.

Yours Sincerely

Mr. Morris
Headmaster, St. Thickchilds School (Sponsored by Koshushko's Fast Foods)

Monday, October 16, 2006

In the News

The Police have far more good bloggers than any other profession. Along with many other things, I do not know why this is so.

Anyway, thanks to PC Bloggs (who writes at for pointing out the article below:

I'm sure that there will be more to this story than meets the eye (just like Shanni Naylor a few months back, who turned out not to have been quite the angel that the Press initially portrayed her as)

However if no violent incident took place; then by involving the police, the school has certainly managed to make themselves appear ridiculous. This was the same borough where a few months ago a ten year old was brought to the courts after being reported by the Headmaster for 'using racist language in the playground'

The danger with all this is that the public will start to think of teachers as pc obsessed lunatics, not to be taken seriously. We seem to be ignoring the serious stuff and obsessing about the trivia.

Here's the classroom assistant Aisha Asmi who's been sacked for being utterly incomprehensible.

When she was interviewed (by a man) for the job, she 'forgot' to wear this highly important veil. How delighted I am that my taxes will be paying for her to take the school to an Employment Tribunal.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wasting Police Time

Just a quick post to let you know that David Copperfield's book 'Wasting Police Time' is out today. If you like my book you'll like his. Indeed, he might add that you will like his book even if you can't stand mine.

You can get it through the link on my blog, or in your nearest bookshop.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Good Man

This was sent into me by the parent of a pupil at the school concerned. Cut and paste it into your browser as it is a long link which causes prob;ems and I don't know hoe to'wrap' it yet. Many thanks to Liam for taking the trouble to write in and tell me how to rescue my sidebar.

Mr. Hoare has acted beyond his jurisdiction and interfered in the lives of his pupils outside the school gates. According to a barrister I spoke to; he will almost certainly be overturned if the pupils' parents decide to take the school to court, so it could turn out to be a very rash action.

However, in my opinion he has done something that few are brave enough to do. He has taken a stand for what he believes to be right and acted accordingly. He could have taken the easy way out and simply ignored what they had done and minded his own business, but he did not. He actually did something himself.

He gets my applause for what it's worth. I only wish the Headmaster at my school had been more like him.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The Times Educational Supplement (TES) website is the largest UK teachers website and it has a forum which is extremely popular. Type "Teaching Forum" into Google and this is the top UK result

It has over 150 000 members and between 4 and 7000 posts daily. I spent a couple of hours skimming through it last week and although some of the posters are obviously highly articulate and there is much high quality debate, logical argument and intelligent comment, I couldn't help but feel sad at the large number of personal attacks, mud slinging and mindless insults between posters, most of whom are presumably teachers.

Like it or not; this is the image of us that the outside world sees and can freely access. We should stop and think about this.

The phrase "Don't hang out your dirty washing in public" is more relevant today than ever. Anything on the internet can be saved, stored and referred to indefinitely- it doesn't just go away.

I don't moderate comments to my blog and I've been amazed at the quality of those that I've received. Thanks for this.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

'Behind the Times'

Several readers have sent in news items recently, so I'll try to do a regular News post. 'Behind the Times' seemed an apt title as they are often a week old. Please keep on emailing them to me.

First of all Olive Rack (who gets a mention in my book) has been found not guilty. Her case is a tremendous example of modern madness and should put anybody off running a nursery.

Thanks to Mick J for this story about a teacher who probably won't be giving up any more of his time to take kids out on Duke of Edinburgh trips. I had to read it a couple of times before I could work out what he'd actually done.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Don't Abuse My Name!

You can abuse my name all you like, but this post is actually about the excellent campaign by Sec Ed to give teachers accused of all manner of things the right to anonymity in the press. (Just like their accuser usually has)

At the moment pupils can feel free to make up any accusation they wish; knowing full well that the teacher will be thoroughly investigated, hounded by the local press and suspended from their job whilst enquiries take place. There have been cases of teachers having their cars damaged, houses daubed with paint and threats made against them and their families by the local halfwitted vigilante group.

When the whole thing is found to be completely untrue, there is no comeback on the pupil. (And let's face it, 99% of these stories turn out to be absolute rubbish.) The teacher concerned is left with the worry of never knowing just what has been recorded about them and kept on file even when they have been shown to be innocent.

The current situation is an open invitation to disgruntled, bored, troublemaking pupils or ex pupils to seek revenge on any teacher they dislike. (ie the good ones)

Download their A4 poster from the site above and stick it on your noticeboard, preferably on top of the latest idea from SMT.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's Not The Critic Who Counts...

The quote below is one of my favourites. It's part of a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave on citizenship at the University of Paris in 1910.

'It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.'

Theodore Roosevelt 1910

I'm sure that they had speech writers even then, but somehow I can't quite imagine Tony coming out with anything like that...

Once when some bangle wearing Advisor from the LEA came to talk to us for an hour about the latest methods for wasting time in the classroom; I pinned up a copy on the wall just behind where she stood. The irony escaped her, but it entertained one or two in the audience.

Mind you, I think my old English teacher might have had something to say about the length of his second sentence...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Giant Sandwich (only less pleasant)

If you think of Education as a sandwich (for no good reason) then Secondary Education is the filling.

As all my experience is in Secondary, I am keen to hear more about the bread:

Primary (where they don't seem to learn the basics i.e. how to read, write, sit still and listen without talking or making animal noises) and Further Education (where it seems they go on to study daytime TV)

If I had a pound for every time a teacher asked me the immortal question:

"What the Hell are they doing with them in Primary School?"


"What on Earth are they going to do when they leave here?"

Then I would have enough to buy you all a sandwich.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Chalk's Fourth Law

Chalk’s Fourth Law of Teaching:

"No situation is ever resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved."

