I thought I'd jot down the plans the new headmaster has for Star's school - if nothing else, it will be interesting to look back and see how they work out in practice. Star only has a year left there, but Cherub may well move on there after her lower school so the effects of the changes he wants to make are likely to affect her too. Our school system is unusual, in that we have lower, middle and upper schools - Star's is a middle school, for ages 9 to 13. A number of areas tried this three tier system in the 1970s and 1980s, before reverting back to the more typical UK system of primary (age 4 to 11) and secondary (age 11 to 18) schools. This is one of a tiny handful of places where the three tier arrangement has stuck. Personally I like it, and it seems generally popular with parents.
From what he said at Saturday's meeting, the main changes the new head has planned are:
- Putting children into ability sets for maths, English and science, and possibly a couple of other subjects (currently they are only streamed by ability for maths).
- Reducing class sizes to 20 for maths and English, and a little larger for science (currently there are up to 30 in a class)
- Changing lesson periods from one hour to 50 minutes, and increasing the number of lessons each day from 5 to 6 (he believes teachers should be able to put across just as much in 50 minutes, with lessons becoming pacier and with less time for children to switch off)
- Using most of the gained lesson periods for extra sports and performing arts
- Increasing the number of PE lessons from two a week to five a week. Children who really dislike the idea of extra sport can trade in two of the extra PE classes for drama (or other arts based activities?)
- More leadership responsibility for Year 8 pupils (the 12/13 year olds)
- Lots more sports teams and fixtures, with anyone who wants to be part of a team able to take part.
- More, larger scale performance of plays, musicals and concerts.
- More, and more varied, extra-curricular clubs and activities.
- More trips out, to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities available given that we are in easy travelling distance from London (West End shows, London museums and art galleries, and so on)
- Better communication and feedback for parents.
- Clearer discipline structure.