Term started just eight days ago and what an eight days it has been! The weather seems to have pitched forward into November with rain, rain and more rain and temperatures so cold as to require the donning of hats, scarves and gloves!
“Heating is on,” were the first words from my site manager before we even got to the good mornings and “how are you?”
The first day back was as busy as it always is and particularly so as we welcomed 30 new members of staff including 24 teachers. We are a very large school with more than 250 staff but this still represents a significant change for us (about 20 per cent of the teaching workforce).
It is also the highest number of new recruits in my tenure as head. As I reflected on the implications of this massive change and the opportunities it presents given the broad range of experiences of our new colleagues, I also thought about the enormous amount of time, energy and organisation that had gone into the recruitment process since last Christmas.
We feel we have a very robust process with all of the elements from advertising through to disclosure and barring checks covered. My PA does a brilliant job of managing applications, reference requests, qualifications checks and making sure that the omnipresent and ever-so-useful lids off the photocopy paper boxes are organised and kept in order (the heads of faculty want to have daily updates on numbers of applicants, you see).
Reprographics staff manage their end making sure that nothing goes amiss as they produce copies ready for the short-listing process. All of this takes place against a backdrop of changes in requirements as existing staff make requests for moves to part-time, increased hours or seek promotions.
I don’t think I have ever read any academic papers regarding the plate-spinning that this whole process necessitates or the leadership qualities required to make sure that at the end of it all you have a workforce that is fit-for-purpose with all bases covered. Worthy of an NPQH assignment perhaps?
The implications of not getting it right can be horrendous, and not just for the school as a whole, but for the most important people in it – our students.
We value student input and it still fascinates me how astute young people are and the quality of the feedback they provide, particularly when they relate their comments to some aspect of our school philosophy or priorities. They cut to the chase, are very professional and take their duties so seriously that it is a joy to behold.
I would love to be a fly on the wall in their homes as students recount the early days of the term and parents ask “how’s it gone? What’s your new English/maths/French teacher like?!”
The induction programme started a long time ago but bringing together a new staff team is an art, I think. It is of particular importance when the new colleague holds a leadership post within the school and so has a far greater impact across a wider group of people.
There are the formal aspects of induction, especially for NQTs, but the informal can be just as important in developing a cohesive community with a shared and common goal and clear understanding of the journey.
Anyway, all was going well and I was thinking about the next steps in results analysis and updating the self-evaluation form when my PA rang through with the immortal words: “I’ve got Ofsted on the phone.”
Now that’s a story for another time!
Diary of a headteacher is written anonymously and in rotation by three practising headteachers from schools across the country.