Thursday, 19 April 2012

The talent show AND The state of my school

I might have mentioned or I might not've, but I'm going to be part of a talent show. In theory, anyway, because so far it's been a little less than I anticipated. The show is on Monday... if it happens at all.

Want to know how many tickets have been sold? Less than twenty. The maximum capacity of the school is two hundred and fifty, and we have over fourteen people who've bought tickets. You know the worst bit? This dearth of attendees was brought to our attendance on Monday, wherein we heard that only six tickets had been bought total. A lot of us were annoyed by this and we went out and did all we could to get people along - I made an announcement in tutor and nobody even picked up an order form, people came round later to our tutor selling tickets and nobody was interested then either. We've been using social networks to do our best to get the news out there too, contacting all my friends asking them to come along... just, nothing.

The response was pitiful. I'm not annoyed with my friends, the majority of them had reasons that were genuine and plenty were prefects that were helping out in the first place, but I'm just upset generally that nobody cared about it. More than that: that so many people when I asked them if they would come, said "What talent show?" The advertising has been awful: posters went up this Wednesday, with the talent show on Monday. It was put on the school network, called Frog, which students don't care about, and emails were sent out, which has already been shown an unreliable method of news. Tutors were supposed to have made an announcement but it ended up being me that took it upon myself to do that. It might have been mentioned in assembly, I don't remember, because I'm a student and we don't like assemblies or remember a lot of stuff that is talked about in them.

The issue is that: in our school, news travels slowly. You wouldn't believe the rate of good gossip; just the same as any other establishment of children, if there's an exciting relationship, or someone had a fight, or a girl gone missing, it'll be round the school like wildfire within the same day. But when the school tries to get a message out, the moment will come where the news will become relevant and half the people in the room won't have a clue.

From my Year 7 to Year 9, we worked under a year system where we were classed according to years. We had morning and afternoon tutor sessions where we were registered in, and every morning, usually without fail, news was delivered from a sheet, we were made aware of stuff. Newsletters were sent home, information went directly to parents. The VLE (Virtual Learning Environment,) that we had then we used but not depended on. Assemblies were weekly, not fortnightly as they are now, but they were short and for all our year, which was larger and meant again that news travelled effectively. When news applied to us, it was made known to all of us in a single day. Now news is fragmented for each year into seven, because we're mixed up into our houses, and delivered over the course of a fortnight for each year, which means that even when it's talked about and not forgotten like lots of assembly content, it doesn't spread fast.

And because we're split into seven houses instead of five years, the assembly groups are a lot smaller, meaning that anything that happens in assemblies has a lot less of an audience (I wasn't, for example, performing in front of my year when I sang "The Scientist" in November,) and anyone giving a message to the whole school via assemblies has to deliver the same message seven times, not five.

And then there's Frog. Did I mention Frog? I'm sure I mentioned Frog. What we had was a VLE, what we got instead was a cheesy, poorly designed web system that all the staff were encouraged to use, that had a lot of glitches in the initial few months and meant many people couldn't get onto it. All news was put onto it and we are expected to see news from there. What they forget is that students don't care. They have other things to do, they don't want to go on a school website. Sure, they should check it for updates, but the fact is that they don't. There are no more newsletters, that's a waste of paper, there are emails which are usually sent to parents, sometimes this news actually reaches the children, and sometimes it doesn't.

Then tutor sessions. What they did in the move from years to houses is to scrap the AM and PM sessions so that we come straight into school and are launched into first lesson, which means no time formerly spent in comfortable socialisation with others from our year in the morning, no time to give messages that will apply later in the day, which is left to the mercy of teachers checking their register and reading out notes that have been tagged to our name, and of course, no news given in the morning. They replaced it with Personal Development (PD) sessions, 25 minute sessions after break four days a week (three days on an assembly week,) where we meet with our mixed-year tutor (four-six students from each year,) to discuss and do activities on a different topic every now and then.

These are almost always conducted with limited enthusiasm, and my former tutor had a hell of a job controlling our class, who had no respect for her, and none of us, myself included, found any interest in the work they tried to engage us in. When she went on maternity leave, we were left with a lovely woman (not that our old tutor wasn't nice, but she was forced to shout a lot,) who bought us off by baking cakes for us regularly. People still don't care about PD though.

So, that turned from a rant about the talent show to a rant about my school, but... yeah, I guess I wanted to get that off of my chest. Sorry it turned out to be so long!

Basically, I really hope the talent show isn't cancelled...

~Love Leonidas

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