Tories, OFSTED and How the Government Are Set To Ruin a Generation

Our school is pretty good in the grand scheme of things.

Compared to our last school, which was a sodding unmitigated nightmare, it’s like someone shined a light down on my poor pair and thought they deserved a good place after the shit they put up with before.

There are a few little niggles like all schools, but, for the most part, if a little slowly at times, stuff gets back to the Head and it gets dealt with. Yes, Mini has had a bit of a tough time with some older girls and some dinner ladies who for reasons I wont go in to side with them, but that’s lunchtimes and, after speaking with the Head, it has been noted.

I have a lot more faith in the school here than in the last.

The difference between the two though was our last school was rated Outstanding, and this one isn’t.

I have long since said OFSTED is a piss take.

I fail to see how the last school got that rating. They were very similar schools, both Church of England, both in middle class Berkshire.

However that was where the similarities ended, and sadly, it feels that like many traditional church schools, if you dare be English in an English church school you are doomed to be marked down for not being multi-cultural enough.

It didn’t seem to matter to OFSTED that many of us parent’s flagged serious failings to them. It didn’t matter that we felt teaching standards were atrocious, or that parent’s views within school did not matter. It did not even register when we said bullying was not just a simple case, as it was told to them by the school, of a bit of old fashioned playground teasing, but as serious as actual physical assaults on a daily basis. No.

What mattered was that the Head could smile and nod in the right way, and that they had practically cut all ties with the church. Even our Christmas plays were not allowed to be a nativity, but were a multi-ethnicity spectacular so as not to offend anyone.

They were commended on this!

However, since the last time OFSTED were in the presence of my pair, the goals have somewhat changed.

As we all know, the Tories are facing a big old budget shortfall after Osbourne the part man, part alien looking chief Silver spoon tosspot messed up his budget.

Schools cost a hell of a lot of money, and have seen budgets cut time and time again. Our current school luckily has parent’s that use their initiative and spare time, and our PTA, of which I am a member, work tirelessly to raise as much as we can (£31,000 last year) so the kids don’t suffer as others do.

Its no surprise then that suddenly, the bright idea is that all school’s should be made Academies and run by outside businesses. That way, problem solved, the government doesn’t have to pay for them anymore.

They are so convinced of this scheme that school’s already seen as failing by OFSTED are being fast tracked to become someone else’s problem.

Which brings me to my point.

OFSTED had been due to come to our school in December. They didn’t. And, at that time, we first heard of the Academies idea.

They are only here today, some near on 5 months later than planned.

So, we have two possibles here.

Either our school’s rating improves, and the Government still has to cough up the meager amount they have to now.

Or, we fail, and it’s one less school to pay for.

We all know this Tory Government has no care or concern for us plebs who can’t afford private health or education, the way they are behaving to our vital NHS support, the Junior Doctors, says it all.

They can happily go to a private hospital if they feel rough, no waiting on lists for them, no mad scramble at 8.30am to get an emergency meeting with the GP. No worries of whether the school their little one goes to can afford books or heating, or to actually pay good staff.

I feel now that, just as with Maggie in the 80s, a whole generations future well being, be that having the right to a good education over profiteering, and be that having a good rate of healthcare, is on a very small ledge.

They don’t care if this generation of kids passes or fails, as, if they are let down by this wonder plan and leave school with no possibility of getting onto the jobs ladder, they can become the next group to be hounded by the Tory spin machine in the press, and made out to be scum and layabouts.

We need to all, universally, stand up and say, this is not on. We all love our children, and we all want to see them do well, and a good education that comes from a caring school environment, not something set up as a money making tax break for friends of Dave’s is not it.

I for one hope that Cameron and his Eton boys club are forced out over the embarrassment this, Brexit and the NHS strikes will cause.

And let someone who actually cares about the future generation stand up and run the country instead.

 

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Is It Just Me: Thinking The Metro Needs to Exercise Some Goddamn Chill?

Did anyone catch the London Marathon yesterday? Even better, did anyone run in it yesterday? I didn’t run, owing to the fact I am unable to run a flight of stairs in my decrepit state these days, but I knew quite a few who did this year- well done them!

And well done to all the helpers too, because without their hardwork, you couldn’t have a tonne of eager folk belting through most of London for hours on end.

To me, the Marathon is a constant thing in the UK, one of few left actually, that makes me a little proud to be part of the country. Forget your Brexits, forget your terrorism, for a day at least, you can watch people who have signed up to run over 26 miles, in joggers or funny cossies, for charity.

