Monday, December 20, 2010

Apprentice Stella

Mrs C returned from Scagton today to announce that we would be having a Capon for Christmas dinner.

My initial concerns about eating a Penguin were soon laid to rest after a surreptitious look on the internet revealed it to be a chicken that has had its conkers removed, or in teaching speak a Senior Management Chicken.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Amazon Kindle

You can now download my book from Amazon's Kindle Store here. I haven't tried one of these newfangled Kindles yet, so if you've got one let me know what you think of it.

Have also just watched the film Harry Brown and it's given me a few good ideas for how to pass the time when I become a pensioner. It is a real Christmas feel good film about a friendly old man who loves loves nothing better than to play a quiet game of chess with his friend and then murder a few drugs dealers. Inspirational stuff.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Student Fees Protests

The thought of 'making physical contact with Camilla' would have kept me at home last week rather than throwing things at the Police because the taxpayer would rather not pay for half a million barely literate 18 year olds to spend 3 years sitting around talking rubbish before receiving a degree in Ice Cream Sculpture.

Mind you, it does strike me that these events are another nail in the coffin for the traditional newspapers. You can either read some rumours and half truths cobbled together by someone who wasn't there, or read a blog like Inspector Gadget's which is full of comments from police and protesters who were.

Friday, December 10, 2010


If like me, you spend all your hard earned money on booze, then you should stop reading my witterings and head over to Laithwaites Wine. I've been a fan of theirs for a couple of years (or about 500 bottles, depending on how you measure time)

The true test of any company though, is how they deal with their mistakes. (At Chalk Enterprises, we think we're quite good at this because we have had such a huge amount of practice)

Anyway, when I phoned them up last week to complain bitterly that they had substituted three bottles in my Christmas Case without bothering to ask me, the man from Customer Services just replied:

"Try them and if you don't like 'em then we'll just knock their price off your next order or give you your money back, whatever you want."

This shut me up.

Believe it or not, they aren't giving me anything to write this, but if they offer to do so then I will be more than happy to accept.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Student Fees Protest

Best quotes I've heard so far:

"The Government got in debt, so they are putting the people in debt to get out of it!"

"£9000 per year! How are we going to afford twenty one grand over three years!"

"The police stole my wallet!"

"Everyone has the human right to be educated to their fullest extent!"

"What do we want? A Future!!! When do we want it? Now!!!"

And from one well dressed young man: "We have come from the slums of London!"

I didn't hear anybody chanting "Charge the Thickos!" and I still can't understand anything Ed Milliband says.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


If you are looking for a home for your hard earned savings then let me urge you with all my heart not to ever consider opening an account with Citibank.

They are perfectly legitimate bank and pay interest as and when they are supposed to, but wait until you try and contact Customer Services. I have now listened to three currysworth of Indian music and have been assured that my call is of great value several hundred times. When I finally got through to "Kevin" he was perfectly pleasant and polite, but unable to help me in any way, shape or form with my very simple request.

If you are as unwise as me then you will ask to be put through to the Head of Customer Services and "Kevin" will cheerfully reply with barely restrained delight; "Not a problem Sir!" before either cutting you off or placing you back on interminable hold where you can listen endlessly to how easy it is to send them an email (I did two weeks previously, but they never replied).

In my mind's eye, I can see him now, hooting with laughter as he entertains his friends over a mango lassi, with the tale of the enraged Englishman who fell for the 'Head of Customer Services' trick. Even as I write this they are putting together a new gag just in case I ever phone back.


When I was in my twenties, a friend and I had a routine, whereby whichever one of us was first asked by a girl what they did for a living, would always reply with casual modesty;

"Oh I'm a dolphin trainer."

Our rule was that the other one had to back up this claim, using one of a number of aquatic anecdotes and then in turn when an enquiry was made as to their employment, they had to be a bus driver. This would in turn be supported by an amusing tale of transport turmoil. We did it so many times that I once absent mindedly wrote it on my car insurance application.

I mention this only because the other day I was asked if I had any advice for my friend's son who was just starting his first job and it was the only thing I could think of.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Schools Closed Everywhere

Let's be honest, the number of schools that have been closed recently is a National disgrace.

Everybody points the finger at somebody else.

Parents who are forced to take annual leave to look after their children, blame the teachers for not making enough effort to turn up to work. They ask why they won't go to their nearest school to see if they are needed, like police or midwives do. Teachers reply that they can't get in to work and it's the Head in conjunction with the Local Authority who decide whether to close a school. They also claim that there are identification and CRB check issues with going to another school.

Heads say they close the schools because they need a minimum number of teachers there to legally open (and deny that it's because lots of pupils wouldn't turn up and make the absence figures look really bad). They also make the point that if they had to close midway through the day then the effects would be far worse than closing right from the start.

