We wuz robbed…

Left feeling sick as a parrot

There were controversial scenes at a recent GCSE English league football match in which the goalposts were inexplicably shifted several yards to the far right, just as the lower-league’s left-wing striker was about to score, ensuring the shot went narrowly wide of the mark.

A spokesperson for the losing team stated: “This makes a complete nonsense of the extensive use we have made of performance metrics, predictive scoreline analytics and information goal-line technology. It feels like we are going right back to square one, just how the game was  played back in the 1950s. Now there is likely to be the need for extra time and a high number of replays and sweet FA appeals. We already have more players sitting on the benchmark than we would like. Achieving five or more good passes on the pitch at this level is already quite a challenge for some of them.

Meanwhile the manager of the victorious Mudchester Govers explained that the decision to move the goalposts at the very last moment had been taken in order to ensure a reversal of the goal inflation that has crept into the game over recent years and which favored weaker sides. “As soon as these lower-league teams convert to becoming football academies the better”, he said.

However, he rigorously denied giving the order to move the goalposts mid-match, explaining that that was entirely the referee’s decision and as such something he would of course never dream of interfering with. The fact that he is the person about to decide which referees will be allowed to continue in the future has nothing at all whatsoever to do with it, he didn’t add.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artwork_rebel/3924846665

There’s no such thing as free time

What do you mean – can I come back at once and take 10B for extra games?

Just in case you’ve been too glued to the Olympics on TV to notice, this week Mr Camoron seems to have taken over as education secretary. Just for once, Nice Mr Gove is nowhere to be heard. Perhaps he has sensibly taken the opportunity to slip quietly out of the country during the Olympics, probably to some exotic destination to stay with a few wealthy old school chums. Let’s just hope he doesn’t take over as PM when Mr Camoron disappears for a little hard-earned free time later in the Summer.

Unfortunately Mr Camoron seems to be making just as bad a job of making statements about education as old Govey does, and is hardly likely be strengthening his prospective teacher-vote by accusing them of being callous and uncaring enough to refuse to give up their so-called free-time by taking sports activities after school.


Of course, what he’s not mentioned is that it was his party that caused the problem in the first place. Time-slip with us for a moment to 1986. To save face over a pay dispute the conservative government forced the striking teacher unions to agree a statement of the number of hours a year teachers actually work, because as everyone knows, teachers are a lazy bunch who clock off at 3.30pm every day and spend 12 weeks a year sunning themselves on a distant beach.

However, teachers quickly worked out that in fact they already did far more hours work a year than the specified number, and in retaliation for their less-than-hoped-for pay agreement they decided to cut back a bit on all those extras – such as the after school clubs and sports they had previously not thought twice about giving up their so-called free time to run.

So All Change Please! reckons it’s time for Mr Camoron to set an example and give up his forthcoming free-time to run a two week summer sports camp for disaffected 14 to 16 year olds.

Meanwhile Mr Camoron criticises the ‘tick-box, done that’ mentality prevalent in schools, again without mentioning that it was a Conservative Government in 1989 that introduced the National Curriculum in the first case with its endless Attainment Targets and Programmes of Study Checklists. No wonder teachers now don’t have any free-time for teaching sport after lessons have ended – though of course many still somehow manage to do so.

And Mr Camoron has also called for more competitive sports to be played in schools:  “We need a big cultural change – a cultural change in favour of competitive sports”, playing on the popular erroneous belief that schools are beset with an ‘everyone’s a winner’ approach to sport. He also fails to understand how dance can be as physically challenging as the more traditional forms of running, jumping and standing still are.

Now All Change Please! is not suggesting that there should no competition in schools – it is after all a natural survival characteristic of the species, but at the same time let’s remember that not everyone is capable of achieving Gold, and that there’s nothing less motivating or confidence-inspiring than being amongst the ones who come last. Successful species survive through collaboration as well as competition. The culture that really needs to be changed is our lack of our ability to work effectively together – something that must surely have dawned on Mr Camoron as he struggles to hold the current coalition together.

And if you were hoping that prospective PM Boris Johnson might be starting to talk a bit more sense than Camoron, try this:


“I would like to see, frankly, the kind of regime I used to enjoy – compulsory two hours’ sport every day.”

Yet another politician who narrow-mindedly assumes that what was good for him will be good for everyone, and who clearly knows nothing about the practicalities and issues involved in the actual implementation of what is no more than a populist media-seeking sound-bite.

And finally:

‘I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious’  Albert Einstein.

So if we want our children to grow up to be as clever as Einstein, perhaps what we should really be doing is instigating compulsory two hours’ passionate curiosity a day?

What if…?

Malcolm McDowell in a still from Lindsay Anderson’s classic 1968 film ‘If’

There have recently been some rumours that nice Mr Gove may be heading for the Treasury in a late-summer re-shuffle. What if these reports prove to be correct….?

Dateline March 2013. Budget Day.

Today Chancellor Gove announced that the only way to avoid rising levels of inflation was to introduce a new much more rigorous hard currency, which will consist of pounds, shillings and pence, just like in the good old days of the 1950’s, before he was old enough to remember what it was actually like.

However, the new currency will only be available for use by a relatively small percentage of the population who know their twelve times table off by heart by the time they are eleven years old – a preparatory measure he cleverly introduced during his time as education minister. The rest of the population will be expected to return to a softer, more vocationally orientated barter system.