Why then, why why why did the Metro, admittedly a free to pick off after another commuter has discarded it rag on the underground, decide to post possibly the most sneering, ill judged, utter crap about one boy who watched and a had a little childish, innocent fun?

I’m talking about this article, with it’s headline “This Kid May Be The Worst Person on the Planet”.

Now, this isn’t a slightly tongue in cheek, hair ruffling finger wag of an article. There is no sense of it being written in irony, or with fun. Nope.

This small child, no older than my pair, is singled out for pretending to high five runners and then poking out his tongue.

HOW FUCKING DARE HE! STRING HIM UP IMMEDIATELY, FLOG HIS PARENTS.

^^^^Not^^^^

Lets start by considering the “worst person on the planet” tag, especially when associated with a marathon. I would think, if we’re going on a crusade of worst people connected to the enjoyment of a marathon, I’m pretty sure the Boston Marathon Bombers rate higher on most people’s list over a cheeky kid.

Or how about any of ISIS? David Cameron? Jeremy Hunt as he is just a tosser who needs to forget for a minute that we all can’t swan into a Private hospital and do, in fact, know that the NHS relies on Junior Doctors?

How about, take note of footage of GROWN ASS ADULTS on mass, nicking loads of crates of water that had been donated for the actual people not too damn lazy to take part in the marathon and thus deserving of a bottle of water.

Yes, I shit you not, Deptford, oh Deptford, your people did you proud, if you happen to be proud of people acting like animals, stealing trolley loads of charity water.

Why were these cretins not photographed and put under that really ill thought out article instead?

Is a boy being, well, actually, being a kid worthy of opening the floodgates of abuse against him on twitter and other comment threads? Some of the comments are disgusting, and forget that no one was hurt by him, if you watch the footage everyone he did it to either carried on running or laughed at the joke. No one was offended, no one complained, so why on earth should the Metro behave in this way?

Its the sort of stupid snooty journalism one expects from the Mail, but even they ignored the boy having a giggle and concentrated on pouring scorn on the bottle thief’s and the idiot who knocked the winning female runner over instead.

Frankly I hope the parent’s of our little comedian sue The Metro, and I hope they apologise for this joke-worthy piece of gutter reporting.

Stop finding the negatives where there are none, and consider that fun is, thus far, not illegal. Kids will be kids and good on them in all their cheeky, harmless glory.

Rather that than running in gangs.

Whilst I have you here, I’m over being interviewed at DannyUK Blog as part of the Bearded Backchat series, so go over and show your support. And if you’re here after reading my interview, and I’m new to you, welcome! Hope you like what you see here.

 

Camp Bestival Bloggers Part 2- Music and More

I’ll start this post by saying RIP to Mr Nice himself, Howard Marks, who we had the pleasure of meeting at Camp Bestival in 2010. He was a massive part of Camp Bestival, and was a great bedtime story reader. We literally bumped into him, via a very little Littlest, and Howard was rather taken with our boys flat cap. He was a true gentleman, and very much deserved to be nicknamed Mr Nice.

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Littlest in 2010, with his flat cap

Onto 2016, and this year’s highlights.

As with Howard Marks, Camp Bestival are never afraid to think outside the box, not just in bedtime story readers, but in the mix of acts, arts and stalls that they have on offer.

As they say, the kids are King, and for anyone unsure of taking children to a music festival, they have you covered.

There are two fields dedicated to the enjoyment and inclusion of children no matter how little they are. From the Breastival Mother and baby tent for the truly tiny, to The Den for 13-17 year olds, there is never a dull moment from morning to late at night.

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The view from the Big Wheel in 2015

If you fancy fun and excitement, then pop over the fun fair, for traditional thrills and delights including a big wheel that gives an amazing view of the whole festival site, to the Helter Skelter, or try the slower pace of the merry go round in the Lower Kids Garden.

You can have your face painted, jump on a bouncy castle, or watch an Insect Circus too. If arts your favorite, then bring your pencils and paper and make a beeline for Art Town. Or take a stroll through Dingly Dell.

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In amongst the colour and noise, Dingly Dell offers a slice of woodland tranquility

There are plenty of theme related (space, in case you didn’t know) options for the kids too, with West End production “Aliens Love Underpants” making an appearance based on the book of the same name, and a special, and no doubt mind blowing whatever your age concerto from the Royal Albert Hall’s “Albert’s Band” with their Space Symphony.

Old faves Dick and Dom and Mr Tumble will of course be there too and will be just as popular as always.

With the kids covered, what’s there for us adults?

Well, for me, it’s all about the line up, and this year they haven’t disappointed.