Local authorities say that if the emergency services can't get to a school then they are not legally allowed to open, or if a teacher skids on the car park and has an accident, or if a child slips in the playground and breaks their arm, then they will be sued, so it's all the fault of the ambulance chasing solicitors.

Solicitors in turn would say that they are simply going their job meeting a demand from parents and teachers. They would blame mad judges for awarding huge sums in compensation for trivial accidents. The judges would say that they weren't mad but simply follow the Government guidelines and anyway who makes the law in the first place?

The bottom line is that after last year's chaos, everyone said that procedures must be put in place to ensure minimal disruption next time we have bad weather. Roll on 12 months and nothing has happened.

We will say exactly the same next year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ballet Teacher

Given the choice of being kidnapped by a bunch of Somali pirates or ballet teacher Sarah Pirie, I'm afraid I wouldn't be choosing a stay in East Africa's Riviera. The bloke that she is pictured with doesn't look very happy though.

Before anybody asks- if it was a male teacher with a 15 year old girl, then I wouldn't think it was funny at all. I have never denied being guilty of every -ism known to Man (sorry Person).

School report full of errors

Gleed Girls' Technology College in Spalding, Lincolnshire is claiming a new record after one of their (I mean- its) teachers sent out a school report with 14 spelling mistakes in it.

I'm not surprised at all. Comprehensives haven't insisted on correct grammar or spelling for a couple of decades or more, so the young teachers are victims of the same system. Mind you it has become perfectly acceptable for them to say "Oh I'm not very good at spelling/maths/grammar" rather than to actually try and improve.

Commentators should feel free to mention pots and kettles if they wish.

Snow Closure

For the third year running, St Thickchilds has managed to be the first school in the area to declare itself closed due to the 1.5 cm of snow that fell on the hills several miles away. Beating local rivals Scagtown Comprehensive by almost 11 minutes, Headmaster (or Lead Learner as he prefers to be called) Mr Sandal proudly declared:

"Where we lead, others follow!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Student Houses Sheffield

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 the Crookes area, then why not avoid old fashioned, damp and mouldy houses and contact this guy who comes highly recommended from a friend.

Friday, November 26, 2010

State School PE

The British Association of Sports and Exercise Medicine have finally said something that has been obvious for the last 20 years. State School PE lessons do not give children any useful exercise.

Schools complain that Government spending cuts is wrecking sport, yet no money at all is needed to provide physical fitness, agility, coordination and strength training (just ask the Kenyan and Ethiopian distance runners who despite being far poorer than any of us, nevertheless win everything in sight).

Meanwhile our children's physical fitness has fallen to appalling levels and pupils are simply allowed to opt out if they don't wish to take part.

Is it any wonder that we are plagued by ever worsening levels of obesity?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Howard Flight and Lord Young

So Howard Flight is now in trouble for saying that those on benefits are encouraged to breed whilst the middle classes find it very expensive. Something that is blatantly obvious but falls into the category of 'things you cannot say'.

Last week Lord Young said that 'most Britons had never had it so good'. For those with secure jobs and mortgages linked to the base rate this is also obviously true. The only question is whether they are in the majority. Nobody dared look up the statistics and he ended up having to resign.

David Cameron shamefully offered no support to either man and instead wants to spend a few million quid on a survey to find out whether we are happy or not. I'd certainly be a lot happier if he stopped wasting my taxes on daft things.

For reasons of foolishness, I originally wrote Lord 'King' rather than 'Young'. Thanks to Kynon for pointing this out.

Even More Protests!

Every time we see students vandalising police vans and fighting with the Police (safe in the knowledge that ours are not allowed to respond like they would in any other country), more and more people just think:

"Sod them. I don't want to pay more taxes so they can lie around watching daytime TV and talking rubbish."

Some great quotes from students yesterday:

Girl with funny coloured hair: "We deserve the right to be able to get an education for ourselves to our fullest potential!"

Yoof in shell suit: "We voted for Nick Clegg and he's turned round and slammed it in our face!"

And best of all, this tremendous chant from a group seeking to overturn the laws of Physics:

Student Grant: "What do we want?"
Followers/Future shelf stackers: "A future!"

Student Grant: "When do we want it?"
Followers "Now!"

Full credit to the girls who tried to stop the Police van from being trashed though.

ps What is this 'kettling' that we keep hearing about? Is it the same as 'cottaging'?

Ski Season in Austria

If anybody fancies spending the winter in an Austrian ski resort, with blue skies, snow and plenty of sunshine rather than grey skies, wind and lots of rain, then contact Yana at the address below. I have copied the email she sent me and the resort is Wildschonau, near Soll, Sheffau and Kitzbuhel.

