Category Archives: Ava Whinge


I’m having a bit of a rant about targets this week.  My beautiful and intelligent 6 year old grandson has been telling me for days that he hopes to meet his literacy target and get a certificate. It has filled his life and caused him irritation. Last Friday he told me he had hit the target twice. Yesterday, he came out of school clutching his certificate, a sticker on his sweatshirt and an ‘outstanding achievement’ bookmark in his hand. He had got his TARGET. Naturally, as a doting grandmother I lavished praise on him. But the teacher within was seething. He is only 6. He should be honing soft skills like problem-solving, risk-taking, socialisation. He should be developing a love of play and learning with pleasure. He will have to meet targets for many adult years but he will never have the chance to be a child again. I don’t blame his school or his teacher. It’s a great school and he has a lovely teacher. But the system is pushing schools into this route and they will be ‘judged’ on these numbers and letters.

I mentioned this to my daughter and she wasn’t happy about it either. Then she dropped a bombshell. His 2 year old little brother will also be allocated a level from his childminder soon too. She has been sent for training to show her how to level him for literacy and numeracy. WHAT????? He is TWO! What on earth are we doing to these children?

Just to add further anger, I also encountered a comment on a school blog recently. The children do creative writing which is then commented on by adults and children from other schools. It is a great idea and works really well. On Sunday I logged in to do my usual allocation of comments and was dismayed to see a child comment on another child’s work ‘Wow….this is a 2a sentence’.  A 2a sentence? What on earth does that mean unless you are a teacher? Why not say it was an interesting sentence or a descriptive sentence?

A twitter friend describes it as ‘teaching by numbers’ – an apt description. The numbers and letters become a label for that child. Speaking of which, the younger grandson went shopping with me last week and I heard him tell me ‘This sticker says I’m a good boy’. When I looked at him, he had peeled a label from a T-shirt and attached it to himself. He was wandering around the area wearing a black sticker with £5 in bold white letters. Naturally, I wouldn’t have accepted £5 for him…..after all, he is already level 1d for literacy and 1e for numeracy.

Absolute twaddle.


Help Yourself!

Ask anyone who really knows me and I hope they will say I am a very caring person. I would help anyone in trouble. I often put others before myself and was always the teacher with people outside my door wanting a chat, a cry and a cuddle. Ah yes, the good old days, when it was OK to give a child a cuddle that they desperately needed without being accused of child abuse.

This morning I watched the news whilst getting my elderly father’s Sunday breakfast. It didn’t take long before I was transformed into a female Victor Meldrew. There was an item about Silverline (which I think is absolutely brilliant and I have enormous respect and admiration for Esther Rantzen). An elderly guest in the studio was interviewed about loneliness in the elderly. The main theme that ran through this was that people should do more for her. somebody should set something up. Somebody should invite her for dinner etc. I’m assuming that in her case, as she managed to get into the studio this morning, she has reasonable mobility and health. That being the case, why is she not being proactive? Why has she not spoken to someone at her local community centre or school about using a room and setting up a coffee club? Why has she not spoken to elderly neighbours to see if they would be interested in regular get-togethers? Why has she not organised a coffee morning in her own home for a local charity and invited people from her local church? Why has she not made some simple posters and put them up in her neighbourhood to see if anyone might feel the same. Why has SHE not invited someone for Sunday dinner?

I hope that when I an old, I won’t sit around whining about other people not doing things for me. If I do, you all have permission to give me a good smack and tell me to read this blog again. People complain about young people acting as if the world owes them a lot, but older people are guilty of this too.

My philosophy is that life is like a mirror. Whatever happens on one side of the glass, comes back to you. If you look into the mirror with negativity, then negativity is what you will get back. Look into that mirror, brush your hair, put on your biggest smile (even if you don’t feel it inside), put on your coat and get out there. Make things happen!

Heaven help us

My friend reported on Facebook this morning that her child came home from school singing ‘Baa baa pink sheep’. A quick internet search revealed that my worst suspicions were true. Some nurseries and schools have banned Baa baa Black Sheep so as not to cause offence.

Is this not political correctness gone mad?

This made me think about other nursery rhymes, much loved by both my children and my grandchildren.

Georgy Porgy is a definite one for the chop. He kissed the girls and made them cry. Now, if the girls can’t even kiss grandma now, imagine the trauma caused by Georgie Porgy’s unwanted attention. That one’s binned then.

Mary had a little lamb. Hmmm…’s fleece was white as snow. Clearly an example of white supremacy. What about the other sheep whose fleeces were a bit imperfect? Yup….that one’s out too.

