Thursday, 1 September 2011

New term

The new term is upon us and I am raring to go after a restful summer off with the kids. A lovely week in Anglesey with enough sunshine for 2 days on the beach. Very unexpected for August in the U.K. but most welcome. My youngest son did some horse riding and decided to have some lessons for a birthday present. I have a feeling that it is going to cost me even more than the usual trip to Smyths but at least I haven't got even more toys than usual to tidy up!

Getting ready for going back to school is so much easier being on supply. No boring INSET days and no hours of planning to do. I just need to check my working clothes are pressed and my shoes are clean, basically. I have collected loads of worksheets during last year and don't need any more. The children are easy to sort this year as no new shoes needed. They got some in May for Ciaran's communion. Liam needed shirts and Ciaran hasn't grown out of last years uniform yet!

It's all going too well. I'm just waiting for the disaster to come now! I wonder what that might be and how much will it cost?

Friday, 8 July 2011

Liverpool humour

Had a laugh today in Liverpool! On the way in you pass the Showcase Cinemas and the kids go there a lot. At the end of each music lesson I ask for volunteers to do a showcase of their talent. One lad said " Mrs. Bowyer, are we doing a cinema today?" It took me a few seconds to twig that he meant a showcase! Did we laugh!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Liverpool kids

Really enjoying teaching music in 4 Liverpool schools 3 days a week! I have discovered that Liverpool kids are inherently musical (apart from the odd one or two) and very keen and willing to join in with most things I throw at them. Had a bunch of Y5 singing and dancing to Status Quo today! They were very shy at first but head banging by the end of the lesson! It's very tiring and physically demanding but I am loving this assignment! Samba is a bit of a nightmare because it's so loud and very distracting to the other classes in a primary school! I doubt I will make a habit of doing it but the teacher wants the class to do a piece for the leavers' service. I hope that doesn't mean that the audience will all leave with banging headaches! I went to bed when I got home on Tuesday with 2 anadin! The other awful thing is that opposite the school is a Next Clearance shop that I had to visit! Well, you can't not! Got a lovely dress for £12! I think it really suits me and I don't really do dresses. It should have been £45. I couldn't not buy it! I took a chance because they don't have fitting rooms. It looks ace and I am really chuffed. It was worth the headache!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The unexpected!

On the ferry to Seacombe we were just catching a few rays and chilling out when we noticed a family having a religious ceremony over the other side of the deck. On a very windy day they were attempting to scatter the ashes of a loved one over the side of the boat. It wasn't proving easy due to the gale blowing and the bunch of noisy teenagers cavorting around. Some of the ashes went into the river but just as many were scattered over the family themselves! I think I would rather have looked at the weather forecast and waited for a calmer day myself! Not quite what I expected on a day out!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

winding kids up

One of my favourite things to do is wind kids up! Yesterday I had a music lesson in Widnes. So, I taught them how to play "Oh when the saints" on the glockenspiel! Why no? It's  a religious piece of music  isn't it? It was hilarious! They took it in great spirit and gave it their best shot! I have loved it back in Widnes! The age of the kids is perfect for me. Aged 9-10 they are old enough to cope with humour but young enough to have respect! I hope they ask me back!

Monday, 23 May 2011


Today was a wild one in school! It wasn't just my class. Everyone said the same thing. I have a theory about windy days winding the kids up. Plus, wet lunchtime does not help! Also we are left with pathetic punishments like " Copy out of the dictionary!". In my day it was kneel on the coconut matting under the head's desk! I remember one teacher who used to put his giant set squares to good use. The offender had to wear them on his ears (always a bad boy!) and be paraded round the school for mass humiliation! The worst one was when the teacher lined us all up for the cane outside his room. I was last and had wet myself by the time it was my turn. Out they came one by one clutching their palms, faces grimacing in pain. I went in to discover it was a ploy and he only hit the desk! I am still traumatised to this day!

What about you? Any classic punishments inflicted on you that you would like to share?

Sunday, 22 May 2011


I believe that I have experienced a weekend for the first time in five years! I had the Friday feeling and now I am going through the Sunday evening feeling! Not having worked full-time for 5 years I had forgotten those feelings and what a real weekend is! True I have only done one week so far but they want me back next week too! So now I am getting the Sunday roast and ironing shirts in preparation for another full week at the chalk face! Well, not quite as we haven't used chalk for some time! I have coped well with one full week and the next one is followed by a week's holiday. Let's see if I am still in one piece at the end of this one!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


At the moment I am really enjoying myself! I am in a lovely school with super kids for 2 whole weeks. I know all their names and we are having a ball. Today we had Peruvian visitors and I did a Spanish lesson. At the end of it the kids could converse with them. So authentic! I have a lovely teacher in the other class to help with planning and a fab T.A. too. Who could ask for more? It's assignments like this that make the rotten ones fade from my memory!

