Changing perspectives

I was not at school on Thursday. I find it hard when I’m not there, not because I don’t think the SLT can’t manage (they are more than capable and do an extremely good job) but because school is in my head all the time and I miss it. I have to think about so many things on so many different levels: from the needs of individual children and staff, finances, staffing issues, to the direction that the whole institution is moving. It becomes all consuming and I can’t switch off. At the very core of this is the fundamental belief that the children in our care have a right to the best learning chances, so that they can grow and develop into well rounded, well functioning and high achieving individuals.

Time away from the building is useful, even if the reason I’m not there is not a nice one (I had a hospital appointment). Thinking happens in mysterious ways. I mull on things, sometimes consciously, sometimes working on a problem in the very depths of my mind. When this happens I find that I have worked things out without realising it.

Friday was a good day. I met with a parent first thing to discuss his daughter’s tennis. This little girl is extremely talented and has been scouted by the county. What is extraordinary about her is that she is only in KS1. She trains before school a couple of days a week and dad was asking me if she could come into school late as his daughter was finding the early morning start difficult. I said no as the first part of the day is so important. I did, however, suggest that she could start the tennis half an hour later and bring his daughter straight to breakfast club so that she could sleep a bit longer and still be on time for school. Dad went away happy.

I then attempted to spend a bit of time clearing the mountain of paper that had appeared on my desk in my absence. Amongst these were the work scrutiny reports that the SLT had done when I was away the day before. I was impressed by the quality of their work, their thoroughness, fairness and the fact that they had already fed back to all the staff. They are driving forward the improvement agenda very successfully and I am proud of what they are achieving. This is also reflected in the quality of the learning that they were looking at. Again it reminded me just how far the school has moved.

I ate my lunch in the hall with the children. We have lots of new Reception children and they are delightful. They seem to be thoroughly enjoying the start of their school lives. It was interesting to see how many didn’t know how to use a knife and fork. The staff were sitting amongst them and helping and chatting. I sat with some of the older children and chatted with them.

There was an excited buzz around the school during lunch as it was our ‘Sports Day’ in the afternoon. Parents were starting to arrive and our Parents and Staff Association were busy preparing refreshments.

I went down to the support group to cover the teacher for his lunch break. That was interesting. I haven’t been in there for a while and the children let me know it. They were very unsettled by me being in with them and became very agitated and confrontational. It was as if their anxiety was manifesting itself quite literally in their bodies and they were unable to keep still. Two boys in particular were up and down out of their chairs while they were eating, distracted and distracting and I found it hard to get them to settle. Even small changes have a big impact for these children. I eventually managed to restore calmness by playing with the Lego with them until their teacher returned. He then had a tough afternoon. Friday means a two day gap for them and they find that difficult to manage. Their teacher has to hold this for them. Teaching these children is exhausting as they fill you up with all their anxiety, which you have to process for them and contain. Sometimes this spills out.

I managed to chat with some of the parents at the sports day but I had then to go to a meeting with the borough about a building project. This is exciting. I relish the opportunity to think really strategically and plan big. It was a good end to the week…

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