Sunday, 30 September 2007

For goodness sake!

10 years? More funds than ever before? Sixth richest country in the world? And only now are we aspiring to "world class"???

Before anyone asks I spend enough time talking to teachers and others working in the compulsory education system to know a few of the reasons why we're still not there yet. And if you need proof of how much we're not there yet........
By the end of the last summer term, 246 schools were in "special measures" - the most serious category - compared to 208 at the end of summer term 2006.
That's according to OFSTED and they should know.


Tony Hirst has written the posting I've been avoiding since Thursday.

Saturday, 29 September 2007


Originally uploaded by nogbad the bad

Tidying up

I'm going to be doing some tidying up over the next few weeks. That'll include separating my links by type and shortening the roll. Just warning everyone that things will be coming and going.......

Friday, 28 September 2007

A monk

A monk
Originally uploaded by NaingKo,Burma/Myanmar
I'm blogging this as the only way I can think of showing support for what these people are doing in Burma.

Monday, 24 September 2007



Just been listening to a piece on the radio which has brought me to tears. It's a recording of an emergency call to Essex Ambulance service

"With the midwives stuck in traffic and his wife going into labour, Leo Hickman had to turn to the emergency services......"

It is incredible and very, very moving. To read the transcript check out Leo's article in the Guardian, to hear the tape check out the BBC site. Not covered in either is the news that the operator had only been working there for a few months and is 20 years old.


My mate Phil mailed and in amongst a fascinating dialogue about the origins and meaning of the word "mountebank" he mentioned a long held belief that it's impossible to strike a match on a jelly. First up it's difficult to see how this might be inaccurate but then I got thinking about the difficulty that this seemingly simple fact might cause in our polyglot blogosphere. And then I got to thinking about a blog someone I work with pointed me to - it's wonderfully written but so it should be, the writer is a professor of linguistics and English at the University of Sussex. Check out Lynne's "Separated by a common language". Back to striking that match - anyone ever tried it?

Wednesday, 19 September 2007


Originally uploaded by nogbad the bad
I didn't take this photo - my mum did when she was down for the graduation. I'm using now because the local BBC have arranged a showing of "A Canterbury Tale" a film made in 1944. It's special because it was filmed in Canterbury and shows much of the bomb damage and vistas of the cathedral no longer visible as buildings have grown up again to restrict the views.

The photo is of the supposed site of the martydom of Archbishop Thomas Becket on 29th December, 1170 - supposed because accounts vary, it was certainly there or thereabouts. Bad day for him but without it York would probably still be the seat of the church in England and Canterbury would have little to look forward to except a market once a week. Thomas turned the town into an internationally renowned tourist attraction and inspired generations of men and women to build an awesome cathedral (UNESCO World Heritage site number 496) which, in turn, inspired countless men and women to visit and spend some of their hard-earned cash in the town. Now there are a couple of universities, always close by seats of religion, and a swanky new shopping centre but the jewel in the crown remains the cathedral and tonight, for the first time ever, a feature film was shown in the nave. The star of the film is Canterbury.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007


UK slips behind on graduate numbers

Let's ignore for one moment the recent decision to withdraw funding for students studying any course which is at a level lower than that which they've already achieved. Let's look first of all at some of the details of the BBC report. Firstly
With modern economies emphasising the need for a highly-skilled, well-educated workforce, the survey shows that the UK has been relatively sluggish in its approach - with much less expansion than in countries such as South Korea, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Of course it's difficult to find any real research that supports this proposition. In fact the reason that so many Poles come to the UK is that they have a highly educated workforce, one of the best in Eastern Europe, but the economy is a basket-case.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says the UK has slipped from the third highest proportion of graduates to 10th.

The survey also found that teenagers in the UK had particularly low expectations of going to university.

Damning really given that this government has spent the last 10 years pumping money into projects like Aimhigher and P4P. Millions and millions of pounds - the cost of each widening participation place is incredible and the ongoing failure shows how poorly targeted these activities have been. If the money had been put into secondary schools....

In response, Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said: "The figures are encouraging.

"The UK has one of the highest entry rates for vocational higher education and since the higher education figures in the OECD report are from 2005 we expect to see continued increases over the coming years.

And here's the nub of it. This government is so hung up on the idea of "vocational higher education" that they are prepared to devalue all the other types of higher education. The much vaunted lifelong learning agenda has a rider - only if the learning is vocational. How long before they offer a degree in floor sweeping to increase the number of vocational higher education courses? New Labour's love affair with qualifications rather than learning continues and we are all paying through the nose for it.