Eg. Kid a hits Kid b

A trivial punishment (eg. a day's exclusion so that they can relax at home, secure in the knowledge that no record of this will ever be kept or passed onto a prospective employer) is given to Brat a whose Parent c comes racing up to school (daytime TV permitting) to complain about long history of Wretch b bullying Wretch a

Dreadful Child b is then punished also, perhaps with a detention which they need feel no obligation to attend, followed rapidly by phone call from their Parent d in a rage because of Future Prison Inmate b receiving the same punishment as a when they 'weren’t doing nothing wrong.'

Lying Witnesses e,f,g and h are then interviewed by Head of Year who wearily listens to four conflicting stories and concludes rightly that no sense whatsoever can be made of the whole incident and instructs both parties to be nice to each other in the future. No further action taken.

Next day: Horror b punches Horror a and the next episode of this sorry saga begins.

Student Houses in Sheffield

Finding a decent Student House can be an absolute nightmare. Landlords can be difficult to deal with and slow to get things fixed.

Steve Pope Properties are a breath of fresh air for any student looking for a property in Sheffield. Clean, well maintained houses in Crookes which are close to the University. He lives locally and is very friendly and efficient. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend him.

Click on the link above to view his website and arrange a viewing

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Don't Make Me Go Back In There Again, Please!

I've got some more radio interviews coming up over the next few weeks. To be honest, I find them quite difficult. You sit in a little office wearing a pair of enormous headphones and there's a microphone on the desk in front of you. All of a sudden you hear a voice in your ears saying "Can you hear me Frank?" Followed by the stomach churning "You're on after the next record!"

It's just like making an international phone call used to be. When you speak, everything goes dead, then you hear a ghostly echo of your own voice a split second later. It's very disconcerting and I find myself wanting to say "Hello? Hello? Are you still there?"

As it's live, you've got to try not to keep saying "er, um...dunno" or just trailing off. You can't pick up any of the visual clues which normally help keep a conversation flowing. I have a bad habit of fiddling with things if I'm nervous; which almost led to disaster on a previous interview when I accidently pulled out the microphone jack plug, causing a huge burst of static.

Two minutes after it's over, you think of all the clever and witty replies you could have said and finally you realise that you forgot to mention the book!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Radio Ga-Ga

If anyone listened to me wittering on Radio Manchester this morning, could you tell me if they managed to edit out the enormous popping noise when I absentmindedly flicked the microphone?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Letter to Alan Johnson (Education Secretary)

Sorry I've not been posting for a few days, I had a few problems with my modem which exceeded my meagre technical abilities. Hopefully all is now ok. I'm going to send the following letter once you've told me what you think:

Dear Mr Johnson

You’ve been sent a copy of my book, so has Tony. Neither of you has bothered to comment or reply. Let me give you a further example of what I am complaining about.

A good friend of mine has a Year 7 class with 42% having Special Needs. Several can barely read a sentence, others cannot listen for more than a few seconds without shouting out or making stupid noises. Many of the group cannot sit still, most have no idea how to follow simple instructions either verbal or written on the board, as they have never been made to do so in Primary School. In short, it is bedlam. The school has no effective discipline policy and no effective leaders.

In this same class is a girl who today asked a probing question about a topic that will not be covered for two more years. Her ability is way beyond the rest of the class. There are three others who are also well above average.

Today one of the loonies (my words not hers) stormed out of the room after assaulting another member of the class. This is not the first such incident.

This teacher is renowned as being excellent. She is honest enough to admit that she simply cannot effectively teach such a wide range of ability especially with the huge behaviour problems that are also present. She despairs at this situation (i.e. no discipline and no setting by ability) that is forced upon her and feels that the majority of pupils in the class are being let down. The school does not set in years 7 or 8 and the other classes are similar.

She explained to me that she felt a great sadness that she was simply unable to do her job and is considering moving to the Private Sector, where in her own words:

"At least I will be able to teach rather than just attempt crowd control, which is all I do here".

You are directly responsible for Education in Great Britain. Your Government has been in power for 9 years. Please tick whichever box below that you honestly believe corresponds best to its performance in this area:


If there is any doubt as to the authenticity of the above example I shall be pleased to provide you with the exact details. I would also be prepared to forward you over a hundred emails I have received (after obtaining the senders' permission) detailing similar cases.

Any chance of a reply either to my email or to this site?

Frank Chalk

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Alan Johnson

The Education Secretary Alan Johnson (just what exactly does he know about education?) has announced that he is 'seriously considering' raising the school leaving age from 16 to 18 as there are too many kids leaving school unable to read, write or do simple sums.

Unfortunately Ashley, Dwayne and Leroy could stay at school until they were drawing old age pensions and they would still be unable to master these skills. This is because they do not want to learn such boring things and we have absolutely no means of making them do so.

His other proposal is to have schools opening on Saturday mornings. I can just imagine how the teachers will scramble to get into school for an extra three hours of mayhem with Ryan and Shane.

Forget these whacky ideas Alan. All we need is the power to discipline Nathan, Shazney and their awful parents.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Inspector Gadget

The excellent Police blogger 'Inspector Gadget' who can be relied upon to keep us informed as to why our streets are not safe at night (or during the day in many cases) has been 'outed.'

Either somebody has figured out who he is from a posting or more worryingly for the rest of us, his computer has been hacked into. He is being interviewed 'informally' on Tuesday.

Currently, a handful of blogs in the UK are exposing serious flaws in the Police, the NHS and State Education. They are hitting a raw nerve with those higher up who have always had the opportunity to say something or more importantly; actually do something, but have simply kept quiet and followed the official line. These people would much rather the reality was kept safely hidden away.

Inspector Gadget is the first to be found out and it will be very interesting to see what the outcome is.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

After School Clubs

The Government wants all schools to offer activities between 8 am and 6pm by 2010. (Presumably they assume they will still be in power then)

The main objections seem to be:

1) Children spending too much time at school/ missing out on home life.

2) Who is going to do the supervising and plan the activities? How much will they be paid? Will teachers be bullied into doing them?

3) Where's the money?

My opinion on these points is as follows:

1) This argument assumes that all kids have an idyllic after school life of climbing trees, building dens in the woods or reading and making things out of meccano.

