SATs Boycott 2019

It would be good to see these dreadful, stressful, pointless obstacles shrivel and vanish. If widespread boycotting hastens this, so much the better.

Let Our Kids Be Kids

Parents around the country are fed up of waiting for action to be taken against SATs, despite the mounting evidence of the damage they cause to children and to schools, and so are taking matters into their own hands. Individuals and groups are boycotting SATs in 2019 – the map represents those who have let us know their intention.

The map is by no means representative of all boycott action – many parents would rather not identify themselves and will simply not send their children to school on SAT test days.

Year 6 SATs take place the week beginning 13th May, Year 2 SATs can take place at any time in May.

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Birmingham May Day 2019 by Daniel Keeler

I am glad that May Day / International Workers’ Day is still celebrated in Birmingham. It is a few years (decades) since I marched, some years with a banner, some years without. The atmosphere was always warm, even the police enjoyed it!

Birmingham Clarion Singers

“Is a new world possible?”

asked Ian Scott, introducing Birmingham’s May Day event on Saturday 4th May.

He described the origins of International Workers’ Day as: ‘”Standing on the shoulders of others”, those that have worked hard for change before us; the eight-hour working day, for example. Organised labour never has never been welcomed, and it is inclement on us to build a better future.

The guest speaker, Arthur Scargill, was sadly unable to attend due to illness, but John Tyrell, President of the Socialist Labour Party, spoke in his place. He remembered 1972, when 50,000 trade union members marched at Saltley gate in support of the miners. It was a lesson in solidarity.

Bridget Green, from W.A.S.P.I. (Women Against Pension Injustice) noted that since its introduction for men and women in 1909, the state pension age has been raised twice, forcing many to continue in work. By 2011, pension…

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All schools must teach about LGBT equality: what should the Council do to support them?

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Go into any primary school classroom and you’ll hear teachers and children talking about families.

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Relationship Education in Birmingham Schools – a panel discussion Thur 2 May 7.30 Council House

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Panelists include:

Khakan Qureshi, Birmingham South Asians LGBT 

Ann Sawyer, Supporting Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools (SEEDS)

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, Headteacher, Anderton Park School

Councillor Martin Straker-Welds, member, Learning, Culture and Physical Activity Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Doug Morgan, Assistant Secretary, Birmingham District of the National Education Union

All welcome. Meeting organised by Birmingham Trades Union Council

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Lord Agnew, the Policies of Inequality and their Impact on Schools

Old Primary Head

There are many things in UK politics that are hard to stomach right now. As we slowly watch our country tear itself apart I thought it could not get any worse… and then I read the Schools Week exclusive on Lord Agnew’s cost-cutting consultants and the advice they had been giving to schools. It sickened me to my core and is testament to a deceitful charlatan with the moral backbone of a spineless, champagne swilling, bottom feeder. How have we sunk so low? That we can celebrate 35 million in savings knowing that what we did to achieve it was ethically penniless. We are scavenging for scraps whilst ripping out the heart of all good schools, the people and compassion, and then gambling this on the well-being of its entire workforce. To celebrate this as a good thing should shock us all into immediate action. The fact that it does…

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“Machin Road, B23” — New Verse.

I played in this pocket playground as a small child.

Machin Road, B23

Tarmac square, lifeless
Dull as ditchwater,
Laid out there
Blot on the landscape.
Sterile, barren, devoid.

Dust and sand kicked up
By little feet. Laughter
Ringing through wooden menagerie.
Children scramble, clamber excitedly.
Playing, acting out other lives.

Plot of land, corner of suburbia,
Pound, playground, car park now.
Tomorrow, next year, next decade
Who knows? Deader still,
Soundless still, no such thing
As childhood now.

Ben A Harvey

October 2018

(c) Gogwit’s Blog, all rights reserved.

New exhibition open: Doctor says relax

I reblog this piece because it describes something which is not often considered beyond a relatively small circle. It is also pleasing to read of one of my heroes, Charles Waterton. Please do read this and other posts on their blog. Who knows, you too may get hooked on anaesthetics; in a benign way, of course.

Association of anaesthetists heritage centre

The Amazonian arrow poison that revolutionised Anaesthesia

The Anaesthesia Heritage Centre has opened a new temporary exhibition on muscle relaxants. It showcases authentic curare weapons alongside anaesthetic equipment to tell the history of muscle relaxants in the practice of anaesthesia.

Curare is a deadly poison found in the Amazonian Basin of South America. When injected into the bloodstream it acts as a muscle relaxant which paralyses and asphyxiates prey.

Atalaia du Norde, Amazonia / Brazil - FEB 02 2016:Tribal elder Binan Tukum hunting with his son for monkeys in the rainforest

[TRIBAL ELDER BINAN TUKUM HUNTING WITH HIS SON FOR MONKEYS IN THE RAINFOREST. COPYRIGHT LAZLO MATES]

Curare was the first muscle relaxant (or neuro-muscular blocking agent) to be introduced into western medicine. It revolutionised the practice of anaesthesia and allowed life saving operations, which were previously considered too dangerous, to be performed for the first time.

South American tribes will shoot curare coated darts or arrows from blow pipes and bows to kill or stun animals for food and…

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Eleven-Eleven-Eighteen

My great-grandfather’s leaders took England to war,
They’d subdued the Zulu, Sepoys and the Boer,
Plucky Belgians frustrated Von Schlieffen for weeks,
Time enough to recruit and to shake an iron fist,
Backed up by those men fit enough to enlist.

Balkan intrigues threw a spark in the dry, dry tinder…

All be over by Christmas, that is what was said,
Four years later it ended and so many were dead,
Those whose wounds did not kill them contracted the Flu,
Which spread to schools, homes and factories too.
As if the War to End All Wars was not enough…

The Four Horsemen were busy in those days.

Claiming the souls of the weak and the strong,
The talented, gifted, Muse and mundane
The rich and the poor; Death took them all.
So we had The Great Flu and we had the Great War.

Never again, never again, never… until the next time.

Ben A Harvey

August 2018

(C) Gogwit’s Blog, all rights Reserved

Araucaria, A New Poem.

…The Chile Pine put down its roots and grew;
The Monkey Puzzle watches; and is growing still.

Araucaria


You were there when my mother was a child,
In the horsey people’s forecourt up the hill.
She looked at you and
Wondered what you were,
Where you came from and
What you were doing here.

While it is very plain
To see you are a tree,
You are a tree unlike
The others all around.
So very tall and straight,
Your branches at the crown,
Not meant for kids to climb
Unlike the others in the town.

You were there when I was a little boy.
Outside the maisonette block up the hill.
I looked at you and
I wondered why
You were called a Chile Pine,
Araucaria, the Monkey Puzzle Tree.

Maybe it was just a saying,
Or a legend.
Or the exotic, twisted seed pods – not cones,
More like those finger traps
Of fakirs and magicians,
Perplexing monkeys
In the far off forests where
Your ancestors had grown.

You were there, a novelty in the garden of the gentry,
Before my mother ever saw you, as a child.
You were there outside the flats
Where that garden had once been,
As I walked up that hill to school,
A boy in grey serge shorts forty summers on.

No horsey lady, now, rings in the New Year.
In her smock at 12 o’clock with her handbell.
Marching up and down the hill
With her tidings of goodwill,
Bringing merriment and cheer
For the twelve-month yet to come.
The Chile Pine put down its roots and grew;
The Monkey Puzzle watches; and is growing still.

 


Ben A Harvey,

2 November 2018.
(C) Gogwit’s Blog (Ben A Harvey), 2018 – all rights reserved.

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