Wordless Wonders.

I am a huge advocate of picturebooks and the power they have.

As Martin Galway perfectly put it “They provide a swift democracy, a shared world and experience that can mitigate and compensate for varying levels of experience of the world.”

One of the key aspects about picturebooks is the exploration and the talk they can provide. There is nothing more enjoyable and enlightening than sitting with a group of children and exploring a high quality text. The best picturebooks do that.

This week I’ve seen the true impact of wordless picturebooks. In our Targeted Mainstream provision class they have been using “Quest” by Aaron Becker. This has transformed a group of children who did not write, have the language to write, or want to write into children who bounce into writing lessons full of language, and ideas and desperate to write.

Wordless picturebooks are a special breed they are at their best when we co-create the story together, when we explore the detail. When we notice the nuance, when we roll the language of story around the image. Creating time to talk and explore starting with our youngest children is so important.

Mary Roche’s wonderful “Developing children’s critical thinking through picturebooks” would be my starting go to for both practical and theoretical ideas on this with the stated aim to develop readers “who can look beneath the surface and challenge any assumptions and premises that may be hidden there and who can examine their own assumptions and discuss them with others.”

It’s not a luxury to spend time digging in and exploring a text and that it often feels that way is a sad indictment on the pressures of our curriculum.

Wordless picturebooks are unique, anybody who has ever used The Arrival by Shaun Tan will both know the power of it and the immense depth of emotion and story held in those pictures, the only way to unleash it is through talk. Wordless picturebooks are drivers for language and understanding, they are equally perfect for driving writing.

Top Tips for Diving into Wordless Picturebooks

TALK (Encourage Discussion)

With wordless picture books it is all about the talk. The beauty of these wordless picturebooks is that there is much less pressure to read the story in a set way. Pause, discuss the pictures at length without feeling that you are interrupting the flow of any words. So take time to talk about the pictures, follow up on the children’s observations, build vocabulary, make connections and ask questions.

IMMERSE (Introduce Rich New Vocabulary)

One of the obvious ways of using wordless picture books with your child is to tell the story which accompanies the pictures in your own words. Wordless books are perfect for introducing and developing new vocabulary. As well as explaining the action in the picture, don’t forget to also describe what else you see in the picture, using as many detailed words as possible. Describing the pictures encourages us to use language that is different from how we normally speak. This will expose children to a rich variety of language. We are the guide here, children will start to take over.

EXPLORE (dig deep and go beyond the pictures)

Ask the children open ended questions about what might be happening and why. Be sure to give children plenty of time to think about their responses. When children reply, repeat what they say and add more information. Give the detail…expand the ideas. With wordless picture books you can focus on much more. How does the picture portray action or emotions? How can picture clues help children understand more of the story and support their inferences. Encourage children to also think about the colour choices and mood of the pictures. Why do they think the illustrator used a particular colour or technique?

STRUCTURE (storytelling)

Wordless picture books are a great way of teaching children about basic story structure and the sequencing of events in a story. This will start to give them an understanding of basic story structure. Talk about the different elements of the plot and the sequence of these events in the story. Encourage them to summarise a story. When you’re reading the story, try using simple words and phrases like ‘next’ and ‘then’. These linking words help children catch the idea of the flow of a story and how to tell a story in order.

PLAY (encourage children to be creative)

You don’t always have to tell the story in the same way. If there is more than one character in the book, tell the story from different perspectives. You can make up a different story every time. Encourage embellishment. With older readers let them develop motivation and characters. Encourage details and settings build the complex from the simple.

INSPIRE (wordless books can open dooEd to writing)

Wordless picture books can provide the perfect foundation for writing. Children can write descriptive text to complement each picture, or a selection of pictures, they could add dialogue to the characters in the story, they could describe dramatic action and build tension. Don’t forget writing is 90% talk if children can’t talk it they can’t write. Acting as a scribe for a child is still the child writing, who cannot write yet.

Some Brilliant Wordless Wonders to get you started…

Aaron Becker is a perfect starting point…his Journey trilogy is fantastic and Stone for Sascha is a wordless History of the World and a tale of loss

Shaun Tan is more capable of telling a whole story in a single picture than almost any illustrator. The Arrival is a wordless masterpiece

Bill Thompson books are vividly illustrated and dynamic full of action, emotion and flights of fancy. Perfect for young and old

David Weisner is a visual master. Just a perfect wordless storyteller.

Suzy Lee does character and emotion better than anyone. Her on the simple stories are full of emotion and depth.

Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli and Mariachara Di Giorgio is in my opinion pretty much perfect. With a delicious twist

Jon Arno Lawson collaborating with a range of illustrators create brilliant emotional wordless narratives

Henry Cole creates delicate stories full of detail and emotion.

Guojing is just wonderful. Her books use graphic novel styling to tell beautiful complex emotional wordless stories.

There are loads more, here are some more of my favourites…


The Jack of all trades.


Reading some posts today and I totally get where some people are at. Increasingly the job is removed from the job I applied for. The pressures have never been greater. Sometimes it feels like a knife-edge. At some point it becomes impossible. These are good people who have driven to this point by a system that is crumbling around them. Schools have filled the gaps, but we all know that’s not the same as having the right resources there. At some point inevitably something will be missed and the consequences could be dire.

My job itself has dramatically changed in the last few years. It was already changing but COVID led to a fundamental change. In a post-COVID world, as cuts have bitten into other services I find myself stepping into roles that frankly I do not have the skills to do. Don’t get me wrong I make a grand cup of tea and I’m really good at listening, I also have biscuits. On occasion I have been known to give a mean hug, but let’s get it straight…

I am not a Social Worker! (We have an endless parade of supply workers, who come and go and there is no consistency.

I am not an Attendance Officer! (I love the data though)

I am not a Parental Support Advisor! (They vanished in 2017)

I am not a Prevention Officer,

I am not a counselor!

I am not a Police Officer!

In the last three and a half years many of these services have been stripped away. We haven’t seen a community police officer since 2019, ours (who wax brilliant) got another job, no sight nor sound since then.

The impact on my most vulnerable families has been dramatic. Let’s get one thing clear I am not in any way blaming any of the people doing those jobs. I see they are run ragged on a daily basis, they have case loads and workloads they cannot possibly keep up with. We are sadly the ones however who see the impact. It impacts on how our children enter school. It impacts on our pupils ability to learn. Rightly or wrongly we have stepped into the void. To be fair my deputy and I try to keep this from impacting on the staff so they can do their job. I worry hugely that this stops us getting on with the job of running a school. We never seem to have enough time. Then again I don’t think anybody does. As a school we are vigilant, we do something called ’60 second monitoring’ which helps us keep an overview of the challenges. We adapt provision to support those young people so they can learn.Our priority is to ensure our young people are safe. As the external support has dropped we see more and more children at risk.

The problem is for many of our families they don’t know where else to go for advice and support. Some are crying out for help. They just often need someone to talk to and a bit of time. However increasingly they need someone to help them.

I have visited doctors with families to help them get the support they need, I have been to court to help parents fight for their child’s entitlement to disability living allowance. I collect children daily to make sure they get into school and then take them home at the end of the day. I have helped them access food banks. We do this because it ultimately helps our young people get on with their job of learning.

Getting CAMHS support feels nigh on impossible. There are massive waiting lists after referral and in many cases they are just rejected once they finally get seen. We did a counsellor in school (We found the money) but now we can’t afford that. Fact is really we just scratch at the surface of the need.

I know some people will say that it is not your job. Thing is by us doing the things we do, we support our most vulnerable children in accessing their education and I still firmly believe education is the key. If we didn’t do the the things we are doing, some of our children would be lost to education.

I do have some skills, my Dad’s teaching me the basics of plumbing has been massively handy, and my time served cleaning schools while I did my degree means I am a dab hand with a mop.

Point is you can only do what you can. Anyway whether I wanted to or not, I couldn’t do it any other way. It’s what the job is. I know in some ways I’m lucky, our school is part of a trust which supports its heads brilliantly.

So to those who’ve hit that wall, I wish good health and bright futures and also thanks for highlighting the current increasingly impossible demands of a job the we love. If we want the best people leading our schools we need to look at how the system supports and sustains them rather than drives them away.

I know what I like and I like What I know. (genre booklists for Y5/6)

I’ve been thinking a lot about genre and how this can sometimes support young readers in making book choices. Understanding the conventions can add a security in choice, a bit “if you like this, you might like that”

As a child I was very much addicted to Sci-Fi. It was what I read, Tripods, Doctor Who novels into John Wyndham then onto Philip K Dick and then Asimov. Knowing those books led me to read more. Finding an Author that was mine was a gateway to further reading.

With that in mind I started to compile some lists for children in our school. In our curriculum we ensure a range of texts are read to classes both in diversity but also in genre. The hope is to expose children to different authors and genres so that they can find their “author”, their “genre”, the books that sing to them.

