Jem Muharrem

Words on thought, art and music

Archive for the category “Media, Public Affairs and such.”

Big Society still important in Bevendean

Thursday 2nd February 2012

By Jem Muharrem

Bevendean Local Action Team is standing firm behind the idea of the Big Society against a backlash by residents of West Sussex County Council.

The group have benefitted from association with the scheme since their visit to Number 10 in March 2011 to collect the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award for the efficacy of the Leybourne Parade Regeneration scheme.

West Sussex County Council recently ignored the advice of 1,300 individuals and organisations who placed the Big Society Fund at the bottom of pile for funding priorities. Swathing cuts are being proposed to family, children and road maintenance funds while the Big Society Fund, which stands at £240,000 according to 2011/12 figures, remains intact.

Bill Gandey, chairman of the Bevendean Local Action Team said today: “Councillors need to make a decision on making cuts, do they have any other choice in these times?”

Whilst agreeing that the proposed cuts would be tough, Mr Gandey said that the Big Society Fund was vital for the survival of small organisations which work to enhance the lives of local communities. He said that non-for-profit organisations need a helping hand to pay for essentials like halls for meetings, which often are paid for straight out of committee members’ pockets.“You can get so lost in the search for funding, that you end up forgetting your role in the first place; to help improve your community,” Mr Gandey said.

When asked if the fact that BLAT had recently received the Big Society Award coloured his views, Mr Gandey replied “No, Bevendean Local Action Team was around four or five years before the Big Society Idea was established. When it did come about, it was just in recognition of groups that had already existed for many years. It just highlights what good things these organisations are.”


My first ever newspaper article, subbed to death…..

So this is the first article I ever had published in a newspaper a couple of weeks ago; had a lovely time talking to eager staff and students, had a tour round my old primary school, including a visit to the room where I first picked up a violin, warms your cockles doesn’t it…So it’s the next day and I am on my way to Salford to represent Brighton Journalist Works at the NCTJ Student Council, feeling smug about  the heart-warming story that the population of Brighton will pore over during their morning tea and digestives, when I recieve a call that my article is wrong! Wrong?! How could anything be wrong, I recorded everything correctly, I checked facts, spellings of names, numbers all correct, how could anything be amiss? The print article said the school got an ‘outstanding’ rating. THE WORD OUTSTANDING DID NOT APPEAR ANYWHERE IN MY COPY. LIBEL!!!! Some oik in Southampton decided to take it upon themselves to doctor my copy, and I was left to answer to an understandably annoyed news editor and a dismissive head teacher. The news editor apologised to me when he realised the sub had erred, and I guess I had a baptism of fire…..but subs beware!

Here’s the original:

Bevendean School going from strength to strength

Thursday 16th February 2012

By Jem Muharrem

Following a good rating in a recent Ofsted inspection, Bevendean Primary School is proving to be the beating heart of the community.

The staff were given just two days notice to prepare for an inspection on 17-18th January, after which Mathematics and English were singled out as areas of excellence.

Deputy head Paul Davis, who has been at Bevendean for seven years, said: “Our intention is to help the children develop self-esteem about maths in an inter-ability environment. We want our pupils to think of themselves as mathematicians.”

The subject had been an issue in the past, but Mr Davis attended a Primary Maths Specialist Teacher Programme where he got training needed to lead a peer-supported drive to develop skills and confidence in delivering a stimulating maths curriculum.

The success of this new focus was confirmed by Ofsted examiner Helen Howard, who said: “Quality of teaching in maths was a leading light of improvement for the school”.

Classroom teacher Kate Wallis will also take a similar course to Mr Davis in a bid to enhance maths skills in the school even further.

The school has recently revitalised ‘reading corners’ with £250 of new books and is tailoring them to pupils’ interests, including a ‘Top Gear’-themed reading corner complete with posters, a cardboard cut-out Stig and actual car seats to encourage older boys to get comfortable and to get reading.

Pupil literacy is further inspired in novel and exciting ways, such as the aptly named “Caught Reading” Scheme, where children receive a voucher if they are caught reading anywhere in the school.

Rylan Ide, Year 2, Alfie Chessell, Year 3, and Toni Gander, Year 6, said maths was their favourite subject. Jake Martinez, Year 6, said: I like solving maths problems and talking about it with my friends.”

Ruby Elwell, Year 3, likes making up her own stories in literacy class whereas Maisie Cook, Year 2, and Charlie Deletang-Burridge, Year 3, love science where they learn about how sound travels and get to make catapults.

Bevendean Primary School has a passionate approach about meeting children’s needs and nurturing their talents across all subjects, not just Maths and English.

