Friday, 22 November 2013

Passmores - do things everyone does in a way no-one does

So many blog thoughts, so little time.  I'm going to channel Phil Beadle a little bit here by acknowledging that I can't really be arsed to write this blog.  It's not that I'm not inspired by being at Passmores today for the Independent thinking day, I am. My mother in law and MY OWN MOTHER said I sounded happier tonight than I have for months.  But I can't really be arsed to write about it because I'd quite like to watch TV and drink wine and beside that the kids were a pain in the arse to get to bed and  it's taken me absolutely ages to do the washing up because there was loads of it.

But I am going to write about it.  Because if I don't it won't be fresh so it won't mean as much. When I write a blog post  I get a bit 'oh someone read it' over it which is utterly stupid as the intention is that someone reads it.  Or is it? Is the intention that I get to write it?  So when I blog I use that to reflect a lot.  I re read old posts.  I don't want to not capture (double negative - SPaG police) that moment and how I felt.

I got an extra four hours of quality JPD (rather than CPD) today from the fact that I was driven to and from Passmores by my children's headteacher.  I could go on and on but all you really need to know is that my two children, aged ten and four, genuinely think that he puts on his superhero cape before his shirt and tie.  And I think they might be right!

Arriving at Passmores and being there,  I've done it a couple of times now, is special. The first time I thought it was the building.  I get jealous when people can get paint to stay on walls and things don't leak all the time! Passmores is the stuff of dreams building wise.  But it isn't that.  It's how it feels in there.   I saw it loads last time I went as there were pupils around and the interactions and relationships were the stuff of dreams education wise.  My husband went to visit and he didn't want to like it because I'd gone on about it.  But he couldn't help himself.  As a person who loves opportunity and excellence he loved it immediately with just the same regard as me.  As soon as you walk in you feel better about yourself.  Every person you see or speak to, and this was the same at Springwell in Barnsley where Dave Whitaker is HT, no matter who they are or what they do is sunny and helpful.  Every person, EVERY PERSON, subscribes to Vic's newsletter and is on the same road with the same intentions for children.  It makes me feel like I can do that too. Vic and Dave are infectious and contagious. It's not just that you want to be like them, you feel like you can and will!  It's unconditional positive regard & authentic care for us adults too. 

The other thing that both Vic and Dave do is say things without fear of retribution, as long as they are true and fair.  They are very similar and I guess that's one of the great things about the way the world is now.  We find our value twins.  We are able to because of media and sharing.  I loved what Dave said in his talk today about when he was an NQT.  He saw colleague shouting at and pushing a child that had just had a fight.  The child punched the teacher and got permanently excluded. Dave: 'saw that guy the other day at a funeral. He's a deputy, looking for headship.  Still a dickhead.'  I don't think I've ever met a person who uses a few words, and the pauses between words, in the way Dave does.  It's something I aspire to!

Seeing Vic and being at Passmores also helps me to remember that this is the best job ever.  Who gets to go into an environment every day where they literally can change the future?  Who gets that moment most recently seen in Educating Yorkshire where your work (YOUR WORK ) affects a person in a life changing way.  It's such a privilege and such a feeling that it is totally addictive and that's why we do it.  We are addicts.  This job can be harsh and damaging but we are as addicted to it as a class A drug addict as 5 minutes of that feeling when a pupil does something that will change their life because of you and the way you are and the way you teach is worth a weeks of the DTs where circumstances conspire to convince you that you are shit at all you do.

Every single workshop contained resonance.  It was joint practice development today.  We were all in it together because Ian Gilbert and Vic Goddard had decided we would be and my goodness best of luck defeating either in an argument, never mind both! I picked up some of the best hot tips ever! Here are just a few:

1: If brilliant sparky staff love working for you they will come back across the world to work for you
2: You need a balance of those massively sparky staff  and the quiet supportive staff that sort of emerge from nowhere when you most need them and both need to feel as valued.
3. When you work in an ethos where you can ask questions you forget how little most people do that and how uncomfortable they find it to do
4. Really good teachers can teach anyone whether they are adults or children.
5. its really exciting when a massive Christmas tree arrives :)

There's loads more I could say but as I've said I want my glass of wine and twitter has been without me for a good hour now ;) so I'll finish with something I learned about myself today that was totally incidental.

I had a tweet after the day from Ian Gilbert to say that I should have come and introduced myself.  I didn't reply for ages because my first thought was. Yes, I should have.  Which was swiftly followed in my brain by 'why didn't I?'

