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I knit, I sew, I run, I look after children and hamsters, I take truly terrible pictures, I cook, I complain.  Sometimes all at the same time.

Monday, 7 November 2011

But we always do it like that

Or, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I am a Nursery teacher in a fairly good school in a pretty challenging part of Ealing - ie it isn't as nice as where we live, but it's hardly Acton, and the kids tend not to have one or other of their parents in jail.  We have an above average proportion of children with English as their second language; to put it into context, I have 25 children in my Nursery class, 4 of them have English as a first language, and 3 others have excellent English, and don't count them as EAL.  The area has gone from being all fields, with a massive brewery in the middle to urban sprawl with no heart or soul, as the land is part owned by Brent and part by Ealing.  We take kids from both boroughs, although we are officially Ealing.  It is, as I say, an interesting mix.

Some of my colleagues have been at the school for over 20 years.  They have seen the changes in the area, as the white working class have mostly been priced out, and have dug their heels in and refused to change anything.  Any inovation is met by my favourite phrase in all the world, the one that makes me want to kill people, "But we always do it like that".  Until today.  Today the Deputy Head, 25 years in the same school, came in to Nursery, realised that I was on my own with a child who was not allowed to be outside (biting) and that Lisa, the Nursery Nurse, was outside on her own with the other children.  I was told that this wasn't right, that she wasn't paid to have the entire class on her own (she is), that I was paid more than her therefore I should have the bulk of the children (I am, and frankly it is a disgrace, she is expected to do lots more than the TAs and she doesn't get much more cash than they do) and that Lisa is PREGNANT and therefore should not be allowed to sit outside and keep an eye on the mixed infants.  I pointed out that it was free choice, the children were allowed to be in or out depending on their inclination and that they had chosen to be outside as it wasn't raining/snowing/miserable.  Apparently, this is not in the Early Years curriculum (it is).  Apparently, free choice should be half the children being allowed to play outside while the other half play inside.  Apparently, free choice means anything but.  We are already told that we don't provide a truly child led curriculum, as every day there are at least two activities that the children more or less have to do - such terrible things as name writing! counting! learning to cut with scissors! drawing! gluing! colouring in! - and now we have to moderate our practice yet again.

Lisa and I discussed this.  She has been in the Nursery for about 10 years.  She knows what she's doing.  She runs the Nursery with a rod of iron.  She has decided that we are doing it just fine; we don't need to change anything, and our DH can just bugger off.  I will be putting this arguement to her tomorrow: we provide a free choice, and while we are subscribed to that, one person needs to be inside and the other outside and sometimes it makes more sense for it to be me, and at other times it will be Lisa.  This arrangement has worked very successfully for the last 10 years at least, and while I can see that there is potential for it to change, it would be a shame to change something that works well for something that may or may not be successful.  Also, with regards to Lisa's pregnancy, should she feel at all uncomfortable, unwell or otherwise distressed about any aspect of her job, I will immediately do all in my power to make sure that she isn't inconvenienced for long; she knows this, and is a bit annoyed that it is being brought up as an issue.  In conclusion,  "but we always do it like that", and f-off.

Good God, I need a new job.

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