Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thin blue line?

I consider it quite ironic the police are seeking the right to strike when their strike-breaking role is well documented.

However they should be supported. Public sector workers should be pleased that the present generation of police officers have seen the light when their predecessors were content to be Thatcher's boys in blue.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

State Britain

“State Britain”, (an irreverent reference to Tate Britain) recreates Brian Haw's anti-war protest in Parliament Square. It has won the Turner Prize although most of the media coverage references an earlier work by Mark Wallinger which amused the tabloids who could show him dressed as a teddy bear.

"a bold political statement with art's ability to articulate fundamental human truths" is how the somewhat pompous judges described it. However Mark Wallinger praised Brian Haw's "tireless campaign against the folly and hubris of our government's foreign policy". He added: "Bring home the troops. Give us back our rights. Trust the people."

He added: "I think it's regrettable that people have been so quiescent about what the Serious Organised Crime Act has done to people who want to demonstrate. It is against Magna Carta, and that was produced in 1215, before democracy. It's important these freedoms are fought for and preserved."

The painstaking detail with which Mark Wallinger reproduced the protest meant it cost rather more than the 5000 pound prize itself but it is important that a protest which has been attacked with all the force of the corporations and their parliamentary mouthpieces has achieved this recognition.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oxford Union grovel to Nazis

The spirit of Chamberlain is alive in Oxford. The Oxford Union pick and choose who they honour. David Irving was imprisoned for voicing pro-Nazi views in Austria where it is illegal. Therefore the Oxford Union honoured him.

Many people, British subjects and British residents, have been locked up without charge or trial in Guantanamo. The Oxford Union studiously ignores them.

A wee bit two faced perhaps.

Incidentally if fascists "must be allowed freedom of speech" would you say the same of paedophiles? Should they be offered a platform as well? I know people disagree with their views but surely the same argument would apply to them? It is a fake argument.

And how much freedom do the liberal democrats expect to get in a BNP concentration camp as a reward for patronising Griffin?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Socialism 2007

I attended Socialism 2007. It was a great opportunity to meet old friends and in particular to meet people campaigning against cuts in the NHS who are experiencing the same things we are in West Sussex.

My daughter, whose first Socialist Party event it was, reprimanded me for not teaching her the words of "The Internationale"!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nasty one Cyril

Sir Cyril Taylor GBE, chair of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust has advised the government that there are 17,000 bad teachers who ought to be sacked. It is surprising that Chris Woodhead isn’t suing him for identity theft as he made the self-same spurious claim ten years ago.

The figure is based on OFSTED assessments of teachers. This scientific evaluation is based on a ten minute glance at the work of a teacher who may have been teaching for ten or twenty years. Moreover OFSTED inspectors define lessons as “satisfactory” and by sleight of hand unelected individuals like Cyril translate that as “bad”. A few elementary lessons in the English language would not do him any harm.

I run a helpline for stressed teachers in West Sussex and half of the time the source of their difficulties is senior management who are themselves being bullied by “advisers” and politicians like Cyril demanding impossible targets.

His solution, to sack bad teachers and “go out and recruit fantastic teachers” shows what a fantasy world he lives in. Spend a couple of hundred thousand pounds on training a teacher and as soon as he or she has difficulties you throw them on the scrap heap. Then you replace them with “fantastic” – ie fantasy, mythical – teachers…. from Hogwarts presumably.

All teachers will encounter professional difficulties at some stage in their career and if they get help and support they can overcome them. They get that help and support from other teachers as a rule. Certainly not from people like Cyril. What are they for?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Cane

The late Chris Woodhead was wrong to think educational theory is pointless. Everybody has a theory of education. The taxi driver who took me from Moodlemoot to Milton Keynes station certainly did.

I won’t bore you with everything he said when he found out I was “one of those politically-correct nancy boys called teachers” but it would be no exaggeration to say he wants every classroom to be like a less pleasant version of Guantanamo “to teach the little c*nts to behave.”

I don’t know how many of his passengers get in his cab and tell him how to be a cabbie. Perhaps a lot of them do which would explain why he is so bitter and twisted.

I was not going to go into the detailed educational theory involved so I told him three things:

I went to a school where the school bully was caned every week, sometimes every day. He went in a bully and he came out a bully with a sore backside. It did not help his victims.

My brother went to a school where the cane was used much more often than it was in mine. The behaviour at his school was substantially worse than it was at mine by any measure. The opposite of his theory.

I was caned for drawing a cartoon. It did work. I have never drawn a cartoon since.

It was all anecdotal of course but better than nothing. The temptation after a tiring day was to let him have his say. If everybody does that he will assume everyone agrees with him, “even some ponce of a teacher I had in here the other day!”

(Yes I know Woodhead is still alive but a man can dream!)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mass rally on Saturday 13th October,
Assemble in Clair Park,
Perrymount Road,
Haywards Heath
at 9.30am
(Admittedly Nicholas Soames will be there but come anyway!)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

New Labour and torture

An astonishing 30 percent of Americans in a recent poll thought that torture was justified. The British government does not torture but it exports the job of torturing to other governments which is just as bad....arguably worse.

It is everybody's nightmare to be tortured but a democratic government which hands over the job to undemocratic governments is disgusting beyond belief.

I can't believe I used to be a member of the Labour Party. What has the party of Keir Hardy become?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Local Accident and Emergency Services

Both major parties aim to cut NHS spending.

The Conservative Party has hypocritically opposed the closure of - for example - the Princess Royal Accident and Emergency department. At the same time they promise massive tax cuts. which can only mean cutting services and so-called "efficiency savings", "cutting out waste"

The Sheffield Survey conducted by the Medical Care Research Unit concluded that "Increased journey distance to hospital appears to be associated with increased risk of mortality. Our data suggest that a 10-km increase in straight-line distance is associated with around a 1% absolute increase in mortality."

To put it another way, more people will die.

The demonstration against the cuts to Princess Royal is on 13th October. Oddly the website does not have the venue but it will be posted here asap.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Save the Princess Royal!

Well that is a rather unusual sentiment for me. I mean the hospital not the parasite.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Martin, Hank and Veronica

The general meeting of the West Sussex Teachers Association nominated Martin Powell-Davies and Hank Roberts for the Vice Presidential roles in the NUT.

Veronica Peppiatt was nominated as NUT Executive member for West Sussex and Surrey.

The young teachers' rep pointed out at the meeting that members have been waiting since conference for the union to call a strike over pay and they are beginning to wonder what is going on.

A member who had previously attended the assertiveness training course and came to the meeting very angry with the union about the condition of supply teaching in the county.

By the end of the meeting she was our delegate to the black teachers' conference and one of our delegation to annual conference.

She began on the outside looking in. She ended up on the inside looking out.

Our supply teachers are becoming radicalised by their treatment by West Sussex County Council.

Friday, September 21, 2007

WSTA on page three.

The latest edition of Learning Report was launched at the TUC. It is an annual publication about Learning Reps and has a feature on West Sussex Teachers' Association and our use of the internet and Moodle.

Click here for the whole report

Click here to jump straight to page three!

Friday, September 14, 2007

far flung request for the helpline

West Sussex helpline is for stressed teachers in West Sussex to contact the union and the teacher support network when they need help.

However we do get calls from other areas.

