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 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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Life, What If ?


It’s been a while since I posted, I won’t bother with an excuse because at times, we all suffer from it; ‘the facilitation of life’. I love that saying as it sums up committment. But surely writing is a committment? It is, but for me writing is a committment that I enjoy so, as always, the things I enjoy get put on the back-burner for things I feel I must do so that I can do the things I enjoy. I do all the things I feel I have to do to make time for the things I want to do. Then I don’t have time to do the things I want to do.

This is why when I was younger I travelled a lot. When you are travelling (or bumming around as I am told it really is) you don’t have any committment. You don’t plan to sit in bar until 3am speaking really bad French to some equally inebriated Frenchmen, nor do you plan to sit on the beach all day playing a guitar. You don’t plan to have tantric sex for three days with a woman 10 years older than yourself.You don’t plan to sit on a beach all night with an Australian kid while he points out just about every constellation in the sky and discuss the origins of the planet, the Mayans, the Incas and Van Daniken.

Beach GuitarYou have your palm read by a strange American guy who tells you stuff even you had forgotten about yourself and disappears one night just as mysteriously as he appeared. All these things just happen. Well, apart from the Tantric sex thing, that’s just wishful thinking of a hormonal eighteen year old.

I wonder if the world would be a different place if all youngsters were sent off travelling by their guardians. Imagine if Richard the Lionheart had been backpacking and had got smashed with Saladin in a grotty little bar. There was twenty years difference in their ages but Dicky might have seen Sal as a mentor rather than an enemy. Or even better, if President Barack Obama had sat under the stars drinking Bud with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when they ‘lads’. Imagine the craick they would have in the UN these days. Oh well, I can dream, can’t I?Dicky and SalObama and Mousch








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A Language of Your Own

When I was a very small boy I didn’t speak English. My family communicated with me by using pictures. I would say something and they would get out various  books and when I spoke they pointed to things until I nodded.

An example; I once informed them that there was,”A howashay bin da cowashay”. After several books, even more tantrums (they weren’t very good at it) and a walk around the farm they finally understood. “There was an elephant in the cowshed”. Of course, I was the only one who could see said elephant, so much had to be taken on trust.

One day an electrician came to do some work and so I assisted him (fresh meat). Upon leaving he posed a question to my mother.

“Nice kid, when’s he going back?”

“Back where?” asked mum

“To France, he is French isn’t he?”

“No! He’s my son.” Picking up on my mum’s tone the electrician decided not to pursue the conversation and left.

Let me set the scene a two year old boy on a farm all day by himself (and you thought Forest Gump was strange) Your parents are in their forties and you have two older sisters. One of them relishes pinning you to the floor and licking your face or tickling you until you pee your pants. The other one listens to Rock’n’Roll, jives with you and tells you that Elvis is really God.

Your role model is a pretend friend called Johnny (cool name) and you have a pretend girlfriend called June (birthday month). You also have a horse called Red (no idea). June is quite lovely but always being kidnapped by red indians  native Americans and tied to a tree. Most of your day is spent sneaking into the enemy camp and releasing June, getting nettled, tying dock leaves to your legs (eases the sting) and inventing things that don’t work. The Native Americans only speak Sioux or Crow, June and Johnny only speak via you and you, at two-year-old don’t have anyone to talk to.

And they wonder why I had my own language.

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