To a parent, those three letters come loaded with a sense of dread, a sense of the unknown; your children’s reports come loaded with statistical data. letters and numbers that seem to imply that if only you had paid attention in maths, you’d understand them. It’s not true!  It is not maths, simply a code. You don’t need Einstein, you need Alan Turing.

For some reason I cannot fathom, the codes (a 6b in maths) are supposed to give a parent the information they need to understand how a child is doing. Well, they don’t!   They mean nothing without the code book, the translation of that code into something meaningful, and the schools don’t give you that code book, either because they don’t really want you to know, or because they don’t truly understand it themselves.

Go onto Mumsnet, or the internet in general and there’s thousands of parents (not just mums), asking what they mean. Unfortunately, most of the answers are bad, most of the answers prove the writers did not pay attention in maths.
The most common answer is to compare them to GCSE’s, after all , this is what they are aiming for.  There is a direct correlation, but it means little, it only means, this is the grade they should get if they sat their GCSE’s today.
What most people seem to be unable to grasp is the factor of time, yet, surely it is simple: a child that gets a 6b at 11 is likely to get a better result than a child that gets a 6b at 14.
So, all we need is a chart that correlates the KS3 codes with the GCSE codes using the school years.  Why don’t they send this out with the reports? Did they read our reports and assume we couldn’t understand it?
The charts below show the possible result of a given grade for each year.
7 8 9 10 11
7 8 9 10 11
Level 4b 5a 6b A A* Level 4a 5a 7c A A*
4c 5b 6c B A 4a 5b 6b B A
3a 5c 6c C B 4a 5b 6c C B
3b 4a 5a D C 4c 4a 5c D C
3c 4c 4a E D 3b 4c 4b E D
3c 3a 4b F E 2a 3b 3a F E
English PE
7 8 9 10 11
7 8 9 10 11
Level 7b 8c EP A A* Level 6b 7b 8c A A*
6b 7c 8c B A 6c 7c 7a B A
4a 6c 7c C B 5c 6c 6a C B
4b 5c 6c D C 4b 5c 6c D C
3b 4c 5c E D 4c 4a 5a E D
3c 3a 4a F E 3a 4b 5c F E
7 8 9 10 11
7 8 9 10 11
Level 5b 6b 8c A A* Level 6b 7b 8b A* A*
5c 6c 7b B A 6c 7c 8c A A
4a 5a 6a C B 5b 6c 7c B B
4b 5b 6b D C 4a 5b 6b C C
4c 5c 5a E D 4c 4a 5a D D
3a 4b 5c F E 3a 4b 5c E E
All Other Subject Areas
7 8 9 10 11
7 8 9 10 11
Level 5b 6b 8c A A* Level 6b 7b 8c A A*
5c 6c 7b B A 5a 6a 7b B A
4a 5a 6a C B 5b 6c 6a C B
4b 5b 6b D C 5c 5a 6c D C
4c 5c 5a E D 4c 4a 5b E D
3a 4b 5c F E 3b 4c 4a F E
I must point out, that the final grades are not guaranteed, I will not be held responsible if your prodigy bombs all their exams. This list may not be perfect, may not be even correct mathematically, but it is better than the information that most people have, which is diddly-squat.
I hope you find this useful, I did.


Much opinion I’ve read, seems to agree, that it’s a bubble – ‘A bubble’ – what a vacuous statement; sounds good, means nothing.  Impossible to argue it’s not, after all in the history of the universe, humanity is just a bubble.

If you read ‘it will be gone in ten years’ – that’s an opinion. or ‘in one hundred years it will still be around’ – either way read on, someone has something to say: but a bubble, just ignore the writer or speaker for the sound-bite-grabbing numpty that they undoubtedly are.

Now this is just my opinion, and I’ve been wrong before, but I think they’re ignoring the concept of ‘peasant power’

Our contemporaries were surfs, until they picked up their pitchforks and started the peasants revolt.
“Your Majesty, the peasants are revolting.”
“Don’t worry, it’s only a bubble”
Others lived under tyrannical rule until they used social media to organise resistance.
“”Our guns will soon burst their bubbles of self belief”
Government like to hold the purse strings.  As for our lovely banks, I am sure they only have our best interests at heart, and making a profit is only a side effect of being so warm and thoughtful.
Fancy having a currency that is worldwide, under no one’s control and free of the banks. – No one is going to like that; well except for the peasants!
Fancy having a currency you could take on holiday with no conversion rates, no banking costs and acceptable in any country:  Money on your phone, backed up on the cloud.
Is it a sure-fired, safe-as-houses, gold-plated investment?  No, if you want to invest it’s a very bumpy ride, but if you want to use it, it’s surprisingly easy.
But will the ‘bubble burst’? yes, the day when millions of people collectively decide to turn and walk away from something they believed in the day before.

