Something a bit different……a poem

(Just for something a bit different….here is a poem I wrote recently…..)

No One Knows Her Name

Dazzling emerald eyes, linger,
a little too long, pleading,
a flicker of expectation.
Eyes that have seen war, torment, rage, relentless revenge,
her mother stoned by veiled sinners casting their fears.

A girl forgotten, shunned but not invisible.
Porcelain skin stripped of emotion,
ravaged bare, raided of decency,
a voice pillaged, forced into humility, solitude and silence.

A maroon sackcloth harshly shadows her beauty,
austere and uninviting, a purposeful deterrent.

She steals away to clandestine meetings in a schoolroom for the brave,
huddled in hushed whisperings of secrecy,
martyrs for knowledge.

Education is power,
the key to escape,
but so elusive.

Fear of being caught, fear of being found out, fear of being seen,
to be discovered would surely mean a beating, torture or death.
Her arms deeply scarred by self-inflicted lines, tangible reminders for every lashing.
She longs for love,
not the rancid stench of arrogance – haughty and unyielding,
the caress of tenderness a foreign notion.
Envious of those Western girls in magazines,
so much colour, frivolity and gaiety,
where tomorrow is not a gift but an expectation.

In her world, it is adverse to be a girl, a misfortune,
covetous to dream,
forbidden to aspire.

She knows what is possible – that is the problem.
For her, opportunity lurks from every shadow,
clutching at the stark, empty corners,
buried beneath the heavy burdens,
but still in forgotten places, too far removed.
The sounds of nightmares – shouts, cries, cursing, screams, terror – her reality.

We avert our gaze, closing our ears, pretending not to know.

No one can touch her soul,
where a small spark of hope and the promise of freedom lingers.

But what is freedom worth,
when you can never really have her?

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Moving on in our learning journey………,

We had Diana Pardoe in again today.  I cannot tell you how fantastic it was to have her all day, just for our school.  I contemplated letting our partnership know so they could send their teachers, but today I wanted it just to be about us – to focus on what we were doing well and where we needed to go next.  It was just what we needed.

This morning was spent doing a learning walk, looking at the classroom environment, and talking to the children.  The children tell the truth about what is going on, they are the real litmus test…….

After the whole walk around, she then fed-back to many of the teachers (who could get away for half an hour before lunch with shuffling around of staff).  Through an open and honest conversation of what she had seen that was good practice, she then talked us through where she thought we needed to be going next.

The staff are amazing.  We are constantly talking about ‘what next’ and they don’t even flinch anymore.  They know we are always developing, which means we will always be refining and changing our practice.  They know it is about seeking to improve every aspect and that with this ethos comes the understanding that we can always get better therefore, we will always be ‘tweaking’ things.

It was powerful having most of the teachers in on the conversation so that they could all hear about what we were doing well as a school and then hear what it was that we could do to further embed the good practice that is currently going on.

Di also did an assembly for KS1 and for KS2 both focused on learning and matched perfectly for where the children’s understanding is.

The day ended with a parent’s presentation.  There were just over twenty parents in attendance (about 10%) – considering most of our parents work, this was a good turnout for the time that we were able to offer this.

Truly a day full of learning and thinking about the future.  It is so exciting to be able to clearly see where we are heading and what type of children we are trying to help develop.  With parent’s support, there is no reason why we shouldn’t reach our goal.  Even more positive is the fact that all the teachers are on board, they understand the importance Di’s philosophy and the theories and research behind it.

We are all clear about where we are going and it is ‘thrilling’ to work towards it as a community…..together we will get there more completely and quickly….

Thank you, Di!

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Practice makes Batman….


This is our new front entrance display. We have been talking a lot about Batman and how he has to practice and put in a great deal of effort
to be who he is.

Since this morning it has already created a stir of conversation with the children……just what it was meant to do!

Mindset……it is all about your attitude…

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Keeping Momentum……

It’s about this time that everyone starts to feel it.  The end of the term is in reach but still seems so distant.  You can see people getting tired, that sign when staff finally sit down at the end of the day and their body just flops.  Tonight during the staff meeting we were all fighting to keep awake…..but we keep going.  As teachers we can never stop….we come in battling sickness and tiredness but give it 110% – well here they do at least!

It got me thinking to day about keeping up the momentum.  How do we do it?  Not only in our day to day routines but the excitement and engagement that we continually pour into our children?

At the moment the momentum of change in learning is moving at a rapid pace.  Eventually it will slow down, but how do you keep a ‘momentum’ going all the time?  In school, things always have to keep moving forwards and looking to the future  – pace may slow, but spirits and enthusiasm always have to be constant.  I suppose that with change there is always a momentum of some kind (either positive or negative!), it is just about keeping things in perspective and under control.

