More new faces and a whole bunch of regulars crowded into Miss Brown’s tonight for a thoroughly engaging set of 4 conversations and a barbecue. First up we talked again about the freeschool application by the Sikh Temple and agreed to get more info about where their application has got to and put it up here on the blog. That led onto a general discussion about the pros and cons of faith schools, home schooling, integration and socialisation and varations on the theme.

There was a conversation running in parallel to that, which was about edible spaces, food growing projects and co-housing stuff – someone who was in that conversation will write more about it, but a key point that they reported was how many projects are actually happening or being planned locally and that it is useful just to share the information.

We had a lovely dinner outside in the glorious sunshine, including Phil’s fab barbecued chicken and some lovely cake that arrived just in time.

We were herded back inside to discuss Hillcrest Primary School and the Community Action for Education group which has set up to find out what’s going on and to support the school, parents, children, staff, etc in collectively improving the school. Ideas that came up included volunteers helping with ESOL classes for parents and with homework clubs/mentoring, etc for children. We also talked about growing our own governors, so that local people have influence in and responsibility for the school. There was info about governor training and about ‘enhanced clerking’, ie paying the council more to get a clerk who can explain loads of stuff to the governors. We also talked about celebrating the achievements of multi-lingual children and finding ways to see their skills and knowledge as a strength/opportunity rather than as a weakness/problem. The differences in challenge between schools in different neighbourhoods were starkly underlined – a teacher preparing a maths lesson for an all-English-speaking class is doing a different job from one who has to teach a class with 15 different languages and cultural backgrounds, and that needs to be recognised.

And the last conversation was about drains – about 12 people had an awful lot to discuss about the nature of the problems of Chapeltown’s drainage and sewerage, the problems we’re currently facing and the problems we’re potentially facing. I leave the reporting of that up to Toff, who has a lot of knowledge about it all – the group had a lot of questions and this is the space for flinging back some suggested answers.

Nice atmosphere, nice people, nice food, interesting conversation. More info will be put up here as it arrives…
cath x