I thought the likes of Soul II Soul and Cymande last year couldn’t be beaten (and they weren’t even headliners!). I thought you’d never improve on the stellar booking of De La Soul in 2014.

Oh, but you can!

Fatboy Slim, oh God, Fatboy Slim, I cannot wait to finally see Mr Cook- I missed out on the Brighton concerts of a few years ago, and have always been really miffed (especially since both my brother in law and sister in law went and said how amazing it was), so that is a must see for me (and no doubt all of us over the age of about 25- the guy is a legend.

I’m also, for the nostalgia angle, looking forward to Bananarama, who no doubt will have all us ladies dancing to Venus and Cruel Summer in their 37th year of entertaining audiences.

I’m also keen to see a more modern act in the hugely talented KT Tunstall, whose album Eye to the Telescope saw me through my entire pregnancy with Mini!

Tears For Fears, Turin Brakes and Jesse Glynne are also on the list of all four of us to watch too.

For me, July cannot come soon enough, I’m off to look for costume inspiration for the parade!

You can find out more about Camp Bestival, including line up details, ticket sales and the rest at their website, or find them on Twitter and Facebook

 

 

We’re Camp Bestival Bloggers!

I am very pleased to officially announce that the gang and I are off to Camp Bestival once again, we are so chuffed and actually I wasn’t sure if we’d be lucky again so am doubly pleased.

I am looking forward to so many things this year, I have always said it gets better each year and the guys behind it really listen to those who come along once or every year.

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One thing you can always count on with Camp B is the range of food on offer as part of The Feast Collective.

Camp Bestival does its upmost to promote and support some of the best, most groundbreaking collectives that the Street Food movement has to offer, and this year is no exception.

This years Feast Collective Ambassadors are headed up by DJBBQ, or Christian Stevenson to his mates,who says the festival is “the perfect combination of fun people, exceptional location, phenomenal food, great music, and good times. I’ve been hosting the Feast Collective for the past couple years and it is the most carefully curated food tent on the planet. We love to throw a party and the Feast Collective is the best party at Camp Bestival. Rob da Bank himself told me that we are always one of the best sound systems at his festival.

Come by for super delicious food that’s cooked with care and provenance. We look forward to cater-taining you.”- DJBBQ, Feast Collective Ambassador

His fellow Ambassadors have been scouring the country for fresh takes on modern classics, new styles, twists, and everything else besides. They include Feast Collective Producer, Gemma Thorogood, whose top tips include “British Street Food celebs Seadog, bringing their seaside popcorn to the fields, plus Bánh Mì from Pho Sho, buttermilk chicken from Butchies, and sweet potato pancakes from the Chocolate Bear Kitchen. Not to mention the extraordinary Eritrean tacos carefully crafted by Lemlem Kitchen, oh and Polar Pops ice lollies made only from real fruit and vegetables (with NO added sugar)! I just hope I can get around it all in one weekend”

We are also promised delights from River Cottage Meat Smoking Expert Steven Lamb who will be bringing a decades experience in the sustainable kitchen, and BBC Cook of the Year  Jo Ingleby who heads up the Children’s Feast Collective too.

A local to us and known to everyone from his show, Luke Thomas, of Cookham was the UK’s youngest ever Head Chef at 18 years old, but that doesn’t limit his knowledge at all things tasty. For the Healthy Living amongst Festival Fans, you’re covered by Le Cordon Blue trained chef and Healthy Eating Ambassador Tess Ward, who will no doubt continue her efforts to make clean eating a mainstream concern for us all.

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So, on to the lip smackingly lush menu of delights, and the Feast Ambassadors have certainly done us all proud once again.

From Best of the Best 2015 of Street Food winners Seadog, to Ghanian food with a twist from Zoe’s Garden Kitchen, and Pimp My Ramen with their take on Burgers, there is something for everyone.

My top pick though has to be Pho Sho as I love the sound of their Vietnamese street food menu. I also fancy Coco Labelle as I do like having a go at Jamaican food myself and I would love to get some tips and ideas for at home.

For kids with a sweet tooth and parent’s who want to get them eating more fruit and veg, Polar Pops is definitely going to keep you happy with their secret veg and fruit lollies that are sure to be a hit.

I am definitely putting the Feast Collective high on my must visit list, Camp Bestival really is a fun filled and wide reaching experience that is so much more than just the bands on stage.

“One Love. One World. One Tent: The Feast Collective Tent.”

Although, talking of which- Fatboy Slim! Bananarama (goes and finds stone washed dungarees and cap sleeved white top)! Squeeze! Tears for Fears! Eek! And more of my top tips for tunes coming soon….

