Saturday, 26 April 2014

To parliamentarians on the occasion of Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday: A Pox on Both your houses.

April 26th 2014

I have to give you bad news today and it is an unsweetened pill.  You will know that Mr Gove (an early blog appearance as usual)is very, very opposed to students taking their exam qualifications before the age of 16. He is likewise against what he calls “gaming” when schools enter children more than once for an exam or resit to get a better mark. Ofqual admit to “several thousand” mark changes on appeal but we are to be stopped appealing.  So he has announced that schools will be barred and penalized for such wrongdoings. Bravo, Brave Gove, to stand up and tell off the private schools, who have been gaming forever, with such unequivocal bluntness is worthy of admiration, adulation and a new job. Or can it be that these new rules are going to apply only to the public sector, can it? That would be obscenely beneath the “all in it together” mantra our prime Minister declares. When aliens took the life form of Michael Gove, the 21st century bogeyman getting away scott free with destroying our schools they avoided both glamour and shame.
The identikit Tory-Labour parties have ignored the electorate, effectively promoting the nauseating, dangerously divisive UKIP offering answers to voters real concerns – wrong answers, ill thought out and contradictory answers but nonetheless populist nasty stuff which appeals to people losing hope as their standards of living continue to decline.

I was recently asked to write something for a magazine and they are publishing the blog-type ranting leaving me to find an alternative to the quiet piece which ended quite hopefully:

“..the terrible beauty of learning, the textures and belief in teaching, the joy and delight in achievement… transcending baffled incredulity and wounded self-belief. Lotta continua, Mickey, that struggle continues.”

I explained last month how Gove became Mickey and I also mentioned Ukrainian blog readers. Well, Mickey hasn’t bothered replying but 30 Ukranians read my stuff one day last week. Worryingly for Farage they mainly hit upon “How to choose a secondary school,” so maybe they have plans to visit. If I really want to wind up the bucolic UKIP –there’s been 83 blogs read in Poland, 219 in Germany and, please explode Nigel, 139 in France. What if all these literate discerning adults descended on us with their fancy skills and bilingualism?

Our symbol of democracy, The House of Commons united in eloquent opposition to the abuse of one of its members. Apparently, Christian Torres (Chelsea South) had not claimed expenses for the bus ride to his constituency party's fete. The ever so thorough MPs’ committee for looking into MPs’ expenses regretted that his claim was two years out of date. “It was an innocent mistake,” he chimed, “and now I am being victimised. That I overlooked the rules should not penalise me… I forgot to claim the £2.20… I was only on the dammed bus as part of a publicity stunt… and even though my mum paid the fare I want the money… and I don't get paid enough…. and bigger boys made me do it, one of whom may have been my partner but I was afraid to mention that, so I want to claim his fare too. Anyway, when did we start having to submit genuine, timely expenses claims?”

Fancifully creative writing, of course.That didn’t really happen; the next lot did.

Culture Secretary, Maria Miller with a trifling expenses difficulty, was ordered to repay £45,000 by the Commons Watchdog. The MPs own committee reduced her repayment to £5,800. Having obstructed the investigation she was ordered to apologise and did so with a teenage petulant 32 seconds of the tiniest, most begrudging,“ I’ve been told to apologise.” Her fellow MPs hurried to her side whilst she spoke. Yes, they said, “Were certainly in this together!”

Prime Minister Cameron has gone all religious (vote for him wont you) and declared us a Christian country as he spouted beliefs and values based on god stuff, admitting he is a somewhat occasional Christian. Every man needs a creed at election time.

There’s something fishy going on in Birmingham. It may be a big fat hoax of a letter left lying around in an editor’s intray or a real attempt by some Muslims to take over the management, curriculum and pastoral care in some schools.

There are at least three enquiries being done in Birmingham today and Gove (really having a laugh) has set his own underway, naturally led by a supremely unqualified guy, Peter Clarke, fresh from running the counter terrorism unit at Scotland Yard. Google the investigation and The Telegraph have it under “terrorism.” May I offer a “for God’s sake!” here as Gove equates Muslims with terrorism.

I was a victim in  catholic schools where we went to benediction  and mass in  school time; we mimed hymns in assembly, were taught that we would go to hell if we attended another faith’s ceremonies, whilst priests and nuns beat us with equanimity. It’s dead easy to be a Catholic school headteacher as the talent pool is restricted to those who can produce a priest’s certificate of attendance. Herabouts you also have to take pledges like “veritas” and “caring for all children” with a pinch of salt.

