Wednesday, 30 March 2011

What does OFSTED know?

Having been on supply now for 7 months I feel it is time to question the judgements made by OFSTED. Schools get a few days' notice before OFSTED visit and they can tidy up, mark books, complete planning, warn and threaten the children, ask the worst ones to stay off and freshen up displays, etc. When I visit I see what really goes on. I can see them as they really are. Pay me to inspect them is what I say! I have been in enough staff rooms to hear what they really think about the kids. I have seen enough displays of appalling behaviour from children to paper any display wall. I have marked hundreds of books with many unmarked pages before my bit! I was in a class room today with French words stuck on objects stating "Le chaise" instead of "La chaise" and worse! It takes two minutes to check a spelling and years to undo errors that have already been internalised! I love getting on my high horse about these things. I remember being in an Indian restaurant and telling the waiter that lentils doesn't have an a in it! The best one was at Fleetwood market. Beautiful "satan" pyjamas were on sale! At least they were red satin!

Today I was in an area still in my home town but far away from suburbia. Not nearly as affluent but the children still had manners. Obviously, in my opinion, you can tell when a school has high standards of behaviour and the area does not matter one bit. It is a church school, however, and that can make a difference (but not in every case). Two lovely days in a school deemed satisfactory by OFSTED, where the children have manners and try their best and the curriculum is fun and challenging. The staff is hard-working and helpful too. Maybe it's the SAT's results or something that lets them down but I certainly thought it was good at least! But what would I know!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Real Teacher

I feel like a real teacher! I have had the same class for 4 days straight! I know all their names and I am quite enjoying it. They are no angels but they now know where they stand with me and they said they are getting used to me. I have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. I get to build a relationship with them but no-one is standing over me looking for plans. I will not have to suffer observations and I will not have performance management reviews. Plus I get paid a decent daily wage too! I feel less tired today and I think I am getting used to it! Roll on next week for possibly more of the same!

I was tearful today in assembly. A group of special needs adults came in to dance for us. It was beautiful! They had performed as part of the Narnia exhibition at St.George's Hall. They linked Aslan's death and resurrection with that of Christ. I had never thought of that before. It was very moving indeed! The dancers really enjoyed doing it as their smiles were beaming. I love days like today and the sunshine helps too! I always feel better when the sun shines. Even if I am in work and I can't really enjoy it! Hopefully it will last!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

When the cats away.....

Isn't it amazing! Doing supply on a comic relief day makes you think you work in a holiday camp! If it's comic relief day and the boss is out, well.....! Extra long playtime, comic relief assembly, extra hymn practice, etc.! All the jollies come out of the cupboard. But, we have to ensure that something is in the class books every day! It would seem that a sticker with a learning objective plus photos of the class doing an activity related to the week's work will often suffice! I am not saying that every school is the same but there are days when you wonder if you are in an educational establishment or Butlins!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Tear aways at 5

OMG! Had my first really bad afternoon with a 5 year old thug! 2 boys with 11 months between them in the same class and as different as can be possible. The youngest is quiet and calm but the eldest is a nightmare! Biting and kicking everyone in sight! I will not go back to that school near Wigan ever again! Two of us on supply, no register, no work left and no idea that the behaviour was so bad! I was not happy!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


I have been in enough schools to recognise acronyms but BEOTL is a new one on me! I saw it everywhere on every board in the school I was in today and I was puzzled. I know WALT and WILF (We Are Learning Today and What I'm Looking For) but BEOTL made no earthly sense to me. My curiosity got the better of me so I asked the T.A. She said it was introduced when OFSTED put the school in special measures and it means Before the End Of The Lesson..... I was astonished by the fact that it means nothing and that the school was in special measures. It was lovely and the staff were hard working and the children were delightful. I investigated further to discover that I was one of many supply teachers. They had a number of senior staff on long-term sick and a new head. It's hardly the fault of those working hard currently. The displays were amazing and they had a lovely atmosphere in the place.

What do I know? I would have said closer to outstanding myself!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Is it me?

Is it me or is homework for the parents to do?

Some of the recent homework I have subjected to makes me wonder who it is for? How is this a homework to back up what has been done in class when it clearly hasn't been looked at by the class before? Luckily I am a teacher and I can cope but others can't. It is really bad for parents to be faced with homework for a 7 year old that they can't do. It is very common! Holding classes to show them how to subtract and add the new way is not helpful to working parents!

Also, some homework is downright bizarre! A friend of mine posted her son's task on Facebook: Do you know a person who looks like a vegetable? Let's all insult each other shall we? Someone's dad might have a cauliflower ear from rugby but can you really say the vicar looks like a parsnip?

My eldest is getting ready for options. He has decided to do music but being a drummer he can't read music. I am teaching it to him on a weekly basis to prepare him. How fair is that on parents who can't do that themselves? Kumon is also another bug bear of mine. It costs £50 a month per subject! Agreed, it works, but not all parents can afford it! It is one thing to pay for horse riding lessons as an additional skill but paying for what they should be taught in school is quite another!

I feel better now I have got that off my chest!

Back to my week in school! Serious hard work is under way in Y6 now! The poor kids are only doing literacy and numeracy all day long! They have ditched science as the OFSTED team are not inspecting that in the school in question. They let the schools know in advance and they carry on with science. How unfair! Some schools are devoting the whole week to the SAT's and others have extra with science.

The boys are shattered writing all week! The afternoon behaviour is deteriorating at a rate of knots! Flashback story ideas, planning grids, drafts, redrafts, big write plus mental maths and daily maths and booster!!!!! On Friday they get P.E.! I bet they can't wait! Next week is worse! SAT's practice tests all week!!!! Undoubtedly I will get supply and be expected to mark them!!!!!

No fun at the moment! Yesterday we had a big discussion about Ash Wednesday. Is it a no meat day or not. I say yes. No meat. What do you say?


Monday, 7 March 2011

Not All Schools are the Same

Had another interesting week in South Liverpool! What I have discovered is the following: You can tell which is the nearest supermarket to a school by the state of their P.E. equipment or their garden! Near to Tesco will provide you with a great stock of tennis balls. Near to Morrisons will provide you with a great garden! The voucher system is well used in primary schools and Tesco is for sporting equipment and Morrisons is for garden equipment! Schools with both nearby have a good mixture of both. The gardens are not always done by the kids though! That is a shame! Plus, to get a new football kit you need millions of vouchers! Hence the mass of tennis balls!

I have done some P.E. this week. I am no expert, trust me, but I can throw and catch. Not always a skill easily acquired without practice. Anything but football skills in South Liverpool seems like a waste of time to the kids! No wonder Ireland beat us in the cricket recently! The rounders match I organised was won half a rounder to zero. No-one hit the ball and some of the throwing and catching was awful!

I did mark a rather good piece of writing though, which cheered me up no end! Very imaginative if grammatically incorrect! What's a capital letter and a full stop only a way to stop the flow!

See you next time!