Phil Beadle Education teacher, journalist, author and teacher /images/phil-beadle.jpg A Week in Wales Wales and I were at best ambivalent about each other for 58 years Itrsquo;s not the case any more The week started with meeting a hero: one Arthur Furness Hersquo;s set up a programme for lsquo;offendersrsquo; at South Gloucester and Stroud College situated in one of the bleaker areas of Bristol the intention of which is to gear the attendees up with the skills and qualifications to be personal trainers I met two of the guys on the programme and for them it has been life changingly brilliant The teaching strategies are informed by someone who was on telly twenty years ago and altogether surprisingly they work Kyle one of the attendees described the teaching as ldquo;brilliantrdquo;nbsp;nbsp;Arthur and Megan and Emma who run the project are deeply cool people and Irsquo;ll throw whatever weight Irsquo;ve got behind the project The next day after an evening in a nice hotel in Swansea and speaking of deeply cool people I met Darren Chetty for the first time Working for University of Wa... blog 2023-06-02 14:22:30 GMT The Flowers on the Estate Past the caravan and past the broken cars and past the work area for semi itinerant families there is a patch of scrubby land that has been accidentally given over to nature Yoursquo;d pass it by without noticing it and most days most people do: they give not a thought to the grass to the side of them to the scratchy trees diagonally above them; they give not a thought to the tiny wild flowers that bashfully peek their heads a smidgeon above the grass or to the fact that if you choose to hear them they are whispering to you ldquo;Beauty is in the smallest detailrdquo; they gently sing in pinks and subtle blues ldquo;Beauty is in the cracks in the concrete; it is all around you ndash; you just have to choose to see itrdquo; Itrsquo;s only a whisper but somewhere pitched above the rustling of the leaves it is a whisper you can locate A few steps across from the Spotlight Resource Centre where if you have a valid voucher you can access the foodbank there is a solitary bench It is no... blog 2022-12-20 15:39:31 GMT Person Specifications, Mind Control And Silent Corridors I am contemplating a move to a different place As part of the ridiculous idea of starting a new life two years short of my sixtieth birthday Irsquo;ve been looking at possible employers Is there a school on the Kent coast that might consider shoehorning a cantankerous creaking presence made up chiefly of swears and in possession of a hairline that in silhouette resembles that of a disappointed cockatoo into an English Dept workroom Furthermore does a school exist in that region Irsquo;d be happy to serve in So Irsquo;ve gone in the direction of a job advert for a Teacher of English and am immediately impressed that they want ldquo;an expert practitionerrdquo; I thought ldquo;thatrsquo;s me that is: I qualify for that I could get that jobrdquo; However the brief flurry of moderate excitement dissipated rather rapidly as I read on The ldquo;expert practitionerrdquo; must be committed to a vision that involves ldquo;micro-scriptingrdquo; and ldquo;lsquo;read aloudsrdquo; I don39;t m... blog 2022-08-22 07:58:04 GMT The Problems with Subject Terminology Exam boards as is reasonable reward the use of subject terminology in both Language and Literature GCSEs And specialist terminology in the study of English is a tempting and seductive world a conceptual landscape in which you might lose yourself and never want to return to the crushing prosaicness itself a subtle filigree piece of terminology of timetables tube trains and toil The issue however is that it takes a life of study to uncover some of this As a result many less experienced teachers who were not taught any grammar at all during a period in which the education system would accept a child parroting ldquo;an adjective is a describing wordrdquo; and take that to be the sum total of available human knowledge know little about the meta-language of the subject This is not their fault but one is only innocent to a point There comes a time when English teachers knowing the technical knowledge of their subject could and should be perceived a minimum qualification Rarer than a chooks... blog 2022-08-17 12:44:25 GMT On Growing up Skint and Seeing Stan Bowles Play When you grow up poorish you don39;t necessarily know that yoursquo;re poor There are indications though Your classmates are the sons of accountants and mid-managers: the hems of their trousers are never as far from their ankles as yours are their Dads don39;t have haunted expressions when yoursquo;ve outgrown your shoes and none of them have to force down weekly vile dinners of gag-making putrid and really deeply unsavoury overcooked liver But then again none of their Dads ever pick them up from school in a massive fuck-off lorry so whorsquo;s the loser now boys When you grow up poor you invent fictional versions of a life that you pretend you have and these can get confused with reality This can39;t be me can it Because Irsquo;m the centre of my own and all universes; Irsquo;m so nice I could be Jesus; this isnrsquo;t my real family; Irsquo;m probably royal or something; Irsquo;m called Philip after all; thatrsquo;s a proper princersquo;s name You