I know that I have been particularly lax over the last ten days at writing anything here. We have seen the publication of school league tables (a complete nonsense and farce, whatever Nick Gibb says), the promulgation of the new funding formula for schools (no more money, just the same old shirt ironed out with different creases), the closure of the silly consultation on grammar schools (as though that is any kind of legitimate priority) and the publication of the PISA tables, virtually meaningless and of no account, yet taken as gospel by silly governments as drivers for improvement. As John Hattie once memorably said: politicians are not silly people, but they do silly things for silly reasons. As a head, I spend more time than I ought, protecting my staff and my children from this government.
While all that was going on, I have been managing various resignations/departures of staff, a permanent exclusion (something I swore that I would never do), and participating in what a mate of mine called “Nativity Alley” – the stream of celebration of Christmas, starting with the Advent call to “wake up and get ready, ’cause the King is coming back.” A lot of it (not the resignations or exclusion, obviously) has been wonderful, and for me highlighted the key expectation that Jesus has established a great kingdom and one day he is coming back to re-claim his ruler-ship over it on earth. We have looked at that through the three parables of Matthew 25 – the wise and foolish virgins (which is not about virgins), the parable of the talents (which is not really about talents) and the Sheep and the Goats (which is not about agriculture). They are all about how we live life and set priorities in the light of the return of the King, and so they are all about discipleship.
But what has really reinforced my love for this job and the possibilities it contains has been two things – looking to the future of teaching and learning at Christ the Sower (about which more in the new year, but it is inspiring me even thinking about it) and printmaking. For me this is a new venture, and I have enjoyed the journey. For the 13 children who have worked with me on darkening Tuesday evenings in a printmakers’ club, it has been a revelation. I have never known anything like printmaking to cause the wonder of art to come alive for children. We have done monoprinting, press-printing with polystyrene, and single- and double colour linocuts, using reduction methods. We have also tried colloprints but those were less successful. But there has been a mass of good stuff, and I am using this blog just to show it all off to you, because I am so proud of this group of children and their growing printmaking abilities. Some have found this to be the medium they excel in. others are good at art generally, and others have struggled to conquer it and make it their own. I have loved the interaction – children helping me with my own printmaking, other staff (thank you Hema and Emma) coming to join me, and the printing conversations we have with each child about proofing, inking, cutting and registering. All of them have the bug, and some of them have their own linocut sets or are getting them for Christmas. Like me, they are addicts. Here is their work: