Friday, September 22, 2006

Inspector Gadget

The excellent Police blogger 'Inspector Gadget' who can be relied upon to keep us informed as to why our streets are not safe at night (or during the day in many cases) has been 'outed.'

Either somebody has figured out who he is from a posting or more worryingly for the rest of us, his computer has been hacked into. He is being interviewed 'informally' on Tuesday.

Currently, a handful of blogs in the UK are exposing serious flaws in the Police, the NHS and State Education. They are hitting a raw nerve with those higher up who have always had the opportunity to say something or more importantly; actually do something, but have simply kept quiet and followed the official line. These people would much rather the reality was kept safely hidden away.

Inspector Gadget is the first to be found out and it will be very interesting to see what the outcome is.


john said...

There will always be a problem in any heirarchy that it tends to resist those people who criticise the conventional wisdom. Hence to progress people need to fit in.

You cannot blame people for not wanting to rock the boat, their mortgages depend upon a stable boat even if it is gradually sinking.

One area of potential challenge is at the political level where MPs are in part responsible to the electors (and in part the party). The strength of party voting has tended to diminish the independence of elected representatives.

Anonymous said...

Hope Insp Gadget gets through OK - top blog and a copper who makes sense and cares about the people who he looks after. A pox upon the grass.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Inspector Gadget is by no means the first copper to have his collar felt.

He commits the same crime you and Doc Crippen do, viz. telling it as it is, not as the Spin Doctors and PR departments want us to believe.

Tom Welsh said...

It's up to us citizens to note the names and numbers of those who take action against bloggers, and vote accordingly when the opportunity arises.

Stan Still said...

Mr Chalk Sir

I'm sure my senior colleague values the support of you and your readers. TIme will tell whether he continues to contribute.

In the meantime, a very nice lady from Amazon delivered your book today and I've read the first chapter. For anyone who thinks you are making it up, I can assure them that my experience and that of my wife (secondary school crowd controller) supports your view of comprehensive education.

Your medal is in the post

JO said...

"The strength of party voting has tended to diminish the independence of elected representatives."

A whopping great undestatement if ever there was one! Both at national AND local government level.
Until we demand the restoration of effective representative democracracy and get rid of the sham, consultative quango-led governance which currently has a stranglehold on our society.. nothing will change.

simon k said...

got your book from amazon yesterday frank. read it in one sitting - a great read. my wife's reading it now. she's not sure whether to laugh or cry.
we're both comprehensive school teachers, we both want to retire as soon as possible and we both would have gone into different careers if, 25 years ago, we'd known it was going to end up like this.
keep up the good work.

Mary said...

Simon K: "we're both comprehensive school teachers, we both want to retire as soon as possible"

I've got to admit that having read a fair bit of the archive and accompanying comments, I'm really wondering what compelled some teachers to become teachers. Seems like for a lot of you, the only people you hate worse than the kids is the people who chose to have the kids, be they underclass who don't care enough, or middle-class who fuss too much.

No aspect of teaching seems to be making you happy. You're obviously intelligent and educated and formally qualified too, so what's stopping you going and getting another job?

The best teachers I had - the ones who had no problem with "crowd control", who could motivate all their students, who could take a mixed ability class who would lock other teachers into their own stationery cupboards and have them all pay attention and learn something - were the ones who loved teaching rather than resented it.

Simon K said...

I joined teaching for the following reasons:
1) I'd enjoyed school myself and admired and liked a number of my teachers (I didn't like them all obviously. And, by the way, I went to a middling secondary modern in Birmingham).
2) I quite liked the idea of working with kids and passing on knowledge to them. I suppose I thought I could make a difference.
3) The degree I got wasn't good enough to go into law or medicine or anything else really (though I think I'd still have gone into teaching anyway).

The first 10 years of my career were fine. I taught Maths in a 700-pupil school in Somerset. We had no discipline problems, because the Head ran a tight ship, most of the kids came from reasonable families and we did have the cane to fall back on if we needed it (or detentions that would be observed, lines that would be written, bollockings that would have an effect).

Then I moved to Liverpool after meeting my wife. We now work in two comps in the Liverpool area (we're both Maths teachers). My wife's is slightly better than mine (we're around the failing or soon-will-be mark).

On average, 20 per cent of my class doesn't turn up on a given day.

70% of the class rotates its attendance (ie about 30% are good attenders who come in every day, unless they're really ill, the rest vary from 20% to 80% attendance through the term).

I leave it to you to imagine how that helps our teaching.

I've sent letters home to parents about this (I've had them returned with the words 'fuck off' written at the bottom, or screwed up and, in one case, burned and the ashes delivered in an envelope).