There was a crooked man……oops.  This one is a non-starter. Could we change ‘crooked’ to ‘bent’ maybe. Erm….no. ‘Slightly lopsided’? Nope. We’ll have to ditch that one.

What are little boys made of? That’s got to go as it is defamatory to boys in general. I actually know lots of boys who are sugar and spice and lots of girls who are snails and puppy dogs’ tails. Anyway, it is insulting to snails. And puppy dogs.

Three blind mice. Well, aside from the poem being about blind creatures, that farmer’s wife exhibits extreme cruelty in the blatant cutting off of innocent creatures’ tails. Has to go.

More animal cruelty in Horsey Horsey. Not even allowed a little rest.

Pop goes the weasel – more animal cruelty!

Ding dong bell, pussy’s in the well. Dear me. Even more animal cruelty.

Tom Tom the piper’s son. Crikey! He stole a pig and then made off. When he was caught he was beaten. We can’t be reading that to our little ones.

As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives! No, no, no.

Looking down a list of nursery rhymes for inspiration brought to my attention how realistic they are for us today. Life in ConDem Britain:

Diddle Diddle Dumpling – having to wear his trousers in bed because he can’t afford the heating.

Jack Sprat and his wife having to share a dinner because they only got one meal from the Food Bank.

Little Tommy Tucker – busking on the streets so he could eat.

Old Mother Hubbard – when she got there the cupboard was bare. Another candidate for the Food Bank.

The North wind doth blow and Rain Rain Go Away – definitely linked to the Environment Agency job and budget cuts.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She could afford a shoe?!?

Pease Pudding – clearly a northern delicacy – but having to eat it nine days old? Yuck.

I seriously wonder whether common sense has just gone out of the window. I also wonder whether anyone with black skin is seriously worried that children sing about a sheep who happens to have a black fleece? It’s a good job that nobody in authority heard the lullaby that my mother-in-law used to sing to her children. Now that would have been banned!

Don’t kiss granny!

It is official. The world really HAS gone mad!

Today brings the news that children shouldn’t kiss relatives as it might leave them open to sex exploitation later in life.


Well, on closer inspection of the article, it actually says that children shouldn’t be ‘forced’ to kiss relatives which is fair enough. But really….

I’d be more worried if my two beautiful grandsons didn’t experience cuddles and kisses from me and granddad.  Children thrive on love and affection – believe me, I’ve seen children deprived of it and they are deeply marked by the lack of it.  The bond between grandparent and grandchild is so special and woe betide anyone who dictates to me about how to behave in this respect.

I think some people just need to get a proper job.

Schools should do….

Another day. Another person telling us what ‘schools should do’. Another time when I shout at the TV ‘What do you think we’ve been doing for years??’.  I get really fed up with people who know nothing about education telling schools what they should be doing. Every school I know has a bullying policy, an internet safety policy, a child protection policy. In fact, when I finally gave up teaching, our school had a policy for just about anything you could think of. These were not just pieces of paper paying lip-service to situations. They were working documents with standard procedures, obeyed by all staff. The only difference between teaching in 2008 and teaching in 1978 in my experience was that everything was committed to paper. Much of what is written on those bits of paper is common sense. If you witness bullying or a child tells you they have been bullied, you act on it. It’s a no-brainer. The difficulty lies in the child telling someone in the first place. Every child being bullied worries that by telling they will make things even worse.

Cyber-bullying is much harder. Schools often have divided opinions about nasty messages being received at home and how far their jurisdiction should extend. When does online bullying become ‘nothing to do with school’?

I remember a few years ago, a student told me that her friend was having an online relationship with a man and they planned to meet up. I was very concerned that this girl knew nothing about this person’s real identity. So, I rang her parents to discuss this and ask if they were aware. I got a torrent of abuse for ‘interfering’ in their daughter’s personal life. I still maintain that if it were my daughter, I’d have been very grateful for the concern of her teacher but we’re not all the same.

The key to getting things as good as they can be is an open and honest relationship between home and school. Each should view the other with respect and have the common goal of caring for and developing each child positively. It helps that parents can view the school’s policies but if they feel they are not being applied, they should feel comfortable about raising their worries directly with the school management. By the same token, whilst teachers don’t believe everything a child tells them happens at home, it should be important that the teacher feels they can ring to discuss any concerns which have arisen.

I get exasperated that schools seems to be responsible for all society’s ills. In many cases, school is the one constant in a child’s life. Teachers take that responsibility very seriously. So please, government, news companies, general public, before you tell us what we ‘should’ be doing, research what we actually ARE doing and have been doing for decades.

