Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Nothing succeeds like a budgerigar

Photo by Vek Labs on Unsplash

There are numerous quotes about success (the theme of my prizegiving speech today) but I like Winston Churchill's one the most:

Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Now everything’s a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped (Bob Dylan)

Episode three of the BBC's stunning School series has just aired and the grim situation at Marlwood School continued.

I mentioned the show to a fellow Head Teacher at a sporting event yesterday and he told me he refused to watch the show because the idea of it (exposing the current state of state education) made him too angry.

I get what he means. 

The Head Teacher at Marlwood is presented as a football manager whose team is far too expensive to run so he needs to beat Premier League teams with players  from a five-a-side league. Crazy.

Needless to say, by the end of the episode the poor sod had decided to leave the school and find another team. 

As the credits rolled more staff went and, although the school appears to have stabilized since, it is still in 'special measures'.

The nameless, deathless, school inspector introduced at the start of the episode had indicated that 'special measures' was designed to be stimulus for a short term turnaround of a school's fortunes.  


All that seems to have been achieved in this case is a sorry list of deflated human capital. 

Teachers are a precious commodity and I felt large dollops of sympathy for the humanities teacher getting his feedback from a lesson observation.

There was no respite for him and the underfire Head Teacher.

Episode four next week. I'll need a week to mentally prepare myself.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The head teacher of Marlwood School in Gloucestershire faces a perfect storm.

The BBC documentary (School) about three academies facing austerity measures with drastic budget cuts and declining student numbers with declining behaviour standards has been riveting viewing so far.

Being a Head Teacher myself makes for a grim fascination as my colleagues go through budget meetings, confrontational parent meetings, endless student discipline issues, and OFSTED inspections.

In the second episode, the Head Teacher at 'special measures' Marlwood School in Glouchestershire reads from a previous, dismal, OFSTED attack on the school's leadership. 

Phew. Heavy. 

I felt for him. He seems like a decent bloke, with a family of four children, doing an impossible job.

At one point he reckons that the school has become like his fifth child (albeit a black sheep). 


Made me wonder about the job and the reasons why we do it,  and I admired  the hell out of him as he battled the academy trust's chief number cruncher and bean counter who, I suspect, will close the school down in episode 3.

Like I said, grimly fascinating and rivetting. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hooked on a feeling (Blue Suede)

Inspiration came up and smacked me in the face yesterday.

While I was visiting a Year 11 English class on my learning walk, thanks to a student doing her visual/verbal presentation, I learnt a lot about 'Success' as a thing.

Her presentation centered on making 'Success' into an acronym and was well received.

Along the way, she received some excellent feedback from her peers and from the teacher.

What stood out for me, was a message about five chimps.

These chimps represent the people you surround yourself with - your friendship circle in other words.

The implicit idea being to choose your five chimps wisely.

Trouble is that friendship choices tend to be more organic than that, or, at least, they were in my case.

In the past, I have gravitated towards people who love music, have a great sense of humour, are grafters, know themselves to the extent that they don't take themselves too seriously, and they have a good moral compass - they know right from wrong and they live worthy lives.

Good people. My chimps are good people.

I hope your chimps are too. If not, there's still time to change the road you're on.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

All I needed was the love you gave, all I needed for another day, and all I ever knew, only you (Yazoo)

Looking over an A level Language paper recently, made me nostalgic for teaching an English class again.

The last time I actually did that was at Woodford House, two years ago.

Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.

It's the connections with students built up over time that makes teaching a class so special.

That allows you to see them pretty much every day so you learn their quirks. You see them on good days and average days (and even bad days if they're girls). You see them develop their thinking in bite size chunks. The nitty gritty.

Yes, the relationship is different to being a learning coach in the Learning Centre - my current context.

While I can help lead students to their own discoveries easy enough (my only way forward when confronted by maths problems is to ask them what strategies they've used already and then ask them what they could do next), that's not the same as conferencing a student through a critical response to a poem.

I can well understand why Principals/ Head Teachers decide to go back to the classroom.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Safe mode

Photo by Sam Rudkin-Millichamp on Unsplash
Thanks to a training course I went on during the week, my brain has been consumed by safeguarding issues since then.

For my New Zealand viewers, safeguarding refers to protecting children from abuse and maltreatment, preventing harm to children's health or development, ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care.

It was eye opening, exhaustive and exhausting.

The course was run by Sutton Council and the two presenters were extremely knowledgeable and remarkably interesting given they deliver this course often to educators.

I came away with two thoughts as I pootled back to school:

  • There ain't half a lot of sickos out there
  • Everyone I saw on the drive I regarded with suspicion

Given my well documented naivete - it was a well timed wake up call.

I hope I never have to use the training in my role (relentless positivity) but, sadly, my past experience tells me that's a forlorn hope.