Decided to upgrade the template through blogger. I wish I could find out how to change the default font for postings though - I have to change to Verdana every time (and it's zapped the earlier posts into Arial)

Now my Flickry friends

Have you tried Check out this link and let us know what you think!


I dropped this in here because I was finishing some work and listening to some music and I was struck with one of those "Hi Fidelity" (the book rather than the rather poor film adaptation) moments. What is the best guitar-based pop/rock track? What is the best guitar riff? Clearly Layla has to be in there and any number of tracks by Jimi but does Eddie's pop/rock fusion bundle of energy with David Lee Roth's screaming vocals hit the spot?
Of course even David Lee Roth has to grow up and slow down - check out this video...

Monday, 17 September 2007

Proof that only crooks and scoundrels use the Internet

Simple really. Our local authority, Kent County Council, bans any images which show a child's face on any of their websites in order to protect children. The BBC news have been running a film today where a charming older lady is named, her location made public and all the watchers have been told that she's withdrawing £750K from her bank account with Northern Rock. Ergo robbers and burglars are too busy using the web to watch television and paedophiles also use the web.

Am I a wimp?

I read. I read lots and I read for fun as well as for work and studying. I love reading. I buy novels in threes and I rarely read the same book twice - I have the kind of memory which tells me who did it after the first couple of pages if I've already read that book. Some books I do reread, things by Anthony Burgess and ZAMM and Jupiter's Travels and a couple of others.

Recently though I've found that I can't finish some books. First up was Haddon's "A spot of bother". I got past halfway and there really wasn't anything happening. I don't need a double digit body count but the initial charm of its gentle humour wears off after a while. Now I'm struggling with Will Self's "Book of Dave". Those who vaguely know Self's name but not why might be half remembering him being banned from travelling as part of the press party with John Major after being caught nasally ingesting some Columbian marching powder in the lavatory on a prime ministerial flight, he was employed as a journalist by The Observer at the time. He was never allowed near Blair because of this lettle indiscretion. Anyways, Self is straightened out and flying right and is a good, if wordy, writer. "The Book of Dave" is really imaginative and well written and makes great use of language including a phonetic language of his own making but it's just so damn bleak. It's described as having some humour but it's unrelentingly downbeat in a range of time periods through flashbacks and flashforwards. It's erudite and makes me feel "virtuous" in the same way that eating lettuce does but I feel just as fulfilled. Maybe I need "fast-words" as well as fast food?

Am I being a wimp swapping away from Will Self and starting on "Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders"? Rumpole is an old and much loved favourite and I've not read this account of his first ever case alone and without a leader.

Saturday, 15 September 2007


My son. I took this photo with my camera and uploaded it to Flickr while we waited for the food. Connectivity and social networking at the beginning of the 21st C.

"Fears over NHS e-records system"

The Health Committee said there was a "worrying lack of progress" and raised concerns about the security of patients' electronic records.

But the MPs also said the system - an online database of 50 million medical records to be accessed across the NHS - had huge potential to improve care.
There can be little doubt that the database has huge potential and improving care might well be one of the benefits but simply stating stuff like this doesn't make it happen. Nor, of course, does blindly pouring cash into poorly specified and ill-conceived projects which are badly managed. Governments of all hues have proved singularly unsuccessful when it comes to implementing big IT systems yet they keep on trying. Biometric ID cards are reliant on a database similar to the one they are trying to build here but with far more trying and robust external connections; terminals at all border crossings, police stations and countless other places will need to be able to access records for everyone in the country - anyone any idea of the potential costs? And who will be footing the bill?

Read what the BBC think.

Got it!

Originally uploaded by nogbad the bad
Scrappy game today and one where Dings Crusaders got a couple of tries against the run of play and Canterbury's handling and kicking game let them down. Halfway through the second half Canterbury brought on a new guy who joined last year. He's still a teenager but a great kicker. Of course if I had the programme to hand I could name names but.............

Thursday, 6 September 2007


Originally uploaded by
nogbad the bad

Stunning sunset this evening - took this quick shot with the phone (it's one of a lot because I didn't want to take my eyes off the road!)

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Jane Tomlinson

Jane Tomlinson has died. Those who don't know her story will find some of the details on the BBC page announcing her death. An inspiration.