Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Hols

Whenever I take a photo, I usually seem to miss the intended subject or cut off their head. If I do manage to capture them in the shot then you can be sure that my thumb will also feature prominently. On rare occasions when all goes well with the composition, you can generally guarantee that the picture will be somehow washed out or blurred despite the miracles of modern autofocus and lighting. (I never even dare touch any of the buttons described as 'options' for fear that the camera will simply explode.)

Looking at this terrific picture from yesterday, you will immediately realise that I did not take it. (The other giveaway is that I am the runner on the right in the hideous yellow top with the legs of a spider) I can also confirm that it was exceedingly cold but stunningly beautiful.
I'd like to thank all readers of this blog for, well; reading this blog and taking the time and effort to comment on it. (The comments are usually wittier and wiser than the posts and after four years I still haven't had to remove a single one, which must say something about my readership)
Merry Christmas to all of you and very best wishes for the New Year.
Frank Chalk

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Munir Hussain

Imagine if you returned home one night to find three masked men in your home, who then proceeded to tie up your wife and children, threaten them with a knife and beat you in front of them.

Tell me in all honesty that if the opportunity arose, you wouldn't kill them all without a second thought. I'm not a violent man by any stretch of the imagination, but I can say with absolute certainty that unlike Munir Hussain, I would not have shown any restraint whatsoever.

Why on Earth has this man received a two and a half year jail sentence, whilst so many real criminals are routinely let off? I don't care what the liberal elite might say, I'd have bought him a gun.

ps there is a Facebook group here which supports his release and their Government petition will appear on Thursday Dec 17th.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Winston Smith

If any of you would like to know what the wretches I taught get up to outside school, then have a read of Winston Smith's excellent blog. He works in a home for lazy bastards- sorry disadvantaged young adults and his bosses are as cretinous as mine were.

What should we do with these kids? Lots of people would say "Stick 'em in the Army!" except that the Armed Forces don't want to touch them with a barge pole. What they need is some role models- strong adults they can look up to, not run rings around. These adults need the power to enforce rules and show their charges exactly what they need to do to make themselves useful members of society and then make them do it. It's not rocket science.

What they get instead is... well read his blog.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Craig Hodges

All too often nowadays, we hear of people simply crossing the road and walking by when they witness a crime, so thank goodness one brave member of the public stood up and did the right thing, phoning Torbay Council to report lollipop wielding do-gooder Craig Hodges who, untrained, unsupervised and without even having attended a Diversity Course; had been blatantly assisting children to cross a busy main road opposite their school in Paignton, Devon. For goodness sake, if we don't nip this sort of Social Behaviour in the bud, then where will it end? Before we know it, young people will be picking up discarded cans and crisp packets and throwing them in litter bins without a second thought for the consequences.

Like all true heroes, the mystery caller did not wish to talk about his bravery and brushed aside any suggestion of a reward:

"I didn't have time to think of the danger to myself, the training took over and I just did what any of my colleagues would have done in that situation. I could tell straight away that he was up to no good; he had a friendly, pleasant manner and a yellow fluorescent jacket, which was later found to contain a CRB Check. He has shown no remorse for his actions whatsoever and the sooner he is put behind bars, the safer the people of Paignton will be"

The Council have denied that they are planning to take Mr Hodges' children away from him.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Parents Evening

The main problem I always found with parents evening was that the parents you really wanted to see never turned up. If pressed, they would always have some excuse which was usually incomprehensible "Sally weren't right and the bus didn't stop on the way back an' 'ow am I supposed to know... blah"

Another problem was that many teachers tried desperately to be positive about the pupil "Kaylee would work really well if we could just get her to stop texting the layabouts who hang around the school gates..." and only told the parent good things; so when they got to me, they were unprepared for the truth and simply wrote it off as the rantings of a madman.

Some schools even give the kids a day off and have 'Parents Day' for no obvious reason, other to presumably make it harder for parents with jobs to attend. Amazingly, at other schools; parents don't even get to see their child's teachers, they just listen to a report read to them by the form teacher; which is an utter waste of time. Surprisingly few parents complain- I'd hit the roof.

Most parents never really had much of a clue about what they wanted or why they were there, as this report suggests. The ones that were clued up always took me by surprise. Best of all is when you mix up a child with another one who has a similar name and tell the parents how well they are doing before realising they were expelled last month.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mad, mad, mad

What has gone so wrong with our society that we allow this wretched woman, who stole £41 000; to get away scott free, just because she has blown the lot?

Under any sensible justice system, she would be working hard for the rest of her life to pay it back; first to her poor uncle and then after he croaks, towards the cost of a jail to stick her in.

Apparently 'scott' comes from 'scoet' which was Olde English for a tax

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's Your Time You're Wasting

As a special Christmas treat for any reader who, despite my constant advertising; hasn't got round to buying a copy of "It's Your Time You're Wasting", I have posted this link on the sidebar so that you can read a little bit of it and then hopefully buy the whole thing from Monday Books for £7.99 (free postage).

"It would make an ideal Christmas present either for yourself or for someone dear to you." Mrs. Chalk

Monday, November 30, 2009

Global Warming

After staggering back from the Newsagents yesterday, carrying the vast bulk of the Sunday Times under my arm and idly wondering whether anybody had ever managed to read a whole one; an article caught my eye about global warming. (I thought it was now called 'climate change'- why are things always being renamed? Did it offend someone?)

As I read the text and looked at the pictures, it dawned on me that maybe the reason many people are a bit sceptical about this topic is that those who write about it often don't make their case very clear. (I'm no expert myself)

For example the article claimed that rising levels of atmospheric Carbon dioxide causes global warming. There was no discussion of the possibility that it could be the other way round. (Maybe it can't be, but it would be worth knowing). Also, why did the accompanying temperature graph show drops from 1900 to 1910 and from 1940 to 1950, but the CO2 graph next to it showed rises during those periods? I'm not saying that there aren't simple explanation for these things, but if the Times can't be bothered to tell us what they are, then you can hardly blame readers for being a bit doubtful.

We are told that half a trillion tonnes of CO2 have been added to the atmosphere which sounds like an awful lot, until you realise that we haven't been told how much the atmosphere weighs. We then learn that temperatures have actually gone down between 1998 and 2007- and then that they haven't. I'm sure this must be important, but then there is no mention either of how the average temperature of the Earth is actually measured or how accurate it is (I haven't a clue)

I can't help but think that if I'm asking question like this whilst stuffing my face with toast and regretting my previous nights intake of real ale, then lots of other people must be asking more probing ones. Surely if we are faced with the possibility of mass human extinction then we deserve science articles in our papers that actually make sense.

Michael Barile

The case of former Dundee Maths Teacher Michael Barile has been dragging on for a couple of years. Reading between the lines, he appears to have manhandled a couple of highly unpleasant kids in his classroom and threatened them. There is no suggestion that he actually struck any of them.

He was sacked by the school, charged with assault and found guilty. His life has been completely ruined, his home has been attacked and his car vandalised. Now the judge has said that he shouldn't have been charged in the first place.

There are only two options for teachers nowadays:

1) You are a strict teacher who insists on good behaviour at all times in your classroom and demands that those pupils who refuse to behave are punished. In a good school this isn't too difficult. However if you adopt this approach in a bad school, you will eventually crack. (How many times can you cope with being told to "F*** Off!" by an obnoxious pupil who has got away with it time and time again because they know perfectly well that nobody higher up will want to get involved).

You then either lose it and whack the little wretch, get stressed and take it out on your family, or you give up and take the second option which is:

2) You are a nice teacher who turns a blind eye to what goes on in your classroom and always thinks the best of your pupils; blaming appalling behaviour on their 'difficult backgrounds' and 'challenges that they face' (or some other twaddle). This is a much easier path which is openly encouraged in many schools and on Teacher Training. It will not result in your appearance in court, but you will have to try not to think of the thousands of children who would have loved to learn something in your lessons but couldn't.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sheffield Student Houses in Crookes

Well it's that time of year again, when students across the land start looking for houses for the next academic year. It seems to get earlier and earlier each year (I remember we didn't start looking until about Easter).

