Week 59

31st January, 2010

When we were teaching, we could tell you immediately what conditions we needed to deliver successful lessons. If we had been advising parents what classroom conditions they should be looking for to ensure their child would receive the best education, we might come up with a whole list of requirements from skilful and knowledgable teachers with good discipline to innovative ICT to warm and attractive classrooms BUT, the top of any list would always feature class size. Ask any parents who sacrifice thousands of pounds each year in private school fees and they will tell you that one of the most important privileges they are buying is smaller class size.

You can imagine our amazement and then our amusement when, first under Thatcher and then under Blair (War criminal & Roman Catholic)/Ruth Kelly (Education Minister & Roman Catholic), we were told when extra teachers could not be afforded, that bigger class size actually led to better teaching.

There are several different advantages to bigger class sizes relating to teacher quality and teacher pay that often get overlooked in the political posturing known as educational policy. Smaller classes require more teachers, which drives down both the quality of teachers as a whole as well as their pay. The only people who benefit from more teachers are politicians who can claim they have done something for education and teachers unions who get more members. Larger classes, with high quality teachers, actually benefits both the children and the teachers.

This is Bonkers in the Head thinking which could only come from someone who has never faced a clas of 50 – 60 kids and tried to teach them. Actually Thatcher, Blair and Kelly all sent their children to private schools in some perverse sense of punishment by smaller class size. Politics is cynical and politicians say what they need to say particularly when in office. The really annoying thing is that you can always find gullible members of the public to support them when caught on the vox pop hoof. Oh yes. I’ve never really thought about it but, now you come to mention it, I suppose bigger classes must be much better for our children.And then the Government will find a polling organisation who can persude a majority of the 20 people asked to agree with the Bigger Classes – Better Chances slogan. Below are pictures of the classrooms Ruth inhabited as a child:

victorian_classroom.jpg victorianchildrenclassroomw.jpg

1st February, 2010

Today, of course, it is not shortage of teachers that is on the agenda. Today we are being told to believe that people are clamouring to keep working. Surveys tell us that 65% of those questioned are desperate to keep working. They love it so much, there is nothing they would rather do. Forget hobbies, forget travelling, forget self indulgence! What 65% of the adult population are desperate to do is get up every morning and decide not to follow their dreams but to commute across town in order to build that house, attend that meeting, sell that coffee, sweep that road. Do me a favour! This is  state-driven propaganda.

2nd February, 2010

While the rest of the world was out at work, I was down at PCWorld buying a new laptop for my wife, installing all my school-bought software and setting up the wireless network. When I bought my first laptop (with school money) ten years ago, it cost £2500.00. It had short battery life, weighed heavier than a hod of bricks and, I think, had a 10″ screen. It was a Toshiba. It has long since dropped in a skip. I must have had five more school laptops since then. Buying my own was a strange experience. Once again I bought a Toshiba but, this time, it has a 17″ screen, a 2.5 hrs battery, a built-in webcam & microphone and an on-line healthcheck and repair system. And it only cost £500.00.


Had an email from Cal that I would like to share with you:

Some new pics for you. These boyo’s (deer) ran out in front of me on my way to work again the other morning. Part of a local lake frozen, pics of the extension, storm damage in the garden, our river flooding and road closureIt will be a year in March since we began the extension, what a year to pick, what an adventure! Between having to dismantle the central heating boiler which means no central heating in the coldest winter for years, floods and storms and the well freezing tis certainly an adventure. We have the start of the roof with most of the joists in place the timber plates on the top of the blocks and most of the blocking of the chimney complete. We have the ceiling height measured and positioning of the velux windows and french doors organised. So it’s the roof struts, felting and tiling next and spring official starts tomorrow in Ireland, yippee.

The pay cut is on hold at the minute as the section 39 agencies battle it out with the HSE and strikes and work to rule look likely, however, some bright spark in HR instructed payroll to deduct the paycut in my pay by accident, they will reimburse me now the error is discovered. Ah well now I know my pay is going to be down by €278 per month when it eventually gets implemented. But I love my job and I am working with 5 children under 5 with multiple disabilities at the moment which is great fun.

Cal seems to live in such a stunningly beautiful place, some of the hardships she describes may be mitigated. I have to say, she seems supremely happy with her lot. Below are the first two of a number of photos that she sent me and which I will post on the Blog/Website. The first is of the frozen fringes of the lake. I’m not sure what the second is centred on but the mountains look spectacular.

cal_1.jpg  cal_2.jpg

It took me a while to work out the next two although the woodland scene is beautiful. When I blew it up to full size, I spotted a number of deer that Cal was talking about. I have enlarged that section for for delight.

deer_1.jpg  deer_2.jpg

3rd February, 2010

Pauline’s Mum is going through a bad patch again. We are currently exploring the possibility that she is wheat-intolerant. The doctor has prescribed a drug that treats irritable bowel syndrome and we have been out to buy the latest product on the market – Genius Bread. I’ve tasted it today and the brown bread tastes almost like bread.

genius-bread.jpg  geniusbrownbread.jpg

We have had heavy snow this morning and tonight. Only we superior beings with 4xwheel drive vehicles can get about the streets. One of the positives from this weather in January has been the marked upturn in sales of 4xwheel drives. Some were beginning to feel battered by the balmy army of climate changers. Now that it is obvious that they are all cheats and criminals, the 4xwheel drivers feel able to crawl back into the sunlight – or in their case, the snow.

4th February, 2010

It is nice to see the new religion – Climate Change – in retreat. The Church has been brought low by sexual cheats. ( If only Mum had lived to discover the full extent of the Irish Catholics’ degeneracy.) and Climate Change desciples are being demoralised by the data cheats upon whose sand they build their castles. One is almost tempted to shout, There is a God!

You may or may not have heard of Steve Penk. He has compered a film clip show on TV but is also a DJ.


He is based in Oldham and when someone rang in to his radio programme to say the traffic was snarled up under a bridge in Chadderton where a woman was poised to throw herself off, he immediately played, after careful consideration, “the classic rock track ‘Jump’ by Van Halen” in order to show empathy with the frustrated motorists. The woman did jump and, as an unrepentant Penk pointed out, “only shattered her feet”. The people of Oldham, the people that I have given 40 years of service to educate, are nothing if not subtle.

5th February, 2010

Pauline & I have been travelling across Europe in one way or another for more than 30 years. Over the past 10 years, we have spent a minimum of 2 months abroad each year. In spite of this and in spite of being meticulous planners, we still get real excitement when we book the next trip and genuine flutters of destabilisation in the week before we set off. Today we had to start arranging medical insurance for six months in Greece, car insurance to cover the period away and, in order to do that, we had to fix our dates exactly. We have changed our minds again and decided to set off from Hull with P&O.


We will leave England on April 13th and return on October 9th. This represents 179 days – one short of the statutory limit for tax purposes. We booked our P&O crossing which is just over 12 hours and costs £470.00. For that we get a Luxury cabin with settee and satellite TV, return passage for us and our car and Dinner & Breakfast.

6th February, 2010

Today we booked the other major leg of our journey – Ferry from Ancona in Italy to Patras in Greece.

ancona_port.jpg  patras-port.jpg

Normally, this will cost us a minimum of £750.00 but travelling in Low Season has halved the cost. We have booked with Anek Lines. I also had a meeting with my Doctor. She is a wonderful woman as well as a gorgeous blonde. I raised the fact that I was intending to live abroad for six months each year but would still be relying on her for drugs all of which I get free. She was immediately supportive. We have fixed appointments for the end of March and the middle of October.

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