Hi, I'm Richard Matthias - a 30-something software developer in the UK. This blog is one of many on this site that I post to, but this one is just for me to write stuff that doesn't fit in elsewhere, whether that be because it's about sport (except motor-sport), politics, films or is just random comments about what's in the news.
23 January 06 - 16:08My old school, bottom again
My old secondary school never had a good reputation. In Kent we still have selective secondary eduation with the highest graded juniors going to what used to be called grammar schools. I didn't work hard enough at junior school so while my brother went to Chatham Grammar School for Boys, I went to Upbury Manor High School (for dimwits and future car thieves ;)
I left there in 1990 and not long after the schools inspectors, Ofsted, named it as a "failing school". A new headmaster was brought in and it improved just enough to avoid being closed. Later in the '90s it joined the trendy government program to become a 'specialist' school and gain some extra funding for it's chosen area of speciality. They chose arts (presumably because it's easier to bump the grades a little than it is for maths or english) and the school was renamed Upbury Arts College to make it sound more impressive. Another Gillingham school (Woodlands road) was closed with pupils transferring to Upbury. Then the government came up with another scheme to try and improve failing schools by attracting more funding through gimmicks and the Academy schools program was born. Upbury joined up and the school was renamed again to New Brompton College (Brompton is an area of Gillingham near the school).
Today New Brompton College was in the news because it was the lowest ranked Academy school in the country. A table from the BBC website shows that of the schools in the local area it is ranked last with an astoundingly low figure of only 9% of pupils achieveing the basic standard of 5 GCSE passes at grade C or above - a standard that is really, really easy to gain. The most amazing part of the story is this quote from the Reuters story on Academy schools:-
Headteacher Judy Rider said she recognised that the results were "extremely poor", but Medway Council said it had every confidence in her and her management team.
Well, the council would say that as they appointed the management.
- Richard Blog -
22 January 06 - 14:54How do politicians think?
Britain's third (and largely pointless) third political party, the Liberal Democrats, has been leaderless since Charles Kennedy was forced to resign after admitting that he was receiving treatment for alcoholism. That sounds a bit harsh, but I think it had more to do with the fact that he'd been an alcoholic for a couple of years at least and had done everything possible to conceal this from the party and the country at large. People don't like it when politicians conceal things.
In the race to suceed Kennedy, the first to declare an interest in the leadership was Sir Menzies Campbell, the party's elder statesman. Another was the young-gun, home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten. He was looking quite competent on camera and with the Conservative's recently electing a younger leader, many thought he might be in with a chance against Campbell.
That was until a newspaper revealed that Oaten, married with two children, was having an affair with a 23 year old man with allegations that the man was a 'rentboy'. Now leaving aside all arguments over morality etc., you have to wonder what was going through Mark Oaten's mind when he decided to run for the party leadership. Didn't he think for even one second that this would come out in the press? It never ceases to amaze me how that when people get on a roll in public life and are popular, they can't resist reaching for the next level regardless of whether it's actually a good idea or not.
- Richard Blog -
21 January 06 - 14:54Review of Napster Subscription Service
My PC recently suffered yet another harddrive crash (I'm never buying another Maxtor drive) resulting in the loss of about half of my mp3 collection. Although I could rip my own CDs again, I have to admit there was a large number of files there that I, erm, don't have on CD. Since I was also temporarily down on HD space I thought I'd give a music subscription service a go. Napster is only £10 a month (and yet somehow it is also US$10 a month - how does that work?). They also have a free one-week trial.
- Richard Blog, Technology -