Hello to readers who follow or stumble across my blog.
I’m taking a break from writing here, for a month at least. I’m going to work on improving my skills (which includes trying to improve myself at work), increase my education knowledge, and just generally think about how to make a real mark as a writer and broadcast journalist.
I will (probably) from time to time be sharing things that I think are really cool on my tumblr, and writing more personal pieces on that page so please do take a look if interested: winifredflux.tumblr.com
I’ll be back hopefully sometime after Easter.
I handed in my notice at the start of 2014, without confirmation of any replacement role.
Sound crazy? Maybe, but nothing is as crazy as the way my old job at a PR agency made me feel.
Since graduating from a journalism master’s course in 2012, my wish was to work in broadcasting and contribute to making great speech radio. That’s why I have this naff alias, Broadcast Belle.
To attain this dream, I undertook some unpaid work experience just before exam season at a radio station, but I began to quickly run out of money. A girl needs toiletries and payment for public transport so just before my last exam, I left radio and accepted a job at a PR agency, focusing on technology. Those who know me, recognise the incongruity between me, Winifred, and tech. If one looks at me, ‘tech fiend’ would not come to mind. They would be right, on the count of me not giving a damn about technology.
However I took the job and even managed – through some divine act of heaven-sent glory– to get promoted. Despite this, there was a persistent thought that niggled at my mind: ‘I don’t actually want to be doing this. Gat damn I want to be a journalist’.
This feeling only intensified after coming back from a placement at the Guardian, which I attended during some tactically taken holiday leave. The kind, wonderful, late Georgina Henry helped me obtain two weeks at the newspaper on the fashion desk, and introduced me to one of the network editors. I will be forever grateful to her, for her gentle, yet unwavering encouragement and help. She was a wonderful woman and one in a million.
After coming back from the plush offices at King’s Cross, I decided that I was going to live my truth. That truth and my mission was to be a journalist, no matter what. PR was not for me: the puffed up language, the meaningless terms (strategy, leverage, moving forward),
forcing ‘selling’ a story/angle/product that you have no interest in let alone the journalist you’re harassing.
Please believe that PR professionals deserve A LOT of respect – what I’ve just described is not easy, and work life balance is virtually non-existent in that world. The agency I worked at would be great for those who want to start and develop their PR careers. Some individuals thrive on being control freaks and making endless lists, but the low quality of life that came with a PR job was not for me. The radio editor who eventually took a chance on me said it sounded ‘soul destroying’. It was.
In pursuit of my journo ambitions, I juggled working well into the night for my PR job with pitching several newspapers to write original pieces. I eventually received a byline in the Independent online, and continue to contribute articles to this day. When I did get back in touch with the radio peeps, I realised that I’d have to devote weeks of experience in order to hopefully break through. So I quit my PR job for a crack at the BBC.
Handing in my notice without knowing where it was going to lead me felt cathartic, and sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do. When you live being true to yourself, there is less baggage to carry. I grew tired of hearing things that I didn’t believe in. No, digital is not the be all and end all of life. Most regular people don’t know what SoLoMo is, indeed, most people don’t care. We all have lives outside of the internet, thank goodness.
Try telling someone who cleans toilets or works in youth offending that social is the future or that cloud computing the best thing since sliced bread. Most people doing everyday jobs DO NOT CARE, and that’s where the problem lay for me: I did not want to be in an industry that wasn’t really providing some sort of public service. Being a journalist, I can talk to that toilet cleaner, or that youth worker and have a chance to tell their story and if not, then give them a story that resonates with them.
Many people probably think I’ve gone berserk, leaving PR for radio. Journalism is a difficult industry to break into, but I’m not in the habit of thinking negatively and I’m excellent at ignoring people who are not supportive or full of that green bile called jealousy. I have the self belief and determination to go far and it helps that I’m actually very good at turning my hand to nearly anything. There are opportunities and if you’re determined, you will get them. Look at me: I have now began my broadcast journey and gratefully, I haven’t looked back.
Be brave and honest with yourself. If something is making you unhappy, why stick with it? That is madness. Living your truth eventually pays dividends, through personal happiness and life satisfaction, and eventually if you’re lucky like me, payment :)
Broadcast Belle Fact: I came up with my alias after looking for a relevant, punchy name for anonymous blogging. It’s based on my love for radio and was inspired by the syllable count of one of my favourite bloggers, Fleet Street Fox.
There was (kind of) a lot made this week about Michael Gove being the first Tory education secretary to send his child to a state secondary school. I was surprised but not surprised at the same time. I gained a new-found respect for Mr Gove, as I know exactly what being in an unfortunate state school can mean, and it isn’t the sort of thing I would really wish upon my child. Now they’re not all devoid of classroom control at all, as my two sisters went to an excellent one, but my personal experience wasn’t fab.
Cast your minds back to when there was widespread shock and condemnation on Diane Abbott, as she decided to send her son to a fee paying school. After years of seemingly socialist championing for the state education system, Ms Abbott appeared to do the mother of all hypocritical acts, by instead buying her son the route to a better education. Does this mean Michael Gove has done the inverse? Slightly. Gove, a Conservative politician and education secretary that invites boos and hisses like a pantomime villain, is doing something quite un-Torlike.
