Monthly Archives: October 2009


There I was writing an article for Special Children on acoustics and all of a sudden the government made an announcement. Maybe I should try writing about world peace next time. Anyway, I learnt a lot about the issues of acoustics, especially in new buildings which seem to favour large open spaces, glass, concrete and busy areas for people to congregate in. These large echoey spaces make it hard for deaf pupils but also cause problems for kids who are learning English or those learning a foreign language who need to hear pronunciation very clearly.  The National Deaf Children’s Society has been pressing for better buildings. Then there was Sir Alan Steer’s report which shows that poor acoustics are one of the causes of bad behaviour. Kids can’t hear, don’t pay attention and find something else to do in the classroom. We’ve all seen it happen.

Despite the overwhelming body of evidence that acoustics matter, the head teachers I have spoken to recently said they did not want to spend their money on improving acoustics. Then, almost out of the blue, last Friday -16th October- the government issued a press release, ‘Acoustic testing to be made compulsory in all Building Schools for the Future projects.’ Yep that will do nicely.

A taste of former glories

Last night I stayed at the Walpole Bay Hotel and Museum. I was in Margate for my new work for Accessible Futures Limited. Now Margate is very fashionable with the media at the moment. Think of The Apprentice with Howard and James trying to rebrand it as a gay resort and think of the Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi. I loved the episode where she and the hotel owner, Jane Bishop, battled it out. Honours were equally divided. Jane kept her ‘personal fiefdom’ intact and, while Alex did not grow to love the dismembered dolls, she did come to appreciate the values of this very quirky hotel.

So, last night I stayed in this lovely building which opened for business in 1914 and reflects the fashions and values of that era. I had a huge room with an old style gas fire and authentic sash windows which rattled all night as the winds came of the sea.

I slept in a high comfy bed with sheets which smelt as if they were fresh out of an old fashioned laundry. I wandered round the displays – photos, clothes, bric a brac -and went up and down in a lift which had the old style double metal mesh doors. This morning I finished my stay with sausage, egg and mushrooms in the restaurant which adjoins the veranda.

I’m back there on Wednesday night. It could become my new second home.

BSF Here I come!

sal6smIt’s official! I have a new job. I am now an associate with a brand new company, Accessible Futures Ltd – ‘the new name in SEN ICT consultancy within Building Schools for the Future’. I will be working with special schools, local authorities, bidders and builders on BSF projects. Accessible Futures Ltd might not make the world a better place but, with a bit of luck, we can make some schools a better place for kids with disabilities.

The company is the brainchild of John Liddle who was Head of Services to Education at AbilityNet. He has a strong background in Higher Ed as well as in assessment, technology and BSF. So far he has signed us up to work with Wolverhampton and Kent and there are ongoing conversations with other parties.

Have a look at the_wsb_218x295_John_Liddle site It tells you all about the company and has a picture of me with new short hair cut for the autumn and John in work mode.

Selling Widnes to Europe

I have just been interviewing  Dawn Coupar, a languages teacher at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic College in Widnes for gifted and talented article. She ran a great Apprentice style event in the summer term for K3 pupils who were studying French and German. They had to use their language skills to sell Widnes to a European company looking to set up an office in the UK. I don’t know what I am more impressed by –the language skills or the persuasiveness. I was born in Widnes and although it has its points, it would be hard pressed to rival the delights of Liverpool, Sheffield or Birmingham but these talented young people found lots of good arguments about location, facilities and local skills and then created podcasts with scrolling pictures  to extol the virtues of their home town.  Good effort all round.