The furthest flung query to the WSTA helpline this week was from a teacher in Wales who had found our number on the internet. She wanted to know whether it was part of her job to chase up absences. It was rather flattering but perhaps more NUT branches should consider having a helpline of their own.

The reply to her query is here

In short of course schools follow up on pupils who are absent but the paperwork is not done by teachers so they can concentrate on teaching.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Randomly Shocking Monkeys

This is the second randomly shocking monkeys video and based on Bill Hicks' tirade against advertising. It is very good.

Sponsored by the Coca Cola Death Squads in Guatamala - where they used death squads to kill off union activists.

Also sponsored by the Lambert and Butler Cancer Unit and McDonalds Obesity campaign (self explanatory)

And "New Kiddie Arsenic" which is a Bill Hicks far anyway.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Youtube metube everybodytube

I have become addicted to Youtube and its little sister Teachertube. The latter concentrates on instructional and thought-provoking video. However Teachertube does not have the bandwidth of Youtube so when I put videos on it, I usually go out for a walk while it uploads.

Anybody can have a go and the contributions reflect that – not always in a good way. The number of people who think they can sing or think they are funny seems to be about 20 times the number who really can or really are.

If you go on Youtube try searching for “derekmcmillan1951” and you can comment favourably or otherwise! However the main thing is to have a go yourself. Webcams are about £10 in the shops or a lot less on ebay and in fact I didn’t even need a webcam for anything I have done so far.

It is so easy to use Moviemaker or VirtualDub to make presentations I will be getting my pupils to throw Powerpoint away this year. The fact that most pupils in school respond “Oh no not again” when you suggest they make a Powerpoint tells me the time is ripe for this.

If you have never watched Mock the Week on TV, or you have missed an episode it is available on Youtube. The clips are usually rather small, one round of the show – usually enough to raise a smile. The same goes for virtually every program I can think of. There are clips from (and parodies of) Dr Who, Blake’s Seven, Star Trek.....just type in any program you can remember basically.

And you will also find out more about Paris Hilton than you could possibly wish to know. However you can flag videos as offensive and eventually Youtube will remove them.

They have guidelines on explicit sex and on offensive content. However, I have to say that I have found them to be soft on Fascism and soft on the causes of Fascism. If enough people complain (small hint) the more egregeous excrescences will be removed.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dihydrogen Monoxide

I have just been reading this website about Dihydrogen Monoxide. Talk about scary. Apparently it is all over the place. It’s in our food and it is impossible to wash it off. It is used in poisons and in nuclear power plants and it kills thousands of people particularly if they go swimming because by now it is in the reservoirs and even in the sea.

Worrying eh?

(with apologies to everybody)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gullible is not in the Dictionary

There is a video clip on youtube:

It is an unexceptional clip about religion and gullibility by a teenager. What was exceptional was the response. If you search youtube you will find hundreds of responses from the religious right going over the top in their criticisms, denying her right to have an opinion and literally threatening to kill her.

So much for Christians turning the other cheek!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Make Poverty History?

It hasn't happened and I cannot claim to be very surprised.

In the nineteenth century there was appalling poverty and people reacted to it. they didn't react by holding a chamber concert and trying to persuade Gladstone and Disraeli to wear "make poverty history" wristbands.

They said "you are rich because we are poor. We are poor because you are rich. We need to turn the world upside down."

This is not exactly volume three of Das Capital but it is the beginning of a theory which could make poverty history for real.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Alan Hardman Cartoons

Cardiac Arrest

My experience is commonplace. I had a heart attack and I was rushed to my local hospital. That hospital A and E is being closed. If I were to have another heart attack (and it’s on the cards) the ambulance would have to travel further.

The latest report from Sheffield Medical Care Research Unit concludes, “Our data suggests that increasing journey distances for all emergency patients may lead to an increase in mortality for some.” For every six miles further you have to travel there is a one percent increase in mortality.

Twenty years ago we were campaigning against the closure of our local hospital. The Labour Party (yes the Labour Party) was at the forefront of that campaign. Now it is New Labour spearheading the attack on the health service.

With astonishing hypocrisy – well they are Tories so astonishing is perhaps inappropriate – the Conservative Party is claiming to oppose the cuts in the NHS. When in power they drove through massive cuts in the NHS while Thatcher boasted she could be treated “at the time I want by the doctor I want” because of course she went private.

The conventional response from New Labour was heard on the radio immediately the report came to light. “The data is outdated and does not take into account innovations in medical technique.” The spokesman then went on to mention the medical procedure angioplasty as one of these new techniques. Actually angioplasty has been available since the 1990s. How can you tell if a New Labour spokesman is lying? His lips are moving.

So if I kick the bucket in the ambulance that will be one fewer person to oppose the cuts. A win-win situation for New Labour.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A level day

Of course the Telegraph and the Mail are saying the exams are getting easier. Certainly their job is getting easier, they just dust off last year's article. It would be nice to see what results the journalists got at A level and what the Telegraph and the Mail, or perhaps the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, was saying about "the exams all being too easy these days" at the time.

The journalists just suck these opinions out of their thumbs don't they. If more people are passing, the exams are easy. If fewer, then the schools are failing. If it is exactly the same "no progress in education - teachers to blame."

There is a simple anglo saxon term for these people but I am too polite to use it here.

Boycott Sun

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Richard Dawkins on Channel 4

Richard Dawkins' new series on Channel 4 is as amusing and thought-provoking as his work always is.

It's a free country and Dawkins is entitled to his opinion. I think that horoscopes and tarot cards are a bit of a soft target after "The God Delusion" (which my whole family has now enjoyed). Most of the people who read them do not take them seriously. Even those who believe in astrology do not take the "Mystic Meg" stuff in the newspapers seriously. The horoscopes have traditionally been a job for a junior member of staff who can't be trusted with anything more important

And even people who believe in all sorts of nonsense will still trust their lives to orthodox medicine when it comes to the crunch. Even in Forest Row, you don't often hear "I've got a ventricular aneurism - have you got a healing crystal for that?"

I think there is a genuine problem with people thinking they can communicate with the dead and the way his program exposed some of the tricks employed by mediums was worthwhile.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Shop Signs - Edinburgh Blog

Shop Signs

Edin burger

Do you have the balls to wear this? (on a kilt shop)

Battered mars bars £1

And the Church of Scotland had its deliberately austere building opposite the ornate Episcopalian church enlivened by a tennis picture with the caption “love all”. What was missing was the asterisk “* with the exception of homosexuals, single mothers, communists and most of all those infernal Episcopalians opposite!”

Friday, August 10, 2007

Under Milk Wood – Edinburgh Blog

Under Milk Wood – Edinburgh Blog

The Plant Life production was the best I have seen. I have only ever heard it on the radio before. However I enjoyed it despite the inability of the cast to pronounce “sago”. I think they were wise not to attempt Welsh accents and the presentation was impressive – as was the poetry of course.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dougie C – Edinburgh Blog

Dougie C – Edinburgh Blog

The history of Magic. Impressive prestidigitation. His act started out very tame and standard but then it became apparent that the simple tricks were just a diversion as he was building up to some very clever stuff. He even did the “catch a bullet in your mouth” stunt, except he did it with a paintball.

He also described the classic Indian Rope Trick – a rope appears to disappear up into a cloud, a small boy climbs up it, the magician follows him up and hacks him to pieces with a sword, climbs down the rope, puts the bits together, gives them a good kick and the boy comes back to life. He then did some very clever tricks with rope but not that one – no children were dismembered during the course of this act which was free.

