The football season is now in full swing. As I stood on the touchline at the weekend watching my son play I asked the dad next to me how his week was at work. ‘Oh, the usual – same as it always is. Boring.’ I sensed already that the conversation was over but he then turned and asked me how mine was. ‘Oh, the usual – I stood in front of 400 kids and scoffed 16 cakes.’ As you do.
For a minute I thought it might have been the same dad who I told last season that I went to work one day dressed up as a medieval knight. Or as a smelly tramp. Come to think of it, it probably was the same man because he looked at me out the corner of his eye and walked off. I know now why nobody stands next to me anymore.
You have to be a teacher to really understand it. Trying to explain to non-teacher friends what you do is very difficult. Take the Medieval Day for example. I could probably name 3 or 4 of my friends who would pay good money to be able to hire a costume and play at being a knight in armour for the day. Throw in a marquee, a medieval feast and a big battle and for some it’s a dream-come-true. But for the staff at VPA, it’s all in a day’s work. I sometimes have to pinch myself that I’m actually getting paid to do these things. Remember Dara at the TES Awards’ Ceremony? ‘It’s amazing they do any work in that school.’
This is why our curriculum is so Real, Immersive and Purposeful. School really is the best party in town. Staff are not afraid to well and truly ‘Let RIP’ so the children are entranced and captivated by all that goes on around them. The opening Learning Challenge of the year always kicks off with the ‘Big Adventure’ and the hook of all hooks – the ‘Grand Day Out’. This year though, the trip alone wasn’t enough. Michelle Harrison, our Reception teacher and DT leader wanted to take it a step further and integrate – quite obviously – a trip on a fleet of vintage double-decker busses with baking a cake. Not necessarily the first cross-curricular link that comes to mind.
And so the inaugural ‘Bake Off’ was born. And what a success it was too. Pupils spent the week immersed in all things to do with cakes (quite literally). Each class had to use TASC wheels to research, design, create, bake and ice a cake of their own based on their ‘Grand Day Out’. They then had to ‘pitch’ it during the assembly prior to tasting. So we had cakes designed around the Tudor Oak House, Moseley Bog, the local fire station, a remembrance memorial and Bourneville to name a few. We had (failed) sparklers going off, drummers and even a minute silence. Our Business Manager tried to slip in a ringer but we saw through his guise and disqualified him for being slightly not in the under-11 category (even though it was by far the best cake).
Although the finished products were fabulous and flavoursome (cheese aside), the learning that took place before and after was amazing. I was invited to join 6M’s class at the end of their maths lesson following the judging. They confidently informed me of the mean, median, mode and range of the scores and how their learning had all been linked to their Grand Day Out. Their TASC wheels and CoRT 1 activities were perceptively completed and it was very difficult to have to choose one overall winner (thanks Mrs Mullaney).
A brilliant week in all, made to look so easy by the staff. And I haven’t even mentioned the sponsored Mini with the winning ‘Grand Day Out’ design on the roof. So even though no-one talks to me any more at football matches, it’s great being a teacher. Especially when you get to have your cake and eat it.