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Jean Walker

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Everything posted by Jean Walker

  1. UK house rental

    My partner and I are retiring at the end of the year and planning on another UK trip around July/August. We won't be as financial as now and also getting a bit more elderly, we're proposing not to gad about quite as much! Just wondering if anyone in England is going on holiday (or knows anyone who is) around then and might be interested in renting us their house or flat for a easonable price. We would prefer a couple of weeks somewhere just north of London and then similarly in Yorkshire or nearby and preferably not in the middle of a big town. We would be hiring a car.
  2. UK house rental

    Trying again with a more specific date. Has anyone a house or flat to rent in central south or north of England anywhere between 22 July and 2 August for a week? Only needs to sleep two.
  3. The Organisation of Post-Secondary Education

    Thanks, David. I've managed to find a document which has the main courses in English.
  4. The Organisation of Post-Secondary Education

    PS I read somewhere that there are something like 19 set courses/tracks in the colleges - is there anywhere I can see what they consist of?
  5. The Organisation of Post-Secondary Education

    Thank you David - that is a brilliant and comprehensive reply. It sounds very much like the model our Minister wants to introduce into our post secondary area (16-19). Perhaps we could discuss what people see as the advantages and disadvantages of your system. Currently in our system we have separate comprehensive senior secondary colleges for years 11 and 12 which offer a mixture of academic and applied courses on the same site, then we have TAFE (Technical and Further Education) which is a separate institution, separately funded, which delivers applied/technical learning to mainly adults although some 16 year olds attend. It delivers appreniceship block training courses, industry training, evening trade courses etc. The intention is to amalgamate these two systems into one very much like your own. Our college teachers are sceptical about separating out students into Academies at age 15/16. Our students leave high school (Yrs 7-10) at late 15 or early 16.
  6. New Teaching Standards Draft

    We've also been told of cases where parents have used teacher standards to bring complaints and as the standards are often pitched very aspirationally rather than realistically, there's a fair chance of them succeeding. If you allow something like. "Must provide individualised program for each student" you're leaving the door wide open for unreasonable parents of who there is a growing number!
  7. New Teaching Standards Draft

    Thanks for this link. We are in the nidst of a debate about teacher standards and performance pay so this will be a useful comparison. Our concern is about how they are used - in a formative way to enhance the profession or as a method of determining who gets what money or to use as a basis for complaints and grievances.
  8. Performance Pay Our extreme right-wing, conservative federal govt is absolutely intent on introducing performance pay for teachers based on what is going on in some American states - I think Arkansas is one. Can';t find much on the web about whether they are working or not and what teachers' opinions are. Any comments?
  9. Education and the Working Class

    Thanks for this article, John. It gave me food for thought. Although we do not suffer from the class system to the extent you do in Britain, it still remains a problem to engage working class kids. We tend to find more difficulties with girls as there is still a reasonable job market for unskilled boys but none for girls whose main aim then is to get pregnant in time to receive the first welfare payment before they have to deal with the govts attempts to keep them in further education or futile job searching. We have some good programs starting for re-engaging teenage mothers in our senior secondary colleges (which are Yr 11/12 separate from high schools) but it all takes time and lots of money. The writer is absolutely right in saying that teachers know how to address these issues, they just aren't given enough resources to do it.
  10. Crazy about Work

    I agree and would also add the change in management style and relationships with bureaucracy. Here about 10/15 years ago, principals used to be very much more their own person, the independent leader of their school who would bravely stand up against bureaucratic cr*p. Now they are often forced to be lackeys of the department and slaves to bureaucracy which takes them away from their core job of ensuring their school is well run, well organised and a satisfying place to work.
  11. Crazy about Work

    I've downloaded it and passed it on to our union welfare officer who found it very interesting and pretty much rerflects the same thing here.
  12. The funny things children say

    The famous one in our family was when my now adult son was about three and learning to dress himself. He pulled on his Y-fronts back to front and I said to him: You've got those on the wrong way round. He looked down and said very seriouisy: Yes, but they'll be all right when I turn round.
  13. I agree - there's no right answer but the authors I find myself repeatedly mentally referring to or using as a reference for the present which must mean they had a significant impact on me would be: George Orwell, H G Wells, D H Lawrence, Shaw, Wilfred Owen and Virginia Woolf. Then not necessarily great but I have always enjoyed Somerset Maugham, G K Chesterton, Priestley and Galsworthy. Mmmm.... very conservative taste really!
  14. Notes on a Scandal

