October 06, 2011

Observation Week – Wednesday

Today was primary school day!

It started off being a lot more stressful than I had planned. Lesson learned - never rely purely on sat nav, you will get horribly lost if it plays up. The school was extremely lovely about it, however. Once I got there the first things that hit you about a primary school are a) how tiny everything is, b) how tiny the children are, and c) the amount of colour. Displays were everywhere and things were hanging on walls, dangling from the ceiling, taped to doors... everywhere you looked. The head teacher, who was a delight, took us on a tour of the school, and that's when the unexpected came.

I remember very little about my primary school, but I do know that it was a safe and happy haven - just like the school I was in this morning. But the children around me at my school were also safe and happy, everywhere. I was in for a bit of a shock. Walking around the school we heard some pretty horrible stories about the pupil's backgrounds, and the percentage of children on the At Risk register is very high. I'd be lying if I said I didn't find it an emotional wake-up call.

We sat in on some year 6 lessons, which were very interesting (I know that some of us certainly improved our maths skills!). The gap between year 6 and 7 is a matter of six weeks or so, but as we dicussed with a teacher, the children make a huge leap in maturity. This was later explained to us by the person in charge of transition at the secondary school. There is an extensive programme which a) attracts pupils to the school and b) prepares them for secondary life. Having talked to year 7s, who after just 3 weeks seem distinctly unfazed, I can say that it seems to do wonders. I won't go into detail about this programme, but I found it very interesting. It also highlighted just how competitive schools are!

The primary school, in short, was a valuable and interesting experience (not to mention the children are very sweet). All the more valuable, because I know that many people on our course were unable to visit a primary school at all. In the afternoon we made our way back to our Enhanced Partnership school and had a talk about transition, which was really illuminating. Afterwards a NQT came to talk to us, which was an extremely useful way to end the day. Talking to someone who was brutally honest about the year or so ahead was a little scary but also refreshing. It made me feel a little less lost and alone, and I could hear sighs of relief around the room. It turned out we had pretty much all the same questions.

All in all an extremely useful day, which was incidentally very long! Again... I'm tired. But I'm taking that as a good sign. Half way through the week!

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