My children, due to age, attend two different schools, an infant school and a junior school. The schools are next to one another but, alas, have not coordinated a single inset day this year.
Subsequently, because schools have five a year for teacher training (these days used to be a part of the summer holidays), I have had to find childcare – or, for the majority, take time off – for two entire working weeks.
As a teacher myself, it may surprise you to hear me say this, because of course I fully understand the importance of inset days. We all want teachers who have up-to-date training in crucial issues such as safeguarding, for example, and I take part in my fair share of insets, too. But to have to take a fortnight, unpaid, off of work, as opposed to the five days I’d need to take if my kids attended a primary school, is frustrating.
However, the benefits of it far outweigh the negatives. If teachers were not continually taking part in the variety of training offered at inset, as well as that offered at a multitude of evening meetings and training courses throughout the year, then our children’s education would be well behind the educational times. The inset days are tricky for all of us parents to coordinate, but they are also crucial to the quality of teaching provided.
Many of the schools in our local area work their socks off for our kids, and I am lucky enough to work with several of them as a part of my job.
One such school, Manor Infants in Buckland, has recently come out of Special Measures, due to the sheer hard work and determination of a dedicated staff and a dedicated community outside of the school.
Within eighteen months of the new head teacher joining, they have been able to celebrate gaining a ‘good’ grading from Ofsted in four out of five categories, which is testament to the great things that can happen when schools and parents recognise the mutual goal of doing the best for our children, and then striving to achieve it together.
Education is a continual cycle between home, society, and school – and if one of those elements falls down, then the others can collapse around it too.
All too often we develop an ‘us and them’ culture of thinking in life, and it can only ever be detrimental. Isn’t it about time we thought simply in terms of ‘us’?
First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 2nd June 2015