Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Action Update - Butterstile Primary School Governors' Meeting

Today was my first meeting as a governor of Butterstile Primary School, my local primary school here in St Mary’s Ward. The Local Authority allows local political parties to nominate governors according to their local representation, and I have been fortunate enough to be chosen by the Liberal Democrats to fill this vacancy.

The meeting today was a learning experience for me, and what I took in certainly outweighed my contributions. Hopefully as time goes on this equation will become more balanced. My girlfriend Tam is a primary school teacher herself and so I am familiar with a lot of the recurrent issues in primary education (PPA time, the increased role of classroom assistants, SEN etc), but I am clearly going to become more so, and it’s an opportunity I am grateful for.

I have been given a great opportunity to work with and for the obviously committed staff of this popular and successful school. I had the chance to meet most of the staff today, and without exception they all displayed the type of enthusiasm that most organisations can only dream of in their workforce. I’ve met a lot of teachers, through my girlfriend and through my work, and the entire profession seems gripped with an unquenchable passion for the work. It really is uplifting to see.

The meeting was in a Year 6 classroom, and seeing the displays and the children’s work on the walls made me proud to be associated with the school. It also reminded me of the dangerously unsound grasp I have of major topics of scietific knowledge. The display on mountains put me to shame...

I don’t even know much about the school at the moment, beyond the basics, but I can’t wait to get stuck in! I have been nominated to three sub-committees of the governing body (Finance, Performance Pay Appeals, and Staff Dismissals), which will give me more opportunities to get to know the issues as well.

I share a place as governor with Cllr Donal O'Hanlon, my St Mary's Lib Dem colleague, so hopefully we can work together for the good of the school as well.

I have been paired with a class, 3B, which I will follow through the school. Their teacher is Mrs Bladen, and apparently I will be asked in to meet her and the children soon. I don’t know how Tam does it, facing 30 kids day-in and day-out, but I think when I’m invited in I may have to get some tips from her about how best to work with the children! I don’t think a diatribe on the future of the NHS would go down too well... Perhaps I could ask them to name their favourite liberal philosopher? Or start a debate on the merits of Keynesianism.

Or perhaps not.

Being a local activist is about so much more than leafleting (despite what regular readers of this blog may think!). The more issues I am exposed to, the more opportunities I get, and the more people I meet, I wonder why more people don’t do this kind of thing. Having the chance to play my part in maintaining a successful school, no matter how small that part may be, is wonderful, and today was an experience I am looking forward to repeating.


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