Things at school have been unbelievably busy it feels like I hardly have time to breathe. There are so many major things that I have to lead and manage or be part of on behalf of the school at the moment that I hardly know where to start half the time. I hate the way that these things pull me away from the learning and the children.
There is a lot of political maneuvering going on in my LA which feels very uncomfortable; there are exciting community initiatives led by us which are, however, very time consuming, and there is the challenge of getting my school performing at its very best. There is the nightmare of ensuring that I have enough teachers to teach the classes in September. Recruitment into schools like mine is very hard. People simply don’t want to work in a school that has so many challenges unless they are exceptional and sadly there don’t seem to be many of those locally.
Keeping me sane is the fact that I am having lunch with the children from the support group every day. They are delightful. One of them is having tempers as we have had to change the staffing in the group. He throws things and shouts and swears and is constantly saying ‘I don’t care’ to everything we say. I have a good relationship with this child and can usually lure him out of his strop by using humour and making him laugh. The other day he was stropping on the floor kicking his arms and legs around and being abusive so I got on the floor and copied him. He looked at me as if I was mad. I pointed out that he looked the same as me. He grinned and calmed immediately. The other two children in my office were laughing at the pair of us.
Later on I read him Pierre by Maurice Sendak. Pierre constantly shouts ‘I don’t care’ and ends up being eaten by a lion. He insisted on shouting all the ‘I don’t care’s’ and the next time he stropped and yelled that he didn’t care I called him Pierre and he stopped and grinned. This child is so fragile. He can’t bear to make mistakes. The emotional effort of writing is overwhelming for him. Yet he is making progress in his learning. We have to scaffold so precisely and one slight error of judgement on our part and he tumbles into an abyss. We then throw him a rope, which he tries to ignore but finds irresistible. He just wants to be contained, to feel safe, loved. We are, of course, working very closely with his parents but this is proving challenging.
Some of the children’s short lives are full of more horror and tragedy than most of us will ever experience. Sometimes more unbelievable than any film script. But they are very real, and we continue to work to support them.
There are tragedies waiting to unfold too. We have some very ill parents and carers. One we know will die; probably before the end of the year as she has a very aggressive cancer. When she does, her daughter who is six, will be orphaned.