    Anyone seen the movie? I recognised every one of the staff and some of the students! Seriously, I thought it was brilliantly done. What a brave and wonderful actress Judy Dench is!
  15. Notes on a Scandal

    That's interesting! And it's also interesting that when it's the other way round it doesn't seem to be so much of a scandal. I can think of a number of cases of male teachers who've had affairs and/or married their much younger students and they often seem to be excused or it's somehow rationalised. But I think agree with a comment I read that it's probably less likely to have a detrimental affect on an adolescent boy being seduced by an older woman than the other way round for an adolescent girl. maybe I'm wrong but there seems less of a "power" thing with the older woman and more abilitty for a young man to say no.
  16. Notes on a Scandal

    Perhaps things have changed, but I thought the school scenes were not unlike the comprehensive I taught at near Maidstone in 1992 and there were some dodgy things going on there among the staff! I also think once you've read a book it's almost always hard to be totally satisfied with the film version. Just last year one of our young women teachers here went to gaol for much the same thing. I pass the school on my way to work each morning. Terrible waste of a career.
  17. The end of SATS (NCTs)

    A question - is the English performance pay system based on student test results and is it working? We are being threatened with it here by our federal govt.
  18. The end of SATS (NCTs)

    Am I reading this wrongly or doesn't the explanation say that they are going to increase testing, not stop it?
  19. Welcome to the forum. I only post on the educational issues sites as I'm not a JFK devotee. Here in Tasmania we mainstream almost every child except the most profoundly disabled and it just doesn't work. I fully understand why parents don't want their disabled students in special schools but I think the criteria for mainstreaming has to be that they don't negatively impact on the education of others, which I think is what you are saying. Unfortunately, here, they do. Children who need to be tube fed, nappies changed, severely intellectually disabled are mainsteamed, even if they spend all day screaming, shouting etc to the extent that the other children are unable to hear and/or concentrate. My teachers' union, of which I'm the state president, is pushing for what we have titled, as they do in Canada, responsible inclusion. The trouble is that the irresponsible mainstreaming has been allowed to go on for so long that it is now going to be extremely difficult to alter parental expectations.
  20. Labour Ministers and Private Education

    I absolutely agree with you - it's just the same over here except we don't yet have SATS and all they bring with them, but our federal govt (a large number of whom send their children to private schools) are working very hard to ensure we do have them by 2008. I have just returned from the Union's national conference in Canberra and one of the keynote speakers was the President of NUT (Judy ?? - my memory fails me). I sat with her at dinner and heard about how most English schools cease all alternative activities for 6 weeks to swot and coach for the tests even though solid research shows that performance pay ultimately does nothing to keep teachers performing any better. Australia does very well in the international tests for literacy and numeracy (not so good in science which is a real worry) and no amount of testing is going to improve those results much because the low end of the figures come from areas of poverty and indigenous populations. I spent a lunch hour with Professor Alan Luke who was the architect of the new curriculums in Australia which stress cross-curricular, multi-disciplinary, authentic learning approaches. He is considered the leading authority on curriculum in Australia and has recently returned from 3 years working on curriculum in Singapore and he spends a lot of time in Canada and LA. I admire him because he allows his views to grow and develop and is not a fixed acolyte of any one method. The difference between countries such as Canada and Finland where there is not the huge differential gap between the results of the poor and the middle class is what he calls a low definition curriculum coupled with high definition professional autonomy and freedom, supported by high level pre-service and in-service training. His message to this conference was - stop playing "curriculum wars" about what should be taught, cut back on testing, train teachers better, provide better in-service PD, encourage teachers to be intellectuals, pay them more, and pay them in relation to better initial and post-graduate qualifications and in-school competencies (but not test results), provide paid sabbaticals and build the status of the profession. He also noted that all the evidence from the US shows that early intervention and early testing achieves nothing if pedagogy and curriculum isn't right in later years. The US NCLB program has shown this repeatedly. Early reading intervention does not have a hypodermic fix. If only we could wave a magic wand!!!! However, we will be fighting for these things for as long as it takes.
  21. Meetings bl**dy meetings

    Well, I have to admit that is one area where we are no better off here! Consultation seems to mean: we'll ask you what you want to do and then we'll tell you what you're going to do. I suppose it all depends on the definition of consult, as in "consulting" a doctor or a dictionary. Perhaps we should insist on "negotiation" and "collaboration" rather than consultation.
  22. What Makes Women Happy?

