Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Computing in schools… a national crisis in waiting.

I’m just a working-class lass from East Leeds. I’ve had the same tough life as most of the people in my area. It is always easier to conform to what society expects – steady job, marriage, children, mortgage… I am such a disappointment to many – lost my job through illness (because it’s my fault, right?), divorced, single mother and how dare I leave my class behind to become an author and PhD student… yes this was said to me! I’ve been called a traitor to my class. It’s all so laughable when people realise why I am so passionate about this research and especially when they understand the heart of everything I do is my belief in socialism and equality, using my skills and philosophies to bring hope and opportunities for our future generations. It is not just politicians who make a difference. I don’t want a life in front line politics. I’m far too sensitive, far too caring and can not abide having to lower my principles to appease a political party.

I know my future life is in writing and meaningful research. PhD’s are not exclusive to elitism as it has been suggested to me. PhD study should absolutely be available to working class people like me who have first-hand experience of the obstacles faced by our children and future generations.

How many articles have there been recently telling us robots are going to take all our jobs? Yet, our children are being systematically let down by our Governments over the education provision of ICT and Computer Science. This is especially prevalent in areas like mine. The changes to incorporate ICT into lessons developed skills for use in industry but did not address the changing job opportunities within the technology industries. It was boring and uninspiring, very often reduced to merely how to use Microsoft packages. Computing/ Computer Science and ICT should never be boring. ICT was replaced with Computer Science in 2016 but this was ill thought out, introduced with no additional investment, leaving many of our young adults unable to access any digital, computing skills which, potentially, is a national crisis in waiting. These changes looked great on paper but have been poorly executed.

I was told at fifteen, I was not smart enough to study Computer Science but too clever to study typing qualifications. Yet, during my twenty-year career in the Insurance industry, I had to teach myself both skills. My concern is… how do we know young people are not being written off when given the opportunity, they have the potential to be leaders in these fields? We do not credit our young people with initiative; this comes from the draconian, authoritarian exam and results driven system we have in place now.

There are some amazing initiatives available to schools, but these are sporadic and costly; very much a post code or establishment lottery…even an individual teacher lottery. Some have said they will not implement the new curricula and with the withdrawal of all ICT, this would leave NO pupils receiving any computing study at examination level. The new Computer science curricula is heavily weighted to software programming at the expense of other skills and areas of the IT industry and other industries reliant on ICT. It does not allow for flexibility to reflect the constant technological advances.

Instead of enforcing Computer Science being taught using traditional methods… a square peg in a round hole scenario under current education provision, we need a national, coordinated strategy with a commitment to ensure ALL children have the necessary skills to succeed in the developing digital world, not just the ICT industry.

Current education practice and policy is not providing an environment to develop the seven skills, identified by the OECD and UNESCO, our children will need to flourish in the changing world:

1.    Critical thinking and problem solving

2.    Collaboration across networks and leading by influence

3.    Agility and adaptability

4.    Initiative and entrepreneurialism

5.    Effective oral and written communication

6.    Accessing and analysing information

7.    Curiosity and imagination

Ironically, these skills form the essence of computer science learning yet are stifled by the current practise and policies. A new way of teaching and learning requires urgent development, incorporating these key skills, flexibility, adaptability and FUN!

My PhD study initial title is:

Computer Science requires a new flexible, pedagogical approach in Secondary Schools in England to improve the engagement of young people from all backgrounds.

My study will investigate how we can deliver computing and ICT in a way to maximise our
My MSc IT initial study 
young people’s exposure to every aspect of computing. I would like to develop a modular system that provides a choice of skills and allows for different levels of learning from basic to advanced, so if you are not a Maths genius but brilliant at design, you can still develop your digital skills. Likewise, if your interest is in engineering, there should be options for this too.  Restricting only the students in the top 2 sets at  Maths to take GCSE Computer Science is not acceptable. It's lazy because we should adapt learning to increase participation.You do not have to be a mathematical genius to be a coder!!You don’t. I am not but I can code in html, php with MySQL, Python, Javascript, AJAX and I am confident enough to look and learn other languages as required. It is a matter of confidence! Little old me… if this Yorkshire lass can… we all can.

I feel incredibly honoured and humbled to have the backing of the university and will work tremendously hard to deliver the research and hopefully, make my small contribution to the future of our young people. In addition, there would be capacity for these modules and qualifications to be made available to retrain adults as pert of a lifelong learning programme.