 Sikhs, Jews and Hindus have their own schools proposing their own way out of reality and Church of England schools contain more kids than churchgoers. Isn’t it all right for religious groupings to run their own schools, with divisive admissions policies, prayers and interesting curriculum bias financed by the state? If Muslims are doing so is it really any of Gove’s business?

Gove recently allocated funds for five free schools, obviously free from terrorist associations. They are Jewish free schools: Etz Chaim (Mill Hill) Eden (Muswell Hill) Rimon (Golders Green) South London Jewish(Wimbledon) and Alma (Finchley)all recently generously state-funded.

“Faith schools make a fantastic contribution to our education system and none more so than Jewish faith school,” Education secretary Michael Gove said in December 2010.
I’m going to believe in pixies and leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold supplied by Mr Gove to those he chooses.
 I am so liberal that I have nothing religious against Jewish schools and accept that there is probably a Jewish flavour to the ethos, where Jewish governors are possibly a majority and they espouse a Jewish way of life. Nothing against Jewish schools at all. I’m just against all religion inspired schools and in favour of a “we’re all in it together” secular education system.

So Muslims up to no good in schools? Must be a terrorist issue or is it just a good old fashioned anti-foreigner alternative to UKIP in next month’s election?
To sink so low name-checking Christianity. Can we have blokes on horses crusading in the name of St George. George by the way, ironically, never set foot in England, good Turkish lad that he was.
When the deputy speaker gets cleared of serious sexual charges politicians united to bleat about "high profile people” being protected from such prosecutions, giving anonymity in trials to "people like him." All 3 parties moved to bully the CPS, protecting each other from the deserving consequences of their own venal stupidity, dishonesty and complicity. Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans’ confessed drunken bloke’s groping behaviour is apparently common in the House.

40% of House of Commons employees claim they have been sexually harassed at work. Imagine the fuss if it was a teacher drunkenly groping the people around them at work?

 UKIP leader Nigel Farage proclaims his politics as a break from the corruption of British politics. But here’s an oddity. Mr Farage is incessantly against foreign workers coming to the UK to take jobs that can be done by britishers. He employs a German as his secretary, OK, he says, because she’s his wife and just one of the “26 million European workers” coming to Britain in UKIP publicity.
Farage is against the EU parliament wasting money on expenses. The £60,000 he can't account for was not expenses it was an allowance and how dare we ask how he spent it. That’s almost like the rabidly anti EU and virtually everything else, Dail Mail editor Paul Dacre taking EU grants of 300,408 euros for his Scottish estate.

You may think that I am creating a stereotype, partying in urban myths. Stereotypes are sometimes thick ugly plaster over a framework of truth and our leaders really are a dodgy bunch of opportunists.

This week David Laws announced that its time to stop changing everything in education, lets settle down. If you vote us back in we will stop meddling. Could Lib Dem Laws be trusted, after all he is in the government, he is working with Gove in the DfE. Listen Honest David, I'm not the only one who's been taking notes: remember you got kicked out for a £50,000 illegal expenses claim.

Let’s trust our betters and breed a generation of the silently insulted. There is some perverted poetry that it is Mrs Fox who is leading Gove’s unrelenting hunting down of accessible qualifications. so that most students fail. And when our kids realise that the point is to stifle their ambition and aspirations I am sure they will sit quietly in rows. The rule changes on vocational courses are backdated to affect kids who started the courses 9 months ago, cos really, who cares? Not the disgracefully clueless silent Labour Party that’s for sure.

Just now I read that Gove has cancelled his speech at a headteachers’ union’s conference. He’s too busy. My own union leader asks me to believe that the government is listening. I admire your perseverance, Brian, but  you’re wrong.

Gove, Laws, Truss, Hunt and all you parliamentary abusers you don't know what you're doing. The exam-practising stress on our kids is growing – 9 two hour science exams in 2016 will be more than for a final university degree.  And just how much bloody Maths do you want them to do? What’s wrong with childhood and childish things, of a bit of creativity?  Don’t they have the right to be a 16 year old average ability kid working hard, doing well and getting recognition for that?

And the adults in education, if they’re  Maths or English teachers or headteachers in non selective schools will pack it in or get shafted. Gove has declared a 9 point scale for his new tougher GCSEs;. Well, Mickey, my anger at your machinations goes up to 11.

So my homework is for schools, its teachers, parents and leaders who know our students and families and understand our own communities to set the education agenda. 1.3 million school employees plus just under 10 million parents should swing any election, so

Seize the time.

Shout at politicians.

Shout loudly.

Dennis O'Sullivan

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