I’m not writing.

My first book was easy, having no knowledge or experience, I had little to slow me down. I wrote from the beginning, enjoying the unfolding story as a reader would. The result was a badly formed, inconsistent single threaded story. However, the work was there, the story finished, so with just a minor bit of editing (three years) it was ready to go.

My second book was easy; emboldened by my success of the first book, I dashed through it, using the vast experience I had gleaned from my first foray.  – I didn’t make the same mistakes, I discovered a whole new set. This book needed so much re-work, that three years later it’s still not published.

My third book is a whole different beast.  Slowing down, I’ve built up the characters, investigated the settings, crafted the plot lines, woven in the sub plots. Written the opening, draughted the end. I am ready to write it, in fact have written about half of it, but now I’ve ground to a halt.  It’s not writers block, it’s writers apathy; my first books I wrote to find out what happened and how it happened, this time I know, so there is no thrill of the chase, no surprises or discoveries awaiting on the next page.  All I see before me is another 40,000 words of work, and work is something I have always strenuously tried to avoid.

I put it away for a few months, taking a foray into greeting card designs. (They sell for more than my kindle book and are a whole lot less effort to write.) But now I am trying to pick it up again and I wrote less than 100 words last week.

Anyone want to buy a greetings card?


Beware Amazon Author Central!

If you have uploaded a book to Amazon, you will have logged into KDP (Kindle Direct publishing) to upload it and added your details.  If you need to update the description or other details you can go back in and update them no problems.

However, if you now join Amazons Author Central, you can add further details such as back cover blurb.

All clear and simple so far; upload at KDP, add more at Author central.

Now the bit they don’t tell you:-
Once you have updated via Author central, updates from KDP don’t work, -so what I hear you ask -
well other details such as keywords are not available to update via Author central, so basically if you want to change these details, you can’t; you’re stuffed.

I am currently trying to get more answers from Amazon; if and when I do, I will post updates here.

Basic PAYE tools RTI – (Really Tortuous Information)

OK, now I don’t live for tax, or forms, or bureaucracy, but as an employer I have to do the ol’ PAYE thing.

I’ve been filling in the Basic PAYE tools like a good boy, and paid heed to their warnings that come 6th April 2013 (mistakenly not mentioned on the Mayan calendar as the end of the world) that I would have to update to the new whizzy RTI version, but that I must not do it early (no peeking – wouldn’t want people getting the hang of it in advance, that would spoil the fun) – I personally feel the developers are related to Guy Fawkes, and are still peeved – but still I did what I was told.

Come the great day, printed out my P11 summaries (sorry, if you don’t know what a P11 is, you are obviously living in a Forest not aware that the war has ended) - Sent them to my Accountant
-Downloaded the sexily titled ‘Basic PAYE Tools RTI’ only to find it would not let me import my employee’s as I hadn’t done the ol’ P**’s (Forget the actual form number, I’m proud to say) Well I don’t! I’m dead posh and have an accountant who does that!

So the new system won’t start-up, the staff want paying, can’t sort their tax.  I can just see the senerio:

Honest worker: Gawd bless yer g’vner, dun m’ day’s graft
Evil capitalist (me): Sorry, the computer say’s we cannot move to the new tax year, ’till we’ve put last year to bed.
Honest worker: Come again g’vner
Evil capitalist (me): I can’t pay you
Honest worker: Well them looms are awful flammable….

…Well, I am fond of my (metaphorical) looms and paid the men in cash; the RTI system having the diametrically opposite effect to the one that was intended.

I then re-downloaded the Basic PAYE tools for 2012-13 (it does what it says in the title – oh no it doesn’t – Oh yes it does – Oh no…) to finish the End of Sanity Year.

Well I spent over an hour trying ever blessed button and link on the thing, but it will not sort my end of year. In the end, tried viewing it through the bottom of a whisky glass which sorted it for that evening, but has left me at the same impasse in the morning.

Monday Morning, phoned HMRC, they told me where to click, I explained there was nothing to click, they suggested I forget it and file it manually online – Thanks for that.

Went home with the backup on a stick, downloaded the system again, all works beautifully. Loaded my data, clicked the beautiful buttons, and galloped towards the End Of Year, leaping through form after form, got to the final page. Enter username and password.

