Special Measures

I’m knackered. A few days of gardening followed today by four hours with 80 fourteen year olds getting them to talk about sex.  I feel wiped out, but in a good way.  The groups in the school today were bristling with hormonal life and the subject of course was right up that street.  The school was in Wrexham and on special measures, Ofsted’s warning shot that the school has to do better.  I can see why. The children were tough to control (mostly my job), provocative and easy to set giggling for all the wrong reasons.  And it’s a two hour traffic on the stage.  By the end I feel the traffic had mainly been steam rollers!  However they go away knowing what rape means, what true consent is, that they can say no even if they said yes previously and that there is help available if they need it.  And they’ve grown up a bit.  They come in as wide eyed just past innocents but leave with the strong and unmistakable taste of impending adulthood.  And theatre in general and Cat’s Paw Theatre in particular has achieved that.  So I’m pleased. Pleased and knackered.

I think Richard (my now deceased dad) would have been proud of the work (as children we always called our parents, Richard and Pat, by their first names). I learned a very great deal from him all those years ago when he was a Primary School Head and we lived alongside the school.  Even though I resisted the career for years he had planted the seed of good teaching practice in me and though it took some time for it to germinate, grow and flower, I did eventually become a real teacher and I am still very involved with encouraging young people to learn.  One truth I learned from him was the clear and in some ways obvious fact that a good teacher must also be a good performer.  It’s no good just knowing something well if you can’t make learners inspired by it.  It takes energy and enthusiasm, belief and dedication to make the magic work.  There must be truth in the words but there must also be power in the voice and animation in the body!  Richard had all that and he was a superb teacher and taught me most of my teaching skill.  The only thing I didn’t inherit from him was his hair, which I’m very pleased about.  I’ve inherited Pat’s hair!

And tomorrow it’s the same all over again and this time at Rhyl High School.  Another real challenge of a school.  Rhyl, drug capital of North Wales.  But there we are, it’s important work and no-one else is doing it so I just think that maybe someone in the audience will not put themselves into harm’s way as a result of what they’ve learned and in many ways, that’s inspiration enough.  That and the thought of a free school dinner!  Today’s was a fresh mixed grill followed by fruit sponge and custard, and a big glass of fresh orange juice.  School dinners have come on since my days in school! 

So not all bad by any means and it all helps towards the economy drive, which, since you ask, is on track.  More or less managing on £30 a week for food, including feeding the two fluffy spoiled ones who have their chicken rice and peas and look as though they’re thriving on it.  In case you’re wondering, they sit in the car in the school car park and I take them for lunch time and breaktime walks.  They have water and a few treats in the car and seem ok with the arrangement.

At the long break today I manged to drive out into the town and bought a new gas bottle, my onboard tank being nearly empty and no clutch meaning I can’t drive out to the garage for LPG.  So tonight it’s everything on, gas heating and water, chicken in the oven and no worries about running out in the middle of dinner.  What luxury hey!

I managed to send of the faulty control unit for mending and heard that the financial problem I’ve been having with my other business may be one step towards a solution.  But that’s another story for another blog. In the meantime, on mission, in budget and undaunted!

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander

Mr Alexander