Just – Violet Elizabeth Truss

When Boris finally resigned in mid-summer All Change Please! was concerned at the loss of such a rich source of particular satirical material for its annual end of year corrupted literary Christmas Story. It need not have worried however as Dizzy Miss Lizzy Truss slipped seamlessly into the role, before she too stepped down.

So here is All Change Please!s slightly belated tribute to Liz Truss, surely the ultimate ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ prime minister, as it steps into its time machine, and sets the controls to revisit Truss’s fated premiership at some indeterminable point in spacetime to eavesdrop on a revealing conversation between William Brown and Violet Elizabeth Truss.

But first, in case you are unfamiliar with William Brown and his friends the Outlaws, ‘Just William’ was the title of the first of thirty-eight books for children written by Richmal Crompton between 1922 and 1970. They chronicle the adventures of the eleven-year old boy whose imagination and predilection for adventure constantly get him into difficult situations that he somehow manages to cleverly turns to his favour. In a number of stories William has to deal with Violet Elizabeth Bott, the younger, lisping, spoiled daughter of the local millionaire, Mr. Bott. She often forces the reluctant Outlaws to allow her to join them on their adventures with her highly effective threat that if they don’t she will: “Thcream and thcream and thcream till I’m thick”, and has an uncanny ability to exert feminine power through coercive control.

All Change Please!’s version departs from the original in one essential respect as we join William one afternoon as he is sitting quietly reading in the old barn where The Outlaws meet, with his faithful dog Jumble at his side, only to be interrupted by the sound of Violet Elizabeth Truss at the door.

“Pleath can I come in and sit with you William?” asked Violet Elizabeth Truss.

“Oh, you’re back….. oh dear, dear,” said William.

“Well,” explained William politely, “on the whole I’d rather you didn’t if you don’t mind as I’m reading something terribly important here and I really don’t to be disturbed.”

“Oh William, pleath… If you don’t let me I’ll thcream and thcream and thcream till I’m thick”

William, more familiar with the sound of Violet Elizabeth Truss’s excruitiating screams that he ever wanted to be, reluctantly agreed.

“Very well. But you mustn’t speak.” said William, rather ungraciously.

“Yes William I promith I won’t thay a word. I thant thpeak at all. I will be ever so thilent tho you won’t know I’m here.” She paused briefly and continued.


As there was no response Violet Elizabeth Truss tried again, this time fluttering her eyelashes at him. “William?”

Already distracted from his book, William realised there was little point in continuing to pretend she wasn’t there.

“Yes, well, what is it?” said William, who in truth was far from immune to femine charms and found it difficult to ignore her.

“What did you have for lunch?”

“Oh, pork chops from the market and a nice salad. They were very tasty. And then we had some cheese and biscuits.”

“I like chopth and cheeth too,” Violet Elizabeth Truss responded. “Though it’s a dithgrath they are so exthpethiv. I’m not very keen on lettuth though – it alwath latht too long.”

Violet Elizabeth Truss paused and after waiting a moment, just as William had managed to read another sentence, interrupted him again.

“William, I wath wondering if you could explain thomething to me?”

This time William, pleased to be acknowledged as an expert for once, willingly agreed.

“Well at lunchtime today my parenth were talking about something called Twickle-down economicth.” continued Violet Elizabeth Truss, who had been listening closely to their conversation. “Have you any idea what that is?”

“Hmmm!” Not willing to admit any suggestion of ignorance while at the same time indulging in a clear case of what would one day become known as mansplaining, William thought for a moment and suggested “It’s a bit like when an ice cream cone melts it trickles down your hand and makes a mess on your clothes and on the floor, and therefore you’ve rather wasted your money on it.” so I guess it’s someting to avoid if you can.

“And William…” Violet Elizabeth Truss persisted, while maintaining her air of wondering innocence. “How is it possible to ‘grow’ a pie?”

William, again unable to provide a specific answer, countered with “ Well if you ask me, that sounds a bit daft. I mean you could make a bigger one, but you can’t actually grow one. I mean it would be stupid to put a pie in the ground and water it, wouldn’t it?” Warming to his subject, he continued: “It probably involves adding some new highly scientific chemicals or something like that I ‘spect.”

‘And what’s Thatchewithm? And why do we need to go back to it?”

“Well, it must be a group of people who go round mending people’s thatched roofs, or something like that. And now there aren’t enough thatchers anymore so we need to go back and train some more otherwise people’s roofs won’t get mended.”

“William?” said Violet Elizabeth Truss, not entirely convinced by his responses, changed the subject, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

“Oh I dunno!” replied William nonchalantly. “I’ve not really decided yet – an explorer probably, or someone who digs up things from the past or someone who, you know, invents things that no-one has thought of before.”

“Well,” said Violet Elizabeth Truss, “I’m going to be Pwime Minithter, make lots of important thpeecheth and run the country. I will be able to do anything I want. I’m going to remove all taxeth so everyone has loth and loth of money to thpend.”

“But Taxis can be jolly useful for getting to various places,” argued William.

“No, thilly. Not Taxiths. Taxeths! You know, that people pay the government to thpend on things like thotial thervices.”

“But if no-one pays any taxes there will be no schools or hospitals and things like that will there?”

“Yeth of course there will!” laughed Violet Elizabeth Truss “The people will jutht have to pay for them themthelves inthead of getting them for free!”

“And what if they don’t have enough money to pay for them?” queried William.

“Well they’ll jutht have to work a bit harder and get a better job then won’t they?”

“And William, do you know what a ‘You Turn’ ith?”

William knew the answer to this: “Well, yes, that’s what cars do when they turn round and go in the opposite direction.”

“Oh well I’ll have to practise doing You Turns as apparently that’s thomething I’ll have to do quite often as Pwime Minithter.”

“Maybe.” said William, not quite sure what she was on about. “But I would have thought the Prime Minister had their own driver to do their U-turns for them?

“When I get to be PM I get to have a cabinet,” continued Violet Elizabeth Truss. Would you like to be in my cabinet William? You could be the person who organises all the money.”

While the thought of this did momentarily hold some interest for William, the thought of being stuck in some old wooden cabinet with Violet Elizabeth Truss horrified him. At the same time he became aware if the vagueness of his own future plans and decided something more specific was required to redress the balance.

