Saturday, August 20, 2011

Run Across America

Well here's the good news- I won't be posting on this blog until mid November.

Now that the cheering has finally died down, I'll explain why.

It's because I'm in America helping out fellow Monday Books author and all round good-guy Steve Pope, in his attempt to run 3000 miles across the USA from San Francisco to New York with fellow ultra runner Chris Finill.

'Barking mad!' I hear you say. Well maybe, but I've got a soft spot in my normally cold heart for ventures like this, so I am driving their backup van, sorting out press and TV coverage, organising the maps, washing their socks and 1001 other things.

I'm also doing a blog on the event over at which is excellent and have organised their website at It tells you about them, explains what they are doing and why. You can also join their facebook group here if you like.

They are hoping to raise £100 000 for the charity 'Help for Heroes' (donations can be made here)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Income Protection Insurance

Teachers, Surgeons and Investment Bankers.

This post is sponsored by Endsleigh.

When it comes to income protection insurance, some teachers may have found they are classed in the same risk bracket for stress as surgeons, investment bankers and sales managers.

Unsurprisingly the subsequent cost of this attitude by income protection insurers towards the teaching profession is quite considerable often leading to restricted levels of cover or increased premiums.

Fortunately though there are insurers on the market who do not take this stance and understand that extra pressure at work doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do your job.

The last thing teaching professionals want is to leave themselves exposed to financial worries should illness or injury prevent them from working. Income protection insurance will ensure that once the employer’s sick pay ceases, teachers continue to receive an income until they are well enough to return to work.

There are a number of income protection products on the market which will only pay out if you are unable to do any job at all. This could mean that if you are unable to continue teaching due to an illness or injury, such policies may not pay out.  Therefore, you may have to take a job you otherwise wouldn’t have wanted to, for example, working in a less active role, perhaps in a shop behind the till.  There are providers however who will pay out for as long as you are unable to do your work as a teacher. They won’t expect you to work in a role you are over qualified for.

If you are off long term sick and your employer’s sick pay comes to an end, you would need provisions in place to maintain your current standard of living and meet your regular monthly outgoings such as mortgage payments and utility bills.

Without financial support people often turn to their savings, take a different, less qualified role or return to work before they are ready. Unfortunately current state benefits provide little comfort when facing the prospect of long term sickness. This is particularly important for supply teachers who generally receive no sick pay benefits from their employers.  A good income protection policy will allow you to fully recover before returning to work – a benefit both to you and to the children you teach!  Some policies even offer rehabilitation benefit which allows you to return to work in a reduced capacity for a period of time whilst you are recuperating, but still ensuring that your full benefit continues to be paid. 

The flexibility income protection insurance affords, allows you to tailor the policy to your exact needs, taking into account any existing benefits, your planned retirement age and how much income you need each month.  This allows you to make sure that the cover is as cost effective as possible.

How does income protection support you?

·       Regular tax free replacement income up to 70% of current salary if you are unable to work as a teacher.
·       A waiting period enables you to choose when you would need your replacement income be it straight away or when your employer’s sick pay benefits cease.
·       Financial support is still available if you return to work part time or to a lower paid role.

·       Amend your policy to suit your lifestyle. Increase or decrease you cover or waiting period.

·       Choose how long you want your income protection insurance policy to support you, 10 years, 20 years or until your retirement date.
·       Spend your monthly benefits how you choose. Use them to meet your mortgage payments, rent or other monthly outgoings. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Inspector Gadget

For a first hand view of the difficulties and frustrations that the police face in dealing with wretches up and down the country ( ie exactly the same problems we have in teaching), have a read of Gadget's blog at

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

More Riots

Radio,TV and newspapers are asking the question "Why?" with regard to these riots. The allowed responses include 'poverty' (whilst we try not to notice the expensive designer trainers and outfits sported by the protagonists), or how lack of opportunity is to blame (are we really supposed to think that there are less opportunities for young people than in say 1931?). There will be talk of 'communities retaking the streets' (to explain why most of the rioters seem to be black) and how it was the fault of the police over reacting or under reacting, or shooting an armed and dangerous criminal. Invariably someone will say how there is nothing to do (when there is more free entertainment available than in any time in history).

The answer is simple- people loot shops, set fire to cars and cause general mayhem because it is great fun and you are very unlikely to receive any real punishment for doing so. I don't reckon you will hear that argument in the media though.

Monday, August 08, 2011


So as the low life run amok in London, Birmingham and anywhere else where there might be the chance of nicking something, Theresa May has announced that:

"Those responsible for violence and looting in London over the last three days will be brought to justice!"

'Justice' no doubt consisting of cautions, community service and for the worst cases- short jail sentences of which one quarter must be served.

One year to go before the Olympic Games and we are in danger of becoming a laughing stock.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Pensions and life expectancy

The argument for raising teachers' pension contributions is simply that people are living longer. How do we know this?

Presumably we can look at the ages that people die at, which will tell us that those who were born roughly 60-100 years ago are indeed living longer. We could look at past data and see that the average age at death is rising at x years per decade, then use this trend to predict that by 2035 the average person will live to 103 (say).

This sort of prediction does remind me a bit of my own forecast in April this year, when after a careful analysis of the last fortnight's weather data I announced:

"Goodness, the weather's getting warmer and warmer- by Christmas it will be absolutely roasting!"

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


Four of the 8 teachers who left my old school last week were not retiring, nor were they moving to other teaching jobs. No, in the middle of the worst recession for decades, they were leaving safe secure positions to look for other careers.

All four of them had degrees in real subjects from sensible universities. This says more about the dire state of comprehensive teaching than my puny efforts ever could.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Jim Devine Released

On May 26th MP David Chaytor was released after serving four and a half months of his 18 month sentence for fiddling his expenses. Today Jim Devine was released after just 4 months of his 16 month stretch for the same offence.

So you now get out after just one quarter of your sentence- that really sends out a stern message to budding criminals. Still it keeps the statistics down which is all that really matters.

Is it just me who thinks that a 16 month sentence should mean er... 16 months?

Learning Through Play

Some friends of mine whose child starts school this September, recalled the moment they decided to opt out of state education. They have instead chosen to spend a large amount of money that they can't really afford and will involve them making some real sacrifices.

They were being given a tour round a primary school and the teacher proudly indicated the complete absence of desks. She then enthusiastically announced that all learning was done 'through play' and every child would learn at their own pace, without any pressure. 'Happy children' was their goal.

My friends' hearts sank as they realised they were listening to an imbecile. Unfortunately this was their third and final possible school and they had heard very similar words twice before. (Peppered with phrases such as 'Child-centric', 'non-divisive', 'unpressured learning environment', 'happiness-focussed', understanding the individual', 'emphasising creativity and self expression' etc until they were about to scream).

They are intelligent people and realise that their child would probably thoroughly enjoy his time at any of the three schools. However they also realise that unfortunately, all children learn to do through play is, funnily enough- to play.