I love school first thing in the morning, it’s so still. There are a few of us that like to get to school really early. I find it is my most productive time of day as there are very few, if any, interruptions. In the winter there is a dark cosiness which slowly brightens as the sun comes up and in the summer it is that delicious, crisp freshness in the air. The building feels as if it is preparing, in quiet anticipation, for the hustle and bustle of the day ahead.
I got in early this morning to catch up on paperwork. I am a bit of a data nerd and I love playing with all the figures. I was rubbish at maths at school. I got my ‘C’ grade at ‘O’ level and I have to say it was because I was taught badly. No-one ever explained to me when I didn’t understand. I love maths now, it has a beauty and grace and pureness about it. I love the patterns in it. As a Head I think it helps to be a bit obsessed with order and tidiness as schools can so easily descend into chaos. Corridors can start to clog up, erroneous bits of paper appear and start to form piles and so on. I don’t generally nag my staff but I do nag about tidiness. Our children live in chaos and they deserve to be learning in a well organised environment.
Once the children were in my morning was taken up with a child protection issue which took a while to resolve. In the meantime my new laptop (my previous one had blown up last week) arrived and was installed. That was a good feeling as I had felt as if I had lost a limb without it. Like I said before, we are so dependent on technology now it is very difficult to work without it.
Today was another stressful day of awaiting ‘judgements’ as our KS2 writing was being externally moderated. We had decided to do the internally marked papers this year as a fair few of our children really don’t cope well with test situations, no matter how hard we work at preparing them. They tend to ‘freak out’ and have a crisis of confidence. I think this relates to the attitude to education on the estate. Being clever at school is not seen as a good thing. My Y6 teacher was really stressing. She is an outstanding teacher and gets amazing results but like teachers who really care she was beside herself all day, worrying that her assessments were innacurate in some way. So much depends on these results. I tried to reassure her but actually I was feeling just as anxious as she was, not because I didn’t think she had got them right but because it is just so important that outsiders recognise this. It impacts on the school in all sorts of ways. Reputation being one of them. And my school needs a good reputation because out on the estate it doesn’t have one. And that is not because we aren’t a good school (and I ‘m not talking in terms of OFSTED gradings) but because we are the estate school. The estate has a bad reputation therefore so do we.
I was walking in the corridor just as Y3 were coming in from play when I realised that one of the Y3 boys, who is known to have a temper, was ‘loitering’ outside the classroom kicking a stone about. He wasn’t kicking it hard or at anyone or anything in particular but I could see that he was cross. He had his cross face on. I asked him what was the matter. He was cross because another child had ‘told him off’ when he felt he hadn’t done anything. His temper was really out of proportion with the incident but this child lives with a very violent older brother and sometimes I know that he is on the receiving end of this. The child who had told him off had in fact been interfering and so I had a conversation with both of the children about this. The ‘interfering’ child went back into class and got on with their learning. The cross child did not. He was still cross.
While I had been talking to the children I had noticed out of the corner of my eye that the familiar ‘cheeky grin’ (remember him?) had come quietly out of the classroom and was watching intently what was going on. When the other child had gone back in and I was still trying to persuade the cross one he really didn’t need to be so cross, I noticed him slip back into the classroom and then reappear a few seconds later with a piece of paper in his hand. He went and sat next to the cross child, lent gently over with her piece of paper and started reading it to him. I couldn’t really see what it said or hear what he was saying as he was almost whispering but there was a particularly calm air about the two of them so I just watched. After a minute or two cross child didn’t seem so cross anymore and the two of them got up and walked into the classroom. About two seconds later he came flying back out to me with his piece of paper to show me what it was. He totally blew me away. Written on the paper was a series of strategies for ‘calming down’ that he had been given in his session with his ELSA (emotional literacy support assistant). He had read them to the cross child to help him calm down so that he could go back and get on with his learning. He read them to me (his reading was excellent!) and explained how each one worked. He then informed me that it was what he did to help another particularly angry child in his class to calm down. I was gobsmacked. He was brilliant and had managed to get the cross child back into his learning where I had not. I told him that. He beamed from ear to ear and skipped back into the classroom. I was so excited about what had just happened that I almost ran up the corridor to share it with my SLT.
The wait for the results of the KS2 writing moderation was agony. They took so long. Eventually we were summoned to hear the outcome. Not a single level changed, every judgement agreed with. It was now the turn of my Y6 teacher to beam from ear to ear.