In schools ‘momentum’ can never cease……we always must keep ‘momentum’ going and going and going.  The children must be inspired and engaged through creative approaches to the curriculum.  No matter what, we never stop, we always keep momentum going….we always find a way…..that is just what we do…..

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Snow…..glorious snow……..

We woke up to snow this morning.  Something unexpected but a wonderful surprise.  I love snow….like a child….I love how it makes everything look…..beautiful.  The only downside is having to drive on the back rural roads that never see the gritting trucks.

At school, the excitement from the children at the first snow couldn’t be contained.  “Will we be allowed to go outside?”  The continual question from every child first thing this morning.

I had re-written my snow and ice risk assessment in November, preparing staff for the first snowfall of winter.  In it was the process for shutting the school, clearing pavements, and at the end a full breakdown of letting children out in the snow.

When snow really is a one time a year (if you are lucky!) occurrence, how can you even question whether or not children can go outside?  Of course!  And yes, we will have a snowball fight……the headteacher will even join in!

If you have ground rules in place, clear instructions for where snowball fights can take place and advice about how the game should be played -consequences handed out  immediately if any rules are broken – and the children will have a wonderful and memorable playtime!  As long as all the staff are aware of the rules and keep an eye out, then everything should go along swimmingly!

Before break-time, I ensured that I ran through all the rules with the children during our collective worship.  Rules about boots, mittens, hats, coats, rocks, ice, no running, keeping snowballs below the chest, etc, etc.  We had many rules in place, but once we were all out on the field, it was wonderful to see all 200 children from reception all the way to year 6 build snowmen together and throw snowballs together (in the dedicated area of course!).  There were no accidents or injuries which is unlike most other play times.  There weren’t even the odd scuffles or tears.  Everyone played together and everyone had a smile on their face.  After an extended playtime (yes, we broke the rules on that one!) we only had a few cold fingers…..but they thawed out after a while.

So, for the headteachers who say that the children can’t go out in the snow…….do your risk assessment, get your staff out there with the children, and join in the snowball fight!

You’ll be glad you did and the children will remember it for a very long time.  Stop letting health and safety stop you from having plain, old fashioned fun……allow children to be children!

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Models for Change……..

We had another first/second year headship session today.

These sessions are great, not only for the fact that you get to network with other new/newish headteachers, but that you get to debate about key pieces of research and be able to discuss issues with very experienced educators.  I’m really surprised that there aren’t more headteachers involved!

Today we discussed a range of things.  But, one of the key issues was that of change.  Now, I’ve discussed change often here on my blog.  We looked at three different change management tools/theories.  It is interesting to read about these processes to deal with change, however when you dig down to it, do you really follow a method step-by-step?  Or do you just deal with change as and when it comes?  Isn’t change dealt with according to the context?

I understand the ideas behind these ‘change management tools,’ but really can we stick to something point by point, especially dealing with something so unpredictable as ‘change’?  Understandably, on reflection we will be able to see that we have incorporated many of the steps from one model rather than another.  However, it is clear that all successful ‘changes’ have included key traits;  such as transparency, clear vision, incorporating everyone’s ideas, etc, etc.

A concerning statistic about change that was claimed in one of these papers was that 70% of all change was unsuccessful.  What constitutes success?

There are different types of change – superficial change and embedded change.  Is superficial change ever necessary or is it always better to look into the future and only work towards embedded changed?

We always talk about ‘quick wins’ as a new headteacher.  Aren’t these ‘quick wins’ mostly superficial?  Or can we have ‘quick wins’ that can also be embedded?

Change… is always there…….it is always inevitable.

Do you follow a model for change?

Most of you will know about the great book that discusses change and hopes to make it more manageable….Who Moved My Cheese?

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DFE Character Awards…….

I have spent hours putting together an application for the Character Awards from the DFE.  Character development is what we do best!  It is the ‘thing’ that I know our school excels at. We literally buzz with it…..

But, like all applications, space is limited and you only have a certain amount of words (characters, I found out!), that you can use.  I had written a great piece for my first answer, thinking that the limit was 1500 words, but realised too late it was only 1500 characters! My biggest challenge is fitting everything in that I want to say.

If you don’t try, you aren’t in for a chance of being recognised.  Our school, like most others, could put such a prize to amazing use!  It is rare to have such a lump sum of money to spend…..We really could do so much with it.

The thing is, I’m sure there will be hundreds and hundreds of applications……many the same, trying to shout about how ‘character development’ is a part of the culture.  How do you stand out?  How do you ensure that your application catches their eye?  How do you put the ‘buzz’ into words?  It is something you have to feel and experience for yourself.

To everyone who applied, I wish you the best.  I’m not holding my breath, but the spark of anticipation lingers……..

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