I had such a good time yesterday afternoon. The children came to visit while their mother was at the hairdressser and they were charming. I'd bought some stickers for them the other day, mildly monsterish faces with googly eyes and they were thrilled with them, rather more than the gift warranted in truth. Squiffany decorated her wellies with them and Pugsley arranged them on a sheet of paper. He said several times how much his mother would admire them. We did a jigsaw, played a game. went and bounced on my bed (I didn't) and Squiffany and I dressed up for my wedding. I wore a sari, which rather impressed her, and went and got out all my rings so she could put them on my fingers. Pugsley took a shine to a couple of rings and wore them while he rummaged around under the duvet on the floor, but I remembered to reclaim them.
Once Dilly was home and Al had shut up the shop, we went down to the new village school, which was holding an open afternoon from 4-6 so that anyone who wanted to could look around. It's wonderful. I felt quite emotional - look, you know me, this is hardly a surprise - as we'd all worked so hard for so long to get the funding and arrangements for the building to be built. When I left the governing body three years ago it was all agreed, but it's taken all this time for everything to be finalised. The former school is one of those lovely little Victorian purpose-built village schools, where 100 or more pupils from ages 5 upwards sat in rows, all in one room. It's been much altered from that - indoor lavatories were added about 22 years ago, an inner courtyard was turned into a library about 15 years ago and only 4 years ago walk-in cupboards were turned into extra teaching areas. Every inch of space in that little school was used. A third class was housed in a mobile classroom. The village church leased an area of field and fenced it for a playing field. It worked damn well too, Ro was well taught there and, most of all, it's a place for children to grow up happy and secure, with a good grounding for life as well as in education. But it was cramped and awkward and, however good-humoured the staff were about it, it wasn't easy to deliver a full curriculum. Indeed, we were told at more than one Ofsted inspection that, because of the limitations of the building, it was not possible to be given the highest rating.
So now it's got, or is going to have, everything we could wish for. There's still some fitting out to do in one room, with cookers and science equipment, and not everything is complete outside. The school will use the playing field for another year, all being well (we've got to ask to continue renting it yet) while theirs is levelled and seeded, but that doesn't matter. 18 years I put in at that school and I still sort of belong there. The Bishop is coming to open it officially next month and I'm very pleased to have been invited to the ceremony.
Anyway, I saw lots of people I knew, who were also having a look round, including former pupils and a former Head and his wife who also worked there for some years, although they weren't married to each other then. And someone else who I had a chat with about being a governor at the high school - when she agreed to stand for election I came home and wrote at once to the head and chairman of governors and have had a reply saying nomination forms for parent governors will go out today.
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I think village schools do a wonderful job though I have to admit my two didn't enjoy their time at the local school because the head tended to have 'favourites' and they were on her 'not very popular' list - mainly because they weren't sporty.
On the other hand when I taught at a (different) village school with just 75 5-11 year olds there was a great family atmosphere.
The head matters more than anyone else and sets the feel of the whole school. The school you taught at is the size of this one, although the age only goes up to 9 at present as Suffolk will still have a 3-tier system for three more years. There are 5 age groups in 3 classes, which works better than it sounds.
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