The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

Archive for the 'Education' Category

21 June
Comments Off on The Joys Of Being A Teacher…Dealing With A Very Angry Parent

The Joys Of Being A Teacher…Dealing With A Very Angry Parent

After having spent my lunch hour patrolling the playgrounds and corridors making sure a thousand kids at my comp let off steam in a civilised manner I was sitting in my office about five minutes into the start of afternoon lessons and ready to take a bite of my cheese sandwich when the phone rang.
“Better come round, Mr P – we’ve got an effer. It’s Sharon S’s dad”

That was the school office code word for a visitor (usually a parent) who came in out of the blue and demanded to see the head or one of the deputies immediately about how their f****** son or daughter had been treated by either some f****** teacher or another f****** pupil.

Although the textbook reply from reception could have been “Certainly, sir or madam, we’ll arrange an appointment – would next Wednesday at 10.45 be OK?” or even “We refuse to deal with you until you rinse your mouth out with soap and water” the office staff knew that a secondary school reception area is usually busy with passing trade both with both pupils and assorted adults so operation defuse had to be the order of the day.

I was therefore summoned.

Mr S was still at reception, bubbling with anger as I appeared.
“Hello, Mr S” I said “thanks for coming in” and immediately shook his hand.

Notice the cunning strategy? I was immediately owning the situation by pretending that he had entered our turf on my invitation rather than invading us in a fit of anger.
The handshake was even more significant. A gnarled old veteran from east end secondary mods had once told me that physically, psychologically (and statistically) it was very difficult to punch someone straight after they had shaken your hand.

I used the opportunity of Mr S’s confusion to shepherd him away from reception, along the corridor and into my office. He might still be angry but it would now be away from public view, the first important stage of operation defuse.

I closed the door, motioned him so sit down and then sat down myself with the desk between us. I then invited him to inform me of his concerns and the flood gates opened. In between the swear words the story gradually unfolded and it proved to be the old girly chestnut – friends falling out.
For about fifteen minutes there followed an eruption of anger and vituperation punctuated at appropriate moments by a “hmmm” or an “indeed” from me.
Eventually the volcanic activity subsided and Mr S looked down at his boots. After a long pause I sensed my moment had come. “Thank you Mr S” I said “I think I get the picture – leave it with me”
Mr S looked up

“Thanks Mr P” he replied “Sorry for all that stuff beforehand but I was on site and got this phone call from the Mrs with Sharon in the background going wa wa f******* wa……well, you know how it is…”
I gave what I thought was my knowing/sympathetic look and stood up and came round my desk. Mr S stood as well and we shook hands.
“….and thanks for your advice, Mr P” he said as we moved to the door.

Which was odd because I had not given him any advice at all…
On the way out he moved briefly to reception and muttered an apology and went back to his van outside.
“Another triumph for Mr F*** Off” said the girls at reception.
“I don’t know” I replied “he thanked me for my advice but I never gave him any.”
“But you listened” one of them said “and maybe that’s all some folk want at times”

As for Sharon and falling out with her bosom mates? At the end of school I buttonholed her as she was leaving and said her dad had come in about the situation and she just rolled her eyes. “Omygod – really? That’s all sorted, sir, no problem” and she went off, joined her mates and they went arm in arm towards the main gates….

Another notch on the gun for Mr F*** Off……

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05 September
Comments Off on STARTING SCHOOL…1945..

STARTING SCHOOL…1945..

All those youngsters and nervous parents heading for reception class this week took me back to my own reception experience in 1945 at my London County Council primary school at the top of Brixton Hill. We gathered with our mums (dads didn’t do schools in those days) on the pavement outside the school entrance. A teacher came into the playground and blew a whistle. Some of us left mum and went into the playground. My mum told me years later she was hurt because I didn’t look back!!
The teacher, a rather stern looking lady called Miss Bowker, marshalled us into a line then blew the whistle again. Mums prodded their kids into the playground. Some were tearful but Miss Bowker just pushed them into the line then marched us into the school, ignoring the waving mums.
I guess Miss B must have started teaching in 1910 because she eventually retired in 1950. She certainly was old school. English and arithmetic in the morning and, if we worked hard, arty crafty stuff in the afternoon.
She ruled us with a gimlet eye and, when necessary, a sharp look of disapproval which would quell any rebellious soul. My working class mum had taught me to read and write so I managed to bumble along quite well but many of my thirty nine fellow pupils were thrown into the deep end. But nobody left Miss B’s class unable to read or write.
When we did art we painted on sheets torn out of old telephone directories because there was a national shortage of paper…..which is why we had to fill every space in our copy books if we wanted to avoid Miss B’s ire…..
Wonder how she would fare in our more “caring” culture….lol…

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15 July
Comments Off on The Day I Became A Proper Teacher

The Day I Became A Proper Teacher

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Forget a lot of the blah that today passes off as the definition of good teaching. The present obsession with targets, test results and exam grades is a quaint throwback to a rather old fashioned instrumental model of learning – the student as an empty bottle and the teacher as lab worker who picks up the jug full of knowledge and pours it in.

