Word of the day

September 10, 2011

Fleshment –  excitement associated with a successful beginning; the act of fleshing, or the excitement attending a first success.


September 10, 2011

8/11 in the Herald’s changing World Quiz.

Blue and white not black today

September 10, 2011

Dear England,

White has always seemed to be a particularly inappropriate colour for a rugby team to wear when the game is one in which most players get dirty.

It reminds me of stock agents who wear light coloured trousers in sheep pens.

Your decision to choose black as your away strip must be a relief to the people charged with cleaning the shirts and shorts but it’s put me in a bit of a quandary.

You see today I’m supporting blue and white – first Scotland and then Argentina – but my wardrobe, like that of many New Zealanders is full of black.

Should you look around the Forsyth Barr stadium today and see a sea of black, don’t think it means we’re all supporting you.

It’s just our Presbyterian heritage showing up. No matter that we’re backing blue and white today, many of us will be wearing black, in spite of  rather than because of you.

It doesn’t mean we’re supporting your team, it’s just that we’re not going to the expense of changing our wardrobes.

Yours in blue (and black),



September 10, 2011

7/15 in the Herald’s Rugby World Cup opening quiz – all but two of which were guesses.


September 10, 2011

19/20 in Stuff’s World Cup flags quiz.

Beef & lamb incomes soar but from low base

September 10, 2011

Beef and lamb farm profit before tax increased 75% last season, however it was from a very low base.

Beef + Lamb NZ’s economic service new season outlook showed a welcome return to profit after several successive years of low or no profit,  including a 50 year low in 2007-08.

B+LNZ Economic Service Executive Director, Rob Davison said the increased returns came from a significant lift in international prices for meat and wool.

“At the farm gate, lamb was up 43 per cent, sheep meat 62 per cent while wool was up 43 per cent (from the previous year’s 100 year low) and beef was up 18 per cent.

“These price increases occurred despite the New Zealand dollar appreciating against the currencies in which the products were traded. The New Zealand dollar was up 11.0 per cent against the USD.”

Good returns are expected to continue this season, although back a little from last season.

For the current farming year just started, the outlook is for sheep and beef farm profit before tax to fall 7 per cent, largely from a stronger exchange rate. The outlook scenario is centred on the New Zealand dollar strengthening 2.5 per cent against the USD, 2.2 per cent against the GBP and 4.6 per cent against the Euro.

“This leaves gross farm revenue virtually unchanged (+1.2%) but on-farm expenditure is expected to increase 4.2 per cent with fertilizer usage up relative to recent years.”

Davison says farm profit is spent on tax first and then tax paid profit goes on debt reduction, capital machinery purchases and farm family living expenses.

Someone might like to point that out to left wing politicians who think farmers don’t pay tax.

The full report is here.

School “forced” to obey law

September 10, 2011

The headline in the Oamaru Mail (not online) says: Govt ‘bullies school’.

The story says:

Oamaru’s Pembroke School has been forced to include the controversial National Standards in its charter.

Pembroke principal Brent Godfery said yesterday the Ministry of Education had used the Education Act to make the school’s board of trustees amend the charter so it complies.

Shock, horror – the Ministry used the law to bring into line a school which was deliberately flouting it.

. . .  Mr Godfery said just because charters were compliant it did not mean the National Standards were acted upon.

“We will continue to educate our community on the dangers this policy is posing to one of the best educations systems in the world,” he said.

Schools are supposed to be educating its pupils not pushing a political point of view at its community.

No-one denies that our system is very good and that our best students are up with the world’s best. The problem is the long tail of low achievers among whom are the one in five who leave school with illiterate and innumerate.

National Standards won’t by themselves change that but they are a tool which will help identify the children who aren’t learning as well as they ought to be.

However, from what Mr Godfery told the Waitaki Herald,  it isn’t how well pupils are learning but how the school looks which is his main concern:

Like other principals, Mr Godfery was concerned that National Standards’ results would be turned into a league table, ranking schools against each other.

He said such tables weren’t a fair reflection on how schools performed compared to others, due to different decile ratings for schools and pupils who came from non-English speaking backgrounds.

This is the same tired argument too often used to oppose all sorts of innovations in schools and one which is of far more concern to teachers than anyone else.

It might be possible to compare schools as a by-product of National Standards but that’s not its aim. They are simply a tool to monitor children’s performance and progress to ensure teachers and parents know how well children are doing.

Success or failure of the tool won’t be in identifying children who don’t meet the standard but in what happens next to help those who aren’t learning as well as they ought to be.

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