What do we do now?

So there we have it, a General Election has been called.

What do we do now?

First things first,

MAKE SURE YOU’RE REGISTERED TO VOTE!

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Clickable links are in green. As far as possible, I have chosen links that go to the source, rather than the newspaper report of the source.

Here are some things to think about when deciding who to vote for.

And yes, we should all be thinking about things deeply, because I believe this vote will change our entire society. This is the time for a real paradigm shift, people.

We finally have the chance to decide how we, as a society, want to live our lives.

We finally have the chance to truly decide whether we want to choose hope or fear, light or dark.

“We can aspire to be something better.”

All I ask is this,

If you have questions, don’t let the media tell you what to think, do some research of your own, come to your own decisions. We possess the greatest store of all available information, right at our fingertips and yet some people would rather let someone else select what bits they should know and put their own spin on it all.

If you get your news simply from newspapers and television news broadcasts, once or twice a week give other news sources/media half an hour of your time to put forward a different perspective. And vice versa.

There are many more independent media outlets, but these are the ones I have found the most reliable.


Here are some alternatives to mainstream media that I like to look at:

https://www.thecanary.co/  

http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.prole-star.co.uk/home

http://www.dailyalternative.co.uk/

For NHS matters: https://www.facebook.com/WatMedMedia/

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeterStefanovicJuniorDoctors/ https://www.facebook.com/TheProleSta

For something different: ChunkyMark

If you really want to get the answers and want to be thorough, go to the original sources of information.

Everyone’s talking about a study/some research/opinion polls?

Go to the source, read for yourself – most studies have a summary page.

Read the press releases yourself.

Don’t let someone pick the bits they think you should know.

In my opinion, when you have two opposing views, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

I’ve no idea what lies ahead, all I know is, the kind of society I want, Theresa May and her acolytes will not strive towards it.

Why should they? They’re the ones who will lose out

  • if society is made fairer,
  • if we decide to help everyone, not just line the pockets of the few,
  • if we start focussing on people instead of profits.

Let’s start with a couple of common themes:

Labour can’t be trusted with the economy. The Conservatives are much better aren’t they?

A: Not according to taxresearch.org.uk, who, as their website name suggests, do research on tax/finance matters

Govt spending


I can’t vote for Labour, look at them, they’re a mess

or

That Jeremy Corbyn…

Yes, the Labour Party is a bit of a mess, and I have offered my suggestion on what we can do about it.

However

The Conservatives are a mess too!

Quite a few of their MPs are likely to be charged with  electoral fraud,

But you’re less likely to hear about this unless you go looking for it.

The Conservatives are still constantly arguing about what kind of Brexit they want, they were arguing in October 2016 and we’ve seen them since then, still arguing.


When it comes down to it…

Whether you like or dislike Jeremy Corbyn, whether you trust or don’t trust Labour.

Simply look around you when you go out.

Do you sense that the world around you is a happier, kinder place than 7 years ago?

How many times do you avert your eyes or pretend not to see something you know just can’t be right?

Ask yourself,

Is society better now, after 7 years of Conservative Government?

(yes, the coalition was them too).

Is it fairer?

If you don’t believe we have a fairer, more caring society now,

why would you think that things will improve with another 5 years of Conservative rule?

Maybe Corbyn is kooky and weird and a socialist (I, personally, think he’s a lovely man), but at least he is thinking of how things can be made better.

He has introduced Labour Party policies that paint a picture of the kind of society I want to live in.

And IN MY OPINION even if they only achieve 50% while in power, it’d still be a better place.


See that homeless person there?

Shelter – the UKs biggest homeless charity estimates over a quarter of a million people without a home in England today .

Maybe if the government spent more money on actually helping people and less money on computer systems to make sure that benefit claimants got less, we might not have so many people homeless.

Maybe if the government had rolled out a programme of building affordable social housing back in 2010, we might have had a million more homes to house people who find themselves without a home.

Maybe if the government spent more money on the NHS rather than simply SAYING they spent more money on the NHS, more help would be available to people who are finding life a little bit tough.

Maybe if the government decided to step outside the box and act, hell, maybe if we all stepped outside of our own bubbles and act, some of those homeless people might not be there.


What’s the problem with schools?

