Let there be stoning!

Friday, 24 May, 2013

I can’t really add to much more to Garr’s blog entry, other than to point you to the short essay/editorial that appeared in Ground Water back in 1985 (Lehr, J.H. 1985 Let there be stoning! Ground Water 23, 2, 162-165)….. in the first instance it makes you laugh, then you can feel the anger and then the wisdom. In short, whilst nearly 30 years ago, the detail of this paper holds the presentation essentials for any academic - it’s a treasure trove of wisdom. Read it and compare yourself against his yardstick - there is no excuse for boring your audience to death.

1926 London

Monday, 20 May, 2013

Fabulous COLOUR film of 1926 London from the BFI….. what’s startling (for me) about this is how little has changed in a lot of London, yet notice that there is no highrise and the streets are so clean.

London in 1927 from Tim Sparke on Vimeo.

The Long Swath

Thursday, 16 May, 2013

Great post from the NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day - this is 9000km swatch running from Russia all the way down through Africa offering stunning images along the route. It was captured shortly after the calibration and testing of LDCM completed and it was moved into its operational orbit - note its not due to enter full operational status until late May. Watch the video FULL SCREEN. It is stunning.

And check out further details of “The Long Swath” which includes a fabulous GigaPan at full resolution.

Asda’s Not-so-easy Wifi

Thursday, 9 May, 2013

I was in my local Asda recently and saw the stand below - I don’t think “Follow these simple steps…..” could be further from the truth! The words “can’t be bothered” spring to mind.

Word for the Day: Pareidolia

Tuesday, 7 May, 2013

I came across the word Pareidolia at 500px yesterday which I didn’t know, so looked it up on Wikipedia. This is what it had to say:

a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant…. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.

Perhaps one of the most famous remote sensing examples (below) is the face on Mars….. we’ve all seen them and the WIkipedia page has some great examples.

CONFIRMED: CBC council officially provide no educational leadership

Friday, 3 May, 2013

Well this week saw Central Bedfordshire Council organise an open meeting to “discuss changes to schools and academies in Dunstable and Houghton Regis” (something I’ve blogged about before) I think they got the feeling it was going to be popular early on and changed venues to a 200-seater hall, but the 400 who turned up, in the long queue snaking around All Saints Academy, perhaps took them by surprise.

The panel consisted of Cllr Mark Versallion (Education Portfolio), Pete Dudley (Assistant Director Children’s Services), Rob Parsons (Head of School Organisation, Admissions & Capital Planning), Andrew Selous (MP for SW Beds) and Cllr Richard Stay. Thought it was strange the Director of Children’s Services wasn’t there - does that highlight the concern?

Anyway, the first four provided brief commentary to the context of school provision (and planning) in Dunstanble and Houghton Regis before moving on to an extended Q&A session. To give you a flavour here is Mark Versallion’s talk…..

What’s the take away from this?? CBC is in charge of planning for maintained schools but that ALL the proposals currently on the table have come from the schools themselves and that they have no control over Academies that are run by central government. This was again clarified in a response to a question - listen here - and goes on to be a bit more explicit. The council didn’t want to make firm decision (no decision is better!) and drew the comparison with Suffolk which he felt was wrong because:

(1) the council shouldn’t make decisions
(2) the council still isn’t sure whether 2 or 3 tier is better
(3) central government has stopped this with Academies
(4) we can’t afford it
(5) Suffolk KS2 results have gone down

And the catch phrase of the night was to let “local solutions emerge” as there wasn’t a “one size fits all”. There was, of course, plenty of emotion in the evening and Des Tinch provides a nice example of that - the comment “Pontius Pilot couldn’t have done it so well” was well timed!

So, to sum up:

-Cllr Mark Versallion believes that CBC shouldn’t make decisions about school planning
-he didn’t want to lead this when he got elected (presumably because it would affect his chances of re-election)
-it’s not his fault anyway because the local schools have proposed it
-it’s not his fault because the ConDem central government have this nasty little Academies programme
-it’s not his fault that Bedfordshire didn’t make its mind up 5 years ago
-and anyway, 3-tier is probably just as good as 2-tier anyway
-and it’s all a moot point because even if we wanted to do this properly we can’t afford it

It’s sad to see this local council having *created* the implosion of education in Dunstable and Houghton Regis. They are elected on the mandate to *lead* but have washed their hands of all and any responsibility (bar statutory) to deliver high educational standards for the *current* and future generations of children in this area. And at this point in time it seems quite easy for them to target schools for making the decisions, central government and a lack of money.

All of that is, of course, their right to do so as elected members and if we want want good governance then we should exercise that right in the ballot box. What we don’t have time for are those that want to play politics at the expense of the lives of the people in their care.

What should be happening is a local authority reviewing in detail metrics for performance and planning and *leading* the brokering of change within the area. If there is a decision to make on 2 or 3-tier then make it. If you don’t have the money to see through that change, be honest and pragmatic. But LEAD.

As a final point, exam results have the potential to implode in the area following the change to schools. Bear in mind that Lower Schools oversee teacher assessments for KS1 - Middle Schools KS2 - Upper Schools KS4. There has been long debate that KS1 grading does not map on to KS2 with the possibility of inflated grades at KS1 (for whatever reason). *If* this is the case, then it leads to poor progress at KS2. With Primary Schools now being responsible for KS1 and KS2 there is a possible implosion of one or both sets of grades as they come to terms with responsibility for both key stages.