-I don’t have one
~well, you need one.
-couldn’t you have told me this whilst shouting ast me that I must be ready for 6th April
~we thought you would know
-obviously, just having a PAYE reference, an accounts office reference, a limited Company number, a VAT number is not good enough, you need a user name and password as well?
-Where do I get one?
~Just apply online
-Oh. OK
~and we’ll send you the activation code by post, shouldn’t take more than 10 days
- ##@**~@:><?

I think I’m going to see Guy Fawkes in a different light from now on.


On a BBC web site they stated the opinion that children are more interested in technology than wildlife. (View Article) – I can understand that, sad but true I thought. But the article was about trying to merge the two bring the conservation online.  -good idea.

They plugged the Act for Wildlife site web site. – I clicked, I was hopeful, but oh dear.  I doubt this will appeal to the young.  They know extinction rates are up, rainforests are dwindling: perhaps they turn to their ipods to take their minds off the gloom-laden future.

So how can we engage young people without continually thumping them with that blunt instrument called the truth? Well how about making it fun?

How about a biodiversity web site that doesn’t have a clock showing how many creatures have become extinct today, but one that celebrates the biodivertity we have left. A Web site were you can adopt an animal, insect or plant, log in choose one and make it yours. -no payment, just the rule you cannot take one that has already been chosen. Log it by it’s scientific name, learn that and it’s common name, change your facebook picture to your adopted self, make it’s sound your ring tone (if it has one), give yourself a name, say Eric the Stag Beetle and generally learn to feel some affinity for it. Have a number counter showing the biodiversity of adoptions on the site.

Don’t try to save the planet, it;s too big a task, just try saving one animal at a time.

Internet tips and tricks

As an author, website manager, businessman, shopkeeper, father and all round computer user, I thought I’d list some computer tools I find invaluable and hope some may be of use to you. (They are all free)

A nightmare to remember, thousands of different sites with different rules, often I need to access a home based site from work, or vice versa. Lastpass is a secure online password manager. Read the techie reviews before using it; it comes highly recommended. (It’s free!!)

There are many notetaking programs, but this one fulfils a number of needs in one go:

  • Easy to add notes from PC, tablet, and phone
  • Can type, scrible, or cut from internet
  • Automatically update across devices (So I can start writing this at home, then finish it off on my phone while waiting outside the school)
  • File notes in folders and sub-folders. (I have a things-to-do folder, book folders, shop folders) – I’m writing my third book on it!

Document sharing
(With yourself, or other people)
Well, it’s dropbox! If you haven’t got it, get it. (Yes it’s free) And you do need it, even if you haven’t realised it yet.
You install it and it looks like a folder on your computer (Usually under MyDocuments). Drop any file you want into it. Go anywhere, -especially a sunny beach with palm trees, – log into your dropbox account and retrieve it, or share it. -It’s cloud storage made painless.

Here’s a couple I couldn’t find, so I wrote my own :)

Free kids ebooks
It filters Amazon kindle books to find free kids and young adult stories. – there are similar things out there, but this ones simple enough for your kids to use:

Book review check (Authors only)
This one will only interest people who have a book on Amazon. Do you keep checking to see if any new reviews have been posted? Log your book here and get an email whenever your book recieves a review.
via Skymirror Book Check

Are there any Free programs or Apps you couldn’t live without? Let me know

Little Cherubs – Pest Controllers

Identification and classification advice.

House pests – Overview
These seemingly benign pests infest your home and if left unchecked can cause untold damage to your property and often lead to financial ruin.

Scientific classification
The technical term for this species as a whole are ‘Children’.  There are however two distinct sub-species.

Before calling us, please try to identify which sub-spiecies you have. Listed below are common traits, but it should be noted these are in no way conclusive.

  1. If your grass is churned up, plants around the grass are trampled and broken: windows facing the lawn are often cracked; then you have ‘BOYS’
  2. Carpets smell of perfume and/or covered with makeup; then you have ‘GIRLS’.
  3. All sinks blocked with long hair. This tends to indicate ‘GIRLS’, but is not conclusive
  4. Financial meltdown.  This is a general trait of both sub-species and only helps to confirm you have ‘CHILDREN’
  5. Piles of clothes on the floor: This is a clear indication of ‘CHILDREN’, but if you are brave enough to dissect the residue left the sub-species can often be determined.  Separate the pile (often a long stick is all you need.)  Large amounts of underwear usually indicates ‘GIRLS’, whereas small amounts of more pungent underwear, especially socks, tends to indicate ‘BOYS’.

Please note that if left unchecked these pests metamorphose into the even more destructive pests called teenagers

Just give us a call, we have a secure wagon, lollipops and a large net.