Thursday, July 18, 2013


I can't help but think that we're getting a bit carried away with this 'heatwave' stuff. It's only been two weeks after all and the Met Office is issuing 'Level Three Alerts' on the News, whatever they are.

Global Warming is to blame, just as it was responsible for the cool, wet and windy weather that preceded it, the cold dry winters and the warm wet winters as well.

I'm so glad I'm not Global Warming- it gets the blame for everything.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Independence Day

Today is the day when Americans get to eat loads of hot dogs, shoot things in the woods and be generally loud and obnoxious whilst banging on about how they are the best country in the World.

Yes, it's Thursday again.

School Holidays

On Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 show yesterday, they were discussing school holidays and whether schools should just be allowed to decide their own dates.
At the moment, most State Schools have roughly the same holidays and the travel companies add on a huge price hike to go away in those weeks.

If every school just does their own thing, imagine a family with three kids, one at infants, one at junior and the other at senior school, all with different holidays? You'd have one of them at home virtually every other week! You could even end up with a couple who both worked as teachers but never had any time off together. (In some parts of the Country, statistically you would have at least two children and four grandchildren off at any one time with only three partners out of prison to help look after them).

However the bit I liked best was the person who said that teachers spend a great deal of the long Summer Holiday going into school and preparing for the next term. Maybe you need to if you are the Head or in the Senior Management, but any ordinary teacher who does this needs to get a life. One of the great perks of teaching is the long holidays and by refusing to admit this, we just make ourselves look silly.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Schools Direct

So we seem to be facing a shortage of teachers again. This has happened roughly every ten years since the Pyramids were built, usually because either:

1) The economy is booming, or
2) There has been lots of bad publicity about pay and conditions in teaching.

As always, the problem is most acute in the important subjects (A shortage of Drama Teachers would simply be cause for celebration).

Anyway, the Government has brought in a new program called 'Schools Direct' where you train at a school and get paid. Sounds like a good idea. However it's only accepted about half as many trainee teachers as hoped because:

1) Not enough schools have agreed to provide the training, either on ideological grounds or because they aren't being paid enough.

2) Nobody thought to advertise it.

3) Maybe, as with all targets, the numbers were a bit arbitrary anyway.

Heads of participating schools haven't been too impressed by some of the candidates they've received. This isn't surprising when you bear in mind that all the new comedy Universities are churning out hundreds of tonnes of dross each year.

'Half of Teacher Training places unfilled' makes a good headline, but the publicity it generates will be enough to boost the numbers by the time the courses start- you mark my words. (Just don't mark the applicants' words).

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Teacher Training

The best way to learn how to be a teacher is in a school. Despite what teacher training courses might tell you, (in order to justify their own jobs) there really isn't any important theory worth knowing. All you need is lots of practice with some guidance and regular feedback from a good teacher.

This statement assumes you understand the subject you are going to teach, which unfortunately isn't always the case.

I don't care what standard of degree teachers have because they won't be teaching anything at degree level. It's no more relevant than whether they can juggle three balls or stand on their hands. I do want them to have good  'A' and GCSE results in their subject because that is precisely what they will be teaching and if they weren't very good at it themselves, I'd rather not have them in front of my kids.

ps my first book's just had its 200th review on Amazon. It's worth scrolling through them as there are some quite amusing rants

Bizarrely the sequel only has ten reviews, for which I have no explanation

Monday, July 01, 2013

Independent Financial Advisors

The Financial Services industry has reportedly shed 10 000 jobs in the last three months according to the Financial Times.

Now you will no doubt be distressed by this news, but dry your eyes and read on. I'll get to the point.

For years I struggled desperately to keep a straight face whenever a friend or colleague told me, usually in hushed and solemn tones, that they had "spoken to a Financial Advisor". Before the recent changes (which should have taken place 20 years ago), these actors would feign great interest in your financial future, speak very seriously about planning, security, risk and return, before recommending that you buy whichever product made them the most commission.

Simple as that. The reason I can say this with such confidence is that it's exactly what I would have done in their place. We can assume that a fair percentage of the population are just a self interested as I am and out of those people, a disproportionate number are attracted to jobs which require very few qualifications and the opportunity to earn lots of money.

The old commission system was as crazy as getting teachers to mark their own pupils' exams. Oh hang on a minute...

ps as an Independent Book Reviewer I'd recommend that you take this book or this one on holiday to read on the beach. Remember, your future happiness is very important to me.