Hitting the ground running


Our headteacher diarist looks to hit the ground running this year, although still has to contend with new Ofsted guidance, impending STRB reports and staffroom wags!

As we start the new year and the new term it seems like a starting pistol goes off and we have to shift from a standing start into the 100 metres sprint in one easy, fluid motion. 

The Christmas holidays more than any others give opportunities and excuses to wind down, take time out, enjoy lazy breakfasts with the family, indulge in food and merriment and then bang – alarm clocks go off in what seems like the middle of the night and we have to be bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready for the day ahead.

This year we had a CPD event on the first day back, and while it might be possible for some people to get away with being somewhat fazed by the early start, for those facilitating there is no hiding place.

Incidentally, it is never wise to wear anything new in the first days back as this usually provides plenty of scope for the staffroom wags to enquire about Santa or the sales! New technology also falls into this category, with new wireless presenters or iPads being among the first things to be spotted!

Greetings over with, it is then back into “what happened at the end of term” mode. Our staff celebrations are lively, humorous but very well-behaved events so not much room for recriminations there. Although, what happens at the after-parties may not be the same. 

I’m usually home and asleep by the time anyone might be thinking of going back out and the dim and distant days of the early 1980s and the science faculty party, followed by the skiing buddies do, staff pantomime and the “young staff night out” all within the last week are fading fast.

What we really need to remember are the “we’ll come back to it after Christmas” jobs. The pastoral issues hanging over, any staffing issues, adverts or changes and, of course, the long range weather forecasts.

We are geared up for snow; the tractor has been serviced, grit stockpiled and the communications technology tested.

Fortunately, being in the Midlands we are not affected in any direct way by coastal battering or flooding, but it must have been some week for colleagues in those areas.

As well as all of the above, there is then the “how do you find out what you don’t know” type of stuff. I find that following the Department for Education, Ofsted, SecEd and SSAT on Twitter works well, but it is still necessary to sort the wheat from the chaff. 

Thinking of Ofsted, it was nice of the chief inspector to publish the latest Subsidiary Guidance (ref 110166) as a Christmas gift on December 23 and just in time for the new term. The latest document has 50 pages and covers the whole spectrum of inspection. 

One new one on me is that “during the inspection, inspectors should request the day’s absence list alongside the reasons for absence and cross-reference this with data on past exclusions and sanctions as a way of evaluating the behaviour of pupils who are not in school”. It doesn’t say anything as far as I can see about staff not in school.

Another eagerly awaited document will be this year’s pay and conditions advice from the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB). I wonder what the secretary of state expects in response to the letter he wrote to Dame Patricia Hodgson, the STRB chairwoman in October? 

Mind you, given the ongoing furore over his latest comments regarding Blackadder and teaching of the First World War, he may be deemed to have been a bad boy this year and not get anything at all!

  • Diary of a headteacher is written anonymously and in rotation by three practising headteachers from schools across the country.



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