Archive for Jul, 2008

Yellow Fever!

Posted in Uncategorized on Jul 20, 2008 by David Palmer
So………….. what has retirement been like so far?
* It took it’s time, but the Yellow Fever innoculation I had the other Friday (a mild form of the virus that would makes you mildly ill for a short while, similar to a cold) bit with a vengeance!!! Headeaches, body aches, stomach aches, exhaustion and a total lack of appetite with regular bouts of sweats followed by shivering. If that was the mild form, I don’t want the real Macoy. It certainly spoilt this week.
* I used my Satmap on Friday. Roger and I walked 10.5km of the Jurassic Way (it passes our garden). We walked to Welford, where Sue picked us up and transported us back home. We had lunch in a pub in Sibbertoft. I still wasn’t feeling great and I am afraid I paid for it on Saturday. However, it was a great opportunity to test out the Satmap and I am of the opinion that it is a brilliant bit of kit.
* On Friday night we went to see ‘Rendition’, an excellent film about torturing terrorists (or not).
I suppose I now have time to cogitate at length:
Every year we have to inflict SAT’s onto our work force (children). It gives them something to do (to worry about) and allows them to be measured so they are under no doubt as to their usefulness to society. We are all aware that many/most schools concentrate on pushing the importance of SAT’s to their workforce so that they DO WELL and as a consequence the school shines brighter. However, I have never played that game. I have not presented my classes with endless past papers, supplied homework based on SAT’s questions for terms in advance. In fact when they have asked when are they getting their tests, I was very vague and just said ‘sometime’. I didn’t worry about them (comes with age, experience and common sense) and hoped the children wouldn’t as well. I had no anxious children or parents and no tears/sickness. The children had no idea they were about to sit down to the tests until they sat down for them. I believe I gave the children time to enjoy their education without ‘The Test’ hanging over them. And, what about their results? They were all within norms for their age. A few did slightly better and a few did slightly worse, but most did exactly as expected and predicted (AMAZING). Now I confess ……..  This year I did it differently. As this was going to be my last year I quite naturally wanted to go out on a  high and as I was only going to teach the class from Christmas onwards, I didn’t want to leave things to chance. So …… from February onwards I presented them with past SAT’s papers, gave them endless homework questions based on SAT’s type problems and practised sitting a SAT’s paper over and over again. I didn’t find teaching much fun and I don’t think the children  did, but they didn’t complain as they were absolutely sure of how important they were. The curriculum presented wasn’t ‘Broad and balanced!’ As you will know the results were late in coming back to schools (incompetence by the greater authorities). We got ours on the day before we broke up for the summer term, and what about my classes results? One examiner wrote on one of the papers that he had never ever marked a test paper with no errors until this one (full marks 35/35). The lad was bright, but not the brightest. Nine other children had in excess of 30 marks  with three getting 34. I must confess that I did not expect this. What a rod I have created for future  staff who will now have to predict and achieve progress based on these results!!!! What future misery I have now inflicted on this cohort of children. I am sorry! They are lovely children.

