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Samuel "Commuting flies by with a good book!" (Lincoln, United Kingdom)

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The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way
The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So what?, 13 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
How does this book take the debate on?

As a Brit, I read this for the journalists angle.

There are plenty of writers critiquing educational rigorous and reforms in the UK, Daisy Critsadoulou and Robert Peal, as the reactionary young guns, with more experienced voices such as John Bangs, John Hattie and others contributing more sophisticated analysis of what needs to happen for education to become more effective.

Whilst certainly an easy read, this compare and contrast exercise is formulaic and superficial. There seem to be few new insights here. Taking the views of pupils into consideration is generally considered good practice and surveys are a regular feature of good schools here.

The summary points seem to be that education is a serious business that students need to take seriously. They do this best when their teachers are well educated and well trained - like in Finland or Poland, or where education is permitted to dominate the lives of pupils as in Korea. Kids benefit from robust exams that they have to take seriously. They work best where work is a challenge, where feedback is simple and direct.

Her worries are that countries such as the USA and the UK pay rather more attention to the bells and whistles of ICT than they do to ensuring they have well trained teachers, providing a robust curriculum. Whilst the quality of schools vary in the UK, examinations are consistently challenging, even if some have been made tougher in recent years.

As Christodoulou's constant reference point was OFSTED reports, Ripley's is the PISA studies. Clearly, these studies are useful, but it is surely debatable whether an intermediate measure of secondary attainment is sufficient as a measure?

Academics have produced work on the key differences between education systems, better still would be Finnish Lessons, Pasi Sahiberg's analysis as an insider on Finland's system. Ripley was most in awe of this system, one which promotes aspirations to high attainment irrespective of the sociology-economic background of the child, and which has something to offer both to the UK and The USA, not least in the promotion of high aspirations for all children. Good Charter schools do this so do good Academies in the UK, but so to do good comprehensives. in fact, Ripley is right, when you look at what good schools do, this is a key element, but it is all good schools - not just the ones she looked at.

The problem we have in the UK is that political elites have polarised the academic debate so we have so called ’progressive' v traditional academic dichotomy. Whether most schools are like this is debatable. In my school we do things that build pupil knowledge, understanding of how to use this knowledge oh and how to pass exams. (Yes, like all good schools, most of us teach to the exam.) This promotes student confidence that what they are doing is meaningful, and therefore worthy of their efforts.

What bugs me a little about this book is that it's another person with little teaching experience finding the things she is looking for in the educational systems where she expects to find them. So, despite 50% of this book being references and appendices it is not really a serious academic book.

For all that, it is accessible and well written, as you would expect from a journalist with a good laypersons understanding of education.

As an ebook I overpaid for this £9 for half a book! £5 would be value for money.


Betron DC950 Headphones Earphones, Noise Isolating, Bass Driven, High Definition In Ear Canal, Tangle free, Replaceable Earbuds for or iPhone, iPod, iPad, MP3 Players, Samsung, Nokia, HTC Black
Betron DC950 Headphones Earphones, Noise Isolating, Bass Driven, High Definition In Ear Canal, Tangle free, Replaceable Earbuds for or iPhone, iPod, iPad, MP3 Players, Samsung, Nokia, HTC Black
Offered by Betron Limited ( VAT Registered)
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Truly great buds!!, 20 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are the best ear buds I've experienced. I've used them to run with, in hospital and for general use.

The one slight issue I have is that the buds fall off rather too easily, and can therefore be lost. I bought some less than two months ago and have lost them all, hence the need for a second pair.

Notwithstanding this, sound quality is excellent.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 4, 2014 6:50 PM GMT


Speck StyleFolio Case for Apple iPad Air - Sea Blue/Nickel Grey
Speck StyleFolio Case for Apple iPad Air - Sea Blue/Nickel Grey

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Speck, value for money, iPad protection!, 29 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought the Black and Tan on (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leather-Wallet-Retina-Display-compatibility/dp/B007Y5K2LG/ref=sr_1_4?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1409314136&sr=1-4&keywords=iPad) but discovered that it did not protect the corners of my iPad - £15 wasted (I know, it's £20 at the time of writing).