If you happen to be lucky enough to be studying at Sheffield University and would like to live in a nice house in Crookes, then contact this guy who comes highly recommended from a friend

Thursday, November 26, 2009


My new sofa arrived yesterday, so Mrs C helped me load the old one onto Chalk Enterprises' van and I drove down to Oxfam, feeling a warm glow at the thought of doing my bit for those less fortunate than myself.

It took quite a while to work my way through the procession of gigantic 4*4 buses returning from the half mile school run and by the time I arrived, I had pretty much convinced myself that I would be greeted by a loud trumpet blast, before being escorted up a red carpet by a man in livery, with a dancing girl throwing rose petals down in front of me. All the staff would be lined up either side cheering, like I was Jordan.

It wasn't quite like this, but nevertheless I proudly marched up to the front desk and announced to the vaguely odd looking bloke that I had a nice sofa to donate which was clean, tasteful and compliant with all fire regulations. Could he possibly just help me carry it the ten feet from my van to the shop? I waited for him to embrace me with joy and invite passers by to come in and meet me, but instead he muttered into his feet:

"Sorry there's nobody here that can help you"
"Staff can't carry things for customers"
"But it's there, ten feet away! I only need you to hold one end of a sofa. It's not heavy. I'm sure he could carry it" (pointing at a little African boy in a large poster on the wall)

A short, plump woman in a suit with a badge that said 'Manager' then arrived. I explained again that I just wanted to donate my sofa to the little boy in the poster and indicated my van parked outside. So near and yet so far.

Unimpressed with my attempt to end global povery, she proudly announced that: "Staff aren't insured for carrying things! What if they slipped and had an accident?"

An elderly customer then offered to help; gave the manager his walking stick and before she could tell him that staff couldn't look after customer's belongings, the sofa was in the shop. All feelings of satisfaction however, had unfortunately long departed, to be replaced by a deep frustration at the direction we seem to be going in.

It might just have been my imagination, but I could swear that as I drove off, the same little boy in the huge poster covering the whole shop window seemed to be sticking two fingers up at me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bede Academy

In Bede Academy they want to chuck out the hell raisers who allow their mothers to park incorrectly, whereas everywhere I've taught, you pretty much had to murder the headmaster before being asked to leave. (Then you appealed to the School Governors and were let back in with another final warning)

I reckon they would struggle over the legality of this punitive parking policy, but it's good publicity for them without a doubt. See if you can get your school to announce something similarly draconian; maybe a detention if your father is late submitting his tax return or an essay if granddad is seen watering his shallots during a hosepipe ban? Next time there is a parents evening, go out into the car park with a torch and check everybody's tax disc.

(I've cut down on the amount of capital letters I use in this blog after a couple of recent complaints. I you'd prefer some more, just say. I only want to please.)

Scotland's For Me!

According to a recent survey of Scottish teachers, everything I have said over the last four years about behaviour in schools is completely wrong. Scotland is obviously the land of milk and honey compared with England, so let's all get up there straight away. (Maybe)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

School Phobia

A boy played truant from school. Following Government guidelines, the county council took his parents to court. They ended up being told to write a letter of apology to the family because the boy is apparently 'school phobic.'

I can't be the only one who finds myself increasingly divorced from modern society. Why are we going down this path which can only end when everybody has a medical condition of some kind to excuse their behaviour?

There are loads and loads of useful phobias. If a child doesn't want to get up in the morning, then they should claim to be Eosophobic. If they don't fancy sitting exams then a diagnosis of Testaphobia will do the trick. Don't want to come in during the Winter? Just be Cryophobic. (No need to be Chionophobic any more as every school seems to close as soon as the sky turns grey.) Hyelophobics can escape chemistry practicals and Papyrophobics must be provided with a Laptop Computer.

What on Earth is this lad going to do when he starts work? No doubt his employers will not be permitted to ask about his condition and will only discover it when he doesn't turn up.

Mind you, I can feel a bad case of Soceraphobia coming on over the festive season...

Science and Engineering

Science and Engineering have long suffered from the problem of being unfashionable and fairly difficult. They require some serious brain power rather than the ability to make a poster, take part in a non judgemental group workshop or just talk rubbish all day. Fewer and fewer bright students are taking these real subjects, so each year we drop further and further behind other countries. (Although we do have lots of Politics and Psychology graduates. Maybe they could design some offshore wind farms, space elevators or efficient solar panels for us?)

The Institute of Engineering and Technology are holding a series of competitions to try and get pupils to consider careers in Science and Engineering. Good luck to them as I don't think the Government are particularly interested. Have a look here

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Queen's Speech

My advice to all teachers with half a brain is to get out now and retrain as a lawyer. The latest Government 'guarantees' announced in the Queen's Speech will surely open the floodgates for disgruntled parents to complain and sue their children's schools. (And let's be honest, many of them will have a good case) I reckon we also need about 4 million personal tutors immediately, if all the pupils who have 'fallen behind' are to be given one-to-one help; so there's another career choice for you. I can't help wondering if there will be enough teachers left?

But it's all very well promising lots of good things on the teachers' behalf, but what about the other side of this contract? Where is the guarantee that parents will be held responsible for their children? Will they be guaranteed to discipline their children and support the school when it does the same? Where is the guarantee that teachers will be able to teach without endless new initiatives and mindless tick boxing. When will we be able to stop endlessly dumbing down, giving out prizes for nothing and most important of all- when will we be able to get rid of violent nightmare pupils to secure units, preferably deep underground?

Feel free to add a few wills? and whens? of your own

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hsu-Shian Ming

Every age produces a genius who stands above their contemporaries. For example Newton, Einstein and Hsu-Shian Ming


Watched the telly last night for a bit. Whoever said that the adverts are the best bit was clearly barking. I really am sick to death of Christmas; thank God its nearly over.

If moving sedately from side to side whilst waving some sort of game controller at the tv is our main weapon against the rise in obesity, then we really are stuffed.

Here's a puzzle someone told me over the weekend:

There are eight identical looking balls on the table in front of you along with a set of balance scales. (One of the balls is actually a bit heavier than all othe others) You don't get to touch any of them, you just tell me which balls to put on the scales. I will do two weighings and then you must tell me which is the heavier ball. (Each side of the balance scales is big enough to fit as many balls on it as you like)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Crime Scene

Note to all Heads. Next time a teacher comes into your office and says something along the lines of:

"I know, why don't we pretend to have been beaten up by robbers one morning next week to frighten the kids. I've got some fake blood from the joke shop and there's loads of bandages left in the first aid kit. Jim's got a mate who's a copper and they can come round, put up some of that stripey tape they use on the telly and pretend to investigate... it'll be a great laugh and we can call it 'Didactic Learning' or something daft! Go on, can we?"

It's probably best to say "No!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


There is a pub in one of the more wretched areas of Downtown, where you will inevitably be approached and asked if "you would like anything?" What they really mean is: "Would you like anything that is on sale at the Co op round the corner?" They then send a young scrote out to steal to order and you pay half the retail price. Whether this includes 3 for 2 offers and suchlike, I have no idea. It's like hiring a personalised shopper only slightly cheaper.

Anyway, apparently the recession is fuelling shoplifting. I can't help but think that a society where nobody dares tells children that stealing is wrong; combined with a legal system that prevents any real punishment if you are caught, is probably fuelling it a bit more. That's just my view however and no doubt the Honourable Society of Shoplifters will be getting ready to sue me.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Boy Named Sue

As someone who knows very little about libel law, I was a bit worried by this article a couple of weeks ago in the Times about bloggers being sued for libel. Apparently our laws give us much less right to free speech than, for example in America; so suing for libel here is becoming increasingly popular for those able to afford it. Apparently it costs a fortune to defend yourself against such a claim. Why they can't be dealt with by a magistrate in half an hour is beyond me.

The author Simon Singh is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association, who claim to be able to treat children for various ailments such as asthma and colic by manipulating their spines. He wrote in the Guardian that there is no evidence for this claim and they decided to try and silence him.

Other examples include the website Bad Psychics who apparently received a legal threat from some disgruntled psychic and took down their offending article. (If a psychic threatens to take you to court then no doubt they know what the outcome will be, so it's probably best to back down.)

