Shock news – both our school’s head and deputy head teachers are resigning. It’s doubtful whether suitable replacements can be found before the end of the school year. The deputy, who I’d assumed would replace the head, was my child’s brilliant reception class teacher and has only been at the school as long as we have. It’s baffling.
This time last year, the previous deputy left, hot on the tail of a whole group of other teachers with fairly long, apparently distinguished records at the school. Each time, regrets were expressed and excuses made; each time, poor parents’ hearts lurched with anxiety, then resettled, thinking, maybe there are good reasons. Maybe the replacements will be even better. Maybe it’ll pan out for my baby in the end.
School is where my child spends most of his days – yet I’m desperately out of control of what he experiences there. It seems everything I liked about our place is under question; its music, its “whole-child” ethos, its genuine diversity. What is actually going on? Those of us with most at stake seem to know least.
Is this why people home-school? (Is it why they private-school?) But even if I were intellectually and professionally equipped to teach my child the entire curriculum, what about socialisation? Learning to read, write and so on is a doddle for most kids compared to the intricate and complicated art of making and maintaining friendships, with a diverse bunch of other kids, all as unpredictable and self-centred as he is. It certainly was for me, growing up in an isolated and academic environment which seriously undervalued the unquantifiable social arts. I’m not making the same mistake. My child has to spend plenty of time working it out with other kids; school, with its ostensible focus elsewhere, is the best place for it.
Apart from which, I need a break – to write this blog among other things. I can’t be supervising my kid, hounding him from TV screen or ipad with one trick or another, 24/7. He has to go to school.
But how fragile a thing a genuinely exceptional state school seems to be nowadays. Perhaps ours, after subsiding into staff squabbles and mediocrity, will eventually be forced by Ofsted crusaders into the “rigorous”, results-impressive, disciplined-academy-type mould of other nearby “Ofsted-outstanding” primaries. Perhaps everything else it has done well will be down-graded or completely discarded. Our school has only ever been “Ofsted-good”. I always liked that about it. But perhaps these days “good” is just not good enough.