Alfred Wallis, The Schooner the Beata, Penzance, Mount’s Bay, and Newlyn Harbour
We bought a grand piano in the early spring and last week we launched it. We had a recital with pianists of many ages, guitarists, singers, films and so forth. It was quite wonderful, Chopin to Hendrix, Beethoven to Glass played by young people, staff, friends and a remarkable old boy. It was, in the best sense, a bit of a do - drinks on the concourse, posh nibbles. That was Thursday. Friday was a languages extravaganza for year 7, France v Spain in cooking, dance, sport, everything. Tallis beribboned, bedecked, singing and dancing on the concourse, Spanish-quality sunshine.
What else has happened as we sail for harbour? Year 8 have been to the Tate Modern. PE won a quality mark. Year 10 had a Directions Day to help them think about the future. We’ve interviewed young people about our three-year KS4. There’s been a Tour de Greenwich for year 7 cyclists and apprenticeships for Business students. We had year 12 taster week and geography field trips. The foyer designs starts to happen. Some staff are leaving, some changing roles, all are thanked, clapped and smiled on their way. We’ve had celebration assemblies – year 7 so enthusiastic they nearly missed lunch. The timetable is roomed, we ready ourselves for exam results and wonder how this term got to be quite so long.
In the week when the Trojan Horse inquiry reports, perhaps we should muse on our sun-loungers on where the manipulation of schooling structures has brought us. Autonomy is not an educational good of itself and neither is freedom. What joins us together is worth more than what sets us apart. We need the Nolan values of selflessness, honesty, objectivity, leadership, openness, integrity and accountability. We need the principles of public education to be publicly understood and agreed.
However, it is week 39 and I won’t solve that this term. I’m a fan of the Cornish poet Charles Causley, a former primary school teacher. He wrote a wonderful poem about the end of a school day whose opening words fit the end of term too:
At 4 o’clock the building enters harbour
All day it seems that we have been at sea
Now having lurched through the last of the water
We lie stone-safe beside the jumping quay.
The good ship Tallis has reached safe harbour for 2013-4 and now we’ll take a little shore leave. We’ll see what August brings and chart our next course from September. Wherever your dinghy takes you over the summer, I hope the weather is set fair for you and yours.