Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The Times reports that the new Supersized school, Nottingham East Academy will not be setting any homework.

I certainly never had any before going to 'big school' at age 11 and firmly believe that by giving out often pointless homework to the little ones we probably put many of them off school for good.

What strikes me most about this school though is its sheer size. It is bigger than our new Geography teacher Miss Wade's backside. They are going to have about 3500 pupils of all ages which suggests about 300 in each Secondary Year Group. Assume classes of 30 and that means that some poor sod like me is going to end up teaching Maths to Set 10!

Big Schools Bad, Small Schools Good is my view.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Forlorn Hope

The Conservatives are rolling out that old chestnut again; ie Send the Army into Schools to Sort Them Out.

I've posted on this topic before and whilst it sounds like a great idea, a bit of thought about the realities of actually doing it; soon reveals the flaws.

Presumably they wish to recruit those with a good record during their time in the army, rather than those who went AWOL every other weekend, spent half their time in jail, or were kicked out for drugs. I wonder if Eddy Nugent might be interested?

However the sort of person that we could do with in teaching would very quickly get fed up in the schools they are needed in. It would not take long for them to discover that they were now utterly powerless; and any sanctions they might have been told are at their disposal can in fact be cheerfully ignored by the pupils.

(A note to anyone serving in the Army who might hope that sending a pupil to the Head is a bit like sending a Private to see the RSM. Unfortunately it's more like sending a Private to the cinema for the afternoon. I can already see the disappointment on your face when the offender returns laughing and joking because he has been given his 15th Final Warning or some brightly coloured paper report with a motto on it.)

No, a better idea which can still be wrapped up in a decent headline, would be to either Send the Army in to Sort Out the Parents, or Send the Teachers some Decent Weapons.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Here's the email I sent to the Teachers Unions NASUWT and ATL. The National Union of Teachers, (NUT) who won an award from the TUC in 2008 for The best use of electronic communication; doesn't have a contact email address on its site, believe it or not. However if anybody knows it, please pass on my request.

Dear Sir/ Madam,

Could you tell me what support you would have given to Adam Walker if he had been a member of your Union? If you don't know who he is, here's a link

Frank Chalk


I'll let you know if they can be bothered to reply...

Adam Walker

Adam Walker is a Supply Teacher and a member of the BNP. He is up before the GTC on a charge of racial and religious intolerance. It's not that clear from the various news reports, but he appears to have made comments on an internet forum criticising homosexuals, asylum seekers and immigrants.

Crikey, I hope that the GTC don't read this Blog, then.

Now I don't know whether Mr Walker is a perfectly decent chap who I'd enjoy a pint with, or whether he's a thoroughly nasty piece of work. If he was busy posting comments whilst he should have been teaching then he should get a good telling off for that (along with everyone else who has ever looked at an internet site on a spare computer during a dull IT cover lesson- oh dear; that's me stuffed then.)

What I do know is that the GTC wouldn't dream of prosecuting him if he was an immigrant criticising local people in his town, a fundamentalist Muslim expressing their distaste of homosexuals or a French exchange teacher saying that most asylum seekers make false claims because they know that Britain is a soft touch.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Picking Up The Brass

In my new role as self appointed book reviewer for Monday Books, I have been chortling and sniggering my way through Eddy Nugent's autobiography 'Picking Up The Brass'

If you wore green in the 80s then this book will bring back many terrifying memories. It doesn't flinch from the horrors of the Shirt Scratchy, Cheese Possessed, and 58 Pattern Webbing whose only purpose was to burn a hole through your back.

If you didn't and the above is like a foreign language, then pretend it's Lifelong Learning and use the glossary of terms, helpfully provided at the back.

Either way, you will do lots of laughing at the buffoonery that is lovingly portrayed from the moment we join Eddy on his first day, clad in a comically ill fitting uniform; through a career which most certainly does not involve being sent behind enemy lines, flying a helicopter or joining the SAS. Any thoughts you may have had about the Army being made up solely of aggressive, macho killing machines will be laid gently to rest.

Oh I'd better warn you; there are a few naughty words here and there. Just cover them up like I did and read on.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Liar, Liar.

Journalists from the mainstream press don't think much of bloggers, as Dan Collins explains on his excellent Blog (which was recently voted Britain's Number One source of information concerning events at Monday Books).

Whilst many blogs really are as dull as ditch water, the 'work blogs' in particular, give a genuineness and reality that the newspapers cannot compete with, because they are written by someone who actually does the job and really does know what they are talking about. Each of our posts is open for comment by our readers and unlike the newspapers most of us don't feel much need to moderate those comments.

On the other hand, a newspaper article, for example on teaching; will have been produced from interview notes by a journalist with no experience of the job and then further edited to give the paper's own perspective. If you've ever been interviewed by one, you will be absolutely astonished to see that what is printed bears no relation to what you actually said. Funnily enough they won't agree to let you see the article before it goes to print either, probably because you'd go mad and shout things like "But I never said that!" After it has appeared, you get no chance to argue or refute their claims.