Also, the prospect of two full weeks' wages is wonderful! Having worked just one day in April I was losing the will to live. Now things are on the up. If I make a good impression in this school there might be more work there. I hope so!

I had a bit of a shock though. One of the teachers is a former pupil of mine! Boy do I feel ancient!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

What is it about parents?

What is it about parents being blind to their children's faults? Why do they believe every word that their children tell them? How come they are always the victims as far as their parents are concerned?

Today I was teaching a toe rag who gives as good as he gets. He goes out to dad with a sob story about being bullied. Utter rubbish! He had his dad hook, line and sinker. I met him yesterday and sussed him out as a lying toe rag with a persecution complex! I soon informed his dad of how he retaliated or went on to instigate bullying on others. As soon as I met dad I realised from where he had learnt his talent. What a big ignorant thug he was. He had no respect for any of the female teachers he spoke to, including the head! Like father, like son!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

You know you're a catholic when.....

Oh dear! Catholic guilt has spoiled my day! I realise that being a supply teacher has a touch of the vampires about it! I hang around waiting for people to be sick so I can work in their place! I am delighted to hear that the class teacher I am in for this week is off till half term! However, good old catholic guilt slips in to the equation and I feel bad at her expense! I should be used to it by now! I suppose I should look a t it a different way. I am minding her class for her and giving continuity until she returns fit and well but I can't help the guilt. It is inbred in us catholics and we can't shake it off no matter what!

We feel the urge to genuflect on our way to our theatre seat and we have to confess our sins as we can't hold them in! Someone said on May 4th Star Wars style:" May the 4th be with you" and I had to reply: "and also with you" like the sign of peace!

Must go and say the rosary before bed!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Beautiful UK

I have not blogged in ages! Maybe because there were only 7 days in April that I could have worked and I did only one day! Just when I started to panic I got a call for the rest of the week in Y4, so watch this space!

In the meantime I have been away with friends walking in Wales! How beautiful is the UK! We so do not need to go abroad! Angelsey is a particular favourite of mine! The coastal walks are stunning! It is especially good going with a big group of friends! You cannot get fed up of people when you can chat with dozens each day! One guy who goes, bless him, will chat with you for a while and later in the day you catch up to him again and he tries to continue the conversation you were having a few hours ago! How does he remember? He is the one who helped our evening sing-a-long keep going by telling truly awful jokes! He has a memory for things that really should be long forgotten! He often says to me that he never expected to still be single at his age and I am too diplomatic to say that I am not in the least surprised that that is the case!

We had quite a mixed bunch of people on our weekend away! One person that I find quite boring myself turned out to be a superstar and I like it when people surprise me in a good way. One friend was particularly inebriated and pronounced that he loved us all and if he died that night he would die a happy man! Following this he smashed a glass and tipped a packet of crisps on the floor!

The funniest thing during the weekend was a DVD of a group of men queueing for the toilet, holding on like Michael Jackson does and dancing Riverdance. It may be on you tube. It was absolutely hilarious! Much laughter took place over the weekend and although I didn't sleep well I had a great time. Today I prayed that the phone would not ring to do supply! Luckily it didn't and I had a good rest! I am glad I did as now I am working for the rest of the week! Hopefully I will have some blogworthy stories to tell by Friday!

Catch you soon!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Curses! Why did I mention the sunshine?

Typical! Just when I shaved my legs, painted my toe nails and got out the summer clothes, sandals and handbag the heavens explode with a rainstorm, the temperature drops and the wind starts whistling! It must be my fault putting the kybosh on the summer sunshine! I am one of those people who takes a brolly but it doesn't rain and vice versa! It has brightened up a bit now but I bet the heating will be back on later!

I seem to have noticed my sons are growing up really quickly during this holiday. They are fighting less and Ciaran is less clingy and inclined to cry. They are not driving me mad and I can honestly say that I too am having some peace as they get on with each other or do their own thing in a mither-free way. I can actually read a chapter of a book without hearing Ciaran shout "mum!"

Also I am not having the usual trouble getting Ciaran to go to bed when it's still daylight! He is so worn out at the end of an action-packed day he is asking to go to bed and sleeping until about 8 a.m. (unheard of!) With all this peace and tranquility you would think I would be motivated to get stuck into the ironing pile generated from the holiday - maybe tomorrow!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Sunny Holidays!

