Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I can't think of a 'Sun Style' Headline for this one.

Thanks to Adrian for this little gem. I wonder what else can be seen from low earth orbit...Physicists amongst you, get calculating.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I wonder if this will be controversial at all...

Boxing may be about to make a return in schools according to this article

My personal view is: Why should the teachers miss out on this?

Who hasn't wanted to beat the hell out of some cheeky parent who is happy to dole out abuse on the phone but might get their comeuppance in the Staffring?

I can just see it now. Mr Blunt is the compere:

"Ladies, Gentlemen and Parents! Welcome to a packed staffroom tonight. In the near corner we've got Mr. Chalk, looking wiry and nimble in those fetching red trunks...(cheers)

His opponent in the far corner; the alleged father of Wayne Scroggins! (Boos) He looks like he's put in plenty of training at the Dog and Partridge."

Seconds away, Round One! Ding-a-ling-a-ling..."

What Head of Department hasn't wanted five minutes in the ring with some whining, useless teacher who is forever pestering them with complaints about Kyle and Shane, but never does anything to help themselves?

Wouldn't you like to let that Supply Teacher know that actually a vague 'sorry' and a shrug of the shoulders before leaving promptly at three pm really wasn't good enough, when they'd left your classroom looking like a Council Refuse Tip and allowed the brats to steal half your equipment?

Boxing in Schools? Bring it on! (But only for the over 18s)

Shocking Behaviour

Tell your pupils not to do this especially if they live in the US where the Police don't muck about.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Here's an article questioning whether young children should be given homework.

Before I went to Secondary School, I never received a scrap of homework. I do remember lots of playing games and having a thoroughly good time. If I'd had homework every night at that age, I'm quite sure that it would have put me off school completely.

I'm fairly sure that by the time we left at age 11, every child in my class could read, write and do their tables. Maybe the difference was that when the teacher told us that we had to sit down, listen in silence and learn something, we actually did have to sit down, listen in silence and learn something.

Those that can... buy.

There are two routes to becoming a Headteacher.

1) Train as a teacher and enthusiastically adopt every policy dreamt up by those above you; no matter how insane. Fill out every form that comes your way and nod your head frequently during Staff Meetings. Work your way up to Head of Department, keep crawling and agreeing with the SMT, go on endless useless courses and above all, do not stick your neck out supporting anyone with silly old fashioned ideas such as making pupils behave themselves.

Now apply for Deputy Head and be extra vigilant in not supporting anyone below you no matter what. Pepper your speech with the buzzwords of the day and dream up as many ludicrous ideas as you can. Do not rock the boat, upset any parents or accidently expel anyone. Just keep agreeing with the Head and finally apply for position of Headteacher. Bingo!

2) Buy the school

Friday, January 26, 2007

Don't copy this idea.

Just in case any of you were planning on stuffing a child's head into the photocopier today...

Your comments are of course welcome...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Yes many teenagers are in fact, lazy

Confirmation of Chalk's Fifth Law of Teaching:

"Never, ever listen to anything an 'Academic' says"

Teenagers went to work early in the morning on time for millenia. Whether it was to work down the mines, milk cows, or carry a bag of flint spear heads for Ug.

This was simply because they were punished if they were late. Now that we seem to regard any form of punishment as barbaric, kids turn up when they feel like it. The well known philosopher, Shane Scroggins summed this up neatly in his declaration:

"You can't make me do nuthin' you say!"

If you are an academic however, dream up some pseudo scientific explanation tailored to make a good headline for the ever more gullible. No doubt schools will fall over themselves to pander to this latest thinking.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

'Mrs Poppleton vs The Kids' Round 2, Seconds away!

Well at least the kids have got the apostrophe on their banner in the right place, which puts them above 90% of the population. (including me, as certain readers have noted.) Maybe their English teacher wasn't on supply.

The parents claim that Mrs Poppleton doesn't listen to them or the kids. That gets her some credit in my view.

The kids claim that 72% of lessons are taken by Supply Teachers. (Mind you if they can do percentages maybe the Maths teacher is regular as well.)

Everybody claims that the argument is nothing to do with body piercings.

By the way, if you have any contact with this school can you drop me an email at the address on the right sidebar. Thanks

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Supplies, supplies!

Kids at this school are protesting about having too many Supply Teachers. As an ex supply teacher myself, I don't blame them one bit. The school has apparently chucked them out for a fortnight. A Fortnight! They'd have got less for kidnapping the Head.

I reckon that this story will turn out to have more twists than a Mount Everest helter-skelter

Amo, amas, amat, whack!