Unfortunately, the after school reality for many kids involves climbing through other people's windows and building drugs dens in the woods; reading their Asbos and making decommissioned pistols fire again. It would be a very good idea to provide something exciting and legal for them to do after school. It will all hinge on what's offered, which brings us to the second point.

2) Teachers will want to be paid at their normal rate for doing these clubs and quite right too. Qualified instructors for interesting activities are also expensive, so what's left? Cover supervisors? Teaching Assistants? If we can't offer the kids something exciting then they won't come. Anyone who lets themselves be bullied into helping out needs to join us vertebrates.

3) Let's do some rough sums. 8 am till 6pm is roughly 3 and a half hours extra per day. Cost of employing someone is at least 50% above their pay, so lets say £15 per hour which makes about £50 per day for each person. 15 million kids need at least 500 000 staff so that gives us a wage bill of £25 million per day for 200 shool days per year = 5 billion quid.

The Government has budgeted £600 million between now an 2010 with no details of what happens after that. Oh dear... The kids will have to pay then, (and quite a bit too) which will be ok for some but will definitely stop those who would benefit most from going (their parents would rather invest the money in strong lager)

So to sum up- great idea; where's the details of how it works?

Hang on haven't we been here before?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Other Work Blogs

There are three areas of our society that cause great concern for many people at the moment

Law and Order

If you are interested in these topics, then you can spend your money on a newspaper and read articles by journalists with no experience of the above professions and absolutely no guarantee that what they have vaguely researched (or overheard in the pub) bears the slightest resemblance to the truth. If you do not agree with what you read then you can write a letter to the paper and never hear any more.

Alternatively you can check out the views of those who have worked in these areas and equally importantly, you can comment on our posts and tell us if you think we are talking rubbish.

Law and Order is a thing of the past in many parts of the UK and who better than PC David Copperfield to bring us news of the latest plans to punish the law abiding citizens whilst ensuring that criminals are kept safe on the streets.

Healthcare is the third great fiasco and Dr Crippen can be relied on to keep us up to date with the latest medical madness. Do email him if you are feeling at all unwell, or if you have had too much to drink and require an ambulance to take you home.

I like to think of us standing together, defending the truth against those who would like to keep it hidden. We are like the three pronged trident carried by that Greek God who lived under the sea (Spongebob I think he was called)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Just a quick apology to all those who've emailed me with questions , comments etc. and haven't yet had an answer. Basically my inbox is groaning under the weight of all the replies I've had to a survey I started a while ago here:

I didn't expect such an enthusiastic response but it obviously struck a nerve and I'm just finishing correlating all the info. I'm closing it now and will let you know some results in a few days time.

Many thanks to all those who took the time to reply.

Three Reasons We Let The Pupils Down

There are three reasons why our Comprehensive System is in such a mess.
1) Discipline has become a naughty word in schools.
2) We don't always put children in groups of similar ability
3) The National Curriculum

Let's look at each one in turn


I was once advised by my Head of Department to use a different ink colour than red to mark the kids' books, as it was 'less confrontational'

This sums up our problems far more neatly than I could ever manage.

We have forgotten that as teachers that we are supposed to be in charge, rather than the pupils. Making lessons entertaining has become more important than making them sit still and listen. Punishing badly behaved pupils has been made more and more difficult, as available sanctions have diminished and those higher up the school (and in the Local Education Authority) become less and less willing to back up teachers who try to enforce those that we have left.

'The Tail Wags The Dog' ie the pupils control the school.

Oh I've just remembered- in the red ink example above she'd actually just finished telling me off for using the word (in our department meeting) 'kids' rather than 'Learners' or 'Students'

Mixed Ability Teaching

Let's take the example of two Year 7 kids, Mark and Kylie. Mark can barely read or write and certainly cannot understand anything that is being taught to him. Kylie is highly intelligent. The school is attempting to destroy both of their futures by putting them in the same class. In a few months, Mark will have started to cause trouble because he cannot do any of the work and feels left out. Kylie on the other hand is bored senseless with the work she regards as trivial and is starting to look for her own distractions also.

Mark knows perfectly well that he is not as good at lessons as the rest of his group. The conventional argument (which was preached in Teacher Training) that putting him in a lower set somehow stigmatises him does not make any sense. In a group of his peers he would obviously not stand out.

Teachers can teach effectively to a narrow range of abilities. (It is taboo to say this however) If the ability range is too wide then we simply do not manage.

The National Curriculum

This has resulted in us having to attempt to teach Leon French, when he can barely read or write in English.

However, this is the one area that I am slightly optimistic about. If recent proposals come to anything (which is a mighty 'if') then worthwhile, properly structured vocational courses, which lead to a qualification can be offered to those who are simply not academic. This would be so much better for them than making them plod unsuccessfully through the same work as those with an aptitude for it. I can only hope that we make some progress in this direction.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Blair and Johnson

We've now sold around 2000 copies of It's Your Time You're Wasting, so I'd like to say thanks to all those of you who've bought one.

For those of you who haven't, I should add that none of the material from this blog was used in the book. It's all new stuff so click on the link and buy a copy now!

Copies were sent to both Tony Blair and the Minister for Education, Alan Johnson for their comments, but they never replied. I can't think why we imagined they would; after all it's only about 'education, education, education' so why would they be interested in that?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Healthy Eating Again

Rawmarsh School in South Yorkshire decided to go in for healthy eating in its canteen, but didn't bargain with Mrs Walker and Mrs Critchlow (pictured holding her letters of support from local fast food outlets)

They are busy taking orders from the kids each day at morning break for pies, fish and chips, sandwiches, baked potatoes, burgers and fizzy drinks which they deliver at lunchtime by pushing them through the school railings. I swear I'm not making this up.

Before we rush to condemn them however (and you can rest assured that I'm sorely tempted to), we should consider the following points:

1) They claim (and I will find out if this is true) that the food in the canteen is absolute rubbish and that the school is charging almost twice as much for food such as baked potatoes as local takeaways do.

2) The sight of these two at the school gates would certainly put me off my lunch.