I do need to look for funding to help me through my study… unfortunately I can’t get research council funding to study at my local university which is necessary as I am a single Mum with Meniere’s. 

Next blog post... Beyond the Lies publication details...

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Fixing Democracy

Have you seen the film 51st State? It's very sweary and not for the faint hearted but there is a clip in it… if you've seen it, you will probably know what I'm about to say. Robert Carlyle instructs Paul Barber to "take care of him", him being the chemist Lawrence. Barber interprets this as kill Lawrence as in "take care of him" but Carlyle really means for him to be looked after and kept safe.

Well, "fixing democracy" is a bit like "take care of him". I mean… fixing as in making it work for all of us so we are all engaged and invested in it, not fixing where Governments, foreign states, social media analytics and the mainstream media manipulate the vote and stifle democracy. Let's be honest… that is exactly where we are today. Our democracy… what democracy? It is beyond broken. No band aids, quick fixes, it requires life threatening surgery to restart the country's heart.  A re-ignition of engagement. We saw the start of it in 2017 when record numbers of young people registered to vote but we need to engage EVERYONE in the process.

The disengagement is no coincidence and the blame certainly should not fall entirely on the heads of individual voters. There has been a systematic and sustained attack on democracy specifically designed to disengage people. If politicians wanted democracy to work, they would not constantly undermine it by changing the goal posts. Boundary changes, voter manipulation, false propaganda, preventing 16-18-year olds voting and the ridiculous voter ID trials are some of the underhand tactics employed to obstruct democracy.  Trying to prevent voter fraud, which is virtually non-existent, by trialling a system of Voter ID that turns away over 4,000 legitimate voters, including an ex-candidate, sums up the ineptitude of this Government. It’s not about voter fraud… more about finding ways to stop democracy.

Democracy is a thorn in many a politician’s side. It is NOT anti-British and unpatriotic, nor are you an enemy of the state, if you challenge the Government. In fact, it is deeply patriotic and very British to care about the plight of fellow citizens and NEVER should it be acceptable, nor should we allow, any of our citizens to suffer at the hands of merciless politicians elected, YES…ELECTED by us. It is our responsibility, individually and collectively, to ensure OUR elected representatives don’t get away with anything that undermines our communities, our democracy and our country. Orchestrating voter apathy and restricting legitimate participation is implementing a covert dictatorship. We have a track record of allowing politicians to blame everyone but themselves. The only way to change it… VOTE but… wait… we can’t VOTE!

Elected members MUST shoulder some of the responsibility … actually… MOST of the responsibility. I am sick of hearing their fake disappointment at voter apathy. I don't blame people for not voting. I love politics and am actively involved at grass roots level, but I can completely understand why some of my fellow residents won't vote. We have politicians who use local elections to elevate their own position in politics and don't give two hoots about the residents and their issues. We have MPs claiming ridiculous amounts of money on expenses for a second home when we have people living on the streets and WORKING people relying on food banks to feed their children, all while the House of Commons lavishes in champagne and subsidised bars!!

If you want people to believe in democracy, you must level the playing field. If there was a will to change democracy, it would be done. I hear so many times "why should I vote, they are all the same." During the recent campaign, I was asked "Is Jeremy Corbyn just an illusion that will change when he gets into power?" My answer was a genuine person who remains committed to his convictions over his whole life against the establishment, can NEVER be an illusion. It led to a great discussion about Hillsborough, Orgreave, Jimmy Savile and injustice. They are the things people want to know. When will we redress the injustices of our society? When will MPs be held fully to account? But what drives me totally insane, is our politicians telling us, if we criticise the Government, we are an enemy of the state, a risk to national security. Really? IT IS OUR CIVIC DUTY TO QUESTION THEM!!! The whole essence of a democracy!!

The pure beauty of a democracy is allowing everyone to have an equal voice. Debate is healthy. We all have opinions based upon our own beliefs and moulded by our life experiences. Everyone holds an idea worth listening to and considering providing it does NOT cause injustice, inequality and a divisive world. Time for change…

We need a total change in attitude from both sides of the divide – the elected and the voters, or non-voters. In my opinion, we need the strong will of a political leader to break away from the years of destruction, to fix the whole system from the inside but also restore the faith in that system. It will take a huge effort which will raise a lot of opposition and the undermining of that effort… sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Here’s what I think we need to do:

1.    New voting system. Make every vote count – First Past the Post is past its sell by date. It was traditionally sold on the basis it provided strong and stable Governments. Clearly it no longer does!

