Thought for the day: "Solutions are not the answer" - Richard Nixon

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Our Man in Bristol

Been a while since my last post since I have been busy either dealing with the little darlings at Primary School or hauling thingy to Bristol. Actually despite my desire to present a suitably cynical exterior I must confess that saying goodbye to the kids at school was a bit sad, especially since they were for the most part very sweet about my departure, even if one of them did give me a streaming cold as a leaving present. Arrived into Bristol on Saturday, started the course on Monday, and have since passed the time going to lectures, ploughing through the requisite ten tons of paperwork, and trying to sort out the various essentials of life: food, drink and internet connections. The post-grad accommodation I’ve been hooked up with seems pretty decent, the one drawback being the ruddy great hill standing between it and the university and, aided by the redoubtable Vivienne, I have managed to find my way around to most places of importance, not to mention several places of absolutely no importance whatsoever.

The course itself seems pretty interesting although the dual techniques of intimidation of impending work (not yet issued, but fully detailed in various thick handbooks) and death by paperwork are preceding apace. More detail on precisely what I’ve been up to can be found on my teaching blog. Meanwhile the small world rule has been as busy as ever - the three other teaching students at primary school included somewhere who was in my class there twelve years back, someone who whilst not exactly knowing my brother recognised the name and was at least aware of his existence, and someone who, at a different school, had the same Year 6 teacher as me. Meanwhile one of my fellow citizenship students turn out to have been one of the guys from my course at uni, at the same college, and who lived next door in our third year. I look forward to my first school placement when it will no doubt transpire one of my students from Japan is studying their on exchange and the caretaker is my long lost uncle.

Sunday, September 12, 2004


Government to make HE announcement: run for the hills!

This coming week the government will announce its plans relating to the application system for Higher Education. As a past and current student I naturally get a bit nervous whenever the words 'government', 'higher education' and 'plans' appear in the same sentence since such announcements tend to involve the screwing over of large sections of the student populace. In this case at least financial screwing over is not involved: the belief is that the government will announce a shift to a 'post qualification system', which is to say that you get your A levels, and then you apply to universities in a slimmed down process.

I have to admit that there seems to be a lot about this idea in principle: the UCAS system of 6 applications is quite bureaucratic, and since there is no advantage to not using all 6, often wastes the universities’ time. A post-qualification system might also encourage students who got better grades than expected, particularly from state schools, to apply for more prestigious universities, including Oxbridge.

It isn't all peaches and cream however: my major concern is that the system may prove to be another part of this government apparent obsession with test results - this could partly be seen with the Laura Spence affair where it was taken as read by the government that there was no possible reason not to let someone with 5 As into Oxford, other than discrimination: never mind personal statements, interview process etc. A slimmed down process will provide much less time for interviews and force universities to make more decisions based purely on grades. Even if some or all universities are able to continue with an interview process I fear we will see a lot more Laura Spence type situations - this person has 4 As and didn't get in, this one has 3As and a B and did. Obviously it is a huge issue that people shouldn't be discriminated against because of their background, but trying to do this by focusing entirely on the exam results, and allowing less time for other assessment of academic potential, seems to me to be a bad way of going about it.

Of course the government may not be moving this way: they may be looking purely at slimming down the bureaucracy, making application decisions easier, and encouraging more Oxbridge applications from able state schoolers, whilst still allowing for a full interview process and not attempting to attack universities for making decisions based on factors others than grades. It's just that their track record doesn't exactly fill me with confidence...

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Let's ranting!

Teacher training starts on Monday with 2 weeks at my old Junior school. I won't be posting about that too much here since I don't want to clutter the place up too much - I'll probably concentrate on politics and general stuff here and hike the teaching off into a separate blog. But what I will do here is make a little rant about the kafkaesque delight that is the Student Loans Company. My departure from full time education two years back did not abate the opportunities to interact with them, since they liked to send me letters from time to time asking for information I'd already sent them. Generally speaking they would also send it to a different country from that which I had asked them to, and then write me another letter when I didn't reply quickly enough (on the grounds that their letter was still working its way towards where I actually was). And then there was their touching desire to talk to me - so much so that they wouldn't talk with anyone else, even when I specifically told them my parents were authorised to deal for me in this...

But I disgress: my point is that, whilst the SLC has been a permament fixture in my struggle for sanity for some years, returning to full time ed has given them more even opportunities than usual to try my patience. Thus far we have had forms that didn't turn up, then showed up three or four times; passwords that I needed to talk to them that I never received, was then allegedly sent and still haven't got; letters telling me that I haven't returned forms when I patently have; and a 'helpline' that seems to be permanently engaged - methinks with the post A Level results rush now on, they may have just taken the phone off the hook. It will not take much more provocation for me to unleash great vengeance and furious anger in their general direction...


you are tiberius
Tiberius was the second emperor of Rome. His
mother wanted it more than he was. He had to
leave his wife to marry Julia, the daughter of
Augustus. He never really cared much for
politics. Later on in life, he moved to the
island of Capri, turning it into an island of
depravity and sex.

What Julio-Claudian Roman Emperor are you?
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My inner child is ten years old today

My inner child is ten years old!

The adult world is pretty irrelevant to me. Whether
I'm off on my bicycle (or pony) exploring, lost
in a good book, or giggling with my best
friend, I live in a world apart, one full of
adventure and wonder and other stuff adults
don't understand.

How Old is Your Inner Child?
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No animals were harmed during the making of this blog. Apart from any cats kicked by the author whilst frustrated at his inability to work out this bloody hmtl gunk.

With the exception of the author, this blog does not contain any nuts.

As a firm believer in the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, the author would like it to be known that if anything whatsoever in this blog happens to offend somebody, he is happy not only to retract it but also to deny ever having written it.

This blog can help weight loss only as part of a calorie controlled diet.

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