I literally can't remember the last time sunshine and the school holidays coincided! It's brilliant! The kids are easier to entertain in fine weather which means I get more of  break too! It's also great not having any planning to do! Supply really is fab! After our short break to Center Parcs I am looking forward to some days out next week We will hammer our National Trust card as well as our Martin Mere card this week. Really well worth the money for those! We always have somewhere to go! Obviously my long-suffering hubby will be at work but the boys and I will picnic ourselves to death this week if the weather holds. Hopefully starting with Formby and the squirrels tomorrow!

Friday, 1 April 2011

School Holidays

For many teachers the holidays are the main reason why they teach! We seem to stumble from one holiday to the next in a frenzy. I can't believe it's six weeks since the last one! This is a strange holiday, however, our first ever spring break to not include Easter. Then we have a succession of bank holidays leaving us with only 7 days of April that we are actually in school for. That would thrill me ordinarily but being on supply means no holiday pay! Yikes! That means I have time on my hands but a tighter budget than ever! I am challenging myself to survive it in one piece. I suppose I stocked up on a full week last week to help me out a bit but still it will be tight!

Look out for me in the park a lot, using my Martin Mere and National Trust cards and generally being frugal! I will become quite good at frugality I think and get very obsessive. I might splash out on a trip to Alton Towers but only if I can get discounted entry tickets. I am already brilliant at mending clothes etc. and fortunately Ciaran is not on a growth spurt and Liam seems to be slowing down too!

I plan to have a hassle free fortnight in which everyone gets on with each other and we don't overspend! However, the best laid plans.........

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

What does OFSTED know?

Having been on supply now for 7 months I feel it is time to question the judgements made by OFSTED. Schools get a few days' notice before OFSTED visit and they can tidy up, mark books, complete planning, warn and threaten the children, ask the worst ones to stay off and freshen up displays, etc. When I visit I see what really goes on. I can see them as they really are. Pay me to inspect them is what I say! I have been in enough staff rooms to hear what they really think about the kids. I have seen enough displays of appalling behaviour from children to paper any display wall. I have marked hundreds of books with many unmarked pages before my bit! I was in a class room today with French words stuck on objects stating "Le chaise" instead of "La chaise" and worse! It takes two minutes to check a spelling and years to undo errors that have already been internalised! I love getting on my high horse about these things. I remember being in an Indian restaurant and telling the waiter that lentils doesn't have an a in it! The best one was at Fleetwood market. Beautiful "satan" pyjamas were on sale! At least they were red satin!

Today I was in an area still in my home town but far away from suburbia. Not nearly as affluent but the children still had manners. Obviously, in my opinion, you can tell when a school has high standards of behaviour and the area does not matter one bit. It is a church school, however, and that can make a difference (but not in every case). Two lovely days in a school deemed satisfactory by OFSTED, where the children have manners and try their best and the curriculum is fun and challenging. The staff is hard-working and helpful too. Maybe it's the SAT's results or something that lets them down but I certainly thought it was good at least! But what would I know!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Real Teacher

I feel like a real teacher! I have had the same class for 4 days straight! I know all their names and I am quite enjoying it. They are no angels but they now know where they stand with me and they said they are getting used to me. I have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. I get to build a relationship with them but no-one is standing over me looking for plans. I will not have to suffer observations and I will not have performance management reviews. Plus I get paid a decent daily wage too! I feel less tired today and I think I am getting used to it! Roll on next week for possibly more of the same!

I was tearful today in assembly. A group of special needs adults came in to dance for us. It was beautiful! They had performed as part of the Narnia exhibition at St.George's Hall. They linked Aslan's death and resurrection with that of Christ. I had never thought of that before. It was very moving indeed! The dancers really enjoyed doing it as their smiles were beaming. I love days like today and the sunshine helps too! I always feel better when the sun shines. Even if I am in work and I can't really enjoy it! Hopefully it will last!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

When the cats away.....

Isn't it amazing! Doing supply on a comic relief day makes you think you work in a holiday camp! If it's comic relief day and the boss is out, well.....! Extra long playtime, comic relief assembly, extra hymn practice, etc.! All the jollies come out of the cupboard. But, we have to ensure that something is in the class books every day! It would seem that a sticker with a learning objective plus photos of the class doing an activity related to the week's work will often suffice! I am not saying that every school is the same but there are days when you wonder if you are in an educational establishment or Butlins!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Tear aways at 5

OMG! Had my first really bad afternoon with a 5 year old thug! 2 boys with 11 months between them in the same class and as different as can be possible. The youngest is quiet and calm but the eldest is a nightmare! Biting and kicking everyone in sight! I will not go back to that school near Wigan ever again! Two of us on supply, no register, no work left and no idea that the behaviour was so bad! I was not happy!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


