Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bits and Bobs

Sorry I've not posted for a bit. Busy, busy and all that. Here's a few random musings.

The BBC reports today that there were 87 000 incidents of racism recorded in schools between 2007 and 2011.
Firstly why can't they adopt a standard unit of recording data (eg per year) rather than try and impress us with a big number?
Secondly, we are absolutely obsessed with racism in schools. Any incident perceived by the victim or some random passer by to be in the slightest bit racist is duly recorded in a book. This of course leads to ridiculous situations where I call you 'carrot head' and you respond by calling me 'chocolate face'.

Only one of us will be in trouble here and it ain't me.

Stephen Twigg, the Shadow Education Secretary has called for Comprehensive Schools to teach their kids how to speak to people both in interviews and in public. This is an excellent idea, which has been suggested many times before. The gulf between how state and private school pupils speak to an adult is enormous and we should do anything we can do to catch up. It would be far more useful than learning about myths in RE or political correctness in PSE.

The CBI (which speaks on behalf of businesses in the UK) has once again criticised the GCSE for not preparing pupils for future employment and propose just having an exam at 18 (which will be the school leaving age by 2015- this bombshell has fallen out of the news recently). They usually also have a story about an employee who takes on someone with five GCSEs and then has to teach them basic Maths and English. (Does this surprise anyone any more?)

They have a good point though, as schools have been failing miserably for two or three decades to turn out kids who are ready for work.

Finally, I phoned up four companies yesterday and three of them greeted me with an awful automated voice which invited me to select from some options. The voice then asked me to select from some more, speak my reference number (which they could not recognise) and then played me some music which I did not want to listen to, told me how important my call was and about the unusually high call volumes that they are always experiencing. After a few minutes I was put through to a human who also appeared to be automated.

She asked for my reference number again and then announced that she couldn't help me, as she could only read out the options given to her by the computer. As she was obviously flummoxed by anything unusual, I asked to be put through to her manager and she informed me that he would only say the same. Bravely resisting the temptation to get sidetracked and ask how she knew this, I begged her instead to give him the opportunity to do so and was promptly put on hold. Several minutes and three songs later I gave up and put the phone down.

When I phoned the fourth one, a cheerful bloke answered the phone, told me he didn't need any reference numbers as he could just look up my name and sorted out my non-standard request in less than a minute. He said that he would confirm what we had agreed by email straight away (And he did).

Feel free to suggest the identities of the first three and the final company.


DizzyRingo said...

first three are gov depts or your bank and the last a private business!

Simon Hardcastle said...

1st 3 - Any telephony company (BT, Vodafone etc.) or bank

Last one - could be a trick if you were offering to spend money; otherwise hotel/resturant

Anonymous said...

Last one - NTL?

Dave said...

Energy companies? The last one being nPower. Or banks (although in that case I think you'd have said account, rather than reference, number), the last being First Direct?

Also, on the speaking to adults point, may I suggest that state schools follow the example of my (private) school, and arrange the dining hall in a manner that means teachers and pupils are intermingled, thus meaning you spend the time you're eating in pleasant conversation about the events of the day with a teacher. The pupils learn to speak to (relatively) grown-ups, and the teachers improve their knowledge of subjects such as street slang, Biebers and the best places to acquire fake ID. Win-win.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point about eating with teachers. Not sure all the teachers would be ecstatic (or cooperative), but we had the same thing in my state comprehensive. Only worked for people on school dinners and people who didn't go round in table-filling packs of six, but at least once a week there'd be a teacher on our table. Then again, they tended to sit only with the kids who were already, thanks to scouts or similar, capable of talking to adults, so not sure how much it helped the numpties, if at all.

Anonymous said...

Yep. First Direct. Straight through to a human (whose accent I understand). Three quick security questions. Bit of idle chat and sort out any banking issues, pay bills, whatever.

Anonymous said...

Child makes derogatory racial slur to other child. Distasteful. Punishment (1 day in isolation) is more severe than (in particular school)
Truancy (detention)
Most severe swearing
Threats of violence

And is the same as:
Physical assault on another child

Racism is very distasteful but the world needs a little perspective. I say this as a member of an ethnic minority.