Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Andrew Lansley

Although Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said a few good things in the past (ie "people who see fat people around them are likely to get fat themselves"), he is wrong to knock Jamie Oliver's desperate attempt to improve school dinners.

Most people had absolutely no idea how far canteens had fallen since they were kids. In the thirty years since I was eating in them, they changed from places where cooks made fairly nutritious meals with vegetables (admittedly often boiled to death) to places where clueless people heated up pre packaged horrors consisting of reconstituted animal bits and chips.

Oliver simply tried to do what Heads should have done years previously but lacked the courage to attempt.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Whilst the England football team performed with all the drive, enthusiasm and vigour of a bunch of council workers looking for something to do; teachers up and down the land can at least celebrate NASUWT leader Chris Keates' 7% pay rise to £135 000 and head of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Mary Bousted's 3.4% pay increase to £148 000.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Coursework Cheating

One of the things I boasted that I would not have at Chalk High, is any any course that involved teacher marked assessment.

Does it strike you as a good idea to judge teachers by the exam results their pupils achieve, then give them a piece of work weeks in advance that their pupils must carry out under 'exam conditions', then tell them to mark the papers? Should we be surprised that these coursework marks are often very high? It's a bit like telling driving instructors that they will only be paid if everyone passes.

Coursework used to be given to the kids to take home and obviously those with tutors or nice bright parents would gets tonnes of help. Now it is generally done in school so that we can make sure that all the results are fiddled equally. Cheating is absolutely endemic for the obvious reason that it isn't in anybody's interest not to. Dubious practices range from writing the answers on the board to 'just happening to teach something very similar the day before.' The temptation to read meaning into some vague answer and mark it correct is very strong indeed when you know that Mrs Wade down the corridor is doing the same and you might well be compared with her.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Told you we'd win- come on England!

So which strategy did your school adopt?

a) Turn a blind eye to the hundreds of forged notes to go to the dentist

b) Close at 2:30

c) Keep calm and carry on

Even More

If a member of staff were ever physically assaulted by a pupil at Chalk High School, then as Head it would be my duty to call the Police and expel the pupil immediately (as per the school contract).

The pupil's name and details of the assault would be published on the school website and circulated to any regional forums in order to cause maximum shame. The local press would be contacted with the story and to hell with any concerns about the school's image. (I know full well that some wretches might regard this as a 'badge of honour', but possible future employers won't). No future member of the family would be accepted into the school.

If the criminal prosecution proved to be unsuccessful then the school would immediately instigate civil proceedings.

The only reason all schools don't do these things already is that the Heads aren't up to it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Out of Africa

Every school seems to have its own plan about what to do at 3pm on Wednesday, the more inventive are demanding money to let the kids watch the match in the school hall!

Is it bad form to refer to the forthcoming debacle as "Out of Africa"?

More things

Whilst I'm on a roll, here are a few more things you can expect at Chalk High school.

We will of course welcome advisers from the Council- so that their bizarre ideas can be ridiculed by staff and pupils alike.

Teachers will not dress like Earth Mothers, slappers, or scarecrows. Nobody shall wear a black heavy metal tee shirt.

Pupils will have a uniform and we will take the highly unusual step of actually making them wear it.

Only statutory sick pay will be paid for absences. The huge amount of money saved will be divided out amongst the staff who actually turn up to work. Some of it will be put aside to fund a wild party for the staff at the end of each school year.

Litter will be picked up by the naughty children from the school grounds and surrounding areas.

No syllabus will include any element of teacher graded assessment (ie cheating). Any teacher who doesn't finish the syllabus in good time to practice lots of past papers before the exam will be given a P45.

All out of hours work by staff (eg revision classes or after school clubs) is entirely voluntary and will be paid at time and a half.

All training days will be axed. (If you don't know how to teach kids, then you won't be working here anyway)

Anyone caught using a three letter acronym will be shot.

All parents will sign a legally binding document setting out what we expect from their child and what they can expect from us. We will chuck out any pupil who is repeatedly naughty as there will always be some other school willing to take them and sacrifice the chances of their nice pupils in order to deal with some 'complex behavioural issues'.

As the Headmaster, I shall conduct myself Gene Hunt style and randomly watch teachers every so often. They will be judged solely on an 'if it works, do more of it' basis. As long as they are teaching the syllabus, the kids are behaving themselves and the exam results are good, then I will lavish them with praise and leave them to get on with it.

Free Schools and Teachers

It is interesting that out of the seven hundred or so groups that have applied to set up their own school under the new 'Free Schools' initiative, half of them are teachers, despite the unanimous opposition of their own unions. The idea of not having to listen to a stream of nonsense from the local council must be appealing.

Needless to say; Chalk High School will be out there on the radical fringe, with such ground shaking proposals as:

A coherent discipline policy combined with the even more extreme idea of actually carrying it out.

The revolutionary suggestion that pupils will sit quietly and do some work.

