‘St. Cupid’s: The Rise and Fall of an Inner-City School’ by Kevin Oldham


You can buy St. Cupid’s on Amazon here.

When young teacher Paul Flynn arrives at St. Cupid’s, a secondary school situated in the heart of London’s east end, he encounters a daunting and alien world: poverty-stricken children, incompetent managers and teachers who are wilder than their students. After some hilarious mishaps, he soon settles in, finding that he has mastered the art of getting the kids to behave, an achievement most of his colleagues find impossible. He’s become a successful survivor in a world of surreal lunacy, with teaching a secondary consideration to enjoying life. However, in the 1990s, disaster strikes: Miss MacDougall is retired and is replaced by a maniac from the north, Mr Crutwell. This man sucks all the life out of the school with his insane desire to boost the results in any way possible. Will Paul survive? Will Crutwell ever get the come-uppance he richly deserves? Read this fantastic novel and find out!


‘Learning Matters’ by Roger Titcombe

New cover jan 2015

You can buy Learning Matters on Amazon here.

What leading academics are saying about the book:

“This is a crucial time for English education. Teachers are burdened with an unsettling and ultimately destructive culture of command and control that has persisted for more than two decades. Roger Titcombe provides a critical and penetrating overview of these matters, while offering robust and well researched proposals on how the fundamental issues can be addressed. This book gets to the heart of the problem and deserves to be widely read, not just by educationalists, but also by parents and all those who are concerned by the current state and direction of the English education system.” Maurice Holt, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Colorado, Denver.

“There are many parts of this book that I embrace whole heartedly and other parts I disagree with, but all of it I find stimulating. It offers a fresh, challenging, well researched and well argued approach to the question of what makes for a successful education. Parents, teachers, educationalists and – most of all, politicians – should all read it.” Peter Saunders, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Sussex (also Professorial Fellow at Civitas).

“The GCE O-grade was achieved by less than 20% of the whole population. Yet now more than 50% of the population gets C-Grade GCSE. Are standards really rising or is this an illusion? If teaching-to-the-test undermines understanding, then what kinds of learning promote cognitive development and hence better understanding? Titcombe addresses this question and also analyses the success of Mossbourne Academy to argue how the whole school system should be reformed, rejecting both the right and the left wing establishment in the process. This is some achievement.” Michael Shayer, Emeritus Professor of Applied Psychology, King’s College, London.

This book argues that there is an urgent need for a fundamental change in the direction, governance and public accountability of the English education system. This is a view that is widely shared by education professionals, teachers and increasingly parents, but it has not been at all reflected in the mainstream media.

There are a number of things that make Roger Titcombe’s polemical guide so unique. It is written by a teacher but it is not exclusively for teachers, although many will find it essential reading. It combines gritty, no-nonsense analysis with powerful personal stories that show beyond doubt that a toxic cocktail of factors have poisoned our school system.

Roger Titcombe says: “If it contributes in even the smallest way by clarifying what is really meant by ‘good education’ and in bringing about the necessary changes, I will be very happy.”

What happens if the climate talks fail? Foresight from the timeline of Deputy Executive Secretary Bertillon (ca. 2080)



Chapter III

In the disastrous first decades of the new millennium, the former United States had imposed its pax Americana across the world with unstoppable fervour, and almost every possible energy source had been ruthlessly secured in a series of regional wars. The practice of converting local currencies to the US dollar had massively expanded the US economy. When The Changes hit, a mass of insurance claims created an on-going recession and the sprawling economy never really recovered. The United Nations States of the US – UNSUS – still had seventy per cent of the world’s energy resources, but the costs of maintaining infrastructure in the worsening climate conditions exerted never-ending cost pressures. It was shrinking back to the US, South America, Canada and Mexico. Russia was busy reasserting its own regional dominance. China starved and India died of thirst. The world’s remaining independent nation-states were fighting it out amongst…

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Taking stock of week one of COP 23


imageIt is recommended that this article be prefaced by reading COP 23: Gearing up for another climate talkfest – agenda items of note

The first week of COP 23 has come to an end and the negotiations will pick up pace (or not) as the ministers start arriving in preparation for the so-called ‘high-level segment’ of the talks. So far, they have been somewhat lacklustre.

The report from the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement mid-week, the main forum for progressing negotiations, was not met with a particularly positive response from Parties – whether they were wanting to slow things down (being fossil fuel producing countries), or speed things up (being small island states threatened with inundation).

Progress on Article 6, relating to measures for stopping (mitigating) climate change via co-operative approaches between countries (6.2); market mechanisms for sustainable development (6.4); and non-market mechanisms (6.8) – is…

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US President responsible for break up of United Nations – excerpt from The Changes Book 1


As she approached Café Ersatz Marie-Claude could see Major Armstrong sitting at a row of tables arranged together on the terrace. He was obviously looking out for her, as he stood up and waved once he caught sight of her.