I don't know her at all, so if she tells you that you have won the Nigerian State Lottery and asks you for your bank details, PIN number and mother's maiden name then that's your lookout.

We run a hotel in a ski resort in the winter in Austria. We also run a ski race academy for children from the age of 8-13/14.
We are currently in need of a teacher to tutor these children (the class number will vary from week to week - could be one on one or as many as 6-8 pupils) on a weekly basis from the second week in January though to the end of March.
We are happy for the successful candidate to spend the whole winter in resort from December through to April should this suit. Having employed a teacher previously, the hours are more or less each afternoon , Monday to Friday for around 12 weeks of the season. There was plenty of time for skiing or snowboarding.
We run a happy and relaxed team who all work very hard to achieve the fabulous reputation we have earned over the last eight years.
We hope you can help.
Thank you in advance.
Kind regards


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Protests

Great footage on the news of some Student Grant complaining that 'Our rights have been impeded upon'. No doubt he was studying English at some bizarre institution.

What I haven't heard is anybody saying the obvious:

"Let's just pay for the clever ones to study sensible subjects"


"Too many lessons are dull and uninspiring" says schools inspection agency, Ofsted today. When you look at the detail, it emerges that half of all lessons were judged to be better than 'satisfactory' and obviously the other half were either satisfactory or worse. (So it's possible that 100% were 'satisfactory' or better)

Anybody judging a large number of anythings, whether they are marrows or lessons will pre decide an average grade (ie satisfactory) as you look a bit silly if you always judge things to be 'excellent' or 'rubbish'.

The worst case conclusion from these results is that half of lessons are better than average and half are worse. Well I'd never have worked that one out. What a great use of public money.

I'll go through Ofsted's criteria for judging lessons in the near future (and if you're the parent of a bright kid, you will be horrified).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Royal Wedding

I think that over the next five months I am going to get heartily sick of hearing about the Royal Wedding.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gill Goodswen

When I heard that Gill Goodswen had become the new President of the National Union of Teachers, I couldn't remember where I'd heard her name before. Then it came to me. She was the Headmistress who heroically took a stand on one of the biggest issues in education today- ie the urgent need to change the words in traditional children's stories in order to avoid offending Muslims (who aren't offended and frankly couldn't care less according to their own leader Ibrahim Mogra)

Anyway she has just signed a statement backing the planned walkouts by the kids on Wednesday to protest about Universities being allowed to charge up to £9000. This does seem a bit odd for the leader of a couple of hundred thousand teachers who presumably will have to deal with the consequences of all these kids wandering around the playground chanting slogans and singing songs (not Three Little Pigs hopefully).

I'll repeat my usual statement:

Why can't we have a sliding scale of further education grants, so we pay for the cleverest and not the dimwits? Like any idea, it is prejudiced against some group but I'd rather it was the clown doing Media Studies than the bright spark doing Physics.

British Summer Time

I have had enough of this winter already, you get halfway through the afternoon and it starts to go dark. Lets have British Double Summer Time where we keep our clocks one hour ahead of GMT in the winter, so it never gets dark before five pm and two hours ahead in the Summer. (Who needs it to be getting light at 4 am?)

I thought this was a new idea but it was first tried for five years from 1940-1945 during World War Two and between 1968 and 1971 we tried staying on British Summer Time all year round.

I'm tempted to take unilateral action if the Government won't do it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

League Tables

Announcing in a comprehensive school staffroom that you think the School League Tables are a tremendous idea, elicits roughly the same response as declaring that you collect Nazi memorabilia or have a bit of a crush on David Cameron. One thing that unites public sector teachers above anything else is that the tables are a BAD thing.

Unfortunately almost all parents think that they are a very GOOD thing.

So who is right?

My view is that although they do not give a perfect comparison of schools, as they can be fiddled slightly (by concentrating the best teachers and resources on the c/d borderline kids and entering pupils for even easier GCSE 'equivalents', the bottom line is that they are better than no comparison at all. After all most parents are only comparing a small number of potential schools in a limited area, who will use similar tricks to boost their results and if one school is significantly better than another then this will show up.

One of the reasons that we are no longer taken seriously as a profession is that we refuse to accept any form of accountability. The League Tables could be improved and we should be the ones pointing out exactly how this could be done, rather than simply rejecting any form of comparison out of hand.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Primary Schools and Snow

Winter is just round the corner and that special day will soon be upon us. Yes the day when it snows a bit and loads of schools close, giving the media a chance to claim that all teachers are bone idle.