“Well that’s very kind of you to offer,” said William, not wishing to sound ungrateful, “but I’m afraid I’m probably going to be rather too busy when I grow up.” And not wishing to be outdone by Violet Elizabeth Truss’s grand ambition, William grandly announced: “When I grow up I’m going to invent a time machine. I was readin’ about it in this book before you interrupted me. It’s called ‘The Sound Of Thunder’ by some man called Ray Bradbury. Anyway in this story a man goes back in time to when there were still dinosaurs and things and he accidentally steps on a butterfly. And that changes the history of how we evolved and when the man gets back to his present time there’s a different leader of the country who has just been elected and who is completely useless. But my plan is to be jolly careful and to take some butterflies and nice things back with me so that when I return all the different countries in the world will have really good leaders instead. Folks are going to be jolly grateful to me for doing that. I ‘spect they’ll put up a statue of me somewhere.”

“Oh William!” laughed Violet Elizabeth Truss. “What thilly nonthence!”

Before William could react to this rebuff he heard his mother calling him for tea and, feeling relieved that the encounter with Violet Elizabeth Truss was over, he and Jumble rapidly headed back into the house. On his way home he decided he was going to do anything to make quite sure Violet Elizabeth Truss was never going to become or stay on as Prime Minister, even if he didn’t manage to invent a time machine. It also occured to him that it would soon be bonfire night and instead of Guy Fawkes he could burn an effigy of her on top of their bonfire.

Sadly however it seems that William did not manage to invent a device to travel back in time and replace the squashed butterfly. And as a result Donald Trump duly became US president, Vladimir Putin ruled over Russia, and following Boris Johnson’s doomed premiership, Violet Elizabeth Truss duly and disgracefully set about wreaking havoc before becoming the country’s shortest-serving PM.

It’s not quite clear what happened to William in later life, but there is a well-established conspiracy theory that at some point he changed his name to Graham Brown, and then later to Graham Brady, before becoming Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee…

Image credit: Thomas Henry

Previous All Change Please! Christmas Stories are available here:

Downing St Farm / From Boris With Love / Boris Bunter’s Christmas Tory Party / Theresa in Wonderland / The Gove of Christmas Present

On becoming a teenager…

So as All Change Please! makes the awkward transition from childhood into its teenage years it reflects that actually it’s been recalcitrant, unreasonable and unruly ever since it published its first post back on October 28th 2009 – exactly 13 years ago.

Of course 13 has a reputation as an unlucky number, and, looking back over the year as it always does on its birthday, it’s true to say that it’s not been All Change Please’s! best year as it has only managed to produce a relatively small number of posts.

However, the runaway winner in this year’s Pick of the Posts chart has been Downing St Farm

In second place was All Change Please!’s Christmas post from 2019 ‘Boris Bunter’s Christmas Tory Party

And sneaking in at Number 3 was the recent Cognitive Loathe Theory.

Usually at this point All Change Please! mentions that the three most popular posts were not the same as its own choices and lists its own preferences. However this year its happy to agree that Downing St Farm was its own favourite. Meanwhile it would award second place to Alas Smith & Jones: In a bit of a State.

Finally, All Change Please! would like to take this opportunity to thank Malt Sh*thouse for his exemplary contribution to education during his short time as Education Secretary. If only more politicians would do as little as he has done during his tenure our schools would be far better places.

Meanwhile we must now welcome Gillian Keegan (Who’s she then?) to the post. Reading her Wikidpedia page suggests she has had a background in the real world and with apprenticeships and dealing with mental health issues so she does seem marginally more qualified than most of her predecessors. Nonetheless All Change Please! Is proud to announce its now regular challenge of inviting its readers to come up with a suitable silly name for her to use in future satirical posts. As a foretaste it can almost hear a forthcoming exchange between Smith & Jones…

Smith: “So what do you make of this Keegan then, the new person in charge of education?

Jones: “Well he should be good shouldn’t he – if he can successfully manage all those football players he should be able to sort the teachers out.

Smith: “No, no, not Kevin Keegan…

But wait! What’s this? What could possibly the worst gift All Change Please! could receive for its birthday? Yes it’s the most unwelcome return of Nick Glibbly to the Df-ingE. Yes – he’s back, risen from the dead to haunt us once more… Truly. Madly. Glibbly.

But there again every cloud has its silver lining – first it means that either Jonathan Gullis or Andrea Jenkyns will possibly lose their jobs, and secondly it is likely to provide a rich stream of nonsense for All Change Please! to satarise, so perhaps it will have the opportunity to publish a more regular stream of posts over the next year?

As always, if you have been, thanks for reading!

Downing St Farm

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without All Change Please!’s annual festive fractured literary tribute. Following on from re-working George Orwell’s visionary ‘1984’ as ‘2051’ back in 2015, this year we return to Orwell to reconstruct his earlier 1945 ‘Animal Farm’ novel in which the farmyard animals, led by the pigs under the banner of ‘Animalism’, take over the control of the farm from Farmer Jones only to eventually discover that the pigs start to behave exactly like humans. Originally it was intended as a social and political satire of Communism, but All Change Please!’s revised version has a different target of more immediate concern.

You probably read Animal Farm a long time ago while at school, so here’s a quick revision lesson: the commandments of ‘Animalism’ were first laid down my Old Major, the prize Middle White boar, before he passed away. The pigs’ leader is called Napoleon and the plot largely involves the construction of a windmill and the re-negotiation of trade agreements with the adjoining farms. At the same time ‘Snowball’, at one stage Napoleon’s right-hand pig, is accused of disagreeing with him, chased out of the farm and blamed for the problems with the construction of the windmill.

The text ends: ‘The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.’

The original novel contains a number of well-known sayings such as ‘FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, and ‘ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS’.

The present incumbents of Downing St Farm appear to have spent much time reading Orwell’s novel and have obviously been greatly influenced by it, as we shall discover. So sit down, strap yourself in and get ready for a cavalcade of pig-based puns, jokes and porky-pies as we go on down to Downing Street Farm!

There were lots of different animals who inhabited Downing St Farm, but there were more pigs that had been to Eton Farm School than any another animal, so naturally they tended to see themselves as the rightful leaders, even though the majority of the animals disliked them and disagreed with what they said and did. Through clever propaganda the pigs easily persuaded the sheep and the other farmyard animals to follow them, and then pretended that they had been democratically elected. As there were no buses on the farm, Boxer, the large, hard-working farm horse was required to parade round pulling a cart adorned with a large red banner displaying a slogan – written by the pigs to justify their excessive rations – that read ‘TWO JOBS GOOD, FOUR JOBS BETTER’. Boxer often thought that this was somewhat ironic considering that he had to do the equivalent of four jobs to make sure the farm kept running, while still only getting rations for one job.