What if the government had spent less time tinkering with the syllabus and more time dismantling PFIs and the disastrous Academy system, would there be more funding for your child’s education? Smaller class sizes? More teachers?


You can find more questions answered in an earlier blog article, it was written for the EU referendum, but some of the issues are still valid now.

So this time, let’s take a breath, spend some time and think about things.

“Don’t like the world we have now?
We have the world our choices led us to.

Let’s just start making better choices…”

Amandasig

 

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Dear Jeremy Corbyn

Some background first

The whole reason I got back into politics was to make sure that we didn’t get another Ed Milliband.

Now unbunch your knickers, Millifans, I’m sure he’s a really lovely guy and I really have nothing against him, he’s remarkably inoffensive, but, honestly, I never knew what he actually stood for. I remember listening to him making a speech and thinking,

I’m not sure who you’re speaking for right now

and I’m sure you’re speaking for someone,

it’s just not me.

So a couple of days after the election, I joined up.

I watched the first leadership debate when Jeremy Corbyn lined up alongside 3 (or was it four) other people, I remember Liz and Andy, but the other one escapes me,

oh yes, Yvette, Yvonne?

It began with Y…

Anyway, during that debate, I heard words that were honest, kind and authentic, I saw a man who genuinely wanted to make things better, not just for some, but for everyone. At last I was listening to someone saying out loud, what I had been thinking.

The more I read about what Jeremy Corbyn had to say, the more I agreed with him.

Now, I was as cynical as most, so although I was impressed, I wanted to see the whites of his eyes before making my final decision.

So I went along to a meeting to hear it from the man himself.

cropped-img_2821.jpg

And he made me start thinking.

He made a lot of people start thinking. I have friends now, who I met at Corbyn Rallies. People, who also had lost faith in the party, but who now had something to believe in once more. People who were also starting to question things.

Why shouldn’t we renationalise the railways?

I’m not a commuter, but I’m shocked whenever I see trains so overcrowded, it resembles what I saw in China just before a national holiday when EVERYONE is on the move. They have an excuse for it, they have over a billion people living there. Why do we have it? Oh yes, the company posted profits in the tens of millions, that’s why?

I was sick of living in a country that applauds a company for posting TENS/HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS IN PROFIT, all the while REFUSING to pay the people CREATING THAT PROFIT, the workers, ENOUGH TO LIVE ON!

As a teacher, I’m horrified at what successive governments have done to the education system. It is just another essential thing that has been sold off to private companies to suck the very life out of it.

Some things in life are PUBLIC services, not private goods to be bought and sold. They are there for the benefit of all, not for the benefit of a few shareholders.

Healthcare, Utilities, Public Transport and Education.

The four pillars of a decent, caring society.

In short, we must dial down the greed.

(My people over profits illustration can be found here)

Since when did this country put the pursuit of profit over doing the right thing?


OK, so I’ve gone off on a tangent, when all I really wanted to say was this.

Dear Jeremy Corbyn,

I won’t blame you at all if you get rid of every single one of those backstabbing cowards who have been dragging your name, my name and the name of the very party they profess to care about, through the mud. But you won’t, because you’re too nice. You believe in giving everyone a fair chance.

I believe everyone should be given a chance to stand by what they have said, publicly.

Those who oppose you have asked us, the membership, to decide YOUR fate –

TWICE.

They have never had to justify their actions to the membership, they have never asked us to decide their fate.

Now that Theresa May wants an election.

The membership should decide the fate of every single MP in the party.

They have all been talking loudly about how much they respect democracy, I propose that they stop talking and PROVE that they believe in democracy.

Every MP should return to their CLPs and hold public meetings, where they get to explain their points of view and hear the views of their constituents?

If their CLPs fundamentally disagree with the MPs stance, the MP then has the option of putting their personal views aside for the good of their constituents, which is essentially what being a public servant is all about, or if they are unwilling to do so, the CLP should be able to field an alternative candidate who could then challenge them. In this way, finally, the CLP are able to choose the person they believe best represents them. Once a candidate has been chosen, the CLP should then work together to put forward the real vison of the Labour Party.

After all, the fundamental job, the basic idea of an MP is to be the parliamentary representative of that Constituency, advocating for the members of that constituency.

