So today I went back to school. Scary!
As part of my Induction Training as a new school governor, I was required to report
to the Business Centre in the local secondary school at 9.15 this morning, ready for a 9.30 start to the course. This was no problem for me, as the school is conveniently located just around the corner from where I live. It meant that I could trot along
at the appointed time, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, without worrying about finding a place to park. Not all the twenty participants on the course were so lucky; several turned up slightly late looking distinctly harassed and muttering about parking
problems. I tried not to look smug, remembering that I have been in their position many, many times in the past.
The school which was the venue for our course
was also, coincidentally, the school which My Boy attended many moons ago. There was, however, no feeling of stepping back in time when I entered Reception and moved through the corridors to the Business Centre because the school has been completely rebuilt
since My Boy was a pupil there. No, it wasn’t as a result of anything he did. At least, not as far as know.
Our tutor for the day was an annoying mixture
of flippant and dictatorial. He started by telling us that, while the joining instructions made it clear the course would end at 3.30 p.m., it was his intention to finish at least an hour early. Now, here’s a funny thing about me. Funny peculiar,
rather than funny haha. When I sign up for something I expect to get my money’s worth. Even when, as in this case, it hasn’t cost me anything but my time. When we were dismissed at 2.30 p.m. there was still information we hadn’t covered
– was our early finish for our convenience or (dare I ask) the trainer’s? Or am I being a sourpuss? Yes, you're right, I probably am. Nobody else seemed bothered.
This apart, the main thing exercising me at the very start of the day was the location of the loos. Along with the issue of car parking and the provision of appropriate quantities of coffee throughout the day, a clear route map for finding the loos
is a major factor in ensuring comfort. Our tutor’s description of how to find the staff room went something like this: “Head outside, go up the stairs, zig zag towards the front of the building, past the apex and you will find the staff room
on the right and side.” Now my understanding of an apex (drawn from the esteemed Oxford Dictionary) is that it is the top or highest point of something, especially one forming a peak. My first problem was that, having so sense of direction,
by the time I had climbed the stairs and done a bit of zig-zagging, I couldn’t work out which was the front of the school and which the back. Nor could I see anything resembling a peak – though this may have been because I was looking for some
kind of mini Mount Everest, rising from the school corridor.
Fortunately for me, one of the people sitting on my table joined me as I was wandering around looking for an apex and set me to rights.
This was not because she was cleverer than me (though she may well have been) or because she knew a different definition of an apex – but simply because she had been to this school before.
As well as earning my grateful thanks for showing me the facilities, this fellow participant earned my hearty admiration. Not only did she work as a hairdresser, but she also found time to run a training course on hairdressing
at a local college, was Chairman of the Parent Teacher Association at her school and was mum to two primary school age children, one of them with special needs. I reflected on the fact that any one of those factors would be sufficient reason for most
people to excuse themselves from taking on the additional responsibility of becoming a school governor. I wanted to tell her that but was afraid it might sound patronising. Now I wish I had.
On my way out of the school at the end of the course I lingered awhile looking at the various display boards around the corridors so that I could report back to My Boy when next I talk to him. There was the Peer Mediation
Board, complete with photos of all the pupils who could be contacted to help with problems of bullying, feeling isolated, lacking friends, struggling with work. Then there was a fascinating display on a trip to Ypres in France to study the way on which soldiers
who died in the Great War were commemorated. I studied a whole board dedicated to “Most Improved” pupils – each one with a beaming smile, as befits their status. Finally, a display on “The History of Our School”. I looked
for any reference to My Boy but he obviously failed to make his mark. Which was possibly just as well.
Mr B was pleased to see me home an hour earlier than he
had expected. Incidentally, he wants me to correct what he feels was an erroneous impression created in the Daily Blog a few days ago. You may remember I suggested that he didn’t appear to be exactly overwhelmed to see me when I turned up
unexpectedly in the community centre cafe after last Friday’s choir session. He was, he says, absolutely delighted to see me, if more than a little surprised, and I should have seen this from the broadness of his welcoming smile. Furthermore
(and this is an important point) it was a fiver not a couple of pounds he gave me for my coffee and bacon bap.
I stand, humble and corrected.