I have two ITL cards that I've had for so long that they are kinda peach now rather than red.  They are the same.  They say 'do things no-one does, or do things everyone does in a way no one does'

When I moved into my first house. My house. That I rented. I stuck card 1 to my kitchen wall.  When I was promoted to my first leadership job.  The first time I had an office and a door that I could choose to open or close, I stuck card 2 to my office wall.  I am now in a different marriage, house and school but card 1 is on my kitchen wall and card 2 is on my office wall.  What Ian Gilbert has done for what I believe and how I am I can't even begin to explain.  What I couldn't explain in 140 characters on twitter to him is that I couldn't just bowl up to him and go 'Oh hi Ian, I'm Lynne.  You might have seen me on twitter. I hugely admire you (goes into all reasons why for last 15 yrs) ' as I would look a bit of a nutter.  But equally I couldn't not say that.  As it's the truth! What else would I say? Next time gadget :)

Thank you for today everyone at Passmores and ITL.  Your weather is becoming a wider range and longer term forecast Vic and that's making this continue to be the best job in the world.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Educating anywhere

I'm fresh from my first watch of Educating Yorkshire, well once I'd checked on the kids, popped to the Co Op for milk before it shut and then watched the bit at the end I'd missed.  I want to try and get down in a blog some thoughts because I'm sure in 12 hours the to do list will have taken back over.

I loved it.  It's inspiring, it's heart-warming, it resonates deeply with everything I believe in as a headteacher and always have believed in as a teacher.  It celebrates the pupils in a way that is just fabulous and it shows in a real way how a new headteacher has seeded, watered and grown an ethos.  The seedlings of this ethos are in front of our eyes here and that is a fabulous privilege to be able to see.  But it isn't all the way grown yet and that is also deep within it's beauty.  I'm sure Johnny Mitchell will go into school tomorrow and see just how much taller the trees of that ethos are from when the show was filmed.

I don't think in this job we ever get to rest in the shade of those trees, but most of us would just get bored of that anyway!

Many people online are making comparisons between Educating Yorkshire and Educating Essex.  I don't think the two are comparable.  They are from different areas with different social perceptions and cultural norms.  We are led into that comparison by the media in a very Pavlovian way.  It sounds and looks similar.  Creatures find that comforting.  We liked Educating Essex, this has the same sounds, we like it!  The bell ringing at the beginning, the music, the filming techniques.  But, to be fair, this is a very ethical production team and they do this stuff well actually.

It reminded me about the way Tom Bennett wrote about cultural memes in this brilliant blog about Trollday:

I didn't have much understanding about the term meme before I read this and it made me wish Tom had been my English teacher!  This subtle media branding is everywhere and that's in play here.  I don't think for gaming, just because that's always the case.  Let's be careful though that it doesn't get in the way of us celebrating Passmores for what it is, and Thornhill for what it is.  Whilst I don't think they are comparable though, that doesn't mean I don't think there are many similarities.

I watched the Sky reality program about Harrow last night and what struck me wasn't really the differences, they are a given as it costs £30,000 a year, but the similarities.  For example the Assistant Headteacher and the way he supported the boys who were getting detentions or having friendship issues.  The support staff, they might be called something old fashioned but there's no difference between them and the staff doing the same at Passmores or Thornhill when you actually hear what they are saying about their pupils and how they care and support and challenge.  Is Ollie, who detests his straw hat because he wants to look cool, that different in his essence to Luke or Kammren?  All clever, all railing against authority.  All in possession of the thing that frustrates teachers the most.  The possession of the ability to do amazingly well but the lack of any inclination whatsoever to do it and using their ability to wind up every adult they encounter!

For those that didn't catch the Harrow thing here's the link:

What Vic Goddard, Martin Smith (head of West Acre at Harrow) and Johnny Mitchell do all have in common though is that they quite clearly love this job.  We hear and see an awful lot of what there is to dislike about being a headteacher.  But even on the days (sometimes months...sometimes whole academic years) where the wrung out feeling outweighs the heartswell it's still the best job in the world.  There are always glimmers.  Even in a really bad week.  The other great thing is that one minute of heartswell counters 100 minutes of heartache.  That's headteacher maths there.

