Panic Attacks – What Does Gove Expect?

My first post after an eventful summer holidays leading to year 11. That much closer to leaving school, a great thing. Right? Wrong! May the year of panic attacks, stress, non existent sleeping patterns and caffeine fuelled days begin. The first half term has almost finished and already two girls have shown signs of suffering from anxiety and having frequent, dramatic panic attacks. The work load, the decisions on deciding colleges and A Levels are the most stressful things any of us have had to deal with, and we have all done at least two exams in the last few years.

But the new regulations brought in by the Rt. Hon. Michael Gove is making everything so much worse. Early exams spreads everything across three years rather than taking 20 odd exams at the end of year 11. No longer allowing us to do retakes in exams is something I do not understand the logic behind. Would you apply the same rule to a driving test? One shot at passing your test or you are never allowed to sit it again. Of course not! Well why is it any different to GCSEs? In fact, doing retakes further you understanding of the subject and you’re more likely to remember what you learn for longer as it is being cemented into your memory.

But fine Gove, if you want a country of young people who could have passed their English/maths paper but missed it by a few marks because you fiddled with the grade boundaries, you do that.

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The Road

As part of my English homework for the summer I must write a review of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road. This is my personal review of the book.

I would like an apology from Cormac McCarthy, for the atrocity and the abuse of the English language that is The Road. I could only read this tragedy 20 pages at a time before I broke down in tears. This book is horrifically bad. There is little evidence of an actual plot line, the lack of punctuation renders the book confusing and difficult to read and there is no real depth to either of the characters.

I know about bad literature, I’ve read Wuthering Heights! But this is beyond anything I have read. I genuinely cannot understand what all the hype for this is about. The lack of plot, detail to anything other than a vague description of the road is none existent and uninteresting characters make this a terrible book

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“White People Food”

This post is inspired from a free R.E lesson I had earlier this year. I would like to apologise if anyone finds this somehow offensive but that’s part of the inspiration for the post.

What classes as white people food? Asian food can be clearly classed into either Chinese- noodles or rice – or Indian – curry- ( I am aware that there are other types of Asians that are not Chinese or Indian but these were the two main categories in the lesson). Then there’s black people food – chicken – but then the lines get hazy. South American is generally spicy, Somalians have bananas with everything, Italians live off Pasta and Pizza and the French on Snails, but where then? What do British, white, people eat? Well that depends. The first answer was “FISH AND CHIPS!” Obviously… When I asked “is that what you think I eat?” They said “oh no ‘course not! You’re posh!” “Ok, so what do “posh” people eat?” “Venison and truffles right?” NOOOOOOO! I wish! If I could eat venison and truffles everyday I would be a happy woman. Then one of the Bengali girls says “yes coz if my mum knew I was having you over and that you’re white she’d get trifle, Yorkshire pudding, pasta, fancy meat, everything! And none of us would be allowed to eat until the white people were done”. I would be annoyed at this because if I went to a Bengali house I would really want Bengali food! Screw having Yorkshire pudding, bring on the samosas!

So, what does class as white people or english food? Well you tell me because I have no idea.

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Was Woolwich Terrorism?

As most will be aware, two weeks ago in Woolwich, a British soldier was hacked to death in broad daylight. The media were quick to conclude the events to be a terrorist attack on the west as the attackers were revealed to be Muslim. Now I am in no way condoning what happened, it was a horrific event, but I am furious in the coverage of the attack.

In the days after the attack, BBC’s main story was that the men attended Friday prayers at an Islamic centre. It was implied that this would be suspicious behaviour and points to possible plots against Britain. How does this make any sense? Friday prayers are the most important prayers of the week. This implication would make as much sense as suggesting that a Catholic attending Sunday Mass must belong to the IRA.

Secondly, christening the attack as being a terrorist attack is now pretty much meaningless. Do you know the definition of terrorist? “The systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion.” however, terrorism is now synonymous with Islam. The numerous attacks from groups such as the English Defence League (EDL)on Muslims have not been classed as acts of terror. A 75-year-old man was stabbed to death on his way back from a mosque in Birmingham and was called a “possibly racial attack”. The coverage of the attacks on the Islamic community in the last few weeks have been miniscule. Women have been knocked unconscious, have had their hijab ripped from them in the middle of streets, men have been attacked by mobs and mosques have been attacked but have all been practically (or strategically) ignored. Some statistics for you to digest from the Guardian:

If I am being perfectly honest, the attack in Woolwich has not struck me as an act of terrorism as I have no new-found fear. However, the acts from the EDL and other similar organisations, have given me a sense of fear. I am now more cautious about going out with other people who may deem to be Muslim because of their ethnicity or who are Muslim for fear of attack. This has not stopped me from going out but i am much more aware of the unlikely possibility of being attacked. These are the “terrorist” organisations that the government should be worried about. These groups who use violence and intimidation to pass on a weak and insane message of “Britain for the British” and attack those who are against them. I am fearful of being seen in my area with my friends for fear of attack. Yes what happened in Woolwich was barbaric and wrong, but what is happening across the country since, is what the dictionary defines as terrorism.