Retirement at last!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on Jul 15, 2008 by David Palmer
School has now finished, the celebrations are all over and now I have time to sit down, relax and write the family blog.
School, as schools always are, get very busy towards the end of the year. I attended children’s disco’s, organised 2 class trips (I had a stomach virus during one and had the following day off), helped at the PTA Summer Fete, organised the School Sports Day, organised and attended the Area Sports meeting, attended Governors meetings, took more assemblies than I care to remember, and I did a bit of teaching in between.
In the end we had three other members of staff crawling through the escape tunnel with me. Wilma, our Scottish Year 2 teacher who was going back to Scotland (her marriage had broken up this year). Anne, our office ancillary who was ready for retirement and doesn’t like the new idea of ancillaries being called Teaching Support Assistants and being asked to cover classes. Eleanor, the school secretary and bursar who has moved on to a much bigger and better job (and is avoiding the coming backlash of some injudicious budgetary decisions by the present Head). As Anne and I have been with Leicestershire Authority for 25 years we were given £250 to spend on a present for ourselves (of course the money comes out of school funds!). Anne had a bike and opted for a Satmap Active 10 (a brilliant bit of kit) to help me on the many walks I intend to take.
Of course I attended a function with the  Governors and they presented me with a Gold pen and a silver paper weight, and then a function with the PTA and was presented with a voucher for a Rotavator, the dress I wore at a previous ‘Stars in their Eyes’ Talent Contest and a case of wine. A staff farewell was held for the four of us at the Angel Hotel. Food was very good, some people got very drunk and I entertained them with an impromptu (prepared speech) which ended with Wilma throwing some England memorabelia at the audience. The most difficult was the final day farewell with the Year 6 children at the Leaver’s Assembly. Hankies were passed around staff, parents and children alike as the Richard (Year 6 teacher) conducted a heart wrenching assembly with his class. My turn came at the end with the whole school sobbing with what had gone on previously and I was presented with some more gifts. A similar feeling to that of the condemned man waiting in his cell to meet the hangman’s noose as I stepped up to the front. It wasn’t a moment for light heartedness, so when requested for a speech, I gave the shortest one in 35 years; ‘At the age of around 20yrs I had only 3 ambitions in life; one, to be happy, two, to have a brilliant job, and 3, to meet some wonderful people, and I think I achieved it.’  I held it together long enough to exit.
At the end of the day, I was very touched and very emotional again as parents and children sought me out to say goodbye. People can say such kind things and for once I really did feel appreciated. In the past I have had to comfort parents on occasions who have been distraught over their child and I have always found it difficult, but coping with parent after parent with tears running down their cheeks saying such nice things and recalling memories that I had long since forgotten, but had been very important to them, brought rather moist eyes to yours truly.
To put things into balance, at 4pm I met Sue, Sarah and Jamie at the surgery for our Yellow Fever injections and found out that Jamie and I needed a Typhus booster as well!! The Yellow Fever injections cost £31.45 each! And, you don’t get a guarantee, ouch!
Charlotte, Suraj and Lucas came down on Friday to help with the Retirement BBQ I had organised. Saturday saw us putting up a Marquee and Gazebo in the garden, Sue preparing all the salady things and the meat defrosting nicely. I had made the garden all nice and pretty (even extra cleaned the pool). THEN, at 12 noon we had a rain shower and I checked the Met Office’s weather forecast and it was for light showers (not a problem as we had plenty of undercover space) and temperature falling to 6 degrees, NOT what was needed for an evening BBQ!!!! I had provisionally booked the School Hall and Community Lounge for such a circumstance, so I made the decision to relocate. The afternoon was spent ringing around letting people know and then preparing the Hall and Lounge. Things got a bit hectic at times but we got everything ready on time. Two friends and Suraj did the honours at the BBQ’s for me, Sarah handed out the quiz I had prepared for everybody, Sue was a blur most of the time sorting out food, chatting to people and organising things. Charlotte,  like Sarah looked stunning and made me feel very proud to have such pretty daughters (take after their dad). Jamie meandered around  helping out (scoffing the food!) and mixing with the guests, having his photo taken. His girl friend Harriet arrived at 10.45pm, she stayed awhile and then they left for another party. Lucas surprised everybody with his quickness of feet and his ability to disappear in a fraction of a second, he was certainly the hit of the party with the ladies (a sign of things to come?). I had a rock band play at the BBQ. They were excellent, they played the set I had requested with a surpise  rendition of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’., We all sang along to ‘Teacher leave them kids alone!’ We got into bed at around 1.30am.
Back to reality on Sunday. We spent most of the morning in school, tidying, clearing up and washing. The school hasn’t looked so clean for years! We had a BBQ for lunch with the left over meat. During the afternoon Sarah went with Charlotte and family back to Newark as Sue an I went to the cinema to watch ‘Hot Fuzz’, a brilliantly funny film (I recommend it).
Now the retirement starts.