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.