It is relatively easy, as I discussed quite early in the lockdown period, to get one’s self into something of a whirlpool of despair, upset or even depression; particularly in these days. The lockdown as a consequence of the coronavirus, the shocking and saddening actions, from across the Atlantic, which resulted in the death of George Floyd, the debates and challenges around the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign and protests, the very real and highly significant impact upon the economy of recent lockdown measures, the difficulties we had endeavouring to open schools … the list goes on and on.
Today, though, I see a shaft of light. We have managed to open up Sitwell Junior School for two weeks now, bringing in Year 6 pupils. That has gone really well and I thank my colleagues at Sitwell Junior School for making that work. As of Monday, Oakwood will open its doors to teach Year 10 pupils in a highly managed and very structured manner; with the health and safety of our staff and pupils being our primary concern. And also, as of Monday Thomas Rotherham College will invite back in small groups of Year 12 A-level students for small group and one-to-one support; again, in a highly managed and very structured manner; with the health and safety of our staff and students being our primary concern.
Our strategies and our endeavours to bring in some of our pupils and students, across the trust and for this community, heartens me. Opening schools has been described, at a national level, as something akin to a military operation. I concur. Never in my career have we collectively had to deal with so many conflicting issues, demands and restrictions whilst just simply trying to provide educational opportunities for children and young people. Almost every one of us who works in education, whatever our roles or titles, chooses to do so because we want to impact positively on children and young people; we want to change lives. However hard we’ve been trying over the past 13 weeks (and by gum we’ve / you’ve worked hard!) we know we aren’t having that necessary impact with or via an educational provision which is remotely delivered. We are a people business. We need to get alongside our children and young people, we need to get alongside our colleagues and we need to interact with each other, in the context of our school communities, to truly know that we are making that difference.
And so, as we go into this weekend I see that shaft of light. I see that role we are all able to play from Monday. I see us all being able to deliver something more significant for our children and young people. I’m going to the weekend, therefore, with a smile on my face and looking forward to some sort of sense of normality, come next Monday. I know that many of you will share my sentiments.
On that basis, have a good weekend, have a quiet weekend and have a restful weekend.
‘Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something’. Thomas Edison
Thank you for your continued support for all that we are doing here at Oakwood High School, and within Inspire Trust.
The latest Comedy Connection, and now for something completely different.
I really should be writing about Spike Milligan; he understood, deconstructed and then built surreal comedy. Unfortunately, Spike’s material doesn’t travel well across the years and Spike’s mental health issues are laid bare by that comedy. You might have guessed then that it’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus today.
This raft of connections has stood as a more cerebral and intellectual comedy journey. Mostly it’s been sketch shows, but we’ve had a panel show, of sorts, and a sitcom, of sorts, out of this comedy stable. But, how do we label or pigeon hole Monty Python? I guess it’s not one thing, or another, or another. Using the broken mould left by Spike, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam rebuilt, or deconstructed, or smashed comedy through their sketches, songs, links, cartoons, TV shows and, latterly, films.
Those of you who have stayed with this thread of comedies will hear some of the Beyond our Ken, Round the Horne, I’m sorry (in both its guises) in what Monty Python produced. Equally, you will see and hear things that hadn’t been seen prior to that era, that show. It broke the broken mould and left a mould, often copied but never fully replicated, maybe because it’s impossible to understand.
The Pythons had known each other from their Oxbridge days and had performed and written together, here and there throughout the 1960’s. Brought to the BBC by the great Barry Took (a name for British comedy guru’s – but known in his later years as the Points of View man) and produced by the equally great John Howard Davies (who produced The Goodies, Fawlty Towers, The Good Life, Steptoe and Son, amongst others) The Pythons were given the freedom to do as they please.
Within the shows there are sketches which reference philosophy and philosophers, ancient history, classical literature and music. The Pythons were an eclectic bunch with a wide range of interests and influences.
The show didn’t take off initially, with poor audience figures and a lack of support from the po-faced BBC hierarchy but over time the Pythons built a cult, then a massive following, either side of the Atlantic. The rest is legend.
Enjoy the first ever episode. The start sets the tone for much of what was to come.