Luke Wright – Poet and Man – Edinburgh Blog

“One of the first rules of stand up comedy is not to paraphrase Simone de Beauvoir” The only stand up comic with a bookshelf to which he referred during the act. The act was divided up into chapters and he kept the audience interested and involved for an hour. I even found myself buying his CD afterwards and other members of the audience walked away with “I glassed a swan” badges – a reference to one of the more surprising stories in his act.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Get Up Stand Up - Edinburgh Blog

Get Up Stand Up is put on by the WMD Awareness program. It has stand-up comedians, most of whom have their own shows, musicians and a film, the depressing “Anthropology 101 - The 'end of the world' lecture”

Geoff Norcott was a deaf comedian and very funny. One less good comedian ended on a very funny tagline: “I am going back now to finish off a video ‘anal lesbians’ – to be honest though it is not very good. They spent the first half hour making labels for all the things in the fridge.”

The underlying message of “Get Up Stand Up!” is serious:
The US is estimated to have spent around $4 trillion on nuclear weapons from 1940-1995 – and that does not include the cost of other WMD.
One in three children under 5 years old suffers from malnutrition.
Where do you think that money would be best used?

Ivor Dembina was a Jewish Comedian and can therefore get away with a joke about Auschwitz. “There is a plaque commemorating all the thousands of Jews killed there. Another mentions gypsies, disabled people, communists and gay victims of the Nazis. Zionists do not like that. They do not wish to be lumped with gippos, cripples, lefties and queers. It’s not your schwitz it’s our schwitz.”

He also went to synagogue to be given his “original name” which turned out to sound like “yidscock”. He was also given a Jaffa orange and told he had a place in Israel. When he asked to see where Israel was he was shown a place in Palestine. He said he wanted to go to Palestine as that was its original name. They suggested his father enroll him in a progressive synagogue down the road.

And they took back his orange.

In addition, one night “Get Up Stand Up” also had Bruce Kent (former CND leader) to give a less depressing perspective on the film. The film suggests we will lose the battle against global warming and nuclear war. He suggested many examples where people could make a difference.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee demonstrates the funniest moment on TV - David Jason falling over. And questions whether this is really the funniest the public could have chosen

“41st best stand-up ever”

His mother, however, thinks Tom O’Connor is a much better comedian as when she saw him on a cruise ship he went to a guy in the front row and aked him what he did for a living
“I’m in oil”
Back as quick as a whippet came Tom O’Connor: “Are you a sardine?”

He derided Channel 4, Big Brother, Russell Brand (boo!) and Carphone Warehouse for their pretended opposition to racism.

He went on to the issue of “political correctness gone mad” and quoted Richard Littlejohn’s objection to the police describing a murdered teenager as “a woman working as a prostitute” Richard Littlejohn insisted that she was not a woman but a prostitute. Stewart Lee had Littlejohn sneaking into the graveyard at dead of night to laboriously chisel on her gravestone….
“not a woman who worked as a prostitute”
“a prostitute”
“Richard Littlejohn”
“Not a man employed as a cunt.”

He also talked about the world before political correctness.
An Asian boy in his class at school was never called by name, but only ever as “black spot.”
People clubbed together to stop a black family moving into their street.
And the Conservative Party won the Smethwick by election on the slogan “if you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour”

Sunday, August 05, 2007

David Zanthor - Edinburgh Blog

David’s act is a satire on magic shows with some genuine prestidigitation thrown in. He also has a myspace presence with an astonishing number of friends. A fair amount of his act involved talking about the state of his marriage in between a range of tricks most involving audience participation.

He made helpers from the audience feel welcome. He didn’t ridicule them and showed them how to do tricks. This would no doubt get him expelled from the magic circle.

It was a free show and well worth the time. The climax is surprising :)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Street performers - Edinburgh Blog.

The slack rope looks a lot more dangerous than the tight rope but the guy who was doing it spent his time casually chatting to the audience and telling jokes while juggling. It was impressive and great to be able to sit around a table – actually a barrel – outside a pub and watch it. A lot of the street performers’ art is in building up the audience response – telling them when to applaud and teasing them into applauding – but some of the acts are well worth the applause.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Things my mother told me

What did your mother say which you remember?

This comes from a discussion on a teacher website: INFET

"It is at times like this I wish I had listened to what my mother used to say."

"Why, what did she say?"

"I don't know. I didn't listen."

(Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

The earliest joke I can remember. (This dates me)

"Why do fascists wear black shirts?"

"Because they never wash their filthy necks."

She also used to say "there's a war on." to justify anything we couldn't have or to explain why we had to do as she said. I was born in 1951.

Chimera! wrote:

"If you break both your legs don't come running to me!"

and the enigmatic remark "If things don't alter

(.....long pause......)

they'll stop as they are."

Anyway there was a war on in 1951....there's always a war on....Korea I think.

Bad_Seed wrote:

When asked 'whats for dinner' it was always 'wait and see' every night we had wait and see for dinner.

plotter wrote:

"If he's the right man, you'll no be asking me if he's right."

"You really shouldn't eat sand from the sand pit"

deltafun wrote:

where should you eat sand from then?

Angua wrote:

Something like you would die if you had a bath when on your period was one of my mums. She was weird though.

untamedbeauty wrote:

Watch crossing the road.

Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about! (She never did though)


deltafun wrote:

where should you eat sand from then?

Dunno - never thought to ask that!

deltafun wrote:

Would seem important to me lol

One wonders why mums would not say "don`t eat sand". The specifics of it being from a sand pit would seem to be something of a Moot point.

Probably because I did eat sand from the sandpit when I was little.

spiz wrote:

Because cats crap in sand pits. For similar reasons, don't eat yellow snow.

Always thought my Mum was quite normal - it was Grandma (Dad's mum) that said things like, in response to "Why?", "That's for me to know, and for you to find out". er, yes, that's what I'm trying to do!

And her sister's favourite admonition was "Oh, go in and get your breakfast."

deltafun wrote:

One would think that eating sand was a very bad thing to do regardless of the cat crap content lol

Angua wrote:

My mum used to randomly tell me to 'get on with my knitting' if I was asking too many questions or being generally irritating.

She is very weird though.

plotter wrote:

I don't think sand will hurt you as such, but the potential for animal crap in sandpits is reasonably high.

Plus, I didn't eat sand from anywhere else, just the sandpit Laughing

buntycat wrote:

We also had "waitensee" for dinner. It took me years to realise that this exotic sounding meal was actually 3 separate words.

My poor old mum worked a lot harder than I do, for far less money and even though in retrospect, I can see that she was often stressed and a bit fed up, she always found time to tell us an anecdote or dispense some wisdom.

With all the arrogance of the young woman, who is better educated than her parents (at the expense of their retirement savings), I was always convinced that I'd be a far cooler adult and of course a much better parent. Of course, I have failed on both counts and have a lot more respect for her.

wordy wrote:

if i ever commented negatively about something, for example i remember once saying a woman's dress was a bit 'tarty', she would say 'tarty is as tarty does'. Actually when i think about it, it's a bit Sartrean isn't it? He always said it's not what you say you are but what you do that shows who you are.

Her really annoying one is, if i ever complain about the consequences of something i had done, eg had 3 kids, she says, 'well, you would have them, wouldn't you?'