 

Please could we do this quickly so that we can get on with the simple job of getting rid of the Tories.

Yours sincerely

Amandasig

Fool-proof, not Millennial-proof

So some of you might know that I have been sharing my house with a Millennial and now that he’s moved out, I am going to share some of my experiences. Now I’m not suggesting that all millennials are the same, nor am I suggesting that it’s necessarily their fault, but over the past month… Let’s just say, living with one is not something I would like to repeat at any stage in my future and I have intense sympathy for anyone who has one in their house and simply can’t get rid 🙂


“For my groceries, I have a completely foolproof system,” I told  Millennial.

“When something runs out, or I use the last of something or even if I notice something is running low, I write it on the chalk board, here” I pointed to the large chalkboard on the kitchen wall.

“Then, when I go shopping, I simply take a photo of the board and take it to the supermarket.”

Millennial nods.

I then explained in detail, how chalk works and requested that he use the board, so that things don’t run out.

Millennial, annoyed that I’m treating him like an idiot, sighs.

I assumed the system was clear and had been explained.

So last week, I was away for the week in London.

Did I mention I met Idris Elba? 🙂

idris

On my way home, figuring that he’d eaten me out of house and home, I stopped off at the supermarket and I phoned Millennial and asked what I needed to buy.

“Eggs,” came the immediate reply.

This seemed odd as it had been a whole week and I suspected he’d eaten more than eggs, so I prompted, “Are you sure that’s all? Take a look at the board.”

“Self-raising flour,” came the response – which was what I’d written before I left.

“Are you sure that’s all? How about cooked meats? Freezer stuff?”

“Yeah, that,” came the reply.

So the list grew.

Eventually after being assured that that was absolutely it – the ‘for fuck’s sake, why are you so obsessed with bloody lists, you control freak’ totally implicit in his tone of voice – I hung up the phone and started shopping.

I was looking forward to a good-to-be-home-celebratory-table-picnic of all my favourite things, junk food, the Ben & Jerry’s from the freezer etc etc.

(I very nearly bought a new tub, but as money was a little tight, I figured, he would definitely have told me had he eaten my B&J’s, so I didn’t buy any. I also thought the dog food was probably close to finishing, but a new bag wouldn’t harm, so I bought some dog food anyway.)

So I got home and the first thing I did was feed the dog, there was barely enough to feed her and I queried this with Millennial, to which the reply came,

“Oh yeah, I thought there was another bag there.”

“That was the spare bag, Millennial, there is clearly no further bags in the cupboard or you would have seen them.”

“My bad,” says Millennial.

I did not rise, even though I really wanted to beat Millennial over the head with the bag of dog food.

I simply let it lie.

Midway through my ‘Yay, I’m home’ table picnic,

picnic

I grew a conscience and decided to do a yoghurt/granola snack as a palate cleanser instead of opening another pack of skittles.

I go into the kitchen, NO GRANOLA.

Again I let this slide. In fact, I let many small items slide until, I decided to attack the eagerly awaited Ben & Jerry’s.

I know you’re all ahead of me and you know that there would be no Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer, but honestly,

I thought there’s no way Millennial would have eaten an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and still not mention it when asked, what food items have you eaten this week?

So imagine my horror when there was no ice cream in the freezer!

In the ensuing, quite shouty, argument, when I refused to accept ‘my bad’ as a response once more, I asked him, why on earth he didn’t mention it, WHEN I WAS IN THE SUPERMARKET and had the ability to buy some more?

To which he replied, “Oh, I forgot.”

I pointed out (ok, I screamed) that that was why there was a foolproof board system in place, so that one didn’t have to remember! One could simply write it down! But by this time, Millennial had stormed off and was upstairs radiating the ‘I dunno why you’re so bent out of shape’ vibe, as if I was the one who was being totally unreasonable!!!

Over the next two days, the board quickly filled up with items that had been consumed during the week and not written down. All of which I could very easily have bought in the supermarket.

For the life of me, I can’t understand how someone is completely unable to notice that they’d used the last of the milk or eaten all the cheese and find it totally impossible to write the words ‘milk’ and ‘cheese’ on the board.

I know that in the grand scheme of things , what with POTUS 45, Syria, impending WW3 and all, this is quite a first world, insignificant thing, but…

How complicated is it, FFS?

