Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Haka for a really, really British School 

A story to make me dance a little, anyway.

Oxley Park School in Milton Keynes opens each school day with the pupils dancing versions of the New Zealand Haka. The School is growing rapidly, sometimes with a new pupil every day, and so building community is important.

This 280-strong school welcomes all newcomers, celebrating their diversity
along the way. And there is no sense that by doing this the inherent nature of the school will be squashed or compromised by "outsiders" - as opponents of
multiculturalism suggest.

This sense of inclusion is well expressed in the words of one of the school's songs: "I am special, you are special, we are special can't you see."

"This," says (Head Teacher) Mrs Higgins, "is really all about saying it doesn't matter if you are fat or thin, tall or short, black or white, we are all different and we are all special."

The posters and photographs that dot the school's walls, show black and white faces along with children with disabilities.

But they don't look staged like so many public service information leaflets do - they reflect what is happening in the classroom.

The pupils are also encouraged to take an interest in their wider community and are at present lobbying the Council for faster provision of cycle lanes in their area. Looks like they will be formidable citizens, hurrah.

Now, is this not really what 'Teaching Britishness' is actually about??

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