Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I received a gentle rebuke from my colleague Maggie Hartley who is Extended Schools & Services Cluster Coordinator for Beeston Hill & Holbeck...

"Dear Chris - I'm sorry that I wasn't able to say this yesterday but our server was down! - Thank you so much for coming to the concert on Monday - fitting it into your busy schedule - we really appreciated your support. I'm even more sorry that I implied that the concert "started your Monday" - I know that you probably had at least three other engagements first and I'm sorry that I didn't say that at the time! SORRY!!!

I must admit I was a little disappointed when reading your Blog - really excited to begin with but then felt that the children and their staff were a bit hard done-to!! I know ---- ten compliments NEVER outweigh one criticism as it's the criticism that the reader remembers!!
Please remember that:- The group was originally set up to improve community cohesion across LS10 and LS11 and includes several children with Statements for their behaviour as well as learning needs. Some of them had been unable to even stand in a line for more than a few minutes when they first started practicing so the fact that they were able to remain in the group and sing is real progress! One little girl with VERY special needs was standing on the front row, sang EVERY word and didn’t lose concentration at all - she brings £1 EVERY week to pay because she loves it SO much and she doesn’t want it to finish!! Through no fault of their own, the children arrived with no time to spare for a "Mental Build-up" with the choir leaders (who they only meet once a week as they are from 11 different schools).

If you set endorphins flowing in a group of challenging children then excitement and talkativeness is likely to ensue - ESPECIALLY if the choir leader hasn't given them their "pep-talk" to start with! The children and their staff have been giving up their time freely from 3.15 to 4.45pm on a Tuesday since half term to learn these songs - as they aren't from one school where they can practice together they have to concentrate hard for that time to get it right and their attendance has been exceptional. Yes I agree that some of them could have been more attentive but from where I was sitting I could see all their faces and I think I might have been more inclined to tell them that they were FABULOUS - and that they will be EVEN MORE fabulous when they remember to stand still and silently. Sally spoke to them in this way after the performance and that made them think about their behaviour – they were mostly wonderful during their final yesterday evening!!

Having watched Jean and Roy mould this group of over 120 children with the undivided support of the 15 or 16 staff who attend every week AND seen the progress that they have made in such a short time, I am exceedingly impressed and was not disappointed with them - nothing that a "nagging" from Jean and Roy won't cure!!! The children plan to surprise you on Tuesday so BE PREPARED to be amazed!!! Thanks again for attending. Maggie"

Maggie's right of course, negative coaching never works. As I said in the original message the choir was in so many ways fabulous!

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