Anyone looking at the diary on the Tallis 50 site will know that I have signally failed in this task. It started off longer and vaguely elegantly worded but has now descended into a sort of gruff telegraphese which those in charge have had to hassle me to finish as I’d lost heart. The best I can hope is that it works in the future as a sort of record of what a school year’s like. The diary – as opposed to the year - is actually not very interesting at all, while being absolutely fascinating in another dimension.
It’s a bit like asking a teenager ‘what did you do at school today?’ and being met with a grunt that means – this stretch of time was important to me. It’s been interesting in a way I’m still processing. You wouldn’t understand, and I’m not sure I do, yet.
The diary was another attempt to encapsulate what good schools do. They breath, they sing, they hum over a sort of heartbeat of their own. They are reliable, solid, steady but also surprising, flexible and a bit unpredictable in the right way. The way other people measure schools is wrong, but the way we measure them is impossibly unpindownable, about character and ethos, yes, but about the feel.
Anyway. Final weeks of term are always showcases for character or characters. Teachers are hauling themselves to that finish line, other staff looking ahead to a tidier new year which, in real terms is minutes away. Children are irritable but vaguely excited.
The added gift this year has been the heatwave, a sure sign of the climate disaster to come, but also similar to the great three-week heat of ’76 when I was in the fourth year (year 10 in old money). I actually don’t remember much about it except a vague disappointment that it didn’t happen the following year when I had more time for it. This week’s heat was extraordinary, and we only had about half the children in school, due to what was, I think, inevitably poor quality government messaging. Our blessed building is large and mostly well ventilated, cool in some parts but too hot in others. For for the children there was enough shade and the chance to sit under a veranda, a tree, or indoors in the cool of the hall and talk.
I insisted on staying open for two reasons. First, because schools should be open. We must be completely reliable organisations, at the heart of society, calm and consistent especially for children who yearn to find that in adults. Second because our big space, no matter how hot block 1 got, is cooler and airier than a crowded flat with no garden. Children deserve us when the going gets tough. And besides, end of year awards assemblies gotta happen.
So my thanks to the teachers who saw their colleagues in other schools sent home early, but struggled with our inconsistent air-handling and PFI response systems. My thanks to the premises staff on the ground who worked so hard to help us, and my thanks to the community who made a new memory together. No thanks to the Tory leadership candidates who’ll dump the green levy and sacrifice us all in their mendacious pursuits. My thanks to the architects of Tallis 50: we’ve had a great year. If you’d like a copy of our souvenir booklet do call into reception or email me. It’s an easy read.
My thanks to everyone aboard HMS Tallis As the year ends and we enter harbour, especially to those who disembark for good this year. They’ve made their mark and we are better for their company on the voyage.
And my thanks to this remarkable school. Together, we have our imperfections. We’re necessarily fluid, experimental and messy, but our journey together is into the heart of education for the big world, that we need first to understand, and then change.
Auf wiedersehen. September will soon be upon us.