publicise being half-Irish as thi... blog 2022-08-15 10:12:31 GMT Tribute to Cathal Coughlan Aside from my father Cathal Coughlan has had a more profound influence on me than any other man and I think it right that in light of this I record how sad it is that he has passed and to pay tribute to his achievement in the hope that someone who has not encountered him gets to enjoy his work I first encountered him on Snub TV how spoilt were my generation tied up with rope in a church how on earth did he get permission intoning the song lsquo;Only Losers Take the Busrsquo; Microdisney had passed me by though I had partially enjoyed the title of lsquo;We Hate You South African Bastardsrsquo; but there was something in the anger of the voice in the cheek of the conceit and in the surrealism of the lyrics ndash; ldquo;Can you paint the Chinese flag Itrsquo;s three blue lines and six dahliasrdquo; - that caught me He was fronting a band called The Fatima Mansions I later learned that the song was in response to some classist garbage that Thatcher had spat out or dribbled and that the ban... blog 2022-07-04 15:31:32 GMT Comparative Essay - 'Tissue' and 'Ozymandias' and their Treatment of Power Compare the treatment of power in lsquo;Ozymandiasrsquo; and lsquo;Tissuersquo; The one-word titles differ in terms of the level of ambiguity involved and the ambiguity in the latter it means paper skin and at a push networks leads one to consider the relative complexities of the poems Both examine versions of totalitarian power but whereas lsquo;Ozymandiasrsquo; notes its limits lsquo;Tissuersquo; despite the obfuscated positivity of its ending examines a version of totalitarianism that still reigns ndash; that of Islamic control over womenrsquo;s bodies On a sub-textual level the theme of the former poem is that no matter your achievements when briefly dancing upon this mortal coil time and nature will eventually swallow them The poem was written in for a game with Shelleyrsquo;s friend Horace Smith who on discovering that a statue of Ramesses II the longest serving Pharaoh in the history of ancient Egypt and the father of over fifty male children was to be displayed at the Bri... blog 2021-12-31 08:47:39 GMT Oracy, Labov and Linguists There are references in my relatively recent book lsquo;The Fascist Painting ndash; What is Cultural Capitalrsquo; to the work of linguist William Labov Labovrsquo;s work of which Irsquo;ll admit to having read only one paper lsquo;The Logic of Non-Standard Englishrsquo; is fascinating His detailed study of the African American slang of parts of New York in the late 1960s revealed to him that the grammar of such speech was every bit as logical as that of what we call Standard English Labov is pleasingly satirical on academic language and the valourisation and reward of verbosity on the academic sphere: it is ldquo;easily taught and easily learnt so that words take the place of thought and nothing can be found behind themrdquo;1 which reads like a pointedly apposite review of Matthew Arnoldrsquo;s writing ndash; lsquo;the worst that has been mangled and garbledrsquo; and is also ldquo;turgid redundant and emptyrdquo;2 He points out something from that time in that place that remains tru... blog 2021-10-11 12:44:37 GMT Recitation and The Charge of the Always Right Brigade The Catholic Church which way back in the seventies seemed very keen on the Irish side of my familyrsquo;s fealty implanted a number of things into my long-term memory Many of us will be able to recall and recite lsquo;The Lordrsquo;s Prayerrsquo; but I believe it is only Catholics who have lsquo;Hail Maryrsquo; off to patnbsp;Like all prayers and hymns and most elements of glorifying some historical tradition of the oppression of one set of people by another it is a funny old beast At the age of seven I always felt there was something not quite right about being forced to recite ldquo;blessed is the fruit of thy wombrdquo; five times after having sat in a dark box and having been again forced to confess to sometimes invented sins and it is clear that having seven-year-old kid admitting to being one of the ldquo;sinnersrdquo; through mouthing a script that has them as so is designed as practice at submission and intended to in some waynbsp;destroynbsp;self regard and the idea ofnbsp;th... blog 2021-09-24 12:31:43 GMT On Grammar Teaching and Fronted Adverbials. Disclaimer ndash; Irsquo;m not a grammarian If Irsquo;ve got stuff wrong here and it is more than likely it is because I am entirely self-taught Grammar wasnrsquo;t taught at all at my school Irsquo;ve had to bolt on bits of knowledge as Irsquo;ve gone along and the some total of this can be higgledy-piggledy Irsquo;m happy for people to let me know where the errors are but crowing over them might be taken to be a bit yucky Encountering the phrase lsquo;performative ignorancersquo; on I think a primary teacherrsquo;s twitter timeline recently caused me to consider a response on the Great Fronted Adverbial Debate 2021 The reason I don39;t weigh in on matters like this is because broadly it seems the rejection of certainly the form of grammar teaching supposedlyprobably mandated in primaries is a position of the left and there is a long history of the left arguing with itself that has made a sizeable and continuing