We’re suffering budget challenges and I’ve lost some hours. My head came to explain/apologise, so I seized that rare moment to ask why he wasn’t cutting my one-to-one sessions where I take children out of maths and English to do music. I charge peri-teacher rates so these sessions are, on the face of it, the most expensive part of my work and a more obvious choice to cut. His answer was “Because we can see the value”. This was comforting, but also made me wonder whether I’ve failed to recognise which of the innovations in our school have the potential to be scalable/reproducible.So – here’s how it works.
– I take a KS2 child out of morning classes
– I follow their musical lead in a session of flexible length, depending on how long they want to continue. Over time (up to four years) they get better, though not in a linear way and not in a predictable direction
– if possible, I forge links with their family.
– no information is given to me about the child by school (other than medical conditions, etc)
– often lots of information is given to me in the playground by the family.
– I’m not asked what I do
– I’m not asked to write anything down
– No use of school-language. The child addresses me by my first name.
– feedback from teachers limited to “s/he likes it”. No review. No appraisal. I tell them if there is something they need to know.
– I work to maximise the chance of the child taking part in the inclusive orchestra (which has also survived the cuts).
And that’s it.
I wonder whether this kind of intervention model might work in other schools. The main skills needed are curiosity, a decent ear and some relevant life experience. That’s most of us then!
The trouble is, I can’t tell you what the head sees as the value. It’s his job to talk about that with his team in school-argot so I don’t have to. I have no doubt that the literacy classroom may be a more peaceful place when “my” kids are away with me but clearly there’s something in it for the child too. Something to like about school? I’ve no desire to name it really – that’s why I could never peddle it as a “tool” or “intervention”…..