Now if we leave Secondary Schools out of the equation (assuming that kids over 11 can look after themselves at home until their parents return from work) we are left with the problem of a Primary School closing. This is almost always due to not having the minimum legal number of teachers per pupil and it brings absolute havoc because of course, one parent must then stay at home to look after a child between 4 and 11. Either the parent or their employer must bear this cost, which is huge and completely unnecessary.

The solution is simple and obvious. Every teacher should register with the Primary school nearest to them and make their way there (with photo ID) if they are unable to get to their own school. Pre registering would do away with any identification/CRB check excuses and if there are still problems with teacher numbers then they can be sorted out well in advance. All that is needed is to keep the children occupied for the day and if the primary schools drew up a bad weather program in advance, then it's perfectly straightforward. Teachers would be hailed as saving the day rather than sleeping the day.

Why is this not done? Councils can't be bothered and the Teachers Unions would come up with some utterly farcical objections. Why not do the decent thing and ask your nearest Primary school if you can help out on the big day? (Remember though, a snowman competition is no longer allowed due to the all-white nature of the entries)

School Funding

The Government wants to fund schools directly, rather than the current method of giving the money to Local Councils, who syphon some off to pay for Black History Month, trips to cities they are twinned with and their additional level of bureaucracy, before allocating what's left on a random basis.

The idea was roundly criticised by the teaching unions, which is further evidence that it's probably a good idea.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Do NOT stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

I repeat- do NOT stone Yasmin Brown whatever you do, and more importantly do not under any circumstances suggest that I told you to.

Birmingham councillor Gareth Compton made a poor joke (although who am I to judge the quality of somebody else's humour?) by Twittering the following:

"Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell
Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really"

He has been arrested and released on bail. Whether he will be charged remains to be seen.

I do think that this affair raises questions about being offended and freedom of speech, as does the case of accountant Paul Chambers who texted jokingly about blowing up Doncaster Airport when it closed because of snow and lost his job as a result.

Here's a few questions that spring to mind:

1) If a comment is clearly not a serious threat (ie if Gareth Compton doesn't make a habit of calling for his opponents to be murdered and Paul Chambers' flat was not filled with explosives, detonators and books urging terrorist attacks) then should they really be arrested and have their careers ruined?

2) Is there a difference between comments made in private and those made in public?

3) If so, then where does the boundary lie? Where do emails, letters, blogs and Twitter fit into this?

4) Did the Police arrest these men for inciting Allah to burn British soldiers yesterday?

5) What will I do when all the people I've written nasty things about send the Police round to take me away?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Joyce Walters

Mad payouts like this and this are just gifts to those who think that the public sector is living on a different planet.

£20 million paid in compensation claims to teachers last year. What has happened to our profession?

Black Boys

Katharine Birbalsingh, (the teacher who looks like the girl on Crystal Tipps and Alistair) recently made the point that black boys are often let down at school.

On average, the black boys I taught behaved far worse than the white ones and had more of a 'chip on their shoulder' attitude. Whilst this is partly due to their family backgrounds being on average less stable and being closer to a 'street culture' of crime and drugs, I believe that it is mainly because no white teacher ever dared to discipline them for fear of being accused of racism, which is the worst thing that can happen to you in teaching. Far better to have robbed a bank or mugged an old lady.

From the day they start school, allowances are made for the black boys and they are punished less harshly and less frequently than the white boys for the same misbehaviour. Kids very quickly work out where their boundaries are and behave accordingly.

Don't forget though, that this is a completely taboo topic in schools. Bringing it up is roughly equivalent to putting a giant Swastika up in your classroom, goose stepping down the corridors and shouting out "Sieg Heil!" when the Head walks into assembly.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clashes at Student Fees Protest

The huge increase in Degree fees is very unfair. Well it's unfair to the clever students who would have got to University at any time in the last 30 years. Why on Earth should they have to subsidise a load of drongos who can barely read or write but have been told by their schools that it is their right to go onto further education?

Charge the thickos and we will happily pay for the bright sparks.

Haile Gebrselassie

As always, I'm a couple of days late with the news, but it's sad that I didn't notice the retirement of Haile Gebrselassie in the headlines. Not just for his 20 year career at the top of distance running where he won everything there was to win, but even more for his sportsmanship, respect for his rivals and being a thoroughly decent bloke. (His apology to Paul Tergat after shattering his record in the marathon sums him up)

Rather than spending his money on prostitutes, daft cars and cocaine, he has invested his energies in helping his home country of Ethiopia, setting up running clubs, schools and employing hundreds of locals in his clothing business. He must be one of the few sporting heroes that I've never heard anyone say a bad word about.

I won't mention the obvious sport that could benefit from having a few men like him.

