Category Archives: Commentary.

here today.



Paul Mahoney

Scott Turner

Suzy Higham

Hannah Marchant

Sarah Temme

Nadia Wearn

Mia Knight

Cheryl Broadhurst

Andrea Cole


None of you will leave my thoughts, ever.

Take the time to tell those close to you how you feel, even if it gets you into trouble or loses you your dignity and pride. Tomorrow might be too late, and tears, however cathartic, will never replace those missed opportunities, lost words and failed tries.

If you see me, hug me. I will need it very much, even if I say I don’t.


tiny little steps.

At some point in your life, you’ll encounter a side of yourself that you never really knew existed. It will arrive in the form of a niggling feeling, germinated in the very back of your brain; as it fights its way closer to the fore you will find yourself asking questions of yourself that you never dared ask. Gradually, you’ll begin to realise that things need to change. You will make tiny, tentative steps towards making yourself a better person and achieving that happiness that you are just sure awaits you at the other side. You’ll go to bed asking yourself questions and you will awake with them still unanswered; soon, you will realise that these matters need more than just ‘sleeping on it’.

Then one day, a new revelation will completely blindside you. It will arrive at an unwanted time and will almost certainly come from out of the blue ether when you least want to acknowledge or think of it. It will stick like glue to the front of your mind, a reminder of that thing that you need to do. The tentative steps are no longer enough. It’s time to turn them into a great big leap.

This is where we, as humans, hit a crossroads.

Some of us will fear this intuition. We will choose to retreat and ignore it, thinking that one day, we will wake up and it will have disappeared back into the night as quickly as it came. We will cling to that we know, taking solace and comfort in the bland events that make up our life. We will pursue that we have come to tire of; we will take back those tiny little steps and return to whence we came. We will be happy, for the time being. It’s nice. It’s normal. It’s our life, after all.

Others will take a breath. They will mull it over. They will weigh it up, chew it hard and spit it out again and again. They will count their blessings, count their curses and truly listen to the little voice that tells them… this isn’t working. They will decide, and undecide. They will sleep less. They will choke on tears of frustration, and seek solace in their time alone. Eventually, they will stand at the edge of the void, stare it right in the eyes… and jump.

The measure will only arrive at a much later time in life. Twenty years on, we will sit in our armchair, beset on all sides by the choices we have made and we will listen to that little voice once more. It will still be there – trust me.

Some of us will smile, the kindness in our eyes fuelled by a lifetime of chances taken, choices made and risks attempted.

Others will only look back with regret and a sense of ‘what could have been.’

Some of us are strong. Some of us are not so strong.

In life, it is all to easy to blame the universe for our choices. However, our choices are called ‘our choices’ because they are exactly that… Ours.

Your body is the most amazing, resilient and fluid object you will ever have in your own hands. It knows what you want to be. If you fight it, it will fight back every step of the way.

Don’t be that person who looks back on their life with regret.

Your choices are always half chance. Don’t settle for anything but that which you want. Don’t be a ‘what could have been.’

Be a ‘what was.’

you know i’m no good.



Addiction always starts with a choice.

Take a drag on this cigarette; have a sip of this vodka; take a toke on this spliff; have a snort of this snow; take a huff of this crack pipe… And so it goes, ad infinitum.

Everywhere in life we face crossroads. Some of us make choices that aren’t necessarily the right ones. Our reasons for that vary. We could be suffering due to bereavement – grief is a harsh mistress. We could be feeling crushed under the weight of a situation too stressful or too dreadful to even bear comprehending. We could just want to fit into a world that is too huge to understand… We make them regardless. We should never be judged for these choices, for it is only ourselves who can truly say why we make them. We do these things to ourselves, and though they do affect the people around us, it is only within our own heads and hearts that we understand – and it might even take months, years, decades for us to get there – why we have chosen that particular path. Still, we are human, and we will always pass judgement on that we deem to be stupid, foolish or hurtful.

It is when choice is no longer a choice that a habit becomes an addiction. An addiction cannot be refused, nor can it be controlled. It is consuming; it takes hold of the body and the mind with the force of a freight train and we are fragile. We can be snapped so easily.

It is what makes grown, proud human beings sit in the street, unwashed and suffering from lack of sleep, losing their last shred of dignity to ask perfect strangers for change.

It is what takes over careers and reduces literate, sparkling people into shadows of their former selves. You can see it in their eyes – sunken and bloodshot; it is as if all life has escaped through the gift shop long ago.

It is what tears families apart.

An addiction cannot be pinpointed, nor can anyone be blamed for it. A person never picks up a vodka and coke with the express intention to one day become that person who cannot get up in the morning without it. Nobody takes a drag on a cigarette, dreaming of the day when they get to spend £12 in one go on two packs of twenty. Nobody draws on a spliff whilst bidding hello to schizophrenia. And yet we all start off there, in the same place. We have a part of our brains that allows us to ignore those little warning signs, those little voices that tell us that what we are doing is no good. Because, as we always say, I can look after myself.

Addiction creeps up silently, pouncing on a person when they are at their weakest. Who knows why?

So before you pass judgement on the situation that has arisen this week, I ask you to remember this simple fact: regardless of how far we go, or what we choose to dabble in, some of us are strong enough to hear those voices at a critical point and take heed; some of us are not so strong. Some of us cannot hear. Some of us are unable to. And that is the only difference between you and them.

Addiction takes no prisoners.



A life without ills is a straightforward one, but remember: if you have no shadows, then you have never truly stepped into the light.

