NIGEL THORNTON: Peterborough’s learning curve

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -
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It was a nerve-wracking experience. No, I didn’t jump out of a plane or go deep sea diving in shark infested waters. It was much scarier – it was filling in the on-line form to apply for a school place for Toddler T.

Which school to choose has been weighing heavily on our minds for ages. Now we face an anxious wait as the decision on which school she goes to doesn’t rest with us but with Peterborough City Council.

Who are the verge vandals?

Who are the verge vandals?

When I was a kid, it was a lot less fraught because you just went to the school nearest to your home. Now there’s more choice, which on the face of it is a good thing, but the flipside is if you don’t get your first choice there’s bound to be disappointment.

Me and Mrs T have visited several local primary schools and all of them appeared to be well-run and happy places although some of them did seem to be bursting at the seams.

We want a school where Toddler T can be safe and happy but also one where she will be academically challenged hopefully leading to achievements. And it is choosing a school that can meet that second criteria that is causing us sleepless nights.

Maybe we are guilty of “over thinking’’ the issue but every time a set of results for Peterborough schools is published the doubts resurface. The city council can brag all it likes about most schools having “good or outstanding’’ ratings from Ofsted, but the bottom line is that children go to school to learn and for years and years Peterborough pupils have not been learning enough.

There has been so much talk (and money spent) about raising education standards in this city but still it languishes near the foot of the national league tables.

I now have a huge personal interest in this, but it should be a concern to everyone in the city.

Never mind the financial problems of the hospital, the brown bin tax (!) or whether or not we’ll get one or two multiplex cinemas, the big issue in this city is the standard of education.

Bright idea

It’s normally dear old Peterborough City Council that I’m sticking the boot in, but of course quite a lot of PT readers come under Cambridgeshire County Council.

In a classic ‘world’s gone mad’ scenario county councillors have been debating turning off street lights (to save money, of course).

The original plan to turn them off at midnight has been defeated and instead they’ll now go off at 2 am.

Now, I’ll speak slowly because I fear at county hall the lights might be on (until 2am at least) but there’s nobody at home – you put lights on when it’s dark and turn them off when it’s light. That’s what lights are for.

Or am I just being dim?

Dead ring-er

I lost my wedding ring the other day after finishing work, which as you can imagine left me feeling sick to the stomach. I searched everywhere but couldn’t find it so I had to fess up to Mrs T. Under interrogation (I mean after discussing it) we narrowed down the most likely places where I could have lost it.

One was Waitrose car park. The next morning she took herself off and despite it pouring with rain searched the car park. Amazingly she found it.

I was naturally extremely grateful.

So much so that I’m thinking of buying her a metal detector as a Valentine’s Day gift.

Romance is alive and kicking at Thornton Towers!

Verge vandals

It’s one of my bugbears that the riverside walk from Thorpe Meadows to the city centre is an unloved and therefore under-utilised part of Peterborough. All it needs is a bit of TLC to make it a great asset to the city. I say ‘all’, but there’s not much hope when you see where a vehicle, probably a van, has driven down the footpath and churned up the verges into an unwelcoming and dangerous mess.

I’ve only ever seen one organisation using a vehicle on that path (I won’t name it as I can only be 99 per cent certain they are the guilty party).

Cop that, Santa

There was a lovely little story in last week’s PT about 8-year-old police superfan Thomas Genovese from Market Deeping. Thomas got a special visit from local bobbies after he won a competition. I loved the comment from his mum Sharon who said: “Hopefully, Father Christmas will be forgiven for not getting him a proper Taser now!’’

Diary Of A Bad Dad

I’m not sure where the official cut-off comes between being a baby and a toddler.

Baby T2 can now officially toddle albeit I’m not tearing up his L plates just yet.

It won’t be long though until he passes his toddler test (emergency stopping, particularly when there is a wall or a door in his way is something he still has to work on).

When he gets his toddler licence he’ll have to have a new name for the purposes of this column.

Mrs T was never very happy with Baby T2 – but I liked the Terminator reference.

I have to admit that Toddler T2 would be a bit lame.

At home I often refer to him as Boysie but Mrs T thinks that makes him souund like a character out of Only Fools And Horses.

Mrs T’s suggestion “my darling boy’’ is a bit, er, mumsie.

He has an appetite for destruction so perhaps I should use that for inspiration.

I averted disaster by seconds the other night when despite being strapped in his highchair he reached for and grabbed the table cloth and very nearly had a bottle of wine and plates of food all over the floor.

So, maybe I will continue the homage to Arnold Schwarzenegger and christen him The Toddlernator.