Some people must assume it was a conspiracy. Education was on the front page of the Bury Free Press again last week. And there, to illustrate the story, was a picture of me. No wonder one of our new Year 7 students said to me recently: “My mum calls it the Barton Free Press.”
When 2016 finally hauled itself across the finishing line of New Year’s Eve, many people said good riddance to a bad year.
It’s funny – or rather not at all funny – how we change as we get older.
Back in that long hot summer of 1976, a young musician released an album of songs that would enter the bloodstream of the western world.
I am writing this in an office in a school at the heart of one the world’s most successful cities. It is also one of the richest. I am in Shanghai.
When Theresa May stood in Downing Street, looking the nation firmly in the eye, and proclaimed that she would “make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us”, she seemed to tap into a nation’s craving for unity.
The end of any school year is always emotional. Teaching is a surprising roller-coaster of human interactions – full of laughter, occasional panic and a linger feeling of never quite having caught up with all the jobs on the to-do list.
This is a tribute to some of our local heroes. They won’t necessarily see themselves as heroes but, come late July, I hope they will.
Sometimes it seems as if the seasons are going haywire. Three weeks ago there was snow in Yorkshire. A week later it was hotter in Harrogate than Lanzarotte.
In general, most of us probably feel that democracy is a good thing – better at least than anarchy, fascism, dictatorship and the many shades of totalitarianism on display around the world. Yes, we would take democracy over those any day.
As the novelist LP Hartley taught us, ‘The past is another country: they do things differently there’.
Whatever the swirling gloom in so many of the news stories we read – terrorism, floods, political turmoil – 2016 looks set to be a year of excitement and optimism in our part of the world.
When something appalling happens, like last Friday’s events in Paris, how should those of us working in schools respond?
Although I don’t see anyone hanging out the bunting or composing a special fanfare, it was thirty years ago this month that I started my career as a teacher. Frankly, I was as surprised as anyone, since I had vowed from the depths of my adolescence that teaching was the one career path I wouldn’t be following.
Here we are again then – perched at the end of another examination results season. As the Bury Free Press headline declared: ‘Top marks for Bury St Edmunds schools’.
Of all our human achievements, for me as a grizzled English teacher one stands out: the ability to read and write.