Funland- part one.

In 1969 Roger McGough wrote a poem called Funland. It was published in a small book of poems entitled ‘Watch Words’. After what has happened in this country this summer?, I think some of the words may apply. Here is the last verse:

There is a place called Funland

To the north of Germany

And many many years ago

They say it used to be 

A country called England

And that apparently

The sad-eyed clowns who work there

Once had all been free.

I guess it was written about very different times, just after a summer known as the ‘summer of love’! Hardly applies to this summer,  as we see a rise in incidents of hate across our land and, indeed across the world, too! So what has happened? I am sure the seeds of this malaise were sown some time ago, when we stopped being a society. Sometime around that period when the last woman became our PM, amazingly with the same initials as our present incumbent: MT, now we have TM. 

Well I wonder what has happened in between those two times, between then and now. The rich have certainly done well, extremely well. The middle class have kidded themselves that they too have done quite well but that is only because both partners  are now working 24/7 to keep up a certain lifestyle which gives them access to all that luxury they always craved…holidays in exotic places and new cars every three or so years, not to mention new furniture, new house, new everything. Why? Because the media, which invades all our lives, even if we try to avoid it, tells us that’s the way to live. ‘TINA’ MT said that, too:  ‘there is no alternative’…  We now live in a world where the very rich are lauded before us like gods. Where knights of the realm, knighted by our ‘glorious majesty’, can openly rob pension funds and feel totally entitled to taking hundreds of millions from their pension contributors to buy a third luxury yacht. What is more they can and do get away scott free and who pays? the rest of us. ‘ Thank you’is not even thought about. The rich view the ‘rest of us’ as scum to be exploited at every turn to make them richer and richer and richer. 

‘Greed is good’ quoted our new Foreign Secretary when he was mayor of London. Well it sure is for some! 

So what now? The destruction which has happened to our communities in this country, communities which used to stand for something has meant that people feel disempowered and angry. Angry is the new disposition of the masses. Think about it! We now accept road rage and abuse of anyone who does something which upsets us  as normal and we feel justified in getting angry at the ‘drop of a hat’…Why? When did that become the default way to be? When did getting along with people, any people, become obsolete? Now we stick to those we like. Those who look like us and think like us. Difference is abhorrent! Why?

It is because this way of life just isn’t working for us. Survey after survey proves that the wealthier we get in financial terms, the unhappier we are. Obviously this excludes the very wealthy who feel justified in shitting on all of us and are, no doubt, the happiest they have ever been! 

So what next? We now blame the latest scapegoats, ‘immigrants’ or ‘refugees’ or indeed anyone who we can find to blame. Paradoxically no blame, which sticks,  is apportioned to those who are really to blame, the rich establishment. Why is that? Because, basically we are subserviant and have learned to be so from an early age. Did Brexit, the vote to leave the EU, really stand for anything other than frustration at the system. Did those who voted Leave, really believe that things would be better once we said fuck off to the EU, once we could isolate ourselves from those terrorist filled countries across the Chanel? I don’t think many truly believed anything other than a vote which said ‘Fuck all of you, who have done this to me!’ It was a vehicle to legally express frustration and anger. I am sure there were a few people, mostly quite well off, who genuinely wanted to fuck EU bureaucracy and ‘get their country back’. What country they believed they were getting back, I am not sure,  but they are deluded if they think we can return to former glory days, which only ever existed for a few anyway.

Welcome to Funland….

(To be continued…….)

Down the drain…

A poem from my partner which sums up our feelings right now:

Down the drain
We longed for this season

All through winter and spring

We dreamt of the sunshine

That summer would bring

Instead we are drowning 

In downpours of rain

And mourn as our summer

Is washed down the drain

The raindrops keep falling

All mixed up with hail

Our skin’s full of goosebumps 

And looks sickly pale

We expected a real tan

And skies that are clear

Not one from a spray can

At this time of year

The water keeps tipping

Each day from the sky

Umbrellas are dripping

And spokes poke your eye

Our clothes are all soggy

It’s hard to keep dry

The gardens are boggy

We just want to cry

The BBQ’s rusting

In the wet and the grey

The wind keeps on gusting

Blowing summer away

Clouds empty their bowels

On us down below

With weather so foul

Our spirits are low

We had dreams of summer

Balmy evenings and Pimms

But the rain is a bummer

In a season of whims

Flash floods, swollen rivers

Follow storm after storm 

It gives us the shivers

Is this the new norm?

We hear of the Gulf Stream

So wayward, gone ‘silly’

El Niño, global warming

All make us feel chilly

The icebergs are melting

We are playing with fire

There’s world-wide pollution

We’ve sparked Gaia’s ire

We wade through the puddles

Wearing macs and our wellies

Then down some hot chocolate

To warm our bellies

While a man who befuddles

Shouts, “Let’s take control!”

