Oy Cameron! Give me my job back.

Trafalgar Square at 8am before it was shut.

Being a dutiful daughter I escorted my monarchist mother to the royal wedding yesterday. Personally I would rather have been safe at home watching it on the telly and pottering around but needs must. We squashed into The Mall at a ridiculously early hour and killed time by watching a rather attractive NBC reporter clad in a smart suit and manky old trainers do his live to camera pieces. We then stood behind a French camera crew (this was the trick- they have so much equipment that you get a clearish view through them and I translated what they were saying for my mother. Hours of endless fun I don’t think.

The French TV crew film an interesting-looking tree

Trafalgar Square was shut so no chance of watching on the giant screens. We hightailed it to a little pub just off Pall Mall and sat on the beer-stained floor to watch the ceremony. The whole pub joined in the singing of Jerusalem much to the bewilderment of the French tourists. (PS three Hubert Parry pieces in one wedding ceremony? They must be keen. Or was that Charlie’s choice?)

I was quite ready to go home but my dear mother was re-energised with royal fervour so we trooped back to the Mall and wandered down where my mother made friends with a bloke in a top hat and feathers. The police were keeping people at arm’s length from Buck House itself (in fact the police did a good job in keeping everyone far away from pretty much everything) but we did get a vague glimpse of the happy couple revving off in that rather fine Aston. By this point my feet were killing me so we were wandering off in the direction of St James tube when we spied a small crowd and, lemming-like, decided to go and have a nosy. Who should emerge from the back of the Palace but the Prime Minister himself, his skin as eerily smooth in real life as on the telly.

Before I knew what I was doing I yelled, ‘Oy Cameron! Give me my job back,’ as he strode off towards his Range Rover with nary a ‘calm down, dear,’ to me. The crowd giggled and even a copper or two sniggered. With my mother in mind, I left it there not wanting her to see me being grappled to the ground by the PM’s security and carted off to the local nick.

But I can’t tell you how good it made me feel.

The thin blue line keeps the crowd at bay.

Travel card for one happy mother: £7.30

Policing: millions.

Shouting at the prime minster: priceless

The Sex Education Show part two

I’m writing this in front of The Jeremy Kyle show. As per usual, there is wrangling over who’s the father, DNA testing and accusations flying around the room. People shagging other people indiscriminately and without contraception or feeling.

And I hear from schools, teachers, politicians and religious groups all the time that PSHE and in particular Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) is a waste of time on the school curriculum. Right.

Congratulations to Channel Four then for The Sex Education Show. Show number two last night was very busy. There were the usual squirming, red-faced teenagers being shown real naked bodies. Surprise! They don’t look like they do in that porn you download. Human bodies are a bit wonky and lumpy and hairy and chances are you’ll be sharing a bed with one of them before you know it.

It was interesting to see the programme dealing with arousal, a topic that is a part of very few SRE programmes deal with. There was also information on what the law says about sex. That surprised the students, especially the information about ‘sexting.’

Parents and students were brought together for the excruciating sex talk. Well done to the parents for being frank and helpful but I wonder why they didn’t start talking to their kids before now. I always advise parents that sex and relationships should be an on-going topic of discussion, not a one off when the kids are well past puberty.

All this and Anna Richardson and her scary hair bellowing at WHSmith about putting lads’ mags on lower shelves where small children can see them. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: why is it ok to have magazines full of pneumatic soap stars and models but we get our knickers in a twist when it comes to talking to children about real sex and real relationships? Newspapers work themselves up into a frenzy  with salacious headlines , politicians whinge about teenage pregnancy and soaring STI rates but do nothing about them and religious groups tell us that sex is something that parents should talk to their children about. Absolutely, yes they should. But do they? All of them? With the guidance and support they need?

I was exhausted after watching last night’s episode which may have something to do with the fact that I was at twisting my creaking joints into unnatural positions at yoga but may be more to do with the programme being rather crammed. It feels like the researchers wanted to cover too much but were only given three programmes.

Being The Sex Education Show, it covered just sex but I’d love to see Channel Four coming up with a relationships programme. But I guess that’s a hope too far. Meanwhile on Jeremy Kyle it’s,  ‘You had a one night stand at a party- prove your baby’s mine.’

Sigh.

The Sex Education Show is back: episode one

A while ago, before I was deleted, I got a phone call in the office. Did I know of any local secondary schools that would be willing to take part in the next series of Channel Four’s Sex Education Show? I said I was sure I could rustle one up and, being a good public sector team player, phoned the Teenage Pregnancy Coordinators of the three boroughs where I worked. As far as they were concerned, Channel Four might just have been asking us to club baby seals to death with the quarterly under-eighteen conception stats live on TV.

'I want a hairdo like yours, Auntie Anna.'

But they agreed that I could pass the details on to one or two schools that would make a good fist of it (‘scuse the pun) and I duly did. Imagine my excitement to see one of those schools- Raynes Park High- as the featured school in the first episode. I’ve trained up two of their staff on the PSHE certification programme and they have some really excellent PSHE staff so they understand the importance of good Sex and Relationships Education (SRE). I used to be deputy head in a local feeder school so I spotted an en ex pupil or two in the crowd of squirming youngsters.