Clearly visible on the inside wall of the barn, next to the original seven commandments, was a new poster defining the seven principles of Torypigism, which over time had become somewhat amended from the original version composed by the prize Middle England White bore, Old John Major.

For the inhabitants of Downing Street Farm it was shaping up to be a long, cold winter with food shortages caused by supply-chain delays and swine-flu variants. The Prime Porker was Boris de Pfeffel Pig, who was a wild Etonian bore and an all-round dirty rotten swine, well known as a male chauvinist pig. In many ways he was similar to Napoleon Bonaparte in that he mistakenly cut trade links with neighbouring markets to prevent them joining together to become the dominant force.

All the red-faced, gammon-looking pigs shuffled around the dilapidated old cabinet in the barn waiting for their leader to grunt and snort his way through his annual report. Those present included Squealer Gove, Miss Piggy Patel, Nadhim Zahawi-wi-wi All The Way Home, Pork Markets Truss, Grant Chopps and Richi Piglet. Missing was Matt Hamcock who had recently resigned after being caught like a pig having a poke. Amongst others, Duncan Raabitt, the current secretary for Just Us, and Reece Moggy, the supercilious farmyard cat, were also in attendance as representatives of the other animals. They were all eagerly looking forward to dipping their snouts in the trough and making complete piggy-wigs of themselves at the crackling Downing St. Pigmalion-themed festive fancy-dress staff party that would follow. They would of course subsequently deny it ever having taken place, and claim it was just a pork scratchings business meeting, despite the photographic evidence to the contrary.

Boris Pig bought the cabinet meeting to disorder. “First,” he said, “I am pleased to report that as Farmer Starmer is nowhere to be seen we can continue to run Downing St Farm exactly as we please now that we have successfully built a new blue cowshed wall to replace the old red one we broke through in 2019.”

Boris then called on Squealer Gove, the Pig in a state about Levelling Up, to present a load of hogwash in order to reassure everyone that things were now far better than they were before they had taken back control of the Farm. If anyone could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, he could. Extraordinarily, in Animal Farm George Orwell, some 75 years later, had anticipated his speech as follows:

Boris Pig thanked Squealer Gove and resumed his speech which was punctuated by a series of grunts, squeals and toad-like motor-car noises: “vroom, vroom, rah, rah, poop poop!”.

“You will be pleased to know that excellent progress has been made in the construction of the new high-speed pathway leading to the Pigsty. Sadly, however, it has been necessary to cancel the extension to the Northern Henhouse as it would involve providing too much power to that area of the farm. Instead we will be leveling up the Henhouse floor and funding a new internal rapid-transit track, piggy-backed onto the existing one.

I would also like to confirm that plans for the new sheep pens are going ahead, and absolutely promise that this time there will be no further ewe turns.

We continue to be committed to reducing animal inequality and so in future it will be illegal to discriminate against the black sheep that live on the farm, especially now they are producing three full bags of wool. While we have no wish to move away from our cultural traditions, farm animals will now no longer be allowed to play ‘Piggy in the Middle’, or to eat ‘Pigs-in-Blankets’, as we pigs find these both demeaning and upsetting. And finally, in future the winter festive season will be known as Pigmas.

You will all be pleased to learn that for obvious reasons Squealer Gove has recently initiated a new round of fast-track, no-bid, 8-stage VIP (Very Important Pig) Lane PPI (Personal Pig Indemnity) contracts, to ensure we can never be prosecuted for anything we might do in the future or have done in the past.

I believe there have been rumours that us pigs might fly, but, despite it being our preferred means of travel, I can confirm there are currently no plans for us to do so. However we understand Hogwarts are currently working on it for us.

Moving on, I’m extremely proud to announce that plans for the Cop26-beating chain of giant traditional windmills, intended to provide the entire nation’s energy reduction requirements, are progressing well, and that construction will be starting as soon as we can find and train the necessary workforce. As you will be aware, this project was delayed by Snowball Cummings’ traitorous actions and his refusal to work under the direction of my close friend and partner, Squirrel Nut Nuts. Further problems were unfortunately caused by DoDo Harding’s ‘Wiggle and Waste’ construction company becoming extinct.”

Artist’s impression of the new chain of Boris Windmills rising above the London skyline

Boris Pig then made way again for Squealer Gove, this time to deliver the findings of the inquiry that had been held to determine the causes of the delays to the windmill and once more, in his opinion, to cast pearls before real swine in his attempt to pork barrel his latest vanity project.

Again, with astonishing insight, George Orwell takes up the story, revealing the expertise in the pigs’ way of distorting the truth.

That out of the way, Boris resumed his report but suddenly seemed to lose his place in the unfortunately un-numbered, out-of-order pages of the speech that had been handed to him moments before he started. He seized the opportunity to improvise and asked how many of the other animals had visited the distant Peppa Pig Farm, as he had done the previous day with Squirrel Nut-Nuts and Wolfred, his own little mini-me piglet.

“Yesterday I visited Peppa Pig Farm. It was my sort of place, as you’d expect. You should go! Who would have believed that a pig that looks like a hair-dryer, or possibly a sort of Pigasso-like hair drier, would now be exported to 180 countries. But the real lesson for me about going to Peppa Pig World…was about the power of UK creativity. And no farm administrator in the world…could conceivably have come up with Peppa.”

“Of course with the introduction of the EPigg in our schools, primarily intended to prepare more and more docile young pigs to become farm administrators who do exactly what they are told to do without any question, in the future there will be even less of these creative animals.” – for some reason Boris Pig failed to add.

Road hog Boris Pig tries out the new Downing St Farm personal pig transport system

“So today I can reveal a brand new levelling-up project.” Boris Pig continued, “My latest brilliant plan is to go the whole hog and turn our farm into an even bigger and better, rival Peppa Pig Farm World where the streets will be even safer and where there is even stricter discipline in schools. There will also be a heavy emphasis on automated mass-transit systems to carry us pigs around in comfort. These Farms will then be rolled out across the country until we become known globally as Great Peppa Pig Land.”

All this made the animals of Downing St Farm start to wonder if the time had finally come for Boris Pig to have the opportunity to spend more time with all the money in his piggy-bank and his rapidly increasing litter? Surely he could better occupy the rest of his life on the far more lucrative lecture-tour circuit promoting his autopigography: ‘How To Make A Complete Pig’s Ear Of Being A Prime Porker‘, and his highly profitable ‘LieDirect.con‘ website?

As Boris Pig continued to rant and ramble on, the other creatures looked at him – was it Boris or Peppa Pig they saw before them? Already it was impossible to say which was which. And unbeknownst to them, during his speech, outside the barn, the slogan on Boxer’s red banner had being hastily re-painted….


