blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Alexander's nativity play

Last Friday, which feels like months ago, I was sitting on a bench by the water feature at the Hampton Hill end of Bushy Park in London, near a stately home on its perimeter that used to belong to the Admiralty. The water feature is an artificial waterfall or weir falling into a pond in formal gardens. The rest of Bushy Park is more natural in appearance, the water running along dykes through the bumpy field where, that morning, antlered deer lay chewing the cud. Frost on the grass had turned to dew.

Applying the Crown Jewels
Trying on the costume
This was precious therapy for my daughter, worrying about the imminent end of her maternity leave from a demanding job and the even more imminent birthday party—15 children invited with their parents—for Alexander (five years old on Monday). Alexander's other excitement this week has been the school nativity play for which he'd been cast as both Narrator (someone who "says words") and one of the Wise Men ("I'm in the Wise-man's Team"). We had to make him a suitable costume, so I bought a length of curtain material, sewed a hem along one side, using my travel sewing kit, and threaded a purple ribbon through to gather it into a cloak. That would do. Dark clothes under the cloak and a home-made head-dress complete with the felt crown that Alexander decorated unaided with stick-on "crown jewels." He had seen the real Crown Jewels at the Tower of London so knew what he was about. A most convincing Wise Man. His Narrator's lines went like this:
The landlord had hoped he would get a good rest.
He hadn't expected this number of guests!
I warned Alex that the audience might laugh when they heard that, seeing the 120 children on stage, but that if they did, they'd be laughing at the story, not at him. He knew to recite the lines clearly and slowly, "not fastly."

Alexander's parents were amused when they heard that several children would be playing the part of the Star of Bethlehem. My son-in-law supposed that with 15 wise men in the Team, some would be disorientated by the extra stars and might go off searching for Baby Jesus in the wrong direction. The reason why there are only three Wise Men in the traditional version is that all the others had got lost, he said.

Alexander's primary school has just published the results of its Offsted school inspection to the parents of its pupils. Result, "good" in almost every respect. This is a large school with about 1000 students between the ages of 4 and 11.

I wasn't allowed inside the classroom when we went to fetch my grandson home and furthermore each child was checked at the school gate to make sure (s)he was going home with the correct adult; to me, from a far-away generation, these security procedures seem astonishingly strict.


Mel said...

Judging by the very recent (November 2011) OFSTED report, this new school has made a good start. The recommendations for improvement seem to hint that the school leadership team is not yet undertaking the kind of quality assurance of teaching and learning that will help to ensure that all of the teachers consistently differentiate the learning-challenge they offer to children of different abilities (Emma migh want to watch this).

Emma said...

Thanks Mel, That bit of the Ofsted report stood out for me too. But the teacher he has now seems very aware of the risk to the whole class if she doesn't continue to challenge a bright extrovert with a cheeky streak!

They are letting him get further and further ahead with both reading and arithmetic (sorry, literacy and numeracy). I hope the Ofsted report will increase the chance that teachers in higher years will be ready when he gets there. Emma