It’s been a strange start to the year in some ways; first of all the publication of A level results with the chase by some universities to recruit top students making the headlines.
Then, the debacle as GCSE results left many youngsters uncertain as to their future plans, teachers at a loss to understand how robust, tried and tested moderation suddenly had led to different outcomes, parents bewildered and angry, and headteachers starting in September, yet again, having to express their grave concerns at national developments instead of being in a position to look forward to a new academic year with confidence.
We lead our schools from the front determined to do our best for the whole school community. We take on board the need for prudence in our use of ever-diminishing resources, we accept full accountability for the performance of our schools, attempt to address the many social ills we are facing, and time after time we are faced with having to change our kit, the size of the playing field if we are lucky enough to have one, the shape of the goalposts and the rules!
Then we have the secretary of state for education reported as saying: “My heart goes out to those students who sat the (GCSE) exam this year because I don’t think the exam was designed in the most appropriate way. Everyone who sat the exam was treated in a way that either wasn’t fair or appropriate.”
So, do something about it Mr Gove. Not good enough Mr Gove. Requires improvement Mr Gove. My heart goes out to those students whose plans have been affected, those who achieved a B grade when they were expecting an A, or worse missing the C that would get them into 6th form or college.
My heart also goes out to those teachers and leaders in schools on the borderline who will have been auditing, evaluating, planning and, let’s face it, hoping that results take them above floor targets.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel privileged to be a headteacher and I love my vocation. I work with some very special people. I have been a teacher for more than 30 years and I am seven years into my second headship. I know that we have better schools and certainly better teaching across the board than when I started in the profession.
However, the constant flux is wearing; planning for an uncertain future is difficult, particularly when you have to take other people with you. I chose to become a head, I am paid to lead my school and will continue to do so in the future.
What about that future? Where are heads going to come from, particularly in our more vulnerable communities?
We have our agenda and the agreed vision for our school; we have the confidence to stick to our guns and not be swayed by each new initiative that arises.
We are in a strong position as a result of the incredibly hard work of support and teaching staff, including the driven and skilled leadership team, at a time when we were affronted to be labelled a “coasting school”.
We are considered to be a “good” school. Our students, parents, staff and governors know that we are better than that. We are not complacent and never will be but just give us a bit of stability and we will move our bit of the earth!
On a lighter note, when our political masters seem bent on making the course far more difficult than it should be, the new term lifts the spirit with the usual smiles and the eagerness of the newest members of our school community, both students and staff.
I was especially pleased as I arrived this morning to see a black cat moving stealthily across the back of the parking space I was reversing into.
Diary of a headteacher is written anonymously and in rotation by three practising headteachers from schools across the country.