2.    New Voter registration system – why can’t we have automatic voter registration based on national insurance numbers. We all have them and they are unique.

3.    Allow 16 – 18-year olds to vote based on their national insurance number.

4.    Postal votes are great but as I found recently… if you change address… you can change the details on the system, but you must physically apply for a new postal vote at the new address. Ridiculous bureaucracy! Online voting should be explored – security encryption does work… don’t believe the fear factors!

5.    STOP the constant changing of the boundaries!

6.    Compulsory engagement. Other countries do it… we should too. Fine people who do not vote.

7.    Elected members should have a duty to restore faith in the system and that should make blatant lying in public office a criminal offence and they should face sanctions if they are persistent absentees.

8.    Elected members must be made accountable. We all have a duty to do this.

9.    EDUCATION! EDUCATION! EDUCATION! It is a total myth that politics and constitutional matters must not be taught in schools for fear of indoctrination. I would swear if I could right now!! I am a strong believer radicalisation occurs when people, especially the disenfranchised young, believe they don’t have a voice and are not being heard. They are not equipped with the full knowledge of options and alternatives. Let’s face it, the UK Government and Establishment have legitimised hate and division yet ask our teachers to implement strategies like Prevent!! To stop radicalisation from any part of the political spectrum, we need to educate our children, not just with knowledge but with the ability to critically analyse and challenge views. You never know, it may also inspire children from all backgrounds to represent their communities.

10. GET INVOLVED!!! Don’t moan… act. Politics is not a taboo subject. Engage in conversations but play nice! If you want your voice to be heard… make it so! Don’t leave it to others. Question your elected members, nationally and locally. Challenge them – make them work for their money!! Highlight the issue and push for change. Personally, inactivity or apathy of individual elected members, should be met with sanctions and fines, especially non-attendance! And… expenses should be capped at an annual figure per MP. If they can’t live within their means, they need to learn how to budget better!!

I hope it’s given you food for thought and you will get involved not just at the ballot box…

Back to the day job…

Beyond the Lies is all set to be published. I am just finalising the book cover. Once its agreed, I will post it to my social media.

I have my place for my PhD. The next chapter in this crazy life! For too long our children have been let down by schools in ICT/Computer Science training through lack of resources, poor teaching practices and politically motivated changes.

This Government has introduced Computer Science but phased out ICT which effectively means lots of our children may not receive any computer training after the age of 14 unless they meet the strict criteria to take the new GCSE. How does this prepare them for the changing world? I am on a mission to change this. To make Computer Science engaging and available to everyone especially as I was told at 15 I was not smart enough to take computer science and have just graduated with Distinction in MSc Information Technology. This is my field of research:

Have a fabulous week… go do whatever makes you happy… if it’s legal mind!!

Much love

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Hostiles Environments… not by Error or Accident

This is 100% political and personal – I make no apologies for exercising my democratic right to have my say…
Do NOT dare tell me this is British patriotism and tell me I should be proud of waving a flag. I am utterly ashamed and distraught. Inhumanity, racism, bigotry and intolerance are the most anti-British acts possible…well… that and not paying your taxes, choosing instead to stash money in offshore accounts!!
Windrush is the tip of the iceberg… this is not isolated, nor an error or accident. This is part of a cynical, ideologically driven right-wing Tory project creating divisions and hostility towards selected sectors of our communities.  IT WAS NEVER IN A MANIFESTO TO TRY AND DEPORT BRITISH CITIZENS, WAS IT???

Let’s be totally honest as a nation… all this started back in 1979 with an attack on our communities and trade unions. We have not “accidentally” or “incompetently” ended up in the situation we are in. The divisions in our communities and our society have been systematically and cynically created by successive governments since Thatcher. When she killed northern communities, she had no intention of rebuilding the areas. She knew by decimating the labour heartlands and crushing the ties between Labour, the trade unions and local citizens, she could pave the way to the transfer of power to the elite and corporations, creating a faux democracy based on the US republic.