My memories of Latin consist of translating sentences along the lines of "The sailors are chasing the girls into the woods whilst the freed slave rejoices!"

When we were not doing this, we were being beaten; as Latin teachers were traditionally very strict.

Anyway, to the point. Latin and Greek are disappearing from schools faster than those sailors above. Last year there were only 864 Classics students starting at University. (As opposed to about 3.5 million doing Media Studies)

Is this another example of the ongoing decline in our Country or should we be glad to see the back of such outdated, archaic stuff?

Talking of Classics- have a look at Rate My Turban

Load of old Niqabs

Quick summary of this one:

1) Dad spots opportunity to cause trouble at the public expense.

2) The Legal profession rubs its hands with glee.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

Hoorah for the legal money spinner that allows this appeal at the taxpayers' expense.

It's not Big and It's Certainly not Clever...

Education Minister Alan Johnson announced today that schools need to do more to tackle the sort of behaviour shown on the 'Big Brother' Show.

Author and General Troublemaker, Frank Chalk announced today that schools need to do more to encourage children to develop hobbies and interests rather than sit mindlessly gawping at a bunch of 'Halfwits in a House'.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Unions

Here's a confession that will enrage many a teacher:

"In 14 years of teaching I never joined a Union"

I never saw any evidence in all that time to convince me that the motley collection of Teaching Unions (I can't even remember how many there are now; at least five) were not completely useless. The Government knows full well that the teachers do not speak with a united voice and takes full advantage of this, for example when the GTC was introduced.

I generally kept quiet about my non membership as I got bored of hearing teachers repeating the stuff they'd heard from other people, such as:

"What would happen if you ever had to go to Court if a pupil accused you of hitting them?"

The answer to this is that I would be quite happy to defend myself. (I've been to Court twice before and it's not exactly rocket science. I'm perfectly capable of saying; "I didn't hit Wayne") Alternatively I'd simply get a solicitor free on legal aid so long as I earned less than about £28000 per year. (Check for yourself here).

I think I'd rather be represented by Cherie Blair than take my chances with some solicitor reduced to a job with a teaching Union.

The other oft repeated line is:

"You're getting the advantages of all that the Unions have achieved for us"

To which my genuinely perplexed answer is: "Such as? I work in a dirty classroom without proper heating or ventilation. I get sworn at and threatened by pupils or parents every day and I have to pay £35 per year to the GTC etc etc."

On several occasions during what can laughably be referred to as my career, colleagues announced that they would no longer teach a pupil. This was usually when the pupil had behaved terribly for months on end, the teacher had done all they could and there was no backup from SMT. I was always willing to support them by refusing to take the brat either. Simple direct action like this always works and can help unite a department.

At the end of the day a Union is little more than the sum of it's members. If they aren't prepared to strike or take drastic action then their Union can't do much. Look at other Unions such as ASLEF, whose members fight tooth and nail. (Often for completely hopeless cases, but compare a train drivers pay with your own.)

If we had a single Union representing all teachers, that was prepared to strike over pay, discipline problems, SMT uselessness etc then I would have joined it like a shot but I certainly wasn't prepared to waste my hard earned money on a lame duck

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Three quick bits as I'm in a rush today, due to my own bad planning:

1) We've already discussed plans to keep pupils in Education of some sort until they are 18. My own viewpoint is that it could be a great idea if it was done properly, but almost certainly won't be; so will fail miserably and be abandoned.

2) It takes a brave man to publicly criticize your own son after he has been killed, and Mr Elgar; father of the 'graffiti artist' (ie mindless vandal) killed by a train, deserves our admiration.

Many other parents who try to defend the worst actions of their offspring could learn a lot from him.

3) Ruth Kelly sending her kid to an expensive public school rather than the local one and coming out with some stuff about 'Special Needs'. Why couldn't she just have been honest and said:

"The State Schools might be good enough for your brats, but not for my child."

Big Brother

The recent case of alleged bullying in the Temple of Foolishness gives me an excuse to remind you of Chalk's First Law of Recruitment:

Start by asking the prospective employee who their favourite 'Big Brother' contestant is.

If they can give you an answer, say: "Thanks, that'll be all for now and we''ll phone you if we need to see you again. Goodbye!"

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Three cheers for Mary Lewis, Head of Lammack Primary School, Blackburn who has asked parents not to chew gum on the school premises. She claims that it is a litter issue, but I suspect the litter she has in mind is in the form of gormless halfwits mooching aimlessly around with their jaws opening and closing as they try to remember the name of their offspring.

