6 January 2013

Good morning to you all and a Happy New Year! We’ve had a fairly pleasant week with moderately tolerable weather – the cold, cold, cold spell the forecasters were predicting has not arrived (yet) and, for the most part, we’ve had reasonably dry skies. That’s not to say we’re any less water-logged than we have been recently – the recreation ground where Miss Miggins and I stroll of a morning, is absolutely sodden and the railway cutting, which has featured in previous posts, is still under water and hence, impassable. Actually, it’s been flooded and hence obstructed for some weeks now and Molly has developed a new routine – she no longer starts down the cutting but instead now looks at me to seek guidance about the direction of our morning stroll. Nope, we still can’t go down that way, I’m afraid.

FireworksWe celebrated the arrival of the New Year in our usual fashion – by snoring contentedly from soon after 10.00 (therefore seeing in the New Year with the fine inhabitants of Istanbul, amongst others). And this year we were not re-awakened at midnight local time by our resident pyromaniac and his usual fireworks display. Indeed, fireworks have been in somewhat short supply this past year – no display on Guy Fawkes night and none on New Year’s. I wonder what’s up with that?

Never mind, though. We do tend to have our slumbers disturbed most nights by the aforementioned Molly Miggins who discovered fairly recently in her dotage that a short, sharp “bark” in the middle of the night will bring one of us (usually Penny), stumbling down the stairs, bleary-eyed to let her out into the garden. She clearly thinks this is great fun and sometimes tries to amuse us several times a night.

A couple of articles caught my eye this week, both of which cover topics we’ve visited here in the Befouled Weakly News on previous occasions. You will remember our treasured Education Secretary, Michael Gove’s pronouncement that curves were no longer to feature in new school buildings. Now, a study by academics at Salford University suggests a strong correlation between the built environment where teaching takes place and test results in reading, writing and maths.

. . . well-designed classrooms could improve pupils’ progress in lessons by as much as 25%.

Anyone who has ever worked in a school can tell you that the learning environment has a considerable impact on children’s learning. Not surprisingly, however, Gove has dismissed the significance of the findings.

Which leads us seamlessly to a second article which makes the point, as we’ve mentioned here before, that this government and, in particular, Gove and his education “reforms”, are driven by ideology, not any evidence of what works. Gove, you will remember, amongst other idiotic pronouncements, has concluded that rote learning is the key to success and that league tables, where schools are ranked by pupils’ exam results ignoring any other factors, are the basis on which schools’ performance should be judged.

the government is not simply stuck in 1950s “3Rism”, nor is it planning wholesale privatisation (yet). Rather, it is still stubbornly pursuing a discredited 1980s ideology of quasi-markets, even though 30 years of experience shows that far from improving quality, it is destroying it.

You couldn’t make it up!

Finally, as no doubt some of you are concerned about the enormous quantity of food you consumed during the holiday period, you may want to consider one of the diets outlined in an article on the BBC web site. The tapeworm diet sounds like the one for me.

Love to you all,

Greg

Finally, finally – a great photo of all the Rinderkinders. If I had an occasion on which I needed to wear a tie nowadays, I would be mightily envious of the one Rod is wearing.

The Rinderkinders