Since these attacks left a weak opposition and no real accountability, the Tories have built their strategies based on divide and rule, blaming the unemployed, the disabled, the immigrants for all the failings of their past policies AND people were sucked into it. The banking crisis gave the Tories the perfect back drop for their ideologically driven shrinking of the state, duping and guilt tripping people into believing that the government had no money even though the very people they were duping are the key contributors to the public purse. Until 2015, we did not have an effective opposition holding the Government to account.
It is not anti-British to
-       oppose Government policy.
-       hold OUR elected members to account
-       fight for justice and basic human rights for EVERYONE
-       promote education, jobs and homes for EVERYONE

It IS anti-British… for a Government to pull the rug from under its own citizens’ lives to follow ideologically driven right-wing policies. ITS OWN CITIZENS!! People who have paid taxes, who ARE BRITISH!!! Disabled (PIP, universal credit) young people (loss of housing benefit), students (loans, interest charges, academies), single parents, rape victims (appalling rape clause), pensioners (Social care costs), domestic abuse victims (universal credit). The list goes on and on. Even more cynical is their act now and deal with appeals later. They have no interest or care for individual lives, whether policies ruin or kill. The policy is like this:
1.    Take away rights of appeal or justice. Implement additional policies to further disenfranchise people – require voter ID knowing a large proportion of the population in the trial areas won’t have ID!!
2.    Orchestrate a very public condemnation and vicious attack, which will leave those targeted feeling guilty and ashamed. Sadly, there are people in our society that are happy to attack people due to ignorant prejudices.
3.    take away any State assistance and hope we are NOT challenged
4.    Claim we have succeeded in making peoples’ lives better by forcing them into personal debt, homelessness or premature death!
5.    On appeal… we will just apologise, blame the civil servants or the lack of opposition and get on with the same policy until the next appeal.
However uncomfortable the conversation, we must have that conversation. We must ensure food banks, rape clauses, “grave and systematic violations of human rights” (United Nations Committee of Rights of Disabilities (UNCRPD)) are not allowed to go unchallenged. If that makes me an enemy of the state… then so be it. I would rather be hated by the State than allow decent people to suffer because of the warped perception of an elite, supreme race.
How much money has been wasted putting right the wrongs of this Government?
When we look back on the period of our social history from 1979 to now, we will see the social injustices, the ridiculous and outrageous misuse of public money.
Please ask why we are allowing the misappropriation of public funds for a universal credit system that has cost more to implement than it has saved and has brought poverty to countless people; how much has the Government paid out in legal costs fighting the cases of injustices of their policies against the very citizens the Government is there to serve? Funny how its public money yet the true cost is kept secret. So much for transparency.
Brexit and taking back control is nothing more than an elite power grab with minimal protection for us citizens. How can a Government be allowed to waste public funds and damage our economy? Since when did it become unpatriotic to stand up for jobs and workers’ rights? More worrying now, though, is you can blatantly see where the Government are going with EU citizens’ rights even those children who were born here. It’s repulsive, along with this Government’s hypocrisy of bombing Syria but refusing to let refugees in. No compassion, no humanity!
And the biggest con of all – bailing out failed academies; Carillion, Capita, railway networks?? This magic money tree is growing bigger every day!!  All this wasted money… could be funding our infrastructure, schools, NHS, social care.
PLEASE, PLEASE start asking questions. There are SO many questions and challenges we MUST make.


What can YOU do?
It is much easier to do nothing… go with the flow BUT that is exactly what these politicians hope for.
  1. Casting your vote is not enough… it is a start but not enough. It is time for change. It is time each one of us exercised our democratic right, our patriotic right. It is NOT unpatriotic to disagree with a Government, to stand up for other human beings. That may be the Tory way, but it IS NOT the British way. It is not political correctness… it is basic humanity.
  2. Hold them to account - Question them; Keep them to their promises
  3. Take an active role in ensuring key principles are met and hopefully exceeded
  4. Do NOT take anything, especially your basic human rights, for granted.
  5. We need to stop secrecy and have an open Government – Cameron campaigned on that yet this Government is the most secretive ever known!
  6. Fight for the right for our children to be educated not just in tolerance and humanity but in understanding how they can play an active role in the way the country is governed.  
  7. Take a moment... to think how much your life would be affected if your income was taken away, if you was detained as a criminal for doing nothing other than living in your own country. Think how you would feel if you suddenly became the target of a hate campaign because of something you have no control over - a disability; colour of your skin; a certain accent or religious belief. Think of how it will affect your family members... once you can understand... you can empathise and see the injustices.
The more we exercise our democratic right and what I see as our civic duty, the less likely they are to get away with the secrecy, duplicity, hypocrisy and inhumanity.