Use Your Head, Teach

In order to recruit more teachers the TDA has commissioned a set of adverts, based around the motto:

'Use Your Head, Teach'

You may have seen some of them in newspapers and on posters up and down the country. I'm not convinced about this one however.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Billions Spent on Schools

Something that's been on my mind since yesterday's post:

Could someone from the Government tell us just what was the point in spending billions on high tech tools when we don't even have the tools to make the kids sit still?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What's in the News?

Billions spent yet no real improvement in our schools. I reckon most of it has been spent on new forms to fill in.

The kids still share textbooks, discipline has gone out of the window, lessons have become crowd control. Funnily enough, we struggle to attract decent graduates. There is no shortage of computers however.

Drugs education in schools isn't working. Well stone the crows, who would have thought that if you get a load of trendy yoof workers and well meaning teachers to tell the pupils about drugs it will do no good at all.

The only people the kids respect are footballers and 'D' list celebrities. These should be all be rounded up, threatened with disgusting revealations about their private lives and sent round schools to dish out the message that drugs are for losers. A few horror posters showing the state of crack addicts and heroin users wouldn't be a bad idea either.

ps. I got an email today saying that I'd been censored on the Parents Forum! Not sure what the details are yet, but you can check out the thread here

They don't like me much!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

New School Rating System

Good news! Ofsted Inspections are to be abolished and one inspector will simply turn up at random and rate schools according to the formula below:

School Rating = a*b*c*d/e*f*g*h*i*j*k


a= No. of yr 11 pupils attempting to dress as Goths (out of first 30 names on alphabetical Year List)
b= No. of boys with long hair in above sample
c= Percentage of teachers in attendance on day of visit
d= No. of ties worn by first ten male staff seen.
e= No. of Yr 11 pupils with a skinhead in sample used to calculate 'a'
f= No. of pupils called Ashley, Shane or Liam in sample used to calculate 'a' (If this exceeds 5 then school will be awarded 'Failing School' status immediately.)
g= No. of parents visiting the school between 2 and 3pm (ie with nothing better to do)
h= Total No. of tatoos, piercings and miscellaneous ironmongery visible on these parents
i= No. of football shirts worn by the above parental sample
j= No. of pieces of litter visible from main entrance to school (Average of result at 9 am and 1:55pm)
k= Items of grafitti found in a textbook (Average of 5 randomly selected from different classrooms)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Naseem Hamed

Wondered why I'd not had any comments on this but then discovered I'd forgotten to post it. Oh well, I've missed the boat but it's still worth a mention.

Naseem Hamed was released from prison last week after serving less than four months of his 15 month sentence. Am I the only one who thinks that if you get a 15 month sentence then you should be in prison for- let me think about this... 15 months. If you are well behaved in jail then you should come out after; I know... 15 months. If you have been naughty whilst in jail then you should stay until you do start to behave.

Anthony Burgin, who's car was was hit at 90 mph by Hamed is still a real mess. He suffered multiple broken bones and his wife was also seriously injured. They were hit whist Hamed was attempting to overtake another car- the driver of which, described the manouvre as 'suicidal'

Imagine how Mr and Mrs Burgin must have felt seeing the news coverage of the stretch limo arriving to pick up Hamed on his release.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


'If' by Rudyard Kipling was written in 1895 and 100 years later, was voted Britain's best loved poem in a BBC poll. It emphasises the unfashionable virtues of fortitude, stoicism and quiet determination so I've reproduced it here:

If you can face your Head when all about you,
Are staring at their feet to avoid your eye
If you can trust yourself when all of SMT doubt you,
And instead believe in Chesney’s obvious lie
If you can go along with the sad illusion;
That Wayne’s three day exclusion will be enough
To turn around five years of bad behaviour,
And lately getting Shazney up the duff.

If you can hear- and yet pay no attention
To the sound of Tamsin’s mother on the phone.
Complaining loudly at her daughters detention,
Just move the phone away so she can drone
If you can face a ninety minute lesson,
In the company of Nathan, Brett and Wayne;
If you can read yet take in not one morsel
Of the idiotic scribblings by Dwayne

If you can make one heap of Ashley’s Final Warnings,
When he says he really doesn’t give a toss
And find that nothing can be done about him,
As you have an ineffective boss.
If you can smile- whilst screaming deep within;
At the sight of Drama cover on the board
And the Supply teacher has left your room unlocked,
To be invaded by the screaming horde

If you can stifle yawns of boredom,
As England’s dullest man takes Training Day
If you can deal with stress and see its unimportance;
And you would rather battle on than stay away
If you can watch the good kids working,
Ignoring Leon with his finger in his ear
If you can snatch away his IPod,
Then face his imbecilic father without fear

If neither Coyne nor Ashley, nor Billie-Jo,
Can raise your pulse or blood pressure one jot
If you can grin on seeing that your timetable,
Contains classes you would wish that it did not
Meetings that drag with every passing minute;
As you fight the urge to leap to your feet and run
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s innit,
And-which is more- you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Healthy Eating

I called into my local Fish and Chip shop last night and found the proprietor in a very upbeat mood. When I remarked on this, he explained that he was celebrating the Government's new initiative on healthy eating in schools.

Somewhat puzzled, I listened to him explain that the Comprehensive a few hundred metres from his door has got rid of their vending machine and has taken chips off the canteen menu.

He spotted an opportunity straight away and installed a gigantic new fridge bursting with cans and bottles and has invested in a new double sized deep fat fryer!

He has had to take on an assistant to cope with the extra lunchtime demand and even admitted that to his shame, a few months ago he had gone on a march organised by local parents to protest at the quality of school dinners.

I laughed all the way home.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

You want to go on holiday? You've only just come back...

As the Government wishes to crack down on parents taking their children on holidays during term time, most LEAs instruct schools not to approve requests for holiday absences during the first two weeks of the Autumn term.

The Head therefore has a dilemma.

