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November 03, 2010
I’m afraid this entry’s going to be another speedy one so I apologise in advance for any typos I skip in my haste. I’ve spent my first few days at Finham Park School, the site of my first placement and until Christmas, my school. Finham’s a successful school a short walk from my house so I’ve been quite lucky in those regards. It is a mixed comprehensive school, catering to 1500 pupils and around 300 sixth formers. In many ways this is similar to my old secondary school. It’s also a training school so it has all sorts of fancy equipment and experienced staff that should make the placement enjoyable.
The first two days were spent mostly in a meeting room going through admin, whilst I received lots of information that I’m sure will be useful I found these sessions very dry, I was eager to get into the classroom and despite the friendly atmosphere and available coffee I slightly resented being locked in the same room for most of the day, I imagine these feelings will be reversed before too long and I’ll be wanting to lock myself in a room away from the hordes of children.
More interesting were the tours of the school, we were shown the observation room, a strange classroom with a two way mirror along the back wall separating it from a control room that housed cameras and microphones to record the lessons taught inside. This is a great idea and one that I feel has the potential to be highly beneficial to me but it did seem a little creepy and (unfortunately) reminded me of this scenefrom The Dark Knight. Other highlights of the tour included the PLC, a decent sized building dedicated to helping the school’s Special Educational Needs and English as an Additional Language pupils. I was surprised by the size and facilities of this building as I’ve seen other schools lacing space and forced to provide this sort of support in corridors and repurposed cupboards. The most reassuring part of the tour though was the library, the school’s copy of Watchmen was clearly well thumbed and I noticed several of Grant Morrison’s NewX-Men collections scattered around Finham is obviously a school of taste.
On Friday I finally got into the classroom. I met my subject mentor and observed her teach a practical on chemical reactions using iron fillings and sulphur. The lesson had a rigidly defined structure including a health and safety warning delivered in gory detail. This seemed a little much at first but after hearing the warning about iron filings in MRI scanners I won’t be messing around with them. In the afternoon I observed a Year 11 triple award class receiving a lesson in exam technique which was every bit as exciting as it sounds but highly useful to the class as they gain valuable test experience and to the teacher as a quick show of hands at the end of the lesson showed how confident the kids were feeling about the test.
So far Finham Park seems a pretty good school with friendly staff and pupils ranging from enthusiastic and eager to not abusive and I look forward to spending some more time there, but I reserve the right to change my mind and start hating the place at a later date. I’ll leave you with a theological point made by my mum “The thing about this Pope is, he seems very holier than thou”