Tuesday, March 25, 2008


A quick phonecall has established that the last post should have been about 'Hats' and not 'Cats'. Frankly it doesn't really matter as I can't listen to that sort of stuff for more than 10 seconds without screaming. A whole industry has grown up around the idea of churning out guff to captive audiences and I want to be part of it.

For a modest fee, a representative of Chalk Enterprises will come to your school, talk rubbish for a couple of hours and get you playing some simple games. We will offer a cast iron guarantee that the day will be no use to you whatsoever, but it will all be very warm, safe and comforting and you will feel like you are eight years old again.

Actually, thinking about it, an even better idea would be for me to turn up personally, so that you could shout at me, tear up a few exercise books and generally vent your frustrations. I could say patronising things like 'Let's get into small groups and investigate different methods of learning' and you could all scream abuse. I would also provide you with a liberal supply of eggs, rotten fruit and tennis balls. I reckon I might be on to something here...

Enough of that; it's NUT conference time and they are balloting about strike action. Not effective strike action, ie get together with the other 57 Unions and have every teacher in the land downing tools and not coming back until they get a pay rise, some decent working conditions and a few brats expelled; goodness me no, a one day strike which can be safely ignored by the Government.

They are also up in arms about the military recruiting in schools and are outraged that they only tell the kids about the best bits (skiing, windsurfing and shooting people) I believe that is called advertising. The Accountancy company that visited Mrs Chalk's school also forgot to show people working through the night at the end of the Tax Year in their presentation. Let's face it; the teachers who attend these conferences are invariably beardy weirdies (of both sexes) with no hobbies to persue in the holidays. They hate the military with a vengance, because it opposes the things they stand for (beards, dangly earrings and facial ironmongery)

Here's my take on it (from last year) which will doubtless prove unpopular:

If you are born into the Underclass, doomed to attend a dustbin of a school, then a career in the Army might well be your only ticket out of the slums. Yes, if you are unlucky you might be shot by some toerag in Iraq or Afghanistan; but if you manage to avoid that unfortunate outcome, then you can pick up a decent pension after 22 years or look for another employer who will snap you up, knowing that unlike most applicants; a) you will actually turn up to work and b) you will get on with things that you might not want to do without moaning too much.

Alternatively you could of course just remain in the Estate from Hell, where there are no employers and you stand a good chance of being shot by a rival drugs dealer or ending up behind bars for most of your life. The NUT would like to remove your only hope of escape.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Training Day

The end of term can only mean one thing- the celebration of madness that is Training Day. I have received the usual collection of emails describing the horrors that teachers can be subjected to in the name of 'Diversification', 'Cross Curricular Linkage' and the inevitable 'Gender Somethingorother' to name but three forms of torture that are still being used on teachers across the country.

These forms of madness are usually indicative of a weak SMT, who lack the courage to stand up and shout;

'Shut up Fool! This is crazy talk. Get out of my School!' when some well meaning, buckle shoed woman with dangly earrings from the Council proposes that the day be spent doing role play.

One of the best reports was from a school which decided to pay for a lady to come and talk about how different coloured cats could make you think in different ways. (I heard this on the telephone at 11.30 pm punctuated with bursts of hysterical laughter, so do forgive me if I've got any details wrong) Apparently if you have the red cat, then you have to shout out your feelings (I can imagine what mine would be), a green cat means that you use lateral thinking, a black cat means that you tend to be cynical and some other cat means God knows what. Anyway they spent the afternoon doing this whilst the naive and gullible lapped it up, making copious notes and vowing to use it in their lessons, the lady went away a bit wealthier, the Head pronounced it all a great success and the wise just sobbed gently into their hands.

As these events are such a rich vein of madness, I've set up a link to this post on the Sidebar so that your Training Day Tales will live forever.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Sorry I've not posted for a few days but I got stuck inside my divan bed whilst playing hide and seek with my nieces. It was a stupid hiding place- God knows where they got the idea from.

Here's a quick roundup of the latest daftness going on in schools:

1) Parents are lying to get their children into decent schools Well blow me down! Of course they do; they make up false addresses, rent flats in the school's catchment area for six months and pretend to live there, print out fake Council Tax bills on their computers and even offer money to complete strangers if they will claim to have done a house exchange. They promise a donation towards the new school minibus or if all else fails, offer the Head some cash over a quiet drink.

I know all this because I have shown friends how to do it. My advice is simple: do whatever it takes to send your child to a decent school.

2) Pupils who make malicious allegations against teachers should be put on a list Absolutely right and the numerous Teachers Unions have been saying that for years and will continue to say it for ever more, but do absolutely nothing. They could set up their own website tomorrow if they wanted to. In fact feel free to use the 'Rate My Pupil' section on my blog.

It's the same story with the endless moaning about the Rate my Teacher website. Sabotaging it or rendering it completely useless would be easy, but would require action which is always harder than just complaining.

