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Willows High School

Surreal Summer 09/04/15

It was great to welcome our new year 7 pupils this morning. They arrived bright and early in immaculate uniform, ready for the challenge of starting at a new school. It was a welcome reality check really, after a rather surreal summer break.

In the beginning of August we were invited to the Channel 4 building in London to attend an advanced screening of the first episode of Educating Cardiff along with members of the press. We had to do some video interviews for the press association and then were taken down to the cinema room to watch the episode and then ‘mingle’ with the journalists. Hot dogs and popcorn were provided and were well received.

The adverts for the telly series started airing on 11th August and it was really only then that it struck home that this thing was actually happening. After spending months in front of 68 fixed rig cameras and being mic-ed up from the moment I drove into school until the moment I left, the sound of Mr. LoCelso saying ‘Zoombah’ through my speakers brought it all home.

Then on the 18th the newspapers and TV magazines came out with our faces plastered all over them. We were all over the place. The following day was the Welsh advanced screening at Chapter, no hot dogs this time, but some nice cakes.

I then received a phone call on Monday 24th about lunchtime (it was the day before the first episode was being shown) with a request to appear on BBC Breakfast the next morning to talk about the Educating Cardiff program, I agreed and found myself on a train to Manchester Piccadilly within a couple of hours. They put me up in a room overnight about 100 metres from the studio and I must say I was a bit awestruck walking around Media City at night. Walking past where they film CBeebies was a particular highlight as I spend a lot of time watching it with my girls at home, and I’ve got a bit of a crush on Rebecca and Katy (they weren’t around).

In the morning I couldn’t eat a lot, feeling a bit nervous about being on the telly, I had to be at the studio by 8.15 to go into make-up (quite a lot of anti-shine needed) and then I was taken to a holding area to wait to be taken into the studio.

It all went by in a flash, talking to Bill and Naga (name drop) was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, the studio is a lot smaller than you’d think. I was tempted to ask for a selfie but decided against it.

Straight after I was whisked away in a car, put on a train and headed back to Cardiff to do an interview on Radio Wales.

Seeing the first episode was another surreal experience, watching on TV the staff and pupils that you spend every weekday with is going to take a lot of getting used to. I’m pleased to say that the response from the first two episodes has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m thoroughly looking forward to watching the next six.

It was back to school on Tuesday and after two staff training days it was good to get back into the normal swing of things having pupils walking around the place, the school always feels a bit strange when they’re not with us.

I was really impressed by the presentations members of staff made during the training days, plenty for us to think about as we continue to improve the quality of teaching and the quality of learning around the school. More information on that in future posts.

Tomorrow is the first ‘normal’ school day of the term, after all that’s happened over the summer I’m looking forward to getting back to a bit of normality.