Clearly far too complicated for Millennials.

A Short(ish) Guide to Year 11s

To all parents of Year 11s, especially those going through it for the first time,

Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy few months.

It’s that time of year again, the run up to the most fraught time of the year for parents pupils and teachers –

Exam season.

So I thought I’d write a short(ish) guide to Year 11s from the perspective of a teacher.

In my Rossall days, the Easter holidays were a time for relaxation, a short trip and then intense preparation for the exam period ahead.

My preparation involved working out a plan of attack for each individual year 11 with one aim and one aim only,

How can I get the very best out of them?

Or, more accurately, how can I best contribute to their success in German?

(Please note: the following is based on my experience of my own subject, this may not be the same for all subjects, plus see my disclaimer)

Each pupil had a unique set of requirements and it was up to me to structure the next term to meet as many of them as possible.

I have to point out that I had it easy, I was in a private school and therefore had the benefit of not being tied to the ridiculous demands of Ofstead and I had small class sizes (although they were getting bigger and had I stayed, I would have had to adapt).

The Easter holidays were also the time I mentally prepared myself for the annual destruction and devastation of the German Language, also known as ‘German Orals’.

I was always guaranteed a couple of outstanding performances, a couple of delightful A grade performances, a couple of quirky or left field performances and a few solid Cs, but mostly it was an audio horror show, the like of which…

oh God, please don’t make me relive it…

I’d tended towards a way of teaching that took them as far as possible away from memorising. I wanted them to work with the language, not simply regurgitate it.

And the Speaking exam was the one I, as a teacher, had the least control over.  

I could give the vocab, I could correct the grammar, force them to practice in class as much as possible, but they have to actually learn it, they have to put the time in.

How well they do, depends ENTIRELY on how much time they put into it.

The main problem was that the German Orals always happened early in May and the ‘EXAM SURVIVAL REVISION INSTINCT’ hadn’t properly kicked in yet.

At the end of the speaking exam, I could tell you exactly who could be bothered and who couldn’t. I knew exactly where they were at and usually I had an accurate target grade in mind for each of them. I could clearly identify who would achieve their target and who likely wouldn’t, without a serious kick up the backside!


A Short(ish) Guide to Year 11s

Year 11s come in many types. I’ve come up with a few pairings.

Each pair illustrates the ends or extremes on the scale.

Like a bell-curve, (which, dear DfE/Ofstead, is how everything, except State School levels/targets, works)

MOST YEAR 11S  ARE SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS SCALE.

Most can move up or down the scale during Year 11 depending on a variety of outside sources/pressures (i.e. parents, teachers, friends, emotions).

The types outlined here are the extremes, I believe there are always advantages and disadvantages of the extremes and the more successful option is to be in the middle. The further you get to either end, the higher the disadvantages.

NOTE: Their position on the scale can differ depending on the subject/teacher. There were Year 11s who were realist slackers in German, but highly ambitious, over-achievers in other subjects and vice versa.

As a little educational exercise, those of you with Year 11s in the house, see if you can pinpoint where your one is on each scale, ask your Year 11 where they think they are on the scale, have that discussion rather than the “How’s your revision coming along” discussion.


The High/Over-Achiever vs The Realist

This scale relates to their self-belief or ambition.

The High/Over-Achiever values themselves highly and has high self-belief (they know they can achieve the high grades) and show high levels of successful habits. (see here for explanation of what these are)

They know what they want to achieve and by Jingo, they’re going to achieve it.

The Realist believes that they are what they are and there’s nothing they can do to change things. Full stop, end of story. They have goals and ambitions, but firmly believe they are out of reach and therefore do not even dare to dream.

In my experience most Year 11s lean closer to the Realist end of the scale, unfortunately.

The Slogger vs The Optimist

This scale relates to their attitude to revision

The Slogger will have a strict revision schedule and adhere to it religiously. They have fixed goals and usually have something to prove, to themselves or others. They tend to over-revise and become a little bit obsessed with being in their revision space at exactly 12.20pm because they only have a half hour window to learn the irregular verbs

The Optimist will have their own system which involves turning up to the exam and the information will just appear in their minds at the right time. They are often prone to over-confidence, have a history of success, but never seem to be doing much work at all. They are masters of the ‘Look Busy’ attitude to work.

