The Benefit Claimant’s edition. 

“If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”  —Benjamin Franklin


In ‘Knowing me, knowing Autism’ (Radio 4, Monday 6 May, 8pm for 30 minutes) one of my all time favourites, Robyn Steward, highlights all that’s best in her life as an evangelist for being human. And in the 30 minutes that her life is compressed into, she gives us but a minute for her issues in being a tenant for landlords who don’t want tenants like her. Please listen and be humbled, friends. Robyn is one of the most deeply good people that our association and my school has ever heard speak, and in case you think Nastyparty/UKIP have value, please listen, engage and enjoy.  It will reset your radar towards loving your neighbour!

And if you think Robyn is not quite mainstream enough for you (‘cos you don’t do Aspergers), then here’s Rory Bremner on his self diagnosis of ADHD –

But hold that thought – if teachers need reminding that difference is something that teachers (first amongst equals as we work with children) need to have mastery in handling – then perhaps we might not yet be better than the Metropolitan Police (in April 1993) who were declared institutionally racist after their failure to deal with the murder of Stephen Lawrence.  I’ll develop that theme next week.


Bank holiday weekend past, and one of the Spring joys of UK employment has gone. We have the late spring bank holiday to come, (those of us in teaching tend to get a whole week’s break), but it must be said that after the Easter hols, it’s nice to have the enforced 3 day rest.  After all, unless you are mad (CC Rowers won 2 of their 3 races at Marlow Spring Regatta today), the break is for most school staff an opportunity to catch up on coursework marking, assessment, exam preparation and (if all else is done) a life.

And that is where a quick dose of Robyn or Rory puts us right.  It seems it is easy for Society to highlight that we are all so normal that it must be the foreigners causing the problem – ref. some local elections 2 May 2013. Everywhere we turn, we are forced into a diet of ‘If only people were normal, how very dare they be different!” If only we could segregate, keep apart, stream even…. “Sod the evidence, I want what’s mine!”

Perhaps it is indeed time for us to become a profession whose principles cannot be compromised by what is expedient; hence I’d like to put my shoulder to the wheel that moves the project “Towards a Royal Profession for Teaching” – read more here at the DT – or the whole download from its advocates here – Towards a Royal Profession for Teaching.

What I would hope of such a RC is that we get a magic bullet; achieve sufficient pace of change that wrongs are righted, but not so quick that we are left knowing diddly-squat.

Things Digital  could we go Royal?

Obviously that’s the main point of the ISANet – to be a focus group for TD.  In my view, we are entering that period of time when actually we have sufficient answers to promote the right solutions in terms of things digital for schools – a right royal crown!

I got really cross the other day. I had lectured to 150 school leaders and teachers about the Google thing; I was pleased when two converts described my approach as being ‘beyond evangelical’ – and then someone started extolling the virtues of Office 365 in place of Google Apps for Education – OK it’s possible, I admit – and then he suggested that Chromebooks were dead in the water because they didn’t do Microsoft Office.  Now we are talking about a seriously experienced headteacher here – a leader of thinking and so on, who seems to have become institutionally ignorant on digital matters.  For the record –

“You can use Apple and Google and Microsoft together in the mix – really.  It’s not “either or”; it’s all things considered”.

If you want to email me on Microsoft, I am  This gives me the whole world of MS tools – sadly not an ecosystem yet, but it’s early days. Yes and I have the App on my Chromebook and Phone.

I say ‘institutionally ignorant’, because they are not the first I have encountered who seem not to understand that “Going to the Cloud” is an ‘inclusive decision’ not “either or”.  In short, if you choose to use the World Wide Web as your wardrobe, you can wear anything, go anywhere, anytime with anyone.  I went Google because it all works and anyone, anywhere can see the stuff.  You can read this newsletter, on anything, at any time so long as you are on-line.

So what can we do to bring some sense of understanding as part of this revolution in which we are engulfed?  What can we do to ensure that all can benefit?  How can claimants discern the difference between ‘Right and Wrong’?

So I have the idea for Appstock 2013 – a free festival at the start of the new Academic Year (but after the Edinburgh Festival) – attendance at which gives teachers a chance to play and to test and to innovate together in the digital world – just before the new academic year starts, so all fresh and ready to serve. I’ll post a bit more about this next week too – because of course you ISANet peeps will suggest more about the mechanism by which such an event can happen.  Here is the holding site:

And finally

At CCS, we are shortly to run our 2013 pupil questionnaire.  I am really impressed by this set of outcomes from Angela Maiers, entitled ‘12 things Kids want from their Teachers’.  Let’s be clear – both Robyn and Rory tell you this when they talk about education, anmd indeed we all do.  The teachers that made the difference, the other adults and children that compromised our feelings and belittled our achievements, the steps to success that seemed easy with some and impossible with others.  Anyway, here’s Angela’s list – read it through and let me know what the list does to you.  It makes me feel very humble. Twice in one week. Shucks.

Best wishes

James Wilding

PS List follows on the next page.


1. Greet me each day

Wish me good morning, and send me off with a “see ya tomorrow.”

2. Smile

When you look at me, let me see happiness in your eyes.

3. Give me your attention

Sit and talk with me privately; even if only for a second.

4. Imagine with me

Help me dream of things I might be able to do; not just the things I need to do now.

5. Give me challenging content and assignments

Show me how to handle it. Teach me what to do.

6. Ask about me

Inquire about my weekend, the game a played, the places I go. It shows you care about my life.

7. Let me have time

Time to let things sink in. Time to think. Time to reflect, process, and play.

8. Demand of me

Hold me accountable to high standards. Don’t let me get away with what you know I am capable of doing better.

9. Notice Me

Leave special messages in my desk or locker. Just a quick not that says you notice something right.

10. Let me ask the questions

Even if they are off topic. It will show that I am thinking about new perspectives, curious, and willing to learn more. Let me have the chance to show what I am wondering about, not just what I know.

11. Engage me

I came to you in love with learning, keep me excited, keep me wanting more.

12. Trust me

Believe that I can do it. Allow me the chance. I promise to show you I can.

“These words did not fall on deaf ears. I collected them, honored them, and then promised I would do everything within my power to be the teacher they needed.

What matters to the children in your life?

It’s worth a conversation, I promise!” Angela Maiers April 2013

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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