Saturday, May 24, 2008

The return of the pink bunting

My town is decked out in bloody pink bunting again, like it was in February. Unfortunately it's still not being used to string up the mayor from a lamp post. It's to remind us of Mother's day, just in case we hadn't noticed the ads in the shop windows.



One of the great things about living in France is the food, so when a colleague gave me two free tickets to the Salon Saveurs des Plaisirs Gourmands last week, I jumped at it. We ended up spending far too much on saucisson and, of course, cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.

One stall had years-old cheeses that Mme le Prof said looked like they'd been dug up by archaeologists in Pompeii. Still, the one we got was very nice, if a bit strong. I may miss English sausages, but I'd miss French cheese more if I ever moved back.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Another of Sarkozy's "reforms"

According to this article on the Nouvel Observateur, the Education Minister would like to create an agency for replacing teachers who are absent (through illness or maternity, for example). What's worrying about this proposal is that the replacements would be students or student teachers.

I really don't know where to start. If experienced teachers find some kids hard enough to work with, what chance does a 22 year old fresh out of university have? But the worst thing is that the ministry already has 50,000 qualified supply staff on its books, but often they aren't used because the current system is so badly organised. Regular readers of this blog will remember that I spent the first couple of weeks of this academic year waiting to be placed while the kids had no English teacher for a fortnight, while one of my supply teacher colleagues found her post by ringing around the schools herself because she got tired of waiting for the academie to tell her where she'd be working.

You might have thought that the sensible option would be to try to find out why the current system isn't working and put it right. Apparently not. Much better to set up a new agency with young, inexperienced, unqualified or barely-qualified staff on its books. What I'd like to know is whether these student teachers will be pulled out of their lectures to go and teach, or whether they'll have to wait by the phone all day as current supply teachers do. Either way, no doubt they'll be a lot cheaper, which is the only reason I can think of why any sane person would seriously propose it. And in practise I doubt it'll be any quicker than the academies at finding replacements.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More teacher strikes

I thought school looked a bit quiet today. According to unions 55% of teachers were on strike today against the reduction in the number of posts.

It's not like me to break a strike, but being a Brit I'm used to having a ballot beforehand so it just didn't feel right.Now I feel like a scab. I definitely should join the next one.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The curse of Monsieur le Prof d'Anglais

I moved to Spain in the 1990s and Aznar got elected.
I moved to France and Sarkozy got elected.
I popped back to England for a few days and look what happened.

Can anyone recommend a nice, quiet cave somewhere?