I chose these books because I love them. This has given me a route to discuss the books with children. Talking about books is almost as important as reading about them. The books are on display, with other by the authors. Being a passionate reader is a little bit like collecting football stickers or Pokémon. “I gotta read ‘em all”

Here are the Book lists so far… these lists are genre starters not end points.



Real Life

Historical Fiction


Animal fiction


Genre Defiers

Mystery and Thrillers…

Hope they are useful…

It’s the same old song…a neverending story!

“Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel

Windmills of your mind.

EduTwitter is a merry-go-round, an ever spinning waltzer churning round and round.

Month after month the the same people spin out their never-ending mantras. If you don’t agree with them you are the enemy, you hate teachers.

Pens, haircuts, uniform, silent corridors, exclusion on and on. Trotted out at regular intervals to keep their twitter stock high. Unmet needs used as a punchline to their approving audience.

If you disagree, you are slapped down, if you dare to criticise you are shaming schools. Dissenting voices from the one true way are turned into pariahs.

The problem is I disagree with most of it. I am the enemy. …

Some children do have unmet needs, I see it every day with our pupils with communication and interaction difficulties.

Some schools do have ridiculous, expensive uniform policies , which despite their arguments bear little relation to the world of work.

Not wanting silent corridors does not mean that all is chaos and there are no standards.

Some schools do exclude too easily (I’ve seen it happen in our local secondary school when it was academised.) exclusion is thrown around as a threat for often quite minor misdemeanours.

I also get there is a difference between secondary and primary.

I’ve also seen a wide range of successful schools, many that I’ve nicked ideas from and some that I’ve hated.

I visited @chrisdysonHt’s school, it was great but I wouldn’t want to replicate it. It was its own unique phenomenon, powered by the force of nature that is Chris. Our school is very different and that’s OK.

We’re stuck in a loop and we’ll never agree, fact is dig a little deeper and our differences are often rather less than they seem. Cut the sides and the hyperbole and we’re not really that far apart even though sometimes people try to make it a chasm.

SATs Madness/Sadness

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Looking at twitter today and seeing the SATs madness in full effect. Threads of links to activities all for prepping the kids for those tests in the middle of May. Panic strikes, they are happening. They are not going to be cancelled. AAAAAAARRRRRGGGHHH!!!

Why do we do this to children?

Tweets about piles of SATs papers being sent home for children to practice, links to the best revision books, booster classes in full effect in some cases two or three a week.

What is wrong with us?

After the last two years we know that kids may not be where we would want them to be, yet we seem happy to define ourselves against a set of tests. This year is an opportunity for honesty. Just keep teaching using the tests as a measure of where the children are. A litmus test on the impact of the pandemic in our schools. We will all be at different points. That’s OK.

Except that’s not what is happening. For a range of reasons, the pressure is building,

Systemic fear, Ofsted are on the way, internal MAT pressures, Local Authority pressures, our own pride. For a host of reasons, we are all about to jump through the SATS burning hoops. We are a profession driven by accountability and we’re willing to sacrifice the truth for a better test score.

Will the stuff stick? Probably not.

Will it over-inflate where our pupils are at and what they can do? Probably yes.

Will it help us get it right for the children next year and the year after? Definitely not.

Will it create even more distrust in SATs from secondary colleagues? Completely.

I’m not anti- doing the SATs. For the first time I felt they may actually give us something useful, a measure of impact of the last two years. They won’t show us that though. In our panic we’ve decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater and stepped back onto the accountability treadmill.

Just don’t tell me you’re doing it for the children, because the last thing they need is practice SATs and booster classes. What they need is teaching, lots of teaching that doesn’t stop in May.

If we learnt one thing last year when there was no SATs, its that children were more ready for secondary and that pupils didn’t drop off after the arbitrary line.

Prep them a little around how the tests work. Then let what will be, be. Ultimately for the children an honest set of results will be more helpful to them.

SATs are the most important they’ve ever been this year for the children but not in the way we imagine.

My Twitter Relationship is on the Rocks

When I first started tweeting in 2015 it was done as a shout out to have a voice. There was a lot of frustration. As a head of a small coastal primary, the world of education was happening to me, and I was literally voiceless.

In retrospect I wish I’d given myself a better name, @smithsmm is a rubbish twitter name. I could have been @CoastyHead or @Rantyhead.

