Friday, 19 April 2013

The top line of this blog is not a joke

Q: Where would you find Stevie Wonder and Vincent Van Gogh battling it out with underwater sea creatures in space?

Now, your initial reaction does not surprise me.  You may well think that I am recounting a subterranean / intergalactic duel between men of sensual impairment-driven hyper creativity and output. You could be forgiven for thinking that someone has uncovered an as-yet-unpublished HG Wells masterpiece waiting to be transformed into a kindle-friendly format.   Well, you're off the mark...somewhat.

Allow me to make your lives, and your guess work, easier.

I am writing this whilst sat less than ten feet from a Roman fort, a collection of 6 feet square rangoli mosaics, an A3 anthology of moon poetry, story maps and recipes for the gingerbread man, whilst today's drumming lessons take place.  Furthermore, in the two classrooms closest to me, some children are writing the most detailed descriptions of the respiratory system I have seen since the 1989  bumper edition of the Lancet, whilst others are creating rap songs about all of the planets in the solar system (it is indeed, "all about Neptune - Neptune - Neptune").

I can see nursery heading off across the fields to tend the plants and crops they have planted in the woods, and year 5 are presenting their speeches on conservation.  After play, our key stage 2 will break down into smaller groups studying photography, chess, eco-care, web design,planting sweet peas, the work of Andy Warhol, alongside the 5-a-side league that has belatedly altered its team names away from Ashton Gate / robin puns.

So, you may well ask, what on earth has all this to do with the abode of the Picasso trigger fish, the largest junkyard known to womankind, a bunch of sunflowers and the pensmith of "Superstition"?  I'm glad you asked.

Far from battling for supremacy in some of nature's most hostile terrains, these topics sit easily side by side in our curriculum for term 5.  Key stage 1 are studying the lives of famous people who made a difference (why David Bowie, Paddy MacAloon or Jeff Lynne weren't in there I will never know #curriculumrevision); years 3 and 4 are tackling space, whilst our older friends dive straight into their eco water topic.  All around me hang / sit / reverberate / live examples of all the creative, exciting, energetic ways in which our curriculum lives and breathes around our entire environment.

Yet a curriculum is only so much.  There needs to be more to make a lifeblood of a school.  Primary schools, macrocosms of this BIG society no-one can quite fathom, need a curriculum of emotion and wellbeing in order to be successful - citizens keep this world safe just as much as academics advance it.  Sometimes, you have to engineer it, but if the foundations are firm and the conditions right, it happens as if by magic.

Already today, I have awarded 60+ certificates, many of which (awarded by people other that regular classteacher) praised children for being nothing more than the outstanding citizens of our school; one class is celebrating their 100% attendance for the week, whilst another curses their 99.6%; a group of children are walking on clouds as they are off to share their lunch with the Princess of Dark-ness on the Golden table; the administrator is chuffed as someone quietly left her a cake on her mouse mat, and the NQT has insisted that today is bizarre hat Friday for the staff.  Lifeblood.  Absolute lifeblood.  When much union-season pontificating has been deciated to "curriculum issues", I'm quite proud to say we have no issue with ours.

Rarely one to dip my toe into the seedy, germ infested pond of politics, I can not stay completely quiet on the thorny issue of curriculum, so shall state simply thus.  Whitehall, in an era of thrift, paid consultancy to the tune of several thousand K to write a curriculum no-one wants.  I could have saved you thousands; my curriculum would have consisted of 1 single sheet of paper, with one of my daughter's drawings in the bottom corner, and some of my son's moshi monster stickers and notes on the back, bearing the legend:

"Do nothing but the very best by the children you are privileged to serve."

That'll be £severalthousand please.

Or let's call it a bottle of wine.  Decent stuff mind, no HoC plonk.

I could go on ad infinitum, but then I would miss the chance to play in reception's new bug hotel whilst wearing the fez my son feels is a sure fire winner in the staffroom.  Therefore,

That is all.