I think it was hard for Passmores in some ways as they did it first.  I hope the Daily Mail will give Thornhill an easier ride, I'm avoiding the daily fail at the moment for the sake of my blood pressure so I shan't know.  I am very grateful though to Vic for trailblazing as before that I thought quite a lot of what I was doing as a head was probably about to get me the sack and that I wasn't anywhere near thick skinned enough!  We don't get a lot of love sometimes and we don't ask for it but the likes of Johnny and Vic sure help with the idea that it's ok to be a normal human being.

I very much look forward to the rest of Educating Yorkshire and Thornhill deserve to feel very proud.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Observations on a residential visit

Children have far less inhibitions when communicating with children who don't speak the same language.  They are far better at non verbal forms of communication and have a better repertoire of non verbal conversation starters than us adults.  We just don't make up enough secret handshakes with one another!

Children who seem very confident in class quite often fall apart during some of the challenges on residential visits.  Lots of children who are really quiet in class climb stoically to the top of the leap of faith and jump off.

Most staff love working on residential visits and are great at maintaining the balance of managing behaviour and allowing for adventure and fun.

A few staff clearly don't like residential visits very much.  These are often heard talking loudly about how much they do like residential visits and how they 'always go.'  They tend to present in one of the following two ways:
- ignoring their children and their behaviours completely
- continually chirping at their children and over managing their behaviours

Children are not very good at putting duvet covers on their duvets!

Children don't seem to know how to give one another a bunk up a wall any more.  This leads me to wonder how they climb trees, and if they ever do.

A very high proportion of staff on residential visits are wearing team tops for sports teams or PE department jackets.  Myself included, even if the team wear is a little historical now. 

No matter where you go on a residential visit and how amazing the activities are the children are always desperate to get into the gift shop.

Teachers generally get on great!  Throw a big mix of us from different provisions and areas into a teacher lounge and it tends to become a big happy staff room; with biscuits, banter and wine.

Teachers will use any opportunity to learn.  The teacher lounge on a residential is no exception.  Our note books came away full of ideas.

Children showing the values of your school to others in their behaviour and attitude is one of the greatest things in the world.

Monday, 13 May 2013

A dot on the Raiseonline....


For the first 8 years of your life you were neglected and abused by everyone at home that was supposed to care for you.  This was normal life and you didn't know any different.  You didn't know that this wasn't how everyone lived.  You didn't even have any idea what birthdays and Christmas were.

When you reached school age you were supposed to be attending school but you didn't get taken there every day.  Sometimes there wasn't an adult sober enough or awake to take you.  You quite liked it when you were there but you didn't know how to please any of the adults and you sensed they weren't very pleased with some of the things you were used to doing at home.   Sometimes they seemed shocked.  Every time the professionals started digging into why your behaviours were different and your attendance poor you were enrolled at a different school.  Until your third one where a shining light of a Deputy/Senco got a gut feeling about you, and bravely acted upon it.  She didn't have much evidence, she took a risk.

Things moved fast as soon as the fragments of your life were joined together by the professionals. You were then whipped swiftly into care and placed in a temporary home.  You had no idea what was happening but it was really great not to have to forage in bins for food.  You still, even two years later, didn't really trust that there would be food.  You hid food and tended to spend any pocket money on food.  Sometimes even making yourself ill hiding and eating it all.  Your school at the time worked really hard on doing everything they could to support the changes and help you learn how to make friends.  You started to learn that you could trust adults but you didn't really trust that they liked you.  Sometimes you tested whether they did by shouting swear words and threatening them.  Sometimes they seemed a bit shocked and scared.  That made you feel sad and lost.  They always gave you a fresh start though and they told you that you were good at things.  You didn't think you were though.  You didn't really understand which things you were supposed to be good at anyway.

After the first 18 months you were moved to a permanent long term home.  You didn't understand that this made you one of the very lucky ones who had a wonderful family who wanted to do everything they could to care for you and commit to the long term.  You had your second ever Christmas.  You didn't understand and became angry and scared.  That seemed to make the adults sad and you didn't understand why.

You were placed at a local village school.  It was hard, you found the change confusing.  You were much taller than the other children but you were so very desperate to get into the role play area in the infant class.  Your level of learning was below that expected for a seven year old and you knew and could see how far behind you were.  But you started to learn that the adults at school would help you and work with you whenever you needed them to.  You started to get some lovely one to one sessions for learning and you really enjoyed those. You started to learn that it isn't a good idea to take a teddy bear everywhere.  You started to learn that whatever happened the adults around you at home and at school cared.  You started to learn that you were going to be fed, spoken to and cared about every day at home and at school.  No matter what you did.

