caz963: (R2D2)
I picked up this blog post the other day from one of the people I follow on Twitter. It's by a teacher in the US, but to be honest, I got about half way through reading it before I realised the blogger wasn't talking about the way that teachers are viewed in the UK.

He/she says that some people have asked why he/she often says that teachers are used as scapegoats on which to heap the blame for all society's ills. So many of the articles I've read in the news media recently keep reinforcing this idea as we're continually fed the idea that there are too many underperforming teachers, and too many underperforming schools. No doubt there are some. But I can honestly say that in all the schools I've worked in since I qualified - and they've all been tough schools - the staff is, on the whole, incredibly hard-working and dedicated.

Add to these misconceptions that there is a new chief of Ofsted who believes that a Principal or Head is "doing something right" if someone tells them that staff morale is at an all time low - and you can't wonder at the fact that a recent survey conducted by the NASUWT stated that around 50% of teachers want out, and the only thing that's keeping them where they are is the fact that the economy has gone down the toilet and there are no jobs out there.
caz963: (winter trees arch)
A real life post! Blimey :)

Cut to maintain sanity of the f-list! )
caz963: (R2D2)
According to The Independent Overseas Students are Better at English than we Brits.

Yep. That's because they're actually TAUGHT English, rather than what seems to pass for it now.

Case in point. My eldest, who is now in year 6, has had a couple of bits of English homework over the last couple of weeks or so which have involved her having to write a reasonably formal letter on each occasion. Okay, she's ten, so we're not talking serious business letters here, but she doesn't seem to have actually been taught what to do and what not to do. Like not starting the body of the letter with "hello".

She's good at English - or what is nowadays known as "literacy" - but she still makes mistakes with "there, their and they're". One of the comments I seem to write over and over when I'm marking is "CHECK your work."

I'm seriously considering writing a note to her teacher asking her just why she's been set these particular pieces of homework if she's not actually covered in class what she needs to do in order to be able to do it. Homework is supposed to be about re-inforcement, not giving a kid a task they have no idea how to do. It's either that, or I'll write the bloody thing and see if the teacher notices.
caz963: (doc & donna laughing)
My contract arrived in the post this morning - and the good news is it starts on April 1st (!) so I'll get paid over the Easter Holiday! Even better is the fact that my current contract doesn't run out until April 19th, so I'll have an extra few quid - although that won't last long before it gets swallowed up.

And here's some funny that's doing the rounds at school -

Dumbing down? Surely not! )

Lemme tell ya - from what I've seen, that's not so far from the truth!
caz963: (josh over paper)
Half term at last! I’m going to try to have a bit of a break this week, although I’m going to have to do some work at some point. We’re going away for a couple of days at the end of the week, so I’ll have to get to it sooner rather than later. I had a lazy day today though - I didn't get up until about ten, and then fell asleep on the sofa after lunch for about three hours! I hate doing that though, because I feel as though I've just wasted the day.

It’s the first time I’ve worked full-time since I trained – even though I’m still working at two schools, and one of my jobs isn’t permanent. At school #2 I’m basically setting up a department from scratch, which is good experience, I hope. Although given the paucity of teaching jobs in my subject in this area, I have no idea when the experience of being a de-facto head of department will come in useful. And the school I’m at still isn’t in a position to be able to offer me a permanent position. I can’t remember if I’ve explained this before, but I’m currently covering for someone on long-term sick-leave. If I’m still there at Easter (and the school has said they do want me to stay on after Christmas), then she’ll have been off for a year. I don’t know the regulations, but I guess they’re obliged to keep her job open, even though she hadn’t been at the school for more than a couple of days!

But I’m enjoying it, despite the uncertainty. Even though I’m only there three days a week, I feel as though I’m a valued part of the team, my input and suggestions are taken seriously – and it’s a hell of a confidence boost. It reminds me that I am good at this – I couldn’t have done it a few years ago, and probably even last year would have still been thinking I couldn’t do it, but it’s amazing what you can dredge up when you have to!

