Saturday, 30 April 2016

Saturday night kebab blog post

Oh slightly cold kebab.  You look delicious.  I'm going to eat the bits of you that remain edible.  The chips are a bit dry & odd but I'll consume a few of those too, maybe.

Purchased on the way from place to place, with best intention. Uneaten. You never can tell which way a night will go. 

Reasons kebabs don't get eaten:

Unexpected snogs
Calamity (dropped food) 
Combination of all of the above 

Not all of those happened tonight.  No kebabs were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

I have eaten and not eaten a lot of kebabs. I have been lucky to live a lot of life.
I hope I stay this lucky.  

Friday, 25 March 2016


Chillis are silly
Because they are not
They sound like they're chilly
But really they're hot 

Monday, 7 March 2016

Dancing on my own

I remember vividly the TM London I did in 2011. I wrote my presentation on the train. Ross McGill hosted. Phil Beadle was there talking about plenaries. I met Keven Bartle & Helene Galdin O'Shea & Daniel Harvey. The power went out & I sat in a dark pub afterwards next door with my sister & brother in law.  There was no food but plenty of drink.  They had come from the other side of London (traversing the universe in their mind.) Which made me laugh. 

Some stuff happened after that & I didn't get out much & gradually I began to talk to myself on the Internet. 

I include other people occasionally.  Sometimes I make an effort to respond to someone else.  Every now and then I try to begin a conversation with a response to someone else.  But the internet is just an acceptable way of talking to myself. And posting songs.  To myself. 

It's not narcissism, it's more self preservation. I also remember details that are random about loads of people and ask them about how things are. It's not that I don't care, I just don't always engage.  

Part of moving on is honesty and I've been dishonest with 'I'm ok' at times.  You can't dance on your own in this job, and our staff have taught me that recently.

I love the original Robyn version of this song but I've chosen Calum Scott's version because me, music champion teacher & half the school watched him perform this live at Wembley Arena Wednesday. Fabulous performance. 

I'm not dancing on my own. 

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Cos work's for working right?

So, I have a spot of school work to do tomorrow.  

Now, I know Ofsted said we don't have to prepare but that makes the assumption that I can put my hand on everything I want to immediately doesn't it?  If you have visited me you probably didn't think my office was a total mess, and it isn't really, but make no mistake.  Your visit will have been preceded by furious tidying and sorting.  Also a good old think and organise around what I wanted to show you.  

But as you will also know if you have ever visited me, I send you over to see it.  My office is in the old bomb shelter. Separate from the school.  I want anyone that comes to see the school.  So they can notice things I don't any more and tell me about them. I don't have an SLT.  But I have been very lucky with some of the SLT I have had access to over the past few years thanks to Twitter. 

On a one day monitoring visit of a small village school one inspector has a very arduous task.  Now that I know a few inspectors personally I have the gift of actually seeing it from the other side.  So tomorrow is folder organisation day!  If I can have a couple of very clearly laid out monitoring folders it will make life easier when the day comes.  It will also make me feel a lot more confident, which isn't to be underestimated either. 

I have organised for both kids to go out with friends/family tomorrow so that myself and my husband can have a clear day to tackle school work.  Time was, before the job changed so much and we had two children, that babysitting would be organised in half term so that we could have a 'spare day.'  But I could never drink that much tequila nowadays anyway so hey ho!  

A good chunk of my work tomorrow involves tracking data.  We have bought in a system called primary Itrack.  Michael Tidd commented recently that he  has no issue with the new curriculum, but the assessment system is in danger of turning into a fiasco.  I agree, and here is an example of why.  Itrack, like all such systems tracks using DfE statements for reading, writing and maths.  It looks at year group objectives and percentages expected and above.  

As I flicked through one class today I noticed one particular child who is secure in one year group's objectives. The trouble is they're in the year above. As a small school this child learns in a mixed age class. This is a child who works like anything.  Can't fault the commitment to learning.  Parents are supportive.  Child failed the phonics test in year 1 and year 2.  This child is at the stage where they no longer cry coming into school or when there is a new expectation. Having taught all primary year groups I would say the typical presentation of this child socially and emotionally is three years below actual age related year group.  However data shows only one year below.  Which surely ought to be a stunning achievement for the child, family and us.  But it isn't when we are looking at percentages expected is it? Plus we are also supposed to tell the child and parents that this achievement that they have worked so hard for isn't enough?  Or maybe I've got it wrong.  Oh, and this child is 12% of the cohort. 

I think Ofsted would absolutely listen to this case I'm making by the way.  The workload for me is making it.  Folders of case studies, impact evidence.  Proof. But in many ways fair enough.  We can't just talk about it as the brilliant Cloughie said:

(from I believe in miracles-BT sport) 

So.  I will sort my folders.  You know what? I will kind of enjoy it.  I have new folders, dividers & plastic pockets.  I'm sure Ofsted don't come in and say 'Wow! This person has folders!' Well, I'm not actually but whatever.  I have them.  I will have them.  Tomorrow. 

