Lockdown: Week 13

I hope that you are all as upbeat and buoyant at the end of this week as I am. I know that the return of our children has been rather limited but it has felt like we are slowly stepping back towards some sort of normality. Our school is not an educational institution without our children; it’s a soulless building, a shell.

When I think about how we might frame our work I believe that the principles which have underpinned our work at the college for many years will hold us all in good stead; we have a very positive framework for rebuilding our college ethos, principles and routines.

During the next academic year, we will have a significant job to do in covering the missed curriculum and learning opportunities. That said, that missed curriculum will need to take a second place to what has been loosely called a recovery curriculum. For me that is about working with our young people to rebuild with them, recover for them, re-establish together their routines, the learning discipline, the opportunities and the potential which coming to this college offers. We cannot take for granted that our students will all just slip back into it, as if they’ve never been away. That’s before we start to think about all those Year 11s who have missed 6 months of their GCSE years.

We will have a difficult balancing act. We will need to ensure that we deliver educational outcomes and, as a consequence, the students will need to make significant academic progress. But we know that we will need to balance that with TRC’s traditional and strong approach which puts the student at the heart of everything that we do. Our pastoral and support structures will be terrifically important (as always) during the next academic year. We have the structures in place. We have the people in place. We will see what the year ahead brings.

‘Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.’ Lyndon B Johnson

The sun will shine this weekend. Have a good one!

Comedy connections

Just press that delete button now or, should you want to, read on…

I’m guessing that for most of you it would’ve been pretty obvious where I was going next. I know that there have been some difficulties with this particular sitcom in the last week or so. A specific episode has been highlighted as being particularly troublesome. It has been removed from public access as a consequence of our collective re-evaluation of how we present sensitive issues.

However, much of Fawlty Towers can still be viewed today, although it remains a painful watch – for very different reasons. The whole premise of the dysfunctional hotel with the overbearing owner, who becomes increasingly frustrated as each situation/episode develops, making for comedy gold.

It is said that John Cleese witnessed an owner of this ilk whilst filming with the Monty Python team in Torquay. He used that hotel and that owner as the blueprint for the Basil Fawlty.

Each episode builds to an excruciating and often hilarious climax. Like all the great British sitcoms there is a significant degree of pain. I know there are some people who cannot watch Fawlty Towers because it is just too painful to witness the descent of the main character. However, for the overwhelming majority of the population, Fawlty Towers is seen as something of a landmark comedy and it certainly stands out in the barren desert that was the 1970s televisual output.

Unlike other sitcoms I’ve discussed, there is very little warmth, there are very few likeable characters and not a great deal to associate with however the grotesque nature of the characters allows for situations to develop, much of which was a commentary on values (especially middle-class values) in the early 1970s.

As always, class is at the heart of this sitcom. Basil believes he is better than his lot and wants to be recognised as being socially secure in the moneyed and established middle class. Basil is dominated by his desire to be seen as overtly middle-class in an era when your class was a critical socio-economic indicator (see the ‘I know my place’ sketch from The Frost Report). We might find it hard to imagine today how important your class was and then how you were perceived, as a consequence, in the 1950s and 60s.

It might be that Fawlty Towers isn’t for you. I would recommend it. Much of it is absolutely magnificent. Enjoy Gourmet Night.