    I have to say, as a late middle aged woman who has led a fairly interesting and varied life, having had a marriage,three children, lived alone, had affairs, a stable de-facto relationship and many close friends both male and female and travelled the world, I find a lot of the opinions in the above articles a load of rubbish. I certainly wouldn't put security, protection, nurturing, caring for others as top priorities in my life even though I've enjoyed having children and I enjoy the occasions when a friend of either gender supports or helps or tries to protect me, but I could equally well manage without it. I'm an only child and I wasn't brought up to believe that you couldn't lead a satisfactory life without a man in it. I don't expect any man to know what I want unless I tell him, although I must admit I believe that males are generally speaking less intutive than women, but knowing that means I understand why things sometimes need to be spelled out to them. I do think some men like women as a species and some don't and women spot that very easily even when heavily disguised. My list of what I want from LIFE would include: good health, good education, financial independence, a fulfilling career, good long-lasting relationships and friendships of all kinds, the ability to travel, acess books, good music, theatre and cinema. What I want from a MAN is a recognition of those needs and no desire to impede or frustrate them, a shared agreement on the importance of all of the above and a generally common outlook on the world. If this comes wrapped up in a parcel with passion, mutual attraction and fulfilling sexuality, then you are probably on to something that will last a lifetime and weather most storms. Sometimes you get a little more of one side than the other and you can live with it. Sometimes the balance changes significantly and you can't. Sometimes people put up with the lack of one side because of the strength of the other and sometimes that works and sometimes it eventually unravels. What you most definitely need as you get older is a partner who becomes or remains your best friend and companion in spite of whether the other areas stay or go. I suppose the question might be asked how does a man become a woman's best friend. Well. lots of ways but if I can give all you blokes a quick tip - always listen properly (don't pretend to listen), respond verbally without trying to always provide a "fix-it" solution (often women just want what other women give them - a quiet hearing and reassurance because they know there's no solution), ocassionally admit that you're wrong, and give up never asking for assistance. see how that works! And you're right about gay men. One of my very best friends is a late 40s gay and he is the best friend you could have. If you want to know why, I'll tell you at a later time!
  23. Meetings bl**dy meetings

    I think I'll file these comments to pass on to our members whenever they complain about the teachers' union in Australia. Here in Tasmania, schools only have to hold one parent/teacher evening a year and each parent is not expected to stay for more that 10--15 minutes with a teacher; teachers have written into their award that they are not required to be "on site" more than 70 hours a fortnight, they have guaranteed maximum teaching contact hours of 40 hours a fortnight for secondaries and 44 for primaries (which we are working on to bring into line soon), we have maximum class sizes of 25 currently from Prep to Gr 3 and this current Minister has committed to raise that to Gr 7 by 2008, we have Long Service Leave which means three months paid leave every ten years, holiday loading which bring in an extra 17% on holiday pay and they are certainly not expected to reveal their telephone numbers or receive calls at home unless they wish to. Next time any of my members moan I might politely suggest they go teaching in England, Sweden or Canada.
  24. National Testing

    Article from Western Australia newspaper on testing! Test mark of 22pc deemed OK (page 6) by Jessica Strutt A score of 44 per cent was the most any child needed to be deemed to have adequate literacy and numeracy skills "WA primary school students were deemed to have met the minimum benchmark set in this year's literacy and numeracy assessment even if they scored marks as low as 22 per cent in some of the tests. [see Table, below] [several paragraphs restating the results shown in the table] "Shadow education minister Peter Collier said parents would be shocked to find out how low a mark their child could get while still being considered to have acceptable levels of literacy and numeracy. If those low benchmarks reflected what was deemed an acceptable standard of numeracy and literacy, it was time for the standards to be reassessed. [emphasis added] "Parents and the community at large would be staggered to learn that the benchmarks in some instances were as low as 22 per cent," he said. "Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop said results were disappointing and further justified the Federal Government's decision to address the issue of poor literacy standards..." "Education Minister Mark McGowan declined to comment."
  25. National Testing

    Wales has already scrapped Sats at 11 and 14 and abolished school performance tables too. And are the standards in Wales dropping as a result? I would think not. Out govt in Australia is also madly bent on continuous benchmark testing and if the standards don't improve they lower the benchmark till they do - really educationally sound practice.