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!