Chancellor Gove then went on to confirm his intention to set up a series of ‘Free’ banks, able to choose their own interest rates and employ anyone they want – formal qualifications in finance will not be required. “We have all used money at some point in our lives” he said “so it is something we are all experts in already.” However he revealed that he has asked the new education minister to introduce a weekly double-dip lesson in Economics in our schools. It is also expected that in future, retired members of the armed forces will be recruited to help ensure the security of the banking system.

Meanwhile there is also to be a major overhaul of credit repayment schemes. In future, monthly modular repayments, with opportunities for extensions, will be banned. Instead debts must be paid off in full in a single installment at the end of a two year period.

Finally, existing banks that succeed in awarding excessive bonuses to five or more directors will be awarded the prestigious eBancc certificate, which will help ensure entry into Higher Banking.

On Twitter, the former ‘GoveMustGo’ hashtag has been replaced by #SendGoveBackToEducation.

So let’s just hope Cameron doesn’t do a U turn on his recent statement that Osborne is “not going anywhere”. You can say that again.

And please, in the meanwhile, no more quantitative sleasing.

Passnotes: ‘Great Britain – The Musical’

All together now: “We all live in an Olympic Stadium, an Olympic Stadium…”

So, the Olympic Opening Ceremony was pretty impressive, wasn’t it?

Pardon. Why are you whispering? Could you speak up a bit please?

No sorry, I still can’t hear you.

I said: ‘Actually I didn’t think it was very good’.

What? You cannot be serious? Better keep your voice down in case the Brand Police prosecute you for unnatural behaviour. Anyway does it make you feel better for coming out with such a statement in public?  I believe you can now get your problem chemically treated on the NHS…

Well the way I see it the Olympic Opening Ceremony is basically an opportunity to provide a showcase UK TV marketing message to the rest of the world, which apparently includes 95% of the viewers. It also has something to do with sport.

But what we got was ‘GB – The Musical‘, a rather confusing and quirky message giving too much emphasis on the fading glory of our past achievements, through a nostalgic, over-sanitised, self-indulgent, fairy-tale, utopian, time-line distorted mish-mash Larkrise to Candleford, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins meets Harry Potter in an archaic-looking 1948 NHS Yellow Submarine hospital, all with the incompetent Mr Bean and an unconvincing James Bond stunt thrown in, and ultimately a slightly tragic Paul McCartney singalongolympic ending. Back in the late 1960s we said we wanted a revolution. And this is what we ended up with.

Hey, you better slow down a bit, you’re getting all out of adjectives…

Yes, thanks, I think I better had.    Ah, that’s better. Now where was I? Oh yes…

With the possible exception of an embarrassed-looking personal appearance by the real Tim Berners Lee, and a simplistic rom-com boy meets girl using a mobile phone. it made Great Britain seem more like a glorified heritage theme-park visitor attraction than the hub of 21st century innovative business opportunity and sustainable high-tech investment centre of the future.

Well, yes. I suppose so, maybe. If you say so. But Mr Bean was ‘absolutely hilarious’ wasn’t he?
I had him down as ‘mildly amusing’

And the Queen jumping out of the helicopter? Absolutely brilliant!
Yes, that would have been truly memorable if she actually had done.

It was also much too long – ‘less is more’ did not not seem to be a consideration! I agree the stagecraft was good, but the choreography and acting was poor – I’ve seen better end-of-term school productions.

What in Olympic’s name were you expecting then?
Back in 1992 I visited the UK pavilion at Expo 92 in Spain. The pavilion was remarkable – a wall of water – and inside there was a stunning video display presentation involving extremely positive images of a high-tech country, speeding positively and confidently towards the future. There was also a ten minute multi-media ‘performance’ portraying a future ‘day in the life’, which was quite outstanding.

So overall I felt that the ceremony dwelt too much on the past, and in doing so conveyed a confusing collage of a country that is looking backwards rather than forwards.  And it didn’t take any risks, and was not very well performed. But it seems everyone else enjoyed it, so I guess it’s just my problem!

So was there nothing you thought was good about it?
Yes! The short opening film sequence following the path of the Thames, the lighting system effects, Thomas Heatherwick’s cauldron, and the sheer logistics of getting so many people in the right place at the right time.

Just a minute, this is supposed to be blog about education, or have you forgotten all about that for once?

Hmm. Yes. But the Olympic Opening Ceremony wasn’t about sport, either, so no problem, I reckon…

If you missed it all, or have a strange desire to watch it all over again, apparently it is due to be repeated in its entirety on BBC1 on the afternoon of Sat 18th August. It can also be seen on iPlayer, and there is a good description of it here:

Not to be confused with: women’s beach volley ball; running, jumping and standing still.

Don’t say: ‘The social impact of media and government-led propaganda on the collective psyche of the population’ might be a good subject to study at University.

Do say: I’ve been a life-long fan of athletics and go and support my local club every Saturday afternoon, so any suggestion that my desire to think about and watch nothing else than the Olympics is no more than a two-week wonder is complete and utter nonsense.

Oh, and… http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2012/07/31/the-olympic-opening-ceremony-according-to-tolkein/

Image credit: shimelle  http://www.flickr.com/photos/shimelle/7656531524