Graduation Day

Well, that’s it. After 5 years I have graduated from the Open University, and it has been one hell of a ride.  I began in earnest in 2011, after deciding that what I really wanted more than anything else was a career in teaching.  The enormous support and encouragement from my husband also helped me keep going, especially in those moments when I was disappointed over a grade, or the workload was battling with other responsibilities (3 kiddos, moving twice etc). I have made more than a few self discoveries about my own abilities. The most important realisation has been that I cannot let others set my horizons for me.  I will no longer allow others to tell me what I am, or am not, capable of before I have even had the chance to try.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t come up against some opposition to both my choice to take an OU degree and my desire to become a teacher. Reasons ranged from, “It’ll be hard” (as if that was ever a good reason not to do something), “but teaching doesn’t pay much” (teaching is a calling, not a money spinner,) and “But it’s not like a real degree from a proper university?” (I have really lost count of how many times I have explained that the OU is a ‘proper’ university, and it’s actually harder to get a passing grade.). Despite this, I think at least in part due to a healthy dose of belligerence and general bloody-minded determination to have my own way, I completed it.   Right, that’s the griping done: I studied, I learned, I gave up sleep and developed a caffeine addiction (okay, MORE of a caffeine addiction).

This morning I woke up with the jitters. I’m talking mutant butterflies here people! The stress of the lying google maps app, which fails to mention road works and sends you on a random route round the diversions, hadn’t helped but we arrived in one piece and on time. Managed to race through check in, explained that we had to bring our 3 year old because the nursery was closed that day due to training, for which they were highly sympathetic and gave us an extra refreshment voucher. Kudos to OU for being family friendly.

Next up was robes, pictures, and yes, more queuing. This is the point where it actually did begin to feel real.  I had done this. Despite kids, and despite life, I had worked my socks off and actually achieved something (big drum roll here), and I wasn’t beating myself up about it.  I deserved to be there. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t cringing for the official photo. If my grandad and parents hadn’t wanted one, I wouldn’t have gone for it. I even managed a smile. (Those who know me, know my feelings about photos of me.  Lets just say I am happier at the other end of the lens).

Being around ‘people’ in large numbers has never been one of my happy places so the prospect of getting on stage in front of a large number of people that I did not know was not an idea I was relishing.  I just fixed my eye on Sean and Henry, and tried to ignore the rest of the audience.  That said, I managed to queue by the stage for my diploma, collect it, cross the stage and get back to my seat without falling on my face/off the stage/both without social anxiety kicking in and freaking out.

The speech form the now honorary doctor of the university, was highly informative and very moving and I encourage you to watch it here. It’s the Birmingham 2016 one but it’s not up just yet. If you follow the comments for this post, I can let you know when its up.

Special birthday request to my readers

My birthday is looming ahead of me (Sunday 12th, April). This year, instead of cards or anything else, I would consider it a personal favour if, readers, friends and family would consider donating to a very worthwhile cause, then share the link on their social media pages.
The work the charity does is a cause very close to my heart and one which I feel very privileged to be a part of. The people on the ground are doing fantastic job to alleviate the causes of poverty, and its symptoms, but need the help of people like you in order to continue that work. This is how your money can be put to work.

  • ​$10 provides baby formula for a week
  • ​$15 will provide a fan or a stove, or other needed items for a family in need
  • ​$20 Will keep a child in school for a month
  • ​$50 will feed a family of 5 for a month
  • ​$75 covers a range of medical treatments for serious medical conditions that would otherwise go untreated
  • ​$150 will cover personal hygiene supplies for a family of four for a year
  • ​$200 will rebuild a home in the slums
  • ​$250 can sponsor a child in school for a year

The goal is $1000USD and the campaign will end on May 31st. Please click on the logo to go to the campaign page.

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Being the change we want to see…

Getting rid of TAs will save £4 billion, says Gove. One Teacher has this letter to Mr Gove re Teaching Assistants. Please RT.

via Letter to Mr Gove re Teaching Assistants. Please RT..[1]

I’m halfway through a BA (Honours) History so that when my children are all (I have 3) in full time education, I can start teacher training and do a job that’s actually needed rather than back to a thankless admin role which bored me rigid and had no real meaning or purpose other than to make money for somebody else. Is there going to be a job once this clown has finished destroying state education to the point where the only viable option is private education for our children? (They tried it once during the 80s and 90s while I was at school) What Gove has done so far has proven he isn’t qualified to so much as boil water. His own lack of basic British history proves he should not be legislating the curriculum (so much for ‘small government’, Cameron), especially his ignorance that the first English bible was NOT the KJV but was written by John Wycliff and followed 150 years later by William Tyndale. Even Tyndale’s version predates the KJV version by almost a century. The money wasted on making sure ‘every school had one’ amounted to £370,000.  How many special education units would that have funded? Or maybe, replenished School library facilities? [2]