With thanks to AJ

Image Credits: Pigsty Flickr Andrew Stawarz / TS ; Book covers: Paul Hogarth, 1964/Shepard Fairey 2008; Pigs around table: taken from the excellent 1954 animated film by Halas and Batchelor –

Farm cart: Wikimedia / Peripitus / TS ; London skyline/windmill Pixabay/TS; Peppa Pig in car TS; CBI Owen Humphreys/PA Wire /TS / Blue wall: Wikimedia/Unsplash/TS.

Previous All Change Please! Christmas Stories are available here:

From Boris With Love / Boris Bunter’s Christmas Tory Party / Theresa in Wonderland / The Gove of Christmas Present

Cognitive Loathe Theory

All Change Please! has already discussed the issues involved in the current Trad Fad of the moment: Cognitive Load Theory. Like it or loathe it, essentially it involves removing as much extraneous stimulus as possible from what is being taught so that all that the parrots (i.e. so-called ‘learners’) are left with is a collection of bare facts and figures to remember, retrieve and regurgitate on command. The focus is all on getting children to transfer and ‘save’ these facts into long-term memory storage, and apparently they can only deal with four facts at a time so it is important they are not distracted by anything else whoch they might remember instead.

The question is how do you decide what to take off the learning lorry and what to leave on? Unfortunately Cognitive Load lorry drivers and advocates are convinced that removing absolutely any of their facts and figures is quite out of the question. “We can’t do everything!” they cry, so conveniently off come all what they consider to be the quite unecessary heavier creative problem-solving skills, critical analysis and collaborative work that they believe only adults should be allowed to manage. This also creates even more space for some extra knowledge, which, like all the rest, is neatly and conveniently packaged into self-contained, regular-sized and easily measurable subject boxes.

In extreme cases implementing Cognitive Load Theory can even include removing things like classroom displays, experimental modelling activities, discussion – anything that gets in the way of those pure, unadulterated quickly-testable nuggets of knowledge delivered by authoritative voice from the front of the class. Thus the facts and figures, often presented as ‘knowledge organisers’ generally don’t make much sense or connect together in any meaningful way or seem to have much to do with anything in the real world.

In real life we face a constant process of deciding how to allocate our time between absorbing, responding to and exploring new material gathered from a wide range of media and personal experience, before deciding for ourselves how and when to best apply it. Loading and off-loading information according to its importance, interest and relevance at a given moment is in itself a high-level skill children need to be learning and developing as they grow up, rather than just having it decided for them by so-called grown-ups.

Meanwhile it seems that there are a number of easy ways that teachers can reduce the desire of children to learn, and indeed teachrs to teach – or Cognitive Load Theory as it is sometimes better known.

9 ways to … reduce the desire to learn, or teach….

  1. Off-loading: this involves removing any displays, videos, music or online resources – just use narration. (Note: this is a win-win as it considerably reduces pre-lesson preparation time)
  2. Segmenting: break everything down into Very. Small. Chunks. (Note: Liz Truss is good at doing this).
  3. Pre-Training: ensure learners know exactly what to expect beforehand. (This ensures they will decide from the start of the lesson whether or not to bother listening to what you have to say).
  4. Weeding: make it as short and simple as possible. (Again follow Liz Truss’s technique here).
  5. Signalling: focus on the essential facts. (Which tends to be pretty much all of them).
  6. Aligning words and pictures: where illustrations are absolutely essential, place them near the text.
  7. Elimate redundancy: avoid repetition (Also hesitancy or deviation).
  8. Sychronisation: this is the same as aligning words and pictures, but refers to the spoken word.
  9. Individualising: match the material to the learner (This is pretty difficult to do with a class of 32, so don’t even bother trying).

The words ‘sterile’, ‘dull’ and ‘human-rights’ spring to mind. No wonder many teenagers turn to their mobile phones in lessons or play truant. It might work for a few, but for the majority in a mixed ability, mixed social background, mixed interest class the content is likely to quickly pass by the needs of the majority. The facts may be recalled in long-term memory until needed for the next multiple choice test, but after that if not revisited frequently and with real purpose will quickly begin to fade.

Cognitive Load Theory completely ignores what is actually going on in a learner’s consciouness and their interaction with the teacher, the lesson as a whole and the classroom environment. Do they like or dislike the teacher? Are they afraid of them? Does the subject matter hold any interest or relevance to them? What meaning does it have for them? Does it make it more enjoyable and fun? Do they feel safe and secure in a friendly place or isolated and exposed in a cold and empty sterile space? And what about other more personal concerns to do with friends and family might have on a particular day?

But wait, what’s this?

A little further down the road another vehicle is approaching that looks bright and colourful and fully loaded with interesting things… driven by Tony, our very own alternative educational correspondent. He’s always stopping to pick up a cornucopia of unusual and absorbing things along the way and add them to his collection of items that spark curiosity and inspire new ways of seeing and understanding how the world works.

So Tony, I believe you have an alternative cognitive unload theory? Let’s hear more about it!

9 ways to INCREASE cognitive capability of learners – and teachers

  1. Outsiding: immerse yourself in the real world. Suggest some music to enhance the journey you take with your learners.
  2. Joining Up: allow (lots of) time to put segmented nonsense back together into meaningful wholes.
  3. Osmosis(ing): ignore the steps and stages and just enjoy doing real projects together.
  4. Sowing and growing: broadcast ideas to others and celebrate diversity.
  5. Hiding and seeking: take some risks and experience the uncertainty of exploring open-ended activities.
  6. Integrating the Real and Virtual: look for learning opportunities in liminal spaces.
  7. Recycling Redundancy: build learners’ confidence by sharing their understanding to support each other.
  8. Hyper-synchronising: encourage learners to smell, taste and feel their ideas.
  9. Democratising: sytematically pass control of learning to the learners.

Thanks for that Tony! We all feel a bit better now!

Alas Smith & Jones: In a bit of a state

The mourning after the day before

It’s been a while, so All Change Please! decided it was time to pay another visit to Mel Smith, as the man who thinks he knows everything, and Griff Rhys Jones, as the man who knows he knows nothing, in order to discover how they were coming to terms with recent events.

At the same time All Change Please! felt it needed to meet and greet some of the new team at the Df-ingE who are responsible for our children’s education, get to know them a bit better, hide under the bed and give them all silly names to help make them seem a bit less important.

Smith: So it’s been all change around here recently hasn’t it? It seems like only a few weeks ago Elizabeth was Queen, Boris was PM and Oh No! NotHim Safari was in charge of Education.

