SCHOOL TESTS: What is all the fuss about? We have always had regular spelling and grammar tests in primary schools. Each week one would be given a list of words to learn on which to be spelling tested. We learnt about nouns as naming words, verbs as doing words, adjectives as describing words and we all knew our tables. I was horrified, as a teacher, to find students taking A Level English not knowing these parts of speech. The only stress we felt was, at the end of primary school, when we knew we would be going to a new and different school with children much larger than us. Due to this lack of rigour, I was further horrified to find teachers, who obviously had not received teaching in these basics, putting up posters and teaching aids with appalling mistakes on them. For example using ‘He could of lost his book’ instead of the correct ‘Could have’. Also spelling errors far too numerous to mention. Like tables, once you have learnt them, it becomes automatic. 8 x 7¬ = 56 without thinking about it. It was no hardship, we used to happily sing them. Someone leaked those tests as a political statement. If we do not ensure that our children are literate and numerate, we restrict their chance in the world. We need to test to know.

CRAZY OFFICIALDOM: This week I have been battling various government bodies with regard to agricultural matters. It was as if I were a terrorist trying to get in to MI5 or MI6. All I requested was the name of the person in charge of the particular organisation. I spent 10 minutes with one employee who said they were not allowed to give it out. ‘Why do you want to know?’ I was asked. ‘To complain’ I replied. Perhaps that was my downfall. Had I been asking to sing their praises, maybe I would have been treated differently, who knows. I got there in the end by another means. Why should government organisations be so secretive? When I have telephoned a major private organisation, I have freely been given the name of the CEO. What are they afraid of?

SMILE FOR THE DAY: Emma: Gill’s called off her wedding. Debbie: But I thought she said this one was really Mr Right. Emma: He was until she found out one of his first name was ‘Always’.

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