Friday 12 December 2008

Reindeer and Robins at Tickford Park

A busy day yesterday visiting schools in the Newport Deanery, and I was delighted to get a healthy low salt school dinner at Tickford Park School in Newport Pagnell (MK LEA), as well as spending a wonderful question and answer hour with year six. Ann Tobia, Linda Coveney and colleagues have tackled the job of pulling together two old schools on adjacent campuses into one community, and I can honestly say it all jams together magnificently. Part of the enterprise was about brightening up the old middle school building, to make a more engaging and positive learning environment. Another part was choosing a name and designing a logo — an unusual and thought provoking tree arrangement, that says something very positive about learning & growing together.

Christmas is coming, and I loved the reindeer children had made with their hands (in various senses) all around the school. Year 2 robins and reindeer really flap their wings, too. There is a buzz about this whole school, children and staff together. They are expanding the children’s centre community provision on campus, and Revd Beverley Hollins and colleagues have been doing fantastic work with Tickford Park, including a project called Spirit Level, to help children come together informally for friendship and spiritual growth.

The heart of any community is the values by which it lives, and Tickford Park has developed its own values statement, which I could clearly see reflected around the place, on every level, in the ways people were treating each other, and working together.
There can never be another you
You are maore thn just special — you are unique As a human being you will develop qualities
and strengths that astound you.
Use these strengths to overcome weakness Respect those around you Be kind to others, and above all, be fair. Trust in yourself and search for the best in everyone. Every day is a new beginning — colour it with happiness. Share in the joys of others, and be proud of your own successes Listen well There is never an end to learning
But I also noticed an adult/staff area, which said something interesting about the role of adults in creating a genuine learning community:
All the adults who work at this school act in the best interests of our children. We ourselves are learners. We know that investing in each others’ development is crucial to this school’s success. We embrace change, and even create it. We welcome accountability and are determined to raise achievement. Should you decide to join us yu will find people who believe that this is the best job in the world. We will sustain and energise you, and will help to top up your reservoirs of hope.
It’s interesting to see some basic attitudes spelled out in this way, and there are churches, as well as schools, that could benefit from embracing these kinds of ideals.

Tickford Park is very much a school where everyone matters, and I was fascinated to meet year 6 children who choose responsible hands-on roles in school, like being play leaders and facilitators for younger children, and even mediators. This is a fascinating responsibility to take on, and it certainly helps everyone feel they matter and can talk to someone when things go wrong. It’s a very caring and energising place. Where people have had to embrace challenging times, incuding the recent ending of Aston Martin production in the town, it’s good to find a school that’s really working out values and alignment issue in such a consistent and positive way for the future.

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