Paying the really good teachers more than the absolutely terrible ones. A subversive concept shamelessly copied from every successful private enterprise in the World.

I feel like Che Guevara already.

Monday, June 21, 2010

HTC Hero

I have always found that after a couple of years or so, when I have finally mastered all the irritations, sorry- features of a mobile phone; it immediately stops working.

For the last six months I have cheerfully put up with my faithful old Nokia despite the fact that the button marked "2" does not work any more. However when "3" and "5" joined it in protest, I decided that maybe it was time to act.

As a result, I am now the proud owner of a box containing a phone called an 'HTC Hero'. It appears to have no buttons with numbers on them, which certainly seems like an oversight to me. The cheerful and enthusiastic Indian fellow (he claimed his name was 'Roger') who offered it to me when I phoned Orange, assured me that it was easy to use and that I would have access to a whole world of 'Apps' (?) and also the services of an Android. Presumably this will arrive separately in a larger box and will be useful around the house.

Any advice on Heroes, Apps or Androids will be gratefully accepted.


Sorry I've been away for the last week, trying to improve the future prosperity of the nation. On my return, I noticed this article about comedy Health and Safety restrictions in schools.

Although the HSE have stopped me from employing any more children to grind up old asbestos; on the whole they do seem to be a sensible bunch and all the nonsense about wearing goggles to play conkers and going on a course to learn how to use scissors, generally seems to come from the Local Education Authorities, Councils and the schools themselves. It's just easier to blame some vague 'Health and Safety' body.

If your classroom was colder than an Eskimo's nose only a few months ago, but is baking hot today, then have a look at this bit of their website

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tuition Fees

It looks like there will be an announcement soon on university tuition fees. My opinion is simple, as you might expect.

Let the universities charge whatever they like for a degree and they can compete with each other. Fund the students on a sliding scale from 100% of fees and say £5000 a year for the top 1% (based on both their GCSE and A Level results) sliding down steadily to nothing for anyone outside the top 20%.

The taxpayer wouldn't be wasting their money on people who shouldn't be at university and the students who should be there won't be leaving with huge debts.

World Cup

The World Cup is upon us and it is time for people like me with no interest whatsoever in football to fly England flags from their their houses, cars and person.

Mr Patel who lives in my road, claims that his employers have told him to remove the two little St George flags that he attached to his company car, claiming that they might offend... well they weren't sure exactly who, so they decided that it must be a Health and Safety issue instead. He then pinned them to a tree on the grass verge outside his house, so being a good citizen I immediately phoned the Council to complain about how offended I was. They agreed to send somebody round to ask him to take them down. He has probably been locked up by now.


The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (pass me an axe) have said that Government cuts could raise unemployment to over 3 million.

Who are they kidding? Unemployment has been over 3 million for years, it's just called Incapacity Benefit. 2.6 million people claim it; some because they are genuinely unable to work, most because it is more profitable and less hassle than having to sign on every fortnight and attend pesky job interviews.

How many GPs have actually said "No you're fine to work" when confronted with someone wanting to be signed off, who appears to have nothing wrong with them?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

School Phobia

When Suffolk Council took the parents of a 16 year old boy to court for refusing to ensure that he went to school, they could not have anticipated a mad judge giving them a good telling off.

'School Phobia' is an unfortunate complaint suffered by around 98.6% of children and is traditionally cured by a parental clip round the ear. Judge Ward has sent out a clear message to parents: ie just get a loon psychologist to diagnose your child as school phobic and let them play in the garden; as well as to Councils: ie don't bother trying to prosecute the parents of persistent truants despite successive governments urging you to do so.

Every time I decide that our country just can't get any crazier, I am instantly proved wrong.

Wait a while Crocodile...

Teaching desperately needs to attract fewer hand wringers and more crocodile wrestlers

Monday, June 07, 2010

Two Year Degrees

The University and College Union (whoever they are) is up in arms about the idea of two year degrees, describing them as 'Sweatshops'.

Two ten week terms with about 5 weeks of lectures in the third term is now about average, so using simple arithmetic that works out at about 75 weeks of work spread over three years. Now if that were compressed into two years, it would be about 37.5 weeks each year.

I reckon we would be inundated with sweatshop workers from all over Asia if we introduced such a thing.

Poor Old GTC

I go away for one week and look what happens? They get rid of the General Teaching Council!

How will we cope without this erstwhile body who diligently copied out a list of every teacher's name and birthday each year without fail. As there are over 450 000 of us in the state sector plus a few from private schools who were daft enough to register, this was no mean feat. No wonder we had to pay £36 a year to join. Good job the Unions took a strong stand on that one.

As if that wasn't enough; BECTA, who told us where we could buy computers and the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (who make sure that all the exams are equally easy) have also been axed. Who knows what useless organisation will be next; even Skills Development Scotland is worried. My advice is rebrand quickly (at great expense) and get a few key words in your name. No group with 'Diversity' or 'Outreach' in its title need have any fear, I suspect.

My life will seem empty without the GTC magazine though.