Jones: Yes, I’ll say. That Liz Truss is Queen now isn’t she? I thought it was Boris who was lying as a member of state? And that Prince Charles has been re-named as a spaniel.

Smith: No, no, you’ve got it all wrong. I’ll try and explain it all to you later. Anyway, did you go and see the Queen lying in state?

Jones: Well funny you should ask that. The Missus sent me out to get some more marmalade from Aldi, as for some reason we seem to be having a lot of marmalade sandwiches at present, and there seemed to be a queue to get in, you know, like when we all had COVID, so I thought I better join it, because being British there’s nothing I like more than a good orderly queue. I did start to wonder a bit though as it was strange when it stretched way past Aldi, and then David Beckham joined it – I would have thought he was more of a Waitrose shopper myself? And I bet the Aldi checkout assistants would have had the queue moving a lot quicker if they had been in charge.

Then someone told me it was the queue to see The Queen. Well, I thought, Queen are a good band, so I might as well stay in the queue. But when we finally got to the hall where they were supposed to be playing there was just a wooden box with a big flag draped over it with four guardsman around it pretending to be statues, which was a bit disappointing really. The main problem though was trying to explain to the Missus why it had taken me 24 hours to get the marmalade.

Smith: Right….well the less said about that, the better, I guess. So what do you reckon to this Truss woman then – will you be giving her your support?

Jones: Pardon?

Smith: You know Dizzy Miss Lizzy – the new Prime Minister… Did you know her first name is actually Mary and her married name is O’Leary? So that would make her Mary O’Leary, which doesn’t sound quite so snappy does it?

Jones: Oh her! Well she’s not supposed to be very bright is she? I read she studied PE at Uxbridge, so I’m surprised she’s not just a games teacher somewhere.

Smith: I think you mean PPE at Oxbridge, but never mind. That reminds me, have you seen the new team at the Df-ingE? This chap Malt Sh*thouse is in charge now – he’s a former chartered accountant and finance director and so will be ideally suited to count everything there is to count about education.

Malt Sh*thouse demonstrates his extraordinary ability to be able to count to ten using his fingers

Meanwhile 32 year-old Jonathan Gullis is responsible for school standards.

Jones: Who’s that you say, Jonathan Livingston Seagull?

Smith: If only he was… For once, quite by chance, he does know a little something about secondary education. According to Wikidpedia, following attending a private school, he only managed to get into what once used to be known as Oxford Poly. Then, having nothing better to do he became a Humanities teacher, which apparently he hated and was not very good at, though he did quite enjoy the shouting. So, after moving between four different schools over a seven year period, he thought he’d become an MP instead, which he finally achieved in 2019. Gullis described his classroom personality as “a mixture of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg”, and said that he “liked to play the character of an English gent”. Gullis says that he was “nicknamed Grumpy Gullis – because I never smiled”.

Jones: I bet he was called a lot of things much worse than that…

Smith: Well it goes on to say here that in June 2020, Gullis introduced a bill which would introduce custodial sentences of up to 14 years for those who desecrate war memorials, but it did not become law. In October 2020 he voted against a Labour Party motion to extend free school meals until Easter 2021 and in October 2021 he suggested that teachers found criticising the Conservative Party should be sacked.

Jones: But if he did that, there would be no teachers left in our schools at all! He’s not really thought that one through, has he?

Smith: Ah – just wait until you hear this – Gullis has described Black Lives Matter as “a Marxist organisation that wants to abolish the nuclear family and defund the police”. In May 2022, regarding Home Office deportation flights, Gullis said that his constituents were “flabbergasted that the woke, wet and wobbly lot opposite are on the side of their lefty woke warriors, who are making sure these rapists and paedophiles remain in this United Kingdom, rather than standing up for the British people and their safety.”

Jones: He sounds completely bonkers to me.

Smith: Well, yes. It seems he probably is. In March 2020 Gullis admitted that he has suffered with depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts during periods of his life.

Jones: In that case, he should at least have some idea what teenagers are going through trying to pass all their exams then?

Smith: Yes indeed. Wikidpedia goes on to record that Gullis has been berated by the speaker twice this year for his behaviour in the chamber. In February Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the MP he would “ring his mother” if he did not calm down. He was then reprimanded again for speaking loudly while Liz Truss, the new prime minister, was addressing MPs. The speaker again referred to his profession. “I know as a former teacher he’ll want to show better behaviour than he’s showing at the moment.”

Jones: Well it sounds like this Jonathan Seagullis fellow is a bit of a naughty boy then? Sounds like it could be a job for that Ms Birbalthing – I bet she’d sort him out in a jiffy. But is there anyone else at the Df-ingE providing helpful guidance as to how our children should behave in public?

Smith: Yes, there’s also this flipping awful bird, Andrea Jenkyn who pointed her middle finger upwards at a crowd of protestors outside Downing Street, yet has somehow managed to keep her job at the Df-ingE.

Jones: Well I heard on the radio this morning that Truss’s grand plan for the D(WellAndTruly)f-ingE’s is for them to open a lot more secondary modern schools for kids who fail their 11 plus, because apparently that’s what ‘quite a lot of parents in some parts of the country say they strongly desire’, as that way their children will get to fail their academic GCSE’s even better.

Smith: So, lots of things are going to be very different now that King Charles is on the throne aren’t they? There will be new currency, though hardly anyone uses physical money anymore, new post boxes and stamps, though hardly anyone can afford to send letters these days. And we’ll have to sing God Save the King in future, though hardly anyone sings the National Anthem these days.

Jones: Yes, and there will have to be new labels printed for things that say ‘By Royal Anointment’. And I read somewhere that The Royal Mail is now going to be re-branded as ‘Charles III Post Office’, or C3PO. But what I really want to know is whether Queen are going to re-form and change their name to King?

Anyway I can’t sit here all day doing nothing. I’m off to join that Aldi queue again to try and get some more marmalade. That’s the one thing we all learnt how to do really well in at school – how to form an orderly queue. I think it was the only GCSE I actually managed to pass.

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

No, that’s not the Tories’ new conference song, but you could be forgiven for thinking it was, seeing as all they ever relate anything to is money, money, money, and they’ll do anything to get as much as they can.

The other week a story broke about Sheffield Hallam University withdrawing its English Literature degree, resulting in howls of protest from academics and book lovers everywhere that was a national disgrace, especially as the reason given was that Eng. Lit. graduates did not perform well in the ‘Who makes the most money?’ post-university sweepstakes – a vital measure to ensure that in later life graduates might actually be able to pay off the enormous debt they have accumulated during their studies. (Just for the record Sheffield Hallam did however clarify that English Literature was still to be offered as part of a broad-based English degree, including language, literature and creative writing.)

