Posted in Inner city, School, tagged architecture, Architype, award winning, building, eco, learning environment, new building, primary school, public consultation, School, St Luke's CE Primary, sustainable materials, Wolverhampton on 15 November, 2010|
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Our kids are happy in our church school here in the parish. The teachers are kind and dedicated and are working hard to make it better and better. The school is in a disadvantaged area and it can be hard to ensure that all the children learn to their full potential. But the staff are tackling difficulties one by one and making a real difference. One of the obstacles that our current school faces is a building built for a smaller school (2/3 of its current size) and built at a time when open plan classrooms were all the rage.
Our building isn’t bad – it’s clean and well maintained. We’ve recently had a refurbishment of the Foundation Stage area which is fantastic. We have a wonderful school allotment and many other great outdoor facilities. I am thankful for many blessings there.
But the thing is, our old school just got a new building. And today I saw this wonderful video of it. If you manage not to blink, you can see a clay tile made by the Queen just before we left (at around 7 minutes in). This is the building that I am praying for our current church school. We are thinking long term here…
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One of the things I’ve loved about taking the Engineer to school this year is that in the Reception class you get to walk in with your child, help them locate their coathook and get their lunchbox in the trolley. And then you get to hang out with them and their friends for a bit. I used to wait whilst the Engineer wrote his name in marker pen on the big piece of paper on the easel, and then nose around a little to see if there was anything new on the wall…
In April I went away with some girlfriends (to listen to some edifying talks on the Trinity, natch) and happened to buy a FatFace necklace (can’t think how that occurred). I love my new necklace (and the Trinity, of course). And it is also loved by three of the Engineer’s classmates. Every time I wore it into school (quite frequently – it goes with many outfits) they would gather around me. Then they would grab onto the necklace, fascinated by the surprisingly heavy beads. Then they would hang onto me and my necklace until I managed to disentangle myself. I called them the Bling Bling Girls.
Their teacher says this is why she never wears necklaces to school.
In other news I was very proud of myself when I successfully mended the necklace this evening after a thread snapped and one of the steel beads fell off.
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My five year old son, the Engineer, is very good at making friends. So when he started telling me about his new friend Cap a few weeks ago, I didn’t think much of it. Then we found out that Cap was living with his mum and her partner, and another couple, just over the road. And the Engineer started talking about wanting Cap to come over to play.
So Cap came to visit us one afternoon after school. The two of them had a very happy time, playing out in our roomy garden. Cap’s house doesn’t really have a garden to speak of, and the small yard there is home to two Staffies. The two boys got on so well. The Engineer started talking about Cap as his ‘best friend’.
Lots of fun with Cap and his family ensued over the following weeks – a trip to the park, a big Sunday barbecue and happy school runs back and forth with chasing and squealing, as little boys love so much. Cap’s mum and her other half joined us at my school parent’s coffee morning. All seemed happy and stable. Cap’s mum told me how contented he was and how he was benefitting from going to school and how much he was loving it.
Then, just before half term, I heard that there were some housing problems and that Cap and his family were having to move out. Some parishioners started looking for suitable housing for them. I spoke to Cap’s mum in the street early in half term week – she looked sad and worried but said they were looking for somewhere new to live. ‘You can always stop with us for a bit if you need to’ I told her, but she said they had some new friends down the road who’d said they could stay with them.
That was the last time I saw her. Her housemate came over to the Vicarage on Thursday and asked if we’d seen her. She, Cap and her partner had disappeared. And hadn’t paid the rent. And now someone else has told us that they’ve moved to Wales.
I’m glad I knew before school started back. I was able to tell the Engineer. He was amazingly philosophical about it:
Cap is still my friend. And I have lots of other friends.
But still I’m sad for my son, losing a friend he was getting on with so well. But I’m more sad for Cap, who’s moved away from a school where he was happy and beginning to feel settled. I’m sad for his mum & her partner, both barely out of their teens, and both carrying a whole lot of baggage that can’t simply be shed by moving towns.
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I am currently spending two mornings a week in our church school, reading with some children who need a bit of extra help. I’m having lots of fun with youngsters who are keen to learn and love to read stories. This Jessica Hagy card from her wonderful website sums up what I’m seeing in practice:
I wish I could spend more time reading with them
I had a chat with a dad recently who was asking about tutors for his young son, who’s in Reception with the Engineer. I was surprised that he thought he needed a tutor. But it was because dad works long hours, and mum (who also works long hours) doesn’t speak English and Granny, who does after-school care, speaks limited English and cannot read or write in any language.
I was impressed with dad’s determination, but so sad that noone who could read simple English was available to spend just ten minutes a day reading with the child. I can’t read with all the children in the parish!
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Half term has just begun and I am very relieved to have a few days ahead where I can spend a few more minutes in bed of a morning. Plain Lazy is not my favourite t-shirt company for nothing. So this week I am going to gather myself together to prepare for what I am expecting to be a busier time ahead. Oh, and take the kids to London to stay with Nanna and Grumpy Grandpa and visit some museums, obviously. I may be lazy but I have an organised mother.
Last week I managed to add a couple of extra responsibilities to my life. Since the Engineer has started full time school, I have been wasting too much time faffing about. I always seem to get more done when there’s more to be done. So I am now officially a school governor and, following much red tape and council bureaucracy, I am also – ta-daaa – a school volunteer. So now I’m Vicar’s Wife, Parent, Governor and Volunteer. I only need to start supervising dinners and I’ll have a full house.
I shall be going into school for two mornings a week to read with Year 6 and Year 2 pupils. I’m sure there’ll be much fodder for blogging, but I’ve signed the school’s paperwork agreeing to confidentiality. So I’ll not be able to share anything with you guys. Sorry. I’m looking forward to helping out in a school which has 35% pupils with special needs and some from difficult home situations.
I know a bit about the governors, because the Vicar is already on. I’ve been reading his stuff a bit so I’m already vaguely in the loop. Sadly my school gate pal Neatnic didn’t apply – she’d wanted to but couldn’t face writing the 75 word manifesto that I struggled with.
I’ve often heard local parents talk about wanting to get involved at school but they then seem to find the actuality too hard. It’s obviously not helped by the ridiculous bureaucracy that seems to have grown up around volunteering – CRB forms, council applications etc. But I think others are still nervous around teachers, seeing them as the grown ups, as if they themselves were still at school.
One of my aims in helping out at school is to help some of these parents make the step into school. I’m not sure how – any tips would be very welcome.
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Just in case you didn’t read all the comments about getting the Vicarage household up and at it, here is an excellent YouTube clip that Iconoclast shared. It shows how a Japanese mum gets her kid up, dressed, washed, toothbrushed and fed and makes a healthy lunch ready to go to school, all in the space of 4 1/2 minutes. I am wanting to put it into practice IMMEDIATELY. I just need to find a good place to hang the vests.
In other morning news, today the kids were totally speedy, induced by a new reward chart to gain additional Club Penguin and PS2 minutes. Not sure if this counts as bribery, but it was effective today. Will keep you posted.
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