Yesterday I spent the day with the 4+ department at the local primary school where I am one of the Community Governors. I seem to have fallen into this role because the 4+ Governor was ill and I was asked to stand in at a meeting - six months later and I am 'it.' The 4+ team have a tough task, not least because many of their colleagues, even, it seems, in what used to be called the infants (nowadays Keystage 1) refer to their area as 'Teletubby land.' Sixty little people with some aged just turned 4 in September and others almost 6 by the time the school year ends is not my idea of an easy life.
I have had to learn a whole new langauge very rapidly - phonemes, graphemes and synthetic phonics. To be honest I think the terms are used rather loosely, and I'm glad I'm not trying to explain to a child of 5 what I mean by a 'phoneme frame' (for the inititiated, a grid where you write one sound per box to build up a word e.g. c-a-t, sc-r-a-p). It is all a fancy name for the way I learned to read in the late 60's and early 70's, just that flashcards have given way whiteboards. Already the range of abiltiies is very evident, reflecting the enormous difference of 25% life experience between the eldest and youngest children, whether they have siblings, their place among siblings and their socio-economic background. From some who struggle to sit down and be quiet or are just getting to grips with their letters to others who can readily read and construct five letter words, it is a challenge and a half.
One more amusing task was carrying out an informal assessment of the risks posed by the radiators in the class rooms - in a meeting discussing health and safety it emerged that a realtively high number of accidents occurred from chidren falling against radiators and gashing themselves. Never before have I had to write in a risk assessment that I was concerned about a play house called 'dino den' with no back to it set right by a radiator! It all looked a bit preposterous when I listed my qualifiactions at the end, but it was fun to do some,thing that connected to my past life. For the record, I concluded that the risks were generally tolerable, but that by some simple rearrangments of furniture, they could be reduced at no expense to the school.
It was good to work a bit at building a stronger link with the school, as it is actually very hard to get in to do assemblies (not that I would choose that, not my thing) or RE inputs (which I don't mind at all). Interestingly, I discovered that our hiring of their premises puts them in line for extra funding for site work, so in an obscure way we already benefit them.
I enjoyed me visit to Tellytubby Land - but am glad to be back in the La La Land of my everyday life.