Two members of staff were in working all day today at school on data and one text me. I hadn't asked them to.  They just wanted to catch up in the quiet.  I went over to school tonight to pick up my folders & paperwork and thanked them for all the work. Then we got into a conversation.  The green bit is me :-) 

Teacher was still texting before I sent this and had text me she thought she was the weakest link with data tracking.  So I replied:

Cloughie said you have to do.  Yes you do.  Doing is the way through all this.  It's all we have.  We're all very good indeed at doing.  

So I suppose we'll just have to get on with the job at hand.  Like we always do. Because it matters.  It's not just 'heartfelt headteacher blog' it's 'what else is there that will make a difference?' For lives. That's what our work is. 

Sunday, 31 January 2016

On creating a culture

The Daughter and I were out of the house before seven this morning to travel to a regional gymnastics competition.  She is, and has been for six years, part of a local acro gymnastics club. We are a small town, the club train in our local leisure centre.  At each one of their three training sessions a week coaches and gymnasts get out equipment and put it away.  Yet in no way does this small club from our small town have small ambitions.  They compete and hold their own against bigger clubs, with elite facilities and far more money. 

The ethos of the club is excellent.  I never see a gymnast admonished for slipping up, sometimes I see that from coaches of other 'elite' clubs at competitions and I always think it's such a pity. If a gymnast does make a mistake they beat themselves up enough. If it happens to an East Kent Acro gymnast the first thing you see when the gymnast leaves the floor is a handful of their club colleagues rushing to make sure they are ok and dry the inevitable tears.  

As well as that supportive ethos there is also discipline.  Like a school that has a supportively strict attitude toward correct uniform the club has a high expectation when it comes to correct kit.  Right down to their black socks.  There is a club competition leotard & a club track suit.  It makes them look dedicated and professional.  Therefore they stand taller.  

Competing against clubs of such a high standard can lead to feelings of disappointment sometimes.  My daughter has an 'in it to win it' approach to any kind of competitive sporting occasion!  I encourage that but don't want her to get too down if I know she is the 2nd division competing against the premiership. 

But then, there's always the FA cup isn't there?

My daughter took up gymnastics aged 6.  She had spent the previous two years horse riding-until one bit her.  That was a deal breaker for her!  So gymnastics it was.  Before gymnastics she used to regularly fall over thin air.  I have seen gymnastics transform her into a young lady with more grace and poise than I could ever dream of. 

When it comes to gymnastics she is 10% talent and 90% hard graft.  She learned early on that sometimes natural gymnasts come in and go ahead of her in the squad.  That's how competitive sport is.  She's a West Ham fan, she gets it! But she has continued to give it 100% effort.  Her coaches awarded her 'Coaches gymnast 2015' at the club award evening at Christmas in recognition of the work she puts in.  She has also started coaching recently and loves everything about it.  

I'm a huge fan of local club level sport.  I loved being part of the rowing squad for Deal rowing club when I was younger.  It teaches young people such a range of qualities and skills.  The work that goes into competition, the preparation for competition, the thrill of the day.  The euphoria when it's your day.  The digging deep and starting again when it isn't. 

This year's competitive gymnastics season didn't get off to the best start for daughter and her partner, they scored and placed quite low.  They worked hard with their coach and in the next big competition a couple of months later their score had improved to only around a point below the medal places.  They were encouraged and continued to work their socks off in preparation for today's competition. 

Yesterday they had a mini competition within their own club.  My mother in law took daughter.  She came back totally disillusioned having come seventh out of eight pairs.  She and mother in law had a really good chat about being resilient.  Last night she did all her prep-warm bath, stretch, early night, got up extra early to stretch this morning-and off we went. 

Before their round she and her partner stretched, warmed up, practised and I also noticed them just standing by the mat talking through their routine.  

They came in from their routine visibly proud of themselves.  

What was also wonderful at that point was the praise from their coaches and fellow club gymnasts.  She sat next to me and was visibly pleased-and then asked me if I thought they had placed! I said if they hadn't they wouldn't be far off and I thought that their score had improved. 

Presentation time came.  My daughter had got muddled about which category she was in, so when the medals were announced we both thought she hadn't placed. I glanced over to her, knowing how disappointed she would be, and felt nothing but pride to see her congratulating two fellow EKA gymnasts on their medal with genuine happiness on her face.  The category she and her partner were in (but didn't realise they were) was then announced.  When she and her partner's names were announced for a medal I really wish I had been videoing her as I don't think I have ever seen a child look more surprised, overwhelmed and then ecstatic inside of five seconds!  Here they are on the podium, mine's the one with a grin a mile wide. She's still wearing it! 

East Kent Acro did amazingly well in the medals today, against a very high standard.  I couldn't be prouder of the club spirit, discipline, support and pride in one another.  Kelly and her team of coaches have set a fabulous culture.  It's a real privilege to be a part of the club.  Some schools have a lot they could learn from the culture of EKA.

