‘Hip’Politicians & the Grange Hill Academy?
July 21, 2010

So just what is it with politicians and references to pop culture? They never seem able to get it quite right and invariably finish up with egg on their faces or worse!

The latest in a long line of cringe worthy moments, of this type, came from PM David Cameron earlier this week. On meeting Liverpool born TV producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, creator of cult ‘80s children’s TV series Grange Hill, DC tried to up his street cred by coming out  as a huge fan and naming ‘Gripper’ Stebson as one of his role models in life!

It might have been a joke DC (it’s hard to tell, you’re not a natural when it comes to stand up comedy are you?) but admitting to hero worshipping a bully and a racist is not too clever is it?

I doubt ‘Gripper’ would have voted Tory, more likely BNP!

But Cameron is not alone when it comes to this particular type of banana skin.

Remember back in 1997, when newly elected PM Tony Blair was quick to tell us he had been in a band called Ugly Rumours, whilst at Oxford, and then went on to embrace Brit Pop by inviting Noel Gallagher to a Number 10 reception and that stage-managed, cheesy photo opportunity?  It certainly wasn’t one of his better moments! 

Not to be out done, Gordon Brown, whilst Chancellor, tried to shake off his dour image by showing off  an eclectic taste in popular TV, and music. He claimed he was a big fan of X-factor and that the Arctic Monkeys featured on his  iPod, along side Cold Play, U2, (and this is where he slipped up) James Blunt!  

He then showed just how un-hip he really was with his famous, “The Arctic Monkeys really wake you up in the morning,” quote. It just didn’t seem right some how!

And then there was Lord Prezza, back in his Deputy PM days, attending the BRIT Awards and getting a bucket of icy water thrown over him for his pains.

Danbert Nobacon, of Chumbawamba, justified his anarchic actions by saying,

 “If John Prescott has the nerve to turn up at events like the BRIT Awards in a vain attempt to make Labour seem cool and trendy then he deserves all we can throw at him.”

Harking back to Grange Hill I wonder if, ‘born again Blairite’, Michael Gove would have considered the North London comprehensive school for academy status? It’s more likely they would have been in special measures I suppose, but then again it looks Gove is a Grange Hill old boy! (right: Gove, far right: Zammo)

Compare the meerkats.com
July 13, 2010

Gove Compare…

As a recently retired primary school headteacher, try as I might, I’m still finding it difficult to distance myself  from or  prevent myself getting worked up by education news stories   – and there have been a few good ones recently!

Fast tracked, rising star of the Tory party, education minister Michael Gove is quickly realising that being in power is just a bit more difficult than being in opposition.

Life on the government front bench brings with it far greater media scrutiny, particularly when you drop a brick or two – well five actually!  That’s how many incorrect lists, so far, he has published regarding the schools that will be affected following his axing of the Building Schools for the Future programme

Gove’s facial expression coupled with a propensity to blink furiously has led the rather superior, and patronising minister to be likened to a meerkat by Ann Treneman, writing in The Times. So to paraphrase two well-known insurance adverts, gove compare the meerkats!

What do you think?

If his ineptitude were not so serious for all those students, staff and parents who have had their hopes falsely raised and then promptly dashed again, it would be funny.

Does he have aides to help him with his weekly shopping list?


DC Terrified!

David Cameron (he’s the one on the right just in case, like me, you have difficulty telling the two apart!)  revealed to Sunday’s News of the World that he is TERRIFIED at the thought of sending his kids to a state secondary school in central London.

The Eton educated prime minister has always made great political capital of the fact he desperately wants his children to go through the state education system, so is this an early warning that he might be having second thoughts?

He announced,” I’ve got a six-year-old and a four-year old and I’m terrified living in central London”, “There aren’t enough good school places, that’s the problem.”          

Well isn’t that wonderful, towards the end of the school year when workloads are often at their greatest and energy levels at their lowest, for the hard pressed and genuinely hard-working teachers of central London to receive such a vote of confidence from the Prime Minister?  

I wonder how much his assertions are based simply on superficial schools data, or is it just another too good to miss opportunity to have another go at the previous government’s record on education?

I suspect he is so busy that he has aides who do the groundwork for him but if he really wants to keep in touch perhaps he should do as other working parents in the real world do, get on his bike (don’t forget your helmet & keep to the left) and visit the local schools, talk to the staff and the students and get a real feel for what’s going on. He might be pleasantly surprised.  

S*** Ms Atkins!

I couldn’t believe what I was reading on the front page of the Sunday Times. I had to pinch myself – it wasn’t April 1st was it?

Zenna Atkins, soon to step down from her position as chairwoman of Ofsted, is either cracking under the strain or demob happy. Either way Ms Atkins, who interestingly left school with just one O-level to her name (my guess is domestic science!) has announced, to a fanfare of trumpets, that it is her personal opinion that every school needs a ‘useless teacher’!

She maintains that primary schools, in particular, should provide opportunities for children to identify and deal with people in authority who can’t adequately perform their job. “One really good thing about primary school is that every kid learns how to deal with a really s*** teacher”.

This is of course beyond belief from a member of an organisation that has always taken itself far too seriously, but is so ridiculous it isn’t even worth getting worked up about. I’ve always considered Ofsted a bit of an irrelevance but a necessary evil. With this sort of woman in charge it is little wonder that an increasing number of heads, teachers and parents don’t pay too much attention to their findings.

However Zenna’s idea does raise all sorts of interesting questions?