The Society of Homeopaths took exception to Andy Lewis' Quackometer website which investigates dubious medical practices and threatened him with a libel suit, which seems to have had more effect than their medicines.

If everyone I have written unfavourably about decides to sue me, then the courts will grind to a halt and I will have to flee the country and live where the idea of free speech is more valued. I could perhaps set myself up as a magnet therapist, but I'd probably attract the wrong sort of people...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Eddy Nugent and The Map of Africa

If you enjoyed "Picking Up The Brass" by Eddy Nugent as much as I did (reviewed here), then you will love his sequel "The Map of Africa" where young Eddy is sent to cause chaos and mayhem, as he is posted first to the jungles of Belize and then Germany, to face the might of the Soviet Union with a few battered old Land Rovers. Unlike most sequels he doesn't run out of material halfway through and it's every bit as entertaining as his first book.

I'm not giving much away by confirming that there are no gruelling descriptions of SAS Selection or steely eyed killers moving silently through the darkness and Eddy is certainly not sent on any secret missions behind (or indeed anywhere near) enemy lines. He is to be found instead shirking, drinking and generally getting into trouble with his friends.

Basically you'll laugh a lot if you buy it. So do so this minute.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Creationism and Evolution

Whilst we're on the subject of Evolution, 60% of Brits apparently think that Creationism should be taught alongside Darwinian Evolution in Science Lessons.

From this we should conclude that 60% of the population are pretty dim. Creationism should certainly be discussed in lessons as it has excellent comedy value; but as for actually teaching it as a serious theory, I'd rather do Homeopathy, Crystal Healing and Fortune Telling.

Science is a strictly evidence based subject, not an opportunity to rote learn ancient myths.

They Don't Do They?

The Government appears to have finally discovered three years after I wrote about it in my book and about a decade after it became common knowledge; that believe it or not, some parents are actually prepared to tell lies in order to get their child into a decent school rather than just give in and send their child to an awful one. I'd love to know how much Dr Craig was paid to tell them something that many teachers and parents could have done for the cost of a second class stamp. Even better, he doesn't think that it should be made a crime, instead he wants to encourage councils to take parents to the civil courts. (Great advice when the only council that has attempted this had their case thrown out!)

My advice for what it's worth, remains to do whatever it takes to get your child into a good school.

It's simply a form of Darwinian evolution- parents who give a damn about their children take the trouble to do the research in order to find out how to fool the school if necessary. Those that don't, er... don't.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Eve Ritchie-Fallon

Headteacher Eve Ritchie-Fallon has become the latest person to be hung out to dry by the CPS following their policy of: "Believe any accusation made against someone in authority, no matter how ridiculous"

For a whole year this highly regarded woman; credited with turning around a failing institution, has been suspended from her job awaiting trial not for burglary, fraud or murder; but because a pupil alleged that she slapped him when he wouldn't stop smoking!

Never mind the fact that he was already at a special centre for nightmare children; had a history of bad behaviour, or that he had ADHD and would say the first thing that came into his head.

Mother was no doubt advised by her no win no fee solicitor that there was a good chance of some taxpayers money coming her way, and also that her dear son could do whatever he liked at the centre, as nobody would dare punish him whilst this complaint was being investigated.

I wouldn't have wanted the Head put on trial if she had run down the street waving the boys ear muffs (what sort of boy wears ear muffs?) whilst shouting "That'll learn him!". However despite being found innocent of all charges by the court, Hampshire Council are still suspending her whilst they carry out their own independant investigation! I wonder whether local Council Tax payers think this is a sensible way to spend their money?

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Sorry about the lack of posts, I've been away for the last week and have just returned in time for the annual festival of Licensed Begging, otherwise known as Halloween.

I have just been reprimanded on my doorstep by an anxious parent, because my ill behaved dog escaped my clutches, chased their child and apparently "frightened 'im! " I thought the whole idea of Halloween was to be frightened, but maybe I'm behind the times. Mrs C apologised for my grumpiness and gave them some sweets.

I had to laugh at one little boy, who had clearly misunderstood the nature of the event and had come dressed as Guy Fawkes. I gave him a carrot; kids eat too many sweets nowadays.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cambridge Primary Review

Now in my early 40s, I started primary school in September at the age of 4, shortly before my 5th birthday. Those with birthdays after Christmas started four months later in January. I can only remember vague details; a large train set, playing with building blocks, lining up outside the classroom and sitting quietly whilst listening to our teacher.

I don't remember anybody being traumatised by this, or 'not being ready for formal teaching'. I do remember that we all learnt to read, write and do simple sums. I can remember landmarks such as learning my five times table a couple of years later and doing hundreds of addition and subtraction sums from a large textbook. I think that we learnt most processes like this; hardwiring methods into our brains by repetition, which is probably why I can pick up a pen and do a long division sum without thinking today, despite not having done so for decades.

My parents probably gave me a head start as did many others. I don't recall ever seeing any of the examples frequently quoted by experts of children who cannot line up, sit still, or learn to hold a pencil without throwing it on the floor. We all learnt to do these things simply because the teacher told us to, and any mucking about was discouraged by a slap on the legs.

There is much debate at the moment about the Cambridge Primary Review, whose 600 page report calls for a raising of the age that children start school and a delaying of what they call 'formal learning' (and I would just call 'teaching') along with the abolition of SATS (to avoid 'teaching just to pass the test') and a broadening of the curriculum. (There is a constant battle between those who want to concentrate on the '3 Rs' and those who want to teach more broadly) The report claims that in other countries, children start later but apparently overtake us by age 11. Maybe other countries still slap them on the legs if they don't sit still.

You can read more learned opinions about it here or here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

BMy Charity

I'm always getting emails from people raising money for charity, usually with a link to JustGiving, which enables you to give money online very easily.

Being the nasty cynical type, I always wonder where the money actually goes; so I wasn't too surprised to see that JustGiving takes 5% of your donation which helped pay their Chief Executive Zarine Kharas £170 000 last year.

A bit of searching about turned up BMyCharity who do exactly the same thing, but don't charge any commission; instead they appear to make their money through sponsorship and advertising (And I don't know what their boss earns either)

I don't have any connection to either of these two sites, so comments from anyone who has would be interesting.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Terry Leahy

Terry Leahy has 280 000 employees and whatever we might think of Tesco, he certainly isn't daft. He's not alone in his condemnation of State Education either; the CBI found that over half of the employers they surveyed, said that the basic literacy and numeracy of school leavers was unsatisfactory.

Mind you, we know it can't be true; their GCSE results are better than ever...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Law and Order

Here's two examples of recent incidents which say a lot about the state of Law and Order in this Country.

In the first, two men take the Law into their own hands with the result that a couple of yobs receive a well deserved beating. (I love the way the man in the black dress carefully retrieves his handbag after delivering such a great punch). In the second, a family is driven up the wall after they do the correct thing and call the Police after their car is vandalised.

The motto: I'll leave it to you to decide...

MP's Expenses Fiddles

As the row about MPs Expenses starts up again, I do wonder if I'm the only one who doesn't understand the following:

If I were to 'accidentally' claim the full cost of a Buy to Let Mortgage on my Tax Return and then get found out, I wouldn't just be able to say to the Inland Revenue; "Oh sorry about that, I made a mistake because I didn't understand the rules; I'll pay it back"

No, they would say; "OK Mr Chalk and by the way we are fining you the same amount again as it is your responsibility to know the rules."

If I were an officer in the Armed Forces and was discovered to be claiming for something that I was not entitled to, I would be lucky to keep my position. Excuses involving the phrase; "I didn't realise" would simply not be accepted. Once again, it is considered the claimants responsibility to check what they allowed to claim for and if there is any doubt; not to do so.

Why are MPs considered to be above such sanctions? They didn't admit to wrongdoing, they were caught and then confessed to 'errors' and 'mistakes' without any real fear of punishment. Incredibly, some even tried to make a virtue of paying their stolen money back. Since when has paying back what you have dishonestly taken, been considered a punishment? Imagine a judge who said "OK Mr Scrote, just pay back the £50 you nicked from Mrs Miggins and we'll say no more about it."