Performing arts specialist Adele Bates attends one day a week to work with the children. She said: “Drama, art and music are a fantastic social tool for the children, it allows them to thrive”. Recent productions include a staged version of Roald Dahl’s ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ Bevendean has an active PTA which is currently trying to raise £30, 000 to redevelop part of the playground. There is also a ‘Superdads’ group, which actively engages male role models into the school ethos. Launch Pad, the school’s rebranded Hearing Support Facility, took part yesterday in a successful world record attempt called ‘Sign2Sing 2012’, where 130,000 participants nationwide sang and did sign language at the same time. 131 children and adults from Bevendean took part in the event which will enter Guinness Book of Records.

Gove Save the Queen

Following on from Richard Lindfield’s public affairs lecture at Brighton Journalist Works about the functions of the monarchy (ahem) in which it turned out that nobody in the room knew any of the word to ‘God Save the Queen’ beyond the first verse, my curiosity was piqued as to what all of the words to our glorious national anthem really are.

And what should I find? Do please bring your full attention to the final stanza in the light of current goings-on way up in the chilly north. Discuss…

Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring
May he sedition hush
And like a torrent rush
Rebellious Scots to crush
God save the…..etc, etc

Maybe someone should tell Alex Salmond…

This was written circa 1745 as a prayer for the victory of Field Marshall George Wade’s anti-Jacobite army assembling at the time in Newcastle.

In an 1837 article from Gentlemen’s Magazine (what a name! would that this publication still exist…) the verse is presented thus; as an “additional verse… though being of temporary application only… stored in the memory of an old friend… who was born in the very year 1745, and was thus the associate of those who heard it first sung”.

The Jacobites bit  back with:

God bless the prince, I pray,
God bless the prince, I pray,
Charlie I mean;
That Scotland we may see
Freed from vile Presbyt’ry,
Both George and his Feckie,
Ever so, Amen.

Various other attempts were made during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to add verses to commemorate particular royal or national events.

Here is one David Cameron may like to consider singing out next time he and Nicolas Sarkozy inevitably come to blows :

From France and Pretender
Great Britain defend her,
Foes let them fall;
From foreign slavery,
Priests and their knavery,
And Popish Reverie,
God save us all.

None of these verses have of course survived to the present of course.  The last change to be made was by King George V who asked that the line ‘Frustrate their popish tricks’ should be changed to ‘Frustrate their knavish tricks’. Here is the full stanza, in fact the true second verse to follow the famous first one we all know:

O Lord our God arise
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall
Confound their politics
Frustrate their knavish tricks
On Thee our hopes we fix
God save us all.

(It’s O.K to threaten people old bean, just not the Catholics any more…)

This mutability of the words of the national anthem, albeit in its own imperialistic and blinkered way, is a product of its time but it is also a curious and rather pregnant idea. The notion of “God Save the King” as a socio-political barometer makes me think that, instead of logging on to Twitter to vent, we should just turn to our beloved national anthem and unleash our inner poet.

So picture it, next time the English football team (not Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, no no no!) run out to play, we can all stand and proudly sing:

This time of austerity,

Doesn’t halt temerity

Of our MPs.

We’re not from Bullingdon,

No peerage for our sons,

No second home in Kensington, (all together now)

Gove save the Queen’s yacht.

Journalism by Numbers

This is my story as it appeared on the Brighton Journalist Works Blogspot today: In light of the Leveson Enquiry and the pressure that the press has recently come under, BJW are making sure that their trainee journalists are fully aware of their responsibility to the public. Here is the link to the original:

In light of the Leveson Enquiry and the scrutiny that the press has recently come under, Brighton Journalist Works are ensuring their new intake of students in January 2012 are fully aware of the responsibility they have to the public and to their trade.

Trainee Journalists were given a crash course yesterday on good and bad practise in science reporting at the BJW headquarters in Argus House, Brighton.

Dr Sam Mugford of the Norwich-based John Innes Centre and Prof David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University teamed up in a two-pronged attack on the irresponsibility shown by some journalists in collecting and reporting scientific data and the flexibility of statistics.

Dr Mugford addressed issues like “Why scientists don’t give straight answers”, highlighting the discrepancy between careful, considered thought processes of the scientific community and the whip-crack speeds expected of journalists. He said the trend leads to misunderstanding and manipulation of data in the search for good copy. “It is important for scientists and the media to have an open and honest relationship” he said.

Citing the MMR/Autism case as an example of lack of communication and use of limited sources, he called for balance in science reporting and forethought in comparing researched and ratified scientific research with emotive human stories.

Dr Spiegelhalter followed this by taking the audience on a fascinating journey through scientific misrepresentation in the press. “You will constantly need to ask questions of the facts being fed to you” he said. Students were warned to be aware of organisations fudging numbers to push their own agendas. “You need to pick out PR from good journalism” he said. The trainee journalists were encouraged to constantly question the data given to them; to be inquisitive and hungry for accuracy and to take personal responsibility for fact.

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