Has Teaching Changed?

No, goodbye. OK I can expand. When I was a kid at school there were good teachers who were intent on expanding my mind, challenging me and generally making my educational experience a great one. Well to be honest there was two; Jenny Dewhurst, English teacher. She had a passion for literature and a talent for infecting you (sorry Miss Dewhurst not a great verb) Mr Little, Music teacher. He introduced me to classical music and the guitar (still playing the guitar Mr Little but not really your taste ;-) Again that man was passionate about the subject.
The rest of them went through the
motions good old talk and chalk. I need to make two points here. 1. I think people forget that teachers are human. Some are passionate about their job and some just do it. Some are lazy and some are hard working and some are just ordinary people trying to make a living the best way that they can. 2. Mr Gove wants ordinary schools to aspire to Public schools. That’s great, but first of all Mr Gove give us £6000 plus, per student per term and a society where a mother doesn’t have to get up at 5am to go and work in Asda (other brands are available) for minimum wage because she is the only parent. The father isn’t an alcoholic, in prison, dead or just plain absent, because there is a restraining order on him. Give us an education system that doesn’t change every time we get a new government and we’ll see what we can do.


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The Stray Black Dog


I can’t class myself as a great poetry aficionado but I think this really hits the spot.

Originally posted on Pandora and the Phoenix:

It’s been seven years.
Seven years but the pain is still as fresh and raw as if it happened yesterday.
A black dog walks in my shadow.
I like dogs but I can not care for them.
I pat them and instantly want to wash my hands.
This one will not go away no matter what I do.
I throw it a stick. “Go fetch dog!”
But he always comes back.
“Fuck off. Leave me alone. Go home!”
But he barks and smiles with a twinkle in his eyes that says, “I am home”.
He licks at my wounds but they do not heal.
He lays at my feet and I realise he is never going to leave.

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There’s Tracking and There’s Tracking


I know I’ve been away for a while (they used to say that when you had been in the nick) In truth I have been studying for my DTTLS and learning the craft of a College Lecturer.
‘Ah,’ I hear you all say. ‘The finer points of teaching carpentry?’
Alas not my dear friends, tracking. I have learned how to track students in so many different ways.

‘Oh my! Do they keep escaping?’

Once again, no. Although getting them to turn up is a task all of it’s own. I track everything they do and then I track the tracking, I sometimes even track the things they don’t do. When I’m not tracking students I track me, or at least my progress and I’m sure my head of department tracks me also. In fact tracking (if you haven’t guessed already) is very important in FE. It’s important because it proves you know what stage your students are at. It’s so important that we have software called E-tracker.

So I track my students progress on paper. I also have the same tracking on Excel, twice, the official one and my own copy. On top of this I complete E-tracker which is not like Excel and it’s not Excel. Its a great way of tracking students and everyone says they know how to use it; but don’t. It’s so great we are dumping it, so rumour has it. The strange thing is, all the trackers contain the same information. I can understand the theory of tracking but I can’t understand the duplication. Everyone I ask tells me to just do it and don’t ask, because that’s FE and if I keep questioning  it, I will go insane. Mr Chips never had these problems. ;-)

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The Ofsted Visit

20130506-201400.jpg So we have had a week of Ofsted. If you live in a foreign land you may have no idea what Ofsted is, so here we go. They are a group of people who visit schools, colleges and places of training. They are government sponsored and award marks as follows 1 Outstanding, 2 Good, 3 Satisfactory and 4 Failed. The education establishment in the UK fear them.
They go into a classroom and observe for around fifty minutes in those fifty minutes they decide on the quality of the teaching. Needless to say my college received a grade 2. So we are a good college. We are the same college we were before they arrived and we remain the same college now they have gone.
To be quite honest it isn’t rocket science, they have certain criteria that has to be met. So we meet it.                             Rocket Science                                                                                                             They want to see a lot of effort in numeracy and literacy so we do lots of it? Now, why do they want to see that?
Well my friends, the UK is now fourteenth in the world on the numeracy and literacy league.

Why is that? Because successive governments over the last 30 years have played with education to such an extent that it is now; not fit for purpose.
So now they pressurize us to turn it around. In reality they are asking us to achieve in thirty-six weeks what teachers could not achieve in eleven years because the government prevented them with their ‘blue sky’ thinking and wonderous ideas. Lincoln, Gandhi, Gladstone, Brunel, etc all started with a blackboard, easel and a thick ear when they misbehaved. Now they have computers, innovative little games and isolation as a punishment. Not one of my 14 – 18 year olds know their times table and they have the attention span of a gnat. It really is time to go back to basics.

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Boadicea; my arse.


I haven’t posted for a while, new job and a family development that has kept me quite busy. It was a lovely comment from http://pandoraandthephoenix.wordpress.com/ that woke the sleeping giant munchkin.