I approached this purchase more carefully, I wanted:

Requirement On this product, mark out of 5
1. a rigid shell case for basic. 5 - it has one!
2. leather cover, 3 - it's PU, so similar, although you do get the PU smell. Leather ones, similar to this start at £70
3. secured closure, 5 - tidy, well designed fold over clip
4. adjustable viewing angles. 5 - there's a ridge in the case which means the iPad holds it's position in groves/channels pressed into the inside cover. Nice working design.
5. as slim as possible. 3 - slightly more than doubles the thickness of the iPad
6. cool look. 5 - well I like it.

Main drawback is that it isn't a Smart Cover, so won't lock the iPad when you close it. But that's easy to work around by setting autolock to 60 seconds.


Progressively Worse: The burden of bad ideas in British schools
Progressively Worse: The burden of bad ideas in British schools
Price: £7.14

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Debate inducing - almost from cover to cover!, 5 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I enjoyed this read, polemical though it certainly is. Robert plays the "it's not Labour v Conservative, it's more than that" card, but does his fair share of 'brown nosing' to Mr Gove, whilst doffing his cap to the odd New Labour luminaries, Adonis and early Blair, for example.

Still, there is something that fails to ring true in this story, Robert seemingly has the most amazing range of insights and such a developed set of views on what goes on it schools I just wonder where he got them from?

He is about to start work in a free school, with a more traditional approach, and good luck to him. The challenge will be to maintain the work rate to sustain that style of teaching when you have a 90% teaching load and only 10% PPA (planning, preparation and assessment time).

I have 23 hours contact lesson time out of 25.5 hours per week at GCSE and A Level, much more time than the Finns, current PISA top dogs. On top of this, I reckon to spend 15 hours each week on ’out of class assessment' of work but just from September to the end of May.

Additionally I have my form for 2.5 hours per week, on average, with academic tutorials included. Staff meetings, open evenings and school trips, add on average 2 more hours per week. What else, oh then I have to produce reports on student performance - as a tick box, based on average assessment scores, twice a year, plus a detailed written Summative and Formative report on the pupils performance - one hour each. These are done immediately after student exams and take 5-6 hours (each), when energy reserves are already low. All assessments have to be 'robust' i.e. based on assessed written work, recoded in my mark book.

Additionally, I mark GCSE Mocks during the Christmas Holidays and AS at in the Winter H/T breaks, and A2 during Easter. My GCSE classes average 28 pupils, 26 at AS and (mercifully), 14 at A2 this year - for Economics and Business these take c.10 hours per paper, per set, and each subject has two papers per level, except Year 10 business. But we do gets lots of 'holidays'!

As a teacher, I earn £30 per hour for my nominal contracted 1365hrs, over 40 weeks. I really work closer to 2000 hours, that's 50 hours per week! However, as a teacher of exam classes, I work most of that between January and the end of May, when I sustain 60-70 hours per week.

I don't have 'difficult kids' to teach, but I do have a very large work loa, as my students do their homework.

So, I can understand why colleagues might read the Lazy Teacher's handbook - I was given a copy by my schools Ms Blob, when at a local inter-school event to promote assessment and active learning - I'm fairly sure that I haven't cracked the spine of this one. I certainly have books by Dweck, William, Gardener, Cobb and Claxton, and have not, as Canute did, turn back the tide of fads, some have helped, most have not.

I'm chugging through Finnish Lessons next, which doesn't really give Robert here, much support, and I have read with interest the recent debate over The UKs opt out from the Problems Solving aspect of the latest PISA Research, with its emphasis on problem solving and collaborative work between pupils.