I have been in enough schools to recognise acronyms but BEOTL is a new one on me! I saw it everywhere on every board in the school I was in today and I was puzzled. I know WALT and WILF (We Are Learning Today and What I'm Looking For) but BEOTL made no earthly sense to me. My curiosity got the better of me so I asked the T.A. She said it was introduced when OFSTED put the school in special measures and it means Before the End Of The Lesson..... I was astonished by the fact that it means nothing and that the school was in special measures. It was lovely and the staff were hard working and the children were delightful. I investigated further to discover that I was one of many supply teachers. They had a number of senior staff on long-term sick and a new head. It's hardly the fault of those working hard currently. The displays were amazing and they had a lovely atmosphere in the place.

What do I know? I would have said closer to outstanding myself!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Is it me?

Is it me or is homework for the parents to do?

Some of the recent homework I have subjected to makes me wonder who it is for? How is this a homework to back up what has been done in class when it clearly hasn't been looked at by the class before? Luckily I am a teacher and I can cope but others can't. It is really bad for parents to be faced with homework for a 7 year old that they can't do. It is very common! Holding classes to show them how to subtract and add the new way is not helpful to working parents!

Also, some homework is downright bizarre! A friend of mine posted her son's task on Facebook: Do you know a person who looks like a vegetable? Let's all insult each other shall we? Someone's dad might have a cauliflower ear from rugby but can you really say the vicar looks like a parsnip?

My eldest is getting ready for options. He has decided to do music but being a drummer he can't read music. I am teaching it to him on a weekly basis to prepare him. How fair is that on parents who can't do that themselves? Kumon is also another bug bear of mine. It costs £50 a month per subject! Agreed, it works, but not all parents can afford it! It is one thing to pay for horse riding lessons as an additional skill but paying for what they should be taught in school is quite another!

I feel better now I have got that off my chest!

Back to my week in school! Serious hard work is under way in Y6 now! The poor kids are only doing literacy and numeracy all day long! They have ditched science as the OFSTED team are not inspecting that in the school in question. They let the schools know in advance and they carry on with science. How unfair! Some schools are devoting the whole week to the SAT's and others have extra with science.

The boys are shattered writing all week! The afternoon behaviour is deteriorating at a rate of knots! Flashback story ideas, planning grids, drafts, redrafts, big write plus mental maths and daily maths and booster!!!!! On Friday they get P.E.! I bet they can't wait! Next week is worse! SAT's practice tests all week!!!! Undoubtedly I will get supply and be expected to mark them!!!!!

No fun at the moment! Yesterday we had a big discussion about Ash Wednesday. Is it a no meat day or not. I say yes. No meat. What do you say?


Monday, 7 March 2011

Not All Schools are the Same

Had another interesting week in South Liverpool! What I have discovered is the following: You can tell which is the nearest supermarket to a school by the state of their P.E. equipment or their garden! Near to Tesco will provide you with a great stock of tennis balls. Near to Morrisons will provide you with a great garden! The voucher system is well used in primary schools and Tesco is for sporting equipment and Morrisons is for garden equipment! Schools with both nearby have a good mixture of both. The gardens are not always done by the kids though! That is a shame! Plus, to get a new football kit you need millions of vouchers! Hence the mass of tennis balls!

I have done some P.E. this week. I am no expert, trust me, but I can throw and catch. Not always a skill easily acquired without practice. Anything but football skills in South Liverpool seems like a waste of time to the kids! No wonder Ireland beat us in the cricket recently! The rounders match I organised was won half a rounder to zero. No-one hit the ball and some of the throwing and catching was awful!

I did mark a rather good piece of writing though, which cheered me up no end! Very imaginative if grammatically incorrect! What's a capital letter and a full stop only a way to stop the flow!

See you next time!

Monday, 28 February 2011

February can be fun!

Back to school and it's daylight going in and coming out again! I feel less like a miner!

I had a slow start to the week which gave me chance to recover from a week off with the kids! The house also had to recover. The carpet had to breathe without biscuit crumbs and the beds without sweat. What is it about a teenage boy's room after a week off? How can a room smell that bad? Is it the amount of time that body is in the bed for? Up to 20 hours a day, weather permitting.

The other smell has resurfaced since then. Wet dog! I do not have any pets, I might add. This is footballer induced wet dog. Half the field comes into the porch and down the plughole in the bath!

