I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
I had a fantastic day yesterday, and I think the children and teachers who attended the Gloucester Schools Partnership Pupil Voice Conference did too. We opened with talks from The Olympic Swimming Champion, Sharron Davies and Singer, Jono McNiel and myself, outlining the twists and turns that brought us to the current point in our careers. Sharon Davies awed us all by showing how long her arms are. She clasped her hands behind her back and wriggled them around her head so that the ended up in front of her. One girl in the audience could do the same. Apparently, apart from being a good party trick, it is a sign of a potentially good swimmer. Long arms are a physical advantage in swimming.
Then the children went off in groups to give their own presentations based on their aspirations and how they imagine themselves in 2020. It was wonderful to see that the children’s characters really suited some of their choices. Knowing what you are good at and what suits you best is a real bonus in life – I’m still frustrated and searching for the one thing I’m really good at!
After lunch we let balloons off into a lowering, windy sky. Each balloon carried aloft the wishes of the person who released it. (One teacher was heard to say, “I hope those balloons don’t drift off to sea and strangle an hundred turtles!”)
Then While other children learned about karate and cake decorating and singing, I led an illustration session based on my Viking Vik Books. My children were aged from reception to year six, so it was quite a wide spread. Even though some claimed they couldn’t draw, everyone did beautiful drawings – as I know all children and adults can do if they just sit down and have a go.
The Gloucester Schools Partnership is a wonderful idea, About forty schools belong. They meet up to share expertise within the group for professional development and organise group meeting days like yesterdays. There is another similar group in the country. I think it’s a really good idea.
I felt really energised at the end of the day. Talking to teachers, I felt that the new, creative curriculum is starting to ease up the stultifying effects of the Literacy Hour and give more freedom and inspiration back to teachers. Just as things have started to move in a positive direction, I truly hope the new Government are not going to take us back to Victorian basics again.
Thanks to Kevin Rowe, Melanie Newnham and everyone else who worked so hard to make it such a really great day.
I spent my last day in Rhondda Cynon Taf at Oaklands Primary School today. They are getting ready for an inspection on Monday… good luck all!
Years three and four came up with a brilliant idea for what to take to show and tell day on another planet, following up the theme in Ricky Rocket and a present from Earth. One girl, who turned out to be a bit of a bibliophile and would be author, suggested taking a book. So obvious, I never thought of it before. What a great example of Human technology – all the other aliens would be really impressed – it even works without batteries.
Some of years five and six were intrigued by my graphite stick and stayed behind to have a go themselves. I’m always asked what it is I use to draw with and the children are always surprised that it is a block of pencil. They always love the way it fills large areas when I draw on the side of the block.
I’ll admit it – I’m very tired at the end of the week, but it has been fascinating having such an intense experience in five different schools. Each school is quite different and, as ever each group is entirely different, depending on the dynamic of how it is made up. How any government or education department could ever think that one system could ever fit every school staggers belief.
Wales dropped the year six Sats a few years ago now, and the difference between Welsh and English schools is very evident in the more relaxed atmospheres of staff rooms and the amount of creative work to be seen displayed around the place. The sooner we drop Sats in England and drop the manic Thatcher/Blair curriculum the better.
Thanks for a great day and enjoy the inspection!