“I ordered for the two of us – figured it might save some time. I’d much rather spend it talking to you while I have the opportunity. There are a lot of things I have to tell you – developments inside the United Nations States of the US you need to know about. Our scientific guys are predicting worse weather events to come, some of which will wipe out many current areas where we have storm shelters. Within a hundred years fifty per cent of the Americas will be uninhabitable. Your guys are probably telling you the same, but what they’re not telling you is where UNSUS is at with its refugee programme. Nowhere. High-level people are heading into space. You know, leaving a sinking ship and all that jazz. Your European Space Agency assets have been defunct for years, but UNSUS has maintained a space programme, albeit on a much more limited basis, and purely military. We’ve still got a small base on the moon. It all sounds pretty kooky I know, but believe you me a lot of people in our Administration are giving it serious thought. At the moment it’s only on the drawing board, but people are already talking about a moon base with ten times the current carrying capacity. Of course, it’ll probably never get off the ground. I think we’re pretty much doomed, but it might be worth a shot. That’s why I’m here – to see if the Coalition of Non-aligned Nations wants in on the project. UNSUS can’t do it alone. Think about what I’ve said. You don’t have to respond immediately. Great, here comes the synthi-caf.” 

After that he would not be diverted from savouring the real milk and freshly-extruded beans. Seeing that the two of them had finished talking, the other committee members pulled up extra chairs and joined tables. They were in high spirits as they had brought along an old bottle of schnapps, which they passed around, toasting each other. She thought about the Major’s comments,paying little attention to the light-hearted banter. She heard her name. 

“I’m sorry. What did you say?”

It was the British Republican delegate, Gordon Braithwaite. 

“We’re having a debate at this end of the table. Trappinski here maintains that you once met President Willis. Is that true?” 

In her early sixties, and having spent most of her life in the UN and later the CONAN, Marie-Claude had become a font of all knowledge on most things historical-political. She had been present at the last meeting of the UN General Assembly Special Session that expelled the US from membership shortly after Gulf War V. She had organised the secret evacuation of all essential UN staff from New York, to help with the establishment of CONAN. 

“Not exactly met, but yes, it is true. It was immediately prior to the last UNGASS. Just before he

walked in and made that unbelievable speech on manifest destiny and duty to God. He did not know there were any UN personnel left in the room with him. He made a comment to his aides about ‘nuking’ Europe.” 

“What did you do?”

“You know the answer to that. The US was expelled from the UN. It is amazing what kind of results insulting a bureaucrat can have.” 

They all laughed. Braithwaite was the most radical of all the CONAN delegates at the meeting today. But Britain had been through a lot. 

“I maintain that the nation state as an institution has been effectively dead for years. Wouldn’t you agree? All that holds the world together now is mutual self-interest and the machinery to maintain it. We’re that machinery – us bureaucrats – whether we’re in CONAN, UNSUS, the Islamic Alliance, or wherever. Look at Europe. Country borders have been irrelevant here for decades. And we only have three accepted global currencies these days.” 

He was clearly warming to his theme.

“What I mean to say, Madame Secretary, is what are we going to replace it with? We’re already witnessing the degeneration of the non-core members of UNSUS. We know what it’s like there – a series of dog-eat dog enclaves. No offence meant, Major Armstrong.” 

He turned to the Major, who inclined his head in quiet acknowledgement, and looked back to Marie-Claude, awaiting her response. The tone of Braithwaite’s questioning had been light-hearted, but she could see he was half-serious. She took some time gathering her thoughts before she responded. 

“I am not sure which question you would like me to answer, Gordon, but I will take the first. I can only give my perspective, but it is a long one now that goes back many years. I think that you are right. I have personally witnessed huge changes in the way countries relate one to another. Since The Changes and the collapse of the UN, we have had to look to our immediate neighbours for help. I would go so far as to suggest that this has created a new phenomenon, the so-called ‘pseudo-states’ that we have today with their single currencies, common policies and regulations on an intra-national scale. CONAN is perhaps the most extreme example of that model, in contrast to the autonomous economic regions that are forming within non-core UNSUS.

“As regards your second question, I take it to mean that you want my opinion on what will come after what we have now. That depends on how we respond to The Changes over the longer term. Clearly, things cannot go on as they are. Soon it is going to become impossible to maintain the level of civilisation that we have enjoyed for centuries. The collapse of our cities is a reflection of the collapse of the nation-state. We are going to have to let go of so much history and culture that we will become like pagans again. But before that time, we must do all that we can to rescue and maintain what we have. After that, maybe we all have to evacuate. Head for the stars. Leave Mother Nature to herself. If we don’t, I’m worried we will tear her apart.”

