It’s been a while since I posted on here, but it’s nice to be back. For me, writing the blog has has been squeezed out by the realities of work, family and the strange, elusive challenge of doing anything with even the vaguest enthusiasm during the grey month of January. But, fear not, February is round the corner; new life is on its way.
Strange, however, that this drought came at a time where the juggernaut of educational reforms continues apace- with a wide-eyed Michael Gove at the steering wheel, peddle to the metal. Most recently, we have had the start of a curriculum review, plus the emergence of more and more proposals for free schools, alongside a steady creep of other schools adopting Academy status. Oh, and the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb – finger ever on the pulse – made a speech about the importance of Latin.
On a personal note, what is striking about so many of these reforms is that, as yet, they have changed little – if anything – about what happens within my school and within my classroom. As a teacher in a fairly straightforward community school, with the simple aim of taking in the children on our patch and teaching them well; with no plans to change status or to opt out of our local partnerships (nor, for that matter, to sack the French teacher and see if there’s anyone on our patch who can speak Caesar’s tongue), the frantic whirl of reform and change is so distant to be almost other-worldly.
Watching, while the Education Secretary ploughs ever onwards, feels odd – a bit like sitting, feet up, cuppa in hand, gazing at a twisting tornado on the horizon. The only times the Gove-storm has come close to our school was when the posh school down the road – the one that tempts the brightest kids with lap-tops – tried to become an Academy and failed (oh, how we chuckled); when a missive from the man himself said there were various bits of paper and forms which used to be important but were now less so (oh, how our Head cheered); and when we figured out that budgets will be incredibly tight and that the fabled Pupil Premium has turned out to be the most significant – yet considerably less successful – exercise in decoy and deception since Operation Mincemeat (oh, how predictable).
Perhaps I should be grateful for small mercies, for the fact that Gove hasn’t got up close and personal. But I’m not. Instead, I’m left with a mix of trepidation and annoyance. Trepidation because my fear is the worst is on its way – the golden years of investment in community schools are gone. In terms of cuts, we ain’t seen nothing yet.
And annoyance because nearly eight months in, Gove and Gibb have said next to nothing about schools like mine; good schools who open the doors wide to whoever is in their area, with decent staff who care deeply about their children, with parents who give their time to support the school, with deep roots in the community (a word that is hard to define, but you know it when you see it – or when you don’t).
Not a jot has been spoken of the goodness of community schools, funded from the public purse, working successfully with other schools and with local friends and partners. For all the coalition blather about ‘Big Society’, they seem to care so little for what community schools do.
So, a little late I admit, off we head into 2011 – a year of change, upheaval and protest. Let battle commence.