Shopping Around for Exam Boards

I wrote about how schools shop around for exam boards that 'are most suited to their pupils' ie easiest, in my book (which you should buy today) and it looks like 5 Live have got round to reading it too.

Entering huge numbers of pupils for worthless qualifications which count as 4 GCSE's is a good trick but if a school is under pressure to improve their actual number of GCSE passes then they look for the board with the most modular courses (ie more opportunities to resit exams), plenty of coursework (which the pupils can be 'guided' on) and bizarre new subjects which the board is keen to promote (and therefore have a low pass mark). In the serious subjects, look for slight variants such as '21st Century Science'

Schools that need to improve will have all their best teachers taking the C/D borderline classes as there's no point in wasting them on the bright children or the ones who can't read.

Having more than one exam board introduces competition and you don't have to be a genius to work out what that does to exam standards.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Michael Heseltine

Michael Heseltine reckons that we should get retired army officers to sort out the discipline in schools. This is an old chestnut which gets aired every few years or so. Coincidentally, last weekend I spoke to a friend who had just left after 22 years service. He reckoned that he would last about 15 minutes as a state school teacher.

"Some kid would start mucking about, I'd tell them to stop, they would answer me back and I'd give them a slap..."

Hmmm. I'm afraid that idea's not going to work, Michael. You can't fight a battle if you are the only one who wants to.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Lady Gaga

We will never be able to compete with the United States if we are always playing catch-up. Can it really be true that none of our Universities offer the chance to study Lady Gaga?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Prisoners getting the vote

I'm fine about prisoners being allowed to vote. I just want them to stay prisoners for a bit longer than the people in charge do.

Work for Benefits

The idea must be thirty years old by now, so why has it taken so long to start asking the long term unemployed to work for their money?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


I'm going to try and build up a comprehensive collection of nonsense education speak. The page will go up on the sidebar and will become a useful resource for any reader facing an interview for a position in Senior Management.

To start the ball rolling:

1) Performativity (the emphasis on achieving targets)

2) Dialogic teaching (having a chat with the kids)

3) Articulated progression (allowing pupils to choose their next step in the qualification system)

4) Level descriptor (the National Curriculum level of something)

I look forward to your contributions (but don't forget to say what they mean)

Tuition Fees

So it looks like University fees are going to rise to £9000 a year. Add say £3500 for rent each year and £4500 to live on, then after a three year degree students are going to leave owing about £50 000.

This is a frightening prospect for the ones who are doing a sensible subject, but for those on a Mickey Mouse course, it is utter madness. No school will tell them this beforehand however, because it is not in their interest. They know perfectly well that their Ofsted report will contain a simple percentage figure of pupils going into Higher education.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Whilst others might be worried about cuts, up in Sheffield the Socialist Republic has just spent £15 000 on a new logo for the city.

This is what they got for their money. Amazing, I'm sure you'll agree. Why did they not simply hold a competition in the local schools with a £250 prize for the winning effort?

Ah, I know- because it's not their own cash they are spending.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fight, fight, fight!

As I've always maintained- the comments are the best part of this blog and a good fight is breaking out on the 'Benefits' post.

Can anyone actually explain in simple terms and without referring to some other article (which may or may not be true) just how much the banking crisis actually cost us? I've seen figures in the press ranging from zero to a trillion pounds, which I can't help but think is a rather generous margin of error.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Harriet Harman

As someone who has committed every 'ism' known to Man- sorry 'person', I can't help but think that it's a bit rich for Former Equalities Minister and general disaster Harrriet Harman to call Inverness MP Danny Alexander, a ginger rodent.

Would she have made a similar comment if he had been black, Asian or disabled? Many of my closest friends have met people who have had ginger families as neighbours and they are no different to normal ones.

Let us stand shoulder to shoulder with our copper cousins and condemn Harriet (whom you may notice, has grown stronger and more confident as we approach Halloween).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


One of the problems that has arisen thanks to the Benefits Culture that pervades our country is the seemingly genuine inability of many people to understand why you and I do not wish to pay enough taxes to allow them to live in properties that we could not afford to live in ourselves.

The Apprentice

All updates to The Apprentice should be posted here. I am no longer permitted to watch it as Mrs C. has seen through my simple pretension of having an interest in business from a professional point of view and realised that the programme simply features a variety of highly attractive women.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Ofsted is the current name for schools inspectors and their chief is Christine Gilbert, who has featured before in a couple of posts. Nowadays schools only get a couple of days notice before an inspection but if you slip the caretaker a tenner he will let you know a bit further in advance because they will have been told to tidy the place up a bit.

