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Neighbours again

I haven’t written about them for a while, so we’d better catch up.

The fence is knackered all the way along. We have quotes to put up a big, solid fence – about £1,000 worth. If we can pay by installments, we might be able to do it.

The Mother had an affair. She chucked her boyfriend out, who wouldn’t go. Cue shouting.

She tried to do a runner – but the car broke down, so she came back.

She is now locking the children in the back garden (don’t know why they are not in school) while we assume she has a shag with her new man.

We have heard, through the walls and down the street, the children screaming (and I mean high pitched blood curdling screaming, not just loud irritating screaming), we have seen them stealing gravel from other neighbours, mistreating their new dog (kicking, leaving it alone for long periods to howl), a 6 year old playing with a claw hammer (and using it on what used to be a gate from our side of the fence, so…). They have dumped chairs between out shed and what is left of the fence.

Bear in mind, when we contacted the council to establish who owned the fence, they basically said it was none of our business and we didn’t want to get caught up in boundary law. Now, all boundary law states is that there is an invisble boundary wilt two dimensions (length, Height) and it actually doesn’t matter where you put the marker – however, after 12 years you can claim the boundary has moved. So, the Housing Association do not want to look after their own properties.

Did I say their own properties? What I meant was: They are a non-profit oranisation. The council transferred ownership to them after the Conservative privatisation of Housing in the UK. They are funded by the council. (So… Why privatise something if we are just going to be taxed for it anyway?). So, my Council Tax pays for that house. It also pays for the benefits that pay fot the rent. So why should I live next door to violent, irresponsible people who I then pay for?

We have written a letter to the council basically saying “Fuck you for not doing anything. Fuck you for trying to frighten us when we complain. If you don’t do anything with that fence, we will replace it from our pockets and then we will have the law behind us. If you do not respond to this letter, we will take it as a legal agreement that whatever and wherever we place a new fence will belong to us”

Teens in London

Made it. I survived my first residential. Although I feel it was an easy one, as I only really had 5 students with me, all really keen on what they were about to see.

I was amazed at how well they took to Tate Modern. A few of them have studeied art before, but this is about media. I was blown away when they really connected with Steve McQueen’s two installations (‘Deadpan’, currently showing as part of the Turner retrospective, and ‘Drumroll’ – although one student had to leave because he was so disoriented by it).

Art must always evoke a reaction. In the same way that music needs to be listened too. So when we all stand around and watch a looped video of an artist recreationg the old silent movie staple of the front of the house falling at our hero, only for him to survive because he is standing in exactly the right place for the window to pass over him – from lots of different angles, lasting for about 16 minutes, and stand there for about 15 minutes discussing out favourite shots – it has worked! But then, he did win the Turner prize for that one.

Now, five students are easy. Even if 2 of them are hyperactive. I’ve got their attention (Beowulf in 3d night 1). What I don’t get is if I am part of the team managing 55 students in total, wht don’t I get a smaller group just to follow me? I have 5 I can trust (which is rare as a teacher!) Just give ma another 10, and I’m off. But hell, that’s a minor complaint.

So – what else did we do? well besides talking shit for almost two solid days (and I mean there was some real bollox talked. Me ranting about Modern art was the most lucid part) actually, coming down with a cold really helped that. But the highlights –

Beatifully animated, with some great flashes of script and action – well done Niel! Now, dead eyes because of that animating method (Mr Zemeckis – I know you are trying to avoid the unreal valley, but are you going up the right side?). And to be a 12a – s this necessary? We have seen a grotesque Grenel rip people apart, and yet still need an ‘Austin Powers’ style comedy sequence hiding this man’s cock. For god’s sake, if it’s a problem, give him a loin cloth. It’s not women in love, he’s fighting a giant inside out freak.

Tim Burton
Mark Salisbury like name droppin. ‘Tim was quite keen to be here today, but his second child is being born’. Boo. Although, be did see some really cool excerpts from Sweeney Todd. With added name dropping. And the short that got Tim the job at Disney is Excellent.

Five teenagers? choosing to watch Nosferatu? Choosing to watch sex education frilms from 1944? Wow. They are on the right course.

Morning Ramblings
My personal highlight is hearing the stories of four people, who do know each other reasonably well, sharing a room for the first time. Especially when they all have their own ‘peculiarities’. There is a photo of one sleeping in the locker. But it is the way they describe it that really reminds me of my own youth. Although, possibly from when I was about 13, not 18… but hey.

Government fails pre-school children

Pre-school policies ‘lack impact’

Do me a favour. Find your local Surestart Centre. Ask them what they are doing with the funding.

In Wincanton, there is a Surestart centre. It is officially the Surestart centre for this area. They haven’t even managed to employ someone for it. People who work at it don’t even know it’s a Surestart centre. This is how important the children are in this area. I will wager money that this is typical. You want to know why children are unruly, unpleasant and anti social? We have let them. And here is one way we have done that.

There are childcare facilities in the area desperate for the money who are already doing the job. Why is it that whenever a good idea is put in place, the wrong people get the funding?

Because we let them get away with it.

Do me a favour. Find your local Surestart Centre. Ask them what they are doing with the funding.

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Five good GCSEs 'net £2,200 more'

Employers would pay an extra £2,261 a year to staff with the benchmark five good GCSEs, research suggests.

Those with five GCSEs grade A* to C, or their vocational equivalent, would get an average of £13,016 a year, a survey of 271 recruiting managers suggested.

The Learning and Skills Council poll suggested employers would pay new staff an average of £450 more for every GCSE.

Managers said they would pay those with two GCSEs an average of £11,624 a year and those with three an average of £12,052.

Those with four would average £12,553 and staff with five would net £13,016 on average.

