Friday, 31 August 2007
To be honest sometimes I feel bad .... Like now ... but other times I remember my childhood amd my family and it makes me happy.
I woke up this morning in a very silly mood. You know I was thinking I don't know why people take drugs, all they actually need to do is have a bit of my DNA and once they have done that they will see the world through my eyes, which believe me is looking rather frogtastic at the moment.
When I was in Scotland, a few weeks ago now, I was cycling through the village where my father was born and grew up, Pitcairn. I nearly fell off my bike when I heard this really peculiar noise coming from a nearby field, it was a bit like pigs squealing. I discovered to my surprise two of them, what I can only describe as 'creatures' rolling around in the grass, playing with each other. I thought, 'bloody hell, what are those little things?' I got off my bike and went over to take a closer look. Upon my initial inspection they looked a bit like squirrels. But, then I thought, 'hang on a minute, those things can't be squirrels, they don't have bushy tails for one, and they're darker than your average squirrels. And as for their bodies, well, they're longer .... Do you know what I don't what the fuck they are'. So, instead of carrying on with my bike ride and cycling all the way to Birnam, I went home and told my father about them.
He said shaking his head in disbelief, 'No Catriona, they were not deformed squirrels. What you obviously saw were weasels, playing with each other, rolling around in the grass'.
Frogtastic Revolution - Put down your guns, take off your bras, burn your underpants and join us all in the frogtastic revolution.
I used to be part of the frogtastic revolution, like all the other kids on my street. Well, I mean there was about three of us actually. Me, Lindsay G and my sister Isobel, and occasionally we persuaded Jill with the albino rabbit to get involved. We used go down to the fields, start by feeding the cows, then walk over a few more fields and then down past the observatory where there was a pond, this was our final destination. We all came equipped with long white buckets which my dad had retrieved from his factory. We put on our marigolds and the whole thing began. It was a sticky, messy business, but we were well prepared, we had our green horse riding boots on, I've forgotton what you call them.
Knee deep we waded through the water and got our prizes - frog spawn - heaps and heaps of the stuff. And we carried it home, mission accomplished, two buckets for each girl. The buckets would be kept behind the house and every morning progress was monitored. Then it happened, one evening we were all watching TV in the lounge and my mother started screaming, 'Peter! Peter! My God, what are all of those frogs doing in our garden?'. We loved it we ran outside and chased them all around the garden. With all of the commotion going on the neighbours came out, wondering why my mother was so hysterical, and wondering why our garden was awash with frogs. I shouted out to them 'Don't worry it's the frogtastic revolution!!'
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Justin, my best mate from Tottenham has just phoned. This is our conversation.
Justin: I need to ask you something.
Me: Go ahead. What is it?
Justin: Are you on medication?
Me: No, I am NOT!
Justin: Okay. I think that perhaps you should consider it.
Me: Cheeky bugger, get lost!
Justin: Perhaps we can go for a drink later, share a beer, with two straws.
Justin: I've just spoken to my grandmother on the phone, she told me to "Fuck-off!" She's mad, just like you. She hung up on me. I was only wishing her happy birthday.
Me: What prompted the call?
Justin: I am fed-up. I met a friend on Sunday, he was an hour late, and when he turned up, he just sat there snogging another guy.
Me: Why didn't you walk out?
Justin: I did in the end. When are you back?
Me: Me? I don't know, probably later on this afternoon.
Justin: You should give the doctor a rest, he needs his space.
Me: Right I'm off now.
Justin: Oh, by the way can you get your phone charged up, because every time I call you, it charges me forty pence.
Me: Okay, will do. Bye, love you.
Justin: Oh, and another thing no drinking on the train .... come straight home.
Me: What are you? My mother? Have some respect.
YoU SEE, WHEN I WAS A KID AT SCHOOL I USED TO RUN AROUND THE PLAYGROUND PRETENDING TO BE MISS PIGGY. i USED TO GO "hi-yaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrr!!!!!"
It's a lot of fun, I can recommend it. I am going to try it on the doctor later.
Monday, 27 August 2007
Sports Day was a Success. According the PR Management Team, sorry I mean the Senior Management Team.
So, let's just recap. What exactly was my year all about? Did I manage to engage with some of the children, and teach them anything about the dramatic arts? Was I able to impart some of my knowledge about life, and equip them with new life skills? Because let's face it being a teacher is not just about teaching your subject.
Yes, actually I did, with some of them anyway, my year sevens, mostly.