Like all instrumental models the pattern is flawed because it leaves out one key fact – you are dealing with humans.

Sure test results and exam grades are important as useful indicators of what has been learned but that is not the whole story of what education is about. Schools are also places where children learn how to act as members of a community and a teacher’s job is also to provide them with clues about social conduct. Hence the relationship between teachers and students is an important strand of that learning process.

You could call it the chemistry of teaching.

Sometimes it can manifest itself in quite an unusual way.

My first job was in a North London comprehensive school. I lived initially with my parents in Streatham. My daily commute was a bus to Clapham Common Station, the Northern Line to Camden Town then another bus to the school. During the 1960s Northern Line trains were often delayed  so sometimes I cut things a little fine and arrived in school just after the bell. It was a big site so by the time I reached my tutor group to mark the register I was running even later. Usually there were still kids milling about the corridors and my delayed appearance  did not appear to be noticed.

How naive of me. My card had been marked and the Head himself had decided to confront me at the scene of the crime.

Fate decreed that on the very morning that the Head hovered around our particular corridor I was even later than usual. I slipped in through a side door, dashed up the back stairs and ran into the classroom, got to my desk and opened up the register – and suddenly noticed it had already been marked. I looked up, obviously rather puzzled and one of the girls told me that the Head had come into the room and asked where I was. Immediately the worst case scenario flashed across my mind. The Head had marked the register in my absence and later that morning I would be summoned to his office for a grade A bollocking.

But the kids had obviously read my fearful face.

“It’s OK, sir – we knew you were late so we marked the register for you and told the Head you’d gone down to the history stockroom to fetch a book” said one of them

When later in the day I told Ted G, our Head of House – a grizzled LCC veteran – he just nodded and said “Well Dave, you’ve passed the most important test. Forget about degrees and certificates. The kids might sometimes still try to cause trouble but if they back you up in that sort of situation you have passed their exam with flying colours. In their eyes you are now a proper teacher. But if I were you I’d bloody well make certain I was a proper teacher who arrived on time.”

Good old Ted G. He taught me a lot about stuff that my teacher trainers never mentioned – what he called the chemistry of teaching. I was never late again – I got up earlier and left a margin for delays. I’m also, fifty years later, still in touch with some of those “kids”. I never was a softy or one for thinking that the classroom could be a democracy. But I always believed that young people should be treated with respect – and that working with them was a privilege and I never had cause to regret that belief.

 

 

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06 February
Comments Off on Teachers Need To Learn From “The Real World”…..WTF?

Teachers Need To Learn From “The Real World”…..WTF?

At the end of yet another pointless article about education in the Speccie this gem appeared

I believe that Teachers become stale due to teaching the same subject year after year after year……I have often wondered if they would benefit from having a six/twelve month sabbatical (retaining their pay and pensions etc) so that they could work in similar occupations as their pupils might eventually choose.Then they might have a clearer idea of the importance of their profession.

Otherwise, they are like politicians, who attempt to run the country, but have never had a ‘real’ job.

As a former teacher (comprehensives 1964-1999) this “real job” remark used to make me smile as we managed an establishment of 1000 pupils, 100 staff (teachers and support) a large rambling estate and a £2m budget.

Nevertheless in the 1980s we duly obeyed our political masters when we were told how much we could learn about management from the business sector. So a lot of government funding went into arranging courses where we public sector drones could gather pearls of wisdom from management gurus telling us how their companies (IBM, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer) did it so well.

We gawped as those business suited golden boys and girls sketched their diagrams, lovingly caressed their bullet points and brainstormed us with bolt-ons and blueskies and, of course, thinking out of the box.

Naturally, being overpaid and underworked taxpayer bleeding public sector drones with little idea of the “real world”, none of us were nasty enough to even feel a slight tremor of Schadenfreude when, at the end of the 80s we learned that IBM, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer were underperforming quite badly due to management failures.

