Tuesday, 12 October 2010

When I have finished this exam, I shall ...

(With apologies to Jenny Joseph.)

... go to the library and browse for fiction
... start running again
... drink wine without feeling guilty
... see some long-suffering neglected friends
... forget all about carbonate precipitation (thank christ)
... maybe even do a bit of light blogging, here and there.

Oh yeah, and (assuming the exam goes ok) I'll be a BSc. Five years of work, so close to being over. Anyone who spots me lying drunk in the Brockley gutters on Friday night: now you know why ...

Saturday, 28 August 2010

BrockleyKate becomes HackneyKate for Londonist

Hackney Wick is quite possibly the most fashionable place on the planet right now, and therefore it’s no surprise that its new monthly flea market contains some seriously stylish tat.

Below-the-knee vintage pencil skirts, ultra-high Postemistress boots, 70s jumpsuits and worn-in Doc Martens, this place has it all. And that’s just the clothes … With three dates held so far the market is currently small, but when Londonist visited on 22 August its 15 sellers offered everything from home-made jam to second-hand books, quality furniture and screen prints. Held once a month, and with plenty of pitches available for aspiring traders, this event is likely to grow exponentially.

The market takes place on a closed stretch of semi-industrial road bordering the canal, and once you’ve sated your bargain-hunting urge, the rest of the area is also well worth a look. For example the Hackney Pearl is a chilled and welcoming cafĂ© bar lurking amid the industrial estates and artists’ studios, and sells absolutely cracking cakes. Londonist also spotted some stellar canal-side graffiti. And don’t miss out on the free out-of-date bagels regularly going spare from the nearby bakery. When you’ve finished exploring, go and chill out in Victoria Park. Hackney Wick: Full of surprises, all of them good.

*** Hackney Wick flea market, White Post Lane, E9. Pitches are available; contact FLEAMARKET @ VINYLPIMP.CO.UK.

*** Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530205209&v=app_2344061033#!/group.php?gid=90776475754

*** The Hackney Pearl: http://thehackneypearl.com/

*** Mr Bagels: http://www.mrbagels.co.uk/

*** Transport: Hackney Wick station (London Overground); local buses: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/maps/buses/pdf/hackneywick-10322.pdf

Monday, 19 July 2010

Lewisham schools seek academy status

The Guardian has published a useful list of all the schools around the country which are currently seeking to become academies. Specifically, these are schools which have registered an official interest with the Department for Education.
In Lewisham, the following schools appear on the list:

Brindishe Primary School, Lee
Fairlawn Primary School, Forest Hill
Grinling Gibbons Primary School, Deptford
Tidemill Primary School, Deptford

All four schools are classed as 'outstanding' by OFSTED, meaning that their applications would be fast-tracked under the education reform proposals currently being put forward by the government.

Academy schools are directly funded by the Department for Education and are independent of local government control. They may also receive support from individual and/or corporate sponsors.
For more information, see Wikipedia.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Deptford primary school teacher slated over '£200k' pay packet

Mark Elms, head teacher of Tidemill Primary School in Deptford, is currently getting a pasting in the national media for earning '£200k a year' ('more than the prime minister!' etc).

Let's get the facts straight first: Mr Elms was paid over £200,000 in 2009/10, including a £51,000 previous-year payment. That takes us to £149,000 which actually relates to 2009/10.
The prime minister is paid £142,500.
Mr Elms' basic salary was £82,714. He was paid around £10k overtime (in the private and third sectors, senior staff aren't usually entitled to receive overtime; I don't know whether this is the case across the public sector too).
Mr Elms was also paid approx. £50k a year for two years' work on a programme introduced by the Labour government to tackle underachievement in disadvantaged areas. From media reports, it's not clear whether this was in addition to his duties as head teacher, or part of them.
According to the school's website: 'Our 2008 results placed us top in Lewisham and 16th in the country for 'value-added' - the measure of the progress children have made since they entered the school. We have been ranked in the top 5 per cent most-improving schools for the last 4 years.'

So, the hysteria over the headline '£200k' figure doesn't appear to be warranted. The wider issue of senior staff pay remains. Schools' governing bodies are free to set senior staff pay levels. Lewisham Council said it had given 'formal advice' to Tidemill's governors; its role in the decision does not extend any further.

However, this does highlight the fact that 'academy' schools - which have opted out of local authority control - are free to act in a more commercially-minded way. Tidemill is considering applying for academy status, according to the GMB union.
Ted Purcell, the GMB union's public services officer, said: 'There is a complete lack of accountability when schools are opted out of local authority control. This demonstrates that opposition to academy status is well-founded, as these new schools will be a law unto themselves.'

Monday, 12 July 2010

Lewisham borough anti-cuts campaign: act now!

Lewisham Council is planning to make substantial cuts to public services in the borough. It is being pushed into taking these steps by the national government's excessive cut-backs. A demonstration has been planned to protest against the cuts planned by the council, and the impact they will have on vulnerable local people's lives.

The demo has been called by Lewisham NUT. There are two stages in the cuts; the first stage is worth £21m. According to the organisers it means that:
- half of council buildings could close;
- 5 of 12 libraries could be shut (as previously covered on BC );
- over 30 children & young people's posts will be cut by November;
- there will be nearly £1m cuts in community safety, wardens services & police community support;
- over £1m will be cut from adult social care;
- day care support for users with learning disabilities will be cut by nearly £500k;
- £500k savings will be made in adult social care by "requiring clients to purchase care privately";
- over £1m will be cut from property services (24 posts - nearly a third of staff);
- road cleaning, street sweeping and night-time refuse collection will be cut back;
- economic development will be cut by £500k, with up to 30 jobs going;
- the anti-fraud team will be cut;
- the finance team will be cut by nearly £1m, almost a quarter of its current budget.

Additionally, a 2nd stage of cuts is planned, in which according to the NUT £10m cuts will be involved. This includes:
- £2m from early years centres (1 in 4 to close);
- £400k school improvement officers will go;
- £1m property management, halving the number of council-owned buildings by selling off office buildings, libraries, adult education and community centres;
- £400k on parks and improvements to open spaces;
- £400k on IT and equipment, due to reduced staffing (ie. redundancies).

These two stages of cuts deliver £31m of savings in total; however Lewisham is required to save £60m. Therefore these cuts only cover half of the savings that will be required all-in-all.

The demo will take place from 5.15-6.30pm on Weds 14th July, outside Lewisham Council Town Hall in Catford.

Thanks to Transpontine for flagging up the information.

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