Now BoJo leads Brexit

Like a self-serving troll

It signals the exit

Of the world we once knew

The climate is changing

It’s providing a clue

The globe is deranging

What the fuck do we do?

Happy Now?

Well said! Long but so so valid. Many of us feel as you do. I was really apalled by some of the Remainers who were already saying on Friday, “get over it we lost”. Well we have lost and not just the vote. We have lost our future forvyoung people and hopefully those rich peoplecwhomvotedvLeave will have lost too but I guess it is only a postponement of one of their cruises! Ironically the main losers will be those poor and disenfranchised who voted to rid their communities of immigrants. They were well and truly duped! And hatred of foreigners has been given a platform as never before! Britain First and BNP are now growing in power!

Katyboo1's Weblog

It is day four in the Big Brexit house.

I had hoped after Friday’s absolute catastrophe of a day that the country might somehow magically rally over the weekend. I mean, when you plunge your country into possible ruin on the promise of a golden future that will allow it to rise like a phoenix from the flames, you have a plan, right?

As it turns out, you don’t. The only person that seems to have any plan at all, and be acting on it rather than just spouting meaningless Churchillian rhetoric is Nicola Sturgeon, and I can’t even vote for her.

I was distraught and angry on Friday. I had hoped to feel better by today. Instead I am running on barely controlled rage and getting more enraged by the moment.

Here are a few things I am furious about:

Firstly, leave voters telling me to calm down. I’m sorry…

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The day before the Vote…’want your country back?’

On this day, I am wondering how I will feel on Friday morning. At present I am feeling quite anxious and depressed. That feeling has been induced by the lack of proper debate in this campaign and the frightening tone of much of the slogans and images from the Leave campaign. It has to be said that the Remain campaign has lacked commitment, not just from Cameron and Osborne and co but generally. I am sure this is because the powerful media seem to dominate and reduce everything to ‘sound bites’. 

I am struck by how the media has portrayed this debate. Obviously the bias from the Sun, Mail etc. has been there on a daily basis, and has represented us as a nation of xenophobic anti foreigners and football supporting louts! I really don’t feel a member of that country! In this part of the country, Surrey, I am surrounded by rich people, very rich. These people seem to have it all, large houses, large cars, horses, etc. etc. Here one finds the slogans pinned to large gates at the end of even larger drives: ‘We want our country back!’ Whose country is it? I guess these very wealthy people think that they own everything and no one else is entitled to their country. In other parts of this country the opposite end of the wealth scale also chant the same slogan ‘We want our country back!’ So that means they think it is a very different country to those in Surrey, which they want back? Or is it the same country? A country that existed decades ago.  A world where England ruled huge parts of the world. Not Britain you note! How these desperately poor people, who blame Brussels for their poverty, think that world will help them, I fail to see. One Leaver spoke in Newcastle, on Channel 4 news last evening. “Decades ago there was a fishing industry here, now there is nothing!”. Come Friday, when we ‘Leave’ does he believe that this government will magic up a fishing industry in the north east? I despair at the lack of awareness of such people. 

The problem is that no government in this country has ever wholly believed in the European project. If you travel or live in any of the major countries in Europe, France, Germany, Spain, Italy…you get a very different feel from the news reports. The media is European and one hears daily about news in other countries in the EU. In the UK one only hears about the disasters and the failures. News from Europe is exclusively bad news. The rags also only publish anti European news and sentiment. So it is hardly surprising that ordinary people in the UK do not see themselves as part of Europe.  In this debate one would think that we were already out of Europe because even those who are supporting Remain talk of Europe as separate from here. We are in Europe and should be European, at least until Friday morning. Then who knows?

Whatever the outcome and it looks bad for Remain as I write this, the campaign has unleashed the worst of this country. None of the best has been potrayed. We have seen a decent caring MP murdered in an ordinary street in an ordinary town. Even politicians in the USA, where such things are more common, were shocked!  Other Remain campaigners have suffered abuse and even death threats on a regular basis. This country is already OUT as far as it goes whatever the result. The xenophobia and hate has been given a real platform and that will not go away.

So, when you vote, all of the vast thousands who read this blog!, think of what sort of country you ‘want back’ and then you will have to live in it and so will I……..unless I can find a place to escape!

The Assessment of Attainment of Young Children

I quote from a discussion paper written by Christian Schiller for the Ministry of Education in 1946.

“They say that no one truly sees his own face. This mercy of nature comes from the fact that reflections in a mirror show partial pictures which are flat: they cannot show an object in the round. To see an object in the round it must be observed as a whole in three dimensions.

The skills of young children show reflections of their attainment, but they do not show attainment in the round. To see their attainment in the round we must observe it in their way of living. For instance, a young child’s attainment in language is reflected in his skill in the grammatical arrangement of words. But his attainment is seen in the round only by observing the ways he uses language; by the way in which he expresses his own thoughts and feelings in speech and in writing and the way he appreciates the speech and writing of others.