And in this week's news... )

Rant over for now. I'm just waiting to see what enormities of stupidity the next week brings.
caz963: (good grief)
So this week, I found out that not only do I have to teach kids how to read music and remind them to learn their French vocabulary - I'm supposed to be on Terrorist Watch as well.

Tinker, tailor, TEACHER, spy... )

And as if that weren't enough, the weeks' second initiative is that, in addition to being judged on exam performance and test results, schools will now be scrutinized to see how well they "promote pupils' well-being."

Rant II - Attack of the Morons )
We are so completely screwed.
caz963: (punctuation)
It's been a busy week, and I'm knackered. Which is pretty much my default position these days.

Anyway, I've been entertaining myself this evening reading some education blogs which I discovered courtesy of the Times School Gate blog.

Anyone out there who's a teacher or anything to do with education, if you're not already reading this one - Scenes from the Battleground by oldandrew, it's a really good read. Thoughtful posts and some funny, too, like this -

Rewriting the dictionary

excerpt )

Frighteningly accurate!

And on a more serious note, a really good discussion about inclusion policy.

I've added links to this and other blogs to my sidebar for anyone who's interested.
caz963: (different)
Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a fan of sport. So I'm not following the Olympics, although I will admit to being pleased that for once, the Brits aren't coming last at everything! And I'm pleased for the athletes who have worked and trained hard to achieve what they've achieved - their success is clearly deserved.

But reading this article in the Times today has given me pause for thought. In Arts and Heritage pay the price for Gold, the columnist points out that, although we can certainly attribute some of this newfound success to sports funding from the National Lottery, in order to achieve the same - and possibly greater - success in 2012, lots of other organisations that normally benefit from Lottery funding will be losing out. Word is that arts funding will be cut by at least 20%, with a figure of 35% being spoken of just as frequently. The Heritage Lottery Fund, which has been responsible for restoration work at York Minster, projects to introduce kids to archaeology, recovery of community woodland; is losing over £160 million. The "good causes" fund is losing over £200 million because money is being diverted to the Olympics.

Olympics, schmolympics )
caz963: (josh over paper)
The A level results came out today amidst the usual accusations that they've been dumbed down and that the qualifications aren't worth the paper they're written on.

Sadly I think this isn't all that far off the mark - although I do feel sorry for all those kids who've worked hard for their exams only to hear all day long that the exams are much easier than they used to be.

Again - I think that's true, but it's not the students' fault, and they should be allowed to feel proud of their achievements.

The trouble is, of course, that universities and employers are now finding it difficult to distinguish between those who are well-educated and those who are well-schooled in the art of passing tests. As one commenter to one of the Times articles says, we need to distinguish between those pupils who work hard and A levels being hard - the kids do work hard, but they're just not expected to reach the same standards.

I don't want to sound like a moany old bag, but A levels today are easier than they were twenty years ago. For example - when I took mine in 1982, A grades were pretty rare. And to get three or more As, you had to be a very exceptional student. And the mark scheme was roughly akin to that used for degrees - to get an A or a first, you'd need about 70% overall, for a B or a 2,i, 60%, for a C or 2,ii about 50% etc.

A couple of years ago, before I went back to work, I decided to do A level English Literature - I love reading "the classics" and had wanted to do English at school, but wasn't able to because of a timetable clash with A level Maths. For me, now, the current "modular" system employed is ideal, because it meant I was able to study as and when I wanted and take the units in more or less whatever order suited me. I took a couple of papers at a time, and have done four of the six required - I don't know if I'll ever get around to completing it! But on the last two papers I took - neither of them incidentally texts with which I was familiar before I studied them (one was a restoration comedy, the other poetry by Philip Larkin) I achieved a mark of well over 90%. I was gobsmacked - so much so that I rang the exam board to check they hadn't made a mistake. Okay, so I was about twenty years older than the majority of the candidates and I can actually write and express myself properly, but "in my day", a mark like that was unheard of.

