SAAS still suck – but call them for free/cheap

A landline telephone
How SAAS make the money to pay your course fees

For those who’ve tried to call SAAS recently, I’m guessing you likely had a nightmare getting through to them on the phone. I tried last week, and it took me about 20 attempts not to get a busy tone. I was then placed on hold for 35 minutes until I gave up in disgust.

Pamela responded to one of my earlier posts and tells me she’s racked up £200 in phone calls trying to sort out her matter with them. Will someone kindly explain to me why a government office dealing with people who are stereotypically amongst some of the poorest in the country can be allowed to only publish an 0845 contact number? One that – as far as I’m aware – isn’t included in any mobile contract’s free minutes? Indeed, in BT’s landline contract either.

Calling this number generates revenue for the people at the other end so it’s in their best interests to keep you on hold. If they picked up quickly and dealt with matters swiftly then it would only be a minor inconvenience, but they don’t. First of all you stay on hold for an age, then if anyone ever speaks to you they only take your details before referring them up to some ape in a suit who’ll shove them on a pile while he sits there wondering if his banana tastes better before or after he’s shoved it up his bum.

Then 8 months later finally send you out a letter completely unrelated to your query.

At least I can help you call them for less, though I can’t guarantee they’ll bother answering your query or – heaven forbid – actually send you any money. Courtesy of the rather excellent Say No To 0870 website, I can inform you that the landline number to call is:

0131 476 8212

This is the general main number alternative. There isn’t one listed for the specific departments they have on their website, but the menu system is apparently the same as the main one. In other words you get through to the exact same place as if you’d rung the rip-off 0845 number.

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Do as I say…

Don’t you love how we tell kids to do things (or not do them) and then undermine the whole concept with our own actions and decision?

Over the last week I’ve gone over the concept of Internet Safety with three classes.  A key concept in the lessons is “Don’t give out your personal details to anyone”. That is, don’t go publishing your name, address, school and photo on your Bebo page then opening it up to the world.

That’s sensible enough.

I was talking to another teacher (I say “another” as if I’m qualified… roll on summer 2011!) who had the following thrust at him as a question:

“Well, sir, in that case what happens if I lose my school bus pass? It’s got my name, photo and address on it and it’s got the school name printed across the top.”

Of course, he thought this was silly. There’s no way it would have all of those details on.

Actually. Yes. Yes, it does. He looked and was struck dumb. The obvious answer is “well, don’t lose your bus pass” but these things happen. They go walkies, they get dropped, they get stolen along with the bag they’re inside.

And then someone has their hands on this young girl’s school and home addresses.

Does anyone else think this is madness? It’s a school bus pass for a bus that runs from a locale to the school direct, not a public bus. As long as the pupil has a pass, their address is immaterial. It needs a photo to show that the carrier is the one entitled to the bus trip. That, I accept. Even having the name on isn’t the end of the world. The name of the school makes a bit of sense, but why would they be on the wrong bus? If they were colour-coded or had some other identifying feature even that wouldn’t be necessary.

But home address? If the pass is lost, the student applies for another. If it’s got the school name on it then the finder can return it there – the school would be able to find the pupil.

So while we’re telling them not to publish their details somewhere public, the school is handing them a piece of card that they have every chance of dropping with just that information on. Not as bad as shoving a poster up, but depending on who finds it every bit as worrying.

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The stress!

No real updates right now as I’m utterly buried in work. Back at school and, though I’m still enjoying it, it’s really hitting home how much effort this course is.

By mid-December I have a total of 11 smallish essays and 20 lesson plans to be ready for perusal. I must have one crit (assessed lesson) and over the xmas break I need to do a much larger essay due in just after new year.

In addition I’ve volunteered to help out with the school website which needs a facelift, and have to sit in on – and teach – quite a few lessons.

As the term’s gone on, other things are noticeable as well. Such as the behaviour of some children getting worse. I suppose it’s to be expected as boredom sets in, but it’s freaking even me out! I know I’ll sound like a complete old git (which is fair – I am one) but watching one lad yesterday totally failing to grasp the concept of “under your breath” while swearing at the teacher beggared belief. Of course, he had nothing to lose as he was being handed a detention anyway. Cue two slammed doors and much sulking.

Now I’m not one to condone hitting children. Or anyone else for that matter. Chavs excepted, obviously. And greasy racist politicians. And Mike Ashley. But to some extent I can see how in olden times teachers resorted to the belt or the cane. I don’t think it’ll have helped any, but it sure would have felt good to take the frustration out somehow!

Of course, whacking someone’s only going to make matters worse in the long run. I wholly believe that such methods lead you down the slippery path of violence being the natural solution to everything. If a teacher can leather me for swearing, then I can punch Wiggins in the face for stealing my sandwich.

These days, though, I reckon if you took a swing at Jenkins, he’d shank you.

Roll on Slayer in a couple of weeks… subject to Tom Araya recovering from back surgery otherwise the gig will be cancelled as have all their Canadian dates. I’ll need the mosh pit to release some tension, I think.

[disclaimer – the kids aren’t that bad. Most of them. Seriously, it’s the usual tiny minority that “spoil it for everyone else”]

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Kickabout

A soccer ball that is "thermally bonded"
Kick this - not my shins!

After many false starts and things not being organised, I met up with some of my fellow students for a kickabout in the park after lectures this afternoon. In all, there was a whacking four of us. And the other three were girls.

I will no longer call women the weaker sex. Fairer, certainly – but only when we’re talking about looks as this lot cheated. I have the bruises on my shins to prove it. Catherine, I’m looking at you. Through the tears in my eyes.

In fairness, I’m flipping unfit. The most exercise my legs get is shifting between the clutch, brake and accelerator pedals. This, of course, is no excuse for taking advantage and kicking me in the legs every time I walked past. Next time I’m taking my shinpads.

The conditions certainly didn’t favour football either. We were on soft grass and it was quite cool. The last time I played a full match, I was on an all-weather pitch in 35-degree heat at 8:30 in the morning. Admittedly in Hanoi. This obviously suits me much better.

So aside from the pain, battering, humiliation, wheezing, and the fact that I got caked in mud… I had a pretty good time. Thanks to Catherine, Laura and Mhara (I think I have the names right) for sorting things out and not hurting me too much. Good luck on your placements, ladies!

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#toolongfortwitter

Just a couple of things that are a little too long to be posted in the 140 characters that Twitter allows. The silly bird-based website has become my outlet for a lot recently.

Eldster

You can tell you’re getting old when your film references fall flat. Being near an ill person, I held out a paper cup and said “If you’re going to spew… spew into this!” and was met by a completely blank stare.

It was at this point I realised I am at university with people who had only just stopped crapping their own nappies when Wayne’s World was out. For some reason this scares me.

The cold

I am overjoyed at getting onto my first choice of “additional module” next term – Teaching in the Outdoors. I actually get to go hiking and stuff as part of my course.

Of course, I reckoned without the fact that I’m studying in Scotland. And this will be January-February. I will, therefore, freeze my knackers off.

I may invest in thermals. And a large hip flask.

Other stuff

I’m glad to say that everything else seems to be going swimmingly:

  • I just found out I get paid significantly more for my probationary year than I was expecting
  • My placements for next year could be in Perth which means staying with the ‘rents – and therefore being able to waste all the spare time I won’t have on my PS2 again
  • I start my first “proper” placement next week and I’m alternating between excited giggling and nervous pant-wetting
  • It appears there may be a new lady in my life. Await further announcements. Early, very tentative steps and no more as yet.

One may even go so far as to say *whoop*. But I’m an old crusty so I won’t.

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