Tag Archives: TES

I’m against school cuts but is your school making the most of free opportunities?

I have had many detailed chats with the headteacher of my daughter’s school about education and I have previously fallen for the rhetoric I heard. Last summer I supported them by offering half a day of music for 10 weeks. At the end of the term I asked on multiple occasions for a time to discuss and assess what had been achieved. They were too busy to fit this in – well the school is expanding with new building work going on. However new buildings don’t make a school, people do and this is very clearly put by Janice Mardell in my podcast episode 003 which you can listen to here.

What is heartbreaking is that I offered this help because a visitor to the school had previously said that the school obviously wasn’t very musical. This was so sad because when I was first involved with the school, music was at it’s heart. But headteachers have come and gone and staff have changed. As a result there is no orchestra or ensemble for my daughter to perform in. Her horn lessons have no immediate focus in school, in fact all of her skills and abilities are given to her by clubs and opportunities we pay for outside of the curriculum!

The meeting I was proposing last summer was going to result in me offering my services as a professional musician and educator for one day a week for a year – free of charge – to support music and the creative curriculum. I wanted to do this for my daughter and her friends using the skills I have.

However without a meeting I couldn’t offer my help and arranged my work diary to fit my other obligations that I did know about.

The real sadness for me is that the opportunity was there. During the 10 weeks last summer the pupils got to know me, I was stopped in the street by them to say hello. One of the children of an assistant headteacher was in my class and I was told how much her son had enjoyed it.

Until now I have not used social media to express my feeling about this particular situation, but I wonder if seeing it in a blog will be seen as supportive or negative? Feedback is important to schools and this is a way I can deliver it that will be seen and heard by all.


While I want Education on Fire to be positive I also want you to know I understand the frustrations that you can encounter as a teacher or educator. My frustration was both as a parent and educator. My daughter’s school weren’t listening to me and as a result I couldn’t offer my help and support.

What do you do in that situation? Do what you can. I have devoted even more time working on Education on Fire and finding examples of great things that are going on in schools to set your imaginations racing!

You can listen to all my podcasts at www.educationonfire.com/episodes/



It’s all about the moment!

What is the most important thing about this moment for you?

I have finished reading Sir Ken Robinson’s book ‘Creative Schools – Revolutionizing Education from the Ground Up’

I loved it. I was so taken with the sense of possibility and the examples of how people have made such a difference in schools around the world. The thing that always strikes me when I hear or read these things is that in order for this type inspirational change to occur the situation has often hit the lowest point it can. All other main stream options have not produced the results required so the school (often with a new head) is given the freedom to do things differently or creatively! Then all manner of great things happen.

This is a problem because most of the education system is kind of ‘OK’ in most peoples eyes. We want things to be better but don’t want to rock the boat too much. But these great things would happen in any school in any situation.

Why would you not want to:

-Listen to what the children say
-Have happy staff all working together with a common ethos
-Be surrounded by happy, positive people
-Enjoy being part of the whole community of pupils,staff,parents and those living around the school
-Share in the joy of learning together

The real question should be for all schools – Is what you are doing in this moment from a place of fear or joy?

I say this partly because as I finished the book I read a review from a writer at TES which absolutely slated it.
While everyone is entitled to their opinions what I was left with was my roller coaster of emotions.

I had finished reading Creative Schools and felt great, then I read the review and felt heartbroken and sad. After some thought it seemed to me that my feelings were not about what was said in the review (or the book for that matter) but the feeling I got from the writers.

One was open, positive and almost a celebration of joy and the other a fearful slamming. My interest is in why the review was written in the way it was rather than just the fact it didn’t agree with the book.

I took this thought forward into some music workshops I have been doing at an Academy School. This school is in the middle of a very poor area. There are major behavioural issues with some pupils and I know the school is changing its focus away from being creative to a more ‘traditional’ outlook. This always saddens me because I know how the arts can really speak to those children who seem so lost in school. I started to get a little despondent about the situation and the system and how things could be ‘better’ in my eyes anyway.

It sometimes seems so hard to make people see the whole picture but I realised that you don’t have to. At that moment I had the opportunity to share my joy of what we were doing with the class. My energy came from excitement and joy not fear. While one or two children still seemed to find their situation a struggle a larger proportion willed each other to a level of achievement and enjoyment not felt before. It is only for an hour a week for 8 weeks but each visit has a sense of opportunity, it opens a window of light for those children to have seen only darkness for lots of their life.

Given a blank canvass I would do the workshops in a very different way in a different system. That used to be my frustration but now I see that in every moment I can except what I can not change and show those around me what could be.

At this point every moment is opening someones window a little further and that is ‘my’ most important thing.
It is the collection of everyones ‘moments’ that helps change and it is creating a place to share these joyful experiences I want to focus on now.

Here are the links to Sir Ken Robinson’s book and the TES review. I would be very interested to know your thoughts.



Thanks for now…..