Actually, now i think about it, i think she's well annoying.

user1951 wrote:

"Thunder is caused by the clouds banging together."

"If you go out in the rain you will catch a cold."

"If the wind changes your face will be stuck like that."

(Of course a lot of things my mother said were perfectly sensible, "Never trust a Tory." "Don't put your hand in there." and "Those aren't her own!")

luvinit wrote:

We used to have wigwam and diddledams for tea...where did that come from?

Mum used to say she would put a brick on my head to stop me growing (cried for days), that there was only so much noise in the world and if i wasn't quiet she would have to kill my music box to stop me losing my voice before christmas, if you bit your fingernails you'd bleed to death when they ripped your stomach apart, children who didn't do the washingup would go to hell....I could go on...I have developed a very healthy distrust of all things my mother says.

Angua wrote:

They fuck you up your mum and dad . . .


'Keep away from men.

ha bloody ha.

Lots of stuff I never listened to and still don't (stuff like line your kitchen cupboards with kitchen roll).

A very effective piece of advice I received was from my more than anything else absent father:

Don't bite your nails, if you do pigs' trotters grow out of your nose.

I have never bitten my nails.

And from my Scotts Granddaddy....never ever give in, never ever give up.

And I never have. He is a wise old laddie.

user1951 wrote:

"They tuck you up your mum and dad." was the version I heard. Don't tell me it was bowdlerised Wink

And masturbation makes you deaf.


Actually I think that one is catching up with me now.

Back to school?

I think only killjoys would put up "back to school" adverts before the holiday even started. There is every chance that this could backfire if people boycott the first store to put up a BTS advert.

I believe in school. I believe in education. I also believe in holidays however.

Click here

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

False accusation

There is a discussion on TES about a teacher falsely accused of molesting a pupil. Under current legislation this false and withdrawn accusation will nevertheless stay on his permanent record.

"I have recently been falsely accused of child molesting by a Year 10 pupil (girl, I am a male teacher). I have been through an ordeal that included being interviewed by the police under caution. Of course, it transpired quite quickly that it was an utter fabrication, but the pupil continues in the school as if nothing happened, she has not been disciplined. As this occurrence will appear in any enhanced criminal record check, I asked the Head teacher to get me a statement of denial from the girl or her family, which I doubt very much I will get (even though I've written it myself). I want also a letter of reference from the Head with special reference to this incident, to clear without reserves my innocence, so that I will have a fair chance of getting a job."

Another teacher commented as follows:

"So, if I read this correctly:

"Teacher annoys pupil. Pupil makes up false accusation (preferably sexual).

"Investigation insues.

"No matter what the outcome, the record goes into the CRB report if the teacher wants another job. This being bound to prejudice them?

"What the hell is going on? Should make us all VERY, VERY nervous and must surely affect working conditions. We should insist on CCTV everywhere and to NEVER be placed in a 1:1 situation with any pupil.

"This is guilty unless proven innocent, surely?"

This issue had the highest priority at annual conference. I know that NUT regional office are very supportive towards teachers who are falsely accused and anyone can ring the helpline and TSN for further support.

I am a bit dubious about the CCTV suggestion as this is open to even more abuse.

Sit down you're rocking the boat

For years the union leaders were telling us "not to rock the boat" so Labour would get elected. Then it was "not to rock the boat" so the Tories would not get back in.

I can understand why people would vote Labour to keep the Tories out. It is a bit like the French election when Le Pen was standing and people voted for Chirac under the slogan "vote for the crook not the Nazi"

I think that the policies of privatisation and war should be opposed and as Eric Heffer used to say, "a boat which can't stand rocking is unseaworthy.

Whether Tweedledum or Tweedledumber gets elected next time, the same policies will remain. The unions have to be independent and oppose those policies whoever is in power.

Many Unison members for example are heartily sick of pouring money into the Labour Party and then finding Labour is attacking them.

Twenty years ago we were campaigning (successfully) against the closure of our local hospital. The Labour Party were the backbone of that campaign. Now there is a campaign (more like a running battle) against the closure of one of our local hospitals. The Labour Party is the enemy, using every dirty trick in the book to justify the closure.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Filming bad behaviour does not make it go away

The suspension of Angela Mason for filming pupils without their consent in order to make money from a TV company has caused a lot of discussion on the TES website. On the whole posters expressed concern about the misbehaviour of pupils which is a serious issue for many of us.

However I think it is dishonest to brand everyone who criticises Angela Mason as "soft on misbehaving pupils." Come into my classroom and say that.

Filming people without their permission goes on too much as it is and certainly should not be going on in schools.

It has been suggested they could use "unedited footage" but this is naive. Pointing the camera is editing. I could film pupils quietly getting on with their work for an hour. What a riveting TV program that would make! Do you think the TV companies would give me a lot of money for it? And yet that could well be what you saw if you chose to point the camera in that direction.

And filming bad behaviour does not make it less likely. The evidence is all around us that people will film their own bad behaviour because they are proud of it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


A great flood is arising fast and one wonders how much of this island will remain above water. (hyperbole). Phrases like "a month's worth of rain in a few hours" are being bandied about and mobile phone and family video pictures of appalling scenes are on the net...not just the flood but the filthy mess afterwards.

I was impressed with the emergency planning which went into operation when the floods came. It is not like America where they couldn't care less what happened to the New Orleans poor and Barbara Bush even insulted them. Something in me feels proud of the RAF when they are rescuing people from rooftops rather than bombing unarmed civilians. I know which job I would prefer. Of course in the military they don't ask you!

We still spend more money on war than we do on defence against floods.

Should I start building an Ark and gathering together two of every animal?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Postal dispute

The Communications Workers' Union have asked me (and a few hundred thousand other people!) to circulate a leaflet about the postal dispute in view of the media misinformation on this subject.

It is here

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Not negotiable"

The GTC has opposed the excessive testing of pupils. On the TES website this has been met with a certain ironic celebration on the lines of "at last the GTC is doing something for its money" and about time too.

The government, as ever, uses the argument that SATs are "not negotiable". Is the term "not negotiable" ever used these days in its proper sense of being "valueless"? Or is it always used as term of authoritarian obduracy?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

OFSTED sounds like a disease.

OFSTED sounds like a disease. It is a stress-related disorder teachers suffer from. We have just got over it. The overall result was OK but the cost in stress and lost sleep was not worth it. I had a lucky escape. One of their days was Wednesday and I don't teach at all on Wednesday. On the Tuesday one of my colleagues was very stressed out because her year 9s had been playing up and OFSTED came in. My year 9s played up but OFSTED didn't come in. I don't like feeling relieved when someone else is so unhappy. Schadenfreude.

However it is over now. There was a very subdued atmosphere on Friday for the morning of the INSET day because we were discussing the new performance management requirements and the input from County was entirely negative - you must do this, you will be penalised if you don't do that, etc etc. And they didn't mention professional development or fostering initiative or new ideas. It was all results driven and linked to pay. Payment by results in fact.

So there it is. One crisis over and another begins. I am quite philosophical about it sometimes and in despair at other times. And people look to me to "do something" about performance management. I am not the NUT rep at the school and the rep did ask some pertinent questions at the meeting.

Part of me wants to withdraw from union activity and go and dig the garden. And another part of me knows that would be giving up on life altogether. And fatal.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Victoria victorious

Victoria Wood's triumph at the BAFTAs put me in mind of her song, the Ballad of Barry and Freda.

