Thursday, 21 June 2012

My soapbox!! ;-) LOL!

Michael Gove is a bit like Marmite, isn't he?!
You either love him or hate him. And this time, he really has set the cat amongst the pigeons!

I started my morning by reading this blog / article.
Being of the opinion that our education system needs a radical overhaul, this article set me thinking. If there really is to be a radical overhaul then surely one of the first things that needs to be addressed is the quality of teacher training.
And don't forget that these trainee teachers are products of the National Curriculum, so they will need to open their minds somewhat! Or have them prised open!

I have known of students who have taken a degree and then embarked on the one - year course in order to learn all that there is to know about classroom teaching.
What a joke!!!
Take all holidays out of that year and you have trainee teachers
with little classroom experience, facing a class of children
like rabbits in a spotlight ... dazed, confused and desperate for help.
Granted not all trainee teachers take this route but this area certainly needs addressing.

Next, there are many young teachers who have only ever taught under the guidelines of the National Curriculum. I feel sorry for them. Thus many
have only ever taught to tests. Yes, those vile SATs which
I have always despised,hated and loathed!! They are nothing short of an evil and unnecessary part of our education system and in my opinion they should’ve been exterminated many moons ago. When you get schools ‘bending the rules’ in order to achieve a higher position in the league tables then something has to be terribly wrong.

Oh dear! I believe that many teachers will be frightened
at the thought of what's to come! 
Thus, the overhaul of teacher training is top priority!! It has to be.

For me, the best days of my teaching were when I could close my 
classroom door and teach without any National Curriculum guidelines
I wasn't fased, I had had excellent training back in the
early ‘70s and was very well equipped to enter my profession. My classroom was alive, overflowing with inspiration and creativity was at the forefront of everything we did. Enough said about creativity for the time being! (Apart from the fact that I think we have wrung it out of our children, BIG TIME!)

Maybe, I was just one of the lucky ones.
Three years training at an excellent teachers’ training college where we spent a lot of time in schools, stood me in good stead and provided the solid foundation on which I have grown as a teacher. I still believe that the best teachers are the teachers who were trained at around that time! Unless someone can show me otherwise,I will always go on believing that to be the case. Sadly, many of those teachers have probably left the profession and are no longer around to offer their advice and experience. And that is a big sadness.

But back to the future (by mentioning the past!)
I truly believe that the state of our education system
is the result of many years of poor policies and dumbing down. 
The quaint idea that everyone should have the chance to go to University, was never going to work, was it? We all know the results of that ‘little experiment’! 

I have been horrified to see children who were almost, ' special needs' when I taught them as 8 year olds, take their place at University. I have been mortified to see children who really struggle with English, attaining that all important ' C' grade at GCSE...NO WAY should they have attained such a grade. Time was when we were always told that an A to C grade at GCSE was equivalent to the old GCE 'O' level...thus we are talking Grammar school level! Crazy or what?
Socialist policies, which have forced everyone to the lowest level, simply have not worked. Huge comprehensives, with the, 'one size fits all' approach, have not worked.

What will work is a system whereby we give academic pupils the chances in which to shine and excel; we give pupils, who are more skilled on the technical side, the chance to grow and take those skills into the workplace; we give those who are creative, the chance to express, perform and entertain. There is a place for everyone in our society.There is no place for dumbing down.

I also know that education is the basis of economic growth and therefore if education fails...well, we know the outcome, don’t we? Which makes you wonder…!

Finally, the DM is not my favourite paper but I frequently head that way when I want a laugh and when I read these words today,I laughed because, in my opinion they are so very true!!! 

"Teachers who want the best for their charges should welcome
these plans wholeheartedly - not least for the promise to slim down the National Curriculum and (sic) thus freeing them to pass on their own enthusiasms.
But the bitter truth is, of course, that many will join Britain's liberal establishment, which has wreaked much harm to generations of children, in fighting them to their last breath, clinging blindly to the egalitarian claptrap they picked up at their training colleges." 

Ah…love that ! So, we’re back where we the very institutions where teachers are taught.
And yes, teachers are a militant lot and no doubt will protest...just to protest!!!

I will watch this all, with interest!
For far too long our country has loitered at the wrong end of the European education league tables. Enough is enough!

Meanwhile, for my part, I will continue to teach in the way that I was taught, striving for every child to achieve success and to do their very best at all times. Simples!!! ;-)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Slapton and Torcross

                                            Something rare happened today!

It was dry and sunny, here in South Devon!

So, we took ourselves through the lovely lanes of the

South Hams and ended up at Slapton.

 Did you know that at Slapton, you can find the largest 

natural lake in South West England?

Slapton Ley.

       Separated from the sea by a narrow shingle bar,

known as the Slapton Line, it is entirely freshwater

 and is surrounded by reed beds, marshes and

 woodland habitats.

Slapton Ley is unique. 

In fact, to be exact, it is actually split into two 'leys'

or lakes, the lower being the largest natural freshwater

lake in South West England and the higher consisting of

rich, fen vegetation and wet, willow woodland.

There are 2000 species of fungi here and Slapton Ley

 is also an important stop over for wintering

 and passage birds.

But that's not all!

Other inhabitants include Otters, Mink, Badgers, Bats

 and a hundred species of birds, including

various types of Warbler and Great Crested Grebes.

It is, indeed, a bird watcher's delight.

At the southern end of Slapton Ley, lies the small village of Torcross.

Now, here's a place which has had more than its fair share of

damage from storms!

Incredibly, it has survived to tell the tales!

In 1979, after yet another battering, lorry loads of boulders were brought in

and a new sea wall was constructed.

After another storm in 2001, a study by Natural England confirmed that

because of the reduction in the amount of shingle available

 and the increasing frequency of storms, coupled with the predicted 30cm to 40cm

rise in sea level over the next 50 years, Slapton Sands is retreating

and will continue to do so.

Slapton comes with much history!

In 1943 it was decided that Slapton beach

 would become a major practice area for the D-Day landings.

 Using live ammunition and recreating the defences likely to be put up by

 the Germans on any beach to be attacked, the intention was to

 simulate real battle conditions for troops .

Since the barrage of artillery from ships was bound to cause extensive damage

 to the whole area under attack, the entire population of the area

 from Torcross to Blackpool Sands and inland for about

 ten miles was to be evacuated.

The chairman of Devon County Council was ordered to requisition an area of 30,000 acres.

 This included the villages of Torcross, Strete, Frogmore and Sherford.

 It included 180 farms and many small hamlets.

 It affected 750 families and totalled 3,000 men, woman, and children.

You can read one person's memories here :

This US Sherman tank was recovered from Start Bay in 1984

 and placed here as a memorial to those US soldiers who lost their lives

 in the ill fated, 'Operation Tiger',

 which took place at Slapton Sands in April 1944.

And if you so desire, you can read more here:

We took a leisurely stroll around but only after partaking of some refreshments

 here at the Sea Breeze Cafe...which is, and always has been, fabulous!!é-seabreeze

A lovely afternoon! ;-)