Why is the usefulness of resource management so underrated in primary schools? Years ago, when I was given responsibility for lower school games, my first task was to make an inventory of all games and gymnastics equipment. It was the starting point for decisions about what kind of activities we made available for pupils. It also led to all sort of storage and organisation issues. With so many colleagues using the equipment, it became a weekly task to sort everything out. Nowadays, I sigh as I see the vast range of available storage solutions: boxes, baskets, nets and so on.
Do staff today realise how lucky they are? So why is it so difficult to find a set of equipment? There are hockey sticks, but no balls. Footballs, but in too many different sizes. How can sub-skill lessons happen; how can progress be planned, far less achieved? What about maintenance? Twenty rugby balls, but only eight are sound. The rest are as deflated as the youngsters who have to use them. It is just the same for other subjects.
Things could be so different with just a little bit of organisation.
One of my most enjoyable lessons recently was a Year 5 science class. A colleague had sorted out bulbs, connectors and batteries into at least 15 sets. The pupils loved them. The room was like a night sky with bursts of light and shouts of success. One bright spark connected three batteries to one bulb. I watched silently, noticing that the bulb could take the strain better than I could. Both their experience and their learning were there to stay. At the end of the lesson, we collected the sets and put them in a safe place for the parallel group to use at a later date.
Good resources lead to effective learning; poor resources lead to confusion. Vast amounts of material are available for schools, but they must be cherished. So, subject co-ordinators, leave your targets, tests and observation for a few weeks. Look at your resources. Do you know what you have? Is there a "whole-school" system for maintenance and availability? Do you remove unused or unwanted material?
There is extra funding for support staff. Secondary schools have their laboratory technicians. Why can't primary schools have classroom technicians? They would have plenty to do, and certainly everyone would benefit.
Marie Thackrah is a supply teacher in Derbyshire