“Is it the 84th or 85th day of January?” a teacher asked, walking into the staffroom after a full Wednesday in the classroom.
“92nd” a colleague fired back. We all laughed. There was consensus. January was being a long month and energy levels were low.
“Do I go to Sainsbury’s to stock up tonight? The cupboards are bare” another teacher pondered, staring at the rain battering the last remnants of light into gloom on the window pane.
“Fish and chips and order online instead?” came the suggestion. I could see the idea taking root, preferable to an hour’s round trip of a drive.
This was my last school visit of the day and, as always, I enjoyed the banter of my teaching colleagues. Good humour and care in bucketloads fill the schools I work with and I invariably leave with more than I brought.
Including the occasional bug.
“Your right lung has quite a rattle” the doctor said. He’d had me doing the deep breathing thing, in and out, in and out, for what felt like ages as the stethoscope traced around my upper back.
“Can you cough for me?” he asked. I didn’t need much encouragement. This was my current modus operandi and I let him have it, full bore.
“Mmm yes,” he retrieved the stethoscope and allowed me to sit back up again.
“You allergic to any antibiotics?” he queried. I shook my head. “Well, hot drinks, hot showers and a couple of these a day should help. Oh, and make sure you eat too.” He tapped away at the computer which dutifully told the printer to give me a prescription. I nodded and headed for the pharmacy and some other supplies necessary for lying about in a snotty daze including a newspaper and some oranges.
For February 1st the headlines were as expected. I headed to the crossword instead and pondered our new non EU future. I am working with our final year undergraduates on the primary teaching degree on an Assessment module. We look at the role of assessment across Early Years and Key Stages 1 and 2 and how it is used to identify progress for each child and next steps. We also look at the wider picture of international assessment and where the UK sits educationally in relation to around 90 other OECD/non OECD countries. We’re not doing so bad – 18th now, up from 23rd place in 2015.
Learning from one another by sharing good practice is key to better results. Ultimately every nation desires a healthy economy devoid of poverty, and education is seen as the route to these 2 goals, generated by UNESCO and OECD. In a country that is a member of both, UK teachers are part of this drive, helping children understand, find their feet and flourish in the world they find themselves in. It’s a big ask. A very big ask yet I see teaching colleagues grappling daily with maths materials and approaches from Asia in Cumbrian classrooms, inviting Paralympians to share their stories and celebrating religious and cultural differences through writing activities. Why? Because this is part of introducing our children to the best that has been thought or said or done on our planet – the aim of the National Curriculum – along with appreciating their roles and responsibilities of being a global citizen. Our teachers make primary schools a remarkable place of hope, tolerance and understanding where there are no boundaries. And children thrive.
As an English rose with a healthy dose of Scottish, Viking, Saxon, Danish and Roman DNA in her genes and a love of travel, I hope the “What next?” of the headline is actually one of closer global connection and sharing because then we all benefit.
But that could just be the antibiotics talking.