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No One Gets My Jokes

It’s true, no one at school understands my jokes, well, apart from a few teachers. Is it pathetic that the only people who appreciate my jokes are my teachers? This is probably because my jokes tend to be Monty Python, Young Ones, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Only Fools and Horses, Alexi Sale related and I know three people under the age of 45 who know what any of these are.

I have made references to being an ex leper in an RE lesson about miracles and was told making fun of leprosy was not appropriate. When I tried to explain that it was a Monty Python reference there were just blank looks from everyone, including my teacher. I’m not sure if I should feel sorry for those who are not aware of the genius of Monty Python or if they think I’m sad for knowing of it. Monty Python, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Only Fools and Horses are a part of Britain. In the closing ceremony of the Olympics last year, the Trotter’s famous three-wheeled van was featured (although Michael Caine’s voice over of “you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off” was used) and Eric Idle sang Always Look On The Bright Side with roller skating nuns! This hilarity is completely lost on the majority of people I know and it upsets me that this may be lost.

But it’s not only Monty Python references that are lost on my school. For Christmas this year I got a Yoda pen as a stocking filler. When one of the top nerds in my year asked if he could borrow my pen with the weird thing on the top of it I refused. “Yoda you must know, before pen you shall use” only one person knew what I was talking about, and they nearly passed out from laughing.

So how do you educate a school full of people who do not find “Ullo John Got A New Motor” in the slightest bit funny?

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Where are the LGBT role models?

How do you come out in East London? You don’t. Earlier this week I was asked this very question and I believe this was the true answer. In a school of 1200 there is not one openly gay person. It is impossible that there is not one gay person in my school, as the statistics of 1 in 9 people are gay. But say there was one openly gay person in the school, their lives would be unbearable. Homophobia is rife through the school, although efforts are beginning to be made to stop this, acceptance from the rest of the community would be difficult to get and there are few out meaningful LGBT role models.

There are few LBGT role models that have any meaning to 15 year olds. Of course Alan Turing and Billie Jean King are extraordinary roles models, but they are not relevant to most of today’s teenagers. Our role models tend to include sports people, musicians and other celebrities. It’s rare for any high profile sports person to be openly gay and most rappers or singers they may listen to are openly homophobic. With the exception of a small few, there are no openly LGBT role models within the celebrity world. Presumably this makes it all the more difficult to be LGBT as there is no one who you can look up to. It also shows how unforgiving these aspects of society are if people only come out after they have left their particular industry.

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We’re People, Not Chess Pieces

It appears that the government has forgotten the simple fact that it is running a country of people not chess pieces. The new “Spare Bedroom Tax” shows us this clearly. If you are renting somewhere with what the government decides has too many bedrooms, you will be forced to move. However, it is likely that you may be relocated to the other side of the borough, other side of the city or even outside the city you live in so you have the “right” number of bedrooms for your family.

The spare bedroom tax is a completely absurd solution for an extremely complex problem. The government has the simplistic idea that if there is a small family living in a large council house, and a large family living in a small privately rented house, then by juggling the two families everything will be ok. But that’s not how life works. There frankly aren’t enough houses with the “right” number of rooms per family as so many one bedroom flats have been built, instead of larger houses for larger families.

This ridiculous tax has already started effecting people in my school. “A”, a girl in my year will have to move as her family’s house is “under populated”. Earlier this school year, A moved from her two bedroom house with her two elder sisters, her younger brother and her mum, to a four bedroom house which was 10 minutes away from their old house. They were able to stay living close by to other family members, the school A and her brother go to and the rest of the community. However, as one of the older sisters is getting married soon and the other sister has gone to Somalia to live with their grandma, there are now three people living in a four bedroom house. Therefore, the council has to move them. They have no choice where they will now go to live. If they are lucky, they will be able to still live in Tower Hamlets. If not they may be moved to another borough in East London, meaning a long commute to school for A, or moved to a completely different part of London. It is less than 6 months since they moved from a house that was deemed to be overpopulated.

Moving people from one community to another has been proven to have a huge impact on their mental health. Taking a family from where they may have been for generations and moving them somewhere completely different can leave them feeling isolated from anyone and disassociated from both their new and old communities. Also, if there are children how could this affect their education? It may not be as easy to just continue their subjects at a new school. Not all schools have the same number of options for subjects at GCSE and not all schools do the same courses. So having to move because there are too many bedrooms in your house may potentially ruin your education.

But as we, Britain as a whole, do not feel compelled to help those on benefits, those affected by the spare bedroom tax will flounder. A few will swim but most will drown. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, how have we become so selfish Britain?

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