Now if you are a parent who would like your child to be taught effectively but most importantly to come out of school with a load of good exam grades which will help them get a well paid and interesting job, then you will be horrified to hear some of the things that Ofsted bang on about:

1) Giving out good quality notes is considered old fashioned. Ofsted recommend that the pupils are encouraged to 'make discoveries through their own research'. Which basically means letting them blunder along learning something that's completely wrong, rather than actually teaching them (which is after all what the teacher is being paid to do). This approach might be helpful to many new teachers who have a scant knowledge of their subject gained through a university few would recognise, but it won't help your child.

2) Everyone knows that the best way to improve at something is to practice (sorry anon- it should be practise) it. Therefore doing past papers under exam conditions will hugely improve your chances of answering similar questions in the real exam. You don't need to be a genius to figure that one out, but Ofsted don't like it and one school recently has been warned that a teacher who spent a lesson spent doing this would be graded 'unsatisfactory'. I'd say that this got me a stack of good results at school but I'm not allowed to teach in the state sector any more.

3) Peer assessment is a Good Thing. This is where Shane (who cannot read, despite 8 years at school) marks Annabel's work and scribbles all over it, maybe drawing a picture of his reproductive organ for good measure. Conversely Annabel will also be unable to read Shane's work, partly because it is gibberish, but mainly because he has stolen her glasses.

4) Lesson Aims and Objectives must be written on the board at the start of each lesson for no obvious reason. If the kids don't know what they were supposed to have learnt by the end of the lesson then something's badly wrong anyway, but a teacher will definitely be pulled up by Ofsted over this.

4) Differentiation and Individual learning plans are Very Good Things. Basically these involve pandering to those who can't be bothered to listen and giving them the totally false impression that once they leave school anyone will be interested in their preferred learning style. Meanwhile the clever kids are ignored so that they gradually become disillusioned and fed up.

5) Grading questions is important. This is where the pupils waste a lesson deciding what level various exam questions are (rather than actually doing them). I have no idea what the purpose of this is, but it probably explains why the candidates on The Apprentice can't do simple multiplication.

6) Children are also supposed to know what National Curriculum level they are on at all times. They don't care and it is of no importance, but Ofsted love it if you slip "and this is a level 5a question.." into your lesson. Don't ask me why.

7) Pupil centric learning, marketplace activities and a whole host of other nonsense that simply wastes the time of the bright pupil are lapped up by Ofsted inspectors. Teacher training constantly praises and stresses the importance of each new fad so that new staff are about as likely to think for themselves as a North Korean civil servant.

So basically a schools inspection is a simple box ticking exercise. None of the boxes ticked will benefit the pupils one jot and most will hinder them, waste their time and make the bright ones think that they are being taught by fools. However, if you are a teacher then make sure that you do all the above on the big day and if you are a parent, get saving up to send your child to private school.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Schools you think are Rubbish

Reader thought the following schools were rubbish. Feel free to add to the list. You can get to this post from the sidebar.

Schools that are offended by being labelled as 'rubbish' should feel free to sue me.

Schools you think are Great

Readers thought the following schools were great. Feel free to add to the list. You can get to this post from the sidebar.

Schools that take offence to being labelled 'great' should feel free to sue me.

St Aidan's in Harrogate
Clarendon House & Chatham House in Ramsgate
Magdalen College School, Brackley, Northants
Howard of Effingham,
Royal Grammar School, High Wycome
Dr Challoners Grammar School, Amersham
Nonsuch High School for Girls, Sutton
The Abbey School Reading, Reading
Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls
Colchester Royal Grammar School
Lancaster Girls' Grammar School
Reading School
The Tiffin Girls' School, Kingston upon Thames
Chelmsford County High School for Girls
Wolverhampton Girls' High School
Invicta Grammar School, Maidstone
Colyton Grammar School, Devon
King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, Birmingham
King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford
Newport Girls' High School
St Bede's College, Manchester
King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, Birmingham
Colchester County High School for Girls
Queen Mary's Grammar School, Walsall
Wilson's School, Wallington

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Andrew Marr

Andrew Marr described Bloggers at the Cheltenham Literary Festival:

"A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people,"

He may well be right, but it's equally true to say that a lot of television is only suitable for the hard-of-thinking and much of what is printed in newspapers is either factually incorrect or biased politically.
My invitation to speak at the festival got lost in the post, apparently.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Katherine Birbalsingh Yet Again

Katherine Burbalsingh has now resigned. Was she forced out or was she offered a better job? I honestly don't know yet. I do know that what she said was spot on though.

Terrible Schools

Excellent! Now that we've started actually naming schools that we consider to be great, or at least pretty good, then it's time to also name the awful ones.

