Verse for Samhain 2013.

Mandrake, oak leaves, sage and straw
Turnips, apples, nuts and gourds;
Black cat, candle, jack-o-lantern.

Eight great sabbats have passed
Thirteen moons risen and set
The wheel full-turned since last
By the light from a candle
I combed my hair and looked
For my love in the mirror.

Mandrake, oak leaves, sage and straw
Allspice, catnip, belladonna; The veil
‘Twixt quick and dead is thin
At Samhain’s third and final harvest.

Neither summer, neither winter, time
Of passing one to other;
Set a place at table for
Your loved ones who have gone,
Set a place at table for
Your loved ones yet to come.

Mandrake, oak leaves, sage and straw
Mulled wine, mint and broom;
What’s dead is dead and gone.
Love them, and remember, with affection;
Then cherish life and living on.

Ben A Harvey
Samhain, 2013.

‘The Champions’ to save UK Education System.


A majority Liberal Democrat government would enlist the services of the fictional ’60s Geneva-based Nemesis organisation to save the UK education system from total meltdown at the hands of the ruthless megalomaniac known only as ‘Pob’ (in under an hour including commercial breaks.)

Craig Sterling, Sharron Macready and Richard Barrett would be among the first wave of ‘Superhuman Heads’ to combat the evil forces of the shadowy Enemies of Promise, it is rumoured (or rumored in the US.)

Nemesis spokesperson Tremayne speculated; “The general plan would be to crash plane-loads of teachers in the Tibetan Himalayas and leave them to find their way home.  This seems to have done the trick for Craig, Sharron and Richard.”

Mr Clegg said; “I think that free schools should follow the national curriculum and employ qualified teachers” to his reflection in the bathroom mirror.

The actual BBC article…

Family Learning Works – invest now or pay later?

As always a comprehensive, comprehensible resource, with useful links out. Thanks, Ann.

Lifelong Learning Matters

‘Family Learning Works’ was launched last Friday. The report makes recommendations and proposes actions based on 12 months of detailed research and analysis by the NIACE-led Independent Inquiry into Family Learning chaired by Baroness Valerie Howarth.

The report offers some affordable hope and practical solutions in the wake of the OECD’s recent PIAAC Report on levels of adult literacy and numeracy and the Parliamentary debate on these issues on 10 October. The PIAAC statistics and last week’s ‘State of the Nation 2013’ report by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission suggest grim prospects for too many adults – especially those furthest from decent employment and for their dependent children. These reports show why we need to act now to reduce the knock-on effects on our society, economy and future public spending to deal with the consequences of poor literacy, numeracy and confidence.

Young people who leave school with low levels of skills are not just be ill-prepared for employment but will be poorly equipped to provide…

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Mr Gove’s Brilliant Idea!

More from paulbernalUK on the life and times of Mr Gove… put down ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ stick the diaries of Thatcher, Alan Clarke, Edwina Currie, Crossman, Crossland, Bevin, Bevan, Benn, Healey, Hattersley, Boothroyd, George Thomas and Uncle Tom Cobleigh back on the shelf. Place ‘Mein Kampf’ (Mein Kampf?) back in the outhouse.
Read this instead!

Paul Bernal's Blog

Mr Gove Brilliant Idea

Mr Gove didn’t like teachers.

Mr Gove had never liked teachers, not since he had been a child himself. His teachers hadn’t liked him. His teachers had always thought they knew more than him. But they hadn’t.

Of course they hadn’t. No-one knew more than Mr Gove. No-one understood things like Mr Gove. Certainly not the teachers.

That was one of the reasons Mr Gove had been so happy when Mr Cameron made him Secretary of State for Education – though of course Mr Gove would have been a far better Prime Minister than Mr Cameron. Because as Secretary of State for Education, Mr Gove could tell the teachers what to do. That would be wonderful, thought Mr Gove.

Mr Gove Close up

And it was wonderful. Mr Gove enjoyed telling the teachers what to do.

But it wasn’t quite as wonderful as Mr Gove had hoped. The teachers still wouldn’t always obey him…

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Young People Respond to the Strike by Teachers in London, UK.

It is my pleasure, and privilege, to share the following link with you.
Islington Community Theatre – 17 October 2013
It is a different response to the strike by teachers in London which took place on 17 October 2013CE.
Please watch, please comment, please share.

Gogwit – The Gogwit.

Photos/reports from the day – you won’t find these in the Tory press

Southwark NEU - NUT Section

This is a fantastic set of photos/articles from the London demonstration, which I think really captures the spirit of this and all the other demonstrations.

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Literacy and Numeracy: What MPs said

Debate is good and to be encouraged. However talk is cheap, words are ten-a-penny without action. Words, after speech should reach into time future, not into the silence – to borrow from and hack about with T S Eliot – they should be a starting point for action. This is hardly a new topic – the existence of the WEA bears witness to this truth. Let’s see where this goes, the proof of the pudding…

Lifelong Learning Matters

Adult literacy and numeracy had a much-needed moment in the Parliamentary spotlight last Thursday with a detailed debate. You can find background information and links to a video and transcript of the full discussion at:

Literacy and numeracy were also centre stage at the WEA’s biennial Conference, featuring in several sessions and in the presentation of the Olive Cordell Awards. Olive was a WEA community studies tutor who left a financial as well as an educational legacy to fund these awards, which her daughter Jane presented for the fifth year.

Jane handed Marie Leadbitter the Tutor of the Year Award for achievements in teaching Numeracy & Literacy and Sam Gowler the Learner of the Year Award for his progress in English and Maths. Sam’s story adds a very human dimension to the Parliamentary debate and Marie’s work shows how good teaching can help to solve the problems at the heart of the MPs’ discussion.

Sam decided to join two WEA courses…

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Birmingham Claimants’ Union Meeting – 30th October

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Next Birmingham Claimants’ Union meeting is on the 30th of October at midday at tuc centre for the unemployed, 448, Stratford Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham, B11 4AE.

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Never mind – British kids are just naturally thicker than Finnish kids

Whenever they are in a fix, why do they always fall back on the Bell Curve and Eugenics – is this a right-wing conditioned reflex – or is it in their genes? (Oops!)

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the UK today!)

Finnish students are ranked as the best educated in Europe – way ahead of the UK when it comes to educational competence.

Interestingly, Finnish pupils don’t start school until they’re 7 years old and aren’t formally tested at all until they’re 16.

The UK government meanwhile has recently announced that children in UK schools should start being formally tested from the age of 5.

Finnish schools also have one of the highest teacher/student ratios in the world – whereas the UK is ruthlessly cutting its teachers and teaching staff.

And just this week, Education Secretary Michael Gove’s close adviser Dominic Cummings argued that education, schools and teachers are mostly irrelevant because intelligence is mainly genetic.

So Gove and the coalition government clearly believe that no matter what we do, British children will always do worse at school than Finnish children because we’re…

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