Friday, October 08, 2010


When I read that a London deputy head had been suspended by her school for the outrageous act of talking honestly about the state education system, I didn't realise the deputy head was Snuffy, whose blog is now missing in action. (She's now been reinstated).

UPDATE - turns out the head who suspended her, Irene Bishop, was head at another school which Tony Blair used as the backdrop for announcing the 2001 elections. I'm not sure that means she's a 'Blairite', as some are saying.

(tbf, I can understand concerns when someone talks or blogs about identifiable children. I like to think that Snuffy's anecdotes are always suitably anonymised - certainly hope so)

Quite a character, isn't she? (and she'll be even more impressive if she can drop the aw-shucks grin when they applaud her. Stay stern, girl!). I like her description of the terrible shame she felt, as an ex-lefty, in voting Conservative for the first time.

The school she's just joined, St Michael and All Angels in Camberwell, not so very far from my old stamping grounds of twenty years back, is described thusly by Ofsted :

It is smaller than the average sized secondary school and serves an area of ethnic and cultural diversity with particularly high proportions of students from Black African and Black Caribbean heritages. There are many more boys than girls. The proportion of students known to be eligible for free school meals is higher than typically found. A much higher proportion of students than average have special educational needs and/or disabilities, most of whom are identified as having behavioural, emotional and social difficulties....

(on the rating of 'inadequate') ..
Nowhere is this more evident than in the inadequate behaviour of students both in class and around the academy. As the quality of teaching has improved, low-level disruption in class has reduced but a significant minority of students still exhibit very challenging behaviour. The governing body and the principal are rightly concerned about the increase in the number of serious incidents since January 2010...

Behaviour is highly variable across the academy. Inspectors witnessed a significant number of instances of poor behaviour, which sometimes prevented effective learning from taking place. Poor behaviour occurs more frequently than it should and students show a lack of respect for staff and each other on too many occasions. As a result, the number of fixed term exclusions remains stubbornly high, particularly for physical assaults by students on other students, which have increased this year. Systems and procedures for rewarding good behaviour are not consistently applied and poor behaviour sometimes goes unchallenged.

Now this kind of thing, as I recall, is just what drives Snuffy up the wall - because it wrecks the education of those who want to learn. IIRC, she blogged that one of her fellow interviewees for the job had been knocked over by the children in a corridor.

At some point, Candidate 2 has his turn of the tour. When he is done, he comes crashing (quite literally) back into the room. He is all red in the face. 'What kind of ******* school is this?? The kids just knocked me down in the corridor! They have no respect for anything! And the school has no ******* systems!'

I think they're lucky to have her - her concern for the kids is obvious and I bet she's one of those rare inspirational teachers one reads about. Ofsted should accept that in some schools, a high level of exclusions may actually be a good thing, if it means those remaining can actually get taught. But it's not being consistent with the sanctions that's the killer.

Only one thing bothers me. Snuffy is 37, an Oxford graduate of IMHO Indo-Caribbean extraction. She's older than she blogs (I imagined a well-read 27 year old). She has no kids* (but has great hair).

Now it will be a goodly thing if, thanks to her, some black (and white) kids from poor families get 5 good GCSEs instead of one or two, if some stay on the rails instead of going off them, some end up with good degrees and fulfilling careers, or if she nurtures a Thomas Sowell.

But if that comes at the opportunity cost of a host of missing little Snuffettes, who could have carried that intelligence, compassion and humour onwards down the years, then I'm not sure society is getting the best of all possible deals. And I was saying something very similar at Dave Osler's just today (UPDATE - by strange chance, just a few days later the highly regarded Gene Expression blog said something very similar, only more learned and scientific - complete with the Idiocracy trailer link).

* total assumption on my part, based on the fact that she has never, ever, blogged about man or offspring. 'My kids' are always the class she's taking.

(via PragueTory)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"As Ever..."