If they follow these guidelines and refuse permission, then the parents ignore this and the school's unauthorised absence figures go up (which looks bad on the Annual Report) Parents may enjoy their holiday knowing full well that the LEA will not take any action against them.

If they ignore the guidelines as most Heads do and authorise the absence then it simply encourages more parents to do the same.

All in all, a tremendous example of the popular idea that having a rule and writing it down clearly is all that is needed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Junk Mail

I've just found out that whilst I was away the Royal Mail have decided to start delivering us all a mountain of junk mail.

There are two solutions to this

1) There is probably some number you can ring and waste time speaking to one of my ex pupils who will annoy you with their imbecility and then pass on your details to every direct mailing company in the World.

2) Simply collect it until you have a good sized pile and do some junk mailing of your own. If you are anything like me, shoving it all through the letterbox of your local sorting office once a week will give you no end of quiet satisfaction.


One thing I love doing whilst on holiday is spotting souvenirs that have no connection whatsoever with the town they are in. This year's tally include the following:

A statue of a Red Indian on his horse, brandishing an axe. (Courmayeur, Italy)

A model of a lighthouse, with a proper flashing light (also in Courmayeur, at least 250 miles from the Sea)

A beautufully made, balsa wood giraffe. (Lake Maggiore, Italy.)

Do let me know if you think you can beat any of these.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Book In Shops Today

"It's Your Time You're Wasting" is in the bookshops today, so rush out and buy two or three.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Letter to Parents: A New Term

Dear Parent/ Guardian/ Wastrel,

I have today been informed by the Chief Constable of Downtown that 1651 cases of arson, mindless vandalism, theft, muggings and shoplifting have been carried out by our students over the summer holidays. He has asked me to pass on his thanks for your help and constant vigilance, which have clearly paid dividends in reducing this figure from last year.

Soon it will be 'Back to School' time for those of you who bother to ensure that your children regularly attend. Please note that the new term begins on Tuesday 5th September, so try not to drink too much on the Monday night, in order to ensure that your child at least makes an attempt to attend school. We do not wish to hear any lame excuses such as “I didn’t know what day it was.” We are well aware of this already.

Monday will be a Staff Training Day. The SMT will patronise the Staff; boring them into a state of utter depression which will prepare them perfectly for the Autumn Term. There is no need to send us your wayward child on this day as we have no desire to see them for one hour more than the Law demands. Also there is no need for your child to bring their ASBO into school this term as a badge of honour; keep it at home in a safe place next to your own.

At the end of last term, in the interests of promoting fair competition we sent all parents an application form to help your child get into one of our two rival schools; Dimstudents Comprehensive and St. Lucifer’s Academy. The forms have already been filled out for you as some of the words are quite long. Please let us know if your application has been successful as soon as you can be bothered to get out of bed.

We would like to welcome a new member of staff Mrs. Blakewell; who previously worked as chief dog trainer at Scagton Kennels. We expect her to fit in marvellously at St. Thickchilds as long as she is prepared to lower her standards and expectations sufficiently.

A new School Year is a great opportunity to make a new start. Why not have your offspring adopted by some nice couple desperate for the chance to give a child a good start in life? Phone the school for more information as soon as you can tear yourself away from daytime television.

A final note: if your child has been taken away by Social Services or sent to a detention centre over the summer, please let us know so that we can find a better pupil to fill their place. If you happen to know of any other feral children, perhaps part of the interconnected web of chaos that you refer to as your ‘family’; who would like a place at St. Thickchilds, then please do not phone or come in to tell us.

With thanks to Mc Guigans Off Licence for their continued sponsorship and support of the school.

Yours Faithfully

Mr. Morris
Head Teacher

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Level Results. The Debate

A Level Papers in 1936 (Above) compared with 2006 (Below)

Every year around this time, we have the same old debate.

Are the girls in the newspapers shown opening their A Level results getting easier on the eye?

First of all, I asked a Government spokesman Mr. W. Lyar who assured me that the standards were closely monitored each year and their had been no 'dumblonding' down.

Then I spoke to the Head of a leading Teachers Union, Mr. C Ward who said:

"Every year we get the same accusations. You have to bear in mind that fashion and styles have changed over the decades so a direct comparison is very difficult. However we believe that there is no evidence at all of any change."

So there you have it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hurrah for the Hols!

Mrs. Chalk and I are jetting away on holiday tomorrow so, Islamic Terrorists willing; posts should resume around the 4th September.

Bye for now.
ps. I've taken down that Amazon banner as it became irritating.
pps Buy a copy of my book. It's excellent.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I decided to put up Amazon's ad banner at the top of my site after being assured that the content it would advertise would be directly relevant to the people viewing my Blog.

I therefore expected ads for Mensa applications, books about Astrophysics, Philosophy, Politics and Fine Arts. Instead all I've got is stuff with the word 'Chalk' in it.

So much for hi-tech. I'll give it another day or so then bin it if it doesn't improve.

'A' Level results out in a couple of days- I am willing to take bets against the following:

1) Every broadsheet newspaper will have a picture of half a dozen pretty girls from a very nice school, waving their 'A' Level results along with a good looking young Headmistress congratulating them for getting about 12 grade 'A' s each.

2) The results will be the best ever. A ridiculous number of kids will get A-C grades.

3) Somebody important will try to claim that 'A' levels are not getting easier.

4) Lots more students will go on to University to study Psychology, Media Studies and Sociology. Lots fewer will go on to study anything serious.

Any other bets considered.

Oh, why not enter your guess for the sweepstake on the largest number of Grade 'A's achieved by an individual this year. I'm going for 8.

ps. Many thanks to whoever ordered a DVD Box set of "The Goodies" sending the kitty up to £9

More Bullying

On the advice of an email I received last term I headed to to discover the 'truth' about bullying. Unfortunately I ended up buying a chocolate brown Bull Mastiff puppy and need to sell another 750 copies of my book to pay for the damn thing. It has chewed through the legs of Mrs. Chalk's favourite chair and curled out a large do-do on the kitchen floor. Apart from that, it is a lovely dog and we have named him Humphrey.