Worryingly, there is a liberal-ese group of society that wishes to piss all over someone’s parade, something I noticed when comments were made about the ‘type’ of state school Gove had chosen. Let me deal with those naysayers who pointed this out about Grey Coat Hospital (the school Gove’s daughter will be attending from September) –
A state school, is a state school. Full stop.
Whether that’s Grey Coat’s, London Oratory (where the Blair sons went), Sacred Heart (where Blair’s daughter went, and where I got rejected *sob*) or the bog standard East End school where I was plonked, a state school is a state school. If one is going to have
blind faith in the state schooling system and be good enough to support it, then one should look for the best provider. More often than not, it is a highly selective institution that can provide that sought after quality.
This liberal-ese rhetoric of blaming and guilt tripping needs to stop. While Diane Abbott’s embarrassing decision to send her son to a fee paying school stank of hypocrisy, it was also a demonstration of aspiration, and stop-at-nothing hope for betterment. As a fellow migrant, I recognise the necessary dedication and aspiration one must have when beginning with nothing, and I can imagine that Ms Abbott’s Caribbean heritage mirrors the experience of Africans and migrants in general. An experience where as a visitor, you need to work damn hard to get the best opportunities within reach to achieve an equal footing in your adopted home. If more black people could just afford to do what Ms Abbott did, I’m sure quite a few would.
As such it worries me when certain parts of society judge parents for the schools they choose to send their children. When it became anybody’s business where another adult schooled their child, I do not know, but if you ask the very people who attended state school if they’d consider sending their child elsewhere, I’m sure many would answer with a resounding ‘yes’. Conversely, ask the private school bashers to send their Pippas and Harrys to the local comp, and you’ll probably get a cacophony of excuses and shuffling feet.
Myself, a product of the state system, would judge nobody on the schooling decisions they made for children. In the end, all right thinking individuals want the very best for their children, and if that means packing your offspring to the best education money can buy, then more power to you. The downside to private school (speaking as a child of Hackney pre-gentrification) is the possibility of losing a grip on the real world.
However some parents have enough faith in their children and in the state, to ignore the private route. When this happens, we should not nitpick and critically examine the type of state school selected, but rejoice and think even further, of how to bring up standards in every state school. The issue to be addressed here is how to convince a parent (and sometimes even a child) that paying for education is unnecessary. This is more likely to happen if we have a bustling marketplace of great schools on offer.
Is the tide turning for the humble state school? Perhaps. We now have a new chunk of state schools that are doing amazingly well, particularly in my hometown of Hackney and let’s not forget the brilliant results we find in places such as London Oratory and Little Miss Gove’s Grey Coat Hospital. However, I don’t believe that the state school is quite the new black: unfortunately private schools will always be en vogue if there aren’t enough state schools that offer the same quality.
Broadcast Belle Fact: Grey Coat Hospital School was originally for boys.
This week my heart soared when I read that three young lads from Newham were on their way to some of the best schools the country has to offer. Ishak Ayiris will be heading to Eton, after landing a two year scholarship through the Pupil Premium, while his fellow schoolmates Irfan Badshah and Alexis Marinoiu, won prestigious scholarships at Winchester and City of London. Today I then read that more schools in England are using ‘lotteries’ to decide on intake. This led me to ask, what is the best way to accept secondary school pupils?
In theory, when a popular, good school is over subscribed, those who decide on intake can apply a lottery system whereby a child’s name is pulled from a ballot. However in practice, is this what happens? I do not work in a school, so can’t say for certain, but to me this does not seem like an effective way of getting into a school. What does it mean for merit? Is it taken into consideration? Who’s to say that these boys would have got into their respective schools, if they were to have relied on a lottery? Any answers to these questions would be gratefully received, because right now I think it’s a bit of an attack against genuine merit. If I can be proved otherwise, why that would be fab.
Stories like Ishak Ayiris’ always strike a chord with me: young, children of migrants, living in some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the UK, unfortunate school. However it demonstrates that your life chances do not always make or break you. There is a softly softly approach to so many things in UK society, including with regards to young people. The world is not fair and trying to force it to be so can stifle aspiration. Sometimes – even if you are a child – you can make your own luck through to hard work. I welcome any opportunity to encourage working diligently. Perhaps this is my youth is speaking (or possibly my bitterness to living too far away from my chosen good secondary), but I think that the best way to admit people in anything, is through merit.
Broadcast Belle fact: Newham is the 15th largest London borough by area
All I’m askin’ is for a little respect…
Aretha Franklin’s rendition of this song was on loop in my mind last week when watching Tough Young Teachers. A show that chronicles the journey of six fresh Teach First recruits, Tough Young Teachers is the latest guilty pleasure of mine in the education reality television genre, after the warm gooeyness that was Educating Yorkshire. Tough Young Teachers makes me cringe more, mostly because I’m watching young people thrust into their first teaching role, and well, just learning as they go along. More cringe worthy are the begging pleas for respect.