After all we didn’t work in the “real world”….

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18 September
Comments Off on Those Free School Meals For Middle Class Kids…..

Those Free School Meals For Middle Class Kids…..

Millionaire Nick Clegg is going to use taxpayers money to pay for free school meals for all under sevens in state schools, all 1.5 million of them. Of course nearly 500,000 of them already get free meals as a benefit for low income families so this means that higher income parents will be getting a share of the gravy as well.

I bet those middle class mums at mumsnet will be delighted – an extra £400 to spend per child, all courtesy of £600m from  the hard pressed taxpayer

Naturally the teachers unions are delighted

The National Union of Teachers said pupils of all ages should qualify, adding: ‘Children do not stop being hungry at seven.’

Here’s an idea. Finance this boondoggle from money set aside for teachers salary increases. I’m sure they would be delighted to take one for the kids……

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16 July
Comments Off on Beware – Cameron’s Plan To Turn Schools Into Child Minding Facilities Is A Ploy To Bind Families Closer To The State

Beware – Cameron’s Plan To Turn Schools Into Child Minding Facilities Is A Ploy To Bind Families Closer To The State

So it’s official – schools exist not to be places of learning where children acquire the social, intellectual and emotional skills to inherit and improve on their common cultural inheritance but are essentially child minding facilities designed to relieve parents of the responsibility of bringing up their own offspring.

The traditional 9am to 3pm school day does not always fit the demands of working parents, and not enough schools offer before- and after-school activities that meet childcare requirements, according to a new Government report. Childcare is a “major concern” for families, with parents often finding it difficult to arrange the right care at the right price, it says.

It’s convenient with employers because it helps to expand the workforce and maintain a pool of cheap labour. It sends a message to consumers that it’s fine to spend rather than save – goodbye deferred gratification, hello I want it now. Above all it binds families closer to the state and undermines the spirit of independence, the sheer awkward bloody mindedness that made our forefathers suspicious of government.

It’s a poisoned chalice – but do we have the will to dash it from our lips?

 

universal-credit-big-brother

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27 June
Comments Off on With Christine Blower You Could Say That Some Teachers Have The Union Leader They Deserve

With Christine Blower You Could Say That Some Teachers Have The Union Leader They Deserve

There is no doubt that Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers is a hard left old school apparatchik, a humourless Fred Kite figure in the mould of Bob Crowe and Len McCluskey. That such prehistoric dinosaurs, still mouthing the empty platitudes and slogans of a long discredited messianic Marxist cult, should be the standard bearers of the shrivelled rump of a once mighty British trade union movement should come as no surprise….wasn’t it Marx himself who said that history eventually repeats itself as farce?

What does raise a few eyebrows, however, is that hundreds of thousands of teachers within the NUT, supposedly intelligent, educated folk, should be willing to see a relic like Blower as a figurehead for their profession.

Anyone familiar both with teacher unions and teachers, of course, would not be surprised at all. People like Blower dominate the infrastructure of the NUT because they throw themselves one hundred percent into the mind numbing routine of committees, minutes, agenda and motions that characterise the everyday business of union administration. Most teachers are happy to let them do it because they have better things to do with their lives…preparing lessons, marking work, shopping, kids, drinking, sex, gardening etc. They very rarely attend branch meetings or conferences – it’s far easier to leave it to the Blowers. So the Blowers drift to the top as a result of ….apathy.

But how come the apathetic majority of NUT members put up with being led by Blower and an executive dominated by fossils like herself?

It’s partly because quite a few teachers regard themselves as vaguely “left wing” …I say regard themselves because, of course, though they might talk the talk they never walk the walk. They are what Lenin called radish socialists…red outside, lilywhite inside.  They lead middle class lifestyles. They like to pretend the revolution..join the odd one day strike, maybe a work to rule but that would be as far as they would go.

This hasn’t always been the case. In previous decades there was always a solid core of professionals who would never ever dance to the Blower tune. But remember that many of today’s teachers are lower level graduates from second or third tier universities where a lack of academic rigour is matched with a shallow sub marxist pedagogy.

