We were about five minutes into our maths lesson when the headteacher entered the classroom with a grave look on his face.
“I’m sorry to interrupt Mr Brunskill, but I need to talk to year three.’
Everyone put their pencils down and waited.
“You all know that maths is very important. I’m worried that we’re not working hard enough. So from now on I’ve banned playtime. We’ll be doing extra maths in that twenty minutes instead. That’s all.”
And with that, he left.
Eventually, one child put their hand up. “That’s not fair, we need our playtime.”
“OK,” I replied, “I know that we were going to do maths now but obviously we’ve had a big announcement. Put your things away so that we can talk about it.”
Luckily, I had a powerpoint presentation on ‘wants’ versus ‘needs’, and some materials on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
What followed was a discussion on individual rights and responsibilities.
By the end of the ‘impromptu’ lesson, the children had written a letter to the headteacher, in which they explained that they understood that he had the responsibility to provide them with a good education because that is very important, but that they also had the right to play, and that nobody can take that right away, even if they are in charge.
Compelled by the arguments in the letter, the headteacher rescinded his decision.