I started on the Education White Paper. On page 11 it declares that autonomy isn’t apathy, which is interesting as I didn’t know they were alternatives. However, two can play at that game. Lettuce isn’t fishcakes. English isn’t French. Lesson 2 isn’t hometime and Mr Nicholls isn’t Ms Minnicucci. We’ve been a bit busy at Tallis so it may be that I haven’t read the whole thing yet.
It's tricky settling to read a long document (124 pages) at school and evenings are a bit full-on as term ends (and I go to bed at 9.30 because of advanced age). So, I plonked myself down at the cabinet table to make a start on Monday, after leadership briefing and year 11 assembly. Then a civil servant came a-fact-finding to talk about staffing pressures and after that an upset parent.
Tuesday was bound to be more productive, so the WP roosted on the table overnight. Only what with the Head of Maths, year 10 assembly, more parents, break duty, meeting the union reps, tracking down a child, talking to the Chief Scientist about the future (physicists, they see the future everywhere), trying to get out on lunch duty, meeting the Deputies, writing to other parents, leadership group meeting and then Governors, I didn’t make much headway. Certainly my goal of being able to refer the WP knowledgeably at Governors was properly fettled, so thank goodness they postponed discussion. Wednesday?
Business Manager and I had to catch up then there were farewells at the briefing. I teach on Wednesday, which was Community Day this week (Tallis Law) so we talked about the foundation of law in ancient religions and meandered through the byways of Leviticus. The Iceland trip needed discussing, then a different union rep dropped in. Jess came to tell me how well she’s doing, then there was the secret photograph for Mr Quigg’s farewell. All 300 of year 7, being noisily secret on the yard in plain sight: it’s the thought that counts. Year 8's Great Debate couldn’t judge itself, then I visited the scientists in person which they civilly reciprocated an hour later. After that the Fashion Show: if only I’d got there sooner I could have eaten more of year 10’s canapés. Then home.
Thursday morning after the 0745 meeting didn’t turn up I put the damn thing in a folder to take home to read on the train a week on Monday. I predicted that what with the saying goodbyes, writing the bulletin, sounding out old stagers, getting through the list of 24 things to do before term ended (reached number 12), seeing a parent, trying to solve a wicked (as in currently insoluble) problem, meeting a maths man, an English man and the HR advisor again that I might conquer the next 101 pages. I’m not telling you this to annoy, just to explain why it is that this game-changing paper hasn’t been committed to the Roberts memory yet. Of course, if the SoS had taken the chance with 1100 school leaders two weeks ago and actually told us what was going to happen, then I’d know more.
Just in case you’re worried, talking to unions is normal once a half term and the HR chap is a blessing. Science are hatching a plan, always good. But on Wednesday night I saw the Fashion Show and it was just wonderful. Dancers, singers and models, led by the sixth form designers and supported by media, art and technology made for an evening of joy and wonder, with teachers’ small children dancing in the aisles. Most wonderfully, a repeat of the year 9 dance company’s Run Boy Run first shown at Christmas. Fast and moving with an explosion of exuberant speed and leaping acrobatics at the end, it’s made hard- hearted old me cry twice now. Again!
Chuckle and marvel all we like, but the truth is that the White Paper will require careful reading and a lot of thought. Governors are meeting on a Saturday soon to talk about it. Autonomy isn’t apathy, but interdependence isn’t compromise and democracy isn’t under-aspiration. Tinkering isn’t strengthening and deregulation isn’t determination. Legislation isn’t a leaping year 9 who tried to behave so he can be allowed to dance. Forgive me if I’ve postponed reading more.