State school teaching today is a nice little number. No covering for absent teachers, generous salaries, lower contact hours, plenty of support, no compulsory dinner duties, long holidays and automatic pay increases. No performance payments and almost impossible to sack – no wonder they, like the police, resent any idea of change

That’s why Blower’s class warfare rhetoric strikes a chord. But it’s not a Marxist uprising– it’s a Luddite resistance against anything that threatens their cosy cartel

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17 October
Comments Off on English Schoolchildren Are Starving, Claims Spurious “Survey”

English Schoolchildren Are Starving, Claims Spurious “Survey”

Final proof from the UK Guardian (and BBC) that the cabal of Old Etonian toffs who now hold Britain in an iron grip is ruthlessly implementing its master plan – nothing less than the extermination of the proletariat by starving their children and ensuring the gradual extinction of Socialism’s natural constituency, the working classes.

A sixth of teachers are spending up to £25 a month buying bread, fruit and snacks to feed pupils who turn up to school without having eaten breakfast, according to the findings of a survey.
Almost four out of five teachers reported an increase in the prevalence of pupils arriving at school hungry over the last 12 months.

OMG – there are 438,000 teachers in English state schools – so 17,800 are spending their own money to feed their students. ….and 350,400 of them are reporting that children are coming into school starving.

Is it time, therefore, to grab the red flags, axes and molotov cocktails and surge into the streets, marching behind Polly Toynbee and bob Crowe as they lead crowds of millions into Whitehall, ready to storm the fortress of the Cameron regime?
Not quite because, if you delve a little deeper into the article you will find the numbers are based on a survey……

of 500 UK teachers carried out by food company Kellogg’s

500 – which is 0.11% of all state school teachers in England.

Kellogg’s – a manufacturer of breakfast cereals.

Kellogg’s – whose charitable arm has been organising and funding breakfast clubs in schools since 1998.

Kellogg’s – which almost certainly has a database of names of teachers associated with breakfast clubs..

Hardly a random sample from a disinterested party – but enough to generate several items on various news outlets featuring sad eyed parents and, naturally, Jamie Oliver . Inevitably there was fingerpointing

half of teachers also attributed increased pupil hunger to “financial hardship” caused by government spending cuts, unemployment and rising living costs,

The answer? What else but more government support for breakfast clubs.

However, to be fair to the Guardian and BBC, two thirds of the teachers surveyed blamed “parent apathy”. Many parents are too disorganised to provide a brerakfast for their children, having neither the “time” or the “inclination”.

Note that crucial point. Many kids missed breakfast, not because their parents couldn’t afford to buy food – but because they are too bloody ignorant to make sure their kids eat a breakfast. Ergo the government should reward their ignorance by getting those parents who do provide a breakfast to finance the others via taxation.

The fact is that breakfast clubs, like after school clubs, are essentially child minding tools so that working parents can dump their children so they can go out and earn money. Government subsidies would mean that they get the extra bonus of free child care on top of their earnings.

You can smell the teacher unions involvement in this “campaign” with the mere mention of “cuts”. It’s yet another bogus bit of propaganda using spurious “research” to justify a self fulfilling prophecy – and gain more space at the trough for those associated with such campaigns….

Also, wasn’t it only a few weeks ago that another set of gurus were saying that UK kids eat too much?

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11 October
Comments Off on Shame On The Daily Mail For Praising Mother Who Took Her Son Out Of School For 11 Days To Attend Her Wedding

Shame On The Daily Mail For Praising Mother Who Took Her Son Out Of School For 11 Days To Attend Her Wedding

To understand one of the main reasons why, despite massive spending, British secondary school students are under achieving in comparison with their peers in Eastern Europe and East Asia, look no further than this report in the UK Daily Mail.

Mother hauled before a court for taking her son, 13, out of school to attend her Caribbean wedding
• Frances White refused to pay town hall fine for her son’s 11-day absence
• She had asked Marple Hall School for permission a year in advance
• When headteacher refused, she took her son to St Lucia wedding anyway
• The 31-year-old is due to appear before magistrates next week

An eleven day Caribbean wedding – just one example of how bloated the wedding industry has become. Once, of course, second weddings were fairly discreet affairs, quietly despatched in modest registry offices with no bridal gown or over populated reception. Even first weddings were generally organised within a limited budget so that the balance could help furnish the first home.

But no more of that – modern brides want the gowns and the beanfeast and the furniture and the exotic honeymoon for every one of their weddings and a gargantuan industry has grown to feed those wishes – strange, really, at a time when more than half the couples living together are not married….marriage is dying but weddings are big business…

So Frances wanted her big exotic wedding and she wanted her thirteen year old son to give her away and to create a memorable moment for all involved then she wanted him as part of the honeymoon….want, want, want, want….. then the school had to spoil her dream by pointing out that she could have chosen to get married some time during the thirteen weeks the school was closed.