The first leader to announce that they will unconditionally sack every one of their MPs found to have been wrongly claiming expenses, can have my vote next year. (ie I'll probably save myself a trip to the nearest Primary School)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Xmas Time

I have just seen my first advert for something to do with Christmas. It has caused me much distress.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sticks and Stones

Jock, Polack, Wop, Yank, Cockney, Limey, Paki, Mick, Spic, Zipper Head, Eskimo, Geordie, Honky, Taff, Chink, Frog, Gypo, Aye Tye, Nigger, Scouser, Kraut, Sand Wog etc etc.

All of these are slang names for people from different parts of the World. I'm sure there are hundreds of others. The only difference between them is that some earn you more compensation than others.

I just wish I'd thought about the possibilities for financial enrichment before I became Self Employed.

Barnsley Chop

Spare a thought for the poor parents of Barnsley, who aren't even allowed a quiet drink to calm their nerves in preparation for the return of their dreadful offspring.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Another Gem of an Idea

I can remember being told on Teacher Training over 20 years ago about the amazing idea of sitting bright pupils next to dim ones so that the clever ones could help the unclever ones. (I think they were probably described as 'less highly achieving children' or whatever the fashionable term was back then.)

I can also remember foolishly suggesting that we could take it one stage further; pair off the pupils into bright and thick, then just go home and leave them to it.

Although my comment raised a few hastily smothered giggles, the bearded blatherer delivering the lecture was not amused. We must embrace new techniques and look to more modern methods blah...

I eventually nodded off, as I did in virtually every PGCE lecture and thought no more about it until last week when a friend told me that he had been in a 'Best Practice Session' (Note: Chalk's 9th Law states that the importance of something is always inversely proportional to how important its title makes it sound). He had been forced to sit for half an hour listening to some imbecile expound the virtues of this exact same idea.

Can you imagine how delighted you would be as a parent; to find out that your child was doing their teacher's job rather than pushing ahead and learning more for themselves? I would go absolutely mad and immediately storm into school ranting, raving and waving my arms about like a loon.

This is a classic case of an idea which appeals to those who believe that as long as every child gets a 'C' then that's ok. It also conveniently lets the teacher off the difficult task of stretching the bright kids.

Lock 'em Up

I cheerfully plead guilty to locking at least half a dozen pupils in cupboards for being a damned nuisance on various occasions during my time as a teacher. It was a quick and effective way of dealing with them and enabled me to get on with teaching those who wished to learn something.

Spare a thought for this chap, then

Once I even forgot about one of them, left the room at the end of the lesson and had to hastily return fifteen minutes later to let him out of my stock cupboard. (To the horror of the teacher who was teaching French in my classroom)

Gran Torino

Saw Gran Torino last night- what a great film. The next time a 78 year old tells me to get off his lawn, I shall do exactly that.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Bitter's Back, Emin's Off

Mind you it's not all bad news: my 'Back to Bitter' campaign appears to be working at last and Tracey Emin's off to France!

Hide and Sikh

Just in case there is anybody out there who doesn't think that our Country has gone stark raving mad, have a read of this story where Gurmeal earns a quick £10 000 for not wanting to wear a helmet during riot training.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Martin Henderson

Future Archaeologists will no doubt be astounded when they find the remains of Martin Henderson, Head of Westmorland Primary School in Greater Manchester. Unique amongst the Headmaster species, he appears to have a spine.

He has had enough of wretched parents swearing at their offspring and each other on the school premises. He has declared that from now on, anyone doing so will be told to leave.

Now whether he does actually do this; or whether some Human Rights organisation decides to stand up for the rights of the Underclass to express themselves freely, remains to be seen.

For now however, he deserves to be our hero of the day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gadget in the Telegraph

Have a read of Inspector Gadget's article in the Telegraph about the tragic case of Fiona Pilkington. As usual he hits the nail squarely on the head with regard to where the problems really lie.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I've written about Coursework before- how it used to be a complete farce when the pupils did it at home. (Those with good parents got them to help, or pay me to do it; whilst those whose parents wore gold chains and football shirts simply lost it)

No doubt entirely due to my rantings, the system was changed so that Coursework is now done in school under something like exam style conditions. This has been a big improvement and generally results in work being handed in that has mainly been done by the kids themselves.

So far, so good. Now their teacher marks it.

Hang on a minute, I hear you say. Their own teacher actually marks their exam work? Oh yes.

My friend Ernie is a strict marker. If it's wrong then it gets marked wrong. Unfortunately this results in his groups getting lower Coursework marks than the others, which reflects badly on him. His protests that the other teachers mark far too softly have fallen on deaf ears, as the marking guidelines are open to a huge range of interpretation because the questions themselves are often vague. Last week he showed me half a dozen examples of answers where the pupil clearly had no idea what is going on, but they had been given almost full marks by others in his department. It was very sad to see.

"There's only one thing for it!" he declared sagely. "I need to sort myself out and start marking these wrong answers right. That's the way forward"

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Over a year ago, I abandoned the useless monolith that is BT and bought a Dongle from Orange so that I could continue to waste my time on the Internet. It works extremely well.

Yesterday however, I got my comeuppance. In a last ditch bid to join the Modern World, I attempted to sell my first item on Ebay. After spending an hour working my way through the advert, taking a photo and uploading it; I was informed that I wouldn't be able to go any further because I did not have a landline.

I have a bank account, a credit card, mortgage, driving licence, and passport (What a rip off they are now- seventy odd quid and half the people I saw last month at Luton airport smugly joining the special queue couldn't even get them to scan.) However because I lack a plug in telephone, the tired old rustbucket that once carried us proudly around the country must remain gently decaying on my drive.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Very Impressive

In a world of ever increasing regulation and "can't do that" culture in schools, it's good to see two kids showing a huge amount of ingenuity, resourcefulness and just $150 to take photographs of the Earth from a height of 17 miles (about three times higher than a commercial airliner flies at)

Here's the link to the newspaper article and here is their own website

Thursday, September 17, 2009

For God's Sake Even I Can Do This

Try this little test:

Imagine that you are blindfolded and there is a bag in front of you containing a large number of five different types of sweet. How many must you take out of the bag to be certain of having chosen three of the same type?

Think about it for a few minutes, it's not that hard.

Now if you got the right answer, phone up your local Primary School and offer to teach the staff.

(The answer's in this article)

Apparently only one in five new British Primary School Teachers can solve this problem, which according to their spokesperson; means that 75% can't.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Last week's news (what else would you expect from me?) included a survey claiming that teachers often looked at their class lists for the new year and made judgements on what the pupils would be like, purely on the basis of their first name.

The article was clearly inspired by my award winning game Top Set, Bottom Set. What really shocks me though, is that only 49% admitted to judging by name, indicating a worrying decline in the IQ of new teachers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Up and down the Country, tens of thousands of students will be hugely excited at the prospect of starting University next week. For many it will be nothing less than the start of a new life.

But for an ever increasing number who are not particularly academic, it will be the worst decision they ever make.

They will either leave after three years with a £25 000 overdraft and a Mickey Mouse Degree, which offers little more than a job in a call centre; or drop out after finding that the course they were recommended is actually way beyond their ability. These young people will quite rightly feel a great anger towards their schools and former teachers for never explaining these possibilities to them. Instead they were constantly praised and given A and B grades in exams which they could not have even passed 25 years ago.

I've said it a dozen times on this blog and in my book; University should have remained for the top few percent of the academic spectrum. That way we could have avoided the dumbing down and consequent reduction in value of so many degrees along with the introduction of all the comical ones, which bring further ridicule to a once highly regarded qualification. (I don't even need to list them anymore-just make up a few names that sound much too ridiculous to be genuine, add the word "Studies" then use Google to find half a dozen places that proudly offer them)

With far less students, we could easily afford to pay for Course Fees and give them a decent grant to live on. Latest Monday Books Author, trumpeter of all things positive about Britain and Apprentice Rachman; Steve Pope might not approve, but even he cheerfully admits that his tenants are getting dimmer than the new energy efficient lightbulbs he has to change for them.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Maths Ability Compared with The 70s

"According to a recent survey" which is a phrase I usually assume means "This may or may not be true"; standards in Maths are no better than they were in 1976 despite the fact that 55% pass GCSE compared with 23% who passed the O Level then.