Indeed a recent report (by Adzuma – an internet search engine for job advertisements), referenced in an article in the Daily Torygraph, claimed that:

Roughly 40pc of university degrees do not lead to an average salary above £30,000 within five years, the analysis found. Of the 74 degrees included, 14 did not exceed the student loan repayment threshold within that period.

But these bare and misleading ‘average-based’ statistics are not in reality terribly helpful without a great deal of further information. What is the range from highest to lowest salary? How many are unemployed? How many are employed in a completely different discipline to their degree? How many go on to take a higher degree? Which graduates are happiest / least satisfied with their life?, and so on.

The report continues:

Photography was revealed to be the lowest-ranked course for expected salary five years after graduating, followed by courses in translation (£24,815), film (£24,851), and fine art (£24,999).

Photography and Fine Art may apparently be the ‘lowest’, earners, but if you are really good in these areas you can quickly command a very high fee. Meanwhile most Fine Art graduates in their mid/late 20s would surely be delighted to be earning £25K if they were making it from selling the artworks they produce.

So let’s turn things upside down and inside out a bit…. What’s really striking about this list though is that, with the possible exception of exception of Computer Science, none of these subjects are studied at school. So if the criteria for success in life is to be earning more than anyone else and only studying ‘value for money’ courses, surely we should be better preparing our children for these future high-wage careers?

Now All Change Please! Is not suggesting that all academic GCSE and A level courses should be completely scrapped and replaced by these disciplines (Oh yes it is! – Ed) or that education is only about getting a good job, but at least the underpinning concepts should be introduced much earlier on, particularly in terms of Systems Analysis, Engineering, Project Management, alongside a developing understanding of Information and Communication Technologies, Entrepreneurship, Finance and Data Science.

At the same time, the most popular ‘Top Ten’ university courses include Management, Business and Administration Studies, Design Studies, Law, Psychology and Nursing – again, all subjects entirely missing from the EBacc. Surely we should be giving children experience in these areas in order for them to properly assess whether or not they are well-suited to pursuing them at degree level?

Meanwhile it should be remembered that most A level students do not choose which degree courses to apply for soley on the basis of their anticipated final salary. For many it’s a case of systematically crossing off the subjects they realise they do not have sufficient ability or interest in to succeed at until finally one emerges as a clear choice – they consider it’s better to chose something they might enjoy and do well in rather than something they will find uninspiring and possibly fail to achieve their potential in, even if they do get to repay their grant in good time.

But finally, All Change Please! can’t let the passing of Boris Bunter go without pausing to wonder who on earth is going to provide the lead character for its next satirical Christmas post? In that respect alone, he will be much missed. Assuming of course that he does actually end up going...

All Change Please! has been unreliably informed that he intends to spend more time with his families in between regular appearances on TV’s ‘Would I lie To You?, before triumphantly returning for a second term in office as PM, just as his hero Churchill did.

Meanwhile, congratulations are due to Michelle Gonelan – truly a ‘Here Today and Gone Tomorrow’ politician who has entered the Book of Records as the only Education Secretary in recent history not to inflict serious damage to the profession. In her place is James Stupidly, who may, or may not, have once attended school himself so obviously knows absolutely everything about teaching and learning. Also promoted to the role of Educashion Minister Without A Clue is Andrea ‘middle finger’ Jenkyns who has already clearly established the sort of behaviour she expects children to adopt. Tweeting her excuse on her mobile phone, bunking off behind the bike sheds while having a fag, she claimed she is ‘only human’, but is still waiting for the test results to confirm this unlikely-seeming diagnosis. And we wait to see if ‘Pirate Studies’ is to be added to the curriculum for budding future Tory MPs.

So who are the current riders and runners in the forthcoming All Change Please! Grand National Election Steeplechase For Tory Politicians With Extremely Silly Names?

The bookies’ current favourite, and currently striding ahead, is early entrant Wishy Washy Richy Sushi, the children’s entertainer who wants to tell us a story if we’re all sitting comfortably, which we’re not. He’s closely followed by Little Miss Truss and Penny Mortuary with Please Nothim Safari, Kemi NotGoodEnough, Cruella Doberwoman, Tom Too Good A Hat, and James Rhymes With Hunt bringing up the rear. Thankfully Savage Jagged, Grant Shrapnel and Priti Awful have all been withdrawn. Further candidates keen to get their names in the papers and therefore possibly earn more money by being given a job in the next cabinet have been advised to apply through Clearing.

To end with, here’s another verse from not The Tories’ Party Conference song:

“We’re rascals and scoundrels, we’re villains and knaves.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
We’re devils and black sheep, we’re really bad eggs.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.”

*Songwriters: George Edward Bruns / Xavier Atencio
Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me) lyrics © DistroKid, Universal Music Publishing Group

Did You See…?

…ITV’s ‘Sunday Night at the Michaela Palladium’ spectacular, aka ‘Strictly Come Teaching’.

In case you missed it, All Change Please! has watched it so you don’t have to.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Start reading NOW.

Bravely ignoring the imaginary but accurate post-watershed warning that “The following programme contains scenes that some people might find disturbing.“ All Change Please! finally plucked up courage, poured itself a stiff drink, took a deep breath and watched the glossy promotional film that also served as a partly political propaganda broadcast on behalf of the Tory education policy. As such it was full of highly dogmatic statements that needed to be challenged, but weren’t. However, as it had been cleverly scheduled against the ‘Match Of The Day Season Finale’, it seemed extremely unlikely that anyone else was watching, which was probably just as well.

To begin with, All Change Please! has to admit that it has a certain admiration for Dame Li’l Ms BS. We need more school leaders with a vision (albeit ideally a very different one to hers) to drive bold ideas forward and succeed at making them happen at a detailed level. The Headmistress (as she calls herself) has the sort of considerable entrepreneurial, management and communication skills missing in many of our schools. And in terms of playing by the rules of the current government mind-set, i.e., maximising the number of good academic GCSEs that underprivileged inner-city children obtain in the belief that that’s all that matters in life, it’s difficult to criticise her and her colleagues. It’s also clear that the headteacher and staff do care deeply about the children who attend the school.

The problem therefore is not really so much to do with Ms BS, but with her considerable media over-exposure and, perhaps thankfully, the practical difficulties of scaling up her approach nationally.