They also plan to fast track ex-service men into teaching positions. Where will that leave those who have an actual calling and see it as more than a highly paid babysitting role? Gove want’s military discipline in the classroom? [3]  In  1933, so did someone else. Thing is, servicemen will follow their orders whereas teachers fight back when something is going to be harmful. Despite his obvious lack of historical knowledge, Gove wants a 1950s style of rote learned facts (with no understanding of context because due to the quantity there won’t be time to teach it) which promotes a pro-imperial, nationalistic version of British history.  He wants a ‘return to’ a romanticised version of school life which probably never existed. He wants to return to the style my parents endured which is completely unsuited to a modern Britain and he MUST be stopped.  His new history ‘curriculum’ will not include the effects that Britain had on the rest of the world, because that “isn’t British history” (obviously, that renders context and effect irrelevant </sarcasm>). Instead of the broad critical analysis and skills – skills which, once learned, will last them a lifetime and across all aspects of their life- based history, he wants our children to have learned ‘facts’ of his choosing and not have time to look outside his narrow little view. (He doesn’t want informed freethinkers because they won’t grow up to vote for the Tories once they’re 18).

Going after History in particular was a political strategy and going after TAs is another: he doesn’t want teachers to have the time or resources to circumvent his plans. Schools like this teacher’s are vital to give children with specific needs as fighting chance to an education and a life, rather than just an existence in an institution. What he is doing will destroy the progress special education has made in the last 13 years. He is showing his true colours and his ignorant, bullish approach and glib attitude to those qualified to teach, not to mention the children who will suffer so he can follow a political agenda for the future of his party, has sickened me to the core. He has no empathy, no consideration for the real effects and, more importantly’ no qualification in teaching or child development and as far as I am concern those should be the very least required for the position of Minister for Education, or we’re going to keep getting accountants who fail to see ‘value’ in people.  Feel free to re-blog this.


  1. 38 Degrees Petition

Brief background of the 1st amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Historically, the first amendment was written to protect the church from secular interference and to break away from the situation which was still endemic in Europe at the time: secular leaders (which at the time only meant non-clerical) had for centuries appointed relatives and supporters to positions of authority within the church. It served their interests as it guaranteed church support -in most respects- for their decisions. In 1777 the founding fathers saw a Europe that was about to explode under its own weight (the nobility were supported by the clergy and vice versa and most nations had established churches which served the interests of the ruling powers) and decided to take measures to prevent this. The situation which resulted in the 1st French revolution in 1789 (there was more than one battle: actually a prolonged series over 10 years) was imminent and they feared it would spread to the colonies: England had already undergone a revolution when James II was deposed. .

Also the church, was at the time, still the most convenient means of law enforcement and tax collection (e.g. there was also no police service in the UK until Queen Victoria took direct action over the high crime rate). For this reason the relationship between the estates of nobility and clergy was, in the main, mutually beneficial. They both claimed to be working to protect the spiritual and physical interests of the commons (peasantry and rising middle classes by the 1750s) but in practice it was not the case. At the time that amendment of the US constitution was written, society had really only just begun moving from a feudalistic/agrarian one to one with condensed urban centres and the commons and peasants were –and in a lot of cases still are – regarded as a disposable, cheap labour force and virtually the property of the landed and ruling classes.  I must emphasise here, serfs were not slaves.  Serfs were bound to the land they lived on (not to a master.  If the land was sold, the serfs stayed put), and lived rent free on their lord’s land in return for working it or providing other services. They fed themselves through subsistence farming.  Ordinary peasants were not bound and lived self-sufficiently off the common land.  Taxation of the peasant classes into starvation, and the debts owed by the king and nobles, supported by the church, had bankrupted France (France as we know it did not exist until after the Napoleonic wars).

Christians’ denial of the separation between church and state merely demonstrates their complete and wilful ignorance of history as well as their unsuitability to take an active role. What might also be a pertinent point at this juncture is that the first pilgrims were not actually fleeing persecution  in England (England was under a Protestant Queen Elizabeth I then a Protestant James I). They left England because they had not been allowed to retaliate against their persecution under Mary I (they weren’t allowed to persecute Catholics). Initially they had moved the mostly Protestant Netherlands but there was still a high proportion of Catholics there, mostly in the nobility or positions of power (re Dutch revolt) so they left the Netherlands too and claimed land that was already inhabited after the native population had saved them from starving to death. That’s gratitude for you.


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