So, once again, Camp Bestival looks set to be a feast for the eyes, ears, and tummy too!

Off to dust off the tent!

 

Let me know if you’re coming along, and look out for lots of #CampBestival highlights on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Youtube too

And if you fancy a Festival experience that the kids will love as much as the adults, you can grab tickets now and find out more at the Camp Bestival website.

 

Mini, Nearly 9 and Doing Fine(ish)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all Mum’s say the same, but bloody hell, how the hell did she get to 9?!?!

When I was 9, I was:

A gigantic geek

Wearer of a dodgy wonky fringe

Busting Deirdre specs (RIP Anne)

Still playing with Barbies.

Not so my social media loving (not so much a) baby doll.

Mini is a fully fledged member of the new generation where cool stands for something very much not cool or what it was when I was 9 (in 1991, fact fans). In her gang (The Awesome Girls) cool stands for “Constipated Over-rated Old Lady”, which is what I am told with a sigh anytime I tell her that something is cool.

I am definitely cool in her new meaning anyway. Not in a 1991 way at all.

Elder and I tried to decide what on earth to get this creature which was once quite sweet and is now loathe of anything we do or say as we are old. She is like I expected her to be at 14, when they can blame hormones and stress of Secondary School. I am not alone in feeling that 8/9 is the new 13/14. Most of the girls in year 4 now go feral the very second they cross out the door in Year 3 in July. It certainly was true of Mini, who went to Camp Bestival last year as a fully functioning little girl and lover of pink and girly stuff and came back a stamping, moody, door slammer extraordinaire.

We were stumped. She doesn’t like much that she did last year.

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A very Mini, aged 1

She does slyly play with Barbies. And dolls. She just thinks we don’t realise. She wouldn’t play with them in front of mates though, in an attempt to be grown up, and cool, but not cool, cool in a 1991 9 year old way.

See, it’s all very confusing. Its like text speak, but the annoying child version of secret words and nudges.

We asked whether she wouldn’t just like to have some money and buy her own stuff.

It would seem she would indeed, being that what I buy her is now so disgusting and not awesome that I cannot be trusted to pick her clothes anymore.

I have, it would seem, created a monster. An over opinionated, prone to epic hissy fits, girl.

Then we had her hair recently.

I have banned fringes. They are the bane of my life, since my own wonky incarnation of the buggers. Mini had a fringe via the fact she was a little girl until I grew it out. Since 4, she has been fringe free, and owner of longish hair (except that time in 2012 she got into Jessie J and cut it herself to shoulder height).

I asked her Dad to get her a trim.

Big mistake, as he is rubbish at saying no. So, despite my no fringe decree, she came back with hair shorter than ever, and a bloody fringe. I now have to keep this straight and tidy. I am wonky. Its never going to happen, and the last time I let Elder cut it when she about 3, it ended up looking like Spocks.

To make matters worse, she then cut another chunk off herself off the sides.

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Mini, about two weeks ago before her Talent Show

All her friends say they love her hair- all of them are, one by one, having fringes put in. They are a fringe army, a hormonal bubble of half playing tag, and half making up nicknames for each other which I, personally, am not allowed to use.

It’s quite scary, actually.

It’s how I felt I would be out of touch when she was a teen. But then, that’s standard. I always had a deep mistrust of the Mums who desperately tried to keep up with us in our teens, fearing they would fish for info then grass me up to my Mum for my smoking or wearing Zoe’s heels when I got to her house and putting my sensible options in my bag all day. Or the one’s who would try and join us at the Ice Bowl- annoying by default of “we don’t want a Mum there as we can’t try and look alluring to the older boys” and of meaning we had to actually pay to get in, not have one of us pay and then the rest sneak in and get boots as we knew the boot room girl.

I kind of thought at this age it would still be all hugs and crafts and her thinking I was the best thing ever.

I think I rate around 20th in her list of girls and woman she likes the best, behind all of Little Mix, several characters from Jessie, my nieces and all her mates.

It remains to be seen what she buys with her Birthday money.

We are taking her out Sunday, and her (stupid) Dad said she can do with it what she likes. Forgetting that when she buys day glo Minion leggings and Little Mix crop tops, we have to walk down the street with her.

The one thing she wants to do though I have put my foot firmly down- ear piercing. No amount of own birthday money is going to change my mind of that.

What about your 9 year old? Is it just a Berkshire thing? Is it just a Mini and her awesome girls thing?  I am the only one who thinks Awesome Girls sounds like a band from the Jem Starr doll of my childhood? Let me know in the comments 🙂