Friday 12 September 2008

Z is on Governor Duty

I had a really good time at the high school today. I went in at 11 o'clock for a music lesson and happened to bump into the chairman of governors who was arriving at the same time, so we agreed we'd have lunch together if we both finished at about the same time. Later, she and the headteacher (they were touring the school together) came into the music room, and she told me she was staying at school for lunch, so I said I'd join her.

It was a new Year 9 class, all pretty cheerful and lively, and I ended up supervising a group of 8 trying out the drum kit. One of them is a really good drummer, none of the rest had had a go before. It took a while to persuade a couple of the girls to have a go but they all did after a while. Yes, it was in a practice room; yes it was loud.

This year, the school has moved to 3 lesson days; ie 3 lessons each of 1 hour 40 minutes. Since year 9 previously had one 50 minute lesson a week, the teacher was consulted as to whether she would like to share a lesson with another department (such as drama next door) or have them once a fortnight, and she went for the latter option. I think it's a good idea as they will get more done; it's hard to get around every group within 50 minutes, as well as explain the lesson and round it up at the end.

I must do a bit more work at home - I haven't got the same music program on my computer as they have (I have Garageband) but I should learn a bit more about it and I should get Ro to show me some guitar chords as I don't know any.

This year, another innovation has been that the Lower School (years 9, 10 and 11) are no longer allowed to leave the school premises at lunchtime - this means that they can't spend their lunch money going down to the corner shop to buy crisps and fizzy drinks. The lunch menu has been revamped to make it more appealing - the food was always good, mind you, as Gilly and her team are good cooks. A canopy has been put up outside the canteen so that in good weather people can sit outside and in bad, at least they've somewhere to queue in the dry. There are other plans too for outside seating with picnic tables and benches. Indoors, the tables now have tablecloths and the room looks more attractive and welcoming.

The school used to buy into the county school catering service, but they had become less than satisfied with it. They thought that the portions were too small for growing teenagers and charges were very high if food were needed for a function. They also didn't think there were enough fresh vegetables. It was decided to take it in-house and the bursar (properly titled Financial Manager or something I think) organised it because it was something she felt strongly about. It was reckoned that more and better food could be provided for the same money and the catering team has remained the same.

I had quiche, green salad and Waldorf salad. All very good. They are still working on getting the menu right - they have to have fish on twice a week and yesterday they did a salmon, broccoli and pasta bake, but not many children would try it. They like the vegetarian lasagne and they love the weekly roast dinner.

What I enjoyed most about the day was the cheerful atmosphere. All the staff and pupils I ran into seemed really happy and relaxed. There's a lot of helping out going on in the canteen - as there's such a bigger take-up of meals, teachers and support staff have been offering to help out with the service - the bursar was cheerfully ladling out vegetables today and the deputy head was dishing up puddings. They'll have to get that sorted out - these people need a proper lunch break. I chortled at the Head, brolley raised (not in anger, it was raining) supervising in the playground. I suggested that he should pull rank and get someone else to do it. Later, he suggested I might care for the job. Over my left foot, I replied. But I'm a dab hand in the kitchen. I can see myself dishing out the roasties if I don't watch out.

I was wearing a pair of Weeza's trousers, which are a bit long for me and my ankles are wet and so are my shoes. I really should go and get changed.

Oh, and my friend who doesn't reply to emails came online this morning to tell me he has dished his knee. A ligament or something. He woke in the middle of the night in agony earlier this week - it seems he turned awkwardly in bed. He's on crutches, waiting to see a specialist. Ouch.


Anonymous said...

I've not heard of 3 lesson days.
That's a lot of work for a pupil to miss if they are absent, and a lot for a cover teacher to take on if the usual member of staff is absent.

I'll be interested to hear how that goes.

Good to hear of a school stopping their pupils from roaming the streets at lunchtimes and eating junk food. I'm amazed no-one has said it breaches their human rights though... Is the catering still done by employed-by-the-school staff?

Z said...

They've been moving to longer lessons for some time; most science lessons were double period already and quite a few others. Yes, it will be interesting to see how it goes.

I haven't heard of any complaints, notice having been given last term. I should have said in the post about the staff, I'll add that.

Z said...

complaints about not leaving the school that is. *sigh* I know what I mean so I assume everyone does!

Honey said...

wow the canteen sounds amazing, what a great school!

Z said...

It's not exactly an elegant dining room, but there are nice china plates and paper napkins and red and white checked tablecloths - and I couldn't see anything spilt on any of them,

Anonymous said...

Sounds like school dinners have much improved since my day. I have an enduring memory of rock hard fish fingers. Revolting.

Z said...

We looked forward to fish fingers because they were bought in and so the cook hadn't ruined them. Puddings were good though.