I then headed for where every conceivable type of bullying is explored. Within minutes I became convinced that I was the victim of domestic bullying and had my wife taken away by the Police.

I also realised that all my friends were bullies, every member of my family and indeed everyone I could think of including myself. To give myself more time to reflect on these discoveries I ordered our student teacher to cover my lessons for the next week and told her that if she said a word to anyone I would make sure she failed her teaching practice. I soon felt much better.

Last year a parent complained that I was not doing enough to stop the persistant bullying of her daughter, Cherelle; who was being bullied by her friends Chevaunne and Collette. In the previous week I also had Chevaunne's parent complain that she was being 'made fun of all the time' by Cherelle. When I phoned Collette's parents, they were furious that the school was doing nothing to stop the 'constant harassment' of her daughter by Chevaunne. I ended up having to draw a little bullying diagram, just to get it all straight. (I might try and patent these and sell them to schools)

It's a giant merry go round of foolishness. In the same way that a sufficiantly large number of monkeys will eventually type out all the works of Shakespeare; so will a sufficiently diligent teacher eventually discover that every child in the school is being bullied by every other.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Survey Again

Many thanks to all those of you that have responded to the survey in the July 31st post (Link Here) emailing with numerous tales of woe regarding SMT, children and parents, balanced out with two expressions of admiration for those in charge (From the same email address!). I'm still trying to collate all the info and will announce results soon.

In the meantime keep them coming and thanks to all those who have participated.

Heroes of Spelling Rescuers of Grammar and Correctors of Factual Errors

I've moved this up again. It's a tribute to those people who still understand that spelling, grammar and factual accuracy are important. Those of you from outside teaching may have thought this was obvious. Those of you who teach will know that it is not.

You may notice that I am having trouble getting the words into neat columns. I've used the £nbsp tag to generate the spaces but when I switch to 'compose' mode they all disappear (although oddly, none of the other HTML tags do.)

Incidently the detectives amongst you will be narrowing down the list of possible subjects that I might teach. No doubt 'English' was crossed off long ago and 'I.T.' will now be joining it.

Heroes of Spelling:


Independant Anonymous
Discreetly Karrde
Existence Anonymous
Definitely Dan (and Rosey)
Exciting Anonymous
Coherent Anonymous
Dependence Anonymous
Ecstasy Anonymous

(The Rolls Royce website thinks it should be 'Ecstacy' but I'll trust my commentators)

Cannabis Hilary
Academies (You can tell I didn't attend one)Pen
Incompetence Dieremie
Humorous Anonymous
Bureaucratic Anonymous
Barbecue Anonymous
Veteran Hilary
Sufficiently Pen
Persistent Pen
Edinburgh Anon
Indefinitely Sarah P
vituperative Domino

I'm not going to attempt the feeble excuse that the spellchecker doesn't seem to work. It's pretty poor if I can't even manage to look up a few words in the dictionary.

Please continue to point out any spelling or grammatical mistakes you spot in this blog so that I can correct them. What hope is there for the kids if the teachers can't be bothered to learn how to spell?

ps Thanks to whoever pointed out that a spellchecker is something that witches use.

Rescuers of Grammar

I asked Kyle from Year 11 what his views were on the teaching of grammar; in particular the importance of sentence structure, parts of speech and the different verb tenses. His considered opinion was:

"They don't learn you nuthin' here."

The fact that my own grammar is often wrong merely indicates incompetence on my part, which nowadays is not considered a fault. (In fact it's often the quickest way to a position on the Senior Management Team). I learnt long ago in teaching, that what is said is far more important than what is actually done.

My Version Correct Version Rescuer
I am sat I am sitting Pen
Absolve Abdicate Rich

Factual Errors

Doggy Matters:

Chocolate Brown is not a recognised colour for a Bull Mastiff nor indeed for many other pedigree breeds such as the Labrador. Thanks to Syb

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Caption Competition

Ok, thanks for all your entries in the caption competition for the picture of teacher Emma Wright. (reprinted below for no good reason)

Emma Wright In Class

It was a close thing with 'Miss-Demeanor' and 'Miss is Bottom Of The Class!' tying for second place. However the judge (Mrs Chalk) has spoken and pronounced the winner to be Danny from Luton who originally emailed me the title I used for the post. 'A Bit Of All Wright!'

A signed pre-release copy of 'It's Your Time You're Wasting' will be in the post to you, Danny as soon as you email me your address.

ps I'm thinking of sending the proceeds from Amazon (when people click through from this site and buy things, I get a small commission) to a school in Africa. Don't know which one yet though. Suggestions and alternative ideas welcome.

pps Whoever bought 'Elvis' Greatest Hits' has sent the total to six quid! Thankyou.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Sad Tale

This is what happens when parents abdicate all responsibility for their child and we likewise refuse to punish them for minor and later more major offences. They gradually realise that they can do whatever they like. Sadly in this case the judge has decided to confirm this. Tragically, it will not be long before the boy does the same thing again.

My thoughts go out to the victims family.

Daily Mail

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A bit of All Wright. Fwooarr!!

A big thanks to Emma Wright for putting a stop to any silly worries I had been having recently about bringing the Teaching Profession into disrepute.

Daily Mail

Emma claims that she was unaware that the programme might ask her to strip off. I can understand this, as it happens to me all the time. One minute you're engaged in lively debate and the next, you're in a studio posing stark naked for the camera.

Can you imagine facing the slavering dads at parents evening? Or trying to tell a pupil off for say, wearing too short a skirt?

A free copy of my book to the best 'Sun style' headline for this one.

Going Round In A Tumble Dryer

This has nothing to do with Teaching but I think it show the way our society is heading.

