Friday, 26 August 2011

Finally some sanity!

This post comes with a warning. Parents will probably not agree with much, or indeed, all of what I have to say. Read on, don't read on, I really don't mind.

I rarely get the time to read a newspaper from cover to cover, but having been away with little to do and all day to do it in, I have had that pleasure. Unfortunately my paper reading coincided with the announcement of this year's GCSE results. This is usually a topic to get my blood pressure going in an upward direction; this year was no different, as the papers announced yet another year of increased pass rates and increased grades. How? So many youngsters that I have come across in my working life are incapable of using correct grammar, and I am convinced that were it not for Spell Checker, they would be using spelling that has only a very rough approximation to English. They change tense part way through a sentence, do not know when to use the singular and when the plural. It is often painful to read.

I am sorry, but GCSEs are NOT the same as O Levels were, they are set and marked in such a way as to allow more, if not most, to pass and pass well. How does that help future employers gauge which the best applicant is for a particular role. It does nothing for the child either, who will have spent their school life succeeding at everything, only to find that in the real world, they fail. Let me state here and now, there is nothing wrong with failing, as long as you learn from it. I know, I have failed often in my life, particularly whilst at school. In fact I was so good at failing at school that I had always assumed that I was not the brightest button in the box; I was right, I am not, but I am actually a lot brighter than I had thought while at school. Moving into the real world was wonderful for me, I suddenly started to succeed more often, not always, but certainly more often.

I should explain that I was a bright youngster and this meant that I was pushed into the higher class, meaning that I was always one of the youngest in my year and, once I hit 10 or 11, I started to struggle to keep up. For better or worse (and I hold that it was for better) I was allowed to remain in the higher year, but it did mean that I found school life quite tough.

In my later years I have excelled in my studies, most recently passing a Degree level Professional Course with Distinction. This is something that I never thought I would achieve, indeed, during the exam I was convinced I had failed!! How wrong.

So, why is this post headed 'Finally some sanity'? Yesterday there was an article in the Telegraph with the Headline - 'GCSEs: sloppy grammar will cost pupils one in 10 marks'. Finally markers are going to be allowed to deduct marks for bad grammar

GCSE exams in English and English literature, to be sat in 2012, will reserve at least 12 per cent of marks “for the use of a range of sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate punctuation and spelling”, said Ofqual

This will be followed with History and Geography in 2013, with Religious Studies possibly being included in 2013 also. The article suggests that bite sized modules, that pupils can resit until they get the grade they need, are also to be abolished; I had no idea they existed, but it certainly explains how we got to the position that we are now.

I appreciate that this Post may cause some to seethe, but trust me when I say I have been seething for some years now, it is someone else's turn. Roll on sanity, it will help us and it will help our children.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Three nights of Bliss!

Having had a fairly busy last six months, I had, at The Man's suggestion, booked three nights at Grayshott Spa. The time has come and I am here! Settled in my room and already two sessions of pampering done, so I now have pretty hands and feet.

I am looking forward to three nights of pure pampering and indulgence. Not, as one of my colleagues suggested, a time to dry out and detox (this is not The Priory), just attentive service and pampering.

Why is it that three nights here is like a fortnight away somewhere? Is it as simple as having others running round looking after you, or is it something else


Monday, 22 August 2011

Wild Swimming in Olney

Yesterday a group of us headed north to near Milton Keynes to find a spot to go Wild Swimming. We were heading for the town of Olney, on the River Ouse. We arrived in time for a very pleasant lunch at The Bull and then went in search of our perfect location. 

We had been pointed towards the Playing Fields, which have step access to the river, but found this was a little too popular. This is great in one way, but we were seeking some seclusion. The good side to the popularity is that there were a number of families making use of this wonderful location; particularly popular with boys aged about 8, who were jumping in without hesitation. But, as I say, we were looking for something a little quieter.

We had some very pleasant walks around the town until we found our spot, behind the Church, by the Old Mill. We walked down a footpath and across a field until we found some little beaches, we selected one of these and got changed into our wetsuits (other than The Man, who was trying to prove he was a MAN, and only wore swimmers).

And we were off. What a wonderful time we had, the water was reasonably clear, and surprisingly warm (once you were in!). We saw small fish, dragonflies, all sorts. There was quite a current, but not so much that it made it unpleasant. What a great way to spend the afternoon.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Five Things I'm Loving This Friday

I have forgotten this post for some weeks now, but it's back!

So, today I am loving:
  • The sunshine being back, even if it is only for a short while.
  • The mist on the River Thames this morning as I passed over Richmond Bridge. It may be a reminder that Autumn is on its way, but it was still stunning.
  • Today is my last day at work for two weeks.
  • Tomorrow will be spent with friends, playing with paper and glue.
  • I am blessed with good health, even though I feel totally shattered at the moment having worked close to 12 hour days all this week.
See you soon.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Hold Your Head Up

Too many of us spend too much of our time with our heads down, determined to get to our journey's end as quickly as possible.

Stop. Look up. Be surprised by what you may see. I am sure most people would miss seeing this camel train above a bank in Great Tower Street, but there it is for all to admire.

Take the time today to look up and find the little pleasures that so many miss.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

My New Toy

It has arrived!

It took a while, thanks to the DVLA losing the paperwork for my personalised plate. But it is here now and is perfect! How can you not smile when you look at it, it is just a little blue box of joy!

Worth the wait