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.

Benefits, Benefits, Benefits...

A friend of mine received a cheque last week for over a hundred pounds from some sort of Government scheme to enable mothers to eat well whilst pregnant. (There are of course no restrictions on what you actually spend the money on and she is a partner in a well known firm of accountants, so there's taxpayer's money well spent).

Can anybody tell me why on Earth we have been paying people to have children for so many years? We don't exactly have a shortage of people in this country so why don't we offer money to those that choose not to have them instead. Better still why don't we just not pay either group and save a small fortune, which could perhaps be used to fill in the numerous potholes in my road.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

56 Sage St

If like me, your memories of computer games involve queuing behind a group of poorly behaved adolescents with a grubby 10 pence piece in your hand, waiting to play Pac Man, then it's time that you saw how things have progressed.

56 Sage Street is a free game from Barclays in which you must attempt to make something of your life despite starting off with nothing at all. To begin with your character has their bag stolen but fortunately the crime is witnessed by the enigmatic Mr C, who is the owner of the vast 56 Sage St trading empire. It turns out that he is dying and is looking for the right person to pass his company on to. Now there's a spot of good news for you!

However it's not in the bag yet and you must prove that you are worthy of this grand inheritance by building up skills and money before taking on a variety of challenges, sent to the mobile phone which is your character's sole remaining possession. It's easy to guide your little person round the dark and eerie city, doing good deeds, looking for work, trying to find somewhere to stay and make useful contacts. You can choose to go it alone or help others on the way to success. The graphics are very good, the game teaches you the value of money, but best of all, it is engaging- which is something that few games seem to manage. There are also links to Facebook and Twitter so that you can show off your progress in the game to your friends. Click on the video below to see the trailer.

Now play the game here

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