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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, March 18, 2006
    Lucy in the hall with Gervase
    Great fun listening to Gervase Phinn at the Roscoe Lecture the other evening. His lecture title was Children at the Centre and although he was addressing a St George's Hall full of our city's grey and good, his talk had been preceded by a presentation of a Citizenship Award to Lucy Whittaker, a pupil of Bedford Primary, Bootle. From what her teacher told us about her she seemed to be getting the award just for being a lovely girl who smiles a lot - and that was good enough for me. She climbed the high steps to the rostrum to receive her award from Mr Phinn. This tiny little thing in a cavern full of thousands turned to face the applause, and won over everyone in the room - with her smile.

    Phinn's lecture was full of the stories which have made him the most famous ever Yorkshire schools inspector, stories told of the wide-eyed honesty of the young, the way they mimic the older ones around them, their speculative uses of language. It was heartwarming stuff. When he remembered he was on a political platform (invited by David Alton, in the name of William Roscoe) and tried to make some adult points about the-present-state-of-education-in-our-land, he floundered a bit. His thesis is simple, really, so as a child could understand - education boils down to the relationship between the child and their teacher: we should value them, each, and make space to let those relationships flourish. Well, I'm no politician or educator but that seemed good enough to me too.