That is why I will be voting for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn. He is not the Messiah, he is not perfect – none of us are… but he will pave the way for a future Britain that will restore my faith and pride. More importantly, it will be a country that leads the way in Education, healthcare, manufacturing and industry and human rights, restoring the very fabric of our communities and society. Don’t be fooled into thinking, business do not like Labour – good, ethical businesses rely on educated workforces, good infrastructure, workforce/ trade union cooperation and public services to keep their costs down. It’s the unpatriotic and greedy that don’t!!
Immigrants, different races, gender, disabled, students, pensioners, trade unions, opposition party members are not our enemies - our true enemies are the abusers of power. Let us redress the balance and start valuing and treating every single human being equally with respect and dignity and display our true British values.
Be the change you want to see!! I am tired of listening to lies...
Much love

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Life with Meniere's Disease

This will be a long one… please bear with me. I receive lots of criticism for raising Meniere's disease. My prime motive is and always will be raising awareness. I don't want sympathy… understanding would be progress. Honestly… hands up all those who knew what Meniere's disease was prior to it being raised? I did not even know what it was when I was diagnosed. I was told I had it, it wasn't cancer and I would have to learn to live with it! I still do not fully understand it.

Over the years, I have discovered some of the weird symptoms I have suffered, can be attributed to Meniere's disease. These light bulb moments tend to follow discussions with fellow sufferers and not from the professionals, who struggle to fully understand or appreciate the difficulties of dealing with it daily.

The most difficult aspect for me… its unpredictability. One day I am feeling well, energised, invincible and "normal" (although I'm not sure I have ever been normal, nor would I want to be!); the next day, I am totally laid up with the room spinning unable to control any element of my body.

The "IFFY" Days

 It’s the "IFFY" days that get to me the most.  Sadly, these days are frequent. I am not laid up with vertigo but deal with symptoms that make it very difficult to carry on day to day activities without making serious adjustments. These include – having vice like pressure across my ears and the back of my head; brain fog making it difficult to string a sentence together; trying to spend most of your energy masking the pain from loved ones; the constant swaying of the floor; complete sickly exhaustion where my whole-body aches.

but… the biggest daily fear – at any point, wherever I am, I could be struck with vertigo causing a drop attack. I have been so lucky up until now. I have only fallen three times outside – the first was pre-diagnosis, walking home with my son who was six at the time; the second when I was leafleting in the general election of 2015 and recently, in a car park. I have fallen in the house lots of times, thankfully the worst I have suffered is bruising to my arm, leg and lower back. No broken bones… yet!

All this leads to a huge lack of self-confidence and serious bouts of self-doubt. I never appreciated how hard life was with a disability or lifelong illness until it happened to me. We all think we are invincible. The mental strength that is required to get through a full day should never be underestimated.

The Hidden Pains of Meniere's

The incidental consequences of this disease:

1.    Lack of understanding from professionals, employers and people in general

2.    Feeling isolated – not just physically on days when I can not leave the house but in crowded rooms where I cannot hear conversations properly due to the tinnitus and background noise.

3.    Having to miss out on events because I can not commit in case I am ill and can not make it.

4.    Tired through explaining to people who say insensitive crap like "well you don't look ill!" Only my close family see me on my worst days.

5.    Sensory overload – making mundane tasks – shopping – almost impossible without worrying or panicking. Oh, and the restaurants, hotels and supermarkets using patterned carpets and flooring!! DON'T!! The patterns move when I walk on them!

6.    I have no patience for petty people and petty squabbles – life is to hard and way too short.


There are positive aspects to Meniere's… well to living with it.

1.    The brain fog and mixing up of my words gives us some huge laughs. Yoda has nothing on me! When I forget the word… it turns into a family guessing game!

2.    I look like a cross between Bambi and Captain Jack Sparrow some days!

3.    I appreciate every single day of my life and can categorically say, I took lots of days for granted before I became ill.

4.    I am so thankful for my boys and how they handle our lives. They never put excessive expectations or pressure on me.

5.    I can work at home. It's not conventional – I don't do conventional! It's tough, demoralising at times but it is my life and me – perfectly imperfect. I refuse to give in or give up hope. I may not be super talented, but I work hard and try even harder. If I can achieve my PhD and keep publishing work… I will have achieved my goals.


I am always asked… how do you cope? The short answer is… I have no choice. The easiest life would be to give up and let the Meniere's eat away at me. I am a fighter. I was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck with a knot in it. It was touch and go whether I would survive. I did, probably disappointing to some!