contribution to being continually governed by those who seem as if the... blog 2021-02-16 15:31:45 GMT Book Review - Zero Tolerance: A Novel Itrsquo;s a bit surprising that this book has had so little fuss or attention Perhaps it is because it is fiction rather than a look into how you might use the revolutionary dual coding erm to show pictures while you are talking at kids; perhaps because the author while a blogger is not a member of any identifiable crew nor of any kind of scene that celebrates itself; perhaps because the author is old school is committed to the community he or she works in and exists to serve rather than to profit The author is a teacher of the vintage of those who had been around for a decade or two pre-academisation which given that the majority of these have been in the last decade or so does not necessarily make them that old but there are signs of himher belonging to an era dominated by head teachers who were old fashioned liberals who led with the heart Such people still exist somewhere It narrates a collapse in moral standards that occurs when a fictional community school is taken under th... blog 2021-01-10 13:43:37 GMT Review of 'Skint Estate' by Cash Carraway I don39;t really know what a disclaimer is I think you are meant to put this bland signifier of broadsheety zeitgeist first and then make some admission you know the person whose work you are writing about Disclaimer I do not know Cash Carraway Disclaimer I grew up on the same streets as her and am inclined to liking anyone from those streets who attempts to steal a voice for themselves since no one gifts influence to the denizens of Maple Road and its immediate environs Disclaimer I have the same harsh and aggressive Penge accent as Carraway: an accent she describes as being at the root of not being taken seriously the wrong accent for politics the wrong accent for anything other than the boxing gym the football terrace the food bank the discontinued dole queue Carraway is a skint single mum originally from a Penge estate with dreams or lsquo;pretensionsrsquo; as more middle-class commentators might have it of escaping her life of crucifying broke-ness though her talent as a writer... blog 2019-09-18 10:18:50 GMT The Story of Ear A lot of people have asked me no one has asked me: Irsquo;m lying to make myself appear significant and relevant Irsquo;m certainly not one of these why do you use so many brackets Actually they havenrsquo;t What no one has really ever asked me aside from ldquo;Which side had the best uniforms in the American Civil Warrdquo; ldquo;Do you believe in sex after marriagerdquo; and ldquo;Who is your favourite Grimsby Town manager of all timerdquo; is ldquo;Why have you got a picture of your own ear on the front cover of lsquo;28 Rantsrsquo; A number of theories have not been expressed The first of which so that we can39;t see your face might appear to have some substance I share the opinion of First Nation Americans of photographers They are thieves They take something that doesn39;t belong to them a personrsquo;s image and claim it as their creation But I am undoubtedly less fresh faced than many and it would appear too much a work of a hubris that borders on the abusive to place an ima... blog 2019-08-27 20:55:36 GMT On Still Getting Things Wrong Irsquo;ve come to the end of a yearrsquo;s stay in a Secondary Modern and wanted to linger a while on how wrong I still get things even after two-and-a-half decades of parading knowledge or its lack in classrooms multiple I was introduced to year 11 at the beginning of this academic year through a series of lsquo;masterclassesrsquo; on Macbeth Irsquo;m uncomfortable with this nomenclature as while it is probably technically true it comes with the sense of an ego out of control but I recall still my first impressions of young people I got to know quite well during the year Many of the same students stuck out at the beginning as have left indelible memories at the end: S ndash; bright enough bumptious difficult to manage; D ndash; quiet serious studious; P ndash; a cheeky tiger with an ability to understand the complexities of poetry rather better than the simple fact that achievement involves hard work and sometimes a bit of hush; B ndash; polite quietly determined and the kind of da... blog 2019-08-12 14:04:40 GMT Why I Teach For a good few years Irsquo;ve been asking my students the question lsquo;How do you kill Godrsquo; Itrsquo;s part of the study of Macbeth and precedes the students putting crimes of deicide regicide genocide parricide matricide infanticide etc into an order of horridness They have to construct that order both for our time and for Shakespearersquo;s thereby understanding that our moral landscapes are rather different to those of Shakespearersquo;s audiences Additionally it leads towards understanding the gravity of Macbethrsquo;s crime Irsquo;m looking for students to display understanding of the fact that regicide was the closest you could get to deicide in the corporeal world and that consequently God as the stated owner of vengeance it is his you see is likely to take retribution My lovely student Isabelle however saw it rather differently nbsp; ldquo;To kill God you have to stab him You need the sharpest knife you can find and you cannot do it alone ndash; you must go