Dave Osler on the Labour candidacy for Tower Hamlets mayor (you remember, the one where the original (Bangla) candidate was deselected, and the guy (hideously white) who came second in the selection was passed over because "they could not go to the person who came second in the poll for the Labour Party candidate selection, John Biggs, without it looking like they were choosing a white British candidate in preference to a Bengali") :

"Even though I live in an adjoining borough, only two or three miles away from where all this has been happening, the world of Tower Hamlets Labour politics remains, as ever, impenetrable to outsiders."
As ever ? In the time of the Poplar Rates Rebellion of 1921 ?

Was it like that in February 1974 ?

General Election October 1974: Stepney and Poplar
Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Labour Peter Shore 24,159 77.6

Conservative Harry Greenway 3,183 10.2

Liberal F. W. Alexander 3,181 10.2 N/A

Communist Kevin Halpin 617 2.0
Majority 20,976 67.4
Turnout 60,458 51.5

Labour hold Swing

And 1979 ?

General Election 1979: Stepney and Poplar
Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Labour Peter Shore 19,576 62.6

Conservative Robert Gurth Hughes 6,561 21.0

Liberal Rif Winfield 2,234 7.2

National Front V. Clarke 1,571 5.0 N/A

Independent Labour Ted Johns 672 2.2 N/A

Communist Kevin Halpin 413 1.3

Workers' Revolutionary Peter Chappell 235 0.8 N/A
Majority 13,015 41.6
Turnout 58,637 53.3

Labour hold Swing

Or perhaps 1983 ?

General Election 1983: Bethnal Green and Stepney
Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Labour Peter Shore 15,740 51.0 N/A

Liberal S. Charters 9,382 30.4 N/A

Conservative Demitri Argyropulo 4,323 14.0 N/A

National Front V. Clark 800 2.6 N/A

Communist J. Rees 243 0.8 N/A

Independent B. N. Chaudhuri 214 0.7 N/A

Independent P. J. Mahoney 136 0.4 N/A
Majority 6,358 20.6

Labour hold Swing

1987 ?

General Election 1987: Bethnal Green and Stepney
Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Labour Peter Shore 15,490 48.3 - 2.7

Liberal Jeremy Shaw 10,206 31.8 + 1.4

Conservative Olga Maitland 6,176 19.2 + 5.2

Communist S. L. Gasquoine 232 0.7 - 0.1
Majority 5,284 16.5

Labour hold Swing

1992 ?

General Election 1992: Bethnal Green and Stepney
Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Labour Peter Shore 20,350 55.8 + 7.5

Liberal Democrat Jeremy Shaw 8,120 22.3 - 9.5

Conservative Jane Emmerson 6,507 17.9 - 1.3

BNP Richard Edmonds 1,310 3.6 N/A

Communist S. Kelsey 156 0.4 - 0.3
Majority 12,230 33.5 + 17.0
Turnout 36,443 65.5 + 7.9

Labour hold Swing

1997 ?

General Election 1997: Bethnal Green and Bow
Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Labour Oona King 20,697 46.3 -9.5

Conservative Kabir Choudhury 9,412 21.1 +3.2

Liberal Democrat Syed Nurul Islam Dulu 5,361 12.0 -10.3

BNP David King 3,350 7.5 +3.9

Liberal Terry Milson 2,963 6.6

Real Labour Sheref Osman 1,117 2.5

Green Stephen Petter 812 1.8

Referendum Party Muhammed Abdullah 557 1.2

Socialist Labour Abdul Hamid 413 0.9
Majority 11,285 25.3
Turnout 44,682 60.3 -5.2
2001 ?

General Election 2001: Bethnal Green and Bow
Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Labour Oona King 19,380 50.5 +4.1

Conservative Shahagir Bakth Faruk 9,323 24.3 +3.2

Liberal Democrat Janet Ludlow 5,946 15.5 +3.5

Green Anna Bragga 1,666 4.3 +2.5

BNP Michael Davidson 1,211 3.2 -4.3

New Britain Dennis Delderfield 888 2.3 N/A
Majority 10,057 26.2
Turnout 38,414 50.2 -10.1

Labour hold Swing

2005 ?

