I have just read a fabulous book, ‘Golden Hill’ by Francis Spufford, which is set in New York in the eighteenth century. It is a commentary on human life with intricate themes varying from race, gender and class inequality to the need for all of us to be free. It is beautifully written and is an excellent Christmas stocking filler.
November is always a harsh, bleak month. As schools, we compound the pressure with a variety of ‘must have’ evenings – parents, certificate and governors, which means that Thursday gym sessions are a thing of the past. Student and staff interactions become increasingly fraught as the inevitable ‘colds’ increase proportionate to the lack of sunlight. We are on top of each other, a large dysfunctional family lurching towards mocks, marking and the carefully crafted annual report. I, rather like a character in one of my escape novels, find myself trying to break free of the ‘shackles’ of the current educational system. I am like a middle aged man approaching the dating scene. I am in danger of becoming desperate, seeking an unlikely educational date, an elixir of perfection, a perfect educational date that requires:
- A perfectly formed pert curriculum that meets the needs of all, not only the academic traditional curricula with alternative curriculums to be encouraged.
- A staff and student body that has a good equilibrium, a positive mind-set; a need for a resilience and flexibility that can cope with urgent, unpredictable change often with threats from other traditional models based on the whims of the latest educational secretary/ political advisors.
- A pot of money to support my essentials.
Of course, all of this has to be backed by the key male requisite, a financially sound independence that allows fun and frivolity. Does such a perfect system exist? I believe it does, but it needs investment, time and effort and is not a quick fix.
Like many who go on the dating websites, I fear this is going to end in disappointment or a brief tantalising excitement as you believe you are making progress only to have it dashed by data ‘nerds’ who hold you to account with nonsensical information, comparing ‘disadvantaged poorer students’ with ‘those from normal homes’ or ask you to grade students on farcical levels 9-1, which have not been written or agreed by those in charge of data, the exam boards.
My view of this disastrous educational date is that it clearly cannot and will not work with the huge number of issues, restrictions and baggage Mrs Education has. She is rather like a fading, bankrupt, morally inept rock star trying to return to a bygone, glamorous, Mr Chips era of the 1970s, when Britain was Great and the teaching profession was revered with schools and children knowing their place ranking in the world. No, this ‘Tinder’ tragedy needs to be consigned to the fantasy world and in the real world…
The headteacher has to carry on regardless of what we desperately seek. This is a broken, flawed system and at times a political football and as Kenneth Williams in ‘Carry on Cleo’ aptly states:
“Infamy! Infamy!! They’ve all got it in for me!”