The British are naturally pessimistic. Hence Prince Charles and Prince William are banned from travelling on the same aircraft. In the event of a crash, at least one Heir to the Throne is safe. Unless the planes hit each other, of course. See, I think like a Brit after nearly 27 years living amongst my adopted people.
A few times each year, the Head Teachers of East London’s 85 schools meet together in one place. The meeting is a chance for the powers-that-be to devolve information. It a chance for us Heads to network and generally catch up with each other. Headship is a lonely business *cure violin music* and I have always valued the chance to pick the brains of my peers. There is something deeply comforting about being with colleagues who have ‘sat in the chair,’ as they say.
Venues for the infrequent meetings are usually quite nice. In the past we have met in Canary Wharf hotels and newly-built schools. Whoever booked today’s location was truly a hero; we met at West Ham’s football ground where I have spent countless of memorable Saturdays down the years watching my beloved football club play.
Actually, the venue was a hindrance. I found it difficult to concentrate as we were led to the luxurious director’s lounge to conduct the meeting. Memorabilia from my club’s long history lined the walls and I held the club escorts up as I stopped to coo at each newly encountered artefact.
Over the past two years I have not attended many of these meetings. It is difficult to get out of the school for a whole half day as there is inevitably more to do in a failing school than one that is safely on the right side of the satisfactory line. I always thought it weird to have all 85 Heads in one place. What if there was a fire? The Prince William airplane rule ran through my mind.
As I entered the lounge I was touched to receive handshakes from many of my peers. They were not only glad to see me but were very complimentary of what we are achieving at our failing school. The keynote speaker noted our achievements by saying, There are three failing schools in our area; one of them is well on its way to being out of this category.” I think he meant us. “He did mean you,” a colleague elbowed my ribs in response to my contorted face. I was humbled and buoyed in equal measures.
And so, dear readers, there is no great lesson to be learned today, no parable to be shared. Safe to say I was touched at the warmth my peers showed in response the journey we have undertaken. A colleague at a school a few miles away tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I couldn’t have done what you have.”
Trevor Brooking, former West Ham great stared down at me from a mural on the wall. Don’t get cocky. The game isn’t over yet,” he warned. I silently replied, “Sir Trev, today was the first time I felt like it just might be over soon.”
But I have supported West Ham too long. I know disaster and triumph are both impostors. I think the pessimistic thoughts of the native of these British Isles. The game isn’t over until it’s over.
I looked around at the 84 other Heads and thought I smelled a gas leak.
Keep the Faith,