Daughter is at her dad's tonight so I text her all the photos and asked if she would like me to make a video of them and if so which song. She text back asking for the following.  So honest about how she is hard on herself.  I have something to learn from that. 

One more in the club track suit. 

Friday, 29 January 2016

'My blood don't run cold no more' Coasts

It's been such a weird week.  It's been the usual 'work like crazy, laugh, teach, worry, resolve, sing, dance, boggle, backfill, reconcile, get back on it, this again? Love when this happens!' week.  But it's been such a weird week. 

I have seen one of my favourite but most elusive colleagues twice this week at different meetings.  Today he chaired the meeting we were at and half way through mentioned something we had discussed at the other meeting that needed to be shared. He said 'when was that we said this Lynne? Last week or was it the week before?' I replied 'it was Tuesday dear.' For him, like me, this week has been a long month! 

I'm currently advertising an assistant headteacher post (come and look! I'm not as potty as I sound on here I promise!) 

I have shown eight people around and spoken to them about the post this week.  I let them talk first (not easy for me-get office manager to bring tea & biscuits so my mouth is full!) then I tell them about where Worth is at. It has been so interesting to tell the potted history of my eight year headship in terms of the school's journey eight times, with the same details for parity.  It has made me think and reflect quite a lot. 

I had this thing about asking each candidate if they want to be a head.  I have said it's only because I'm interested to gage whether people aspiring to leadership posts do.  6 out of 8 so far have said they do. Some clearly because they are passionate to be a head, a couple I suspect because they thought that was what I wanted to hear.  I was all pleased with myself last night on twitter that so many 'aspiring heads' were looking at the role. Oh Lynne :-/ 

Of the two so far that don't aspire to be a head neither ruled it out. One said she struggled to picture herself in that role.  The other, a candidate I showed around today, gave a brilliant answer.  She thought for a bit and then said 'it's difficult to answer in the way I want to honestly without sounding a bit insulting but I would like to answer honestly'  I said 'go for it!' 

She said 'I love this job because I'm with little children all the time and they are so brilliant. I love the management side too and in a small school you can do both. But, honestly I'm not trying to be rude, if I wanted to just lead & manage I could go back to what I was doing before in the city & earn 4 times the salary!' 

Great answer! 

I'm excited about this appointment as those of you that remember the early days of my blog will remember that AHT was a big influence in my leadership. She is now a head. Finances have left us in limbo the past 2 school years but we're back in the zone & I get the chance to lead day to day with someone else again.  Stoked! 

Husband's other school in federation had Ofsted this week. He is a governor there so was interviewed by HMI. It was one of the new 'one day monitoring of good school' visits.  The timetable is robust to say the least!  The experience of everyone I know that's had one so far is that inspectors absolutely do come in with the premise the school is good.  Which is what Wilshaw said, so that is encouraging.  If Ofsted find that to be the case you bank your good & then you get to exercise your brevity in inviting them back to push for more than good. I feel more positive than I had been about all this. 

As well as everything else going on this week we had the official confirmation yesterday that husband is cancer free.  No more scans, 6 monthly consultant appointments or worries about stem cell transplants.  Different world.  It's a weird feeling.  I bought prosecco on the way home & we sipped our way through it but we're a bit numb. Happy but numb. 

Weird week.  Very happy, excited for the future, grateful. Mostly grateful. We're off to see a great band in Camden in Feb. Coasts. I made this last night once I'd processed the great 'no more cancer' news using one of their tracks. 

My blood don't run cold no more 

Monday, 18 January 2016

Another attack of the fraud police

I am attending a meeting tomorrow that I'm scared of.  The people are lovely, the aim is sound, the coffee is nice. But...

I'm on this board & I was asked to be & it's quite important. My improvement adviser's  boss is on it.  She is coming to see our school in March now. Which also terrifies me. It's far worse I think when a colleague you know & want to gain the respect of visits. I know the team will show what we do but will I be good enough? I'm not great at writing action plans & compiling evidence files. The issue really is I don't want to be good at those things.  I'd like to be better at playing the piano.  Everyone else that lives in our house would like me to also. 

 I want to be on this board & help & make a difference. But so far it has rendered me speechless.  It's not like me. There are so many super mega heads on it though.  I'm having a major, debilitating attack of the fraud police. I really need to get a grip! 

I blame Goddard for all this by the way, all that about making a difference from the inside.  There was something about a tent but I wouldn't want to misquote... Anyway he inspired me to apply to be a Kent Leader of education & on this board. And now I am. 

I don't want to go. I want my mum to write me a note. I'm watching the highlights of the indoor bowls championships & drinking fizzy cucumber water (it's January) I should probably be in bed. 

I will be there. I hope I manage to speak. At least the chair is a good mate & friendly face.  It's weird as when I first came into this job I needed to learn to shut up!  I yearn for the naivity I once had. But I still have the inspiration. 

The indoor bowling championships-actually gripping stuff!