We are free to shape our own lives; it is a gift.  Sometimes we will hurt and other times we will be submerged in joy… The important thing is to remember each and every little step that makes us who we are.

Ride the merry-go-round, for life is too short to deny yourself such simple and innocent pleasures.  Embrace these moments.  For these moments are your life.



It is vague. It raises hopes and then crushes them, building a false sense of security before revealing that it is just a shadow, an illusion created by our world to give us something to live for.

We talk of ‘inner peace’ but how do we achieve such things? Peace passes through us rarely; we live in a society so full of petty conflict that I doubt we would even recognise its face. We live to be at war with something, anything. We bicker, we argue, we sabotage. We love, we destroy; we ruin perfectly wonderful things just so we can feel a sense of unrest in our meandering, peaceful existences.

But why?


“Like the other Idealists, Champions are rather rare, say three or four percent of the population, but even more than the others they consider intense emotional experiences as being vital to a full life. Champions have a wide range and variety of emotions, and a great passion for novelty. They see life as an exciting drama, pregnant with possibilities for both good and evil, and they want to experience all the meaningful events and fascinating people in the world. The most outgoing of the Idealists, Champions often can’t wait to tell others of their extraordinary experiences. Champions can be tireless in talking with others, like fountains that bubble and splash, spilling over their own words to get it all out. And usually this is not simple storytelling; Champions often speak (or write) in the hope of revealing some truth about human experience, or of motivating others with their powerful convictions. Their strong drive to speak out on issues and events, along with their boundless enthusiasm and natural talent with language, makes them the most vivacious and inspiring of all the types.

Fiercely individualistic, Champions strive toward a kind of personal authenticity, and this intention always to be themselves is usually quite attractive to others. At the same time, Champions have outstanding intuitive powers and can tell what is going on inside of others, reading hidden emotions and giving special significance to words or actions. In fact, Champions are constantly scanning the social environment, and no intriguing character or silent motive is likely to escape their attention. Far more than the other Idealists, Champions are keen and probing observers of the people around them, and are capable of intense concentration on another individual. Their attention is rarely passive or casual. On the contrary, Champions tend to be extra sensitive and alert, always ready for emergencies, always on the lookout for what’s possible.

Champions are good with people and usually have a wide range of personal relationships. They are warm and full of energy with their friends. They are likable and at ease with colleagues, and handle their employees or students with great skill. They are good in public and on the telephone, and are so spontaneous and dramatic that others love to be in their company. Champions are positive, exuberant people, and often their confidence in the goodness of life and of human nature makes good things happen.”

Taken from – from a test taken at

Scarily accurate.

gove off.

On Thursday, I marched.


I marched for every single teacher who has ever had somebody tell them that they do nothing of any worth.


For every teacher who has ever been spat at; sworn at; assaulted; violated; verbally attacked or bullied.

For every teacher who has ever stayed in work past eight marking papers and arrived in school at seven the next day, without whinging or moaning about the ‘twelve-hour rule’.

For every teacher who taught somebody, anything.

For every teacher who has ever had to explain exactly why they might actually deserve a pension.


Yesterday, somebody directed the following at me in an email:

“Do you contribute to my private pension? Because I’m pretty sure you don’t. Why should I pay for yours? Normal people shouldn’t have to pay for public sector workers.”

You’re right; I don’t contribute to your private pension.

I also don’t get paid for my overtime or extra-curricular clubs. Those things that I do, for free, that enable you to earn your wage and keep your family happy and healthy.

It seems that we are stuck in a world that feels it appropriate to bash teachers as in the eyes of the public, we do nothing. But let me ask you this:

How many articles on Wednesday were bashing us because children missed out on a day of education?

I can tell you.

Not one.

The Sun ran a story about how parents would have to pay for child care, and so all teachers were evil. The Daily Mail tried to pin a death on us, because we weren’t there to look after the poor soul. The Guardian passed comment on the glut of bookings for nurseries, creches and babysitters, leaving parents out of pocket. The Mirror ran an image of a mother and her son, resplendent with pit bull, attached to an interview where said mother was angry that she could not partake in her ‘day-to-day activities’… Which included going to the betting shop. Not a single publication focused on the loss of a day’s education; the fact that students were missing out on something important that would serve them a benefit in their future lives.

Where are our country’s priorities?

We’re not babysitters. We are far more than that.

Of all the children I have taught in the past six years, the vast majority are now at university or in full-time work, training themselves to be your future. They are our hope, our investment, our gift to the world. It is upon them that the future of society and its success rests.

And yet we continue to vilify our educators and claim they are worth nothing?

I may not pay towards your pension, but what I do do is worth far more than that. Because if in ten years, you suddenly have a heart attack and need a doctor; if you decide to start a business and need a consultant to look over your plans; if you get married and need a wedding planner/priest/photographer; if you work for a firm that has cleaners…

Every single one of them will have been trained by us.

So yes, I went on strike. I marched proudly with 3,500 other people and was greatly encouraged by the huge amount of support afforded to us by the residents of Brighton and Hove. We have Caroline Lucas on our side. We have a voice. We care about our students and we care about our future. Pension contributions increasing and working until 68 will only push perfectly brilliant teachers out of the system and into private jobs, and where will we be then? Where will our children be? A good education has to cost something, and if that means I have to pay tax to assist – and I do – then that is fine by me.

If you think your minimal tax contributions to our pensions are not worth the future of the world, then so be it.

I disagree.

All I ask is that before you bemoan the fact that you pay for their help, you think about this: without your teachers, where would you be? Would you even be paying tax?

Food for thought, hey?