Thank God they are back in school and I am out there again on supply! Last week I was in a leafy suburb in Cheshire, a bit of a contrast to the previous week! An entirely different mindset is required. These children are not grateful for a smile, chuffed to bits with a bit of praise. These children are spoiled and hard to impress.They have had a week of skiing or Tenerife. The odd one slummed it in Paris! I resorted to tales of my year in France! Still unimpressed! I tried to make them laugh about my dad being James Bond. ( He actually is James Bond, as was my grandad). Not a flicker! As there was no work set I decided to launch into my vaudeville act and we finally got somewhere. "Talent Show planned for the end of the day if you work hard!" (This was a ploy on my part because it involves no marking!)

They were talentless but that is never an issue! Look at Britain's Got Talent and X Factor. I was the impartial judge. How come the Irish dancer won then, you may ask?

2 days in Y5 and I'm laughing! They loosened up and we had a better second day. I discovered their inability to draw and correctly label graphs. They can do it now! Success criteria achieved. Learning Objective achieved. Books full of marked work. Home to the zoo!

Friday, 11 February 2011

On The Road

Hey! My friend Helen suggested I do a blog and here goes nothing!

I am a daily supply teacher in primary in the north west and I have been at it since September. (October really as September is dead.) I have really enjoyed it so far and I have met some real characters on the way!

My main sources of entertainment come from schools in South Liverpool. Like Gervaise Phinn, the author and  school inspector, I am telling tales outside the classroom but keeping it all non-specific for safe-guarding purposes. All names are changed and schools remain a secret to me only!

Being a Man U fan always stirs up a bit of controversy day one! I always like to wake them up with that one! Prayers can be really important or totally banned. It really depends on the school. I always have a whistle and some trainers in case it's P.E. Woe betide a supply teacher who deprives the class of P.E. on their designated day!

Then we enter into the work set by the teacher which can be none existent! I like it like that because I get my creative juices flowing! I always do some drama and French. They are from my degree over 20 years ago! Then I try a little practical maths! I like area and perimeter and do my carpet tiles lesson with paper towels!We use the paper towel as a template for a carpet tile and double it.  We cover the tables with paper towels and then work out how many carpet tiles we would need to re-carpet the classroom. If it is a nice day we work our how much astro turf we would need to do the field! That could take us a couple of hours! In one school in Huyton I did this in class. The children were gutted when I did not return after lunch with the said new carpet tiles in the chosen colour! (It reminds me of a supply teacher we had at Cuthies 30 years ago. He used to teach us how to work out a bet for the Grand National. I was well-versed in accumulators and yankies by the time I was 14!)

Last week I was a little further towards Speke. I did two days with no work set. I did drama and we needed a dead elephant for the story. One boy we will call Wayne (not his real name) wore a grey hoodie whether you liked it or not. He was a real scally and drama was not cool! He was only 9 years old and already tough as old boots! I decided we needed a bit of peace so I cast him as the dead elephant. He promptly slept in the corner for 20 minutes!

Yesterday I was on a split day in 2 year 6 classes in the Speke area. Year 6 is top juniors and they are 10 and 11 years old. I was on yard duty and I was chatting with a little boy about football. Then out of the sky came a heavy full size basketball which whacked me on the back of my head. I was seeing stars for a bit and the little boy took me in for First Aid. I had a drink of water and carried on with my day. I suppose I was lucky not to have been hit by a low flying plane as we were on the runway to John Lennon Airport!

Coming home to my tea cooked by my grown-up son was just what the doctor ordered. I was even too tired to open a bottle of wine! I just fell into the bath and bed and slept until the clock went off at 6.50 a.m. I am off today as it's the last day before the break. If a teacher is sick on the last day they just stick 2 classes together and watch DVD's. (P.G.'s and U's only of course!) I remember watching Big Daddy on the T.V. one evening and thinking it was a P.G. only to discover that when I took the D.V.D. into my year 5 class it had swearing in it! I was reprimanded for it but seeing as all the kids had it at home anyway I got away with a slight telling off. I realise now that the T.V. version was cut down for family viewing. This is a mistake I will not make again! Sometime we watch clips form films for literacy but not the whole thing! I remember watching clips from Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean.

When I go to schools in Warrington I always let the kids know I am from St. Helens. That usually causes a little discussion on Rugby League. Hopefully we will win our first home match against The Wire at our temporary residence in Widnes. I am familiar with Widnes having taught there in secondary for 11 years. Teaching languages is a real challenge as Runcorn is a foreign country to some of them!

I am amazed by the cultural and language differences between us all in this part of the world.I haven't even mentioned Wigan where I started my teaching career! I once said to a child about "siding the table" after a meal. If you recognise this term let me know!!! I know it and I thought it was a common enough expression but obviously not in Wigan!

Time to get some housework done!

I enjoyed writing this post. I hope I get chance to do it again after my break from school!