It has been a busy time as I attended and spoke at the excellent SecEd/Headteacher Update Pupil Premium and Ofsted conference recently, I was then out on inspection last week for two days and also spent Friday to Sunday at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual conference.
This is very unusual for me as, in general, I am in school for the majority of the time. However, there are times when we have to look outwards and gain from hearing and seeing colleagues who are outlining their practice.
I find that these activities are not just useful for the knowledge gained but also for the opportunities to reflect on our own practice without the day-to-day, operational work taking precedence.
As always, I have been impressed by the generosity of colleagues to share their practice and resources in a very collaborative manner. Equally, there is growing interest in our Pupil Premium work and so we always try to respond positively to any requests for visits, calls and indeed live links!
This is something that I think that we could make much greater use of as we have the technology to make it possible; we Skype our partner schools across Europe and further afield and this kind of thing is certainly an everyday occurrence in the business world, along with conference calls and live document production.
I’m of an age where this is such a far cry from my experience. I remember at school the excitement of having a “projector lesson” with a film loop and a very nervous teacher whose fear was grounded when the bulb went and there was no replacement!
Back at the ASCL conference, I thought it was the best I have ever attended. The keynotes, breakouts and fringe sessions were incredibly valuable and provided much useful affirmation of our work back at the ranch.
The food was good too and the opportunities to catch up with old and some newer friends were very welcome. Headship can be an isolating experience as we keep our “professional distance” (quite rightly) from colleagues in school and don’t get too many opportunities to meet socially with colleagues in our own communities.
At ASCL, there was also the opportunity to wish some colleagues well as this would be their last conference in post, and to congratulate some others who are about to take up their first headships.
As NAHs (newly appointed heads), it was refreshing to see their enthusiasm and positivity that all things are sortable and most within the first month! The reality may well be different and dawn as they face their first dark November evenings where the honeymoon period is over, bugs are running rampant through the staff, and the first snowflakes are being predicted!
They should take heart, though, because as we all know spring does come again and with it the uplift of brighter mornings, bulbs sprouting and the possibilities of new budgets, recruitment and planning take over.
I am truly interested to see how they will be faring one year on and hope to see them at next year’s event – so to all new heads, and to “Martin E” and “TC” in particular, I send very best wishes and the hope that you find headship to be all you want it to be and that you gain the tremendous reward of knowing that your work supports the work of those who lead at the classroom interface with young people.
This is how we make the biggest difference to our young people and our communities and ultimately what makes our job most definitely the best job in the world!
Diary of a headteacher is written anonymously and in rotation by three practising headteachers from schools across the country.