February 2016

The know zone

  • It's a jungle out there...
    As I walk around school during the day I am struck by the differing groups of students that I meet and observe. Each group has its own social structure, feeding pattern and natural habitat. While there has been little scientific research into these groups I have tried to collate my observations. More
  • Lessons in life?
    A new report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner recommends compulsory personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) lessons in schools. What are your views – should PSHE be a compulsory component in the National Curriculum? Here ASCL members share their thoughts. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Great opportunities for leadership development
    ASCL Professional Development (PD) offers a range of support to provide you with the solutions you need. Our events, which are accessible to members and non-members alike, are packed full of practical ideas that you can take back to school or college and are led by expert education practitioners from ASCL’s team. More
  • The appliance of science
    British Science Week (11–20 March 2016) is the UK’s largest grassroots celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) that takes place each March. Every year, it brings together schools, colleges, professionals and communities to celebrate and explore STEM. More
  • Engaging with parents to raise pupil attainment
    Parents say work commitments are the most common barrier to getting more involved in their child’s school life* but parents who have insight into their child’s progress can help to support their development. With the busy lives that parents lead, schools need to find new ways of engaging parents with their child’s progress: More
  • Know your rights
    Academies have changed the landscape on employment and too often staff find themselves with fewer entitlements than expected, so study your contract before you sign, says Sara Ford. More
  • Broadening their horizons
    As the latest research shows, children learn the basics best when they are taught as part of a broad and balanced curriculum, rather than in splendid isolation, says Julie McCulloch. More
  • Braced for change
    Working in a MAT or stand-alone school? Operational or strategic role? Val Andrew looks at what the future holds for school business leaders and school business managers. More
Bookmark and Share

The school environment plays host to a wide variety of wildlife, each with its own distinct habits, behaviours and plumage…

It’s a jungle in there...

As I walk around school during the day I am struck by the differing groups of students that I meet and observe. Each group has its own social structure, feeding pattern and natural habitat. While there has been little scientific research into these groups I have tried to collate my observations.

Toiletus hoverus

An interesting set consisting of both male groups and female groups but never mixed ones. The female groups tend to congregate in packs of five to ten individuals under the direction of a dominant alpha female. These groups gather around the toilets at breaks, lunchtimes and, with certain bolder groups, between lessons in order to rearrange their plumage and decorate themselves with various coloured powders and greases. While generally docile this group can become agitated if approached and especially if challenged and required to leave their habitat and/or remove the artificial coloration.

 The males of this genus also congregate but tend to use the time to display to other males their ability to be amusing or to inhale the smoke from burning leaves. Reports persist that on occasion newcomers to the group may have their heads inserted into the toilets but this has never been proven to actually happen.

Overexcitedus puppius

Only observed in the autumn term and with newcomers to the school. These groups of students can be seen running at high speed around the outdoor areas and engaging in boisterous activities involving much falling into puddles, accidental ripping of uniform and incurring sundry scrapes and bruises. This behaviour is frowned upon by elder members of the ecosystem, especially if they are involved in collisions with fast-moving juveniles. As a result the existence of this group decreases rapidly after Christmas becoming almost extinct by Easter. 

Aquaticus oblivious

A group thought to be partly amphibious, they are oblivious to all weather conditions while outside and will tolerate downpours, sleet, hail and gales. These hardy individuals seem to positively revel in getting as cold, wet and generally uncomfortable as possible and go to great lengths to walk or run through puddles and avoid coming indoors. 

However, once they are rounded up and brought back inside for their lessons this group undergo a fascinating transformation. Now the sodden feet and minor frostbite too eagerly sought just moments before become sources of extreme discomfort, causing them to emit plaintive distress signals for the duration of the lesson. Fortunately, after a good night’s sleep, they are fully recovered by the next day and ready to brave the elements once more.

Clubius librius

A shy and retiring group that avoid the company of their more boisterous neighbours and seek shelter in the various organised activities around the school buildings. The school library is often an excellent place to set up a hide from which to observe these delicate and elusive creatures. 

Once settled into their natural habitat this group becomes more sociable and displays a variety of nurturing behaviours, welcoming new members to the group with initial caution but then with warmth and friendship. These groups often endure for many years and provide protection to these individuals from the dangers of the wider ecosystem.

There is also one final creature, much rarer than the others but also far more noticeable:

Dutius staffius

Easily identifiable by their fluorescent yellow plumage these top predators stalk the corridors and playgrounds throughout the year. Sharp eyesight and exceptionally keen hearing allow this species to identify poor behaviour from great distances and close in quickly to deal with it. 

Although their dominance can be challenged by some of the other groups in the ecosystem, their use of advanced technologies such as walkietalkies to summon others from the pack mean that they are able to deal swiftly with these incidents. Often to be seen with a hot beverage in hand this magnificent group is what keeps the other packs safe, maintaining boundaries, reducing predation and generally managing the environment. 

I am currently producing an I-Spy book with all of the schoolyard creatures included and am hopeful of a BBC documentary sometime in the future. The author is a headteacher from the North of England.