The full text is here

But here is a taste:

Let's do it!
Let's do it!
I feel I absolutely must.
I won't exempt you,
Want to tempt you,
Want to drive you mad with lust.

No cautions,
Just contortions!
Smear an avocado on me lower portions.
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!

And he said:I can't do it.
I can't do it.
It's really not my cup of tea.
I'm harassed,
I wish you hadn't picked on me.

No dramas!
Give me me pyjamas.
The only girl I'm mad about is Judith Chalmers.
I can't do it.
I can't do it tonight.

And she said:Let's do it!
Let's do it!
I really want to run amok.
Let's wiggle.
Let's jiggle.
Let's really make the rafters rock.

Be mighty.
Be flighty.
Come and melt the buttons on me flameproof nightie.
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!

Let's do it!
Let's do it!
I really want to rant and rave.
Let's go,
'Cause I know
Just how I want you to behave:

Not bleakly,
Not meekly.
Beat me on the bottom with a Woman's Weekly.
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!.

("Woman's Weekly" is a magazine before anyone gets any arcane visions at this point!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nominate Martin for NUT VP

I received this today. I am delighted that Socialist Party Teachers have taken this step.

16 May, 2007
Dear Colleague:
The pressures facing teachers have never been greater. The demands on schools to ‘raise standards’ have created intolerable workload for staff and a joyless curriculum for our students. The divisions between schools are widening as this Government seeks to make comprehensive schooling run by a democratic Local Authority a thing of the past. Unless defeated, the twin attacks of an imposed pay freeze and new performance management regulations will further strengthen the grip of divisive ‘payment by results’ on education.

The National Union of Teachers has to show its members that we can turn the tide. With determined effort, school reps and local officers have won important victories through individual casework and local disputes. But the pressures only grow greater. The continuing stress of working in our underfunded and divided schools is taking its toll on teachers and on Local Association officers struggling to do the best they can to defend NUT members.

The 2007 National Officer Elections are an opportunity to strengthen our leadership. Local Associations need the support of a President who understands the pressures facing classroom teachers, can express their discontent, and help offer a strategy to take us forward.

We urge your Association to give one of your two nominations for Vice-President to Martin Powell-Davies. Martin will already be well known to many as Lewisham NUT’s Secretary since 1992. He has regularly been a pivotal contributor to Annual Conference debate and an articulate campaigner for teachers’ interests in school and public meetings, inside the Union and to the media. By electing him as Vice-President, NUT members can ensure that his skills and determination can also be used to strengthen the National Union.

Martin argued forcefully at Annual Conference 2007 that a strategy of defending members through individual school disputes alone is totally inadequate. As National Officer, he will campaign for the Union to lead from the front and build support for the national action that is required if we are to seriously tackle the national attacks we face.
The unanimous vote to prepare for national strike action to protect our pay was an important step forward. Martin will be campaigning within the Union to make sure that this policy is put firmly into practice, answering those who will try to find reasons not to stand firm, while forging links with other public sector unions to build strong united action.
Please do put Martin’s name forward at your Association meeting and/or in any ballot held for nominations by the closing date of September 30th 2007. If you would like to add your personal support alongside ours, invite a speaker to your Association, order copies of Martin’s campaign materials, or to donate to the campaign, please contact the address below.
Alison Long, Assistant Secretary, & Gabby Mullins, President, Lewisham NUT
Tim Woodcock, Divisional Secretary, & Joanne Sanderson, Membership Secretary, Greenwich NUT
Robin Pye, Secretary, St. Helens NUT Jane Nellist, Joint Secretary, Coventry NUT
Linda Taaffe and Julie Lyon-Taylor, members of the NUT National Executive
Phil Clarke, NUT Young Teachers Advisory Committee

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bloggers of the World Unite!

The American military is deeply concerned that soldiers are "telling it like it is" to friends and family and this could harm recruitment.

On the pretext of reducing bandwidth and keeping the military networks free for their intended purpose they have imposed blanket bans on bloggers. Soldiers can only access the internet through defence department computers and often it is the way they keep in touch with friends and family. The trouble is they are not peddling the party line all the time in their blogs.

The corporate media lie about the war. The soldier bloggers have been doing something to redress the balance. The realities behind the gung-ho Fox News presentation of the war is unacceptable to the military.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene
Richard Dawkins
ISBN 0199291152
Publisher Oxford University Press

I have just finished reading this and it is a thoroughly
interesting book by a master in the field. One also gets the
impression that Dawkins is just a little mischievous in
upsetting existing prejudices, particularly religious ones.

The book is very easy to read and reduces some of the more
complex theories to an easily digested form. Contrary to
popular belief - the belief of those who haven't read the
book itself, just some reviews, Dawkins is far from
endorsing "Social Darwinism." Just because our genes are
selfish is no good reason for us to be.

Human history is full of examples of co-operation winning
out against competition. An example Dawkins does not use is
trade unionism. In the opening chapter he refers to trade
unionists as "selfish" - without making any reference to the
global corporations the trade unions are ranged against. You
can imagine how they would respond to individual employees
who wanted higher pay or better conditions. "You're fired"
is the standard response here. Trade unions emerged from a
realisation that the selfishness of the employers could be
met with collective bargaining.

And having said all that - read the book.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sarkozy wins

Sarkozy has won the French election. He will cause a civil war. He says he now represents the French people although he calls the poor scum ("racaille") and urges the police to beat them up.

He intends to force through a neo-liberal agenda (worsening of working conditions and wages and the removal of workers' rights which have been successfully defended in France). He will do it with a vengeance and all the power of the gendarmerie. His claims to seek reconciliation echo Margaret Thatcher's "where there is discord let us bring harmony." Not many people confused her with Francis of Assisi for long!

Whereas in England we would grumble or write a letter to the newspapers when the government does something outrageous. They have this "out on the streets and build barricades" response in France.

And the first thing that happened when the teacosy won? Tony Blair congratulated him

Enough said really.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Notes on a Scandal

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and in many ways the film was even better with the superb performance by Judy Dench.

One of the most chilling comments on the story was from a teachers' discussion group, "I could recognise all of the staff!" and reading the book, I found myself saying "I know him, I know her, I know *two* of her."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Omar must not be deported to Libya

This is charming. Omar Deghayes has been imprisoned without charge or trial by the Americans. New Labour's response? Hand him over to the Libyan government which killed his father!

On Tuesday (1 May), The Brighton Argus carried a story about Save Omar’s request that Des Turner, the Deghayes family’s MP, goes to Washington to help secure Omar’s release.

The story has a link that you can click to show your support for Omar Deghayes and his family. PLEASE SEND IN A MESSAGE OF SUPPORT TODAY.