I’m not a journalist, as you can all tell, so maybe I don’t have the right to comment, but really; some of the rubbish that has been written about Thatcher is unbelievable. Number 1 in the Hit Parade has to be “Tories come to praise their Boadicea in Pearls.” This, courtesy of the right wing Telegraph.


Boadicea was a Queen who led a revolt against an invading superpower that had raised crippling taxes, stole land and property and raped the Queen and her daughters.

Thatcher was a politician who raised taxes and gave financiers the freedom to rape a country and bring it to its knees 30 years later. Her fans say she changed Britain this is true, we don’t have a decent apprenticeship scheme, decent council housing, or community spirit anymore.  Far from resisting a superpower she actually jumped into bed with one. Not physically of course, could you imagine the spawn of Thatcher and Reagan? Surely even Ridley Scott would be tempted back for an ‘Alien’ remake of that species.


I’m not celebrating her death, and I’m not getting embroiled in the same arguments all over again, after all the good people of Britain gave her a mandate, did they not. As I warned at the last election, ‘Careful what you wish/vote for’. I just felt that the comparison was wrong. Although, I guess you could call Boadicea the first female euro sceptic which is something they did have in common. As for the true Thatcher spawn; Mark Thatcher is famous for getting lost on a rally, pleading guilty to organising a coup in a foreign country and accused of operating a loan shark company. Still he’s managed to amass a fortune and become a knight of the realm. Apples don’t fall far from the tree ;-)

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My Dog

Boy and Dog

If you’ve ever had your favourite dog shot you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, read on. I was about four and I was sat on the granary steps when my dad walked past with his shotgun.

The day had started off well. Awakened by the birds I stumbled downstairs where my mother handed me my mug and gave me a cuddle. Then I crossed the yard to the cow house where my dad was milking. He scooped the mug into the milk tank and I trundled back to the kitchen. After my fresh warm milk and my sleepy-eyed porridge I was dressed and outside by 8am. Teddy was getting his Spring wash and mum was doing said washing, so comrades were in short supply.Charlie on Farm1

I had two dogs, one had four legs and the other four wheels. Even though the four-legged one (Judy) was the farm dog, rather than my dog, she and I played together a lot. Judy had got away early, no doubt hunting rabbits on the long ago abandoned aerodrome that adjoined the farm. The four-wheeled one was destined to be dragged around on extreme terrain for most of the morning. Judy had presumed that hunting rabbits was a far better option than being adorned in a dress and floppy hat, whilst acting as the co-host/fall guy for the days matinée. How wrong she was. When a dog avoids being a prop in a four-year-olds variety show she leaves the farm early, not renown for her rabbit hunting skills she becomes hungry. Couple this with the fact that some, unscrupulous people poison meat and put it out for the foxes and you get a situation where a father walks past his son at four  o’clock in the afternoon with a loaded shotgun. The dog had been howling since just after her return.Charlie on Farm

My mother explained why dad was going to shoot him. It was just one of those things, it was kinder. And if I wanted she would push me around on my bike and we could play cavalry and I could be John Wayne. Then we heard the shot. It’s funny but until I recalled this story I hadn’t realised that since that day I have never owned a dog.



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Is it me? Really, is it?

Bad Teacher

Anyone who read some of my earlier posts will be aware I recently switched jobs from carpenter to carpentry lecturer. There is a difference between teacher and lecturer but I’m not sure what it is. If I had to guess it would be that a teacher has a degree and a lecturer is more like me. A hairy-assed builder who creates little hairy-assed builders. Which would explain why a very irate teacher/lecturer burst into our classroom just before Christmas and told us to keep the noise down.Fair play, it was noisy, but at the same time we didn’t know he was conducting an exam next door.                                                                                   It seems though, that all my colleagues are super sensitive.

“Jeeesuss, that kid Fred put the lock on the door the wrong way around, even though I told him five times!!” I feel like saying so what? I usually laugh which is probably worse. “Charlie, none of these kids are ever going to work on a site they are too dumb, just get them through the course.” Is another piece of advice I receive regularly.

The Students are ComingThese people have been in a college for a while so maybe they forgot that adults make
mistakes too?I think the kids are great, particularly the young ones sent by the school for a morning because they are soooooo bad in school. They seem pretty normal to me. I am told they are not, they are the scourge of the planet. This leads me to ask questions about myself. I obviously identify with the scourge of the planet, oops. Apparently I have to wait ten years and then see if I still have a laid back attitude. I think I recall being told that before, along with the fact that I can’t just do as I want, so far as, to go off travelling or give up my job and become a DJ or move to the other side of the country for no other reason than love.

I have two days left before I have to face the negativity of college life once again. So it’s out with the old trusted saying for another New Year.

“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

Have a good one folks ;-)

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