with at... blog 2018-01-27 19:14:00 GMT On Authoritarianism This England is a prison -- a walking shadow; it is a unit for the correction of the errancies of the juvenile a young offendersrsquo; prison Our young people are viewed by policy makers as briefly animated pieces of meat herded into the present and future abattoir of lives of indentured slavery They enter an education system that seeks chiefly to diminish cost and secondarily to identify elites who might prosper and graduate to being the next generation of protectors of the right to rule of their forebears The money in the system has been siphoned elsewhere upwards; huge budget cuts are currently swaggering big balled and bowlegged through saloon bar gates to savage state education University education has already been privatised monetised profitised and young people who are prepared to devote themselves to the acquisition of knowledge and the possibility of a better future must leap huge budgetary hurdles that will leave them pound;50000 in debt before they graduate to their first... blog 2017-03-12 21:20:01 GMT Lewisham Parents Fight Budget Cuts Irsquo;ve just returned from the second meeting of the Forest Hill Parentsrsquo; Action Group Again a packed meeting: there were more parents than chairs and several had to be imported for the session It turns out that the ldquo;Reorganisation of the school administration and non classroom support staffrdquo; that parents have been told about though a letter from the head teacher and of which they have been further informed ldquo;our extensive and meticulous planning has focused on minimising any redundanciesrdquo; has resulted in 22 members of support staff being made redundant since the beginning of the academic year The plans for the school are to implement ldquo;A refreshed leadership structure throughout the schoolrdquo; and that this will ldquo;ensure that we can plan a bright future for our studentsrdquo; There are suspicions from parents that this lsquo;refreshedrsquo; leadership structure will not affect leadership of the senior variety but might involve a complete decimati... blog 2017-03-07 23:00:29 GMT Parents Applaud Teachers' Strike Action Irsquo;ve just returned from an open meeting at which a packed audience of parents applauded their childrenrsquo;s teachers for voting in favour of strike action Forest Hill School for Boys a community school in south London which serves a mixed demographic has uncovered an eight hundred thousand pound deficit Lewisham Council will not reveal how that deficit was allowed to accrue and when it is suggested that the council themselves must accept liability as they had a duty to audit the schoolrsquo;s accounts mouth sketchily about not really doing detailed audits into schoolsrsquo; day-to-day finances anymore How shallow must an audit be to miss an 800 grand hole This deficit when combined with punitive and swingeing cuts to school budgets nationwide will result in the following proposed changes to the education of the boys and the working conditions of the teacher ndash; neither party caused such a deficit but it is the children and their teachers who will suffer Already the follow... blog 2017-03-01 21:37:05 GMT Old Age Traveller - The Problem of the Third Act Impending old age presents a number of problems: not the least of which is reconciling onersquo;s self to oncoming oblivion Pondering elimination is a bore More interesting is the puzzle of a way forward Given the inevitability of the hopefully lsquo;eventualrsquo; outcome how does one motivate onersquo;s self What versions of life are there to be enjoyed given that you will never again bare toned shoulders in shirtless dungarees in a bar delighting the womenfolk of Stoke Newington What romance and profit is to be found in work as your capabilities descend to dribbling in a bucket What new method is required to ensure we battle termination in as virile a manner as one might Where is the release before the release My search for role models has generally been found outside of the office I learnt spirit and poetry from Leonard Cohen integrity and resilience from Cathal Coughlan softness and soul from the words of Mark Eitzel The fact that the latter two are less well known than the for... blog 2017-02-25 08:45:12 GMT A Journey to Calais ldquo;Multi culturalism is genociderdquo; So reads the sign stuck on a lamp-post as you exit Dover Priory Station in the direction of the docks stomping in a pair of battered Doctor Martens like a Liverpool docker on his way to work ldquo;Well thatrsquo;s not strictly semantically accuraterdquo; I think to myself: ldquo;maybe in the regions but certainly not in London And isnrsquo;t an aspiration towards mono-culturalism reputed to lead somewhere bad Irsquo;m sure I had a lesson about that oncerdquo; Dover and I have previous form 39 years ago I attended school camp hereabouts in Kearsney and gave myself appendicitis as a result of eating seven or eight bowls of Mr Howesrsquo;s ugly porridge Irsquo;ve always looked back on it as a magical time in a magical town and have often expressed the desire to move there Here in the cold light of a February morning I can see why my wife historically has steadfastly refused to entertain such a notion Born of south London working class stock ... blog 2017-02-09 08:13:09 GMT