Friday 25 July 2008


The BBC's Education website has given burglars hope that the recession will not affect them by pinpointing that come the autumn, student rooms will provide rich pickings in the way of easily portable electrical consumables: Students bring kit worth £6,000

I would have had an easier time of it too if I had had a mobile phone instead of wasting valuable drinking, ahem, studying minutes queuing for the pay phones to ring home once a fortnight or when the money had run out. I wouldn't have spent ages wandering around campus to see where everybody was when a quick text message would have confirmed that.

But then I would have probably spent all my time messing about on the internet instead.

Thursday 24 July 2008

In Limbo

There we are then. As I've had a leaving party, embarrassing speech scenario, and am about a stone heavier from all the "goodbye" parties (aka chcolate overload) with each class I taught, I can assume that I have officially left my school, even if they are paying me up until the end of August.

So now I'm in limbo.

I don't even have a timetable for my new school yet, which saves me an hour of colouring-in this summer. I don't have any schemes of work to prepare for the old department for the new school year, and in fact I don't really know what my new department does or how they do it. I went for a visit, but everybody was in that "can't be bothered, let's worry about it in September" frame of mind, and if I had asked I would only have been interrupting their video viewing, so I didn't bother either. Somewhere I have about two weeks' worth of generic winging-it lessons, so I'll dust those off the night before.

Which means that I should be feeling less burdened than the past umpteen years, but I don't. It's only the second day of the holidays but I can't settle. Does any teacher immediately switch off? There's a term's worth of dust layering shelves I haven't looked at in daylight for a good few weeks, and the spare room is chest-high in boxes of resources I found lurking at the back of my cupboard. I have so much to sort out but I just want to flop down and watch old films.

The transition time between hectic end-of-termness and yawning summer holiday is limbo time too.

Friday 4 July 2008

Sexuality - strong and warm and wild and free

I was just browsing around some of my regular haunts in the blogshere and reading MissB's comments on sexuality reminded me of something I was going to say earlier. In contrast to MissB's observations about boys wanting to be uber-masculine, there's a really odd trend in my school at the moment. It's now the done thing for boys to show that they are camp as a row of tents... provided they are the studs of the school in the first place. Wannabe-studs seem to have to flaunt their passion for pink as a rite of passage to show they are so over having to prove themselves to the girls. I've never seen such behaviour before, and I'm wondering how much influence metrosexuals such as David Beckham and Gavin Henson have had on this trend.

For example, when giving out coloured paper to Year 8s for some time-filling poster activity, the boys all want pink, and also want to shout this out so that everybody in the class knows that they haven't gone for manly maroon or boyish blue. In corridors between lessons, those boys who drip with cheap and chunky gold jewellery greet each other with mafia-style hugs and kisses, and all that's missing is the heavy coat being shrugged from their shoulders.

Now I'm all for breaking down gendered stereotypes, but this is all just a bit disconcerting. I just get the impression that there's more going on here than we're aware of. And I don't think it's as simplistic as passing wraps of drugs or salt (both equal menaces in our "healthy eating" school). Maybe I'm just missing something obvious - a TV programme they are imitating, for example. But whatever's going on, all I know is that we need to start stocking up on pink paper.

Thursday 3 July 2008

Can you help?

I wonder if anyone could help? Today, after counting up how many lessons I have left to count down, and realising that I will never see some of the children or staff again after a couple of weeks' time, I experienced a strange feeling. It was like a twinge, but it wasn't anger or cynicism or elation. It was this odd kind of sensation that made the corners of my mouth droop. If anyone knows what I could possibly be feeling, then please contact me in the usual way...

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Seasons out of synch

Maybe it's global warming (of course; it gets the blame for everything else natch) but our seasons currently seem out of synch. I didn't think it was exams-knocking season for over a month yet, but clearly it's started early this year. The BBC reports that a Watchdog is to debate exam difficulty, in that across the board subjects are not comparable, with some being far easier to achieve the top grades in (or even pass) than others. Quite right too. But quite wrong if the end result is that the harder exams get dumbed down to make them comparable to the easier ones. They have already been doing that for a number of years.

Indeed, on the day of my subject's GCSE exam, I found myself scoffing and scowling once I had a paper in my hands. I even had to read the small print on the Higher paper to ensure it wasn't actually a Foundation paper instead. It was ridiculously easy compared to the past papers we had been practising. And whilst that will be reflected in our results, I did think it was a shame that the students hadn't been challenged to produce their very best on the day by something with a bit of oomph. It also means you can probably pass the subject without knowing very much at all.

Then there was the story that Markers award students for writing obscenities on papers, which I even heard discussed on "Parliament Today", where ministers took the opportunity to start deriding many different exam questions at different levels. It seems that this story is actually about a chief examiner who uses a sample script each year to demonstrate a point, but it is heartening to know that half of the sink set at least won't come out of the exam with zero.

Pupils are being rewarded for writing obscenities in their GCSE English examinations even when it has nothing to do with the question.
One pupil who wrote “f*** off” was given marks for accurate spelling and conveying a meaning successfully.
His paper was marked by Peter Buckroyd, a chief examiner who has instructed fellow examiners to mark in the same way. He told trainee examiners recently to adhere strictly to the mark scheme, to the extent that pupils who wrote only expletives on their papers should be awarded points.
Mr Buckroyd, chief examiner of English for the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), an examination board, said that he had given the pupil two marks, out of a possible 27, for the expletive.