For theatre lovers, a real life drama, and a drama from real life. Tracy, a pupil with cystic fibrosis, tells the story of her school as it faces the bulldozer. Why does Margaret Williamson, its head teacher, attempt to take her own life? Can her love with John Errington, the English teacher, survive? Act 2 Scene 5 The Gift of Love.
For parents of children with special needs, helping to end the stigma attaching to special schools put about by those who thought that what was right for them was right for all - sadly, with unfortunate consequences, a not uncommon error of judgment in education.
For music lovers, a music lesson. How important is music in education, especially for children with special needs? And it has something to say in the age-old debate between people of faith and the people like Richard Dawkins.
For students of politics, a case study in political folly,systemic dysfunction and ineptitude in closing over 100 special schools in the UK, and the corrosive effect of power on the human psyche - reasons why Governments of the Left and Right always seem to end in tears, and food for serious thought; as the Prologue closes: "See the whole as one picture - but see it as a fragment of a very large canvas."
For lawyers, academia and educationalists, an abattoir for a herd of sacred cows and a challenge they should not ignore.
For bureaucrats, a cautionary tale with some lessons they may want to learn.
For the media, a journey of exploration and discovery. If you have the appetite for it, the Death of a Nightingale Website is just Tapas compared with the Seven Course Table d'hôte meal that is this 262 page book, with Alice in Blunderland - The Mad Hattter's Committee Meeting for your entertainment.
It tells a human story with a challenging interplay of fact, fiction, satire and commentary. It brings to life dry-as-dust issues important in education and, maybe, even more important beyond it. Which is the wiser mantra in education - Equality or Equity? How far does declaring a "Right" provide the protection of "a Right"? Is this generation properly mindful of the legacy it is bequeathing?
Reviews of the play at the New End Theatre, London 2009 & 2011
BBC LONDON http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_kcMtZU6Iw
"Compelling, controversial and confrontational" Len Parkin The Teacher
"A searing tale of a fight to save SEN school which drove head teacher to brink of suicide" Kerra Maddern, Times Educational Supplement
A wonderful night, very moving - I learned about another world, which can be as cruel & cynical & as warm-hearted & surprising as my own. Don't miss it, esp. if you're a human being. Miriam Margolyes
A refreshingly uncompromising and meaty piece ... I loved the emphasis on music and its power to heal and educate.Susan Elkin,The Stage (2009)
And representing those of an opposite disposition - and the best evidence that the play hit the target
Alan Share's badly written, didactic play - full of platitudes such as "Everyone can achieve something in life with a helping hand" - is more preachy than pertinent. It is a kind of anti-theatre, virtually untouched by any attempt at direction.Public Service & Commercial Union Editor and activist, Jonathan Lovett, The Stage (2011). Brian Attwood, Editor, The Stage, describes his own reviewer on seeing some of his Tweets as "Yep, he's worse than Pol Pot."
LET TRACY HAVE THE LAST WORD HERE:
Remember the little white dandelion heads blowing away in the wind.... Y'see I'm not just going to blow away in the wind.
|Product dimensions:||8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.56(d)|
About the Author
From a Journey of a Lifetime
Over 17 years a governor of a special school for children with a physical difficulty and an associated learning difficulty, chair of governors for most of that time.
His wife and partner, Ros, mirrored his concern for the disabled, volunteering teacher support. More importantly, until Sunderland's Labour-controlled Local Authority withdrew funding and closed down the Citizens' Advice Bureau, using her law degree she volunteered her time in its Tribunal Unit successfully representing clients claiming disability benefit.
A degree in Jurisprudence at Merton College, Oxford. A barrister, but practiced for only three years. Left the Bar to work for the Liberal Party in London. After that, until retirement in 1993, headed and grew a retail furniture company in NE England, now a nationwide company. Active in his trade association, played a lead role in the design of Flammability labels for sofas.
In his working life he was the director of the British Shops and Stores Association and chair of a nationwide committee that set up the Qualitas Conciliation (now known as the Furniture Ombudsman) for the Furniture and Carpet Industry.
Was for some years a Director of the Tyne & Wear Community Foundation.
Is, and has been for many years, chair of the board of a residential care home in Newcastle. Recently chair of TYDFAS, the Newcastle branch of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.
Throughout his life he came to realise that excellence is in the mind and comes from the heart, and that mediocrity gets you nowhere.
A member of his local Rotary Club, seeing this book and his involvement in Special Needs as acts of Rotary service. Travels widely, enjoys music and the arts and is never, ever bored.
If Great Britain had surrendered to Hitler, his life would have ended long ago in a gas chamber along with millions of others. Were it not for the medical profession and the NHS he would not be here today. Were it not for his teachers his life would not have been so rewarding. He sees this book as a way of expressing his thanks with all royalties donated to the Death of a Nightingale Fund.
In June 2008 "Featured Author" of the month - Oxford Alumni and Blackwell publishers.