So on the one hand, we have headlines touting the soaring grades and trumpeting the fact that, for the first time in years, there are more kids taking Maths and Science - and on the other, we have reports telling us that A levels are to get tougher after another year of top results.

Um... if the A levels we have now are 'fit for purpose', as many in the first article claim - why do they need to be made harder?

To me, this looks like just another band-aid in yet another ridiculous attempt to fix something which requires major surgery. Until we get rid of all the unecessary testing we now have in the education system and start teaching kids things they need to know, and - more importantly - how to think for themselves, instead of just teaching them how to pass tests, this situation isn't going to improve. We'll continue to hear about falling standards, and the kids who have worked hard, nonetheless will continue to feel that they're being moaned at unfairly.

Round 2 next week when the GCSE results come out.
caz963: (facts)
Remember that advert for teacher recruitment I complained about a while back?

The one that mentioned a salary of £34k, implying (to my mind) that that was a starting salary?

Well, the ASA has banned it for "being misleading."

The Advertising Standards Authority said the advert suggested a starting salary about £14,000 higher than the real one of £20,133 for outer London.

It featured a teacher of "youthful appearance" while a voice-over said "you could earn 34 grand a year".

An ASA spokeswoman said the television advert breached advertising rules because it suggested a newly qualified teacher could earn £34,000.


The TDA is annoyed though, because only two people complained out of the millions who watched the ad. Um. Maybe that could be because only a small proportion of those "millions" were in a position to know the ad was talking bollocks.

Also (you can tell I've been catching up on my news feeds, can't you? *g*), Parents lack the skills to bring up children and the Government is palming off the responsibility to schools, teachers warned today. from the Times, says that said that Government policies meant teachers were now responsible for children's weight and diction as well as stopping them joining gangs, carrying weapons and drinking alcohol.

Yeah, and we can't do all that and teach them to read, write and add up at the same time! There aren't enough hours in the day.
caz963: (Po)
Took the kids to see Kung Fu Panda yesterday, which was a lot of fun. Interesting to see the Beeb advertising in cinemas - this time it was the Cbeebies channel for under sevens. Must be costing them a fair bit.

And then the trailers - Wall-E of course, which I'm looking forward to; I didn't realise there was yet another Mummy movie on the way, but Elinor wants to see it... maybe I'll send her with Grandad for a change!

We had a good day - except for one thing about which I'm going to rant now.

ranting within )

meh...

Oct. 9th, 2005 04:41 pm
caz963: (Default)
So... I think I've finished my "to do" list for this weekend (at 4.45pm on Sunday afternoon!). Lesson plans for Yr 8 this week - I've got a class 1st thing Monday morning (ug!) and have had to change the plans over the weekend because all the class laptops are being updated. Sooo... had to think of something to keep a class of 25 12/13 year olds occupied for half an hour... not an easy task, but I think I've come up with something. I also have my first Yr10 class (GCSE) tomorrow, which I'm a bit nervous about... it's my head of dept's class normally, but I'll be taking it over eventually. I'm quite pleased with the lesson I've come up with - just hope I can get through it all.
Done my weekly journal entry - I rambled on for almost 4 pages! I knew the training year was going to be full of paperwork, and I don't think next year (assuming I make it that far) is going to be much better... but I guess I'm enjoying it so far. I like most of the kids in my classes (although there are a few horrors!), but the one thing about the profession which really bugs me is that I can't think of another profession where you are continually having to pull yourself to pieces and put yourself back together again. I mean, after every lesson, you have to take stock of what you did, what worked, what didn't, why it didn't, what you can do better next time - which, yeah, is all very well and good, but sometimes it's a bit disheartening. I mean, when you've given a lesson you think went pretty well, you've STILL got to find something you did wrong! grrr...
Well, I'm still learning, so I'd expect that, but I bet I'll be a bit more pissed off about it once I'm qualified...

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December 2012

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