(NOTE: For some people this style is so successful at school, it persists into adulthood and explains many useless politicians, overpaid executives and CEOs who fail spectacularly, destroying entire companies in the process.)

The Ambitious Year 11  vs The Slacker Year 11

This refers to their work ethic.

Some pupils start working hard in September of Year 11

The Ambitious Year 11, however, will start working hard on day one of Year 10. They make copious, neatly-organised notes, they re-write essays after marking so that they have the original and marked version in their files. Homework is done on time or early. They attend all extra sessions, they stop doing hobbies because ‘exams are coming up I have to revise’.

Come Easter time, they start to forget to do things, such as eat, sleep and, occasionally, breathe.

The Slacker Year 11 group can also be split into the workshy (or lazy) and the resigned (I’m rubbish at this, so what’s the point). The Slacker Year 11 usually only starts working during the Easter holidays, traditionally the time when parents realise that exams are coming up and they’ve never seen their Year 11 even crack open a book. This prompts ‘the exam revision discussion’. This leads to ‘parental-observed’ revision, which is essentially

when a Year 11 ensures that they are studiously revising whenever observed, or when there is a possibility that they are being observed, by their parents.

Although essentially for show, it has the unexpected benefit of them actually looking at the book and therefore actually revising, even if subconsciously.

It is not unusual for a Slacker Year 11 to immediately transform into an Ambitious Year 11 after a shock. This is almost always around the time that they are getting the results of their mock exams in December/January.

I tried not to be alarmed when a pupil, who I thought hated German, suddenly started handing in homework on time or asking for more work. I simply suppressed the urge to be sarcastic and went along with it.

It is also not unusual for an Ambitious Year 11 to transform into a Slacker Year 11. This is usually due to stress or burn out. The solution is reminding them that there is a world outside of the revision bubble and it can be fun.

Whenever I saw my class lose the joy of German, I used to let them watch a German film, one with a frisson of fun/excitement, you’d be astonished what Germans consider appropriate for a 12 certificate!

No, seriously, you’d be astonished…

The key for me was working out where on each of the scales, each pupil is and giving them the tools to reach their potential.

As an overview here’s some strategies I used.

The High/Over-Achiever needs to chill the F out and relax. I would remind them that life needs balance, warn them of burn out and I force them to relax as far as possible, usually by suggesting they (re)start a hobby that has nothing to do with school.

The Realist needs constant positive reassurance and I would work with them through a task they don’t believe they can complete successfully, showing them that they can. This usually involved breaking each task down into smaller achievable tasks.

 

After a couple of years, I accepted that Year 11s on the far extremes sometimes can’t be helped. Their beliefs are too fixed and certain. These pupils tended to underperform because they put too much or too little pressure on themselves.

The Slogger usually needs to learn to revise smarter. I used to explain how you can use past paper work to focus revision on weaker topics, thus they can be more effective, in less time.

The Optimist needs to be shown that they can’t just walk into an exam and what I usually did was give them a pre-mock surprise test and then I would shave around 10-20% (sometimes up to 30%) off their marks. There’s nothing more guaranteed to shake up an optimist, who generally gets around 80% without even trying, than a mark of around 65%. Sometimes this happens naturally, but sometimes a little bit of harsh marking is necessary to achieve the desired %. Either way, it shakes them up a bit.

As for work ethic and the The Ambitious Year 11  vs The Slacker Year 11

This is the only pairing where my approach was the same.

The entire class would receive my

“Get Your Head In The Game”

speech.

Some of my former pupils are very familiar with this speech, as it was often given many times in the Summer Term.

Essentially it involved reminding them that this is their first opportunity to take control of their lives, this is the first time when the amount of effort they put in, shows directly in the results they receive in August.

I told them that they can make the choice what they want to do, but be aware that there is nothing worse than seeing that look on results day. That I-Wish-I-Could-Go-Back-In-Time look. That look when they see a grade and they know they could have got a better one, had they just done a tiny bit more.


Please let me know in comments if you think it’d be good to post, in another article, a more in depth look at strategies I tried and what results I got.

All I can say is that the results were, like the Year 11s themselves, always varied, often unexpected and occasionally surprising.