Read the story here

The teaching Union NASUWT described the move as 'heavy handed', (ie she actually did something, rather than just talk about it)

Friday, January 12, 2007

I always knew it was true...

Here's a link for all you Science Teachers out there, who want to get up to speed on a topic which will be appearing on the new GCSE syllabus next year.

The News

Next time you're thinking of applying for a job in Glasgow, former City of Culture:

Meanwhile in pleasant Wiltshire:,,-6339030,00.html

However to cheer us up, here's a heartwarming tale from the US where punctuality is still seen as important. This mother did not want her daughter to be late for an important fight, so she drove her to the venue and stayed to provide moral and physical support.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Turn off the TV and learn the Tea Ceremony

If 76% of those idle enough to be bothered to stop and answer a questionnaire wanted schools to select kids by their academic ability then 100% of those in possession of a full deck of cards would support it.

Whilst Ministers dither endlessly, one Japanese school is leading the way. Get practicing now.

Don't do it.

Just in case any of you were thinking of doing some painting with your bottoms, read this story first.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Boys Will Not Be Boys

My memories of school involve play fighting pretty much on a daily basis. Boys have a natural desire to wrestle at the slightest opportunity and we did so enthusiastically. It rarely escalated into full blown punch ups so no harm was done and everyone learned the pecking order from an early age, which is a useful thing to know. (Everyone also learned how to repair their School Uniform as well)

If spotted by a teacher the general punishment varied from a quick reprimand, a clip round the ear, lines or a detention. ie it was not taken all that seriously.

Nowadays however, two boys fighting is treated with the seriousness of a major diplomatic incident. Parents are involved, the boys could possibly be excluded for a few days and there will be much hand wringing about violence and bullying. Everyone will be taken to hospital for a CAT scan and counseling will be offered. Questionnaires can be filled in to demonstrate that everyone was being bullied by someone else and if anyone involved is not white then we can all get excited about racism too.

Now let's look at another crime. If, in the dim and distant past when I was at school, you were foolish enough to answer back to a teacher then you would be slippered or caned. (or just summoned to the equipment room and given a swift punch in the guts.) If you had been foolish enough to swear directly at a teacher (which I can't actually remember happening), then you would undoubtedly have been hung from the school gates as an example to others, possibly after being disembowelled by the Head of PE with a javelin.

Nowadays, if you want to answer back to a teacher or shout at them, go right ahead. Nothing much will happen. Even if you swear at one, it will often be ignored. Feel free, children; to push and shove them as much as you like. As long as you pretend that it was an accident, it will usually be brushed under the table. Failing that, just claim that the teacher pushed you first and they will back down. In the unlikely event that this still doesn't work, bring in one of the gormless adults sitting in front of the TV at home to claim that "you never tell lies, no not never" preferably accompanied by the 'No win- No fee' solicitor from their last pavement tripping claim.

The conclusions I draw from all this are:

1) Boys are no longer allowed to do 'boy like things'

2) Although there is much twaddle spoken about needing to improve pupils self esteem (which is generally far too high already) it's often the teachers who have lost their self confidence.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Something that I have always wondered since I started teaching, and have never heard a convincing answer to, is the question:

"Why do kids automatically move up to the next class each year?"

ie. Why does Shane leave Primary School when he cannot read three words of English? Primary Schools are full of people who can teach kids to read, Secondary Schools are not. There is absolutely no point in him moving up until he has been taught to read, write and do simple sums.

Most of the kids who came to us at the age of 11 unable to read, left at 16 (or earlier in many cases because they simply couldn't understand what was going on in the lessons) still unable to read after 12 years of full time education. If that's not a massive failure of the Education System, then I don't know what is.

All the answers I ever heard involved 'self esteem', 'peer group continuity' 'human rights' or some other rubbish. If anybody has a sensible answer, please let me know.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Gilbert Review

Although it sounds like a cartoon, this is actually a report which the Government commissioned and Alan Johnson will be listening to:

Its central recommendation is 'Personalised Learning' which we looked at in the last posts. Here are the others, with my own flippant comments.

1) All schools should set out how they are making personalised learning a reality. Personalised Learning doesn't sound very realistic in a class of 30 to me.

2) Feedback from pupils should be used to design lessons. Can you imagine this? "Today we shall be using the medium of football to teach quadratic equations..."

3) Parents should get more information, such as lesson plans on the internet. Why?

