Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chav Free Holidays

No danger of some foul mouthed wretch spoiling my hard earned vacation, for I am booking a Chav Free Holiday

For those of you who are not used to BBCSpeak, the phrase:

Activities Abroad made use of research suggesting certain names are often associated with particular demographic segments of the UK population translates as:

'Everyone knows that Shazney is an unemployable petty criminal who will cost the State a fortune over the course of her lifetime'

Candice is not very happy and neatly proves that most stereotypes are correct (otherwise they wouldn't become stereotypes) by proudly declaring her posession of a 'Diploma in Life Skills'. The Nobel Prize Comittee must be on red alert...

Director Alistair McLean could show your average Headmaster a thing or two. Did he immediately apologise, grovel and beg for forgiveness when complaints were made about his actions? Of course he didn't.

You will be relieved to know that Chalk Enterprises has always had a Chav Free policy. All companies that deal with us have to supply a list of their employees' first names for approval and as founder members of the Wayneforest Alliance we immediately consign any job applications from incorrectly named applicants straight to the bin. By 2011 we hope to be Chardon Neutral as well.

However, we are of course Geeko Friendly, so anybody turning up for interview who can discuss Occam's Razor, Maxwell's Equations or General Relativity is pretty much assured of a job.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Paul Fernandez is one teacher who has obviously taken on board the Government's constant urgings to entertain pupils.

A 2 Hours 50 Marathon dressed as a clown is a very impressive effort but the question that has been bothering me this evening is:

Which will he run fastest in? Clown or Santa outfit.

We will keep an eye on him and I can see a few bets being placed...

Richard Rose Academy

I can't work out what's going on at Richard Rose Academy. The parents are apparently up in arms about the leadership and the teachers are threatening to go on strike. Even the kids seem to be protesting (I would have loved to have been allowed to do that at school)

The parents are cross because of the shortage of teachers (just like at any other sink school) and the poor exam results (ditto) They are also not happy with the Head who has excluded (ie given short holidays to) about 10% of their offspring. None have actually been expelled. I'd say that in most bad schools the worst behaved ten percent of kids ought to be taken away (in chains) and taught in Borstal style secure establishments. Saying anything like that in teaching circles is of course forbidden and will usually trigger bouts of hand wringing and much fluttering of the Guardian.

There's a few other articles related to this school on the BBC Website, but none of them really say why the teachers or pupils are upset.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chalk's Laws of Teaching

In response to a recent enquiry by someone who wants to put them up on his Staffroom Wall (Don't! It will only end in tears...), here's a list of them:

Chalk's First Law: "In any meeting, it is not possible to make a suggestion so ridiculous that it will not be taken seriously and earnestly debated"

Chalk's Second Law: "The frequency of 'buzzwords' and jargon in a person's speech is inversely proportional to their general competence"

Chalk's Third Law: "No new idea in teaching has ever worked"

Chalk's Fourth Law: "No situation is ever resolved to the satisfaction of all parties concerned"

Chalk's Fifth Law: "Pay no attention to what 'Research' has shown or what an 'Academic' has announced. It is invariably nonsense."

Chalk's Sixth Law: "Always judge on appearance. You will never be Politically Correct, but you will also never be wrong."

Chalk's Seventh Law: "The IQ of the teachers at a given school is proportional to the IQ of the pupils at that school."

Monday, January 19, 2009


If I'm ever fitting a piece of carpet (badly, as Mrs C will verify) and can't find something to cut it with, I always pop down to Titchfield Primary School and get one of the children to buy me a good sharp knife at the Christmas Fair, where they are much cheaper than at B&Q.

When I saw the story here, I was quite appalled (you'd think the Sun could do better than those two ruffians, wouldn't you?) and then I laughed as I recalled my Junior School teacher who used to reward whoever was first to finish their sums by sending them out to the local newsagent to buy her 20 cigarettes. If she had sent us out to buy an axe or a meat cleaver (both of which the shop owner would probably have cheerfully sold us, as long 'as long it's for Miss Jenkins, mind') I think there would have been a slight temptation to 'muck about a bit', maybe scratching a few lines into a tree, or waving it about and chasing each other making noises like a Red Indian (whilst casting uneasy glances around for any watching adult who might report us to school.)

