Archive for the ‘school’ Category

Running hell for leather into reading for pleasure

I think it would be fair to say that I tend to run headlong into things. Once I’ve decided I’ll do it, I just do it. This has had disastrous results at times – marriage and divorce springs to mind – but something good generally comes of it all – in that case a couple of kids who are pretty good company at times and a bit of wisdom, not to mention some great ideas for poems and stories.

So, at the beginning of the year I applied for a job as Creative Practitioner at a local comp – the remit being to encourage and enthuse year 8s about reading for pleasure. My interview was by a panel of six students, the teacher who heads up literacy at the school and the regional manager of the project as a whole – he’s called the Creative Agent – what a great title.

I was thrilled to be appointed and rushed headlong towards the project as is my wont. However, after our first planning meeting I had to meet with HR – they needed all my details for the enhanced CRB check – now you see where I’m going with this… weeks have passed… 6 in fact. Then I discover that the local council sat on the paper work for 4 weeks before passing it on. CRB reckon to clear applications within 4 weeks of receipt – at this rate the summer term will be over!

I was really impressed with the group I am supposed to be working with, maybe there is hope for the future after all – and I’m not talking about a carefully selected group of high achievers either, the group are made up from a cross-section of pupils, some ‘reluctant readers’ or dyslexic, some may have ADHD etc – although to me they just seemed like regular human beings – which I think is the great thing about outsiders going in to schools to work with pupils.

Given the constraints of the curriculum at the moment teachers seem hard pushed, targets get in the way, meeting guidelines, statementing children in order to gain extra funding bla bla bla.

The thing about what I can do is that I flit in and flit out none the wiser, so if some kid is known as having  some kind of ‘statement’ I’ve no need to know, I just get on with the task in hand.

I have great plans about what to do and how to approach the project. The head of dept wants a reading cafe in the school, I want to get them blogging and writing and to feel free to read whatever they want to read rather than what they feel they should be reading. I LOVE to read, whether it’s the Metro for a good shout or something deep and meaningful.

If only that one piece of paper would come through and allow me to get stuck in there!

School Reunion

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Well here we are – some, not all of us. Our old school building is now home to the junior school and the head teacher had kindly opened up to let us have a wander round for an hour or so. Some of us found our way back to the old rose garden and we took a few photos on the bench. We wandered around the old grounds and marvelled at how we were expected to play rounders on such a steep hill.

I had not returned with trepidation at all, but it is fair to say that some of the girls had. Whilst I was happily drifting through my school years (well not happily all of the time, obviously, a good helping of teenage anxst too) some of my fellow pupils were agonising over home, school, exams, life in general. My demons were well and truly dealt with as they appeared, for others they lay in wait within the walls of the old school building. That aside – we had a massive turn out and the general concensus seemed to be that it was a good day. A fair amount of verbal teacher bashing went on, although some were very fondly remembered. Frau F the German teacher joined us for lunch and she was just like one of the girls. She, along with one of my school friends who is now Director of Public Health for a health authority, helped form my vaguely feminist/political ideals. Frau F’s oral lessons often comprised of translating the Guardian Women’s page into German – I thank her for that!

The day went all too quickly, but was exhausting. We hope to meet up in London sometimes to have another catching-up session. The general topic tended to be ‘you haven’t changed at all.’ The most remarkable thing for me was to discover that for the most part we slipped straight back into our school girl roles from 25 years before and that despite the years it was really as if we had only been apart for a few months. Some of the friendships I formed then have never been equalled since and I sincerely hope that this time I don’t let them slip away.

And how about that thing ‘success’? The main topic was family or partners, whether we were settled after all these years – quite a few girls have packed in the high powered jobs and started new ventures, a dress shop, art degree, homeopathy, pure and simple parenting, even the ‘oldest holiday rep in England’ and the Lovely J-A, our old head girl, has packed it all in to be a writer so I hope to rekindle that friendship and have some long talks with her. Writing? Have I done any? Not for weeks.