Since September I had spent the year trying to get help with one particular class. The class from hell! Yet, I spent the year being IGNORED.
I, meticulously completed ALL of the time consuming, but necessary paperwork, which has to be done in order for the appropriate action to be taken, by the senior management team – but, they simply brushed it off – blaming my inability to come up with new and exciting teaching strategies.
Mostly the students’ behaviours were dangerous, and to put it bluntly, I did not feel safe in the room with some of them.
As I have already stated; I followed the schools' procedure of filling out the necessary forms, making phone calls to parents, regularly speaking to the relevant senior management team, assigned to year nine, expressing my concerns about this volatile group. Instead, I was criticised by the year nine team, for writing too many of these 'referral forms'. I was told that I had to find different strategies for dealing with the class. "Have you thought perhaps of teaching the lesson in a classroom, as opposed to the drama studio? Perhaps making the lesson more written based would help to alleviate some of the behavioural issues." Did this stop the violence, the fights, and the other anti-social behaviour? No, so I continued to report it, and nothing happened. They basically left me to it, and like a corpse I started to rot. It was only during the last couple of weeks, at the end of the summer term, when one of deputy heads managed to come down to the drama studio, where she witnessed it for herself, first hand. In fact the poor woman was actually hurt trying to break up one of their many fights. It was only then that she turned to me and said in a rather frazzled state, "These boys are not safe, they cannot possibly be in the same room together, next week they will have to be removed from the lesson altogether". All too late, I am afraid, because at this stage of the game, the kids have lost all respect for me because none of the senior management team took me seriously and took any action to rectify the problems.I felt extremely undermined. I wonder if it is this type of attitude from them that has caused the department to have such a high turnover of staff. I believe it’s something like four drama teachers in the last four years. The school should take at least some ownership of this, and ask themselves, well, why? Why is it that all of our drama teachers leave after only one year? Mmmm, it’s a tough one.
Sports Day - was a cosmetic exercise which I found to be highly superficial, reminds me of Blair's government, ironically – it’s all show and no substance.
One of the boys who was regularly violent in my classroom and just a vile individual in general, (that we all just had to put with) was made a hero on sports day. He might be a thug, but do you know what, he's a great athlete, who makes our school look good.
According to the head Sports Day was a big success. Despite the fact that the children left all of their rubbish on the floor of the stadium, they trashed it basically, nobody even thought to ask them to pick it all up. I felt ashamed of the mess they left behind. Some students even spent the morning throwing empty food cartons at the staff, but that's okay because sports day was a success.
The Thug that pissed in a student's bag.
My GCSE Drama results were painfully low and I am depressed about them. I worked tirelessly hard. Any idiot can get a GCSE in drama, and to be honest any idiot could teach GCSE Drama.
I took over the kids in year 11, and they had done NO coursework at all, but I believed that this was a very doable thing to accomplish, after all it's not rocket science, and if we all work together we can do this.
There were about six boys in that lesson that had no desire to gain drama as a GCSE. They were the usual – abusive, lazy, angry young men. They went out of their way every single lesson, to destroy it, and they succeeded. Again, I followed the schools’ discipline procedures, and again nothing happened. They left me alone with those animals, which confused me, because my degree is in Theatre Studies and not Zoology.
I kept turning up, with my lessons planned, and so did they – turn up, destroying everything that I had created.
A week before the drama exam I emailed the senior management team, reminding them of the exam, and requesting support because I knew things were going to kick off, and get nasty – they replied by saying, “No, we can’t support you, if we do this then we have to support everyone else, we have a school to run”. As predicted, there was a riot. The head HAD to come down – because things just spiralled out of control: The examiner nearly fainted. They were aggressive towards her, complaining about the running order I had created. She started shaking and said, “I think I am going to faint, can you get me a cup of tea please”. So, I made her a cup of tea, she then called the examinations board and said the following, “It’s been a difficult day here today at Hackney _________________. Because of all of the trouble should the teacher write into the board and ask for special consideration?”
Special consideration means that kids with learning or behavioural issues (who fucked their exam up, due to vile behaviour) will be given special consideration and possibly a better grade. Not on, they knew exactly what they were doing. They were being really vile. They should have all failed.
Let me just go back a few weeks to the incident involving the ‘pissy’ bag. As per usual I called for a senior teacher to the lesson; one of the deputy heads came down to speak to the boys, because they were being worse than usual. The deputy head said, “Just leave them, they’re unteachable, work with the ones that want to learn”. All I wanted was for him to remove the dross, but no, we’re not allowed to do that in my school, because my school promotes inclusive education, which means everyone has to be treated equally, and no one can be excluded from the lesson.
