Did you know?
An OECD survey suggest that British children are amongst the most anxious in the world and it seems that school is a key factor in this. That's very troubling. Perhaps there's a link with the other story that connected with me this week- the marginalising of the Arts. For years I've been telling anyone who appears to be listening that school life shouldn't be dominated by Maths and English. I'm the first to recognise that young people need to be numerate and literate but the extra demands of the new GCSE and the insistence that both are required for access to just about any course is too much. It places huge pressures on teachers and school leaders- but especially on the children. I have never heard that John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Adele, Tracy Emin, Michelangelo, the lads from Westlife, Anthony Hopkins, Kiera Knightly or Micky Flanagan excelled in English and Maths.( Odd collection of names. Forgive me) But they aren't or weren't half good at Arty things. More power to the elbows, the expressions and the voices of the artists I say.
I'm proud of the new Arts centre that's being half built at Rushcliffe, the great facilities at Arnold Hill and the appointment of2 Drama teachers at Farnborough ( despite the fact that a building designed by a firm called "Inspired Spaces" did not include a Drama studio ). As a trust we've been clear. The Arts matter. They let people develop and shine in ways that Maths and English are unlikely to. Perhaps if they were encouraged more children would be less anxious.
The INSET Day
The third Trust INSET day will take place on Monday February 26th at Arnold Hill Academy. In the first year we focussed upon employability. It made sense given that one of the trust's strategic objectives is to develop the most employable young people in the country. The event was held at Farnborough. At the centre of the 2017 event was the challenge of preparing children for the new type of GCSEs. Remembering information had surged to the forefront of educational practice. Bit of a contradiction to the idea of preparing for the world of work in the age of Google- thanks Mr. Gove- but we need to do everything possible to enable pupils to get the best grades.
Feedback from last year's event suggested that people with similar roles across the trust wanted more time together. That's what the 2018 INSET day will focus upon. After a brief input from me there will be whole range of opportunities to see what others have been up to and a chance share the best practice. You'll also be able to share problems and perhaps find solutions together.
We also plan to ensure the queues for lunch are shorter!
I thought I should write a few words about the demise of Carillion. The fact that they are in liquidation has come as a bit of a shock given that they built and managed the facilities at Farnborough. Through the PFI scheme Clifton got a new school but it is occupied for 25 years under strict terms. The school - now academy - pays for the services of the caretaking and cleaning team from 6.30am until 6.00pm for term time only. The LA and DfE pay a set amount to cover the mortgage / lease.
The site team have been Carillion employees and it was a relief when I found they had turned up for work on Monday morning. They were working on the assumption that the government would cover their wages until a new service provider would soon be engaged. It turns out they were right. Their wages have been covered and a new employer is on the way. An uncomfortable experience for all employed by Carillion - and for those dependent upon the services they provide.
I do hope the discomfort is nearly over. It leads to a big debate as to whether or not the private sector should be drawn into the delivery of public services. I won't make a contribution at this stage.
The state of the nation
At the start of yesterday I heard Michael Gove being interviewed on Today. "I bet you're thinking, come on Govey tell us the answer" he said. Nick Robinson responded by saying "I would NEVER call you Govey". This is of course a Minister of State we are talking about. But then it's the same chap who said during the Euro debate that the British people were fed up of listening to experts.
I drove home last night and the new bulletin reported that Nigel Farage now wants a second referendum on Europe. Nigel Farage! Then I woke up during Question Time hearing Piers Morgan saying that Arsenal lost against Forest on Sunday and even though he was disappointed he was not suggesting the match should be replayed.
What a set of egos. Sadly they are influential egos. The biggest decision taken by the people of this country is degenerating into farce. I personally would like a second referendum and would also like a vote on whether Morgan or Farage should be allowed to broadcast to the nation.
Not sure what brought that rant on. Perhaps it's me feeling that systems should be more powerful than individuals. I'm leaving the trust but the system will ensure that things get stronger after I've gone. More to follow.
Summary of 2017
Donald Trump, David Davis, OFSTED, Andy Murray's injury, Wigan relegated.
Shows and trips, links with businesses, enthusiastic staff all over the place, optimism and Wigan top of the League 1.
Bring on 2018.
Thanks everyone. And have a good holiday.
As Noddy Holder the Bard of the Black Country screamed "It's Christmas".
5 things to be proud of
People in education get hit with sticks too often. I see people trying hard to get the best for children. Day after day, year after year. Here are just 5 things I've seen over the last term that show this in action:-
- I went to the Arnold Hill Showcase last night. It was great. Angus's rendition of "The street where you live" was a classic moment. These things don't just happen. They need organising. They need time. They need energy. Next week the Farnborough and Rushcliffe concerts will be wonderful. Thanks to all involved.
- The Farnborough staff have bounced back from the OFSTED setback with a remarkable team spirit. Resilience come live. 700 young people turn up regardless of the views of inspectors.
- The Arnold Hill staff have spent most of the term waiting for an OFSTED visit. It's draining. Will the call come today? Tomorrow? It came. People arrived. People left. 1500 young people still left to teach and guide.
- Rushcliffe looks like a building site. Lorries, cranes, dust and noise. Where do we park? Again - everyone just gets on with it. It's an inconvenience.
- Clubs and after school activity keep going after school despite illness, tiredness, dark nights. Drama, choirs, football, rugby, science, reading........ On it goes.
I like people. They keep doing their best. Thanks.