As a result of her constant newspaper, radio and TV appearances it has become too easy for those who don’t understand what education is really about to assume that this highly traditional discipline and authority-led approach is obviously what should be happening in all our schools. This has produced an increasing pressure on Headteachers to ‘do it her way’ and introduce strict regimes and emphasise academic GCSEs over all other learning experiences. The difficulty however is one of scaling-up: such Headteachers do not have Ms BS’s media-savvy charisma and the opportunity to be able to cherry-pick a brand new staff-room of extremely hard-working and effective traditional teachers who are all (indeed literally) ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’, as clearly they do in Michaela. As a result all most can do is to impose a pale, loveless, bullying-led imitation that doesn’t really work for anyone, especially for the academically less-able, or indeed the staff.

At the same time, although technically the Michaela school is non-selective it attracts highly supportive parents who are ambitious for their children to succeed and get to University. Thus, unlike most other schools, it does not have to deal with a more substantial number of seriously disaffected and potentially disruptive learners. And its Sixth Form with its demanding GCSE entry requirement is highly self-selecting.

As Ms BS was keen to warn us beforehand, the TV documentary is not of course an entirely accurate record of what it’s like to be at the school as it needs to focus on telling a story and showing the things that are most visually interesting. But even so it served to reinforce All Change Please!’s preconceptions of what it would be like to be a learner at the ‘Katherine Birbalsingh School for Obedient Young Puppies’ where everyone sits up as if they were wearing straight-jackets with their arms folded and is immediately given a detention for forgetting their ‘second pencil’ or taking their eyes off their teacher for a moment. In particular, and of greatest concern, the driving aspiration appears to be one of strict conformity, and never daring to question authority.

The TV programme is almost entirely uncritical, and as such is an unchallenged celebratory projection of the school and the beliefs of the headteacher. It ignores a wide range of important issues that underly her approach and that make what she does much less appropriate in other circumstances. At the same time it gives the completely false impression that every other school in the country is unruly and ‘progressive’: there are many inner-city schools that achieve good GCSE results without adopting her strict discipline ethos. It’s a shame there are no alternative, more liberal views of a successful school environment being as widely presented and promoted by other headteachers or educational leaders.

The often-stated belief that all children like strict discipline is erroneous: it may work for some, but not for others. Following the rules to the letter is the easy option for a adolescent as it avoids the need to deal with the ambiguities and inconsistencies in behaviour that occur in real life. For those who end up in the armed forces this is doubtless an excellent preparation, but the rest are probably going to find it difficult to adapt and survive in the real world where independent action, flexibility, collaborative work and decision making are now essential for success. Real-life involves knowing how and when to break the rules – something that Michaela children will have had no experience of. The question is, do early-teenage children really need to be subjected to these levels of discipline and to what extent does being so inhibit their longer term ability to think and act independently?

“No-one is farther from the truth that the one who knows all the answers”

Change Tzu, Chinese Philosopher, 369 BC to 286 BC

There are times when the Headmistress’s comments show a naivety. She doesn’t seem to be able to think of any reason why children should not be forced to sing the Nation Anthem and to love their country. At the end of this clip she explains that her children have agency simply because they have the choice of doing what they are told without question and get a merit, or not do so and being put in detention. The reality is that they have very little control over what happens to them at all, something else they are likely to find difficult to cope with when they leave and are expected to do things for themselves. And it’s a myth that most teachers accept home difficulties as a reason for never handing in homework, and in most genuine cases would instead allow some extra time: her extreme ‘no excuses’ culture seems to lack a sense of compassion.

Another issue is the encouragement for children at the school to ‘hand-in’ their mobile phones for extended periods of time – e.g. for a term – in what’s called a ‘digital detox’. As a result they are not gaining enough experience of learning how to effectively use the internet to find things out, as demonstrated by the boy completing a worksheet at home and asking Alexa (or perhaps it should be ‘Birbal’?) for the answer and unquestioningly writing it down without critically exploring any other possible answers.

A good secondary education involves children being exposed to a variety of approaches to learning and teaching, from the strictly instructional teacher-led to the liberal, more self-directed. In this way they can establish how they learn best and also how to interact effectively with mind-sets that are different from their own. This is not to advocate schools adopt an unstructured ‘let the kids do what they want’ approach that the Trads like to pretend is prevalent in our educational establishments, but to aim to achieve a more equitable balance between teacher-led and student-initiated independent learning.

Meanwhile, they seek them here, they seek them there, but there’s still no information on the Michaela School website about their 2020 or 2021 exam results.

In conclusion All Change Please! would like to give its appreciation to all its readers. Two claps on the count of two everybody. One. Two. 👏👏

All Change Please! has no plans to watch the even more shocking, full 90 minute unexpurgated version, but if you’re a glutton for punishment and have £4.50 to spend, you can do so here.

The one-hour version can be viewed here for free on the ITV hub.

All Change Please! has other posts that explore and discuss the Birbalsingh Way:

Please don’t wake me…

Any resemblance to All Change Please! in the above image is entirely misleading

All Change Please! is not dead, it has just been sleeping. Not that anyone has probably noticed but All Change Please!, exhausted from its Downing St Farm epic just before Christmas, has been very quiet recently, and suffering from a nasty case of Bloggers’ Block.

The problem is that without the delights of the ‘Three G’s of education – Gove, Glibbly and Gavin – regularly spouting the nonsense that revealed just how little they knew about education – there’s not been a lot to make fun of. And as for Nadim Zahawi-wi-wi, his vision and plans to improve the nation’s education have been about as uninteresting and uninspiring as a GCSE Geography examination question.

Only the ever-present Dame Lil’ Ms BS continues to occasionally lift her head above the parapet and spout something controversial and un-evidenced that will get her plenty of media coverage and annoy and upset everyone else. This time it’s about the low number of girls taking A level physics, because apparently they don’t seem to like the maths involved so they choose biology and chemistry instead. Curiously this doesn’t seem to deter a much higher number of girls from taking Maths A Level as a subject in its own right. Her argument is that girls tend to be more empathetic and less systematic in the way they think than boys do, but this hasn’t been enough to prevent her being heavily criticised for reinforcing gender stereotypes and unconscious biases.

But her faithful followers have been out in force, rallying to the cause and supporting her every Tweet in the face of the overwhelming masses who think otherwise.

A clear case of the pot calling the kettle black?*

Let’s just be grateful she isn’t an education minister…

Meanwhile, you’ve guessed it – there’s still no information on the school’s website as to how well the Michaela students have performed in their examinations since 2018-19.

