Friday September 24th

Well, Autumn has arrived with a vengeance. Rain today and an uncertain weekend. What next could our variable climate offer us, you may ask? Well maybe we should take this opportunity to give advanced warning of our preparations for snow at school! So remember, if it snows don’t make any unnecessary journeys. Great, now I won’t have to remind you again, will I?

In thinking about what to write this week, I was struck by the thought that, for me, school is about vignettes, the little things – often too numerous to remember let alone recall – that occur during the week, adding up to an overall impression of the status quo; the micro-interactions between people that happen in moments that could make you laugh or shout for joy, cause upset or even engender wrath. I wish I could stop and write them down because I know they would be worthy of publishing in a book (just read Gervase Phinn). Here, for example, are a very few things from this week…

  • There was my lesson in the meteorology of tornadoes from Flynn and Phillip who took great pains to articulate their detailed knowledge and tried to convince me that the population of America had been wiped out – well nearly!
  • Then there was the delivery, to Mrs Elson (who seems to have got a reputation amongst the children), of a squashed frog – in a plastic bag, I hasten to add!
  • James, who had taken it upon himself, configured all our netbook computers so that they connected to the wireless network and then proceed to discover the “hotspots” around the school. Apparently the strongest signal is outside Infant 1.
  • The proud parents bearing swimming certificates, other awards and this week even a golf bag – taller than its winner – waiting in Karen & Liz’s office for Friday Assembly.
  • The J4 prefects, stepping in when Bill was ill at the start of the week, to put out dining tables and benches ready for lunch.
  • Georgia and Felix’s grandfather (who visited J3 this week to talk about Judaism) telling me, in front of a prospective parent I was taking on a tour, that he rarely had experienced such bright and inquisitive children. Or the German mother, touring the school later in the week, arriving with me in J4 to be met by Lilian and Mr Cadwallader…both German speakers.
  • The younger siblings – not quite of school age, but just wise enough to guess at what possibilities school holds for their older brother or sister – who either want to help with snack boxes and water bottles or simply don’t want to be dragged out of the classroom.

These, and many more, make up an average week at school. I spoke, a very long time ago now it seems, about trying to lift the lid on the “black box” that is a school. It are these “moments”, then, that point to one of the key components within the box. There is much that we, as staff, provide the children with regard to effective learning opportunities. However, at the heart of the matter is the strength of the relationships – the interactions, big or small – between staff and parents and staff and children, that provide the foundation for our success. As long as the relationships work, we are providing ourselves, as a community, with stability and security for the future.

I will be away from school at the IAPS conference in Westminster. The theme is about “passion for success”. I look forward to being able to feedback to you next week, although I already know that, at St Joseph’s In The Park, our passion for the school gives us a head start. If you do need to get in touch with me, please contact Karen Sheffield at school and she will pass on any messages.

And having mentioned passion…Orient are in dire need of 3 points tonight against Brentford! Fingers crossed.

All the very best for the weekend.

Neil Jones



A return from the wilderness

Since I write my great thoughts every week in the school’s Friday Mailing, I have now come to the logical conclusion that I will plagiarise myself! Therefore I hope this will drive my writing for both audiences here and on the school’s website for our community.