My own completely non-scientific opinion based simply on my experience as both a pupil and teacher, is that ability in basic Maths has declined considerably.

The Raleigh Chopper was also a lot cooler than the bikes you see youngsters riding today.

Cheer Up!

If you're feeling down about the new school term after being bombarded by new initiatives filled with phrases that sound like gibberish; then cheer up, because at least you aren't a teacher in South Africa. Last time I was there, the Asian taxi driver who was taking me to the Airport pointed out two Bars opposite each other on a street in Johannesburg and commented:

"10 years ago under Apartheid, I couldn't go into the one on the left because it was Whites Only"

"Now I can't go into either, because I'd get beaten up by the Black gangs that run them both."

Thursday, September 03, 2009


If you are at all into mountainbiking, have a look at this video of Lance's recent win in the Leadville 100 in Colorado just a few weeks after the Tour de France.

Now tell me that you don't want to do it next year...

Girls, Boys and Bullying

Girls currently get better GCSE results than boys, which is undoubtedly down to the fact that they are more likely to be drunk. (As is anyone who thinks that GCSE's haven't been dumbed down to become a joke qualification nowadays)

The table halfway down this article also shows the clear link between enjoying yourself at School (Turkey) and bullying (Turkey again)

Raining Training

Mrs C went back to school yesterday for the celebration of nonsense otherwise known as Training Day. A deluge of new ideas, strategies and plans was breathlessly announced by the Senior Leadership Team (go on-try and say those three words with a straight face) which varied from the merely unworkable (kids with ADHD go straight to the front of the canteen queue) to the downright bizarre. (Wearing a different coloured hat, depending on something or other)

One that didn't make the list was:

"Make the kids sit quietly in neat rows and teach them something useful"


Am now back in the UK after a couple of weeks cycling round Slovenia (I wasn't quite sure where it was either until the plane landed) and very nice it was too, thank you for asking.

The Northern bit where we went is full of hills, forests and rivers- just like Austria but half the price. The natives are friendly and the language pretty incomprehensible: "Dwa Lashko Prosim! " usually causes a couple of beers to arrive and the rest is an amusing excercise in sign language. It's been a long time since I've stared at a restaurant menu and not understood a single word, with the result that two of us ordered the cover charge with an extra set of cutlery.

Anyway, the weather was lovely (in stark contrast with this morning's view from my bedroom window which looks like the end of the World) and my bike survived another plane journey, much to my astonishment.

Monday, August 03, 2009


Even our Council, which burns every last penny it receives; hasn't yet started to charge people to use litter bins. Why is it then that if you walk through a nice area, there is very little of it blowing around, but Scuzzzyville is knee deep in the stuff?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chalk Enterprises

At the end of my book, I mentioned that I was going to set up in business with the idea of becoming rich beyond Mrs Chalk's wildest dreams. It is fascinating to look at the differences between my old job and what I do now.

For example, meetings in teaching are regular, frequent, last forever and never, ever result in any action. There is endless waffle and debate, punctuated by stupid questions about points which have already been discussed. Everybody eventually goes home exhausted and perplexed.

Meetings now are irregular, short; always result in firm decisions and/ or someone getting very cross.

Whilst I was toying with the idea, I went to speak to seven people who ran small companies employing between none and ten workers. They had all been going for between two and twenty five years. Their comments were very interesting especially with regard to employment, in the light of this recent report.

Three out of the seven advised me never to employ anyone at all if I could possibly avoid it. They claimed that contracting out work might be more expensive but that in the long term, the endless nightmares of Employment Law made it worthwhile. Four out of the seven advised me not to employ a woman between 18 and 45 under any circumstances, because of the devastating effect maternity leave can have on a small business and two mentioned the increased chances of a sexism or harassment claim being made against you or another employee.

I also asked the Business Studies teacher for advice, but I don't recall them ever saying anything like that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


If there are any thin or honest people in this town, could they please get in touch straightaway?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Common Sense

STOP PRESS: There has been a dangerous outbreak of common sense at Edinburgh City Council. Officials have assured me that it is unlikely to spread further and normal service will be resumed shortly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Etape du Tour

If any readers were racing in the Etape on Monday, wasn't the Ventoux as hot as Hell? I've never seen as many strong, fit looking people staggering along pushing their bikes, sitting by the side of the road head in hands, or just lying semi conscious in the trees.

Lance Armstrong always used to say "It's not about the bike" when journalists inevitably started asking him about his bicycle, rather than his training and preparation. The meaning of this was hammered home to me, struggling up that damned mountain under a baking sun. Still at least I didn't die there like Tom Simpson in 1967 or collapse at the top like Eddy Merckx in 1970. (Although I felt like emulating both of them)

The Pros tackle the same route in the Tour de France on Saturday (hopefully Bradley Wiggins will grit his teeth, climb like a madman and end up on the podium in Paris) and you can watch it on ITV4, unless like me you are a digital dinosaur and didn't even realise such a station existed. An enthusiastic sweepstake is currently taking place on how many minutes Armstrong beats my time by. If you want to enter, here's a tip- don't go for a low number.

Sorry to keep adding to this post, but does anyone know whether the man with the artificial leg made it, or the couple riding a tandem? The water station at Chalet Reynard on Ventoux that had run out of water was a bit dispiriting, as was the huge traffic jam later down to Malaucene. I descended by bike, throwing caution to the wind with all the excitement; flying past the stationary cars and completely forgetting that the road was now open. This foolishness resulted in me very nearly being wiped out by an ambulance making its way up the Mountain (Which would have been an extremely amusing irony and definitely one of the top ways I would like to croak, if given the choice)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Good advice

Whenever young teachers ask me for advice, I always give them the following two tips:

1) Don't sleep in Wheelie Bins.

2) Don't show the kids x-rated video of yourself.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Peter Harvey

Think back to when you were at school and how much fun it was to wind the teacher up until they exploded in a fit of rage, clobbering the daftest boy in the class whilst glowing bright red with incandescent fury. Nowadays it's even better as they dare not do anything to vent their feelings, so we end up with a case like that of Peter Harvey.

Now I suspect that we don't really know the full facts of this incident yet, so I'll not comment on it. I am thankful however that I only came very close to lashing out at a pupil who had been driving me mad all lesson, on about 840 different occasions during my teaching career.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Home Alone

The Government is considering waiving tuition fees for students who don't need grants or loans. This will help limit University to the wealthy and those whose parents will allow them to live at home.

Why on Earth can't we face up to reality and go back to paying for the clever kids to go to Uni rather than encouraging those who can barely read or write to rack up a £20 000 debt whilst attempting a Mickey Mouse degree which, should they complete it; will offer them absolutely no possibility of a decent job?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Leonora Rustamova

Poor old Leonora was a teacher at Calder High School who took on the challenge of trying to interest teenage boys in reading novels.

This would have been too difficult for me, but this woman was made of sterner stuff. She took the time and effort to write a novel which was apparently a bit 'Racy' (probably a lot less racy than whatever other material they perused.)

As a reward for going well beyond the call of duty, her head appears to have sacked her.

I was supposed to be discussing this on Five Live today but managed to miss the call due to a previous appointment as chimp handler at Michael Jackson's funeral. You were therefore spared my foolish comments.

ps I've just been told that a Facebook Group has been set up to support her here (Don't ask me what this means)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yellow is the Colour of my True Love's Hi Viz Jacket...

Whilst driving through town today I noticed a group of about 20 schoolchildren all about 11 or 12 years old, getting on a bus.

The sun was blazing, there was not a cloud in the sky and it was absolutely baking hot; but every one of them was wearing a luminous vest. I was so amazed that I almost ran over one of their teachers (who was looking utterly ridiculous in her own bright yellow high-viz jacket.)

I am well aware that there is a battle going on between the Health and Safety Officials who say that schools deliberately misinterpret their rules and the schools who put the blame on them.

So, can anyone tell me:

a) Why are kids wearing these crazy things?
b) Why do the teachers not have enough dignity not to?

