Unsuitable Girl


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  1. On being a governor


    Another year is drawing towards its close and before the final Full Governing Board meeting, I want to set down some of my experience as a governor at Abbots Langley School. 


    This school is lucky to have a dedicated group of governors who are very enthusiastic about what the children are doing in school.  They are all clear that the raison d’être of being a governor is primarily for the children, overseeing how the plans laid out by the head and the senior leadership team unfold for best effect and how the  outcomes are monitored and fed back into new learning opportunities, and that the children are safe.


    The best part I think is that I get to visit classes, seeing the children’s work, seeing their enjoyment, their interactions with the teachers and their peers. Having an impromptu conversation with a five year old, about infinity, in reception class one day was illuminating and slightly mind bending.  (See my blog from November http://www.unsuitablegirl.com/blog?row=7) I wonder if Robbie or his friend Julie will end up doing astrophysics. (Names are changed)


    Then there are the in-depth conversations with lead teachers, in my case with the Maths leader.  I get to ask questions, hear about new ways of motivating children, using the open ‘challenge’ technique, allowing the child to choose the level of difficulty of the work on offer after the group session.  This allows the less confident learners to be in their comfort zone, but allows them to take a tentative, at first, foray into higher levels of work. Even more helpful in this method is that the teacher mixes the class seating arrangements up for work sessions, so removing the whole ‘top/bottom’ group mentality and thereby raising the game of all the children. The high flyers have freedom to fly as high as they can by choosing ever more challenging levels of work.


    As a class link governor, I can see the same class each term throughout the school till they go to their secondary schools. So as the years pass as an observer,  it’s great  to see the children develop confidence, a sense of self, a pride in what they can do, and grow into themselves as individuals. And I can see how they are doing through the Twitter feed.


    Then the other aspect of governorship, which is a bit scary, is the Ofsted bit! Fortunately because we are a strong group, everything was in place and ready by the time they came calling this year. The staff who were confident in what they are doing, (‘bring it on!’) and the governors who met the inspectors, rose to the challenge and the outcomes were wonderful, and the head and staff now feel that ‘Outstanding’ is well within their grasp. 


    The blog I wrote on the ‘Blogging and blossoming school’ (http://www.unsuitablegirl.com/blog?row=17) sets out the step change in the journey of the school.  The adventure continues, with Twitter feeds from the summer trips of Year 6 and 5, (cue abseiling and canoeing), constant sharing of art work, Maths games, musical productions, an amazing family story writing day, hilarious Book Week happenings, learning about and practising fencing, in the Motte and Bailey castle sense, chicks hatching, hens, finding a frog, gardening, growing and eating vegetables, in short all life is here!


    And it is all feeding back into enhanced work from the children who are happy and safe in our school.


    It is a privilege to be able to come and share in this magic.

  2. Today's blog is about a very brave woman, Um Fadi,  who came over to the UK to talk about her son and his friends, the five Hares boys, incarcerated by the Israeli regime, for a crime which did not happen, 'fitted up' by settlers in whose interest is  to make this car accident into a terrorist incident so they can claim compensation form the Israeli government.


    She has talked this week  to the cross party group at Westminster, to the FO, and to us, at the Watford Friends of Salfeet, yesterday evening.


    The car was rammed under the back end of a lorry which had been stationary on the road, in the dark.  By the look of the smash it has been assessed that the driver had been travelling at 50-70 mph.  The driver of the lorry said he had had a blow out  and had gone to fetch help.  When he returned he found the car smashed into the back of his truck.


    He subsequently changed his story.  The driver changed her story three times.


    The olive grove adjacent, but 30 metres above the road, is allegedly the place from which these boys had been throwing stones, according to the  driver.

    How could anyone driving in the dark, at speed, see and identify someone 30 metres above their line of sight? Untenable.


    No stones were to be seen on the road at the time anyway.  But three days after a stone was found in the car…fishy.


    At a Community Tea house , on the road to the olive grove, old men were sitting out playing backgammon  and chatting, and they heard the crash, but saw no people passing before, to get to the olive grove. So no one was there to be throwing stones.


    Palestinians are forbidden from testifying at all Israeli Military Courts by the IDF.

    So the presiding 'judiciary' will never hear real evidence supporting the Hares Boy's innocence.


    Also: The illegal settlers have introduced wild boars which wander free around the territory after dark.  So all Palestinians stay indoors after dark.  The boys were at home.  It's  too dangerous to be out after dark.


    And: Why would these people in the car do this?  Because if they claim that the boys were throwing stones that would be deemed a 'terrorist incident' and then the occupants of the car and the driver could receive  substantial compensation from the Israeli government.  So suddenly, 61 settlers emanated from the dark, as  'witnesses'.


    Meantime the boys have been shut up in small cells since March 2013. The 'evidence' against them - signed confessions in Hebrew, which they do not understand, and presented to them after being  beaten and under going the brutal interrogation techniques at which the Israelis are now expert. 


    Their parents see them, undertaking  a long journey to get to the prison.   They see them in a crowded noisy environment, and can hardly hear their sons speak   .  They have to take them clothes, toothpaste, soap, all essential things to keep them clean and healthy.  The prison does not supply any basic care.


    This regime of Netenyahu  is flouting the Geneva Convention of 2007 of which it is a signatory.


    These boys are innocent.  This is cruel and unusual punishment for nothing.


    Um Fadi is fighting for her son and his friends against a regime which is expert at repression, brutal in its aim to ethnically cleanse  the West Bank of all Palestinians.  The Watford Friends of Salfeet funded her trip.


    And yet and yet, here in the wonderful 'free' UK, no paper would touch this story yesterday, no main stream TV or Radio media would take an interest.  Our MP did not attend the public meeting.  Shame on us UK!


    The lives of five Palestinian boys and their shattered families  count for nothing , against the war stories, and celeb trivia which fill the pages of most papers.





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