I've had parents come up to school and threaten me that they will attack me if I inform the truancy people (I still inform them, and they do next to nothing).

Let's deal with the 80% who do turn up on a given day. The majority of them haven't attended all of the last five lessons (some will have been to four, some to three and so on) so they have no chance of understanding where we are. I spend half the lesson rush-explaining what they should already know, to a chorus of 'Boring', 'Sir! KerryAnn's taken my book!', mobile phone rings and a low-level hubbub of chat. Occasionally, fights will break out, or kids will just get up and leave, theatrically, saying things like 'This is shit!'.

Note: there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop these boys (usually, it's boys). I can't restrain them physically, because the police will arrest me (or the lad/s will attack me, and then I'll be arrested) and I'll very likely lose my job, I can't have him caned, if I give him lines he won't write them (and I can't force him to do them), if I give him a detention he won't show up (and I can't force him to turn up). The kids, literally, run the school - something they are realising more and more, with the result that the natural, residual respect for/fear of adults/authority is draining away (so we're on a slippery slope, on greased skis).

I predict that 10-15% of next year's GCSE class will get A-C grades (mostly Cs, the odd B and one A) and - whatever ANYONE says - GCSE Maths now is unbelievably easy. I kid you not when I say that 20 years ago 11 year olds were answering these problems.

Do I hate the kids? Good question. I don't like many of them, that's for sure. But would you like people who continually called you a 'wanker' to your face? We do have some diligent and conscientious kids, but as Mr Chalk says so eloquently in his book, their lives are being ruined - literally - by the others. It's hard to like those 'others'.

Do I hate the parents? No, not those who care about their kids, who turn up at parents' evenings and show an interest, who try to help their kids get their homework in on time and who respond with reasonableness and civility to notes sent home. I don't particularly like parents who send their children to school without breakfast, with packed lunches that will pump them full of E numbers and sugar, who burn my notes, threaten me and tell me to fuck off. Perhaps you're a saint, and would turn the other cheek to this.

'Class' has absolutely nothing to do with anything, by the way.

What's stopping me getting another job? Try being nearly 50 in Liverpool. They're not falling over themselves to recruit people like me for anything. Plus, I do still have moments when the job is worthwhile.

I don't know how old you are Mary, or where you come from, or where you were at school. I guess you're younger than I am from your photo. Whatever, unless you are either teaching in or attending a shit school now, in 2006, you have no real idea how bad things have got. No idea at all.

If we could go back to how things were, I wouldn't hate my job. It's not the job, per se. It's how it is now.

Mary said...

Thanks for that response Simon, it did make some things clearer.

My school... This One. And I was there in the Sixth Form about six years ago, my sister four years ago, so not too terribly much can have changed.

Don't get me wrong, please, I agree absolutely that you teachers have to deal with some awful stuff and that this is not right, it is not what you joined teaching for, you shouldn't have to put up with it... and maybe part of it is coloured by the fact that blogs tend to be where people rant and let off steam, rather than say "I had a really positive experience today". It just seems to go further than that sometimes.

simon k said...

Hi Mary

I think you're right about the 'steam' thing, to an extent. But we do that anyway in the staffroom, at home, in the pub (we're a close bunch at both of our schools, which helps).

I can't speak for Frank but in my case, the reason I bothered to writre such a long reply is because it isn't JUST about steam. It's also about the fear that we are genuinely turning out a huge cadre of uneducated, unemployable kids at just the time that the country faces the challenges of globalisation, skills shortage etc etc.

We had a Swedish guy come to the school on a teacher swap last year. His written and spoken English was better, I'd say, than that of any of our pupils (and many of our teachers). His Maths was excellent and he had a better knowledge of British history than most of our kids.

Admittedly, ours is not a great school. But this is terrifying.

Worst of all, as I say on my reply to the post above, we're condemning the kids to a future of no hope. I speak as a working class bloke who's always voted Labour.

I have alternate Monday mornings off for lesson planning (which I should be doing now) but there's almost no point to it - the kids just won't listen anyway.

Yours, depressedly


lilyofthefield said...

Who cares? I sent a comprehensive folder of evidence, named schools and people, and signed my own name detailing the cheating, and worse, the coercion used to ensure that coursework got the maximum mark possible, to the exam boards, AQA, QCA and the then Ed Min.

I got back an anodyne reply along the lines of "isolated case.....we depend upon the professionalism of teachers to maintain the integrity of the system."

OI! YOU LISTENING??? I've just told you how I personally am undermining it. At least sack me. A TES journalist took the stuff off me finally but couldn't use the real names.