The school had just been described to me as 'in a state of disrepair' by the former principal. Oh yes, we all remember the petty lawns that were in short supply and the mostly unsanitary classrooms. Oh yes, we all remember the bit about the walls being too thin to cram in any more blackboard, although the new A3 kids used to be pretty keen about theirs Pirate's Of The Caribbean themed themes.
After a good discussion with the new principal however, things started to get better. As I had already done a great deal of work with a specialist in educational development, and she was our target user. She quickly worked out that the typical classrooms were not the ones which would be most appropriate for this age group, and many of the older classrooms which were designed for university students were hardly suitable. Also, because of the lack of space, the older classrooms meant that the classrooms were very similar to each other, and any changes to either the layout, or the room arrangement required the strictest of reigns from the managers.
One of the rooms that really had to be looked at was the staff room. There's no doubt that a place that is designed to provide innovation and stress relief is a perfect location for it. The platform was very low and the only area with undeniable space was the staff room itself. It's a good platform to meet for meetings, and it's a very low profile place so people can't observe you whilst you're running your meeting or while you're giving it.
The other room was another former classroom, although a lot of the current staff were already in this part of the building. It had been completely trashed at one end, and the surface of the room was in bad need of repair. The stained carpets in this area had failed to dry, causing a nasty smell, and the walls needed lots of painting.
The complete staff room, staff area and classrooms had been painted. Piano specialists, who are highly skilled at refurbishing antique pianos had been brought in to take a close look at these items. They were carefully worked on, toExactly match the original keyboard and its features. Gate patterns were adjusted and new hinges applied.
Another room was even more unique. Not many schools get their flag designs right, but this one did! The stripes and poles had all been preserved with great care, and were very readable.
The staff room was in the far east corner of the staff room, facing the river. It had a tree motif and the floor was paved with strips of oak. It was known as "The Forbidden Island", but had many hidden secrets, including one of my proudest moments.
The side entrances were badly lit, and it took quite a struggle to get into them, with the help of the fire escape stairs. There was a trapdoor under the platform, but the light had to be worked around.
There was another secret way in, which was described to me by a colleague. There were two sets of doorways, both of which led directly into the staff room. One of them was a common doorway, and the other was a secret passage.
After hearing my theory that the staff room was thesecret entrance, he suggested that it might be possible to take a look inside the closet again, to check whether the wall paintings were still there, and if they were,to take a closer look at the coffin or hear the moans and groans of the victims echoing through the walls.
It was three o'clock in the morning, but we had only just begun our tour of the staff room when we heard shouting from the staff room. There, in the very midst of the touring we were just about to embark upon, was a huge and magnificent feast, in which all the school's uniform had been removed except for those of the principals, who both still had on their black uniforms.
The cupboards in the first storey of the staff room were flooded with bread and milk, while prices for everything in the feast room were huge. We had to help from the staffroom clock, which was the same as the wall clock above the platform. In the middle of the room were the blackboards for the different purposes, and on the floor, where pamphlets and reports were spread out for all to see, were many tables with snacks and cups of hot cocoa on the hearth, together with cakes, choicest foods and actually on the platform, rich and pretty fruit, unpretentious dishes of boiled vegetables, and beautiful presentation accessories.
After breakfast, we went out into the staff room again, and found David Tate there, looking very busy himself.