You started doing some things to test whether this was going to stay true.  You started doing those things two weeks before SATs week, which you didn't know about of course.  The adults didn't find that very easy to deal with, especially the school ones, but they worked through it.  Because it did stay true.  The adults cared no matter what.

The first morning of SATs you felt worried and sad.  You got the idea something important was happening and it involved doing hard school work.  You couldn't do hard school work.  Your adults at home though supported you and fed you a good breakfast, made sure you had both pairs of glasses and allowed a small stuffed elephant.  Everyone was bringing a mascot that day.  You felt better.  At school you felt better again when your teacher explained that you were going to be sitting separately with two school adults you normally work with one to one so that you could think and not be disturbed. You wanted to give it the best go you could, and you did.  You felt proud that you only had to miss out four questions.  You told your teacher you were going to try hard tomorrow too.


The child you have imagined joined a small cohort of year 6 pupils in November at a level 2C.  The child represents 14% of that cohort's results.  The headteacher knew that this would affect attainment results.  The headteacher decided that the child being in a small, nurturing environment was more important than attainment results and green Ofsted attainment data dashboards.

This is just one child.  Many schools have large groups of these children.  There isn't enough understanding by the floor target decision makers about what it takes to put a child like this back together.  And this child has a permanent long term home and so is one of the lucky ones compared to some children in care.  Most inspection teams now look at progress and look carefully about what is being done with children like this.  Ours certainly did.  But not all do.  The culture of fear that exists means that sometimes these children, who already have enough to cope with, are even further disadvantaged.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Wasted Investment? Why do so many teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years?

I have been wanting to get involved with #blogsync for awhile now and am glad to make my first contribution.  This month’s is a vital topic and one thatpushed me into getting involved in more than intention.
BBC news recently reported that numbers of teachers in theUK leaving the profession is up by a fifth on the previous year.   In2010 it was reported by The Guardian that 50% of newly qualified teachers hadleft the profession in the first five years. Teachers leaving the profession is a concerning issue.  The focus of Department for Education answersto the question of what to do about teachers leaving the profession alwaysseems to shift swiftly to how they are going to provide more teacher training.  How a range of professionals from military to financial can be trained in order to sortout this problem.  ‘Teachers are leavingthe profession?  Train some morethen!  Just keep training them!  They’re still leaving?  Train different ones!’  It’s almost a little ‘yes minister’ to mymind.  

This brings me to the idea of investment.  With ‘wasted investment’ as the title tothis; what, how and in whom is the investment? The initial investment is being made by the bright eyed aspirationalwannabe teacher.  Me 19 years ago,thousands of those that dream of teaching and of making a difference.  Thousands every year.  I dreamed of being a teacher.  I didn't go into the profession because of perceived job security, because my parents wanted me to or because I was unsure what else to do.  I count myself lucky there that my aspiration also turned out to be something I could do but it still took investment from me.  More than ever before for aspiring teachers that investment isfinancial, course fees, the cost of living and all of these factors weighheavily on that choice, on that aspiration. Then there is the investment of work. Getting the grades needed to embark on that journey toward thedream.  Clocking up some school hours andmaking sure you enjoy the education environment and the company of the dearyoung angels, and those not so angelic!  The investment of making sure your behaviour is appropriate out of university, the realisation and acceptance that there are certain social passtimes and behaviours that are off limits for aspiring teachers.  Particularly in the age of camera phones and social media.  Then there’s the investment of pouring your heart and soul into 3 or 4years of training, if not more.  Workload like you’venever known, being told that it’s only the tip of the iceberg as far asworkload goes!  I remember being unsureif I’d make it to the end of a 9 week teaching practice never mind a 14 weekterm as a teacher.  But the stamina beganto build.

Is that the way workload investment looks now?  Do students invest enough?  I hear far too many stories, and haveencountered situations myself, where students just don’t seem to understand oraccept the workload.  I have even beentold ‘But it’s my weekend!’ by a student on final placement.  Unless there is that level of realism and buyin then a young teacher can’t expect to build the type of stamina needed forthis profession.  Eventually they willhave to do all of that work and perhaps manage their own children and homes andeven endeavour to have a life!  They mayeven find they become a teaching Headteacher with two small children and thenstamina is most certainly needed!  One ofthe most common causes sighted by teachers leaving the profession in thearticles I read was ‘burn out.’  If youcan gradually build that stamina and be taught about workload management that ‘burnout’ can be prevented.