“The Changes”: A New Take on Climate Change for Burnt-Out activists & experts- your personal invitation

Climate change is escalating rapidly. Charles Peters, a low-level nobody in what’s left of the UN, is sent on an unexplained mission to save humanity. Madé, an Indonesian child refugee, must endure the powerlessness of ‘people-processing’ in an era of displacement and disease. Marie-Claude Bertillon must take responsibility for the lives of these, and many millions more, as she seeks to implement a radical solution. All are victims of the terrible choices made in the historical past – today. The first book in a series of personal histories, this startling story plays out the shocking reality of what the world will be like for the people of tomorrow if we fail to take action now.

#CharlesPeters #Marie-ClaudeBertillon #Madé #TheChanges

The Paris Climate Talks: Anatomy of the Negotiations



As the citizens of France and the world mourned the loss of life in Paris in the wake of the November 13 attacks, it was troubling note the apparent parallels between the inability of the global policy community to combat both religious extremism and climate change in the lead up to the Paris climate talks (COP 21). A global menace, years in the making, largely created by the industrialised nations, reached a point where its catastrophic consequences demanded an international response. Millions of people in the less developed world have been drawn into the conflagration, and hundreds of thousands more displaced. Yet the intergovernmental regime, and the United Nations in particular, seemed powerless to do anything, paralysed by a bizarre set of mutually incompatible interests. Seeing an existential threat to their own way of life, countries that could easily have helped alleviate the suffering of ordinary civilians, squabbled amongst themselves…

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COP 21: Time for a reality check


IMG_8022Photo: Cadman 2015

As the climate talks enter their last few days in the dreary and windswept Parisian suburban town of Le Bourget, a few things are finally coming into focus – despite most of the main negotiating text, the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) still being in square brackets [i.e. no consensus].

There will be no legally binding agreement. It would be nice to be proved wrong, but this appears to be the overwhelming conclusion of most negotiators. This is the sadly predictable trend that has been emerging out of all UN sustainability initiatives since the first Rio ‘Earth’ Summit of 1992. The push is all for voluntarism, and if enforced at all, by private certification agencies, governed by self-determined standards. The nationally determined contributions (NDCs)to reducing emissions have to date remained, despite earlier fears, but with no legally binding provisions, and the push for…

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Already sinking? Climate talks hit negotiating iceberg


Iceberg2Photo: Gibbings 2015

The twenty first Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) begins its second week today, and the negotiations are foundering.

The sticking points that emerged in the wake of the past few months’ discussions in the lead up to the ‘climate talks that must not fail’ have become entrenched. The developing countries, largely represented by the Brazil and China, and the ‘Like Minded Developing Countries’ (the LMDCs), marshalled by Bolivia, are insisting that the nationally determined contributions to reducing emissions should not be included in the final agreement to come out of Paris. And they appear to have recruited the US to their cause.

The anticipated agreement, previously and somewhat optimistically referred to as the ‘Paris Accord’ or ‘Paris Treaty’ is in serious jeopardy of delivering no binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions. This would be a terrible outcome. Not…

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Paris climate talks: deja vu (again)?


IMG_1583Photo: Cadman 2015

Week one of the climate talks is now in full swing. The world leaders, having made their impassioned pleas around the theme ‘we must take action before it’s too late’ have moved on to the next summit, and the negotiators are back in charge.  At this point, things tend to revert to familiar – but somewhat depressing – COP behaviour. It can only be hoped that the political posturing which usually makes up the rest of week one, will be replaced by a greater sense of urgency, and commitment to new ways of thinking (and acting) next week.

The Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs), a somewhat volatile sub-grouping within the G77, represent some of those countries most impacted by climate change, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Sudan. It is an eclectic assortment, and also incorporates China and Bolivia (who are often the most outspoken) as well as various oil countries, such as Saudi Arabia…

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Lost shoes and teargas highlight mixed messages from Paris


IMG_1546Photo: Cadman 2015

Amidst scenes of chaos and confusion, it is possible to discern the deeply divided nature of the response of Parisians and the world to the climate negotiations taking place in France’s capital city over the next two weeks.

After the November 13 terrorist attacks the French government banned the ‘Marche Climat’, which, it was predicted, would have over one million participants. Instead, those wishing to attend left shoes, and the Place de la Republique quickly filled up with these poignant reminders of the impact on democracy that the latest attacks have had. Four tonnes of shoes, organised by Avaaz.org.

But today people still came regardless. By midday there were 4,500 attendees, who created a human chain; within half an hour it was 10,000. Then came the teargas and police squads as the area was evacuated, and the subway station shut down. By four in the afternoon it…

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