Monday, June 22, 2009



I apologise for the interruption to your evening, but Fran from Oop North Somewhere has just informed me that from September, the Form Tutors at their school will be renamed 'Achievement Tutors'.

This leads us neatly round to Chalk's 9th Law of Teaching:

The grander the title given, the less able the person who gave it.

Your own examples are of course welcome.

Class of 2009

Over the next few weeks, almost 400 000 students will graduate from our Universities. Many of these will not find jobs at all, or end up working in jobs that they could have started at the age of 16.

My prediction is that this Summer at long last, schools will finally begin to question the accepted doctrine of encouraging every pupil who can spell their own name to rush blindly into taking on £20 000 worth of debts in order to gain a worthless degree from an institution that should never have been allowed to call itself a University in the first place.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


How exactly is it in the public interest to expose the identity of (and therefore make it impossible for him to continue) a man who publicises the numerous failings of modern Policing; which are, judging by the popularity of his Blog presumably of interest to the public?

By this logic, it would certainly be in the public interest for the Times to publish the identity of a man who has made the mistake of frequently criticising the shambles that passes for State Education.

Hang on I'll be right back, there's somebody at the door...

Monday, June 15, 2009

In Hot Water

Those of you who are struggling to raise money for a new minibus or buy enough textbooks will be delighted to hear that Head Greg Martin manages to get paid £85 000 for managing a spa and pool. (I'd just pay one of the Top Set kids £50 a week to do it)

Who paid for this facility in the first place and how hard is it to 'manage' a swimming pool? Mind you it is Lambeth Council so I suppose anything is possible. More importantly can Mrs C. get say, £55k for managing the 'Exercise Book Distribution Unit' at her school?

I've been asked to advertise vacancies in schools every so often, so here's the first one.

Position School Secretary
Requirements Would suit female with prominent chest
Apply to Al Islah Muslim Girls School, Blackburn. (Please enclose a photograph)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Burn My Money in front of me Please

Now that we are all heartily sick of hearing about MPs spending the taxpayers money on moats, duck islands and helipads why don't we look into Nonsense Agencies such as the GTCE and the Training Development for Schools (TDA)?

The Times alleges here that TDA boss Graham Holley managed to spend a few thousand on a nice trip to Melbourne for an 'education conference' and later went to Rome to learn about leadership, (like teaching, this is something you are either good at or not- if you aren't a natural leader then all the training in the World can only make you sound like one)

Isn't it strange that they always seem to go somewhere nice to learn about leadership. Have you ever heard of a conference in Hull, Tipton or Scunthorpe for example?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Show me the Money

The Government is proposing to pay about £3000 per year extra to entice people to take a job as a crowd controller in challenging (ie crap) schools. Have a look at the article before you ask me the obvious question:

Won't the staff who are already there get a bit upset about doing the same job for three grand less than those who've just arrived?

Regular readers will also be familiar with my cynical view of any sentence that starts with the words "Research shows..." I wonder how much of your money was spent discovering the astonishing fact that kids do better if they have a good teacher?

Mind you it's a good job they never offered me a bonus to work at St. Thickchilds- I would only have blown it on a Somali Cruise.

Friday, June 05, 2009

So That's Why They Call It Great Britain...

One man who clearly doesn't think that Britain is on its last legs is the latest Monday Books author, Steve Pope. When we first met last weekend, I naturally offered him the secret Monday Authors funny handshake; assuming that anyone writing a book of that title as the Government is collapsing, whilst we suffer the worst recession since 1930; could only be writing under a pseudonym like Copperfield, Gadget and myself. I assured him that I was fine about calling him by whatever name he wanted.

He no doubt decided on the spot that I was a complete loon, but was polite enough not to say anything to the effect. Anyway, I've now finished his book and have to admit that it is absolutely fascinating. There's loads and loads of stuff that I never knew about, mixed in with lots of funny stories about the various characters who have put the 'Great' in Britain. It's written alphabetically, which makes it good for people like me with short attention spans, because you can dip in and out of it when you have a spare minute, then later casually drop in a gem to friends in the Pub along the lines of; "Did you know that...."; making you appear very knowledgeable indeed.

It's available from Amazon here, or direct from Monday Books here.

Open a College

Have you had enough of gobby, pig ignorant pupils who know full well that they can do what they like in your lessons? Do you find yourself harbouring violent thoughts towards them and their wretched parents? Is the endless stream of new and ever more bizarre initiatives from the SLT getting you down to the point where you feel you can take no more?

Well here's the answer. Rather than worrying about Inspections, GCSE results and all that nonsense, just rent a room somewhere cheap and open up your very own College. There is no law to stop you, so the next step is to get an advertisement for your World Renowned Centre of Excellence up and running on the Internet. Before you know it, you will have hundreds of students from Pakistan begging to enrol in order to fulfill their lifelong ambition of studying hard in Britain. They will be only too happy to pay the Course fees in advance (in heroin if you like) in return for your college stamp on their student visa application.

No need to worry about hiring any staff though, and rest assured that nobody will dare accuse you of any wrongdoing for fear of being labelled racist.

The Dangers of Swimming Goggles

Whilst the Aussies seem to be trying to bring back Hanging in their schools, we are banning swimming goggles.

Monday, June 01, 2009


Those of you with children about to go into year 9 this September would be well advised to ask your school exactly what they are planning on teach in English, Maths and Science now that the SATS tests for their age group have been abolished.

If the recent emails I've been receiving are anything to go by; they are about to be replaced with a year of utter nonsense focusing on such gems as 'model making' 'creative thinking' and 'pupil driven unstructured work' That will certainly help us compete on a global stage, then.

There are two problems here:

1) The kids waste a year before the GCSE syllabus starts in Year 10.

2) The Government will conclude that teachers and schools can't be trusted to educate children unless they are told exactly what to teach and when to do it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

University Complaints

At University 25 years ago, I can remember sitting through numerous lectures which were nothing more than an hour of incomprehensible mutterings and scribbled equations, delivered by a man dressed in a random set of garments from Oxfam, who clearly felt uncomfortable interacting with the human race and straying too far away from a test tube and Bunsen Burner. I can't remember caring though.

Nowadays the students complain if the lecturer doesn't turn up, is late or just completely rubbish. Rightly so I suppose, now that they are paying. The only reason there aren't more complaints is that many students struggle to read and write. Manchester Metropolitan even has a text messaging service for those who can't string a sentence together but don't want to feel left out.

As the Universitites are funded by student numbers; they never complain, no matter how many halfwits are delivered to them to do Cartooon Studies, Cultural studies or Paint Management and Monitoring. They just give a First to all those who turn up, a Second to those who don't and a Douglas (don't know what the modern word for these is) to the rest who can't even remember which former Poly they are at. (Note to parents; any subject with the word Studies in it, is just trying desperately to get you to take it seriously. Resist this tempation, laugh out loud and blow the money earmarked for your offspring's tuition fees on an extended tour of Australia and New Zealand.)

Monday, May 18, 2009


Well at least the Scots are trying to do something about the ever growing problem of violent wretches who attack their teacher or each other and simply return to class after a good talking to by the Head or a one day holiday. Trouble is, any psychologist worth their beard will just announce that Wayne is suffering from attention surplus somethingorother and has special 'needs' which we must bend over backwards to accommodate. In the interests of equality, no doubt vicious elbow-toucherThelma Hoskins (67) would also find herself being assessed by some nutter who fancied being a Scientist but wasn't bright enough to do a real one.

Still, whilst the tradition of wearing a tie seems to be falling victim to Health and Safety, another one (ie making fun of kilt wearing Scots) is still going strong

Someone recently suggested that I ask teachers to send in their own stories or articles for publication on this blog. I'm all in favour of this (as it saves me writing them) and obviously they get to stay anonymous. I've actually received quite a few already, but they have all been either boring as hell or would only appeal to an eight year old. However, judging by the comments and emails I get; there are plenty of teachers out there who could write something amusing, cynical or nasty (ie in keeping with my blog), so get on with it and send them to me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

David Buth

I wish I'd thought of climbing up a tree whilst I was doing Teacher Training. The various loons in charge would have absolutely loved it. (Mind you, some toe rag would no doubt have attempted to cut it down with a stolen chain saw)

I can just see it now. Me dressed up like Robin Hood, precariously balanced on a swaying branch 30 feet up, armed only with a megaphone (and a bow and arrow to ensure discipline). Eventually though, I wood probably have had to bough to pressure from the Head to come down as the kids ran riot below; ignoring my attempts to conduct a Science Practical from my leafy lab. (What the Health and Safety people would have to say about the whole thing doesn't bear thinking about.)