 Twitter allowed me to do two things, firstly share my passion for picture books. #PicturebookPage has literally hundreds of books posted on the hashtag. Secondly to have a voice on education, to challenge, discuss and learn from others. It was exciting and clandestine.

There were moments where I would be swarmed on by Dementors, I learnt very quickly to not talk phonics on Twitter mainly because you’d be launched on by secondary Maths’s teachers who’ve taught nobody to read but know how to do it better than anybody else. I remember very early on being attacked for mentioning picture books, this was by some very prominent #edutwitter voices and then their followers, I invited them to come, and I’d explain them to them, I held my own, but the experience left me shaken. I almost walked away at that point. The same people 7 years later still do the same thing, regularly shouting down others and belittling them.

I avoided challenging; I kept my head down. I found some like-minded people; some people were massively supportive. I enjoyed talking with them.

 I started to have confidence in my voice, enthused by this I decided to blog.

Now let’s be clear I’m not a writer, the anxiety of writing stuff and putting it out has often been overwhelming. Every time I write I am swamped by imposter syndrome. However, I persevered. I wrote things and no-one read them and that was OK. Writing was ultimately for me. 

I enjoyed writing, I enjoyed twitter. I got opportunities. I was asked to write some pieces for the TES (never thought that would happen). I presented at Learning First and ended up between Michael Tidd (a twitter superstar) and Dame Alison Peacock. I had some jokes, more importantly I felt like I had a voice. I met some good people.

I rolled with it, I found my tribes, I muted then blocked some of the voices. I got to do more stuff, including a keynote at @PrimaryRocks1 with @ChrisDysonHT.

Twitter was a good place and a nice part of my life. Then March 2020 hit. Twitter was a saviour in the early days of the pandemic, however…

The last two years have led to a life that has been increasingly lived online. I sit back and look at how in some-ways my online life has begun to dominate my real life and I realise I need to “Get Busy Living”

Twitter is for me is no longer a torrid love affair.

This isn’t a goodbye but it is a see you around. A re-balance. More time looking up and less time looking down.

Riding choppy waters.

The true test of where you are comes not on the days of languid sunshine, when the birds arc lazily overhead, cooling wind brushes across the glistening white crests and you skim along without a care in the world. Whilst we should be grateful for those days, those days when everything works and all the bits seem to fit together, those days of glorious tranquility. In my experience of almost eight years being a head, those days are more than not in the minority, recently they seem a rarity.

The true tests come on the days of biting cold, and howling gales. You know those days by the ominous black clouds swirling angrily overhead. The true test comes when you realise that after hours of work there are pieces of the jigsaw missing and the box is empty. The true tests don’t just come alone, they arrive with their mates ready for a ruckus. Those are the days when you find out where you are.

This week is one of those weeks…A perfect storm. A week where you batten down the hatches, aim your bow into the waves and crash on. Not easy but when you step back and look, school is running like you’re sailing in the calmest blue ocean.

This term is going to be one of those terms…a perfect storm largely ignored from the outside, COVID is over after all. The waves crashing against schools are relentless. There is no supply, there is no money. I am so proud of the team stepping into the breach without complaint doing all they can to help keep school open.

Staff absence/ lack of capacity (when you have 12 High needs pupils in a one form entry mainstream primary school any staff illness is a challenge) has crashed upon our good ship relentlessly. Not really the New Year we wanted…we had such plans. Thing is, it is what it is, this is the reality rather than the dream. Tomorrow I will be caretaker and teacher and dinner supervisor and many other jobs in-between.

This blog is a thankyou to the commitment of our brilliant staff…

That the children haven’t noticed, that the education hasn’t suffered, that school still feels like a well-oiled machine is testament to their sheer, utter bloody-minded commitment  to doing a good job.

So thankyou and once more into the breach dear friends…then it’s the weekend. Hopefully the weather will turn, the clouds will clear and we’ll have a sunny updraft. If not we’ll keep riding the storm.

Those who are absent take care, look after yourself, don’t rush back. We miss you but we want you properly better.

Another Year Over (A Pandemic Review)

So, we sit on the cusp of a New Year, I’d love to say its without trepidation but let’s be honest the next few months are going to be a logistical challenge for us all.

Today however is always a good day to look back. I sit here with a certain sense of pride. My school has definitely come out of the last couple of years in a stronger place than it went into it.

We entered autumn 2019 in not a great place, even though we had had a good Ofsted, morale however was at rock bottom, a significant restructure (due to financial challenges) had hit really hard.