I want to prove to the boys… and to myself… I can have a life with Meniere's. It took me a long time to accept what I lost, and to embrace what I gained. I wish to leave a legacy my boys can be proud of and if I can inspire one person to not give up and follow their dreams, I will have done a good job.

So how do I cope?

Coping Mechanisms

1.    Accept on the bad days to go with the Meniere's flow.

2.    Know when you can and can NOT exceed your limits.

3.    Don't let professionals and the illness defeat you.

4.    Surround yourself with inspirational people.

5.    Laugh… a lot… usually at the disease's expense.

6.    Low salt diet

7.    Drink litres… and litres… and litres of water.

8.    Exercise – it really does help me.

9.    Don't hide away … its very tempting at times

10. Be as strong as YOU can be.

11. MUSIC… I love my music

12. I've learned I am strong, resilient and adaptable – I can even type with my eyes shut!! New party trick.



Beyond the Lies is being proof read at present. I will confirm the publication date shortly. I am revisiting much of my drafts and early works. I have learned so much over the last few years especially self evaluation and improvement. Never stop learning.

We moved to a new house recently. The whole experience was highly traumatic but with sheer will, determination and bloody mindedness we got through it. I could not have done it without my amazing sons and adopted daughter. Now I need to rebalance my body… no pun intended!

Whilst we celebrate Liverpool FC emphatically booking their place in the semi final of the Champions League, we remember the lives that were taken and changed forever at Hillsborough. Still waiting for justice. #JFT96. Always remembered.

Thank you for all your continued support. Messages are always welcome. If I can help, I will. Stay safe everyone

Much love

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Education is NOT Educating…

On the 15th June 2014 I wrote a blog named Swimming against the tide. This is an extract from it:

“I decided I wanted my children to understand the importance of struggle, of community, of what is right and wrong and most of all about respect. Most days I am swimming against the tide but nevertheless I still swim. I still swim because I would like my boys to be strong individual men that respect themselves and have respect for all others.  I hope their greatest attributes will be respect, honesty, integrity, justice, decent morals and tolerance. Just imagine what sort of a world we would have then. If you don’t invest the time in children, how on earth can you expect them to turn into decent human beings? I can’t be doing too bad a job when my son is giving my advice out and asking if I would help his friends if they need it!!” (full blog here).

For too many years I have received criticism for the way I have raised the boys, but I knew my plan and I was sticking to it, not out of arrogance but because I knew that my way of raising them would allow them to develop their own skills in many areas they need to have a successful life. These skills include communication, problem solving and the key skill of all critical analysis. I have taught them politics from any early age… all spectrums…for them to be armed with the tools to think for themselves and not be easily influenced by ignorance and bigotry. They can make their own minds up and if they make a mistake they have problem solving skills to put things right. Despite the criticism, it has been the best thing I have ever done… by a mile. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not a perfect parent and often gets things wrong. I do, however, own my mistakes, admit to the boys when I am wrong and apologise to them. They know we are all only human and all make mistakes.

I am so pleased I stood my ground because these invaluable skills are being denied to our children in the English school system.  The World Economic Forum, UNESCO and OECD have all published reports into what skills our children will need to be successful in the changing world of work. These are:

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving
  2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  3. Agility and adaptability
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism
  5. Effective oral and written communication
  6. Accessing and analysing information
  7. Curiosity and imagination.

Yet, the English education system, under the Tories, has been turned into an examination factory where the only concern is to teach children to pass examinations. The system is sucking the life, the imagination, the creativity and independent thinking out of our children. Teachers are powerless to prevent it. This is solely down to this horrendous Government. You would have thought; the Education policy would centre around these seven essential skills. The reality is, it is having the opposite effect on our children. Add to that the draconian disciplinary regimes and we are heading for a generation of adults who have had opinions oppressed and been denied a voice on top of being denied the skills required to succeed in a changing world. It is time we faced up to it… Education is NOT educating our children.

Changes in the Computer Science curriculum and the withdrawal of ICT this year will result in some of our children not being provided with any digital skills. This is a subject very close to my heart and I am furious the Government refuse to address the skills deficit. There are pockets of good practice, but this is outweighed by the vast number of children being deprived of essential skills training. WE SHOULD ALL BE CONCERNED.

