Crikey, been informed I have a new follower and realised it’s been about a year since my last post….and what a year! I finished my stint at Woodlands (BESD special school for secondary students) and then went straight into HELL! I took over another long term sick position in a referral unit near Birkenhead, and so the nightmare began - long story short - shit leadership, inconsistency, low staff morale, led to me being punched (broken nose) locked in a cupboard and verbally abused on a daily basis….my name was “F*cking fat c*nt) not Ms Mooney. I stuck this for 6 months whilst getting my own consultancy off the ground.
Deciding to start my own LTD. company was a huge decision in so far as I know how crap I am at administration…and yes, this has proved difficult, but really enjoyed the freedom of setting up myself and all that involves…and now…I have taken a position in a ‘contentious free school.’ and NO, not one of ‘Gove’s girls’ as my partner likes to tease me, you think after the second punch in the ribs he’d stop…?
Sandymoor School in Runcorn is placed in an affluent middle class area on the border of one of the most deprived areas in the country, so the mix is really interesting, my role has now been promoted to SENCO together with head of Art & Technology. What an opportunity, to set up a whole new curriculum and implement it, just how I want it, most exhilarating!
I am still suffering the loss of a regular income for 18 months, so financially it will take some time to recover, but for now, I crave the routine of the school and the companionship of like minded colleagues that I am fortunate to be working with.
Sooo, the new review of the School Improvement Team was announced, a few jobs and a gazillion people to apply for the scraps left. Needless to say I was neither inspired or had the experience for any of the roles on my grade….but I still applied and was interviewed for all 3 roles…and failed spectacularly!
I am a manic depressive so knocks like this i.e. redundancy and not having the skills to fit into the limited and streamlined School Improvement Team could have sent me reeling into a spiral..up or down?!
Yesterday I cleaned…and cleaned…and cleaned…for those that know me, a very alien activity ;) and decided that I would not brood over what had been and look forward to what could be.
A very good friend of mine having discovered I was soon to be free asked me straight off, please come to our school we need someone to cover a long term sickness in Technology and Science. Getting my head back into going into school was a lot easier and more exciting than I envisaged, the fact that the school is a Special Secondary school for BESD…even more challenging and exciting, but crucially the feeling of self worth which had taken a real hit started to return.
As a High school teacher I had always had an affinity with the ‘Naughty Boys & Girls’ I’ll put that down to coming from a very large family bought up in an extremely deprived area of Nottingham and having a family of ‘Naughty Boys & Girls!’ I am sure they won’t mind me saying that.(See below! cracking and rare pic of all of us at Butlins!)
So returning back to a school and that school being a select bunch of the children schools couldn’t manage is …exciting?!! I feel exhilarated…I will make the most of it, I’m not naïve, I do remember the day in day out struggles of staying sane in school, nevertheless, I did not expect to feel so pleased about the confirmation and approval of my voluntary redundancy!
Lesson plans, assessment, marking and abuse here I come (did I mention the funny quirky kids, the insight and privilege I have in to their worlds, and the rare opportunity of working with people that just say it as it is!)
So is Redundancy going to be a terrifying pit of desolation and depression with me clawing the fast disintegrating walls in a supreme effort to regain my previous professional standing and economic stability….or will it be a liberating, life changing and potentially a much more successful and unbound way of working and living…?
Since Councillors in Liverpool approved budget cuts of well over £100 million, in spite of the collapse of an agreement to set the city’s first all-party budget.
The Lib Dems put forward an amendment to give an extra £1m to the voluntary sector and save four Sure Start centres but the original plans were passed.
They included shedding 1,500 jobs, reducing funding for libraries, leisure centres, youth service and of course my own team - School Improvement, the team that supports schools when they are failing, challenges schools in developing forward thing 21st Century developments, safeguards our schools, ultimately safeguards our children.
The savings represent 22% of its annual £400m budget but the city council has to find a further £50m of savings for 2012-13.
It seems the poorest areas of the country, those that have been supported by Labour’s initiatives that were grant funded, are the worst hit, as grants are pulled; specific grants, which pay for individual services, such as key government priorities. This money is ring-fenced and must be used in the way specified…and as Governments change, so do their priorities, and we are left with a gap between children that have and those that have not, making positive moves to closing, will, I fear begin re-opening. If Michael Gove insists on making his flagship policy around ‘Free Schools’ and not ‘support and challenge’, it is; every man for themselves! …Do you remember what the ‘Thatcherism ‘I’m alright Jack’ Ideology’ did for our country last time??
I can hear you say ‘But Michael Gove hasn’t reduced the schools budget.’, Even though the dedicated Schools Grant has been protected there are many aspects of education spending - such as the new school building programme - which fall outside the ring-fence and are therefore vulnerable to cutbacks, as we have already seen.So services that were once available to schools after they had ‘bought in’ to their LA’s service level agreement, Schools will now have to ‘buy in’ support on top of their service level agreement, as that ‘support service’ is now non existent aside the English/Literacy and Maths/Numeracy support.
So, the liberating bit is me being one of the services that schools can ‘buy in’. Realistically though, how many public servants that have worked for school improvement are out there touting their wares to schools…looks like I’m joining the list…
In a break in an educational conference recently, I was surrounded by middle class men in suits - educational leaders and professionals - so the subject quickly came around to Football…of course.
Liverpool had just hammered Manchester United (which, as my surrogate red team now I live in Merseyside, I was pretty pleased about). Being in the North West of the UK, the men around the table were either Evertonians, Liverpool or Man U fans heavy sigh here. Inevitably there was always conflict with the richer Man U but huge conflict between Everton and Liverpool….I mentioned that Nottingham Forest and Derby County had a very similar ‘passionate’ rivalry….silence and tumbleweed…dismissed immediately - not as a woman (at least every bone in my body is praying that…) but of course I was talking about 2 teams that weren’t in the premiership, they didn’t have the funding, support, revenue, kudos etc. etc. that these Northern teams have, and I was openly laughed out! The Man U supporter turned around and said QUOTE “They’re both crap anyway” …. I of course tried to point out that in fact Nottingham Forest had gone unbeaten for the last 10 games and were second in the Championships league.
I was soon ‘put down’ with the ‘harsh fact’ that Nottingham Forest couldn’t survive in the Premiership as it just didn’t have the money and resources to buy the best players etc. etc.
They carried on their conversation, I sat and stewed on this for a while….Their attitude had really bothered me, not the dig at Forest, I’ve had to deal with that one for a long time, but just the dismissiveness that; a team from an area that doesn’t have the same funding, cannot afford the ‘best’ players, won’t fill a ground with 60k + supporters, yet still adds real value to their community, hope for their area, (Both Nottingham & Derby could compete with the North West on deprivation factors)
I wondered aloud ‘I’m really glad we don’t dismiss our schools in the same way we do our National sport teams…otherwise why would we work so hard in schools and with children from incredibly deprived backgrounds, with little or no resources, schools that are falling apart (as well as teachers!) knowing what the final outcome might be….?
Oh yes I remember…because it isn’t written in stone that where you are from, what socio-economic background you are from will determine your success in life…it can be your parents pushing and supporting you, your school and community believing in you, all those around you that will make you a champion….that’s probably why Forest and all its fans believe that they will kick all of your butts next season!
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Uluru - Known by us westerners as Ayers Rock in Australia’s Northern Territory