Friday, 11 February 2011

Teachers need a bit of support

ONE of my earliest childhood memories is a hazy recollection of a huge gate providing a looming primary school welcome to me in rural Devon where my family had just moved.

Immediately I was enfolded into a warm existence where caring teachers looked after relatively small village school classes and unerringly drew the best out of them.

I was able to firmly put behind me the Midlands school I had already run away from once, but times change and now it would appear that it is teachers on the knife edge of survival who might be forgiven for running away.

One young guardian of local education made some pretty eye opening comments about the 3 Rs at their school which can apparently now stand for Reading, Rioting and Arithmetic.

No school, however much it would like to portray such an image, is ever going to run smoothly all the time.

That said I was deeply grateful for my own brand of early schooling when set against the sort of incidents I heard had happened at this teacher’s school, an institution to which they were devoted but which was clearly stretching them to the limit.

If half of what they said was true they deserve a medal because how would you or I cope with screaming youngsters trying to kick a door down?

How about older pupils holding off attacking younger pupils only because they were taller and could keep them at arm’s length through a hand on their darling little head?

If pupil to pupil combat is too much for you, how about that teacher being threatened by one cherub who essentially warned that when their Mum could get involved then, hey, watch out!

Any teacher of old could dish out 100 lines, but the modern bottom line in certain schools would appear to be much more challenging for teachers.

So perhaps all parents should rally round and support their local school and give teachers crucial backing to deal with such behaviour, however isolated, because only a few terms separate the school corridor from the streets of Weymouth and Portland and a much harsher learning curve.

There will be no savings left to earn interest on!

SO alleged financial sages are urging the Bank of England not to raise interest rates are they?

For those of you with a few groats tucked away under the mattress for a rainy day this makes pretty gloomy news.

The history of this strangulation of savers goes back to March 2009 when interest rates sank to an all time low of 0.5 per cent. They have now been kept there for 22 months in a row.

Never mind almost indecent bonuses for bankers, never mind galloping inflation which soared to 3.7 per cent for December and never mind the rest of us battling to cope with higher VAT, steeper food and fuel bills and deep sorrow over some footballer forced to take a £20,000 a week cut in wages.

Ordinary people who all their lives have obeyed the law, worked hard and tried to save a bit for their old age are now expected to swallow smart ass finance sharks’ remarks urging the Bank of England not to 'lose its nerve' and raise interest rates.

The cheek of it! The only nerves of relevance here for the finance high flyers to note are my nerves that they’re getting on.

So here’s some non-expert financial advice for the Bank of England to also bear in mind.

If something isn’t done to raise interest rates soon and give a farthing of hope to millions of people with savings then pretty soon it won’t matter because no one will have any savings left to be given interest on.

Get rid of the slashing machines

RURAL crafts are making a long overdue comeback and there has never been a time when their gentle presence has been so much needed.

From the coast road to work on hedges in the heart of Weymouth… the dreaded slashing machines are back and out in force.

Tree trunks display white scars and branches are clumsily chewed back in tens of thousands to provide a shattered and ugly memorial to modern times.

This orchestrated destruction requires one man and one machine, something authorities will tell you is necessary because it saves a lot of money which would otherwise be required to send out a gang of men to do it all by hand. There are several replies to this.

Firstly, there used to exist traditional hedge cutting machinery which simply went along the line of a hedge and cut growth off at right angles with none of the visible slashing damage now inflicted on us.

Secondly, slashing may well be cheaper than a gang of men but don’t tell me it is all that cheaper because the machinery has to be paid for, someone somewhere has to be paid to make it and there is all the money required to make the parts.

If it has to be mechanised then surely it is not beyond the wit of man to devise a modern machine which mirrors the simple cutting action of machinery used years ago.

Of course there is one final huge benefit to be gained from a better approach and it is this.
Drivers will not be bombarded with flying shards and slivers of wood as they go past the current slashing machines nor will they risk punctures on hundreds of yards of road where chewed debris is just left to lie for cars to drive over.

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