Good luck to you Robert, it'll be worth it for you to spend 5 years in a School, before your inevitable move into Tory politics. They need a few more erudite and experienced practitioners to better understand the challenges we face to educate the more unwilling students!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 14, 2014 8:36 PM BST


Anker PowerCore+ mini (3350mAh Premium Aluminum Portable Charger) Lipstick-Sized External Battery Power Bank for iPhone 6 / 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 / mini 3, Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge and More (Silver)
Anker PowerCore+ mini (3350mAh Premium Aluminum Portable Charger) Lipstick-Sized External Battery Power Bank for iPhone 6 / 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 / mini 3, Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge and More (Silver)
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another request for a review, but what a great product!, 8 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Anker request that you review their products repeatedly. If you buy two, as I did, you have to do two reviews. They don't let go until you have done the review(s) - at least that's my hope(!).

Unlike this annoying behaviour, the products functions exceptionally well. My daughter gets almost two full charges from hers, which is great for someone who is constantly texting, tweeting, Facebooking, playing music, wifi; mapping; using the Internet etc. etc. London life for the girl around town!


Anker® 2nd Gen Astro 6000mAh (2A Output) Portable Power Bank Pack External Battery USB Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology for iPhone 6 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air, mini, Galaxy S5 S4 S3, Note 4 3, Galaxy Tab 4 3 2, Pro, Nexus, HTC One, MOTO X G, LG Optimus, PS Vita, Gopro, most other Phones and Tablets
Anker® 2nd Gen Astro 6000mAh (2A Output) Portable Power Bank Pack External Battery USB Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology for iPhone 6 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air, mini, Galaxy S5 S4 S3, Note 4 3, Galaxy Tab 4 3 2, Pro, Nexus, HTC One, MOTO X G, LG Optimus, PS Vita, Gopro, most other Phones and Tablets

5.0 out of 5 stars Great product, 27 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great product but do I have to write a review? I've had multiple requests for a review and so I'm filling in the form.

I want and have a good product, but I don't want or need an ongoing relationship with your firm, unless it goes wrong!

I would suggest one attempt at getting feedback is sufficient, also I bought two products, does this mean I have to write two reviews?


The Ghetto Walk (New Mix)
The Ghetto Walk (New Mix)
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful!, 20 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Driving the miles I do, I've collected a chunk of music that I think I'll get to eventually, but never had. Then last week I started feeling tired as the R4 drive programme droned on so I switched my iPhone to random and this popped up. I was hooked! more laid back than A kind of Blue, and put together well. VFM at 89p for near 20 minutes.

Low price and top quality.


Ibiza 2012 Summer Trance & House Mix
Ibiza 2012 Summer Trance & House Mix

3.0 out of 5 stars Gets the holiday mood, long slow runs - great, 20 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a runner I found this a great way to pass the miles. Enough variation and plenty of mellow tunes to kick back too. Enjoy!


AQA A2 Economics: Textbook
AQA A2 Economics: Textbook
by Ray Powell
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great A2 Economics Book, 9 Oct. 2012
Despite what the AS (flat track batter?) student from the previous review said, this is a very good book. The detail is about right for A2, especially if you're pushing for the A/A*.

I haven't noticed any errors, although it is the book I use to supplement the Lawrence and Stoddard (L&S)book. (We don't get enough lesson to use this text at my cost cutting state school) rather than the main course book.

My high grade students like it and with persistence work though the complicated bits that L&S skims over (or gets wrong). Ray Powell is the old AQA Chief Examiner and the course reflects his insights into what you need to do to pass at a high grade.

If you have strongly motivated students (or are one!) this is a good choice, you will have enough to identify extra reading (if you want it).

If you are a student who did really well at AS and only need a good score on U3 (a utility maximiser) because your offer is A*AA, with the A in Maths, this book is perfect!

Finally, Previous Reviewer, to paraphrase the FSA "past...performance provides no guide to future performance". If you work (only) as hard at AS you did at A2, you won't do as well; take responsibility!


Jolly Phonics Cards
Jolly Phonics Cards
by Sara Wernham
Edition: Cards
Price: £20.99

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turbo charger for new readers, 14 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Jolly Phonics Cards (Cards)
My son really enjoys these cards, we play silly games of charades when he is stuck on the irregular words and he has become highly motivated to build his own words so it's great fun.

In terms of reading skills, even in a week, my son was building words by sounds rather than individual letters and now, after a month he has become far more fluent when reading his school books.

Over all well worth the money!


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