On a personal level I was questioning my own position and whether I could do this job. We limped through the Autumn term in a post Ofsted daze, we never celebrated the success the restructure tarnished what should have been a launch point. School felt joyless and as a head I felt the most isolated I had ever felt. I questioned myself and my ability to lead. The personal impact of restructure had definitely damaged me. School had lost its mojo. I was about to jack it in.

Then March 2020 hit. Now this doesn’t sound like a great place for a school or a leader to be entering into what has proved to be the most challenging period we have all faced in our lives.

I remember sitting listening to the announcement that schools would close. I remember reading the guidance. The next day I went into school a new me. I may not have been the leader school wanted at that point, but I was the one it needed.  By Lunchtime on the Thursday, we had a plan, we were organised we were clear. Timetables, guidance, actions, communication to parents. Done. Initially our home-learning offer focused more on well-being, the extraordinary weather really helped that. People were scared but they just cracked on, clarity was everything. Food was sorted, well-being checks, home learning packs, key worker hub. Then we just got on. When the children returned in June 20 again clarity was key, clear actions and planning. I remember walking staff through the days in every detail, no question was too small. I would use the word meticulous; every detail was explored. Staff were ready. The Summer was great, numbers were initially low then as weeks passed confidence grew and more and more children returned. We had 7 of 9-year groups open by the end of the Summer and the systems were like clockwork. I must mention our Trust who have been utterly phenomenal throughout, their support has been top-notch.

Autumn 20 came, and the first half-term was brilliant then COVID hit school in full effect in the second half-term. The impact in school was very much a reflection of the virus in the community, Whitby was slammed after half-term following the influx of tourist during the October break. At one point we had 11 staff and numerous children infected (including myself). Four bubbles were closed yet this wasn’t an “outbreak”. This however did allow us to get our online learning in place.

January 21 came, and school was closed after a day. We were however ready. We had devices for families to make sure all could connect, at our expense. (not DfE ones they eventually arrived at the end of March 21). I personally worked with families to make sure they could get online, generally the kids were savvier than the parents. Our Year 6 teacher led the way with this, and the development of teaching and pedagogy was amazing. Sitting in some of the live lessons it was brilliant to see skilled professionals doing an outstanding job.

 The keyworker hub was busy, but school was on it. SEND pupils were in, the opening of a Communication and Interaction, had given not only capacity but also expertise the children needed.

March 21 came, and we just cracked on. Focus switched to catch-up and school priorities. The pandemic had created middle-leaders in school in a way that had been really difficult before it. I now had a staff that were itching to get on. Lessons learnt from online teaching became part of teaching, there was a consistency of approach. As a school we suddenly knew what we were about.

While not normal Summer 21 was a joyous time. Children on the whole had come back brilliantly, routines, systems had done us huge favours. Stamina and friendships were challenges. School had momentum. Middle leaders were making a difference. More importantly I was driving it again, I had my mojo back. We left in the summer with a buzz and that continued in Autumn 21. Clear plans and actions, everybody pushing together.

We had a slight COVID wobble around half-term otherwise school was in a great place and most certainly stronger than before. A few visitors came and could not believe the focus, the behaviour and the quality of what was going on.

Which brings us too now…

None-of us know the turns the next term will take. It is going to be a logistical challenge to keep schools open. I know from my side in our school there is a will to make that happen.

Whether we can will depend on factors outside of our control. Supply has been virtually impossible in Whitby and will continue to be so. Staff have been magnificent stepping into gaps and generally being amazing. They have not let anyone down

I have to look forward with optimism, despite the enormous challenges thrown our way we have come through stronger and more of a team than we ever were. It will be hard, there will be moments, but we’ve had it so far and we’ve got this.

A (late) very merry Christmas
And a happy new year,
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

 John Lennon 1971

The Ridiculous

Today I have 8 staff off… 8. We’re a 1 form entry school. That we’ve managed to run school so far this week and it feel relatively normal has been a minor miracle and partly due to some incredibly flexible staff and that despite all this school is in a good place.

My supply budget is shot. It wasn’t very big.

I have staff (double jabbed) who are properly poorly, (not a bad cold) can’t move, fatigued, can’t get out of bed poorly, three are already beyond the 10 days and are just too ill to work.

I have the worst school attendance I’ve had since I’ve been here (8 years) yet at 93% so far this term I know it’s better than a lot of schools.

We are so very far from normal. COVID is still around.

Yet in England the world churns on as though nothing is happening.

