Saturday, February 28, 2009

Excelling Against The Odds

Ofsted (who are the body in charge of School Inspections), have produced a report about how schools with a crummy intake can nevertheless do well. Have a quick look at it here

It is compulsory for all these reports to descend into gibberish at some stage and this one doesn't waste any time. I love the phrase "a disciplined focus on being learning communities"

The gist of the report is blatantly obvious to anyone with half a brain. ie schools with discipline do better than those without.

The best bit is the list of characteristics of good schools. One of them is 'Highly inclusive' but in the previous paragraph we learnt that one Head suspended 300 kids in a week! How on Earth he got that past the School Governors or the Local Education Authority is not explained.

Anyway my feeling is this:

If we know that discipline in schools is central to success, why doesn't the Government do anything at all to encourage it? Some State Schools have very successful discipline policies which work, but many have useless ones that don't. Thousands of schools up and down the Land are making the same mistakes over and over again, when we could easily have one simple, clear and consistent set of rules to be adhered to by every pupil in Britain.

Oh hang on, I wrote a book about this.

Friday, February 27, 2009

More Rhymes...

Who's that behind him, let's have a look?

It's the other Abu; the one with the hook!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Oh joy, oh bliss, oh happy day;

Binyam Mohamed is coming to stay!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cambridge Primary Report

Congratulations to Professor Robin Alexander who has successfully proved Chalk's 5th Law of Teaching; which states that whenever an educational academic speaks, you must immediately stick your fingers in your ears and repeatedly shout "La-La-La...".

The Cambridge Primary Review claims that there is too much emphasis on numeracy and literacy in Primary Schools to the detriment of other subjects such as Music.

I suspect the non Cambridge University Academic public would say that this is exactly what they want and that the only things Primary Schools should bother teaching are reading, writing and sums; anything else is a bonus.

We knew this a hundred years ago. My only question is: how much did the taxpayer stump up for this twaddle?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Abu Qatada

Although residentially challenged, kebab-buying Jacqui Smith is disappointed that we will be paying bearded bomber Abu Qatada a few thousand; Liberty and Amnesty International are up in arms about the prospect of the jolly jihadist being sent back to Jordan. They claim that we cannot trust the Jordanians to look after him properly.

They are absolutely right. Under no circumstances should we send poor Abu back until we have a cast iron guarantee that he will be mistreated.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Our Government improves results by making the exams easier each year. Tanzania has a rather different, but doubtless equally effective approach. Rumour has it that they may introduce it over here...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Geert Wilders

Doesn't this guy realise that we don't allow people with funny hairstyles into our Country even if they are democratically elected politicians from friendly countries in the EU?

Thank goodness Jaqui Smith is here to protect us from such menaces by telling him firmly that:

"your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society".

Hmmm... like free speech perhaps?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Julia Robinson- A Brave Woman

It's rare that you find me using the words 'bravery' and 'Headteacher' in the same sentence, but Sheffield Head Julia Robinson certainly deserves our admiration. On taking up her post, she felt that rather than having separate assemblies for different religious groups, it might be better to just have one for everybody. (I think that most sane people would agree with that idea). Needless to say the Council recommended setting up a working party to waste time rather than just letting her make a simple decision and supporting it.

When a few parents inevitably complained, it would appear that she did not get any support and has now resigned in protest.

It is easy to go on a march or make a protest when you do not risk anything; but to resign your job over something you believe in takes great courage. How often do you hear of someone high up in a profession doing something like this? Can you imagine the Manager of a bank resigning because they are encouraged to push loans onto people too stupid to resist them? Or a High Court judge walking out because the sentencing guidelines prevent them adequately punishing a criminal, despite the fact that they routinely complain of this?

The Council should hang their heads in shame (rather than hanging their Heads out to dry); for not backing her to the hilt. She doesn't seem to have got much support from her staff or Union either.

Plea from the taxpayer-Please stop Jumping

We seem to be suffering an outbreak of springy pupils at the moment. You might remember Colin Adams who won £250 thousand when a twelve year old jumped on his back; now Sharon Lewis has upped the ante, claiming a £280 000 payout because a 13 year old jumped on her.

She claims that she is not angry at the child. I wouldn't be either for £280 grand.

There are soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq every week minus their arms or legs, receiving similar payouts if they are lucky and expressing their fierce determination to get back to work. When you compare this with 'I've been told I can't work full time again' it makes our profession once again look like a refuge for the helpless and the hopeless.

I am jealous though; loads of kids have jumped on me and I wasn't clever enough to ham it up a bit, take some acting lessons so that I could claim I was traumatised with a straight face and pick up a big cheque.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Golliwogs, Golliwogs, Golliwogs

Breaking News- The National Union of Golliwogs (NUG) has just announced that it will ballot its members on whether to take immediate strike action. A Spokesdoll today accused Carol Thatcher of displaying 'shocking cultural insensitivity' in accusing one of them of looking like a Frenchman. It is a move that will worry tacky gift shops up and down the land and raises the prospect of a mass walk out from the shelves.