Here is the link (if you can't click it, try copying it and pasting it in):

You can read Tuesday's Save Omar story on-line ( and it is also copied below. The dossier of letters Des Turner is collecting for presentation to the Home Office was also brought to Argus reader’s attention. If you could get your letter to him within A WEEK that would be great (info about this letter in an 2.5.07 email called Letters to the Home Office: Bring Omar Home)

Supporters of Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Deghayes want an MP to fly to Washington to plead his case.
Campaigners from the Save Omar pressure group met Brighton Kemptown MP Des Turner on Saturday.
Mr Deghayes, a Saltdean law student and Libyan national, has been imprisoned without charge in the notorious detention centre since he was arrested in Pakistan in 2002.
His supporters want him to be returned to Britain rather than Libya, where they claim his life would be in danger.
His brother Abubaker said: "I hope we can act quickly enough to make sure Omar is not sent to Libya.
"Libyan officials have already visited him and Guantanamo and said they would kill him like they killed my father.
"I want to thank everyone for speaking out for justice for my brother. We just need the Government to listen."
Representatives of the Church of England, Brighton and Hove Muslim Forum, the Green Party, the Labour Party and Respect met Mr Turner at the Friends Meeting House to discuss how to secure Mr Deghayes' release to Britain.
In March, British prisoner Bisher al-Rawi was released after MP Ed Davey petitioned for his release in Washington.
Mr Turner said he would consider making a similar trip to the US - but said his Parliamentary duties come first.
He told The Argus: "It's something I'll be looking at. It is not easy for me to do - you can't just walk away from Parliament."
He has pledged to hand a dossier of letters from Mr Deghayes's supporters to the Home Office, asking ministers to approve Mr Deghayes's return to Britain.
He said: "We'll be stepping up the pressure on the Home Office in particular to get a decision on Omar's future location.
"It is quite clear it will be very helpful if the Home Office would agree to allow Omar back into the country. It could very well be what triggers his release."
Campaign spokeswoman Louise Purbrick said: "This is the broadest range of people we have brought together in a single room, people spoke on behalf of the Church of England, Brighton and Hove Muslim Forum as well as from Respect, the Green Party and the Labour Party.
"We felt that if we can act together to call for Omar's return we could win through the government bureaucracy."
Cori Crider from Reprieve, a legal charity that represents 37 Guantanamo detainees, stated: "The political tide is turning in the US against Guantanamo. The UK can help them close the place down by bringing back its residents. It has done so for Bisher al-Rawi already. The position that Guantanamo should close but that they have no responsibility to help its residents is untenable."
Hangleton and Knoll council election candidate Maggie Clifford, of the Respect party, said: "Omar should be home in the UK and it is a travesty that he continues to be held in Guantanamo Bay after five years in inhumane circumstances.
"I call on the MP for Omar, Des Turner, to visit Washington and add increased pressure for Omar to be brought home now. I also ask for his family to have access to information on Omar's well-being and contact with him immediately."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Socialism defeated again...and again?

A hundred years ago, the socialist international represented millions of workers but in 1915 at the Zimmerwald conference the delegates joked that the number of socialist internationalists could be fitted into one or two stage coaches.

In the 1920s Stalin claimed to have decisively routed Socialism which he termed "Trotskyism".

Hitler claimed that he had completely annihilated socialism and communism.

Margaret Thatcher made the same grandiose claim.

Yet today we still have people who feel the need to denounce socialism at great length - denouncing something they have decisively destroyed.....several times.

It makes you wonder.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Crazy about work

A copy of John Illingworth's survey about mental health problems "Crazy about Work" can be downloaded from the WSTA website


Wednesday, April 11, 2007


WSTA delegates did a blog of conference. This is a new idea and makes it possible for the members we left behind to keep abreast of what it happening.

Click Here

Mr Read emailed and asked me to mention his blog

Consider yourself mentioned!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Release of 15 captives from Iran

I am delighted that they have been restored to their families. They must be overjoyed. If only the POWs at Guantanamo could be released so quickly.

Contrast the treatment of these captives with the POWS at Guantanamo. It comes to something when an appalling regime like Iran comes off looking better than we do! Were the 15 imprisoned without trial for years? Were they tortured by waterboarding? Where is our moral superiority now?

I know that domestic opponents of the Iranian regime are treated a lot worse than the 15 were but Guantanamo prevents any moral indignation from the US or UK government - they will just be laughed at.

Socialist Party Teachers Bulletin

You can read the bulletin online.

Click Here

Articles on

Slavery: the truth
Supply Teaching
Young Teachers
Performance Pay
Defending Reps (Part of which you will recognise!)
Professional Unity
SEN and Privatisation
Early Years
Building Schools for the Future
Political Fund
Classroom Observations
Pupil Behaviour
Fringe Meeting
National Action

Read before you judge!

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I saw 300 today and the short review would be "don't".

The battle scenes are well choreographed but the cartoon-like violence becomes repetitive when you have seen the fifteenth beheading. I found myself murmuring, "I've had worse than this, this is just a flesh wound." which seemed to send my daughter into fits of laughter.

The dialogue is forced and false. It is a bit of an insult to the Greeks who invented rhetoric to make them sound like neocon yahoos.

And Xerxes was a bit of a stereotype I think. The big bad black guy with an army of rhinos, giants and elephants.

And it is just the film to get Bush baby dropping 300 hundred troops into Iran just to see if it works.

No it was not history. To be fair, historical drama seldom is. Shakespeare (for example) certainly isn't. Having said which this certainly ain't Shakespeare!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A heartwarming tale

Annual conference is unpredictable. Sometimes delegates think they are due to speak right up to the last minute and then "next business" is moved so they miss their chance. I know. This happened to me last year.

There is a reason why reps are in the firing line. If I were called to speak on the amendment to resolution 74 - which seeks to protect reps by collective action as well as casework support - this is what I would say:

An old steelworker was on his last legs, poor guy. With his ante-penultimate breath he said to his wife "I want the union branch to carry my coffin at the funeral.”

“Jack” she said (I think his name was Jack) “you were never a member of the union.”

“That’s right. They carried me when I were alive. They can carry me when I’m dead.”

It is an attitude we are familiar with.

I run a helpline for stressed teachers in West Sussex (I don’t get out much) and I receive calls from people who are not in the union asking for advice. Frankly the best advice I can give them is to join the NUT.

When you are in trouble; when the Ofsted Inspector hits the fan

• who is your friend?
• who is unconditionally on your side?
• who is going to fight your corner?

And in every case it is the union rep.

The key words of this amendment are:
“Bullying is best challenged by a collective and organised response.” (The amendment to resolution 74)

Some of you will have heard this story and I will certainly go on telling it until the day I die.

The union rep at a school “somewhere in Sussex” was targeted for redundancy by the head teacher. There were a lot of issues at the school and the union reps of all three unions were at the storm centre of the demands arising from the staff involving allegations of bullying by the head.

It is possible that the head surmised that removing the union rep would remove the problem.

The regional office intervened and all three unions held a meeting to agree a form of words to present to the governors. Teachers had been forbidden by the head to talk to governors. Since the NUT rep was married to a governor this didn’t make things straightforward.

There was a petition signed by all of the staff except senior management who were forbidden to sign it – one of them did anyway. Good for him.

There was a proposal from the meeting to hold a ballot for action the following week….when OFSTED would be on the premises and the eyes of the local press focussed on the school.

The head decided that discretion was the better part of valour and perhaps the financial circumstances of the school were not all that bad and, as the NUT had suggested at the outset, the reserves could take the strain.

The net result was that not only was the rep’s job saved – for which he is eternally grateful – but the head was then unable to make anybody else redundant either and the NUT remains the largest union in the school to this day.

This is not just trade union solidarity. This is NUT trade union solidarity.

It is what built this union in the past. It is what will build it in the future.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Guided Imagery

Guided Imagery

This is for my friends from the Expert Patients Program. I hope you like it.