Ofsted are back, not as a force for good or improvement but as a dark anti-hero wielding it’s sword as Damocles. It’s been locked in a closet for two years and doesn’t seem to have any awareness of what has happened. I’ve seen heads more worried by Ofsted than they’ve ever been. At the moment so much stuff is being done in the name of “Ofsted”. Now you can be all sanctimonious and say “don’t do stuff for Ofsted” but actually there is significant self preservation both for heads and school staff by jumping through the hoops.

If you’re a small primary the workload on staff is immense. Yet from reports it seem Ofsted are jumping on every inconsistency and there is no account taken for the sterling work of the past two years.

Meanwhile other services seem to have disappeared with schools picking up the increasing slack. Mental Health, speech and language, early help, social care all running beyond capacity. Don’t start me on SEND.

Everyday is a fresh challenge. I’ll be honest I’ve become much better at compartmentalising it and not losing sight of the job. It has however never been harder.

We have MPs blaming schools and wanting to enshrine in Law that it will be much more difficult for schools to close. I don’t actually disagree that kids should be in school, but the rhethoric stings when the actual government they are part of has done practically nothing to keep schools open. Ventilation/CO2 monitors anyone? Masks in secondary anyone or anywhere in England for that matter. Any mitigations? Nope! There is no surprise that attendance is so poor, we have 40000 cases a day and have become blasé to 200 people dying.

Exams and SATs are all going ahead, yet they will be far from fair. Personally it saddens me to feel those pressures returning in KS2. I know and I’m sure many other primaries would agree that we saw a much better deal for year 6 and in many ways children much more ready for secondary by not having SATs. We didn’t have a post SATs drop off the class had a broader curriculum offer. We’re not a school that over preps or spends loads of time, we trust the work we’ve done, this year we know there will be gaps however.

So I sit here at 5 in the morning laughing at it all.


Who knows ultimately what will be the toll of all this. I’m glad I’m laughing, though it does feel like that slightly manic deranged laugh. Anyway time to put the makeup on and head into work.

Fever Dreams (wide awake at 2 am)

My head is fizzing!

I’m sat here at 2 in the morning. Sleep is evading me. My head is full and I’m just fed up.

I’m fed up with the Department for Education playing the hard man. I fed up with a DfE that consistently wants to work against the profession rather than with it. I’m fed up at the lack of professional trust. Playing to their audience with a narrative of feckless lazy teachers who they need to act tough on.

I’m tired of Ofsted and their increasingly detached arrogance and lack of perspective. Their unrealistic drive for perfection, their desperation to reestablish themselves. Ofsted more than ever in my career are dictating what schools do. As Paul Watson put it, they are literally “the tail wagging the dog.” Anybody who says don’t do it for Ofsted hasn’t looked at the framework or what’s happening in schools.

I’m sick of research being used as a blunt weapon rather than a nuanced tool. With one size fits all generalities hurled across sectors without real evidence to suggest it works beyond its original domains.

I’m angry at the destructive high stakes accountability systems that do not create improvement and in some cases are truly damaging.

I’m jaded by the constant fight to get support for the children that need it. SEND is in crisis. Mental health support for young people is practically non-existent. I tear my lack of hair out at at the increasing vacuum that is early help and social care. I find ourselves stretched thinner and thinner trying to paper over the ever-widening gaps.

Yet, I’m still in love with my job, the day today in the building, working with our teachers. The commitment and the passion they have for improving what we do. Their relentless energy to get it right for the children in their care.

I still marvel at the skill and expertise of the staff in our school. Utterly brilliant. They make me proud every day.

I still get a buzz from seeing children so excited by their learning that they almost explode just trying to get it out when you sit with them

I still laugh from the joy of sitting having lunch with year 3, them telling me the worst jokes in the world most without even coming close to a punchline.

I adore the warmth and trust of the relationships in our school. They are in the most unscientific terms…magical.

I’m proud of how we’ve supported our community and equally how they support us. We are in the truest sense a community school. We are their school.

The everyday positives still outweigh the negatives. I’m lucky to have got my buzz and my drive back (it was definitely waning a couple of years ago)

I am grateful to work for a trust that is committed to us, supports us and trusts us. I know we are very lucky on that count.

Time to close my eyes, breath out, switch off. Increasingly I feel voiceless in the system. I keep my head down and crack on.

I however have to believe and I truly hope that there are better ways than this and that we can find a system that truly supports schools to be great. Rather than the deficit model we currently have.

The eternal optimist in me, that ultimately drowns out my negativity, has to believe.