All the news from Musical Futures International
Our spotlight series explores the musical stories and experiences that first bring people to music and what it is that inspires a lifelong love of music and the drive to share that through teaching music to others.
It’s May already. I’m looking at piles of ‘junk’ and wondering which bits I can sell, which I can dump and which I can’t bear to part with. I never thought I’d be leaving my lovely cottage, bought 3 years ago when times in music education weren’t so bad and my job was great.
However, East Sussex County Council decided it would be a good idea to delete a line from their budget which contained ‘teachers pay’. I stepped in as union rep to help to spearhead the campaign to save their jobs. We won! Unfortunately mine was one job which could not be saved and I was made compulsorily redundant. #NotSurprised
I felt lucky to go back to my roots as a secondary music teacher and immediately land a job at the wonderful Varndean School in Brighton in a department next to the infamous @varndeangoats (please follow them on Twitter!). It was a shock having been a senior manager in the music service for 11 years but I accepted my lot and got on with it building some amazing relationships with staff, students, goats and a poorly pigeon. But where to go from here? Head of Department was coming up - did I want to do this? I’d loved my previous role advising teachers across my county, writing and delivering CPD courses, arranging conferences and having an impact at a different level.
That’s where Tim Costello, Head of Music at The British School Manila, stepped in. ‘You know there’s a job going at my school in Manila?’
looked it up on the map. The Philippines - you’re joking. I can’t leave everything: my house, my friends, my brass band (most important), my family.
Then I reflected…. my house will still be there - the British School has a generous housing allowance so I can rent out. My friends are all on Facebook - they’re not going away; my family are mostly dead apart from some lovely cousins in the north and I’m taking the others (husband, child, dog) with me. My brass band is the hardest thing to leave behind. It’s the closest thing to family and the most fun I have every week. When was the last time you laughed out loud? I do it every week - for the best reasons of course #innuendobingo
My father-in-law phoned me two days before my interview. Ex-pilot - he knows the world. ‘Well I’d love to have Christmas in the Philippines. You’ll love the people and the food’. That sealed it. That, and the housing allowance; the 13 month salary; the brand new purpose built radically designed NEW performing arts building (I know!); the free flights back every year; they’re finding a job for my husband; the 95% off school fees for my lad; that the lad can study iBacc - a genuinely useful qualification - once he’s done his GCSEs there; the amazing apartment looking over Manila golf course; the 20 minute walk to school and the fact that I already feel part of a community.
Most of all, I’m looking forward to having autonomy over my curriculum leading primary music and the ability to properly design one that allows children to progress sensibly from primary to secondary with careful thought about which instrument they WILL play from their earliest years incorporating creativity, pupil-led learning and performance at the highest standard with a colleague in the secondary music department who thinks the same.
Don’t get me wrong - I’m the most staunch socialist you’ll meet and I didn’t approve of ‘private schooling’ but I’m reconciling that with the ex-pat community who don’t have much choice. I’m also looking forward to a completely new lease of life in my ‘later’ years which are, in a way, making my life longer.
Keep music education on the national agenda while I’m away for me.
#ManilaBound #SaveEastSussexMusic @varndeangoats @janehumberstone
Join Musical Futures International in Manila in January 2020!
Bookings for our January 2020 workshops at The British School Manila are now open. Meanwhile you can check out the amazing facilities at our host school The British School Manilia and huge thanks to Tim, Jane and the team for inviting us!
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