Both the Association of Welsh Maids (AWM) and the militant wing of the Kilted Scottish Bagpiper Dolls Group (KSBDG) are considering whether to offer their support.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Pupils Behave Better

It's official- pupils' behaviour in the classroom is getting better so you can all stop moaning right now!

Alternatively you can fall back on Chalk's 12th Law of Teaching for guidance:

'Whenever the Educational Psychologist opens her mouth, think back to the people you met at Uni who were doing psychology and stop listening immediately.'

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Let's Grind To a Halt

Apparently Europe is scoffing once again at our inability to deal with a short cold snap and a few inches of snow. I'm not going to bring up the obvious fact that if we lived somewhere that got ten feet of snow every year then we'd probably think of buying a few extra snowploughs and winter tyres too, Ulrika.

Anyway, rather than paying attention to the witterings of a nation whose greatest achievement is to produce a palindromic Pop Group, I propose that we turn this situation on its head and from now on, make it a point of national pride that we show a bit more respect for Nature and simply stop working every time it snows.

When I am in charge, salt and grit will be banned and instead each Council will have an employee on 24 hour Snowwatch throughout the year. At the sight of the first flake, sirens will sound in every town and city signalling a compulsory mass downing of tools. There will be no announcement on TV as this would only alert the underclass to the potential opportunities for crime. Hospitals have to keep going but their staff will get days in lieu.

Parents would have time to play in the snow with their children (or regret their decision to have any), whilst the rest of us can enjoy ourselves, generate a bit of valuable community spirit by getting out the shovels and give nice cosy pubs a much needed economic boost. Hoorah!

ps I wrote a letter to my Council yesterday, complaining about the exclusively white nature of the snow we had received so far. I have no doubt whatsoever that I shall receive a reply and probably an apology.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Snow Joke

The newspapers are busy calling for the mass hanging of teachers whose schools were closed yesterday. Lynch mobs are to be formed in all major cities according to this article.

Normally you'd expect me to be siding with the Snowfall Deniers and ranting about bone idle lazy lumps who can't be bothered to get out of bed, weak Headmasters cowering under their desks at the sight of the first snowflake or the rise in mass disability amongst UK residents which prevents them from walking a few miles.

Teachers of course don't decide whether their school is closed or not. Usually the Head does, or in some cases the Local Education Authority steps in and decides to shut all the schools in their area.

Whoever makes the decision however, is caught between a Rock and the Deep Blue Sea. If they keep the school open, somebody is bound to slip or get hit by a snowball and feel duty bound to try and sue the school or LEA. You could also very easily end up with the nightmare situation of 220 kids and three teachers (as many of the teachers live miles from the school) so with the rules about numbers of staff per child you might have to send them all back home again. Then you've got the possibility of road accidents which a solicitor would argue were partly due to you telling people to come in when the emergency services had advised everyone not to make any journey that was not 'absolutely essential'.

(Incidentally the only regret I have about not rising up the promotion ladder to become a Head was that I missed the opportunity to ban snowballing, or to send the kids out wearing protective goggles from the Science Lab. I would then phone up one of the papers pretending to be a parent outraged at this 'Nanny State' behaviour and send in some photos and a short video. Imagine the fun of peddling a justification and hyping up my safety concerns about the chemicals in frozen rainwater to some gullible reporter.)

Anyway, if on the other hand they close the school, then a barrage of abuse must be faced. Some parents will be annoyed because they have to go to work and take their child with them (which might be difficult if you are a Policeman or a roped access Window Cleaner). Others will be cross because their viewing of daytime TV will be disturbed and quite a few will be enraged because a newspaper or newsreader has told them to be.

There's no easy answer and in my opinion we should simply accept a couple of days disruption every decade rather than spending a fortune on the infrastructure needed to cope with these events properly.

And let's face it; if we have lost the ability to enjoy the simple pleasures of a day's messing about in the snow then we really are in trouble...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Chalk Enterprises sent out an email to all our customers yesterday, assuring them that the recent snowfalls would not affect the service they receive in any way. This proved to be an excellent idea, as many were completely unaware that they received any service in the first place.

Meanwhile the BBC have reported that schools are not doing enough for their best pupils. The truth is that many State Schools massively let down the top and bottom ends of their intake. All their resources, including the best teachers; are concentrated on the kids who are on the C/D borderline at GCSE because that is what affects the school's position in the League Tables.

Incidently, the reason why the tables matter to schools is that the higher up you are, the more nice kids you get applying and the less chance of getting swamped with the grot.