What follows is taken from memory. I have the book, but I am deliberately not using it.:
I am one of those people who cannot close their eyes and relax in a group – I tend to go to sleep. However closing your eyes, taking three deep breaths and relaxing, feeling the chair or the bed supporting your body and feeling safe are the suggested preconditions for this:

You are walking along a road in the countryside. The sun is shining and there are birds singing. Try to hear the birdsong in your mind. By the side of the road is a box. Into the box you can put whatever is worrying you. It can stay there until you collect it later.

You open a gate and go into a field someone has sewn with wild flowers. Visualise and imagine the different colours of the flowers and try to imagine the scent as you walk along the path at the side of the field by the fence.

You come to a wooded area and you can walk along a path through the trees in the sunshine and try to think of how the trees would look in the sunshine, the shape of the trees, the feel of the bark, the leaves and how they move in the breeze.

You come to a waterfall and sit by the waterfall and relax watching the water and listening to the sound of the waterfall. You can stay as long as you like.

In time you realise it is time to go so you walk back through the woods enjoying the trees; through the field enjoying the flowers and back to the road. You now know you can come back here again and again.

As a suggestion you can record this and play it back through an MP3 player.

I believe in guided imagery and I believe I can make it work for me. It is not easy because lots of little niggling thoughts and sidetracks keep coming into my mind. Practice and more practice will enable me to minimise them.

Misguided imagery

This is just for fun. It is an illustration of how my mind just goes astray and the little problems I have to overcome in winning this battle. It is the most important battle there is. Nietzsche said that the will to power was the most important human endeavour but he was often misinterpreted on this – he said the power over yourself was the only power worth having.

I will persevere.

You are walking along a road in the countryside. The sun is shining and there are birds singing. Try to hear the birdsong in your mind. There’s that blackbird again. What a range of calls those cheeky little blighters have. The one in our front garden is continually teasing the cat by pretending to be wounded or ill and sitting on the grass then hopping off just out of reach….(diversion detected back to the narrative)

By the side of the road is a box. Into the box you can put whatever is worrying you. It can stay there until you collect it later. I can’t get it all in. It is a rather nice carved wooden box and it is going to be ruined if it rains. I just can’t fit all this stuff into it (diversion detected back to the narrative)

You open a gate and go into a field someone (I wonder who and why) has sewn with wild flowers. Visualise and imagine the different colours of the flowers and try to imagine the scent as you walk along the path at the side of the field by the fence. (I am getting good at this part although I am colour blind…)

You come to a wooded area and you can walk along a path through the trees in the sunshine and try to think of how the trees would look in the sunshine, the shape of the trees, the feel of the bark, the leaves and how they move in the breeze. There are shadows. Things among the trees. Try as I might I can’t help from looking round. And I feel such a fool calling out “Who’s there?” (diversion detected back to the narrative)

You come to a waterfall and sit by the waterfall and relax watching the water and listening to the sound of the waterfall. You can stay as long as you like. Why do they advise me to take diuretics and drink lots of water. Are they trying to make me into a sprinter or what…..

In time you realise it is time to go so you walk back through the woods enjoying the trees; through the field enjoying the flowers and back to the road. You now know you can come back here again and again.

I will persevere.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

BBC lose 9/11 coverage

The BBC have lost their coverage of 9/11

The head of BBC news claims on the BBC website that is a cock-up not a conspiracy. If it is a cock-up it is a monumental one. The phrase "heads will roll" springs to mind. When they refer to Richard Porter as the head of is still attached to his body is it?

Reading My Arse! By Ricky Tomlinson

Reading My Arse! By Ricky Tomlinson
Quick Read series publishes by Sphere
ISBN 978-0-7515-3953-0

“Searching for the Rock Island Line” is the subtitle of the book and really a more apt title because the one thing which comes across in this is Ricky Tomlinson’s love of reading.

He explains in the intro that when he was wrongfully imprisoned (he was one of the Shrewsbury Two imprisoned trade union organisers – many older readers will remember demonstrations and petitions calling for their release) he found reading was the one way in which he could "escape."

The story is about a young man’s search for the Rock Island line, both the railway line and the origins of the Lonnie Donniegan song. It is a positive paean of praise for the power of reading and its ability to transform people’s lives, to keep them from depression and even to help them in impressing their girlfriends.

Its combination of simple vocabulary and humour makes it a quick read, as the cover promises. Ricky Tomlinson comes across as a down-to-earth no-nonsense character capable of poking fun at himself and producing a highly readable book.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

G8 summit in June in Germany

Once a year the leaders of the 8 richest nations meet behind closed doors in secret with no publicized agenda or published minutes, to discuss the fate of the world. They’ve been making empty promises for decades about improving the environment, poverty in Africa, and lots more, but the fact is that the G8 is not the solution to these ills, it is the problem!

They have been arrogantly proclaiming that privatisation and massive cuts in services to the public are a global agenda every country in the world must adopt. Trade unionists across Germany will be involved in protests against this when the G8 meets in June this year.

Friday, March 02, 2007


In Cyberspace Nobody can hear you ROFL

ASL= what age sex and location are you pretending to be today?

BOOK = cool from textspeak predictive text in which if you type “cool” you get “book”

AUNT = see the reference to S****horpe elsewhere.

BRB= I am going away and may never return – boy are you boring!

LOL Lots of love or Laughs out Loud. An important area of cyberpsychology is the research into whether people who write this actually do laugh out loud.

Newb = a term I really hate. We were all newcomers once and people made us welcome. Newb is a term of abuse for newcomers and no civilised person uses it.

ROFL= Rolls on the Floor Laughing. You just said something mildly amusing and your interlocutor likes you or you said something really newb and they hate you.

ROFLAWM = I leave you to work this one out yourself. Or Google it.
A review of Sherry Turkle's "Life on the Screen" is available here


A chatroom

somewhere in Elsinore
Examine Room:
The battlements of Elsinore Castle
In the room are:

Hamlet Hi
Ophelia That’s what I was going to say. You stole my opening gambit.
Hamlet Tell me O, (I can call you O?) Are you still shagging that guy Toby?
Ophelia Believe me H, I just don’t know where you got that from. Toby is just so over.
Hamlet Really?
Ophelia Yes really. He is history man. Put him right out of your mind?
Hamlet Out of my mind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ophelia Well yes I wasn’t being personal but you do take things to heart you know, you need to lighten up H baby.
Hamlet well bad things happen O, I can’t just ignore them. People
(time passes)
Ophelia People?
Hamlet They just can’t be trusted. Is there anyone else there with you?
Ophelia Why do you ask?
Hamlet Do you always answer a Q with a Q?
Ophelia Why do you ask?
Hamlet because I think you open your lovely person to every guy who comes along – Toby or not Toby.
Ophelia No really “lovely person”?
Hamlet Yes look I wrote lovely person and the chat system changed it to lovely person.
Ophelia How weird.
Hamlet I was thinking of going to Slovelypersonorpe at the weekend.
Ophelia LOL
Hamlet I still think you’re a bit of a nun.
Ophelia You wrote nun and it changed it to nun?
Hamlet Yes
Ophelia You really are a lovely person.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Professional Unity

Most teachers think we should have one union but still we don't.

The best members of NASUWT and ATL, disgusted at the behaviour of their leaders who they think have betrayed them (well it's a point of view!) come over to the NUT.