BBC News

This daft fireman got into a tumble dryer and his mates filmed him going round. They then stupidly sent the film to the media. A spokesman from the Fire Brigade described getting into a tumble dryer and going round a few times as "A reckless Act". Another described it as "Extremely dangerous"

Are these people mad? This bloke runs into burning buildings for a living. If my house ever goes up in a blaze and I end up standing on my roof with the flames licking at my toes, I want to know that there is someone down there who had the bottle to get into a tumble dryer and shout "Turn it on!". A veteran of several revolutions in a tumble dryer as a young man, invariably fuelled by alcohol, I can confirm that you might get a few minor bruises, which should teach you not to do it again. You would not however catch me attempting to fight fires, which is something that really is dangerous.

The proper way to deal with this would be for the Boss to gather them all around, tell them never to film themselves in uniform and also the stupidity of sending anything to the media. Then make those involved polish the fire engine for a week, run round the station for several hours in all their kit or anything else unpleasant. But no, we are going to have a full inquiry, which will no doubt conclude that "Fireman Jones went round in a tumble dryer ten times" As a taxpayer, I don't want to pay for this. Instead, I want it to be made a compulsory part of Fireman training.

The next thing you know, they'll start building Firestations without poles because of Health and Safety...

Monday, August 07, 2006

School Mottos

I love receiving these. The sicklier the better. (I know that they sort of give away where you work, but you could always say that you 'spotted them whilst on holiday' or 'your friend told you' or something.)

My current favourite is 'Learning For Success' sent in by 'Flutters'

However, I refuse to believe any of the following ones:

"Every Child Will Excel" (In a US school purportedly sponsored by Microsoft)

"Reinforcing Failure" from 'Anonymous'

"Spitting for Success" from 'J Bloggs'

And I'm not entirely convinced by 'Inclusivity For All' from D Barton

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Even More News

I can barely keep up with the current crop of treasures in the News.

Teaching kids the difference between right and wrong? Well you'd think that at least we could try. When you look at some of the parents I'd suggest that we shouldn't trust them to do it.

The Times

Research has shown that teachers who have a good loud voice are better than those who don't. Well that was money well spent. Stone the crows, who'd have thought it!


Teaching is not a boring job. Well not in my place anyway; as long as you count being spat on, sworn at and having your lessons continually ruined by brainless morons as interesting.

BBC Again

ps Three Cheers to whoever bought a breadmaker on Amazon after clicking through from this site. You have brought my comission (which will be given to a suitable charity) to £4.66. I still need to find a charity that benefits teachers though. Suggestions welcome

Friday, August 04, 2006

More Gems In The News

Well there goes my chances of ever getting another job:

BBC News

Those of you from outside the teaching profession might find it hard to believe, but there are still some of our number who do not think that spelling and grammar are important. No wonder employers are tearing their hair out. All most of them want are kids that can read, write and do a few simple sums without going off with stress and depression every three days.

Sir Digby Jones, ex Head of the Confederation of British Industry was also pretty shocked to discover a few home truths about the kids we are churning out:

BBC News

However not all the news is bad. Whilst half of school leavers cannot spell, read properly, punctuate a sentence or do simple sums; nobody could accuse the Professional Association of Teachers of not knowing what's important:

BBC News Again


I received an email from Amazon today informing me that I had earned £1.71 commission from people clicking on the book advert but actually buying other items instead.

So here's a big thanks to the purchasers of Mr Potato Head, a guide to Home Improvements and a set of children's books.

If anyone knows of a charity that benefits teachers then let me know and I will send them the proceeds of this little earner. I'll keep you informed of how much we raise.

ps ' To Midlands Teachers' I don't think I've received your email.
pps Thanks to whoever just ordered a barbecue! Another 24 pence.

If You Think I'm Bad...

Whilst I try to entertain you as best I can; how can I possibly compete with the comic geniuses meeting under the guise of the Professional Association of Teachers.

BBC News

This is the same organisation that suggested in exams the word 'fail' should be replaced with 'deferred success'.

In the past I may have had the odd worry about bringing the profession into disrepute, but groups like this make my efforts seem puny. Six weeks glorious holiday that most workers would give their right arm for and they spend it in a Union Meeting...

I always knew that the day would come when I could stand up proud and say in my best Churchillian voice:

"I may have my faults, but at least I have never accused a pupil of being clever"

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Easy Money

Read the following story:

BBC News

I hearby volunteer to be poked fun at and have a few lewd remarks thrown my way. That will be £800 000 thankyou very much.

Why do we constantly pander to those who simply cannot cope with the stresses and pressures of their job whilst never giving any appreciation to those who do exactly the same job and simply get on with it.

Adults who complain of bullying at work need to get some spine, some self respect or better still, another job.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Survey Response

I've been amazed by the number of emails I've received already to this survey (with stories that are amusing and heartbreaking in equal measure) Virtually every one of them reflects a deep frustration at the sheer inability to actually do anything (rather than tick boxes or claim to reach targets)

'Anonymous' made a good point with their comment on the first survey post. Don't forget the positive examples as I often do.

Oh and can you all come up with a name for comments and emails? I've got about 150 'Anonymous's and I've no idea how many are the same person. Use your imagination and make one up!

Thanks again for all the replies.

Monday, July 31, 2006


After receiving some very interesting recent emails comparing teaching in different parts of the UK, I've agreed to do a survey.

I need you the readers to send me your horror stories (not as comments on the Blog, but via my email link under the book adverts for reasons of confidentiality).

I'm interested in reports of the kids' behaviour, attitudes of their parents, the abilities of yur SMT and also of the new teachers compared with the older ones. Violence, sex and drug abuse along with anything else that you can remember.

Give the County or City that you are from but any more location detail is up to you.

Many thanks in advance

Frank Chalk

Wasting Police Time

I've put up a link for David Copperfield's book 'Wasting Police TIme'

I read it (as it's also published by Monday Books) and it is a shocking expose of modern policing. His aim, like mine; is to bring to the public's attention the bureaucratic nonsense, political correctness and lack of leadership that has become as commonplace in the Police Force as it has in Teaching.

He provides a humorous and revealing insight into what your average Bobby actually does all day. He also writes the Coppersblog at which is well worth a read.

ps. If anybody can tell me how to get the advert to appear next to mine rather than underneath it, I'd be very grateful.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

How it all works part 2

Apparently in some schools the title 'Senior Management Team' is no longer allowed, presumably because it has the word 'man' hidden within it, which is deeply offensive to women.