But, she sobbed, that would be too expensive and it would spoil her dream….so she took her two sons out of school for the eleven days and immediately sent a signal to us all that education is a low priority in her world.

Of course, one can say, the world (especially the UK it seems) is full of people who prefer their gratification instant rather than deferred, so why make a fuss?

The fuss, my friends, is not to do with Frances White who, in every other way, is probably a loving and caring parent – it’s to do with a) the attitude of the Daily Mail and b) the views of those readers who commented.

The Mail reported Frances White as a woman wronged by a jobsworth bureaucracy, a view, unfortunately echoed by the majority of the commentators. If DM readers are representative of Middle England (as it frequently claims) then Middle England puts education fairly low on the agenda when faced with weddings and holidays….in other words, schooling must not interfere with our social life, no way, matey….

The Daily Mail has always been drooling with delight at any report of indiscipline in schools or falling standards of attainment – yet whenever a head excludes a pupil for wearing jewellery or not ignoring proper uniform they publish a picture of some little scrote pretending to be downcast plus “parents” who often look like escapees from the cast of “Shameless”. Anybody with half a brain would realise that the exclusion is the final act of a farce that has been going on for months, a deliberate pushing against the boundaries by families who see education not as the key to aspiration but as a drag on their tribal mores.

Interestingly the DM highlighted this in their piece on the OECD Report

British children’s poor reading skills are said to be partly because they spend too much time on computers rather than reading books, but are also a tragic reflection of the education they have received.
Nor has it helped that the UK has a relatively low proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. And having some of the world’s ‘best-educated’ parents has not improved the standards of Britain’s children – raising serious questions about the effective role of parents in UK schools.

Serious questions indeed – and the lack of parental concern in 21st century Britain is buttressed by the Daily Mail which seeks to undermine any attempt by schools to inculcate into parental minds that, unless we publicly value the process of education we shall slip further and further behind countries like China where parents will make every sacrifice to install a love and respect for learning in their children.

Shame on you, Frances White, for sending a message to your sons that schooling should never be allowed to interfere with social pleasures – and a curse on the morons at the Daily Mai – and it’s readers – for proclaiming Frances White as a martyr.

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30 August
Comments Off on BBC Shocked By University Being Banned From Giving Out Student Visas – Tip Of An Iceberg?

BBC Shocked By University Being Banned From Giving Out Student Visas – Tip Of An Iceberg?

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) says student attendance at London Metropolitan University is not being monitored and that many have no right to be here.
As a result, the university will no longer be allowed to authorise visas

Cue for the BBC to get out the onions with tear jerking quotes from bosses at London Met and, naturally the National Union of Pizza Eaters and Beer Drinkers (aka Nat Union of Students – funded by us the taxpayers of course…)

Cobblers

The UKBA says London Metropolitan University had “failed to address serious and systemic failings” identified six months ago.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said London Metropolitan University had failed in three particular areas:
• More than a quarter of the 101 students sampled were studying at the university when they had no leave to remain in this country
• Some 20 of 50 checked files found “no proper evidence” that the students’ mandatory English levels had been reached
• And some 142 of 250 (57%) sampled records had attendance monitoring issues, which meant it was impossible for the university to know whether students were turning up for classes or not.

Fact is that the London Met (nothing to do with the prestigious University of London) is the worst performing university in the UK and has been relying on foreign students to subsidise it’s inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Hence it’s willingness to turn a blind eye to either the legal status of foreign students or their attendance. Indeed I would not be surprised if the rolls at London Met are as full of dead people as the Chicago Electoral Register…

…and all that stuff about no other uni in the same position? Biggest porkie pie of the year – most of the low level performers are at it. London Met was selected pour encourager les autres. Hopefully at a large number of pseudo universities urgent e mails are being sent to staff presently sunning themselves on beaches across the globe telling them that the gravy train has reached the buffers and that from the start of next term they must start keeping proper registers instead of making them up.

Even better maybe once the word of this crackdown spreads across the globe there might even be a loss of income for these institutions. Some of the phantom departments could close….OMG….those that remain might have to start doing some actual work!!!!!!

Trouble is at the trade union for the great and the good the BBC is pretending to be shocked but is actually full of glee for nothing gets BBC mouths salivating better than an issue containing the words “student” “illegal” and “immigration”. Already, no doubt, documentaries are being commissioned and a foreign student storyline inserted into “East Enders”…

So – will the government stand firm?

Probably as firm as a meringue…

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