As far as accuracy is concerned; the mainstream press will believe just about anything; the more ridiculous the better. For example, two weeks ago every newspaper reported that the swimmer Michael Phelps was taking in 12000 calories a day at the Olympics. It never occurred to any of their editors that a: he would be in the tapering phase so probably taking in little more than an average man of his size and b: simple arithmetic would show that unless he were exercising continuously 24 hours per day; such a huge intake would leave him unable to even move. Phelps himself recently said that he had absolutely no idea why the newspapers had printed such figures. (By way of comparison, a Tour de France rider racing for 5-7 hours a day would take in 5 to 6 thousand.)

Hoaxes and basic factual errors are ten a penny in the press. Last year we had the Meerkat hoax, where the papers clearly believed that the animals at Logleat were happily taking photos of one another. This can join crop circles and UFOs, along with the obviously faked pictures of British troops abusing Iraqis that the Mirror fell for, the Hitler Diaries etc... I could go on, but the truth is that the newspapers rarely check to see if facts make sense, as witnessed by the stream of elementary science and basic mathematical errors that routinely appear. (These increase rapidly as the subject becomes more difficult for example (MRSA, DNA testing, the MMR vaccine or the Large Hadron Collider at CERN)

Work blogging is a very new phenomenon but it is definitely starting to have an impact on the mainstream press.

Now did you hear that if you are ever held up at a cash machine you can type your PIN number in backwards and it will send a call through to the Police....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Inspector Gadget

I've been doing some serious laughing over the last few days alternating with incoherent shouts of rage. Yes, I've just finished Inspector Gadget's book; 'Perverting The Course Of Justice' .

Gadget is a master of the one liner and has a rich fund of anecdotes detailing the madness of the modern Police Force; its obsessions with political correctness, along with endless new buzzwords and initiatives dreamt up by those who will never have to carry them out. Some of these are so bizarre that they could easily have come from your school Senior Management Team.

The description of the endless bureaucratic nightmares that frustrate every attempt to enforce the law is a real eye-opener. The amount of time taken to arrest someone or just take a statement, is incredible and the amount of paperwork involved in even the smallest action is breathtaking. The sheer amount of wasted time and resources due to the ludicrous procedures insisted on by those who 'manage' from comfortable offices far, far above the bobby on the street, is beyond belief. (Hmm... that reminds me of teaching as well.)

His revelations of how the Police are made to concentrate on crimes which improve the Force's figures and achieve Government targets rather than those which you or I might consider important; are truly explosive and should really be headline news. (Is it me or does all this sound just like what goes on in schools?) I just found the book riveting. Buy it today and shake the hand of the next Copper you meet (although that might not be for some while).

The Police also seem to get dragged into a lot of what you or I might call 'rubbish'. I once naively thought that people only phoned them if say, they had been burgled or their car had been stolen, but this simply isn't the case. Family disputes, text messaging ex partners and general inability to behave in a reasonable manner seem to have suddenly become legitimate excuses for the Wretches to pester the Police about.

As a taxpayer and attention seeker, I've resolved to make more use of the Police in sorting out trivia in my own life. We'll start with that funny looking poo that appeared last night on my vegetable patch. I suspect that it has come from next door's dog Lulu, rather than from my own dog Jeffrey, who would never do one like that, and anyway; he always does them on the lawn. I'm going to ask if they can get a forensic team over and take DNA to settle the matter once and for all. Then I'm off to send a few hate texts and scribble something rude on next door's wheelie bin.

Cooking With Mr Chalk

I'm usually the first to slate any new initiative but giving out Free Cookbooks sounds like a good idea. Mind you after thinking about it for a few minutes the following points occurred to me:

1) You can eat as healthily as you like but if you get through six meals a day, never leave the sofa and think that 'exercise' only goes with 'book'; then you will still end up huge.

2) In the 21st century shouldn't it be a website rather than a book? Printing books involves cutting down lots of trees which could otherwise go into my wood burning stove.

3) We need to target the parents, especially the thick ones. After all, they are the ones stuffing their offspring with Fried Chicken Dinosaurs, Monster Munch crisps and luminous fizzy drinks

4) Can't we just muzzle the fat kids?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Tell me the truth now, do you want to buy a Frank Chalk mug to light the fires of revolution in your Staffroom? I need to order at least a hundred from the suppliers, so to protect me from the wrath of Mrs C. perhaps you could let me know if there is any demand first.

I reckon they will be about £6.95 and suggestions about the design are welcome (Probably the book cover, maybe with a catchy slogan if anybody can suggest one.) I'll post a picture of the finished product first if there's enough interest.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Show Me The Money

I hearby admit to being the brother of any notorious criminal you like and agree not to do any work for a few months. Now can I collect £600 000 please?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back To School!

As usual the new school year kicks off with that special brand of agony- the Training Day. Emails from various parts of the Country have confirmed that the usual culprits are alive and well- ie The Five Hats and The Five R's along with a couple of horror stories involving women from the Council with short hair, large earrings and funny shoes.

I spoke to a friend who works in IT and asked what his lot would do if they were treated to any of these delights. He just looked at me with a puzzled expression and said:

"Just walk out- what do you think we'd do? Our time's valuable, we don't work in the Public Sector."

It's a forlorn hope but I wish that more teachers would stand up and do likewise.