Baker’s Beacon Blog – Week 15

20 January 2023

Dear Parents,

Now I have spent a term at The Beacon getting a general picture of our School, I am now going into lessons across all of the age groups, seeing your boys, our staff and their practice. This time last year, our School was adjudged to be ‘excellent’ in all areas by ISI and, as an ISI Inspector myself and having seen the lessons I have over the past two weeks, I can say in all honesty, they were absolutely right in that judgement. As a new member of the teaching staff this year, I am humbled to join their number in teaching Geography to all Year 5. I still enjoy teaching; you only get a true sense of a boy’s character and academic promise by teaching them and who am I to contribute to discussions with colleagues on teaching and learning if I don’t teach myself? And, as someone with over 25 years’ experience in the classroom, you would like to think I am a capable practitioner who can easily adapt to all scenarios…and so did I…until last weekend…

Last Sunday was Patrick’s 17th birthday. Where has that time gone? It only seems like yesterday that he was sitting in front of ‘Brum’ on CBeebies, clutching his Lightning McQueen car. Now, all those years later, he’s legal to learn to drive himself and who better to teach him than his highly experienced teacher father. We drove to the large station car park at Hemel Hempstead. It was perfect; lots of room, a flat surface and very quiet…Patrick and I swapped seats and the ‘lesson’ began. I quickly realised that something so easy as getting a car into gear wasn’t that easy to describe and I clearly made it seem far more complicated than it actually was as the car lurched forward with ridiculously high revs and next to no clutch control. As we hurtled towards the end of the car park my left hand held onto the dashboard for safety and right hand onto the handbrake if I needed the ultimate abort. Patrick though was quite composed, had a massive smile on his face and turned the car (albeit far too quickly) and started off on a second lap. As his confidence grew, so did mine and I took him through the heady heights of (crunching into) second gear. We were really motoring but after a couple of further laps, it dawned on me that I had to help him stop this thing. Trying to explain moving down the gears, and decelerating, and braking, and mirrors, whilst Patrick’s attention was focused on what was in front of him, wasn’t easy. However, we managed to bring the car to a standstill, paused and got our breath back…

For a first attempt, he was pretty good and I was really proud of him. We both agreed though that the early prediction of, “if it goes well then maybe you can drive back home”, was something neither of us was prepared to do on this occasion, and we committed to visiting the same car park for the next two Sundays and then maybe we can try the public roads. A chastening and brand new teaching experience for Mr Baker. As I said to Brigid when we got home, give me a class of 20 Year 5 Beacon boys for Geography any day!

Have a good weekend,

Nick Baker


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