4) Teacher training should be revised, outstanding teachers might have sabbaticals to enhance their skills. Teacher Training should most certainly be revised and they should stop taking the hopeless cases. I like the sound of sabbaticals too (like in Australia) but do you get paid whilst you're away? (In which case would anyone come back?)

5) A group should be set up to distinguish effective innovation in teaching from "fads and fashions" Presumably to make sure that only the fads and fashions are adopted.

6) Pupils not progressing as expected should be entitled to extra support, such as one-to-one tuition, in or out of school. Sounds great and I shall be only too pleased to provide this at £35 per hour.

How much did they pay for this report?

More Personalised Whatsit

In case you still don't understand what this all important 'Personalised Learning' means, here is the official definition:

"Put simply, personalised learning and teaching means taking a highly structured and responsive approach to each child's and young person's learning, in order that all are able to progress achieve and participate."

There, hopefully it is all clear now.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Personalised Learning

I've just had a good telling off by Mrs. C for rolling around on the floor hooting with laughter and frightening Humphrey the dog whilst watching the Six O' Clock News item on this topic. It featured a guitar strumming wannabe boyband member explaining how he learns best when things are put in a musical context...

I'm still daft enough to believe that Education has something to do with preparing kids for life in the Real World. Do any of these idiots seriously imagine that when Tarquin goes to work at Sproggins and Son Components, they are going to listen to his request to have the 'Training Manual for New Employees' shouted in Rap Lyrics? Or perhaps he would prefer to learn it via a kinesthetic method, with the Board of Directors presenting the Guidelines in a Dance format?

No, funnily enough he will be told to read the manual just like everybody else.

I am going to write to my bank manager tomorrow, informing him that I have decided that I too prefer to absorb information when it is presented to me in a musical context. Bearing this in mind; next time my Business Account is overdrawn, could he arrange for a trained operatic vocalist to inform me by way of Medieval chanting, accompanied by an orchestra of Lute Players?

Educational Experts

Thanks to David for this one:

If I was a Professor of say Nuclear Physics or Analytical Chemistry; conducting ground breaking research into extremely difficult subjects which require a huge brain to understand, I would be a bit hacked off to discover that you can be a Professor of Inclusion.

Professor Sheila Riddell must presumably be an expert in preventing schools from chucking out Wayne, Dwayne and Chavney after they have commited every crime known to Man and made the teachers' lives a misery for years on end.

I can imagine it must be pretty highbrow stuff...


Ignoring the fact that 76% of the UK population probably believe in fairies, I'm completely in favour of schools selecting children by academic ability. I went to a Comprehensive and sat between Ashley and Einstein. Einstein got a 'C' when he could have got an 'A' in a better school and Ashley was made to read French when he could barely read English. If there had been someone to teach him car mechanics, building skills or plumbing, then maybe he wouldn't have dropped out to sniff glue.

If we look at both ends of the spectrum, we see that the Comprehensive System cannot cope.

In 1970 a bright but poor kid could pass the 11+ and had a higher chance than they do nowadays of achieving the Holy Grail of Learning- a place at Oxford or Cambridge University. In fact both institutions recently admitted that virtually all their State intake is now from just 165 schools (mainly Grammars) that can teach to the standard required.

At the other end of the scale, the completely non academic pupil is bored senseless by five years of stuff that is totally incomprehensible to them and which they will never, ever need. Funnily enough, they constantly misbehave and we breathe a sigh of relief when they leave at sixteen, unable to read, write or do simple sums.

So we ruin the chances of both the top and bottom of the academic ability range, even though they take up most of our time; to the detriment of those in the middle who just keep quiet and struggle on.

There are four types of teacher.

1) The very academic who could teach ‘A’ Level (and the old ‘S’ Level) without any difficulty.

2) The less academic who are very good with the naughty kids.

3) Those who can do (1) and (2) (rare, valuable but unrewarded)

4) Those who can do neither and should be sacked.(2% my estimate)

Just as we can hardly expect to find many of (2) or (4) teaching at Eton, neither can we expect to find many of (1) at your Inner City Hellhole Comprehensive, which is a bit of a blow if you happen to be the poor but exceptionally bright kid who needs them most.

We should admit that the present system has been a disaster and go back to selecting kids at 11 by academic ability. Use an exam or trust what their teachers think. That way every child could get the education that is best for them, rather than the 'one size fits all' mess that we have now.

No wonder everyone who can afford it (along with many who probably can't) pays for their kids to go to Private School.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year

A happy New Year to all readers, but not to this brat:

ps If anyone went skiing in Colorado or the Canadian Rockies over Xmas, please do not write in and tell me how good the conditions were.