Ranty McRantface…GRRRR!!!

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Today I spoke to another headteacher who has been sacrificed to the Ofsted gods, cast adrift, thrown off the boat as the pressure beats down. She was finished, tired, fed-up, just plain disillusioned and even worse sad.

The ongoing pressure of constantly balancing the impossible year on year, being asked to do more with less and less finally took its toll. This was not the job she signed up to.

I know many primary headteachers who are teaching almost full-time and then doing the day job. (They are not heads in small schools either). Headteachers facing the prospect of or in the middle of a staff restructure because there is no money. Headteachers cleaning schools at the end of the day. Headteachers increasingly filling the gaps where Children’s Services have disappeared. . Headteachers where inclusion is the core of their beliefs  finding it becoming an impossibility due to the inadequate funding. Vision and personal morals increasingly compromised by the reality of the job.

This is not why they signed up to the job.

So this is a blog partly driven by frustration. As a head of a small coastal primary school, the challenges you face are huge yet your voice feels practically non-existent. Finance, budget, recruitment, SEND all massive issues but ones which you feel you have no power.  So that was the motivation to provide a voice for the average school. The school doing their best in challenging circumstances. (I should write that as the first sentence in my SEF). I have at times been outspoken.(I’m OK with that). I’ve more often been ignored (often when you post something that doesn’t agree with someone elses narrative). That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t shout out. Sometimes people are afraid to shout out. The thing we must realise is that every person’s voice needs to be listened to. Some people seem to wield blocks and mutes on twitter as a way of shutting down debate, clearing their timeline of dissenting voices. Thing is if we only listen to the voices that agree with us we don’t actually get a real picture.

Some will tell you these things aren’t happening. If anyone that says funding isn’t an issue then I cordially invite them to visit and come and look at the challenges first hand. To come and have a real discussion. (pretty sure they won’t though)

We can welcome Ofsteds change in focus (I actually agree with big chunks of it) but we equally need to be honest about the potential this framework has in creating massive workload while it talks about reducing it. The proof as always will be in the pudding.

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I will for the present keep being a ‘Crap Umbrella’ (as in bouncing away crap rather than a rubbish umbrella) and creating a climate and environment where our teachers can teach because I still love the job and our school. I am fortunate to have good people who help me see the wood for the trees (So grateful to our trust, they know who they are).

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My expecto-patronum is currently working well and chocolate definitely helps.

We do however need some honesty and some solutions from the top.

 

 

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World Book Day…don’t get in a stew.

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Firstly let me get it out there that personally I think everyday should be World Book Day. Books are central to our curriculum so in some ways World Book Day is just another day. Creating a culture where reading is seen as important and dare I say it pleasurable is key to creating readers.

If you look over social media yet  again we are in the season of negativity that happens every year around the first Thursday in March.

Now let’s get it straight teachers…this is not about us. World Book Day should be about getting children excited about books and reading. (Again this should be part of what we do everyday.)

World book day is about hopefully getting children to engage and enjoy books. If that is not what happens in your school then refocus it. Put books at the centre of what you do. Share some brilliant books, give children the chance to talk and dig deeper into a book. We take the chance as a whole school to dig into the same book in every class. This allows us to have a school wide conversation where all members of our community can have the same conversation about a book.

Lostwor.pngLast year it was ‘The Lost Words’ by Robert McFarlane and Jackie Morris. It was more than a day (actually it was mor like three weeks).

Every year we have people moaning about costumes and the supermarkets selling stuff. I have to admit the commercialisation  of the day frustrates, I personally don’t want our parents to waste money on costumes. We’ve in the last few years dressed up as characters from books we’ve been using in class. Mainly that’s sorted the issue. We’ve sent out cheap instructions to help parents make the costumes together. Making it a thing parents and children could do together for the most part was great. (we had spares in school just in case).

If you don’t want to dress up then don’t.

5 Tips for getting World Book Day right…

  1. Make it about fantastic books
  2. Share some amazing books
  3. Talk about wonderful books
  4. Enjoy using some brilliant books
  5. Oooh did I mention Books

Enjoy it…a day where you can explore brilliant books what’s not to love?

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I have to say the £1 books are really good this year as well.

Also don’t miss the BBC Teach Live Lesson on Thursday with the brilliant Cressida Cowell, Malorie Blackman and Rob Biddulph. All looking to help you dig into their brilliant books.

ENJOY…

 

 

 

Just write!

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Not written anything for ages and found myself in a class in Parklands Primary in Leeds. They were having 15 minutes free writing so I  picked up a pen and just wrote.

Forgot how much joy, just writing can be…

The Magic Library

If you don’t look carefully you would never know. It was, from the outside at least, just another boring old library full of dusty books and crusty old people looking for company on their long lonely days. Even if you went in you still might miss it, as the silence stifle your voice and you feel squashed.The slightest sound is met by a glare from the ancient librarian , she will pierce you with her steely blue eyes as she stares over the top of her half-moon spectacles. However if you dare to venture in, if you dare to wander off the beaten track to the corners long forgotten. You may if you’re lucky find the magic.

It won’t jump out at you, it takes a bit of work. If you pick up the right book, open it and carefully read the words hidden within the magic will surround you. It will sweep you up like a wave and send you careering into world unknown and adventures yet to be had. Monsters and magic will swirl around you. You will run, you may hide but you will not escape. You will lose days and explore mountainous peaks and delve into long forgotten dungeons. Until finally it will let you go and you will close the book with a deep sigh.

Then you will hunt for that next portal, hidden in the dusty quiet.

It’s not great but it was great fun to write, just write, without the spectres of success criteria or writing frameworks looming over like a cloud. I’ve not edited it. It is what is 10 minutes just splurging.  I read it to the class it worked pretty well as aread aloud.  (wish I has the skills to illustrate it.)

Made me reflect on writing in our classrooms. Do we create time and space to write? Do we let children sometimes write what they want? Do we let children really be writers.?

 

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