Kirsty MacColl Days, 1989 (written by Ray Davies)
Our Tallis turquoise dazzles in the sunshine as I look out of the window to organise a thought. How is the year ending, you ask?
With celebrations and showcases, markers and traditions, placeholders for children’s memories, unforgettable for their families. Band Night was enormous fun. Mr Challenger and I are of a certain age. The bands do Blondie and Bowie and I had a great singalong evening as well as new stuff I don’t get on Radio 4: vibrancy and fabulous noise. Headstart Day acclimatised year 6. They had a great time after initial nerves, setting a new standard in polite and enthusiastic companionship. Their voices are just a bit squeakier than year 7, so they change the pitch of the yard. The Art Show private view was wonderful, beautiful work from blossoming artists: painting, photography, sculpture and film. I was ushered into a cupboard to see a horror installation, further broadening my horizons. Our dancers danced with the best at Sadler’s Wells on Saturday and last night the Fashion Show combined mobile art with dance, music and film. To quote a man who knows: arts in harmony, real gesamtkunstwerk (that’s how we talk at Tallis).
Leaving only time for me to spill cream down my big green dress and wash it in the sink, the evening celebration was for year 13. In an evening beautifully compered by students we had goodbyes from form tutors, another final final band performance, Schubert and Shakespeare and two old boys come to tell us about the world outside. This young surgeon and barrister talked about the community and support, the teaching and the values, the Tallis bonus that still gives them the edge. There were prizes at both of these gatherings, for excellence and for effort, but do you know what was the best thing about them? We celebrated our young people before the exams calibrate and codify them. Real young people, real achievement, measured and assessed by real people.
Did you spot a note of asperity there? Apols. We’ve celebrated a good year in a strong school but the national rhetoric still swirls a fog around us. Isn’t it a hoot when we’re getting used to structures being dismantled to hear that HMCI thinks Local Authorities should have the oversight of schools in an area? Isn’t it just a scream when increased freedom means favouring one sort of school? And don’t you just love it when the dirigiste reappears and whacks you in the face. Of course we care about FGM and we’ll do anything we can to stop such inhumanity, but this year’s Most Risible Sound Bite prize goes to Monday’s threat that schools will have funding withheld if the Head hasn’t read the Safeguarding Guidance. Good grief. Why wouldn‘t we read it? Which bit of the money is going to be cut, from which children? Who’s going to come and test me? Will that stop it happening? Exactly what kind of freedom is this, underpinned by what sort of trust?
So we’ve another week-and-a half to go, with everything from Dr Bike and his puncture repairs (free breakfast for cyclists) to an open forum for parents and the launch of our grand piano. We’ll have some staff farewells (sad) and other end-of-term shenanigans, (generally happy). I’ll thank leaving colleagues for their years of service to the children and to a job both inspiring and infuriating, then I’ll go and lie down quietly for a couple of weeks.
A very happy summer to all our readers!