General Election 2005: Bethnal Green and Bow
Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Respect George Galloway 15,801 35.9

Labour Oona King 14,978 34.0 -16.5

Conservative Shahagir Bakth Faruk 6,244 14.2 -10.1

Liberal Democrat Syed Nurul Islam Dulu 4,928 11.2 -4.3

Green John Foster 1,950 4.4 +0.1

Alliance for Change Ejiro Etefia* 68 0.2

Communist League Celia Pugh 38 0.1
Majority 823 1.9
Turnout 44,007 51.2

Respect gain from Labour Swing 26.2%

Or 2010 ?

2010 General Election: Bethnal Green and Bow[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Labour Rushanara Ali 21,784 42.9 +8.4

Liberal Democrat Ajmal Masroor 10,210 20.1 +7.8

Respect Abjol Miah 8,532 16.8 -19.8

Conservative Zakir Khan 7,071 13.9 +2.0

BNP Jeffrey Marshall 1,405 2.8 N/A

Green Farid Bakht 856 1.7 -2.8

Independent Patrick Brooks 277 0.5 N/A

Pirate Alexander van Terheyden 213 0.4 N/A

United Voice Hasib Hikmat 209 0.4 N/A

Independent Haji Mahmood Choudhury 100 0.2 N/A

Independent Ahmed Abdul Malik 71 0.1 N/A
Majority 11,574 22.8
Turnout 50,728 62.4 +10.9

Labour gain from Respect Swing 14.1%

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Walter Leigh - Concertino for Harpsichord and Strings

Been meaning to post this for ages. IMHO it's one of the great neglected pieces of English classical music. I'm always impressed by the sheer confidence of the first movement - as if he's been turning out harpsichord concertos for ever - and the second movement is lovely.

This is a somewhat hissy, midfi recording from my battered 1970s copy with Neville Dilkes and the English Sinfonia. While the vinyl is not available on CD (it also featured Warlock, John Ireland, Butterworth and Moeran) the Dilkes Concertino and the John Ireland is on CD here.

Walter Leigh was killed at Tobruk in 1942 in a friendly fire incident. He's buried here. Quite apart from the loss to his family - he left three children and a delightful wife, think of all that music we never got to hear, and never will hear.
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Trooper (he's L/Cpl in the Regimental Diary - LT)
Regiment/Service: Royal Armoured Corps
Unit Text: 4th Queen's Own Hussars
Date of Death: 12/06/1942
Service No: 7931725
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: 10. A. 23.

RHQ, C and HQ Sqns left EL DUDA at 0630 hours for CAPUZZO area, arriving 1500 hours at BIR BEDER. A Sqn, 6 Stuarts, with 4 Stuarts, 3 Grants and 1 Crusader attached, remained at EL DUDA as rearguard to TDS. At EL DUDA the Sqn was machine gunned by one of our own fighters, resulting in the death of Sgt Shill, LCpl Duckering and LCpl Leigh. One OR was wounded. The deceased were buried at approx 428412. B Sqn. At 1430 hours, the Sqn (10 Grants) with 1 Crusader (3rd CLY) attached, was ordered to engage 8 Armd Cars and 9 M13’s at MADURET EL GHESCEUASC. Whilst engaging these, approx 12 Mk IIIs and 8 MK IVs, supported by 8 x 88mm and a number of 50mm guns, appeared from the direction of B.702 384402. From this action only 1 Tank succeeded in escaping. This was 2Lt Cartmell. Apart from this crew, only 2Lt RGH Walker and Cpl Murray have returned, both wounded. Nothing further is known about the rest of the Tank crews. A Echelon was attacked by high level bombers at 384416. Tpr Hyde and Tpr Hilliard were killed and were buried on the spot. No personal effects could be recovered. LCpl Chattaway, LCpl Vyse and Tpr Deacon were wounded. LCpl Chattaway died of wounds later the same day.
Leigh wrote a lot of film and incidental music. Everyone knows the famous Post Office film 'Night Mail', but the GPO commissioned many short films in the 1930s. Here's the composer's sister, actress Charlotte Leigh, explaining the new-fangled phone system (music by Walter and chorus of GPO switchboard girls). Love that enunciation :