Thank God it's Friday

6th June 2003 at 01:00
Monday The phrase busman's holiday comes to mind as I begin a study visit to Montreal during half-term. It seemed so exciting when I completed my application in November. But sub-zero temperatures make the UK seem warmly inviting as we troop from coffee house to coffee house before our official welcome.

Tuesday We visit a vocational training school for the construction industry. An amazing place, virtually built by the students and run by a man with a mission and a strong entrepreneurial streak. I'm not sure what I'm going to take from this visit, but maybe my more challenging Year 10s will be up for converting our temporary classrooms into something resembling the Sistine Chapel.

Wednesday The centrepiece of our stay is a visit to the CEGEPs (college d'enseignement general et professionnel). The nearest equivalent in the UK is the sixth-form college. Their facilities are amazing and I'm relieved that some of my younger staff are not here to be wooed by the resources and lack of curriculum prescription.

Thursday Another CEGEP beckons. There is real desire to learn with us, and our hosts are overwhelmed as they navigate the QCA website. I'm over-whelmed by their freedom to innovate and the leather settee in the staffroom.

Friday We visit a high school at last. Alas, it resembles too many UK schools with crumbling woodwork, pockets of litter, and endless corridors of lockers. It is worse than many of our schools and seems woefully resourced in some areas. The quality of work on the walls does not inspire and I'm tempted to think that prescription may not be such a bad thing.

David Jones David Jones is head of Gosford Hill school, Kidlington, Oxford. He was on a study visit organised by the League for Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers

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