3) Schools Minister Jim Knight thinks that classes of 70 are just fine He is as mad as a fish. My Granny was taught in classes of up to 100 and can read and write better than your average 16 year old (despite leaving at the age of 11) but their teachers simply beat the living daylights out of the naughty kids, whereas we are told to empathise with them and dream up excuses for their attitude. I've taught classes of 7 and been unable to prevent screaming mayhem. Most teachers in crap schools are ashamed to admit this sort of thing, but if you are a parent then it's important that you realise that it happens every day.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shannon Matthews

Thankfully Shannon Matthews is now back safe and sound (ie not with her mother).

Well done to the Police for finding her, after tirelessly searching 2431 residences in the area. Apparently more than two thirds were occcupied by her mother's partners, ex partners, uncles, cousins and stepfathers. (Some by all of the above).

Constructing the family tree was the most difficult part of this operation, requiring many hours on the new Police Supercomputer. Unfortunately the three CDs on which it was stored have already been lost by the Home Office.

Look, can somebody please do us all a favour and adopt this poor kid?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The Today Programme emailed me (they don't know I'm nuts) because of a story in the news claiming that some schools are breaking the rules regarding admissions policy. These schools allegedly ask parents naughty questions about their marital status or financial background, and some apparently even ask for money. Read about it here

My own view is that any Head who doesn't do all of this and more is a complete fool. I've seen it done loads of times (but usually with more subtlety) and I'm sure you have too.

Anyway they would like to talk to anyone who has any experience of this and they assure me that all communication will be treated in the strictest confidence. (Make sure you get them to confirm this in writing and don't enter any naming competitions either)

If you want to tell them anything then email today@bbc.co.uk (Put ‘schools’ in the subject header).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wizard of Oz

A whole pile of reviews from the Aussie Press arrived today with one or two gems for your amusement. My favourite was from Christopher Bantick, an education commentator writing in the Melbourne Daily:

"This book is one of the most dismal, morale deadening, defeatist and utterly miserable accounts of teaching that you're ever likely to encounter"

I think that's a great turn of phrase and will shamelessly use it myself. He goes on to add:

"This book reflects the life of a loser who should never have entered the classroom"

Well I can't argue with that.

Fortunately he has some good advice for those just starting out in teaching:

'Take risks and live out your calling' which sounds great to me. Our Teacher Recruitment people will be knocking on his door before long. Poor old Ceri will be out of a job.

Anyway, I've emailed Christopher to see if he would be interested in writing a forward for my next book, but haven't heard back yet.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

All Night Long

It can't be coincidence that the Government is going to encourage 24 hour drinking, just as Harry comes home from the Big 'A'.

Maybe this was a bad time for Lord Coe to announce that there will be a 'Down in One' competition in the 2012 Olympics.

ps. A quick look round my local supermarket revealed 3 Litre bottles of 'Playground' Cider for just £2.59

Sunday, March 02, 2008

How To Be Top

If you have just started off in teaching, then you will be pleased to learn that becoming a Headteacher (don't forget that you mustn't call them Headmasters or Headmistresses any more) is easy. Just follow the guide below:

1) Be ridiculously over enthusiastic from day one. Go round with an inane grin on your face and tell everybody how happy you are to be a teacher. Deny any problems and when asked how you are getting on with Wayne, just laugh like a loon and say that he is "Quite a character!" rather than snarling with rage and shouting; "I hate the little f**ker!"

2) Agree and adopt every new strategy with enthusiasm, no matter how ridiculous. Nod your head vigorously throughout every meeting until it is in danger of falling off into your lap.

3) Clear from your mind the naive idea that only things that might actually succeed should be attempted. Ticking the right boxes is all that matters. Never, ever ask the question "But will that actually work?"

4) Come up with lots of ideas, plans and strategies of your own. Do not waste time considering whether or not they are any good or even if they make sense, just get suggesting them.

5) Make sure your PC credentials are up to speed. Adopt an Anti-Bullying policy and put up some posters of famous Ginger Scientists in your classroom. Say the words 'gender' 'differentiation' and 'holistic' a lot, even if like me; you have no idea what they mean. Pick a physical challenge that the average grandmother could manage and pester everyone for money. ke sure that it is for a fashionable charity that does not have anything to do with men or bottoms.

6) Go on every course you can. Most are utterly worthless. People are either leaders or they are not, but going on some two day 'workshop' looks good and that is all that matters.

7) Above all, do not rock the boat. If your head of department will not back up your request for the immediate expulsion of Darren for spitting on you, just keep quiet about it. If another teacher says that they won't teach Chesney any more because he has told him to f**k off and the Head will not do anything; then under no circumstances must you support them by refusing to teach Chesney either.

Feel free to add any of your own.

Night Nurse

Terrible news today that nine out of ten nurses wouldn't even consider having an affair with one of their patients.

The prospect of a hospital stay terrifies me and I would never expect to get out of one alive. Uncleaned wards full of nasty medicine-resistant bugs. You can't drink and by all accounts the food is disgusting. The only thing that would stop me committing immediate hara-kiri would be the prospect of non-stop, Red Hot Nurse Action.

Now it appears that even this will be denied me. I shall quietly expire at home instead.