Anyway, Mr Buth gives regular updates on his arboreal adventure here

I just spent my time climbing up the walls.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Footloose, Footloose...

If poor Chenille thinks that she is hard done by, then she should count herself lucky that she doesn't attend Heritage Christian School in Ohio, where they appear to be remaking the 1980s film Footloose (remember that Kenny Rogers jingle?)

Tyler Frost (who looks to be about 30 years old in the photo) has committed the heinous crime of Mixed Dancing and must now pay the price.

I've never been to Ohio (in fact I don't think I even know anybody who's been there) but stuff like this does make you worry a bit about some of the people who are sponsoring our Academies (and getting a say in what is taught in them).

Mind you, I suppose at least Tyler had learnt to read before he didn't graduate.

ps If you are now thinking of sending your offspring there, here's a link to the school website

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Sorry, I've not posted for a while- been doing some work for Chalk Enterprises' Overseas Division, sorting out the import of some rare breed pigs from a small farm near Mexico City. We've sunk all our money into this venture, so I hope it will be a success.

Ok, to be honest I just got fed up of whining about the same old problems in British Education, which lets face it; aren't likely to get better any time soon.

However, when I glanced through my email box yesterday; in amongst a whole load of junk, were a couple of tales which might amuse you.

Here's one from a teacher working in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire. It's a Cinderella story about a poor girl named after a type of curtain fabric, who cannot go to the Ball. Sour faced mother had spent a Kings Ransom on a 'limo' (defined in the Concise Oxford Dictionary as: a long white motor vehicle which picks up and later disgorges fat, orange people)

You can read more about it in the local paper which seems quite sympathetic to her. The locals who commented seem a bit more down to Earth however.

Monday, March 16, 2009

In Like Flynn

Like David Flinn, I once had three girlfriends; but unlike him, it wasn't their demise that caused me problems. When they all happened to meet, following a series of extremely unfortunate coincidences; it was my own death that looked like being the most likely outcome.

Meanwhile, Alex Dolan teacher and journalist might soon be Alex Dolan, Journalist. She is in trouble with the General Teaching Council for exposing the fiasco that passes for education in many schools. She carried a hidden camera and filmed a few lessons for a Channel 4 Programme at the same time that I was writing my book. (I kept my real name secret because I didn't fancy my chances of paying my mortgage as Frank Chalk, Author.)

Another teacher (Angela Mason) did a similar thing for Channel Five and believe it or not, was actually condemmed by the teachers' own Union, the NUT. She was also suspended for a year by the GTC. So there you have it; keep quiet and keep your job.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Teacher Training

I spent a year training to be a teacher in the late 1980s. Apart from a couple of months spent teaching in a school, the whole thing was an utter waste of time which I enjoyed immensely; as it was very easy and enabled me to be a student for another year, but with more money. Also, the girls were better looking than on my Degree Course.

To be honest, teaching is one of those jobs that you can either do or you can't. If the course had been three weeks long and simply involved following a few teachers and getting some useful tips, then I can't honestly say that I would have been any better or worse at the end than I was after the best part of a year sleeping through endless waffle on educational theory, didactic somethingorother, multicultural lesson plans etc. Oh and copying; sorry- writing a few essays, which of course simply regurgitated what our lecturers had said. (Actually, I could usually only speculate on what they might have said)

I recently spoke to someone who had just finished their PGCE Year enthusing about how beneficial it had been. After hearing a bit more, I realised that it sounded just like my course was 20 years ago but with new buzzwords!

Now the Government is proposing to cut the course down to 6 months and the Teaching Unions say that this is a Bad Thing.

Monday, March 09, 2009


The unarguable fact that the gap between Comprehensive and Private Education has widened in the last ten years makes the slogan 'Education, Education, Education' seem very hollow indeed.

Parents, pupils and schools all play a part in this; but not to worry, the Department for Children, Schools and Families have decided that:

"Our policies are working and the gap between rich and poor is closing."

You just can't respond to that.

Up in the morning's no for me...

Dr Paul Kelley, Head of Monkseaton High School has decided that the best way to help teenagers prepare for a successful career is to allow them to lie in bed for another couple of hours each day.

Whilst his announcement was no doubt applauded by Britain's youth, alarm bells will have begun to ring in wiser heads on hearing the following logic:

Early Starts = Creation of Teenage Zombies
Therefore school should start later!

Instead of:

Early Starts = Creation of Teenage Zombies
Therefore tell the parents not to allow them to stay up so late!

The bells will have become deafening by the end of the second paragraph where we hear the dreaded words: 'Research shows' and 'profound impact'

How did we ever manage in the past?

He saves the best for last however with the revelation that pupils scored 90% in a GCSE Science Exam despite never having studied the subject. This is because GCSE Science has become an utter farce. (My dog has complained about the 'C' Grade that he was awarded.) The only sensible suggeststion is that kids need frequent bouts of exercise.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Maths and B+Q

Maths teachers up and down the Land are to be sent a little booklet showing them how to teach their subject. Apparently Ofsted, the Schools Inspectors reckon that the kids are just being taught to pass the exams.

This is of course absolutely true and has always been the case, whether it was for the 11+, the 'O' Level or whatever. For the vast majority of people, Maths just isn't very interesting and 99% of the population will never need to do any algebra or solve a quadratic equation after they leave school.

The fact is, most of them can't do the things that might be of some use. For example if are at B+Q and you want some skirting board which comes in 3 metre lengths and your room is 17 feet by 13, then a grasp of mental arithmetic and estimation might well save you an extra journey (and if I had to give one benefit of mathematics it would be avoiding a trip to B+Q)

My 60 year old handyman can do this easily, (and he left school at 15) but if you ask a selection of school leavers, most will look around helplessly until you provide a calculator which will enable them to get the wrong answer.

Try asking "what's 20% off £15?" for a similar response.

Throughout my teaching 'career' (don't laugh) pupils would ask me "why do we have to know this?" and wave a page of their textbook at me. If nothing else, I was always honest and would reply:

"So that you get a certificate which might help you get a better job, or allow you to learn more things"

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Going, Going, Gone!

Every school I ever worked in had at least one dimwit in the Management Team. They were always easy to identify; just let them speak one sentence and they give themselves away.

However poor old Rachel from Pennsylvania has raised the bar by accidentally selling one of her mobile classrooms on Ebay for a dollar. Does she remind you of anyone from your place?

Andy Drzewiecki

If Andy Drzewiecki (who represented us at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 as a weightlifter in the over 105 Kg category) told me to go to the Heads office; you can rest assured that I would be out of the room faster than a falling barbell, without even a parting shout of "You never won a medal!"

Unfortunately the pupil that he did send to the Head decided to put in a complaint against him.

Now ask me, did Mr D receive the support of the Head and the Local Education Authority? No, don't be silly. He was hung out to dry.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bathroom Cabernet

Rather than hand over my hard earned money to Tescos in exchange for a bottle of Blue Nun when Mrs C and I were invited out to dinner last Friday; I just walked round to my local hospital with a screwdriver and left with a bottle of Vintage 2006 Handwash Gel.

Surely it would be far more effective simply to make everyone take off their shoes before coming in and tramping round the wards. No doubt this would have the added bonus of offending a few people.

Barry Sheerman

Well done to Barry Sheerman for bringing up the awful situation many teachers face when they are accused of doing something wrong by a pupil (or sometimes, sadly by another teacher or classroom assistant). In the vast majority of cases, the accusation is trivial and has been made up by a wretch looking for revenge on a teacher who has confiscated their mobile phone, given them a detention or thrown them out of the classroom for being a pain. There's an article here

In every case I ever saw, it could all have been sorted out in less than an hour if all parties involved had been immediately interviewed by the Head. If a child is making false accusations then they need a severe punishment and if it looks like the teacher actually did something seriously wrong then the police could be involved.