A Big Mistake

Every day newspapers can produce a story that provokes a strong reaction. For me, today, it is the story here:

Now let me clarify. I am NOT a Daily Mail reader. But someone published this link on Twitter (which is my chosen daily newspaper) and I read it and seethed. This is just my opinion, of course, but how badly did her school handle this?

Look at the bottom of the article to see her with hair. It must have been a huge decision to part with such a beautiful head of hair.

Should we not be praising young people who feel strongly about charity and helping others? Should they not have had a quiet word with her about her shaved head but asked her permission to use the story for Press coverage and great PR about the altruism of their students? Should they not have had an assembly with her on the stage and mentioned to the masses that although school generally does not tolerate extreme hairstyles, in this case the girl had raised £1000 for a cancer charity and as such she should be an excellent role model? Should they not have given her the responsibility of organising a charity event in school to raise even more. Think how good they would have looked to the local community. Think of the reaction of her parents, who must feel justifiably proud of her.

But no. They put her in isolation for having an extreme hairstyle. Consequently, they now have ‘bad Press’ and have alienated community and lost the trust of parents.

Sometimes, playing by the rules in school can be a bad thing.



Does anyone else think it’s a bit odd to put letters after your name on social networks? Maybe it might just feel awkward to me. Maybe I’m just jealous because I don’t have letters after my name – well, not any that really look important. No MA. No PhD. No BSc or BA.

But if I did, would I call myself @E-GranBSc?



Many thanks to Victoria Ellis for inspiration.

What is a celebrity?

The dictionary tells us it is:

noun (plural celebrities)

  • a famous person, especially in entertainment or sport:he became a sporting celebrity[as modifier]:a celebrity chef
  •  [mass noun] the state of being well known:his prestige and celebrity grew

So, we must assume that programmes featuring ‘celebrities’ would feature people that we have all heard of or seen before. But no. Who are they? I’ll have to look them up online to find out.


And if I don’t know who they are, Mr. Whinge would be even more clueless. He actually asked me who Charlotte Church was tonight. The man lives in a vacuum.

More senseless news

What has the news brought us today then?

  • A school refusing to sell a parent’s cupcakes at a cake sale  because she didn’t have a Food Hygiene Certificate.
  • Parking on double yellow lines.
  • Charging people £1200 to go to a tribunal if they feel they’ve been unfairly dismissed.
  • One of my favourite stores banning its employees from joining a union (so I’ll not be shopping there again!)
  • A teacher jailed for having pornographic images of children and images of bestiality.
  • A ‘Superhead’ accused of deal fixing.
  • NHS pulling out of 111 because it is not financially viable.

It is official.

The world really has gone mad.

A world of greed and lies and ridiculous bureaucracy.

A world where compensation is King.

A world where rules can be bent or ignored completely.

A world where ordinary people just don’t matter any more.

Dare to Care

I hate to see items on the news about elderly people being abused at the hands of those charged with their care. I know there are so many facets to these stories but the end result is still horrifying. We will all be old one day and who knows how old age will change us? We might be physically fit but mentally unstable or be very much aware but with failing bodies. Whatever fate throws our way, most of us will have to rely on someone in our later years.

As I went through my forties I was determined that I would not care for elderly parents. The whole thought of it filled me with horror. But we change. I watched my father go through the system, paying his way (and in the process using up over £200 000 of his hard earned assets) and watching the gradual decline in the facilities and attention he was given day-by-day. I’ve blogged about this before so won’t repeat myself. Eventually, as he lost weight and became more frail, we took the huge decision to pool resources with him, buy a bigger house and move him in with us. It was an easier decision for me than my husband. I think it is harder to accept an in-law under your roof whereas there is a sort of  sense of ‘duty’ in looking after your own parent.

Naturally, my dad was delighted to live in a real home with family popping in and out all the time, a cat and a dog keeping him company throughout the day, help with personal care and food tailored to his personal taste. As his full-time carer my concerns about the role have been pretty much unfounded. There have been moments of course, but generally things have gone quite well. Probably the hardest part is the feeling of being tied down, checking the clock for mealtimes, not being able to accept invitations from friends and structuring the day around someone else’s needs. There is plenty of support out there if you ask for it and we are lucky that dad is financially secure should we need to buy in some care as his health deteriorates.

We need to think about a holiday but this throws up challenges and lots of ‘what ifs?’  I know it is only right that we have a break but I do worry about what sort of care he will receive while we are away. In my experience, most carers in homes are really good -especially considering the miserable wages they receive.  But it is also my feeling that as hard as they work, many homes do not have enough staff to see to people’s needs and that elderly people often wait a long time for their press of the bell to be answered.

Wherever we choose for dad while we’re away, it has an awful feeling of ‘putting granddad in the kennels’.