Tory council wastes money on an umbrella-wrapping machine but cuts lollipop ladies

Tory councillors seem to be just as hellbent on spending our hard earned taxes on schemes which provide great value – if you’re one of them – as their parliamentary colleagues. Bully for them, boo for the rest of us.

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the Tories!)

Conservative councillors in Tory-controlled Croydon council decided to spend over £140 million on a lavish new HQ for themselves.

No expense has been spared on their cosy new offices – the building comes complete with taps costing £272 each and a £410 umbrella-wrapping machine (I kid you not).

Mind you, at the same time, the council has been telling residents money is so tight that cuts will have to be made to services for the elderly, the disabled, people with mental health problems, youth programmes and children’s care programmes including the axing of school crossing patrols:

Croydon Council’s proposed cuts to hit borough’s most vulnerable

Glad to see Tories getting their priorities right again.


Please feel free to comment.


Croydon Council spends £272 on one tap in £140m new HQ

Croydon Council spends £272 on one tap in £140m new HQ

Croydon Council spends £410 on umbrella-wrapping machine for new HQ

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Take Part In Boycott Workfare Week Of Action This Week

Foolishness is a charitable word for this harsh, counterproductive waste of taxpayers’ money on flawed and unfit schemes – something the coalition, preaching a message of austerity, should be avoiding like the plague rather than throwing money at.
If they wish to use that money to stimulate job creation, that’s fine but this scam looks like nothing more than the taxpayer subsidising the payrolls of a select group of organisations.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Boycott Workfare 3rd March 03Next week sees a week of action against workfare, as the government introduces the harshest forced labour scheme yet seen – “community work placements”. These placements are full time, lasting for 6 months and build upon the failure of the “Community Action Programme” pilot scheme which had no effect on the chances of someone finding work.

Workfare is the system whereby unemployed and disabled people are forced to work for charities, community organisations and companies under threat of having their benefits stopped entirely for up to three years for unemployed people and losing 70% of their benefits indefinitely for disabled people.

The schemes vary from the theoretically voluntary “Work Experience Programme” to the definitely mandatory “Mandatory Work Activity”. The schemes vary in length from 2 weeks to 2 months, but the government has decided this isn’t enough, since none of the schemes are proving to be any…

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Bedroom Tax Demo – 5th April – One Year On

All the more reason to keep campaigning.
A clear difference in policy between the Coalition and Labour – shame there aren’t a few more. If you’re in the vicinity and free on 5 April please consider joining in.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

bbj bedroom tax logoHated, unjust and unworkable. One year on the Bedroom Tax is still there – but only just. Campaigning locally and nationally has had an effect.

* In Scotland the Tax has been defeated.

* Pressure has meant the Labour Party has promised they will abolish the tax.

* Birmingham City Council has admitted 3000 people in long term tenancies had benefits taken away in error and they will be given a rebate.

*Court cases have ruled in favour of disabled couples having separate rooms if they wish, and in favour of separated parents needing a room for visiting children, and that a room must be in use as a bedroom to count as a bedroom. These cases could see hundreds of thousands given rebates due to unlawfully having their benefit cut

Protest for benefit justice

Saturday 5th April

1:00pm, Waterstones, High St, City Centre

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Health, wellbeing and adult learning

Commendable. Those of us who have experienced WEA courses, as adult learners or as tutors are well aware of the benefits of continuing education.
All the more reason why it is essential that adult, returner and all strands of continuing education form part of a national life long education strategy.

Lifelong Learning Matters

Improved health and wellbeing can be a driver, a vehicle and an outcome of adult and community learning. This summarised part of an online discussion today with colleagues from other organisations. We agreed to think of some examples from our organisations. Here are some from the Workers’ Educational Association.

Health and wellbeing as a driver for adult learning 

Many people get involved in adult learning to improve their physical and mental health.


The WEA carried out an impact survey in 2013 of 522 students who had taken part in a range of our adult learning courses in the autumn of 2012. 45 per cent of the people who responded said that their main motivation was ‘to improve wellbeing or keep mind and body healthy and active’. 31 per cent said that they had wanted ‘to improve self-confidence’. The full results of the survey are available here.

Health and wellbeing as a…

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In the ‘Medieval Mud’: When you’re a Male Renaissance Genius, it doesn’t matter if your Facts are Wrong.

I watched a different BBC history glossy the other evening about The Plantagenets. This version of the Middle Ages had powerful women forging alliances and dynasties in the bedchamber and with the sword, or by cunning, or any combination of the aforementioned strategies. It had armies criss-crossing the Channel – no ferries or tunnel – and kings and princes murdering, kidnapping, ransoming each other in a transcontinental bloodbath.
My word, their soldiery, camp-followers, diplomats, envoys and spies were a well-travelled lot!
We are living in an age of revision – one only has to look at what is being offered in the UK school curriculum to see this. Approved canonical texts or lists of ‘facts’ are replacing the development of understanding and insight into processes which drive the subject matter; replacing the examination of contexts in which the knowledge itemised in the canon came to be significant.
And we live, perpetually, in an age of misogyny.