What actually happens is that the unfortunate teacher gets suspended whilst a tediously slow 'investigation' is carried out. Months later when the pupil is found to be lying there is no comeback on them, so they cheerfully do it again.

(Incidentally it's not uncommon for pupils who have worked out how the system operates, to threaten to make a complaint against a teacher, when for example you attempt to remove their MP3 player. It' a very effective move)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Other Blogs

Winston Smith works in Social Services, but I can't help but worry that his days are numbered. He seems unable to spout politically correct nonsense and talks far too much plain common sense. I'd start looking for another job if I were him...

EggsBaconChipsandBeans is a blog dedicated to researching the Great British Breakfast. You just know that anyone who can describe a portion of chips as 'looking like salmon leaping over rocks to dive into the beans' or display his favourite condiment photograph; just has to be a good bloke.

Bob the Taxi Driver will entertain you with tales of the characters he gets in his cab, from the righteous to the wretched.

Biased BBC explodes the myth that the BBC is even slightly impartial. (In case you hadn't realised that several years ago)

The excellent Bad Science shows up the astonishing number of basic errors in both Science and Maths that can be found in every newspaper. It is also an excellent debunker of well marketed traps for the foolish such as homeopathy.

I have never found any of these in the lists of Top 100 Blogs that are sometimes published in the Sunday Papers, presumably because they don't say what mainstream journalists and their editors think that you should hear.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Excelling Against The Odds

Ofsted (who are the body in charge of School Inspections), have produced a report about how schools with a crummy intake can nevertheless do well. Have a quick look at it here

It is compulsory for all these reports to descend into gibberish at some stage and this one doesn't waste any time. I love the phrase "a disciplined focus on being learning communities"

The gist of the report is blatantly obvious to anyone with half a brain. ie schools with discipline do better than those without.

The best bit is the list of characteristics of good schools. One of them is 'Highly inclusive' but in the previous paragraph we learnt that one Head suspended 300 kids in a week! How on Earth he got that past the School Governors or the Local Education Authority is not explained.

Anyway my feeling is this:

If we know that discipline in schools is central to success, why doesn't the Government do anything at all to encourage it? Some State Schools have very successful discipline policies which work, but many have useless ones that don't. Thousands of schools up and down the Land are making the same mistakes over and over again, when we could easily have one simple, clear and consistent set of rules to be adhered to by every pupil in Britain.

Oh hang on, I wrote a book about this.

Friday, February 27, 2009

More Rhymes...

Who's that behind him, let's have a look?

It's the other Abu; the one with the hook!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Oh joy, oh bliss, oh happy day;

Binyam Mohamed is coming to stay!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cambridge Primary Report

Congratulations to Professor Robin Alexander who has successfully proved Chalk's 5th Law of Teaching; which states that whenever an educational academic speaks, you must immediately stick your fingers in your ears and repeatedly shout "La-La-La...".

The Cambridge Primary Review claims that there is too much emphasis on numeracy and literacy in Primary Schools to the detriment of other subjects such as Music.

I suspect the non Cambridge University Academic public would say that this is exactly what they want and that the only things Primary Schools should bother teaching are reading, writing and sums; anything else is a bonus.

We knew this a hundred years ago. My only question is: how much did the taxpayer stump up for this twaddle?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Abu Qatada

Although residentially challenged, kebab-buying Jacqui Smith is disappointed that we will be paying bearded bomber Abu Qatada a few thousand; Liberty and Amnesty International are up in arms about the prospect of the jolly jihadist being sent back to Jordan. They claim that we cannot trust the Jordanians to look after him properly.

They are absolutely right. Under no circumstances should we send poor Abu back until we have a cast iron guarantee that he will be mistreated.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Our Government improves results by making the exams easier each year. Tanzania has a rather different, but doubtless equally effective approach. Rumour has it that they may introduce it over here...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Geert Wilders

Doesn't this guy realise that we don't allow people with funny hairstyles into our Country even if they are democratically elected politicians from friendly countries in the EU?

Thank goodness Jaqui Smith is here to protect us from such menaces by telling him firmly that:

"your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society".

Hmmm... like free speech perhaps?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Julia Robinson- A Brave Woman

It's rare that you find me using the words 'bravery' and 'Headteacher' in the same sentence, but Sheffield Head Julia Robinson certainly deserves our admiration. On taking up her post, she felt that rather than having separate assemblies for different religious groups, it might be better to just have one for everybody. (I think that most sane people would agree with that idea). Needless to say the Council recommended setting up a working party to waste time rather than just letting her make a simple decision and supporting it.

When a few parents inevitably complained, it would appear that she did not get any support and has now resigned in protest.

It is easy to go on a march or make a protest when you do not risk anything; but to resign your job over something you believe in takes great courage. How often do you hear of someone high up in a profession doing something like this? Can you imagine the Manager of a bank resigning because they are encouraged to push loans onto people too stupid to resist them? Or a High Court judge walking out because the sentencing guidelines prevent them adequately punishing a criminal, despite the fact that they routinely complain of this?

The Council should hang their heads in shame (rather than hanging their Heads out to dry); for not backing her to the hilt. She doesn't seem to have got much support from her staff or Union either.

Plea from the taxpayer-Please stop Jumping

We seem to be suffering an outbreak of springy pupils at the moment. You might remember Colin Adams who won £250 thousand when a twelve year old jumped on his back; now Sharon Lewis has upped the ante, claiming a £280 000 payout because a 13 year old jumped on her.

She claims that she is not angry at the child. I wouldn't be either for £280 grand.

There are soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq every week minus their arms or legs, receiving similar payouts if they are lucky and expressing their fierce determination to get back to work. When you compare this with 'I've been told I can't work full time again' it makes our profession once again look like a refuge for the helpless and the hopeless.

I am jealous though; loads of kids have jumped on me and I wasn't clever enough to ham it up a bit, take some acting lessons so that I could claim I was traumatised with a straight face and pick up a big cheque.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Golliwogs, Golliwogs, Golliwogs

Breaking News- The National Union of Golliwogs (NUG) has just announced that it will ballot its members on whether to take immediate strike action. A Spokesdoll today accused Carol Thatcher of displaying 'shocking cultural insensitivity' in accusing one of them of looking like a Frenchman. It is a move that will worry tacky gift shops up and down the land and raises the prospect of a mass walk out from the shelves.

Both the Association of Welsh Maids (AWM) and the militant wing of the Kilted Scottish Bagpiper Dolls Group (KSBDG) are considering whether to offer their support.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Pupils Behave Better

It's official- pupils' behaviour in the classroom is getting better so you can all stop moaning right now!

Alternatively you can fall back on Chalk's 12th Law of Teaching for guidance:

'Whenever the Educational Psychologist opens her mouth, think back to the people you met at Uni who were doing psychology and stop listening immediately.'

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Let's Grind To a Halt

Apparently Europe is scoffing once again at our inability to deal with a short cold snap and a few inches of snow. I'm not going to bring up the obvious fact that if we lived somewhere that got ten feet of snow every year then we'd probably think of buying a few extra snowploughs and winter tyres too, Ulrika.

Anyway, rather than paying attention to the witterings of a nation whose greatest achievement is to produce a palindromic Pop Group, I propose that we turn this situation on its head and from now on, make it a point of national pride that we show a bit more respect for Nature and simply stop working every time it snows.

When I am in charge, salt and grit will be banned and instead each Council will have an employee on 24 hour Snowwatch throughout the year. At the sight of the first flake, sirens will sound in every town and city signalling a compulsory mass downing of tools. There will be no announcement on TV as this would only alert the underclass to the potential opportunities for crime. Hospitals have to keep going but their staff will get days in lieu.

Parents would have time to play in the snow with their children (or regret their decision to have any), whilst the rest of us can enjoy ourselves, generate a bit of valuable community spirit by getting out the shovels and give nice cosy pubs a much needed economic boost. Hoorah!

ps I wrote a letter to my Council yesterday, complaining about the exclusively white nature of the snow we had received so far. I have no doubt whatsoever that I shall receive a reply and probably an apology.