So, I left them. The rest of us went out to rehearse in the hall – at last progress! We were all feeling pleased with ourselves, we had achieved something. Towards the end of the lesson one of the girls returned to the drama studio to discover that her bag was soaking wet. She then proceeded to hand me the bag and shouted at me (because they blamed me for everything) “Miss! Why is my bag wet?”
I then put my hand in the bag, which came out wet, smelling my hand and I could smell urine, “Oh my God Estella! Someone has pissed in your bag!” I realise now in retrospect, saying the word ‘pissed’ to a student is unprofessional, but at the time I was utterly shocked and disgusted. I then stormed into my office to phone for back-up, to find that someone had pissed in my office as well.
Anyway, let’s back track a bit more, to the very beginning of that lesson, Kyle comes in with two hundred and fifty pounds cash, which he proceeds to throw up into the air and shouts “Scramble!” He has clearly been taking something, because his behaviour is even more erratic than usual, and his eyes are just wild.
Only one boy is brave enough to scramble around on the floor, and pick up all of the notes. Kyle then turns to him and says “You keep all of that to yourself!” Kyle is a local gangster; he wears a knife vest for protection, under his school skirt. Scary kid, it’s a shame about him because he does have talent. I did try very hard to reach out to him because I could see so much potential within him – but I think his work on the street is more appealing than my pathetic desire to get him a GCSE in Drama.
What chance did any of us have? Really disappointed, as I said a GCSE in Drama is a very obtainable qualification, it’s also a lot of fun, but they blew it – not so much the kids (?), but the senior management team. They should not have allowed monsters like this into mainstream education. Fuck inclusion – it does not work.
My school is a marketing exercise, a facade. Even the Ofsted inspector got hurt last September/October in the English corridor, but they still rubber stamped it, and allowed the school to pass its inspection. Really appalling. On paper, yes the school works, but the reality is that it isn’t working and that it is failing the good kids.
I’ll keep this one short because I know my writing is rather pants.
I felt compelled to write down my thoughts on the problems of anti-social behaviour. The thing is, I have seen enough anti-social behaviour in the last five years to realise the following:
· That on the whole parents are useless. They don’t know how to be responsible – they do very little in fact to support their offspring through their school career. They expect the school to do every bloody little thing. If they carry on like this they may even start asking teachers to wipe their bums for them, do their housework for them, drive them to KFC to pick up a collection of McChicken McNasties for them etc.
· What parents are good at is complaining and blaming far too much, “Why has my son, got a permanently snotty nose since he started at this school? He never had this at his last school!”
· Me: “Well, perhaps if you started feeding him more greens, instead of going to KFC …..”
· That children are never properly disciplined and therefore never really see what the true consequences of their actions are.
· It’s all process and procedure/form filling/no real action is ever taken – it’s all cosmetic basically, lip service.
Ultimately, our schools are microcosm of the society that we live in. Therefore we MUST get tougher and adopt a policy of zero tolerance to ALL forms of anti-social behaviour. If children see that it’s basically an acceptable norm in our mainstream schools, then this will spill out into our streets and communities. And, this is exactly what is occurring right now.
Last week on the radio, a man who lives in the community where the little boy was shot, said that he and his family do not go out after , because they are too frightened of the youths from the neighbouring estate. He also stated that many of the residents had complained several times to the police but that nothing was ever done about it, by the police.
Parents/guardians/kids sign a contract at school which states that the school has a zero policy to any form of anti-social behaviour, particularly violence. Stating that it has no place within the mainstream of our schools or indeed our society. If it does occur the child is with immediate effect permanently excluded, and withdrawn from mainstream education.
Another thing that gets on my nerves is that teachers build up a case against a difficult child (one, who has been violent, abusive, disruptive etc) and the parents appeal and the child ends up staying in the school. The kid comes back with glee in his face “Ha ha ha, you can’t get rid of me!” The other children see this and think, “Mmmmm we can get away with anything at this place”.
The problem is there are too many appeals, too many people scared of offending people. If a kid is bad chuck him out – I think there is an island off the
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
I have recently received an email from a university lecturer who is based in the North West, who thinks I have blackened his good name, on my blog. I must point out to this man that the names used on this blog are fictional, and are not based on real people. This is a surreal blog, with mostly made up nonsense. I cannot believe he is taking this blog seriously, when it is so obviously nonsense.