Moving on, OFSTED have been criticised for expecting children to actually remember all the excessive factual stuff and nonsense they have been ‘taught’ in previous years, which all seems quite reasonable if that’s what you wrongly believe education is all about. Perhaps it’s because our wise young people see little immediate relevance in the knowledge they are presented with that they don’t see the need to retain it for very long? Still, that’s no excuse not to make learning even more engaging by including hours and hours of ‘Recall and Retrieval Practice’ – the latest must-have Trad Fad – in lessons. But of course OFSTED’s approach is entirely redundant in this age of fast-facts delivered quickly and easily to your phone: what they should be doing is asking children if they quickly had to find out about a particular topic, how would they set about doing so?

One such ‘pop-quiz’ question asked by an Inspector was for a child to explain the ‘principles of the rule of law’. What’s that you say? You are how old and you don’t know what the principles of the rule of law are?

Put simply, the answer the inspector might have expected would have been along the lines of: “It’s a durable system of laws, institutions, norms, and community commitment that delivers accountability, just law, open government and accessible and impartial justice… unless of course you happen to the Prime Minister.”

And finally All Change Please! can exclusively reveal, via an unknown source on Twitter, what former MP and tractor-fetishist Neil Parish was searching for on his phone in the House of Commons.

All Change Please! says… If the use of mobile phones is banned in schools, so they should also be in the House of Commons Debating Chamber?

And with that, All Change Please! crawls back into bed, pulls the covers up and drifts away, dreaming of a land far beyond this one, where its politicians have at least some understanding as to what education is actually all about.

No, don’t shake me
Leave me where I am
I’m only sleeping

  • Please be reassured that the idiom ‘pot calling the kettle black’ is in no way racist or anti-wokist. The phrase originates in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, and first appeared in its English form when used by William Penn in 1693. But of course you knew that, didn’t you?

Changing the Subject?

University is not worth it and can be an expensive path to flipping burgers

Being keen Daily Mirror readers you probably saw this headline and article in a recent edition. Essentially it is reinforcing the popular misbelief that Arts and Humanities degrees are a waste of time as you won’t get a decent job at the end, and instead you should study a STEM Subject if you don’t want to end up working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, coffee shop or, indeed, a hamburger joint. And as such what it really reveals is the lack of understanding that politicians and the populist media have about how and why students choose the university courses they do. Not to mention the contradiction that the author, herself a self-confessed English graduate, somehow seems to have acquired a good job, albeit with a third-rate tabloid newspaper.

For a very few highly academically-able students who have the ability to succeed in almost any subject they study (you know, the annoying ones who get 10 Grade 9s at GCSE and Four A*s at A level without making any effort at all) then it’s fair to say that they do potentially have the choice of taking just about any subject they care to. Some who have a specific career in mind at the age of 16 know that in order to get there there are certain subjects they simply have to study so the choice is made for them. There are also those who are ‘pushed’ into choosing a particular subject by teachers and parents because they have shown a particular aptitude for it – often to discover when they get to University that it’s not what they want to do at all.

But for the vast majority it just doesn’t work like that, and it’s more a matter of crossing each subject off the list as they realise they either intensely dislike it and can’t wait to give it up, or know they just really have no chance of getting a good enough grade in it. Most students choose something they think they might find of some interest and that they stand a chance of succeeding in and will worry about an actual career at some point in the distant future.

Meanwhile, as in the case of the graduate mentioned in the article, a certain amount of blame must be attached to the university for failing to prepare students for getting a job in the real world at the end of the course – unless that is that in turn they intend to become academics, or teachers. To what extent have they been strongly encouraged to undertake work-placements and internships during the University holidays? What communication, problem-solving and team-work skills have they developed? Have they been advised to create a digital media profile by blogging or creating a web-site? Subject-related videos on YouTube with a good following? Book reviews on Amazon with lots of likes? How many articles have they submitted to magazines and got published? How big a network of professional contacts have they established? Thought of doing an MA in something like Arts Administration? Any of these things? No, All Change Please! thought probably not.

It’s another popular myth that there are no jobs to be had in Arts and Humanities-based subjects. The reality is that there are plenty of employment opportunities for capable graduates who understand the need to create an engaging profile for themselves and a work-reviewed LinkedIn CV that will impress a potential employer before they enter the market-place. That way they are more likely to end up drinking the cocktails and coffees instead of serving them. As the joke goes: ‘Google are hiring – no need to apply – they already have your details‘. That much is true.

The Clock Strikes Twelve

It’s said there’s something special about the number twelve. It’s the number of hours on the clock face, months in the year and inches in a foot. It’s also the number of people who serve on a jury. The number twelve makes frequent appearances in the Bible – the number of apostles, and the Greeks worshiped twelve major Gods. It is the number of years required for a full cycle of Jupiter, along with… dozens of other things.

There were twelve Ceasers. Twelve knights of the round table. ‘Twelfth Night’ is a comedy by William Shakespeare. And twelve days too many of Christmas.

Twelve-tone music is a method of musical composition devised by Arnold Schoenberg. The twelve-bar blues is one of the most prominent chord progressions in popular music. Long-playing vinyl albums are twelve inches across.

Twelve is a composite number, the smallest number with exactly six divisors, its divisors being 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12. There used to be 12 pence in a shilling.

The number twelve carries religious, mythological and magical symbolism, generally representing perfection, entirety, or cosmic order in traditions since antiquity.

But far more importantly than any of these things, twelve represents the number of years All Change Please! has slaved away trying to keep its blog posts alive, largely by thinking up silly alternative satirical names for politicians. And here, as usual on its birthday, is its annual review of its most successful posts of the last year.

In at Number 3 in the Pick of the Posts charts comes:

PhD Envy

In which we consider the extent to which the size of our qualifications really matters or is what we do with them more important ?

Just slightly ahead came:

Get in line for the EVacc

In which All Change Please! revealed the government’s new slogan for education:

So Post-pickers, who’s made it to Number One this year?

By quite a big margin it’s:

Banging on about the humdrum

Which explored the suggestion that ‘without humdrum, creativity is impossible’ and came to the inevitable conclusion that its author, a well known headmistress, had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.

However, as regular All Change Please! readers will know, its own favourites often prove not to be the most popular ones, though this year PhD Envy does appear in both lists.

From Boris with Love

In which our hero absurdly imagines he is Prime Minister…

On Your Marks

In which Smith and Jones were called upon to consider the sweeping powers given to teachers to mark their own student’s work.

A Headteacher Reacts

which considers how a well-known historical figure might have behaved if he were a head-teacher during the school lockdown.

If you have been, thanks for reading!