English and Literacy teacher.

Volunteer LGBT Youth Worker.

Previously taught in Indonesia.

Currently working in the North West of England.

Interested in: YA fiction, EAL/ESL, raising literacy levels, promoting reading for pleasure, celebrating diversity, inspiring creativity and cups of tea.


Numerous studies have shown that, above all other factors, it’s the teacher in the classroom who inspires, cultivates and enthuses learning. How can you do that when you’re surviving on four hours of sleep a night and on the verge of despair? You matter. A great deal.

Research by David Dinges at the University of Pennsylvania has found that adults need eight hours of sleep a night – we do not adapt. We just perform at a far lower level than if fully rested. And his research shows that if you have six hours of sleep a night for just two weeks in a row, you become the equivalent of being cognitively drunk. Do you think it’s a good idea going to school drunk?!

Teaching is therefore not the profession for a perfectionist. There is always something more you can do. Don’t get me wrong – I am not undermining thorough, dedicated, inventive and innovative planning. I’m not in favour of teachers who cut corners. But I also hate seeing people who come into the profession and start destroying their health and their personal life. It’s all about balance.

New rules to prevent schools from “gaming” the exam system to improve their league table ranking will force secondaries across England to quickly redraw plans for their pupils’ GCSE entries, according to headteachers.

Citing concern at the rising number of pupils taking the same exam papers a year or more earlier than normal – which Michael Gove branded as cheating by schools – the Department for Education has announced that pupils resitting the same GCSE paper will only have the grade of their first attempt counted in calculating school league tables.

But Gove’s attempt to snuff out the rise in repeated and early GCSE exam entries was branded an “omnishambles” by head teachers. They point to a loophole in the policy and the fact it was announced in the middle of the school year as a source of headaches for school leaders.

But the evidence is mixed. Finland consistently comes at or near the top of international educational performance measures. Most league tables of GDP per head put Finland roughly equal to Britain, even a little higher. Yet it has no grammar schools, no fee-charging schools, no ability grouping until age 16 (by law), no external exams or tests until 18, no talk of failing schools, and none of the constant pressure that makes our teachers’ lives such a misery.

At the heart of the most significant package of reforms since GCSEs replaced O-levels 30 years ago is the end of marking by assessment to cure what Gove called the “structural problem” in the exam normally taken by 16-year-olds.

In its place comes a return to final examinations as the sole measure of a pupil’s success at the end of a two-year GCSE course – with the exception of science, which retains a small assessed practical element.

A British National Breakfast by Hollie McNish

They start the day with a small glass of orange juice,

Bought at Sainsbury’s. South African produce.

Mugs emblazoned with our German-bred queen

They sip English breakfast tea, 

forgetting its Indian leaves

1 and a half teaspoons each of sugar grain

Asda bought. Barbadian cane.

Husband fries eggs. Wife waters wysteria. 

Cooking oil from Italy. Heating oil, Nigeria.

They swallow two pills each 

to help their bowels and digestion

invented by a research team of US and Indian.

Newspaper flicked through. Headlines are read:

Reads “more crime, more violence, less hospital beds”. 

She complains to her husband, he complains to his wife.

They complain it must be those 


ruining their lives.

Voting polls open. BNP ticked.

Pen bought from Staples, Iranian ink.

They drive home on roads laid by Irish Jamaicans.

She sprays on her perfume, an Arab invention,

complaining about ‘foreigners’ joining their country,

forgetting the source of their dear British money.

Desperate for someone to blame for her boredom

She waters the pansies, fertilizer from Jordan.

Desperate for someone to blame for his misery

They complain that ‘foreigners’ are ruining the country.

Afternoon nap to TV, both sigh.

Made in Sri Lanka. Sold from Shanghai.

Mumbling that Polish have run to their country

they watch ‘A Place in the Sun’ 

repeated from Sunday

Shop down at Asda cos the stuff there is cheaper,

they complain: 

'more British Jobs for more British people'.

Buy 2 for 1 offers from low wages abroad, 


'the price of local farm shops is robbery fraud'.

Pick up a pizza on the short journey home,


'British cuisine is being pushed to death row'

Home on the couch. Watch tv all night.

Claiming that ‘foreigners’ have ruined their lives.

Finish their day with a cup of hot cocoa.

Beans made in Kenya. Profits to Tesco. 

Complaining in bed about closing sea borders,

They don’t learn Spanish. Retire to Majorca

Fair Trade in the classroom?


I’m looking for help with finding resources to teach my freshmen about fair trade (and the surrounding issues.) I was thinking specifically about the issues around chocolate and coffee since those are goods the most of them consume already. I found some great things on blood diamonds, but less for that age group on chocolate/coffee. Does anyone know of any good lesson plans for freshmen on this? Or can anyone point me in a good direction? 

Divine chocolate have a range of resources here and a youtube channel with educational fairtrade chocolate related videos here.

They also have a yearly poetry writing competition for UK schools. The theme this year was ‘Chocolate is Something to Cherish. The final submission date was the end of April, but look out for next year. I entered a few years ago. The kids liked the idea of entering with chance to win chocolate!

Even if you are not in the UK and can’t enter the competition, I still recommend having a look at the resource. They also accept submissions in Welsh.

Let’s not allow the isolated acts of some chip away at the foundations of co-existence we’ve built across London and the UK. We’ve come a very long way in learning how to integrate multiple cultures in singular communities. So, in reality coexistence is not such an alien term as we might think it is. Communication is key: let’s keep talking, sharing and learning along the road to utopia. We are not blind to the fact that there’s a problem and I am not saying we have all the answers, but we are capable of finding the solutions; it’s in our human DNA.

Night Zoo Teacher: Reading Torch Competition



We have launched a Reading Competition in partnership with the National Literacy trust. The competition will challenge your students to read for a total of 9 hours to acquire power for their magical Reading Torch. This will be recorded in a Night Zookeeper Training Manual, which…