Now don't be afraid, nobody will find out who you are- just say 'my friend told me that her school, St. Lucifer's is a hellhole etc' or post anonymously or whatever- just do it. Hopefully one of them will try and sue me.

Great State Schools and The Daily Jolly

Re Great State Schools- not a single person has named one yet.

I know we have this culture in state teaching, of never naming and shaming, (which is why we are in such a mess) but I can't even manage to get anyone to name a school that they think is great!

Re 'The Daily Jolly' Yes I might have to change the name!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Daily Jolly

'Bad news sells' has been the principle of the mainstream press for a couple of centuries. Have you ever noticed that you feel more upbeat if you don't read a newspaper or see the tv news for a week? Disasters, frauds, cutbacks, recessions, unemployment, terrorism, kidnappings, murders and muggings fill the news and produce a general feeling of doom and gloom. I reckon their theory is that by absorbing it, we feel part of a group that is banding together in adversity, to fight against a common enemy, like soldiers in a war.

If this is true (and I suspect that the newspapers will have invested heavily to find out) then there will be a small market indeed for Chalk Enterprises' new endeavour provisionally entitled 'The Daily Jolly' which will report such upbeat things as the success of the London rent a bike scheme, the numerous crime free neighbourhoods where teenagers are doing their homework of an evening rather than prowling the streets hoping to relieve you of your mobile phone and the beautiful colours of autumn visible up and down the country at the moment.

Great State Schools

As I've always said, the comments on this blog are usually better than the original posts and one of them recently made the point that there are excellent state schools out there but I never mention them.

This might well be true so let's do something about it. If you work at one then name it here and say why it deserves to be called great.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hina Patel

Teenagers these days... they don't know they're born.

Ms Patel had a varied and demanding position at the school, whose motto is Nihil Nisi Bonum which means "only the best will do" (their teacher).

Cue comments about how the two boys will be traumatised etc.

GAP Logo

Gap recently changed its logo in the US at a cost of zillions, only to change it back a week later, after they received lots of criticism via Facebook and Twitter.

This apparently demonstrates the ever increasing power of social media to give a voice to the masses, which will force large companies to become increasingly transparent blah, blah, blah...

But does it really show that, or does it simply demonstrate how a small group of tech savvy people can hijack social media for their own ends? Did the average Gap shopper really care enough to post their criticism on Facebook or was the company just taken for a ride by four college kids from MIT?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuition Fees

The argument over tuition fees is very simple. We can either just send the clever kids to Uni like we used to and afford to pay them a grant, so that they leave with very little debt; or we can allow all the duffers to go, in which case we can't afford to subsidise every one of them, so they will have to pay out loads of money, which in many cases will be a millstone round their neck for years afterwards.

There, that's all there is to it.

Tasker Milward School

I love it when some innovative teacher does something very impressive that doesn't have anything to do with National Curriculum targets. This lot are launching their own weather balloon which should hopefully reach 20 odd miles altitude.

Mind you two grand seems quite steep. I'd have been temped to try it on the cheap with a load of hydrogen made in the science lab, a party pack of 500 balloons from Aldi and half a dozen confiscated smartphones for data and photos.

Probably why I'm not allowed to teach any more...

Head bans Fountain Pens

Headmaster Jack Williams of Hillcrest Grammar School in Stockport has banned the use of fountain pens by Year 11 pupils as he claims that the exam boards insist on black ballpoint pen being used for exams, because they scan the papers and send them out to be marked. (Hopefully by people who can speak English). Therefore he reckons that the kids should get used to writing in ballpoint pen.

I'm not so sure about this, as any scanner is perfectly capable of copying black or blue fountain pen ink. Maybe he's just after a bit of publicity for his school.

Anyway, it just goes to show that all in all, you're just another Bic in the wall...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Apprentice

Which of the hopeless unemployables on the latest series of 'The Apprentice' would you most like to throw off a high building?

A) All of them
B) All of them

Even More Damn Katherine Birbalsingh

Here's the points she made in interview (I've copied them shamelessly from The Telegraph, without any permission)

* Lack of discipline is rife, because staff fear being labelled racist if they attempt to tackle bad behaviour by black pupils.

* Britain's state education system is an "international disgrace" which is incapable of reaching the "absurdly low" target of pupils achieving five grade Cs at GCSE.

* Mixed ability teaching, where bright students are taught alongside the less able, is "insane" because it means no pupils can receive the teaching they require.

* Ofsted's inspection criteria are so skewed and prescriptive, they can lead to great and inspirational teachers being labelled as underperforming.

* The fashion for "group teaching" in some schools prevents teachers setting out classroom desks in traditional rows, forcing them to be arranged in groups so pupils can work in pairs or teams.