How do Initial Teacher Training Institutions give thismessage about workload?  In my experiencesometimes they are not fans of the tough conversation and that can tend to fallto the school.  On too many occasions Ihave seen students repeating and repeating teaching practices to get throughand pass where myself and other schools have raised concerns about whether thisperson has the level of skill and resilience to be part of this profession.  To be successful at the whole job of ateacher and therefore to be happy doing it.  ITT providers are up against it as studentscan take action against their ITT provider if they fail.  There is, as with so many situations now, a hugeamount of student right and far less student responsibility.  I have seen many successes related to ITTproviders but they tend to be where the student has some level ofprofessionalism, drive and work ethic.

To put it into the analogy of a building, if the foundationsare weak the building will eventually crumble and corrode.  Particularly if it is further buffeted by theweather.

Now to think about that ‘buffeting.’  I am not a person who thinks our job isharder than the job of other professionals. I don’t do the job of another professional but they all have pressure,workload and accountability.  Howeverthere is one key difference to our profession and that is this.  Most people have been to school.  This means that most people feel qualified tohave an opinion about school and education and therefore our job!  Further compounded by the media and the factthat we are paid public money.  It isn’tcomfortable to feel ‘owned’ and this feeling can quickly transfer to ‘hounded.’  If then there are other factors ‘buffeting’ anew teacher who is still building their resilience and stamina to the workload,the pupils (and the germs!) then no wonder that young teacher begins toconsider leaving the profession.

Pupil behaviour is a commonly cited cause for youngteachers leaving.  I read some realhorror stories researching this blog.  Ididn’t enter this profession with the confidence and presence I have now.  I was pretty shy, I barely spoke.  (Yes really!) A young teacher needs to know that if a pupil swears at or threatensthem then they are doing that to every single adult in the organisation atonce.  And that the pupil will then betreated as though that’s what they have done! I started with 4 year olds so I had a raft of different difficulties tobeing threatened but in my first school, and in fact in every school I haveworked in since including the one I’m Headteacher of, every child is ALL of ourchildren.  All of the time.  This same approach also works with difficultparents.

I’m deliberately not going into our inspectorate in thisblog.  I know it is sighted as a factorin teachers leaving the profession, but I believe it is the way theorganisation deals with the accountability system that is key, not theaccountability system itself.

Difficulty with colleagues is another commonly mentioned ‘buffetingfactor.’  It’s important to remember thatyoung teachers are also young adults. Their social skills are not yet honed and polished.  To put it simply they sometimes lack tact orthey ask dozens of irritating questions! The solution comes down to the same thing.  School ethos. This is set and constantly maintained by the Head and senior team.  This must be chosen, value based andconstantly adhered to.  If you unwittinglyengage in negative behaviours at the top they will bleed all the way throughyour organisation until it becomes a very unpleasant place to work.  When I say negative behaviours I mean thingslike unhealthy work life balance, gossiping, blaming people for mistakes andseeming panicky for example.  Ouryoungest and newest teachers, by the way, will emulate those behaviours themost quickly as they are looking to their leaders for how to be.  It’s not always easy as we are all humanbeings too but our behaviours must be chosen and positive.  As Headteachers we are the Grand Old Duke ofYork ‘when we are up they are up, and when we are down they are down!’

This blog is entitled ‘wasted investment’ but I also seehuge numbers of teachers leaving the profession as a wasted resource.  As a profession we are potentially wastingthe opportunity for a pupil to have a teacher whose personality reallyresonates with theirs.  I would beinterested in a psychometric study looking at the personality traits ofteachers leaving the profession to see if there are any common threads.  I would then be interested to see if thosesame threads are there in disengaged pupils. If our system is getting it wrong for so many young teachers then is oursystem getting it wrong for pupils with the same traits?  If so, then we are wasting the solution tothe problem for some of our disaffected youngsters.  And that really is a waste.

Monday, 4 March 2013

What if...

I don't think this blog will anywhere near do justice to how inspired I am nor to how much I have learned today but I'm going to give it a go!  The train is delayed so there's time!  It's tempting to feel cross about being delayed but am I not always hankering for more time to be still?  Well, here I am.  Still.  Looking at the beautiful Yorkshire countryside from the train window.

