Gervase Phinn…

Last night President Karol Grabowski went off to Derby to see Gervase Phinn, well-known education raconteur, in concert.

He was really funny and related so many stories that struck home with the (largely) teachers in the audience – we suspect that many of them were teachers as some of them responded to the dreaded ‘OFSTED’ word with horror. However, Gervase has a gentle and self-deprecating manner which endears him to his audience and at no time was he advocating some of the extreme reports that we hear about school inspections. On the contrary, he spoke out several times about the rather heavy handed approach that some teams take when going into schools. We imagine he would not have been a push-over when inspecting but would have brought his charm, wit and love of children to bear on the final report.

He is clearly a proud Yorkshireman and has deep roots in the steel community of Rotherham which he loves dearly. He is also a proud Catholic and was not afraid to mention Christian values throughout the evening, even finishing off with the lovely Celtic blessing. His stress on the value of family and of loving parents are not lost on the society we have today where children are often a burden that needs to be kept in the cupboard (sometimes literally, as in the horrific cases of one or two high profile abuse cases in the last couple of years). His advocacy of demonstrating love by doing things with your children must surely be at the heart of what we do with our own children and grandchildren since they will learn to love learning by watching and copying our actions.

 Karol was reminded of why he originally wanted to be a teacher and the joy of making new ideas and concepts clear to students. It was always that ‘lightbulb’ moment for even one child that made it worth all the hassle. Perhaps the most poignant moments were when Gervase recalled his own learning experiences – his great achievement when he became a ‘free reader’ then received his precious medal which his proud Mum kept safely and which he wore for part of the show. It just goes to show that it is often these little things that make a child’s life exciting and memorable.

A truly inspiring evening and a great shame that more of our group couldn’t go. Maybe another time – he is planning a Christmas tour based on his experiences of children and nativity plays. If it is as good as this, it will be really good!