Now it’s 'Senior Leadership Team'.

With the foundations of the Education System crumbling beneath our feet, it’s good to know that time and effort is devoted to dreaming up new names for things. As we all know, the best way to improve something is to change its name.

It’s been a long time since you were allowed to say 'blackboard' in school. (It has the word 'black' in it, which must be extremely upsetting to anybody whose skin is black.) I sympathise, because I burst into tears and had to go home a couple of weeks ago when another teacher humiliated me by referring to a 'whiteboard'

Imagine how un PC you would be if you were the 'Blackboard Manager'

Let me know of any other name changes that haven't yet arrived here at St. Thickchilds.

Oh and marvel at the swish new link to my book on the sidebar.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How it All Works

A recent email pointed out that not all readers of this blog are teachers and asked if I would explain a few things rather than assume that everyone knows what I'm on about.

So here goes...

Ok. We have State and Private schools. State ones are free, Private ones you pay to attend or get an increasingly rare scholarship.

State Schools consist mainly of Comprehensive Schools, with a few dozen Grammar Schools and Academies. All Comprehensives have been told to apply to become specialists in a particular subject, eg. Performing Arts, Science, IT, Business Studies etc. About two thirds have already done so.

Moving on to the staff. Headmasters and Headmistresses are now called Head Teachers due to political correctness which is the most important part of modern teaching. Competence at your job is of no relevance whatsoever.

There will be one or more Deputy or Assistant Headteachers, depending on the size of the school and possibly a few extra bodies with titles such as Head of Upper School or Head of Lower School.

The Group described above make up the Senior Management Team (SMT) They make all the executive decisions on the running of the school.

Most children start Secondary Education at the age of 11. Their first year is called year 7, despite the fact that it is their 8th year at school. They take their GCSEs in Year 11 and if the school has a Sixth Form the two years are called year twelve and thirteen.

Each Year group usually has a Head of Year and a Deputy Head of Year.

Each Department eg. Maths, English or Science will have its own Head and Deputy Head of Department.

All of the above will usually do some teaching as well.

Then we have the ordinary teachers who do most of the teaching in the school. They may pick up additional points by taking on various responsibilities such as Key Stage 3 Co ordinator (in charge of the work done up to the end of Year 9 including the SAT tests) which gain them extra pay and headaches.

This is a broad outline, for the benefit of those outside Teaching. I'll add to it soon, but in the meantime, please feel free to let me know if I've missed anything out.

(Read VoteFranco's excellent comment below, which corrects my statement that State Schools are 'free')

Monday, July 24, 2006

Another Shocking Incident

Last Wednesday we had another serious incident in School.

Without any provocation whatsoever, Kylie from Year 8 marched up to Mr Blunt and said ‘Thankyou’ after the school day out to Scagton.

Mr Blunt fainted dead away and had to be revived by the school nurse. On coming round, he remarked that he had never heard such an outburst before. There were several witnesses to the event, all are said to be receiving counselling.

"We are not used to hearing this sort of language from pupils." Said Mr. Green, still obviously in shock. "Kylie may need to be moved to another school where they are more used to dealing with this sort of behaviour."

Kylie's mother Mrs Scraggins, told us:

"Our Kylie hasn't learnt that kind of talk in my 'ouse, I can tell you that. It's since she started 'anging about with that Jennifer; she's nothing but well behaved, she is."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Spammers, Scammers and Other Pests

This morning I received a flood of spam comments to the blog. They are all by 'anonymous' and usually say something like "Great site. Will be visiting again real soon!" (So you could easily think that they were genuine)

I've left a couple up (Spirit of Ecstasy-last comment) They were from various loan companies, gambling sites etc. I replied to all of them, informing them that they had won first prize in my site competition and all they had to do was send me a cheque for £25 for 'verification purposes' and they would receive a unique signed first edition copy of my book worth £10000 (estimated value)

Feel free to send them any promotions of your own, virus infested emails or 20 gigabyte video attachments that you think they may be interested in.

In the meantime, thanks for reading my blog and may I wish you all a very nice Summer Holiday.

Mr Chalk

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Desperately Sad

I knew Mr Green was angry by the way he threw his briefcase on the staffroom floor, kicked it and shouted "The f****** tosser!"

I'm like that, I can sense people's moods.

He did not need much questioning to tell his tale; basically it will be one you have all heard a thousand times before.

Dwayne was mucking about in his lesson; being a pain, distracting the others. Mr Green told him to move, Dwayne refused, he threatened to call for the SMT and the kid shouted "You think I'm f****** bothered!" To be honest it happens so frequently it's almost tedious to relate.

Anyway; Duty member of SMT turns up, Dwayne loudly refuses to go with him for the benefit of his mates, duty SMT begs and cajoles, promising all sorts of things. They both leave, nothing further heard. Mr. Green sees Dwayne leaving at home time along with all his friends, laughing and shouting. He corners SMT chap and asks why he's let him go and what's his punishment going to be. SMT explains that he's had a good chat with Dwayne and he's not such a bad boy at all once you get to know him etc...

Mr. Green has taught for twenty years and is a far better teacher than I could ever hope to be. He is perfectly capable of giving out his own punishment to Dwayne and is not one of those teachers who constantly pester the SMT with minor problems. What he needs, like all of us, is a bit of back up when Dwayne decides that he doesn't want to do what the classroom teacher tells him to.

As he was clearly upset, a few of us went for a beer with him after school and after some more ranting we ended up laughing about the futility of it all.

It wasn't really the time for major questions such as what the hell is going to happen to these kids after they leave us? Never having been made to do what they're told.

Or questions such as why, oh why do we have such weak leaders who are unwilling or unable to back up the staff?

Or why do we have to waste 29 decent kids' time whilst we pander endlessly to one badly behaved child?

No it wasn't really the time for those sort of questions, because we've asked them so many times before and given up hope of hearing a sensible answer.