I asked blogger, Fullbright scholar, and Teach First alumnus Laura McInerney whether it was normal to hear newbie teachers expecting respect. She said yes. I entered a state of bewilderment.
Why anybody would expect teenagers to respect them the moment they walk into a classroom as a teacher is beyond me. Perhaps it’s because I remember being a teenager (it wasn’t that long ago believe me), and the reality of an inner city,
crap struggling school. This isn’t a boarding school in Nigeria my friends – things are rough outchea and respect is rarer than 5 A* to C grades.
What do teachers do to gain respect? I haven’t got the answers; I’m not a teacher, trainee or qualified. However there are a few things that I remember the teachers from school doing, which usually earned the respect (not fear) of my fellow learners:
- they didn’t try to befriend us
- they actually taught their subjects well and displayed an interest in what they were teaching
- they listened to what we had to say
- they didn’t show fear a.k.a they showed who was the adult
Respect isn’t free, and hopefully the Teach First cohort of this show will learn how true this is when it comes to secondary school children. I’m rooting for them despite their idealistic, somewhat naive outlook at the beginning of the series and I’m looking forward to watching again. Not just because my old ICT teacher Mr Hartnett is on it and I can’t stop laughing at him being on television.
Broadcast Belle fact: Teach First is an educational charity which in July 2013 was reported to be the biggest recruiter of graduates
Always interesting to discover new blogs through this roundup, and it’s always equally nice to find a post of mine included.
Originally posted on The Echo Chamber:
A round up of the best education blogs from the last week. If you are an education blogger on WordPress, please reblog this post.
- Some reviews of The Secret of Literacy | David Didau: The Learning Spy January 18, 2014
- Nurture – week 2 January 18, 2014
- 10 days of computing! January 18, 2014
- TouchPaper Problem #2 – A Pre-Session Thoughtsplurge January 18, 2014
- Mersenne and his primes January 18, 2014
- End graded observations: this year’s brain gym, and the gorilla in the classroom January 18, 2014
- The youngest children in each school cohort are over-represented in referrals to mental health services January 18, 2014
- When 140 Characters Isn’t Enough: Weekly update 18/1/2014 January 18, 2014
- Secret @TeacherToolkit: A leadership experience of Ofsted #SecretOfsted January 18, 2014
- Lesson Grading, Measures, Accountability and ControlsJanuary 18, 2014
- TDRE Boss Blog: TeachTweet #6 (16/01/14): Critique and Perfection January 17, 2014
- What mistakes did I make in my first year of teaching? January 17, 2014
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Some of my worst playtimes at school were due to the rain.
Yes this may seem like a random thought, borne out of nowhere after a considerable absence from blogging since before Christmas, but the recent spate of bad floods made me think back to the pitter patter filled playtimes of yesteryear.
Whether it was being made to read books that I’d already read, being able to draw and use crayons for more than our allocated hour a week or so of art class, or fighting with the other children to relish being in the play corner, wet playtime at primary school was always a flurry of busyness. What I want to know today as a 24-year-old woman, is what do children spend wet playtime doing now?
The plethora of technology available especially for children these days means that what is considered a past time nowadays would be thought of as antisocial back in the day. Being glued to devices such as mobiles, tablets and televisions is not only noticeable in adults but also children who haven’t even reached double digits in age. While this is usually the case at home, can the same thing be said at school? I know that laptops are now used in classrooms up and down the country as educational aids, but are they also the go to source of fun during playtimes that have been ruined by rain? While hangman or heads-down-thumbs-up were the most fun things my generation could hope for during a damp break, do children now reach for the digital devices?
Teachers, I’d love to know what your classes do for fun during wet playtime. I’m sure there are a variety of ideas for dealing with rain messing up playtime, as after all, this is England.
BroadcastBelle fact: A Nimbus cloud is the type that produces precipitation.
Great post. I think Music is absolutely academic (but obviously practical too). I’ve always thought Music is a lot like Maths. Like they’re cousins. Probably why I find it so hard.
Originally posted on A Muso's Musings:
On twitter last week a school leader (@StuartLock) posted the following:
“In another anecdote today, when promoting an academic curriculum I got informed that Music is an academic subject. Can of worms…”
“I’m a big fan of music, and want to expand it, but it’s not like History or languages.”
I’m often wound up by this sort of thing (although I’ve met Stuart and know him to be a good and wise man), so this blog asks the question: is music an academic subject?
My definition of an academic subject is a scholarly pursuit, rather than one that is technical or vocational. In broader terms, it is one which is knowledge rich rather than a practical skill. And many subjects fit into the latter – Art lessons and exams involve pupils making works of art, rather than writing essays comparing other artists; Drama lessons involve pupils acting and PE lessons…
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I wrote another article in The Independent, this time focusing on visas and international students:
We should be encouraging students to enter Britain, not tightening our visa requirements – The Independent, 28 November 2013
I argue that the UK will slip in the innovation stakes if we continue with our slightly OTT visa rules. You’ll have to take a read if you want to know more.