So which version of the Middle Ages is the more correct?

Jeanne de Montbaston

I’ve just finished watching a BBC programme with the title ‘A Very British Renaissance‘. Now, I admit I was expecting to have some strong reactions to this, since I came to it from the brilliant scholar David Rundle’s blog, where he’s just written a learned and funny take-down of some of the annoying assumptions therein. As he points out, this programme was dead keen to push an image of a ‘distinctively English’ period of history, during which we Brits left our insular isolation behind and began to beat the Continent at its own game. The emerging British (= English) Renaissance was a time of genius and beauty, so narrator Dr James Fox argues, an amazing advance on the benighted, crude and murky culture of the Middle Ages. It was also, I began to realize, yet another Age Without Women.

The focus of my irritation in this post is…

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Verse for Ôstara, 2014.

(The Vernal Equinox (northern Hemisphere): 20 March 2014/ 1657UTC)

So when the Sun rises

In the East today
You will know that the
Hours that follow dawn
To dusk will equal those
From dusk to dawning
One single day’s length hence;
And that an egg placed
Round end down will
Stand erect and neither topple
One way nor the other.
Equinox. Equilux. Balance in time
And space. In this place.

Spring sunshine paints a pretty
Picture picking out the
Golden trumpets, the fresh purples,
Whites, yellows, blues of
Spring bulbs burst into completion
Announcing Spring is here.
With the winter lost and
Once more banished new
Green shoots, buds and leaves
Evidence Ôstara and her Handiwork.
Dawn, new light, new life,
New beginnings at this
Point in time and space.

In the city giant cranes
Come back to life.
Trucks, diggers, hoists and mixers
Serviced by the host
Who, ant-like, this and
That way move to
Build and raise the citadel.
Machines, men, sand and water
Steel, wood, fire, glass
Do Ôstara’s work and bidding.
New from naught, or worn,
Or old. In creation: man
And nature, hand-in-hand.

Crocus, bluebells, violets, Honey,
Lilac, mallow, mead and Nectar.
New choice, lifestyle and direction,
Goddess: Blessed be all creation!

Ben A Harvey
March 2014.

© Ben A Harvey. All rights reserved.

Spring Hill Library Victory

A gentle reminder that public servants are just that.
For those who feel there is no point in protest, be aware that such thinking is self-fulfilling:
– You say nothing can be done;
– You do nothing;
– Nothing is done.
And the next time, you say nothing can be done…et cetera.
Here is an example of local people doing something – campaigning – and saying “No, enough!” and tasting victory.

Birmingham Against The Cuts


Councillors at the Ladywood District Committee announced they had dropped plans to close Spring Hill Library due to the strength of opposition shown by the local community.
This is a stunning victory for campaigners who have been collecting names for their petition, organising public meetings, and lobbying councillors over the last two months. The petition against closure of Spring Hill obtained 2500 signatories, most collected next to the checkouts in Tesco.

The District Committee said that savings would be found elsewhere, and this raises the danger of moving other facilities into the Library building and reducing the library services, as well as further cuts to play centres or neighbourhood officers.
We say the District Committee should defy the council cabinet and set a district budget that protects all existing services under their control. this is the least which Ladywood deserves.
All power to the campaigners and the community for achieving…

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Teaching for Understanding

Your opening quotation distils what is at the heart of learning. Experience of specific instances build into a generic understanding of a class of instances which can be used to predict other specific instances that may not, hitherto, have been encountered. Hence the presentation of ‘facts’ can support learning but is not enough, in itself.
Your second quotation summarises my concerns about teaching ‘to the test’ without exercising the ability to transfer skills, or apply them in unfamiliar contexts.
The ‘Teaching for Understanding Framework’ you describe understands and gives emphasis to these considerations.
Thank you for posting this.

Lifelong Learning Matters

Learning facts can be a crucial backdrop to learning for understanding, but learning facts is not learning for understanding.

From ‘What is Understanding’ 

Teaching for knowledge or teaching for understanding? This is a hot topic for some educators who use social media. It can become a rather abstract and artificial debate at times but it’s important to think about how ideas of ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ influence curriculum design and day-to-day practice in teaching, learning and assessment.

Is the curriculum relevant to the students?

Can students use the knowledge being taught?

Do students understand the knowledge being learnt?

‘If you can’t actually take an idea outside the classroom and use it, you don’t really get it. But once you use it on your own, its yours forever.’

Robert H Frank, economist

Teachers and researchers at Harvard Graduate School of Education, including Howard Gardner*, David Perkins, Vito Perrone, Rebecca Simmons and Martha Stone Wiske, have put some…

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Good luck and best wishes.

Saoirse's Blog

Hooray! I am preparing to start an MSc in music cognition! However, with academia and research comes the need for funding! I have started my own funding campaign on GoFundMe, this is one of many avenues I’m taking to help fund my forthcoming degree. Take some time to check out my page, any little helps! Thank you 🙂

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