Parading a bunch of naked men in front of teens is not the usual SRE lesson I would advocate and I felt for the girl puce with embarrassment who managed to squeak, ‘it looks funny,’ when confronted with a giant penis. Poor kid.  Actually I thought the scariest thing about the programme was Anna Richardson’s weird pageboy hairdo.

Elsewhere in the show the retro-coiffed Ms Richardson took to the streets (‘scuse the pun again) to complain about tarty clothing for little girls. Back in the Autumn, Sophie Raworth did an excellent Panorama investigation about the same subject which I blogged about. Matalan and Primark seemed to be the biggest culprits with their sloganned knickers and padded bras for under eights. Richardson spoke to some pre-teens about what they consider attractive and they loved the sparkly pink tat.

A quick aside: when you’re a teacher you get given some brilliant thank you gifts. I’ve received many thoughtful gifts over my years in the classroom but you get some absolute crackers too. The novelty teapot: ‘someone gave this to my Nan but she hates it so my mum said I have to give it to you.’

But my favourite ever gift was the electric picture of a waterfall. Plug it in and the water seems to fall down the blue sparkly plastic. ‘Ooh, ‘ sighed my class, ‘it’s so beeee-yooou -tifal.’ I selflessly offered to keep it in the classroom rather than take it home so we can look at it any time we wanted. The children appreciated my sacrifice and the thing duly came out at the beginning of every day for a whole term.

The point of the story is that small children like gaudy and sometimes, jsts sometimes, we adults have to steer them towards what is sensible. Padded bra, no. nice vest, yes.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s episode which promises to show how heated one gets when getting it on and how lads’ mags full of tits are displayed at toddler height. It’s that weird British attitude towards sex I’ve blogged about before.

Great first show but Anna, please get a haircut.

Jamie’s Dream School: things get political

My favourite thing about Jamie’s dream school is the same thing that drives teachers and parents: the kids speak their minds. It doesn’t matter if they’re speaking their mind to Jamie Oliver, Alastair Campbell or the prime minister, they don’t stand on ceremony and if they think it they say it.

In the final episode, the students received their final report and loose cannon David Starkey was sensibly teamed with everyone’s favourite youth worker, Jazzie B.  Within seconds, Starkey continued his run of inappropriate comments while repeating Simon Callow’s equally charmless remarks to a student. Now Conor might be a giant gob in a tie but he’s still just a kid and he shrank visibly as Starkey gleefully told him he’d make a great stand up comedian… if he ever turned up on time. Nice. Uncle Jazzie quickly stepped in and told the poor teen that he could do whatever he wanted if he set his mind to it. The grin on Conor’s face said it all as he said, “do you really think so?” The musician then tried to engage Starkey in some intelligent adult dialogue but was bulldozed by the historian who clearly loves the sound of his own voice to the exclusion of all others.

Jazzie B: A+ as usual. A model student.

David Starkey: you’re excluded.

Alastair Campbell was also in trouble. He told a student that she couldn’t come on the visit to Downing Street because she had had an almighty outburst in his class. Campbell likes dishing out the arguments but doesn’t like it when someone argues back. I think he was actually most upset by being called a f****** P**** but it’s nothing most of the country hasn’t thought at one time or another.

Eventually all was sorted out and a remorseful Angelique meekly went along to meet the PM. (By the way, have you noticed that David Cameron’s hairline seems to be sliding inexorably toward the back of his head revealing more and more of his eerily smooth face?)

Conor, Starkey’s nemesis, stated that he felt that our school system was stuck where it was forty years ago.  I think Conor might have a point but this was not explored or debated by the PM as he dismissed the comment out of hand. What a pity. Perhaps the PM could do with listening a little more to those who have just spent most of their lives in the state school system. In fact this goes for all politicians: listen to those who experience the systems you want to change (are you listening, Lansley?)

Once outside Harlem, the most cantankerous of all students and the subject of a stand up row with the headteacher a couple of weeks ago, summed up the visit.

“He listened to the things he wanted to listen to and didn’t listen to the thing she didn’t want to listen to.”

You said it.

Although to be fair it’s probably the same with most senior politicians regardless of political allegiance.

At the end of the programme Lord Jamie of Custard admitted, “ Cor lummy cripes swipe me Mary Poppins, it’s bleedin’ hard being a teacher innit, geezer.” I may have embroidered that a little but the meaning is the same.

I think what he realised was that many teachers are inspirational and energetic but it’s not always easy to teach large mixed classes successfully.

At the end of Dream School we learn that many of the students had given to internships, back to studying or to a course or apprenticeship. Brilliant, I wish them the best of luck in everything they do. If only these amazing opportunities, small group teaching and one to one support was available to all students.

Perhaps that’s what Conor meant when he said that the school system was outdated.

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