To assess attainment it must be observed in the round. Such observation is not easy…..Observation is sometimes used in the limited sense of noting the score on a standard scale: it will be convenient to call this  “measurement”.

Measurement has shown that at any specified age most children are, within a certain range, so many feet and inches (meters and centimeters) tall. This height and range are not constant over long periods. For instance, most children of Jarrow are now several inches taller than were most of the children of the same age at the time of the depression fifteen years ago. None the less it is valuable to measure at regular intervals a child’s height, in order to note whether he or she keeps within the range of children of the same age. But if this should not be the case, we do not assume that he or she ought to be such and such a height and strive to remove the defect by physical extension. We seek to discover if the defect is due to nuture or nature: if it is the former, we try to provide what is lacking: if it is the latter, we are content to remember that Nelson was a small man……

….an assessment of Mary Smith’s attainment in reading. Mary Smith’s score in the reading test is a measure of her skill in turning black marks into sounds. To see her attainment in the round we must observe how she reads. With what quality of understanding does she read? How fully has she experienced the enjoyment of reading? For how long does she remain interested in a book? What sort of book does she like to read? How pleasantly can she read aloud? How much can she appreciate the reading aloud of others? Does she ever read at home? And so on.. Such observation will begin to show Mary’s attainment in the round and it will begin to reveal what has been lacking.

…The skills of young children show reflections of their attainment but to assess their attainment we must see it in the round by observing it in their way of living. To make and record such observations as will give an assessment of attainment is surely one of the important tasks of the ..teacher.”

1946: So in 2016, which, if my mathematics serves, is 70 years on, our “masters” at the Ministry of Education, now Department for Education, think that measurement is all about a test score!  

Well we have come a long way haven’t we ?

Lessons from Art Lessons

Great blog! Why have so many s hools squeezed Art out of the curriculum? Oh yes because of government assessment which governs all education in state schools, including Academies!

teacherhead

The final exhibition; the culmination of an extended learning journey. The final exhibition; the culmination of an extended learning journey.

I am in the fortunate position of being the line manager for Art at KEGS and over the last couple of weeks I’ve been involved in the Art Departmental Review.  This a process that involves observing everyone in the department, giving individual feedback then team feedback and looking more widely at achievement issues overall.  We are in the second year of the process so we are building on the ideas and objectives we set out last year.  I should also say that my recent thinking about Art has also been influenced by my daughter who is taking GCSE Art and finds it to be, by far, the most rewarding, engaging, challenging subject; the most work and the most fun.

During my period of immersion in the Art world, I’ve started to think that we have a lot to learn…

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So what is so bad about Local Authorities?

As someone who has worked in and for the Local Authority during my 44 year career, I really fail to see what is so bad about them that this government feels the need to remove them from state education altogether.  Admittedly some LAs have proved to be sluggish in the extreme in dealing with failing schools, partly because of diminishing funds and increasing priorities for spending in times of declining budgets  but sometimes be ause of lack of commitment and expertise too. I certainly haven’t worked for the best Local Authorities, during my teaching career. The three,for whom I have worked, have been amongst the worst funded and least innovative but overall have aimed to provide a good level of education for its inhabitants.

I freely admit that I know very little about academies and whether or not these MATs, I hear  about, can deliver a better quality of schools for all pupils. I am aware that some have made a positive difference in some schools but I also know that some are failing too. Just like some Local Authorities!

So, why is this government so intent on “forcing” all schools into MATs( Multi Academy Trusts)?  I am sure the ministers will insist that MATs are more accountable to central government and will more readily accept thrir policies, as they are directly funded by the government, so need to “obey” to get their money. After all some locally elected councils often ” dragged their feet” when it came to implementing some policies and tried to oppose when they could…so, it stands to reason, that the government would want to rid itself of such opposition. Forgive me, but it does rather remind me of a dictatorship ridding itself of any opposing elements, or is that too strong? Anyway whatever the reason, I am convinced that providing a better quality of schooling is not the whole reason for this policy.

Since Margaret Thatchet coined theimmortal phrase: “There is no such thing as society!”, the Tories aim, when in power, is to follow up on that statement and abolish the state in all its forms. We see this in many manifestations, not least the manner in which their policies are eating away at the NHS and other forms of universal welfare provision. My fear is that by 2020 this process will be well down the road to completion.

There appears to be little opposition to the Academisation policy of this government. Maybe the Local Authorities are only too glad to relinquish their role in supporting schools. I am sure Tory run councils are right behind it!  The main opposition should come from parents and teachers,  in my opinion. So far their voices are not being heard. Not sure why this should be the case! I guess teachers have been beaten up for so long by both government and the media that they are both individually and collectively so demoralised that, like so many tortured prisoners their will has been smashed!

So, I remain sceptical that MATs will do any better than LAs did. The answer for our children and young people is to make every school a great place of learning and that can only be done by those working in the school…not hugely remunerated Chief executives of MATs or equally well paid ministers….so over to the teachers, as always!