  • Will there be a new category for Ofsted’s classroom inspection judgements :  outstanding, good, satisfactory, less than satisfactory, s****    
  • Will it be held against schools if none of the teachers meet Ofsted’s new s*** teacher criteria?
  • Will governors and headteacher’s be required to officially nominate a **** teacher and write it into their job description?
  • If the school is having difficulty finding a s*** teacher will the head be expected to ask a teacher to lower their standards a bit and take on the responsibility?
  • Will parents be informed when it is their child’s turn to be in the s*** teacher’s class or left to work it out for themselves?   
  • Will the nominated s*** teacher be entitled to a TLR (Teaching and Learning Responsibility) payment?  or
  • Will there be a separate pay scale for s*** teachers with a lower threshold that teachers can apply to go through?  
  • Will outstanding and good schools be able to advertise for a s*** teacher in order to fill that gap in their staffing profile?
  • Will parents be able to claim compensation if a school is unable to provide their child with a s*** teacher for one out of their seven years in primary education?

Back to the Future! Will it be Orange?
July 6, 2010

It’s 25 years since ‘Doc’, Dr Emmett Brown, built his DeLorean time machine and as he said to Marty McFly at the time, “The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”   

Yesterday the internet was alive with reports that we had reached the first target date, July 5th 2010, set by Doc in the first Back to the Future movie. It was even backed up with what appeared to be a screenshot of the DeLorean time control panel, taken from the film.

Unfortunately it all turned out to be a hoax and we will have to wait another 5 years to celebrate what is now being called ‘Future Day’. That will be on October 21st 2015, which is where the main characters find themselves when Back to the Future 2 opens. Pencil it in your diary now!         

I wonder what Doc and Marty would have made of the following news stories from July 5th 2010?

‘A Miserable Little Compromise’

Following yesterday’s grand announcement of the electoral reform referendum, Jack Straw rained on Cleggy’s parade by reminding him that just a few short weeks ago, before the election, he had described the proposed AV voting system as ‘a miserable little compromise’. What, Jack the giant slayer asked, had changed his mind? MPs joined in the pantomime by chorusing the answer, ‘POWER!’    

The Times projected that, if the last election had been run according to the AV system, the Lib Dems would have gained 22 seats and Labour 4 with the Tories down by 26. This is why DC is insisting on including constituency changes as part of the package, as it is expected they would off-set the AV effect.    

Ronaldo’s Little Dribbler!

Now we know why Real Madrid  galactica Cristiano Ronaldo was off his game for Portugal at the World Cup. He’s just become a Dad! The Portugal national daily, Diaro de Noticias, has announced that Ronaldo will have ‘exclusive guardianship’ of the child who was apparently conceived through surrogacy, in San Diego, and will be named after his father.

I wonder if Ronaldo junior will dribble as well as Dad!    


Stig is top of the Dump!

BBC Worldwide have announced that ‘Top Gear’, presented by Clarkson, Hammond, May and the mystery racing driver Stig has generated more revenue than any other show. This amounts to around £30 million and includes proceeds from  selling the series to foreign broadcasters, an international live tour and a whole range of merchandise including Top Gear Scalextric!   

Perhaps the Stig could road test Doc’s DeLorean, through time and space, in a Back to the Future Top Gear special!  

Back to the Future Education ?

I’m not sure what Doc and Marty would make of education secretary Michael Gove’s announcement that he has scrapped Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme, axing at a single stroke 715 planned rebuilds and refurbishments. Labour might have dug a ‘black hole’ but at least their investment in schools and hospitals helped improve public services, whilst creating jobs and property assets.

Gove, seen above struggling with some big words, has also announced a review of  A levels. This would seem to be a good call.  For too long our public examination system has been kicked around like  a political football. Time and again hard-working students achieving ‘A’ grades have had the wind taken out of their sails, caught between successive governments maintaining standards have gone up whilst top universities and employers claim they have dropped.

I agree it is high time A levels were returned to their ‘gold standard’ status and a full review involving secondary schools, universities and employers needs to be carried out. But I have an uneasy feeling that everything will be tailored to the  needs of Oxbridge, and the already advantaged pupils from their independent ‘feeder schools’.  

I would add I’m not anti Oxbridge. One of my daughters is a Cambridge graduate but she did get there via our local comprehensive school!

Blazing Saddles        

I profess to knowing very little about cycling but I do love the three-week soap-opera which crosses our screens every July, Le Tour! It’s only the third stage today and they haven’t actually reached France, yet the controversy, complaints and protests have already started.

The usual question marks around le dopage, particularly with regard to seven times winner Lance Armstrong, were raised before the event pushed off, in Rotterdam, with the prologue time trial on Saturday. This has been swiftly followed by a series of calamitous crashes in stages one and two, with our very own Mark Cavendish cast as villain of the piece after Sunday’s pile-up. Belgian TV called him the ‘assassin’ whilst the French paper L’Equipe labelled him a ‘pyromaniac’.

I’ve heard of ‘Blazing Saddles’ but that’s going a bit far!   

Will the Future be Orange? 

Could it also be back to the future for Dutch football team?  Holland are forever revered for the total football philosophy that took them to successive World Cup Finals in 1974 and 1978. But everyone’s favourites lost on both occasions, even with the sublime skills of Johan Cruyff and co on display. Will the current crop of talented, but more prosaic, players put the record straight – will the future World Champions be wearing orange? We’ll have a better idea after tonight’s semi final against ‘dark horses’ Uruguay.