I have been to three inspiring places today.  The first was Springwell Community School in Barnsley.  I deliberately arrived early as I wanted the chance to look around and learn.  I want to provide, within mainstream school, as close to that which a special provision gives as I possible can so that we can remove barriers for our children.  I suspected, having met Dave Whitaker the head at Headsroundtable, that I would find gold in terms of ideas at Springwell and I was not at all disappointed.  It is a calm, quiet learning environment.  Soft music is piped around the building.  It is also colourful and vibrant.  There are wonderful break out spaces.  The learning is enthralling and all based on the needs of the pupils.  It has KS1-4 all in a wonderful cube shaped building with some truly amazing areas for learning.

Of course, I can't emulate the learning spaces, my school was built in 1857, but the ethos is after my own heart.  The staff are bright eyed with passion.  They are astute, articulate and very knowledgeable about removing barriers and enabling success for these children, and for one another as a team.  They are clear about personal strength, resilience and moral purpose.  There is fun and banter.  The curriculum is engaging and vibrant.  Staff are keen to chat and answer questions about their school. I have pages of notes!  When I have digested them all I shall write another blog about the potential to remove barriers and do as much as we can in mainstream to give our children that type of opportunity.

The second inspiring place was within my own mind.  It was that state one is in when really exciting learning is taking place.  There were so many links, and they were almost seamless.  From what Springwell do, to laughter, banter and engagement, to being read to by one of the best storytellers I have heard in a while, to early years creating an exciting and messy world of learning to music waves and brainwaves.  There was movement, emotion, laughter, music.

Sadly I had to leave early as my husband had a rather important phone call announcing visitors at his school first thing tomorrow morning.  He was an absolute brick when I had my inspection in October and I need to be there for him. Plus the kids are a little young to fend for themselves!

As I changed train in Sheffield I stepped outside the station for some fresh air.  And there I found the third inspiring place.  Sheffield Hallam university was bathed in bright sunshine and the words of the Andrew Motion poem 'What if...' were literally emblazoned on the side of the building.  The sight of it in sunlight is even more inspiring than the words alone.  I shall add pictures to this blog post when I have had chance to download them from my camera.  Here is the poem, really sums up the day for me.

What If..? by Andrew Motion

O travellers from somewhere else to here
Rising from Sheffield Station and Sheaf Square
To wander through the labyrinths of air,
Pause now, and let the sight of this sheer cliff
Become a priming-place which lifts you off
To speculate
What if..?
What if..?
What if..?
Cloud shadows drag their hands across the white;
Rain prints the sudden darkness of its weight;
Sun falls and leaves the bleaching evidence of light.
Your thoughts are like this too: as fixed as words
Set down to decorate a blank facade
And yet, as words are too, all soon transferred
To greet and understand what lies ahead -
The city where your dreaming is re-paid,
The lives which wait unseen as yet, unread.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Beautiful story

I love you little Monster by Giles Andreae

One evening, long after my sleep time Big softly crept to my bed and stretched out warm fingers to ruffle my hair 'I love you my darling' Big said. Now, Big must have thought I was sleeping and I didn't open an eye. Instead I just let the words float through my mind like balloons floating up through the sky. 'I love you my small,' Big continued 'But there's so much to do in the day that it's hard to sit down and make enough time to say all of the things I should say, and it's funny but now that you're sleeping and everything's quiet and calm the words seem to be much more easy to speak.' And Big laid a hand on my arm.

'You're everything I always dreamed of, you've got so much beauty inside, the way that you smile, that you laugh, that you dance makes my heart want to sing out with pride. You live as though life's one huge present, unwrapping a bit every day that's just how we all should be living, my love and look at you showing the way! And sometimes I know when I scold you, you feel that I'm being unfair. But please understand that is just out of love' Big swept back a strand of my hair.

'There are things in this life that can hurt you. They come to us all, that I know. But they give us chances to learn, darling small, and they give us chances to grow. So when you get knocked down my sweetheart look up at the sky without fear, for sometimes we need to be flat on our backs before starlight begins to appear. And please, above all else remember keep love in your heart little one. Reach out to the world like a beautiful flower stretches out to the warmth of the sun. It's the only sure way to be happy, the only sure way to be free. Believe in yourself and believe in your dreams and you'll be all you dream you can be. '

With that Big lay down on my pillow and planted a kiss on my head. 'My beautiful, wonderful, glorious child, you light up my world' Big then said.

With that Big crept out of my bedroom, turning round for one last little peep, I hugged my small pillow and smiled a big smile and then slowly I drifted to sleep.