However this leaves the other unions bereft of the kind of people who could lead them into a united organisation.

We should be urging people who want to change unions to stay in the union they are in and change *that*.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Phil Clarke is standing as a young teacher representative

All NUT members under the age of 35 are entitled to vote for the representatives of young teachers. I miss that target by 20 years but I hope Phil Clarke gets elected.

The following is Phil Clarke's statement:

I am seeking election as a recently qualified teacher who believes that the NUT has a vital role to play in defendingyoung teachers and the future of the comprehensive education system.

The main issues I want the union to campaign on for young teachers are:

* excessive workload
* the threat of performance related pay
* housing costs (especially in the South East)

The government seems determined to further divide and privatise the education system with the use of PFI schemes, trusts and academies. In contrast, we need publicly funded and accountable schools which co-operate not compete.

I am a Socialist and an active member of a hospital anti-cuts campaign group. I believe that it is only with a willingness to campaign and fight that the NUT will be able to play its vital role in securing an education system which meets the needs of all pupils.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Expert Patients Program

I have got involved with the Expert Patients Program which is for people with long-term illnesses and is basically like a rehab course. It is very good which is why I mention it.

Some of it is schadenfreude of course: there are people who are so much worse off than I am that it makes me feel mysteriously better.

And there is the opposite of schadenfreude where we support each other and make jokes.

And the main point of the program is the mass of information and experience of other people with long-term illness, for example the people who run the course.

They even have a website and an online version of the course

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Brighton to London - another short story

(short means short)

As the train pulled out of the station, Poi settled himself comfortably into a corner seat. The carriage was empty but a girl, who gave her name as Lucy came and sat down opposite him.

The predominant theme of her clothes was magenta. She had a magenta t shirt, a matching magenta skirt, gloves, leather jacket, thong (well this detail came out later) tights and shiny shoes.

And a magenta belly button ring.

They chatted of this and that, Big Brother came up, so did George Orwell who Poi played cards with. Various other people got into the carriage and she confided to Poi.

“You know I can’t stand the way they look at me as if I were a tart.”

There was a silence.

“I suppose it is my own fault for having my work clothes on.”
“What do you do?”
She gave him what can only be described as “a look”.

She leaned closer, “I am an actress.”
There was a pause
“and a psychotherapist and a spiritual healer”
There was another pause
“and a masseuse.”
“Oh I see.”
“And, if you must use the word, a tart.”

Derek McMillan

London to Brighton Short Story

(and I do mean short - this is a blog not a book)..

As the train pulled out of the station, Poi settled himself comfortably into a corner seat. His hair was unfashionably long and in dreadlocks. His clothes smelt slightly of Nag Champa. He could pass without comment in London or Brighton but the train passed through Ridicule, Distrust, Suspicion and the little halt at Abuse.

On the train it was safe and the other passengers were art students.

To begin with he was content to listen to the conversation but when it turned to a Dadaist exhibition in Paris, he had to smile and comment,
“Of course you know why they drive on the right over there.”
They didn’t
“Well back in the day,” he said relaxing into the story, “everyone in Europe drove on the left. So they were all patiently driving on the left when Napoleon decreed that his tanks were going to drive on the right. They would overtake anyone on the left and anyone coming towards them would have to get out of the way. There was a lot of ill feeling about this among the peasants but soon people realised they could drive on the right too so that was what happened.”

There was a silence in the carriage.

The conversation reverted to the Dadaist exhibition and again Poi was just content to listen, until the train was nearing Brighton he interjected,

“Of course there was that scandal.”

And they looked at him.

“There was that big scandal about Dada because he used to go around stealing kittens.”

As the train pulled in to the station one student leaned close to Poi and confided.

“There wasn’t a person called Dada.

“It’s just a meaningless word.”

Saturday, February 10, 2007


"America, it's time to start bringing our troops home. It's time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of someone else's civil war," Obama said. "That's why I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008. Letting the Iraqis know that we will not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the table and find peace."

Barack Obama speaking in Springfield.

I have no idea whether Obama is for real but it is interesting he thinks that is a vote-winning position. It is an indication that there is a groundswell of oppositon to to the war and that the American electorate are not happy with vague promises of eventual troop withdrawal - even the most Hawkish Republican can promise that "when the time is right" - Obama feels the need to name the date.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Censorship in West Sussex

Here is a funny thing.

West Sussex teachers have a blog on and their employers have blocked them from viewing the site at school. WSTA represents about 4000 teachers in West Sussex.

This is extraordinary because the site has links to inservice training and ICT training courses teachers can take and their employers are just being heavy-handed.

Annoyingly they have also blocked this blog which has quizzes for pupils but I can post them elsewhere.

They have also blocked

If you have any thoughts on this you might like to email and give them your uncensored opinion on this!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Endemol cry all the way to the bank

You would have to be stuck in the Antarctic or adrift in an open boat (lucky you) to have missed the row over the bullying and abuse of one of the contestants in the strangely named Celebrity Big Brother.

Following criticism of the "celebrity" credentials of the participants, a couple of genuine celebrities Leo Sayer and Ken Russell (who were just a little past their sell-by date) deserted the house.

Then a way of boosting the ratings seemed to fall into Endemol's lap with the ignorant racist abuse directed at Shilpa Shetty by multi-millionairess Jade Goody.

It will be remembered that Endermol swore to ensure George Galloway did not use the Big Brother house as a platform for anti-war sentiments. They used the situation to make George Galloway appear foolish - aided and abetted by George Galloway of course.

In contrast, they have continued to defend their broadcasting of racist abuse on the grounds that it is not really racist as such.

In the past there was a term "racialism" which was applied to distrust and hostility towards other races based on ignorance. This was differentiated from "racism" which they defined as the manipulation of racialism to stir up hatred. It seems clear that Jade Goody's abuse is an example of the former rather than the latter.

Under pressure, Endemol have muttered about donating a fraction of their obscene profits from this imbroglio to charity but the set-up of Big Brother ensures they continue to profit whatever happens.

One wonders how long it will be before one of the housemates murders another under the artificial strains imposed on them by the situation and whether that will prove a money-spinner for Endemol as well.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Online quizzes for pupils doing ICT

Here are some quizzes for pupils doing ICT: They are self-marking and use the *free* hot potatoes software

And for anyone who is interested, I have posted the one I wrote for West Sussex Teachers' Association about the benefits of NUT membership.

Which also works.

People on the TES website were very complimentary about them.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I am taking the plunge and using

I started using email exhanges with a Canadian teacher and his class about 15 years ago when I had to take home text files of my pupils' emails and send them from there. I still like using email interchange although I have fought shy of using epals because it does not integrate well with our email system. You have to use theirs. They have a premium rate system which costs an arm and a leg (and I have a budget of 0) but I have started this year to experiment with using their system with my year 7 class. I have set up 27 accounts (the maximum number of free accounts is 35) and we will see how it goes.

I have found email exchanges with pupils overseas to be a "consciousness-raising" experience for pupils and it also raises enthusiasm and excitement. They find out a lot about the globalisation of culture (the Japanese pupils watching "The Simpsons") as well as finding about the many differences in culture. (The school I have linked up with is a strongly Catholic school in America)

I have used but on the whole I had a lot of frustration with schools not following up so pupils spend a lot of time writing emails and then get no replies.

Does anyone else who has used email exchange have any comments?