Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high.

I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. If Disney had done 2016 then they would take inspiration from the Wicked Witch of the West, the hunter who murdered Bambi’s mother and Scar as he basked in Musfsa’s death – to lighten things up a little.
Heroes and Heroines died a lot in 2016. Social media quivering to the morbid tones and everyone else suddenly finding a reason to reflect on a song that ‘changed them’ at some drunken, fumbling, drug addled party from their teens. Politics proved to us why it is a dirty, humourless and deaf grandparent who we are only slightly guilty about wishing dead. Education shifted and heaved like a shambling Cthulhu flesh mountain and gibbered chaos and fear into the corners of decaying, penniless school buildings up and down the country and edu-war was declared on the binary battlefields of Twitter… 2016 – it’s been a blast you ‘unfeeling’ bastard.
I have no regrets as I grab this year by the larynx and toss it into the unnaturally warm streets. No regrets because I have grown and developed more this year than at any other time in my career. Yeah, it has been raw and rather painful at times. In fact I have never had a year where I thought through my ‘exit plan’ more carefully or with so much conviction. I am a firm believer that great art comes from great struggle. When the grass is green and the wolves are sleeping we are not at are most brilliant or creative selves but when the clouds thicken and we need to run to the storm shelters… that is when we find our true callings. That is when we find our Dorothy’s.
“I make my own rules” said Shere Khan.
I am a tiger… Oh yeah, tigers are not cool… I am a ninja stoat? A euphoric moth? A burbling Birbalsingh, bringing greatness where there was once only bad education and a fear of school toilets… I am… me? I am me…
2016 Highlights:
China – just amazing. A truly life changing experience, full of amazing people and incredible ambition. I would move there if I could.
Love my school. Love the people. Love the children. Love specialist. Love the community. Love the challenge.
Great friends. Even @theprimaryhead (Throws voodoo doll with pins in back out the window)… made some good new friends and some respected digital ones this year.
Living in the country. Getting used to it. Those bright misty mornings driving across the Somerset levels or those starling murmurings in the evening… always incredible. I have fallen in love with the mendips – I still wonder how light and colour can work in so many different ways during the day and night. Always surprising and never expected.
Love my wife and love my two children. Even managed to learn to love our miserable old cat Pebbles.
That’s the problem with this self discovery nurture thing… you wallow in the musky essence of ‘Me! Me! Me!’. Something my deputy kept warning me about this year.
“It’s NOT about you!” She kept telling me during my lowest points.
“Oh, but it bloody is!” I would scream back, “It bloody well is!”
And she would walk away with a self satisfied and knowing shrug and leave me to reflect on how sad and pathetic I sounded – as I fell to my knees staring up in to the falling camera screaming, “Why God? Why?”
2017 will be a big year. Make or break. I have no confidence in the DFE whatsoever. I have no confidence in any politicians. There have been too many mistakes, no proper opposition and not enough reflection or rhetoric for hope, especially in the austerity and Brexit era. Change to support teachers and school communities is NOT around the corner. I hate the way education has become a place where shaming, job loss and underinvestment go hand in hand. More heads and teachers are leaving the profession. I put the blame for this firmly at the gates of those who say they can make a difference. Stop telling lies and send someone out in to schools and get a real perspective rather than read a think tank paper. Politics, in particular, have become a lame duck dressed up as a Christmas turkey, only less appetising. We are just hanging on the coat tails of some poor plan based on a Pisa knee-jerk reaction. Our response, as well planned as a cocky Apprentice candidate just before they are pointed at by Alan Sugar.

I’m reading @MaryMyatt’s book, Hopeful Schools, what better book to see in the new year? I can do hope… I can believe in that. No matter how negative things might seem. No matter how much I rant.

In The Wizard of Oz there were many challenges to overcome, including flying monkeys (pictures DFE), they are directed by a wicked witch (pictures future job security) and at times things look hopeless… but they never are. That’s the great narrative, hope wins out over despair and hopelessness (as well as plain incompetence). That is why 2017 is so exciting. 2016 may have felt like a forest fire that has laid bare the landscape… but we know that hope is burning away in the embers… be that change… be that future flame and burn bright in 2017 people.

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