Is there a Trunchbull in your school?

Dear Miss Trunchbull,

I’m writing to you to because I’m worried about Miss Honey. I don’t think you’ve noticed, but she’s not herself at the moment. Something is missing from our classroom, and I’m not sure, but I think it might be Miss Honey’s smile and the the little twinkle she always had in her eye when we were learning lots of new and exciting things.

We used to love coming to school on a Monday morning. Miss Honey was always pleased to see us and hear what we’d been up to at the weekend. She says we’re not allowed to do ‘Show and Tell’ anymore. Sometimes, we’d start the day with a story or poem – or we’d choose our own books and get to read them quietly. (You could only hear the sound of pages turning and imaginations growing!) But now on Monday mornings we have to spend 45 minutes copying our ‘Learning Plan’ for the week from the board. And of course, this means that on Friday afternoon we have to do our ‘Peer Review’ to find out what we actually learned and to decide what our next steps and targets for next week will be. It is a tiresome business. Poor Miss Honey has to write a mini report card into every single Homework Diary ‘to keep parents informed’. I preferred Friday afternoon when we had time to play and choose our own activities. Miss Honey used to show us how to make origami giraffes or race Bruce on Mario Kart or play Family Fortunes with us.

Also, I wanted to tell you we’re still disappointed about the Pirate Project. Miss Honey said that Curriculum for Excellence means that children can choose some of their topics and learning contexts. We had a big debate in class about what we wanted to study. Bruce Bogtrotter wanted to know how to make chocolate, Lavender suggested a topic on Minibeasts and Fred got excited about finding out about the birds of the rainforest. Eventually, we all agreed on ‘Pirates’, even Fred, because pirates have parrots as pets. Anyway, Miss Honey was enthusiastic about the whole thing until you pulled the plug. Something to do with ‘unclear educational outcomes’. I thought Miss Honey was going to cry. She said she was sure you could address several curricular areas through a pirate project including Language, Expressive Arts and especially Social Studies, if we looked at ‘Pirates of the Past’ and ‘Pirates Today’. Now every class must stick rigidly to the ‘Rolling Programme’ and next term we’re doing ‘Water’. Miss Honey says it’s ‘worse than 5 to 14’, but I don’t know what she means.

Miss Honey has tried to speak to you about these things, but you never listen. You’re too busy giving commands that must be obeyed and ticking boxes. I’ve been reading in Miss Honey’s Big Green Folder about how teachers should ensure children have ‘personalisation and choice’ and ‘challenge and enjoyment’ in their learning. Maybe if I lock you in The Chokey the teachers will have the freedom they need to get on with it.

Yours sincerely,

Matilda

Originally posted on Pandora’s Pencil Case 23/03/2013

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About the author

Anne Glennie is a Primary Teacher, Literacy Consultant, Trainer and the creator of Reflective Reading and founder of The Learning Zoo. Living on the Isle of Lewis she also has her own menagerie comprising: 1 husband, 2 children, 8 alpacas, 10 Hebridean sheep, 1 crested gecko and 1 French bulldog called Moomin.

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