* If you did not have chaos in our classrooms then everyone could get five Cs at GCSE. But instead we say 'It's not their fault – they come from a council estate, they're from a single parent family,' or 'They're black.'

I'm rather hoping that she will hurry up and say something that I don't agree with. Maybe she could go back to Marxism or something?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Katherine Birbalsingh Returns

Now she's being allowed back to work on Monday. Hoorah!

By the way, the rumour about her Head, Dr Irene Bishop being an ardent Labour supporter turned out to be true- she'd even appeared on stage once with Tony Blair. (No, not in a pantomime; in a party conference).

Obviously this had nothing to do with the course of action she took.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Four Lions

Saw the film 'Four Lions' last night, which shows how Sheffield has been transformed from the city of male strippers (The Full Monty, 1997) into the city of halfwitted suicide bombers in 2010.

Katherine Birbalsingh

Many thanks to the Head of St Michael and All Angels Church of England Academy (easy for you to say) for providing me with some great material for today's post.

Katherine Birbalsingh who teaches at the school has been sent home after making a speech at the Conservative Conference which slams the state education system. You can watch it here and everything she says is completely true. I feel like she's copied it all from my blog.

There is a Facebook Group here which you can join if you agree with her. (I've no idea whether these groups are effective or not but it's probably better than just shouting at the telly)

I can't confirm the rumour that Dr Irene Bishop, the Head who told her to er... 'work from home', allowed the Labour Party to use her previous school to launch its General Election campaign in 2001.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Michael Gove No Touching

Michael Gove has promised to clarify what exactly teachers can do to restrain violent pupils. The last Government promised to do that as well.

Lots of details need to be made clear eg. what happens if you try to stop a pupil storming out of a classroom and they push you away? What happens if the pupil then attacks you and you get hurt? Will you get suspended whilst an investigation takes place if the pupil makes an allegation after you restrain them? What happens if the Head tells everyone not to attempt to restrain pupils etc etc...

Carolyne Willow of the Childrens Rights Alliance isn't happy but she sounds a bit mad so we won't worry about her.

Pupils Protest Dover

Whilst the Police Inspector just made excuses for these brats who walked out and damaged some of their teachers' cars (no doubt following some new guidelines about non judgemental commenting or something equally mad), at least the Headmaster doesn't mince his words as much. We need to teach children that sometimes you just have to accept a rule that you might not like, otherwise who is ever going to employ them? (In the same way that I had to pay an extortionate amount for a new passport recently, but managed to resist doing any vandalism). In my book, the right of protest extends to sending a polite letter to those in charge.

Thanks to Inspector Gadget for the link and I would like to add that the 43 year old male reported to be hanging around outside the school gates was not me.

Michael Gove Heads New Powers

"Heads will be able to punish pupils in public places, such as in shopping centres" says Education Secretary Michael Gove here. I asked him to promise something like that, so that I would have some amusing material for today's post.

So Michael, what exactly will happen if the group of naughty pupils spitting at people over the balconies in the shopping centre, simply walk away shouting abuse (or give the Head a good kicking for their trouble). What happens to the Head if they decide to restrain one or more of these children and end up rolling round on the ground or lash out when the whole confrontation gets out of hand. Does Headmistress Slim really have the same set of powers as Headmaster Bruiser or will we just pretend that they do?

Wait a minute... we are assuming that Heads would actually want to get involved in disciplining their pupils outside school (although personally I would rather start a fight with a bunch of hoodlums than wander round a shopping centre any day). Would it lead to Heads feeling obliged to sort out shopping mall mischief and as a result finding the perfect excuse never to venture into them. What happens if the Head just chooses to walk on by, ignoring their ill-behaved learners.

Funniest of all, what happens when an enthusiastic Head starts to give hell to a group peeing in the fountain only to discover that they are not in fact pupils from their school?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Charter Schools

If you've got a few minutes, have a read of this article about the Charter Schools in New York. They demonstrate just how much State Education can be improved with the right mindset and without the need for any more money.

Equality Bill

I'd just like to say a quick thank you to Harriett Harman.

Not for lending me a stab vest or teaching me how to get off a driving penalty, but for helping me with a difficult decision. For a while Chalk Enterprises has been considering taking on an employee, but with employment law being such a nightmare for small businesses, I've been weighing up the pros and cons for a while. With the passing of 'Harman's Law' however, I have made up my mind.

The 2010 Equality Bill provides so many opportunities for employees to completely stuff us at no cost whatsoever to themselves that it effectively puts small employers into the same bracket as those who point at aeroplanes and shout in the street, or approach random passers by with assurances that Jesus will save them.

If small businesses are supposed to get us out of recession, then laws like this guarantee a jobless recovery without any doubt.