The point I'm trying to make is that we would never have considered stabbing Paul Williams from Class 3 even if we didn't like him much. Whilst I'm sure that the vast majority of kids nowadays wouldn't either, how have we got to a point where a small but significant percentage of them will do? I know that there was a knife culture in the 1950s when my father was young, but I don't think that adults were frightened of children then.

I can't help but fall back on my usual line of reasoning that people do things that they have never been convincingly told not to do and also things that they think they will face no real punishment for doing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ten Grand

The government has come up with the idea of offering teachers £10 000 if they will accept a three year sentence in Britain's worst Hellholes (sorry; challenging schools). Only £5000 comes from the Government apparently; the other half comes from the school's budget, so in my old school that will soon run out.

I've come up with the idea of improving these awful schools by cracking down hard on the problem kids and their parents, so that the decent ones can actually learn something. I won't hold my breath though. Brown and Co. would much rather use our money to cover up a problem than actually fix it.

Mind you, I suppose the advertisement of a ten grand bung next to a job offer, will be a bit like a lighthouse- warning new teachers of places they should steer well clear of.

ps Somebody recently sent some good advice, urging me to explain what I was talking about at the start of a post so that you don't immediately have to click on a link to another article. Thanks for that; I think it makes good sense, so I'll try and follow it.

Monday, January 12, 2009


A new orgnisation called Ofqual has been set up to keep an eye on exam standards. What I don't understand is whether they are supposed to maintain them as they are now or return them to something sensible.

I can't speak for other subjects but Maths and Science are much easier now than they were 25 years ago. A combination of modular exams that can be resat, coursework where just about anything gets marks, questions that have changed from rigorous fact or calculation to waffle plus the simple measure of lowering the pass marks have improved results tremendously.

No need to take my word for it though, just ask any University lecturer in Engineering for example, about how they have had to make their courses easier over the last two decades or read the complaints here or here, from those who are desperate for employees who can read, write and do a few easy sums.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Milk and Alcohol

I thought teenagers turned to alcohol and drugs because they are good fun and very cheap and there is no incentive not to. Little did I realise that it's all down to stress at school.

Whoever did this survey has forgotten one of the most basic rules of being a teenager, which is:

The answer you give to an adult must reflect the image you wish to portray rather than have any telationship to the truth

Monday, January 05, 2009


Chritine Gilbert reckons that all our problems with naughty pupils would be solved if only we were more exciting. I was definitely a very boring teacher and never once did I dress up as a banana, juggle with kittens or saw anybody in half. (I did make quite a few baseball caps diappear however.) The only time I ever got the pupils wildly excited was if I really disliked the teacher who had to take them next.

Fortunately Mrs Gilbert is going to give schools some information to help them improve. A guide to basic tap dancing perhaps, card tricks or simple gymnastics? (subject to a 7 page Health and Safety Assessment of course).

The good news is that I have decided to apply for a position as an Ofsted Inspector; not because I believe that I have anything useful to say to the teachers, but simply because I think that it would be great fun and provide me with endless amusing stories to relate to my friends.

Watercliffe Meadow Place of Learning

I love this story as it neatly sums up the obsession so many Heads have with the most trivial nonsense (whilst ignoring any real problem.)

I don't reckon much learning goes on there either...

School's Out

This article neatly sums up the reasons I wrote my book.

It's worth bearing in mind that the official inspections agency, Ofsted doesn't think that any of the schools are failing their pupils. Imagine what goes on in the ones that are...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Times

It's good to see that high standards of maths are being maintained at The Times

Friday, January 02, 2009


This poor chap has been sacked for impersonating a 1970s PE Teacher.

Now you've always got to take what the papers say with a pinch of salt. Mostly they just copy stories from each other pretty much word for word.

Now although I'm always keen to condemn anyone who comes to work looking like a Gypo, I probably wouldn't moan if he is teaching PE from 9 till 10 then keeping his tracksuit on whilst he does an hour's Geography before heading back to the Rugby Pitch. (All PE teachers do Geography- it's the law)

On the other hand if it's one of these schools where the staff are a bunch of scruffs, then well done to the Head for demonstrating some leadership (now known as bullying), introducing a dress code and chucking out anyone who still looks like Wurzel.