Therefore, my PhD is so important to me. It focuses on the delivery of Computer Science in the secondary schools. I believe our children deserve so much better than is being delivered but the system requires a radical change including substantial investment. I am doing my bit. We need a Government committed to providing skills for our children to truly succeed in life.


Today I finally submitted the manuscript of Beyond the Lies to the publishers. I apologise to everyone who is waiting for it but in true self-doubt style, I can not submit it until I am 99.9999% happy with it. I’ll keep you updated.

Meniere’s Disease

Finally, an update on the dreaded M word… Meniere’s of course. Last week, during the storm, was horrendous. I lost four days to vertigo, sickness, tinnitus and the dreaded brain fog. Today, I still have the same symptoms, but they are bearable although the boys have laughed at me mixing my words up… I’m sure Yoda was based upon a Meniere’s sufferer.

Have a fun week. I intend to. I am fighting and will continue to fight. Keep the faith

Much love

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

100 years Suffrage… still fighting for TRUE EQUALITY

Today, in the UK, we celebrate one hundred years since the passing of the Representation of the People's Act 1918. This act gave a limited number of women the vote! Equality in voting did not occur for another ten years… TEN YEARS in 1928.

We may have the right to vote today but we have a hell of a way to go before we see true equality. I have no interest in the notion of women being superior to men or vice versa. We are all human beings, only separated by genetics. What concerns me more is the artificially made inequality within our society.

The hypocrisy of the Prime Minister and Home Secretary this morning is sickening. They are lauding the Suffragettes, their actions and their fight yet these two women are responsible for Parliamentary Acts specifically designed to stifle democracy and freedom of speech. In addition, their Conservative Party has orchestrated poverty, WASPI women loss of pensions, working mothers being disproportionately hit by austerity and our young girls suffering period poverty. 

Cameron was even worse. His ignorance was permanently and clearly on show when he referred to female colleagues as "she". This disdain for women MPs continues, a glaring example was the during last week's Prime Ministers Question Time, when Tory MPs did their best to bray at and shout down Emily Thornberry. How do we really expect to convince our girls to voice their opinions and take public office?

I admit, I have no desire to serve in public office due to the negative media attention and the biased bullish behaviour some men display. I would much prefer to work with books and use research and education to influence future policy. I should not feel that way… but I do.

I faced sexism and misogyny all my life especially in a male dominated industry but even today, some recent events within my own local party, only demonstrated misogyny is alive and thriving in 2018. 

The whole system, Government and commerce, is endemically against mothers yet being a Mum is a vital role within our communities. As a single Mum, I was constantly told my growing boys needed a male role model. They did NOT. They needed a strong role model who could teach them the importance and significance of equality and being respectful to ALL human beings.

All these calls for more women MPs, business leaders, role models, etc, etc will never be achieved without a total change in attitude and ethos within our whole society. It must start with education of both boys and girls. We must get away from this divisive language and rhetoric. As soon as a child enters the education system, they are labelled and collectivised based upon gender which immediately hinders their opportunities in certain subjects because of societal stereotypes. This is prevalent in STEM subjects. The fact that Wes is helping me write this, demonstrates how far we can develop mutual understanding without gender bias.

What I would like to see going forward, amongst many other ideas:

  • A conscious effort within education to eradicate divisive, restrictive labels and stereotyping
  • An education curriculum that truly represents equality. The curriculum is weighted towards men's achievements – Bletchley Park is known for Alan Turing's codebreakers yet actually 8,000 women worked there and were instrumental in the war effort. They made up 75% of the workforce but rarely get the recognition they so richly deserve.
  • I want issues not to be "women's" issues. Period poverty should concern everyone in society as should sexual harassment. Men and Women should stand together to fight for these issues. My boys know how to treat men and women respectfully, more importantly equally.
Anyone who believes in equality, regardless of gender, should unite and fight for true equality. I don't want to set in women's groups. I want to take the fight to the main platform!!

Let us promote behaving as equal human beings.

Let us unite and fight for true equality against economic and political systems that are specifically and inherently designed to divide us. Let us also fight to ensure every human being has their right to vote across the world.

I can't write this post without mentioning… today would have been Annie Williams' birthday. Annie fought tirelessly for the truth and justice for Kevin AND all the victims and survivors of Hillsborough. A Mum, through no choice of her own, fought with love, great resolve and dignity. She took the fight to the establishment at such great personal cost to herself and her amazing family and WON!! 

Annie will always be my hero.

Much love