Wednesday, 30 January 2008


60 years ago today, in New Dehli, Nathuram Godse shot and killed Mohandas K Gandhi. The Mahatma is officially known as "The Father of the Nation" in India and his creed of non-violent civil disobedience directly led to the independence of India.

Raise a glass of something non-alcoholic in his memory?

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Tuesday, 22 January 2008


There is simply no point in having knees unless you jerk them - frequently. The latest balls from Balls is that schools should teach cooking - and it's compulsory.

Of course making up education policy on the hoof isn't a new idea so this has famous antecedents but this one is pretty special for all sorts of reasons. First up the hardware - rather like teaching IT or metalwork cooking needs some capital investment and space. you can't simply go into a general classroom and teach cookery because sooner or later you'll need knives and sinks and wash basins and cutting boards and cookers and microwaves and all that good stuff. You also need people able to teach cookery. While there are some wonderfully skilled teachers out there and many can teach maths as well as English or geography and history but cooking isn't something that can be "crammed" the night before a lesson. and where is the time coming from? The school curriculum is already crowded with all the other compulsory subjects so what will be pulled to slot this in? and how will it be assessed? I've got cooking qualifications and i promise they aren't easy to test.

Of course I'm not the only one flagging this up - the link I've given rehearses the same arguments - but I really think this deserves a wider audience. Further evidence that education is too important to be left to politicians?

Monday, 14 January 2008

ELQ Again

Some good stuff here and here


New LCC group are all keenly watching the screen

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Thoughts from Sy

Sy and I used to share some office space. Suggesting we worked together would almost certainly breach all sorts of laws about accuracy; I'm not sure either of us worked but even if we did the idea that our short bursts of work-like activity coincided stretches the imagination beyond bursting point. Anyways..... Sy is a techy and now he's blogging too!

I recommend his posting extolling the virtues of an environmentally sensible lifestyle as an entry point to the world of Sy but sample the other goodies on display too.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


Try as I might I can't find evidence of Mr Ed Balls, Children's Secretary, spending any time at all involved in educational research. I can, however, find evidence of this story having been run ever since the invention of children.

Children should spend less time playing computer games and more time reading with their parents, the Children's Secretary Ed Balls has said. There was a danger that reading was getting pushed out by television, the internet and computer games, he warned
I can imagine parents meeting in the 15th century to complain that children should be out playing rather than reading and that Mr Caxton had a lot to answer for!

I wonder if someone will finally realise that rolling out a politician to kiss children might impress a few Sun readers but most of can read and we're not at all taken in by this kind of crass self-promotion and his argument is baseless and spurious.

Government in "Stunning lack of joined-up thinking" shocker

The Conservatives are adding to protests against government plans to cut funding from students taking a second undergraduate degree.

You probably won't be too surprised to know that I'm very interested in this subject. If this proposal isn't stopped the OU stands to lose over £30M and that's going to affect everyone rather than just those students who the government think should be targeted. I've got letters from a handful of MPs - two opposing and one from Bill Rammell, Minister for Lifelong Learning, explaining that it's far fairer if they shift what is - to government - pennies and ha'pennies because it's a great vote winner with those who think that a degree is something that only rich folk can get anyway.

Get behind this - if only by looking at some of the proposals - because it stands a chance of damaging adult education in this country in ways that HM government simply haven't considered.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Ministers want Britain's top IT and science companies to encourage "career switchers" to go into teaching.

Ministers want professional scientists, mathematicians, information technology experts and engineers to help fill the skills gaps in classrooms.

Many of England's science teachers have not studied science to degree level.

I'm afraid that this stated desire to get people out of commerce into the classroom is, however well meaning, a perfect example of simply not having a clue.

Let's ignore for one moment the money - even as a mediocre IT professional I was earning about as much as the headteacher of a large secondary school. Bumping up the salary to attract people simply leads to wage inflation across the board. Let's not focus on the work itself - without doubt there will be some tough times but at the end of the day very few teachers will find that they have to drop everything and get on a plane to NY or Stuttgart because a server has crashed or the project team have hit a snag - it's not 9 to 5 but it's also reasonably predictable. Let's look at the biggest disincentive - the other teachers. Don't get me wrong - I know lots of teachers are hard working professionals doing a sterling job in trying circumstances but we've also all met those teachers who are straight out of teacher training and don't look old enough to be out alone. Many have few social skills and depend on a world where the people they interact with have to call them "Sir" and offer some kind of respect whether it is warranted or not. Would you chose to spend too long in the staff room with these folk?

In my world nobody would be allowed into teaching until they had spent five years in the world of work after graduating. Going into the classroom without "life skills" is doing the teacher and their pupils a great disservice.
More than 250,000 qualified teachers no longer work in England's schools, the Conservative Party says.
My plan might help deal with this too.