Dear Bollin Primary
Last year was tough.
We were dragged through the mud by the press, the school was almost torn in two, tears, sadness and anger were the dominant narratives. We were abandoned by the people who were meant to protect us and the authorities weighed in to crush us when we were down, providing the barometer by which the school is now judged by the outside world.
All the while, our remarkable children ploughed on through.
And now, as school returns after hopefully a refreshing summer’s break, I think there’s plenty of reasons for you to be fiercely optimistic about the future.
Here’s just a few.
So, as my last post suggested, the world of education and teaching is littered with many trials and pitfalls and has been, at times, a tough place to work.
And yet, as I leave, there are so many memories, good times and aspects of teaching that will remain with me always.
In the name of balance, here’s just a few of the things I am going to miss.
Over recent years, World Book Day has become a primary school institution.
From the Gruffalo to the BFG and back again, children (or perhaps their parents!) have shown themselves to be experts in the art of turning themselves into book characters.
Sure, you always have the ones that come in football kit – professional clubs have football annuals and programmes after all! – but the imagination many show is incredible.
(For once, you have no trouble spotting Where Wally is… all the teachers have come dressed as him to take the easy option – don’t knock it. I’ve been there!)
But this year, as I was doing my usual copious outfit planning, I started wondering what World Book Day might look like outside the primary school bubble.
As part of Sophie’s new ability to “share”, she happily passed on one aspect of her illness this week.
And unfortunately for me, it affected the main thing I need in order to do my job properly…
For when you’re a teacher, your key weapon is your voice.
Without it, you are left defenceless.
Particularly on a Parents Evening week!
When the Back to School range of clothing gets launched in the supermarkets at the end of July, it does always seem a bit ridiculous.
I mean, surely people’s children grow over the summer break anyway? All that sunshine – it’s bound to do wonders for their height!
However, when there’s a definite chill in the end after sundown, it can only mean one thing. Term is back on, the brand new uniform is being worn (even by the teachers) and normal service is resumed.
This summer I’ve been a musician, a youth worker, a stay at home Dad and a tourist.
However, with just eight days left until the return to school for thousands of children across the UK, I’ve been required to don the latest of my vocational hats.
An interior designer!
I know that half the people seeing the title of this post will hate any positive reference towards the discipline of mathematics.
A childhood spent hating the many hours wasted in stuffy Maths classrooms trying to get your head round pointless equations and formulas will certainly see to that. Believe me, two of my housemates at university were Maths students and I’m pretty sure they would have agreed with a rather negative response towards Maths!
As for the other half, (and this may well be where my former housemates are now situated!) they’ll be firmly in agreement about the beauty in the logic of Maths. As a subject, it has so much depth and colour to it that it many ways it is as mesmerising as a glorious sunset.
Allow me to explain.
I’ve not blogged yet this week – the twin pressures of SATS preparation and Parents Evening providing more than enough for this Year 6 teacher to be getting on with.
But as we come to the end of a so-called “mock SATS” week, it’s left me reflecting on the enduring nature of formal assessments and “tests”.
Are they a teacher’s way out of doing rigorous daily assessments on their classes and causing anxiety to their pupils, or are they helpful for ascertaining “where they are” and providing benefit to the children themselves?
And that’s the interesting contrast of tests.
Allow me to explain…
Being off for six weeks is apparently not unusual for teachers.
In fact, if some rhetoric was to be believed, we have half the year off on paid leave, work from 9-3 every day and are simply the biggest slackers going.
Not that I’m entering into that debate.
However, after handing my class over to someone else for six weeks and literally detaching completely from work, it has been very strange going back into school this week.
Tomorrow is a significant date in Sophie’s life as she goes to nursery for the first time.
It’s only for an hour and I’ll be in the room doing some paperwork but it still feels like a seminal moment for her.
In two weeks’ time, when she starts there as a 3 day pupil (even that word seems strange), it really will mark a turning point for her.
In terms of our feelings, Continue reading