January 31st 2020
This Tuesday we hosted MACFEST (Muslim Arts and Culture Festival). We had decided to get involved with this Greater Manchester-wide project as part of wider efforts to broaden our pupils’ understanding of a range of cultures and beliefs and to celebrate aspects of the culture of our growing number of Muslim families.
The afternoon ended up being a proper Lark Hill party. The children had thrown themselves into creating all sorts of work for the event: poems and prayers, patterns and portraits, writing, art and music. Parents provided delicious food that went down a treat and it was great to see so many smiling faces in the hall. Thanks to Mrs Duncan’s rock’n’roll links(!) the afternoon had an incredible soundtrack too. Aziz’s Ibrahim, who I had last seen playing guitar for The Stone Roses 20 years ago, brought along a bank of guitars, sitars, effects and beats and got everyone dancing from Reception children to quite a few (anonymous) grandparents. We had music from south Asia, Spain, Jamaica, grime and even CBBC’s In the Night Garden!
As exciting as this was though the day belonged to the children. From Reception’s paintings to Class 4/5’s musical performance and the poetry and artwork of all classes, it was clear that everyone had spent a good deal of time considering the themes of identity, difference, belief and community and learned a good deal in the process.
The previous week Class 5/6 visited Cheadle Mosque. I don’t think many of them knew quite what to expect but they were a credit to school and sat with their juice and chocolate digestives before leaving with a few preconceptions having been challenged. Along with MACFEST, the visit helped reinforce the notion that we have much more in common than that which sets us apart. Visits to St Matthew’s church and a visit from a Jewish leader are planned for later in the term.
Thank you to everyone involved in making these events happen and also to those who just came along for a pakora.
December 20th 2019
In the interests of promoting the school, I’ve been persuaded to write a monthly blog. If it ends up being self-indulgent nonsense (assuming anyone reads it), please let me know (gently).
2019 has been quite a year at Lark Hill. It started in a fair amount of chaos. Circumstances had left us with a third of our classes taught by supply teachers. My take on the school after eighteen months in post was that it required quite a lot of improvement. It would have been nice if Ofsted had arrived in February and disagreed. Spoiler alert: they agreed.
From that point on the progress the school has made has been amazing. I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts of the staff and the children. The demands made of them have been huge but they have all just got on with it. My intention was for the school to become a place of deliberate calm. That is how I would now describe Lark Hill, with they key word being ‘deliberate’. All teachers and TAs have taken on Restorative Approaches even when it felt counter-intuitive. They have proved brilliant at making mole hills out of mountains.
The community we serve is incredibly mixed. Many children come to Lark Hill having known nothing but love and security. Others come through our doors anxious, traumatised and in desperate need despite the very best efforts of their parents or carers. Sometimes life just throws horrible things at good people. And the Lark Hill community is overwhelmingly comprised of good people. Our job is to meet need. Sometimes children need help with spelling. Sometimes they need help with keeping their temper. Whatever they need help with, the staff try their best to help them and, crucially, to understand them.
The children instinctively get this. When children see other children who may have lost control or caused harm getting help instead of punishment, they understand that this is in everyone’s interests. If I let the children write the school’s behaviour policy it might well end up quite punitive. However, when things actually happen that need addressing, their capacity for compassion is enormous. All they want is for amends to be made and relationships to be repaired. It is impossible not to love them for this.
If you can possibly attend please come along to one of the meetings we are holding on Monday 13th January in which we will be explaining Restorative Approaches in detail, talking through a range of scenarios and inviting your comments and questions.
Finally thanks so much to all parents, carers and members of the broader Lark Hill community for everything you have done to support your children and their school this year and for making it such a great place to work. Have a very merry Christmas and a brilliant new year.