Angela replicates for adults the safety nets we know are vital for children. From Childline to the NSPCC, from the trusted Form Tutor to the kindly dinner lady, we expect a worried child to be comforted and protected. We do it all the time. I was on the gate this week and a small person presented himself. It was Tuesday, moved house on Monday and he couldn't remember how to get home. That's a pretty panicky place to be for an 11 year old so we rushed to Reception where Miss even extracted a smile from the sobbing lost soul as she made the necessary calls. Everyone needs an angel when they're in trouble, someone who'll reach out into the hostile world and map you to safety.
We've entertained another Civil Servant from the DfE this week as part of our mission to change the world for the better. He did three days, glued first to a friendly child and then a range of impossible jobs so he could see what we do to protect our communities from political whim. He admitted on arrival (it was a good job l warmed to him) to expecting a big city comprehensive to be a bit chaotic but was bowled over by our calm and happy vibe. He saw English, maths, art, geography, break and lunch duty, staff room life,timetable, data, inclusion, deaf support, the dreaded IER and even did some speed networking for the Year 10 careers gig. He liked the warmth and safety that he felt, and the care he saw in action. He also saw the budget. And what the future looks like.
But we talked about teacher retention and what to do to restock the classroom for the longer term, and stop teachers bailing out. I went off on one as per about intelligent accountability, assessment expectations and unscrupulous school leaders wringing the life out of young teachers but we also talked about the effect of the myriad routes into teaching and the ethical underpinnings of the profession. Except I called it a service, because I think that helps. Decentralised recruitment and training needs really tight principles and explicit expectations if we're to preserve something that was once taken for granted. Kindness, optimism, scholarship (let alone tea and queuing) don’t survive accidentally. Old git, moi?
Which seamlessly segues into part one of a limited series entitled Reasons We Might Miss Michael Willshaw. Himself talked eloquently this week about schools being the glue of a cohesive society which any selection interference will wreck. Go to it, Sir! All power to your irritating elbow! Unfortunately he also blamed local colleagues for not preventing a nasty fight out of hours recently. A tad unjust: these things are the devil to manage and he just wasn't there. Still, one out of two ain’t bad.
We had Year 11 maths and English night on this week and Year 10 careers speed networking with 40 volunteers. Wednesday night was the wonderful Shakespeare Schools Festival at the Greenwich Theatre, complete with an authentically Shakespearean audience, where our young people were slick and witty, Puck on a skateboard, top marks for Bottom. The Dream lives on.
Life should be better than it is for a lot of people. Women ought not to fear for their safety when they're on a date. Everyone should look out for one another and any of us should feel able to ask for help. Our Tallis community isn't perfect, but it’s characterised by genuine warmth not based on a spurious grit ‘n' resilience tick list. Our children have the right to expect kindness and a helping hand when they leave us, and throughout their lives. I'd be proud to think one of them thought up Ask for Angela. #NO MORE.