Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Horses, Nails and Hair

Well bang go my chances of improving myself with a GNVQ in nail painting. The news today is that schools will not be allowed to count these vocational courses as 4 GCSEs on their league tables any more.

This move is only about ten years overdue. Vocational qualifications should be recognised, (a plasterer has a set of valuable skills that I do not), but the desire to compare schools at a glance by over simplistic league tables results in every possible qualification being lumped in together.

Canny Heads immediately look for whatever course gives the most points for the least effort and before you knew it, every child ends up with a qualification to look after a horse.

I suppose you could say 'Hair today, gone tomorrow...'

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hotter Shoes

Hotter Venture

In November English shoe manufacturers Hotter sent me a pair of Venture shoes to review. Here's a picture of one so you can see what they look like.

I must confess that I'd never even heard of the company, but anyway here's what I think of their shoe.

The first thing that you notice is how light they are. They feel very soft around your feet and the sole has a bit of flex, so if you don't look down, you would think that you were wearing a pair of tennis or running shoes. As a male, I just want a pair of shoes that are comfortable, hard wearing and won't provoke widespread mirth when people see them.

The shoes are extremely comfortable to walk in and the Goretex liner keeps your feet dry in the rain whilst still allowing them to breathe. After 2 months they haven't got any marks on them despite regularly walking my dog through wet grass and muddy fields and paying shamefully little attention to cleaning them. The sole appears to be soundly attached to the uppers, unlike the previous shoes I had.

Hotter have clearly taken aspects of sports shoes, such as lightweight build, removable insoles, soft inner and cushioned sole and successfully incorporated them into a shoe that can be worn to work, in the pub or walking over rough ground and wet grass without any difficulty. They are made in the UK, currently cost £75 and to sum up- I would buy a pair.

Here's their website  http://www.hottershoes.com/
Oh and just so you know- they gave me a pair of shoes, but that's it. I'm not on commission.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Once again Ofsted plumbs new depths of lunacy, announcing today that the word 'satisfactory' will no longer be allowed as a grade.

It's always worrying when organisations ban words- I can still remember the Professional Association of Teachers debating whether to forbid use of the word 'failure' and replace it with 'deferred success'. Such ideas just make us seem ridiculous to outsiders.

In Ofsted's case, this distracts attention away from their main problem, which is that they are grading schools on criteria that are fashionable rather than useful to the children. I gave the example in my second book of how, if a teacher were watched a few days before their class sat an exam and they spent the lesson doing a past paper, then Ofsted would grade that teacher poorly, even though it would be by far the best way of spending the pupils' time.

Just ask the ten brightest kids what they think of the school and you would get a much more accurate answer and save lots of money.


Mrs C seems to have developed a remarkable interest in all things Astronomical recently, for reasons that escape me...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Teachers on the Radio

Why is it that whenever I hear a teacher being interviewed on the radio, they always manage to make us all sound like fools?

Maybe all the ones bright enough to string a coherent argument together are too busy teaching.

Getting rid of under-performing Teachers

Whilst I'm all in favour of getting rid of hopeless teachers, the problem we have is that teachers are being pressurised by their schools, their training and Ofsted themselves to adopt teaching methods that would be considered barking mad by any intelligent outsider.

Bright parents (and pupils) just laugh at nonsense such as 'peer reviews', 'question grading', 'market place activities' and all the other bizarre things that we are encouraged to waste the pupils' time with. However these practices get you lots of praise from those whom you must answer to, so what should a poor teacher do?

There is also a move to allow parents to come into lessons to see how the teacher performs. I think that many parents should be forced to attend school to see how poorly their own child behaves.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hair Cutting Incident

Headline writers across America were jumping for joy last night as a man called Mullet denied involvement in a series of hair cutting incidents. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16522281 Political correctness of course prevents the BBC from cashing in on this comedy bonanza.

Scroll down the article and gaze in awe at his extremely impressive beard. I love the fact that he can't be tagged because he doesn't have any electricity in his house.

If only he had fled the scene and provided the bonus line of Hair today, gone tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Burwood School

I was about to write a post on the recent attack on two teachers at Burwood School in Orpington by a 10 year old boy.

Unfortunately for me however, the Autonomous News website has already done an excellent job, noting that as usual, the stories in the media are all copied and pasted mindlessly from the same source without any background research and how the BBC and the teachers' union rep tried to use the bogeyman of 'the cuts' to excuse it all. I'm amazed that nobody blamed the teachers for not entertaining the poor child sufficiently.

Here's a link to their article

Strangely, the website of Burwood School (whose motto ironically is "Where everyone matters") makes no mention of the incident at all in its 'Latest News' section. http://www.burwood.bromley.sch.uk/p_Home.ikml

Monday, January 09, 2012


Until David Cameron's recent comment, I hadn't realised how big Tourette's Karaoke really is.

This chap's poignant and moving version of Chris de Burgh's 80's classic: Lady in Red is not suitable for minors or those easily offended.


Thousands of pounds for Laptops

So schools are being charged thousands of pounds for laptops by rogue companies according to this article. I can't say I'm surprised, as con men will always look for an easy target. It does show the unforeseen dangers of giving schools more autonomy and moving them from under the LEA's protective umbrella and into the nasty real World.

You might think that whoever was in charge of procurement would bother to read the small print and perhaps show the contract to a solicitor if they didn't understand it.

What? You wouldn't think they would do that at all. Oh, ok then.

All readers should check to see if their local school has fallen victim to these disgraceful opportunistic companies who prey on the innocent. If they haven't, could you please forward their contact details to Chalk Enterprises' newly formed Laptop Leasing Department immediately.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Training Day

Happy New Year and commiserations to all those of you who will have your time wasted by the nonsense known as 'Training Day'.

I read the autobiography of Alan Sugar and the biography of Steve Jobs recently. The two men were both very successful in the same industry, but the contrast between them is immense. I suppose it shows that there is more than one formula for success.

Jobs was obsessed with trivial details such as the colour of the computer case and the type of screws used to hold his machines together, whereas Sugar focussed on getting every component for the cheapest possible price.

Steve Jobs paid a fortune to a design agency for his adverts, Alan Sugar did them himself. Jobs was a charismatic and brilliant presenter, whereas Sugar isn't. Apple products cost three times the equivalent PC price, Amstrads sold for a third. (I should say at this point that I've never used either brand of computer).

It strikes me that Steve Jobs' genius, was to persuade people to pay over the odds for fashion (just like North Face or White Stuff manage to do), whereas Alan Sugar's was to figure out how to make a product cheaper than anyone else.

Both are interesting books, but I can't claim that I would have liked to have spent much time with either of them unfortunately. Jobs comes across as rude, self-centred and constantly throwing a tantrum, Sugar just seems a bit dull.

Oh, you may have noticed from the box on the right hand side, that I have started using Twitter. I don't really understand it yet, but have just decided to give it a go for a few weeks and see if anyone wants to listen to my witterings.