Thursday, December 11, 2008

Community bonding

It was such a pleasure to pop into Tredegarville School this morning to see part of the Infants nativity presentation, with lots of singing, dressing up and jigging about. The kids just looked so happy and natural to be up on stage in such a playful mood together. It says a great deal for their teachers that 4-5 year olds are so secure and confident, especially when some of them have a great deal of difficulty settling into school, from home backgrounds which are not quite to secure and confident.

Pedagogy increasingly has to compensate for poor parenting, and grasping the need to do this on the part of schools is indeed laudable and makes teaching so much more demanding. What will improve matters greatly will be the extension of community social education facilities in and around the school. Language and parenting classes for adults are vital add-ons in many urban schools. This stretches the physicial resources of the school to the limit. However, it looks as if the school will be able to make a deal that will release the now empty caretakers house on site for development as a community educational centre on-site, using Communities First Funding. he plan is in its early stages, but to a hard pressed and crowded school team, there is light on the horizon after a long wait.

We had over 250 people in church for a carol service this evening, the second time this week. Tonight it was the turn of the Priory of St John Ambulance to welcome friends and members. It got off to a somewhat shaky start, as the Prior and one other named as lesson readers were disappointingly absent, the chief executive was home with 'flu, and Wyn Owen our star tenor soloist sent his apologies - not voiceless, but with a broken arm after a fall, since his appearance at the GTH concert last week. He was replaced by a young operatic soprano, with a fine voice who amonst other things sang Racine's 'O Holy Night' with the 'Cwm Ni' choir, much favoured on occasions like this with flawless beauty. It's the first time I've heard it sung other than by a tenor or baritone, and her singing made it very special. She was also quite modest about her considerable talent, so that I failed to register her name from the programme change announcements.

Also impressive was the childrens' choir from Garth Uchaf school, the second Welsh school choir to sing in St John's this week. The standard of both these groups, aged 6-11, was high, their behaviour and discipline impeccable, all of them a tribute to their parents, teachers, and the quality of education which is a much a hallmark of Welsh language medium schools as it is of church schools. It's the sacrificial commitment to give the very best to children, to show them what they can be and become, through praise, encouragement and much stretching, which admits no room to time-serving place-holders in the world of pedagogy. Long may they continue to be exemplary to the wider world of secular state education.

Despite the setbacks, good will and humour from all the subsitutes meant that the evening turned out to be happy and successful, an important occasion for bonding amongst members and supporters of such a substantial organisation - and in many ways, that's what that counts.

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