If I have caused offence in anyway then I apologise - it just happens to be a coincidence. I have tried to change the name on the post 'I was in Shameless Once', posted in March, but the blog is not allowing me to do so. I will try again later.
Friday, 10 August 2007
I must say Justin Hinchcliffe is very good at going out and delivering leaflets, in all kinds of weather conditions, as boring and as tedious as this type of work might be it is essential. Small acorns ………. Big trees ……….. and all that.
Thursday, 9 August 2007
9th August 2027.
Dear Doctor F,
You mentioned recently in your notes to me the Conservative blogger known as Croydonian. I have to say that I have met this gentleman only once. This was at a Conservative Blogger Awards evening, hosted by Conservative Home, held at some public house somewhere in the centre of the golden metropolis. As I recall this was one evening some months ago now.
For some bizarre reason we struck up a conversation about a rather unfortunate experience I had encountered in Devon. This was many, many years ago now: I recount the story in a pseudo Mancunian accent "I was standing at some traffic lights in Brixham and a rather large gull was hovering above my delicate head and it decided to relieve itself (it had a bowel movement) and consequently its shit landed down one side of my face. I then had to run into the adjacent pub (I was going there anyway) to seek immediate face washing facilities - I looked like a right tit as I sprinted past the bar with the white bird crap dripping off the end of my nose.
Anyway this Croydonian bloke was very sympathetic to my rather unfortunate encounter, and invited me to observe an usual experiment he wanted to conduct off Brighton Pier. It involved the following aparatus:
a) a large portion of Harry Ramsden's fish 'n' chips.
b) a bottle of French Mustard.
c) a bottle of English Mustard.
d) some surgical rubber gloves.
e) a catapult.
f) one pint sized beer glass - to put the mustard in.
His hypothesis is this: - that if you dip a Harry Ramsden's chip in mustard and catapult it up into the air, the greedy seagull will eat it and then the gull will explode.
If you try different mustard on different gulls the bird will do one of the following, all depending on the brand of mustard and the breed of bird, of course.
5) turn into Hunter and Shooter.
So, Doctor F I hope this paints a much clearer picture.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Spokesman and former college principal Will Fitzgerald, who met RDA officials, said: "We are totally in favour of Cornwall becoming a thriving place with the university and the arts, but it should not be at the expense of our community and lives being destroyed in south Devon."
The RDA is crucial to the move because it distributes EU convergence funding in the region.
The college move is expected to cost about £25m according to a report by consultants Burns Owens for the RDA, most of which is being sought from EU convergence funding.
Mr Fitzgerald said: "Moving one asset from our part of the South West to another part of the South West is not what this money is for.
"If you are going to spend money on moving it, why not spend money to allow it to stay in Dartington?
"It has been a stitch-up.
"We want a government inquiry that considers all the options, including staying at Dartington."
He added: "We are under no illusions that we are taking on formidable forces, but we are sure that what we are asking for is right."
Dartington Hall Trust, which owns the college site, says that it does not have the £20m needed to update the college's facilities and therefore the college must move or face closure.
Research for the RDA estimated that the south Devon area would lose about £5m a year if the college moves.
An RDA spokesman said: "We have not received a formal request for funding and no decisions have been taken to allocate RDA or European funding to help relocate the college.
"The assessment of any future bid would quite rightly look in detail at the current situation and weigh up the potential economic costs and benefits to the region of supporting the college's relocation to Cornwall or other options."
Dartington College of Arts is part of the 850-acre Dartington country estate. This was created in 1925 by the US heiress Dororthy Elmhirst and her husband. The estate is home to many arts centres and summer festivals, as well as the Schumacher College. The closure of this college will be devastating for many reasons, not just to the local community in South Hams, but it will also impact upon the college's international status and reputation. The college has to be situated in the grounds of Dartington - that's part of the magic and the experience and what makes it, what it is. This college has been a centre of excellence for many significant years, for all three disciplines music, art and theatre, although it is more famous for its music festival and college. It exudes vibrancy and is the soul of some revolutionary art work. Move it to another location and the whole thing dies.
The college has trained or employed some of the largest and most successful names in the arts, including Benjamin Britten, Ravi Shankar and John Cage.
Mr Brook said: "Dartington College of Arts is more than a priceless institution, it is a living, evolving presence.....My deepest hope is that everything possible be explored and implemented to enable this work to continue in its present context and location."
Contact: Anthony Steen MP if you want to save this college from closure.