Education in Wales: time for some change

English: School bus seats, photographed from b...
Where are we going on this bus

Last week the BBC reported in Wales:

“First Minister Carwyn Jones has told BBC Wales he thinks some councils are incapable of improving education in their area.

He said that with six local education authorities (LEAs) in special measures it is impossible to have faith in the delivery of education across Wales.
Mr Jones argued it gives further urgency to the need to cut the number of councils from the current 22.”

But hang on just a minute: where’s the logic in that? Continue reading “Education in Wales: time for some change”

Why don’t mobile networks cover where people live?

Mobile phone coverage is pretty patchy in west Wales, but when I was getting a poor service indoors in Aberaeron I decided to look at the service provider map for the area. It gave some interesting results:


aberaron view





This first map is off 3’s website and shows the indoor and outdoor coverage for the town.

If you look at the second image you can see where the town is andand the vast expanse of unpopulated land around

If you compare the 2 maps you’ll see that Outdoor and Indoor coverage either occurs at sea or where there are no houses. It certainly doesn’t happen in the town.

Which makes me wonder why it is that mobile operators don’t built networks to cover the areas where people live?


Is my poor Broadband the product of Poor Architecture?

I’m not a keen user of Facebook, but I do read it to keep up with the news from some of my friends. Tonight, in Aberaeron, I had difficulty connecting to the site and when I did a trace of the route being taken got the results in the picture.tracert

I don’t know what’s wrong, but it looks to me as though there is something awry so i want to investigate more and see what´s up using And on top of that I noticed when I checked the weather forecast online, the IP related information places me in a place called Fradley which presumably is where my slow lane bit of the internet connects to the rest of the world.

Is it possible that the poor speeds in west Wales are not due to the proximity of superfast fibre but are more the result of poor network architectures?

Will the Red Forces out-muscle the Blue Forces?

Map of Europe, showing NATO countries coloured...
Map of Europe, showing NATO countries coloured blue and Warsaw Pact countries coloured red. The map post-dates Albania’s withdrawal from the Pact. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Blue Forces were always the good guys in the Military wargames that we used to play all those years ago on the Central Front of Europe. Russia – or the Warsaw Pact – had claimed bragging rites as the Red Forces and all that colour coding made great sense.

In summary: Blue equals good, Red equals Bad and Green was for the unpires.

Tomorrow though the Red Forces will be from Wales as they take on the might of the Azzurri – the Blue Forces from Italy. And coincidentally the Green forces will be the Irish referee, John Lacey.

But it‘s a worrying time for passionate Wales supporters: we all know that we ought to win, we’re not suffering too badly from injuries and there is a comforting familiarity with the team. Gatland is at the helm and Sam has signed a fortune away to show his commitment to the cause. What can possibly go wrong?

Focus – that’s what can go wrong. This week there has been too much press chatter by members of the Welsh squad to convince me that they are totally focused. Whilst it must be hard at the moment to be a professional player in Wales when the future is in such turmoil, the need for focus ought to be absolute. I listened to Warren Gatland speak at a dinner a few weeks ago when he said that he planned to use “the current situation” to get the squad to circle the wagons, to make them look inward and focus, to make them tighter. I fear that hasn’t happened and as a result am concerned that we may well slip up.

I hope I’m wrong. Only time will tell.

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Is the Living wage really enough for Wales?

The Living Wage has been getting a lot of press recently, most notably when global confectionery giant Nestle decided to make sure that all its employees were paid the standard as set by The Living Wage Foundation.

While not recognised by the government as a legally enforceable wage, The Living Wage denotes a standard hourly wage that is calculated using the Minimum Income Standard for the United Kingdom as funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The Living Wage rate in the United Kingdom is currently set at £7.65, while in London it is £8.80 per hour.

Conversely, the minimum wage in Britain, as set by the government, is £6.31 for those over the age of 21, while those aged between 18 and 20 years old can earn a minimum of £5.03.

This is particularly interesting in the case of Wales, where many residents are barely making the aforementioned ‘living wage.’ According to the Living Wage Commission, 237,000 people in Wales, equivalent to 22% of the workforce, are earning less than the £7.65 per hour standard. While the Commission is campaigning to have more companies follow Nestle’s lead and embrace the hourly rate, just 18 businesses in Wales are committed to the paying the wage, while 264 businesses in London have made the change.

With this in mind, many Welsh residents are finding themselves looking to less conventional methods to top up their current wage. While some might find moonlighting to be an effective way of getting extra cash, others are embracing the World Cup spirit with a little sports betting or even playing online games like Porky Payout  to make ends meet.

Many sticklers for the Living Wage have argued that it makes good economic sense, including Mayor of London Boris Johnson. He said: “Paying the London Living Wage is not only morally right, but makes good business sense too.”

Meanwhile, over here in Wales, director of the Bevan Foundation Victoria Winckler said: “There’s a strong business case for employers paying more, because they save on recruitment and gain in terms of employee loyalty and productivity.”

If Wales is to follow suit, then it should surely look to its bigger employers to set the trend. While Nestle hasn’t made its way into Welsh territory yet, we should follow the example of London and aim to make our Living Wage employers in the hundreds rather than tens in the near future.

Police Manifestos

The Police and Crime Commissioner manifestos: Weren’t they all a bit PC (no pun intended)?

  • Nowhere did I hear anyone saying that they would take the speed cameras off the road, and stop persecuting motorists.
  • Nobody wanted to look for swingeing cuts to make savings to do something better elsewhere
  • Nobody said they liked what they say, instead implicitly criticising the status quo even before they started the job and were not in control of the facts
  • Did anyone say that they wanted to merge their force with another force to seek efficiencies and greater effectiveness in crime fighting?
  • Nobody seemed to think it was only a part time job that didn’t need the £60-£100,000 salary associated with it.

Oh well, another opportunity in our ever changing democracy was missed leaving us just Plod on. (Pun intended).

Why I will spoil my ballot

I will be expressing my feeling in next week’s election of Police and Crime Commissioner by spoiling my ballot paper.

It’s the only way I can think of to protest –  albeit in a pretty futile way – against this ridiculous election. I’ve never spoilt a ballot paper before, and have always voted as I believe in democracy, so this is a big step for me.

And here’s the reason why: have you had or have you heard anyone else having a conversation which has included something along the lines of: “what we need is a new way of managing the police, something more parochial and linked to political parties”? Continue reading “Why I will spoil my ballot”