On the school run this morning I had three 11 years olds all saying their favourite word. We had a 5 minute recital of Bum, Freak and Wag where they sounded like the frogs chorus with my 9 year old laughing his head off. They then launched into Postman Pat and promptly forgot the words. It was a fun trip and I was thinking how much they enjoyed going to school, I don’t remember much laughter when I used to go to school. Surely the mark of a good primary school is not where it sits in league tables but where it sits in a child’s heart.
Over the years the boys have learnt to sail, surf and swim, played in football matches and run cross country for their school. They’ve walked the Saints Way from south to north coast and run miles for Sports Relief, they’ve cooked for the Royal Cornwall Show, taken part in concerts and hosted radio shows. In amongst all of this they’ve also learned to read, write and count to a squillion. As parents we’ve joined the children on bike rides, trips to the Minack, humiliated ourselves in the parents’ swim race and joined in the family feel of the school. That is what a good school should be, part of an extended family. It should be a place where a child runs in every day laughing, where they discover teachers that they will remember for the rest of their lives, where they try as hard as they can because they want to not because they have to. I’ll confess at this point that my children aren’t always that motivated, before any teachers reading this choke with laughter or disbelief. Like any family there are going to be grumpy days as well as good ones.
Too often schools seem to be criticised for failing to gain suitable SAT levels, teachers are deemed unsatisfactory if their paperwork isn’t properly presented. Head’s are stressed by the amount of hoops the have to jump through, introducing initiative after initiative whilst wondering where the money is going to come from. But surely primary school should just be about developing a child’s love of learning, keeping children safe and happy. Secondary school is going to be tough enough without children already arriving disenchanted. When I worked at Newquay Tretherras I saw such world weary, fed up children arrive in year seven and I would wondered how rotten their primary years must have been. So thank you to all the teachers out there, that love and care for their pupils, who know that a happy, motivated child is more important than SAT levels and attendance figures. I’m glad that you are in the majority and I hope that you all enjoy your holidays. On a personal note, thankyou to all at Roselyon for helping transform my stumbling toddler into a confident, happy young lad.