The research is backed up by Office of National Statistics data which suggests people with the minimum five GCSEs earn an average of £55 a week more than those without such qualifications.

Full Article

GCSEs ‘not the end of the line’

Although more young people are doing well each year, almost half of 16-year-olds in England do not meet this mark.

Alasdair Craig, now 23, suffers severely from dyslexia and was advised at his specialist school to expect only cleaning and washing up as a job.

And with careers advice like that it is hardly surprising that he “didn’t really see the point of school”.

“Schools are great at making interesting things boring,” he says.

He left school at 16 with two GCSEs and after doing a few low-skilled jobs accepted an apprenticeship, training to be a diamond setter.

It takes up to 10 years to train a setter to the highest level, but after two years of training by a skilled setter, Alasdair showed enough competence to reach a commercial standard.

While still an apprentice, he has become a skilled craftsman at Cellini’s in Cambridge, and has never looked back.

‘Don’t panic’

And there has been another knock-on effect – the growth in Alasdair’s confidence. He now grapples with challenging texts like Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Results day can be an especially worrying experience for youngsters like Alasdair who haven’t done particularly well.

“It’s stressful because at the moment they look at that bit of paper and if they haven’t got what they wanted it’s ‘What shall I do?’ It’s panic,” says Faith Patterson, centre community manager at young people’s advice service Connexions in Croydon.

What’s needed is impartial advice from someone who isn’t involved, she says.

“People who are too close, like parents, are not always the best because they will be trying to analyse what went wrong.

“What people need to remember is there is always something that they can do – it’s never the end of the world.”

‘Vocation, vocation’

Youngsters can get free, impartial advice from the advisers in their local government-funded Connexions centre.

Many colleges will still take those youngsters who haven’t got the grades required – so it’s always worth getting in contact with them, she says.

And from this year a place has to be offered to every young person completing Year 11 under a new scheme known as the September Guarantee.

As Alasdair has shown, joining the world of work doesn’t have to mean the end of learning.

Apprenticeships can be the ideal opportunity for people who want to earn some cash and gain valuable skills at the same time.

Full Article

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Steiner good, apparently

BBC NEWS | Education | Steiner schools ‘could help all’

Appealing to the whole child in an holistic way is good for educations. Now, correctv me if I’m wrong but it can’t be that hard to combine this system with one that values ticking boxes and children reaching a specific target at a specific age.

Now, Steiner schools value the axim that learning will take place when the learner is ready – some children don’t start reading untill past the age of 7. You cannot turn that into a tick box activity.

The governent has tried to expand the way that education thins of the student. Adding ‘Value added’ criteria to inspections is one way. But this is still a tick box exercise.

The problem still goes back to measuring quality (Please, read ‘Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ for god’s sake!). Any measurement has to be objective, yet quality is subjective… etc.

Education is currently about a student reaching a specific quantity of information, either via exam or project. Vocational qualifications go some way towards that, depending on the teacher.

The problem is that society demands results from education. Society demands that students tick boxes and prove their level of education by previously set goals.

Now, some teachers do approach this because they are doing their jobs, not following dictates: eg Literacy Hour doesn’t have to be between 2pm and 3pm “you will read NOW!”. It can be an hour throughout the day…

BBC NEWS | Education | Bringing creativity to the classroom

It can be done – It seems to me that an educational establishment has two routes – Play the game as it sees it and struggle to the grade 1 position by following the letter of the law, or follow the spirit of the law – e.g. educate the students.

(I have been told before to make sure the students are motivated within an authoritarian approach. I have also been told that there must be ‘no negativity’. )

A big issue with Steiner schools is that is doesn’t offer these simple goals. Also, it doesn’t fit in with current social thinking. Steiner students can have a problem fitting in with the wider society once they have left schools.

If education is to look toward Steiner for solutions to the mess it has got itself into, it first needs to look towards the society that has demanded this situation.

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The Fence

IN my garden, there is a fence. We bought a house, and the fence was kind of part of it. It’s on the neighbors boundary, so that would make it the neighbors responsibility.

The previous owners put it up. That might make it our property, unless they gifted it to the neighbors.

The neighbors rent their property. That would make the fence the responsibility and possibly the property of the Landlord.

The landlord claims they have no obligation to have a fence up between the properties.

The fence has been kicked through at one point. At other points it is falling over. The neighbor claimed this was due to high winds. The fence not bordering the neighbors garden is solid.

See images here

I believe the fence has been systematically broken by the neighbors children. We have witnessed the 6 year old boy kicking it until you can climb through. Which he has done.

If it is our fence, that would be criminal damage.
If it is the landlords fence, it is effecting the value of our house.
If it effects the value of our house, that is breaking the contract the tenants have with the landlord.

The landlord denies any responsibility.

The fence it still broken after 3 months.

Problem Neighbours

I really hope you can’t sympathize with me. I would not wish it on anyone.

They are not bad people – although, I think he is claiming sickness benefit and working on the side, while she has had 5 children and uses it as an excuse to not work – so, maybe there is an argument to say they are just sponging. But then again, maybe they have had a hard life.

It has now gone quiet. An unusual state here. Between 9 and 10 this morning, the children where out playing. D_ was being told off at 9.20, L_ was screaming that “he was doing it” at 9.45, plus the general unidentified screams of children playing in between.

So far – not too bad. No one has threatened anyone else. No loud swearing. Just some unidentified kicking and rock moving.

Yesterday, we came back from some shopping. The children always see us (I think that’s why they kicked a hole in the fence – but that is another story). “Where have you been?” come the shout. I ignore it, but Tammy responds – “Shopping, Sweetie”. I don’t hear much of the rest of the conversation, but I do hear L_ call her “dickface”.

Please bear in mind, he is only 6. And I think he gets called much worse.

Oh, and then there’s the stuff they
throw over the fence