Diary of a headteacher: A funny day for an anniversary

Written by: Diary of a Headteacher | Published:
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Intent on celebrating her school's one-year MAT anniversary, our headteacher diarist sends an all-school email – sparking rumours of Ofsted inspection...

The day had started like many other Monday mornings – SLT briefing, year 11 assembly... But this Monday was going to be different.

You see, Monday, April 1, 2019, marked one year since my school joined its multi-academy trust (MAT). The fact that we joined our MAT on this of all days has often made me chuckle.

All Fools’ Day has been marked in the UK since at least the 19th century. My school has been around since the 18th century. I am sure through our long history we have seen many jokes and jokers. And having now completed my first year at the school as well, I know that the wisecracks, tricks and pranks are not confined just to April 1.

I have certainly had a good few laughs in my first year as head. Granted, though, sometimes what I have experienced has been “funny peculiar” rather than “funny ha-ha”.

A coincidence or foretelling that this day of pranks and mischief is also the anniversary of the school joining our MAT?

One year on and we celebrated. So far, we have survived the MAT and, very importantly, the MAT has survived us! The CEO brought us a feast of cakes to commemorate the day. A party at lunchtime...

At 10:15am I sent out an all-staff email. I never send all-staff emails unless something big has happened. One of my first jobs a year ago was to stop the abundance of all-staff emails. I could not stand the time wasted reading about lost cups and missing board pens!

So, the 10:15am email was sent telling everyone to meet in the staffroom at lunchtime. As I pressed the send button, I laughed to myself. Perhaps we would have just the one April Fool prank after all.

The week before, I had joked with SLT and heads of learning about the email. How would people react if I sent it out very officiously, mimicking the type of email you send after getting “the call”? It did seem a funny idea, especially given the date. I could have sent the email in such a way that the ripples of panic would have been felt across east London. When it came to it, though, the thought of the inevitable reaction stopped me from playing the ultimate April Fool!

Instead, I wrote very clearly that this was good news and that we certainly had not received a call from HMI. In spite of this, two people still asked me whether Ofsted was en route! Even the clearest of emails can be misread.

When we met in the staffroom, the look of relief on the faces of some suggested they had not read the email. Instead, they had heard bits of the Ofsted scare story through the staffroom grapevine. They were clearly relieved!

We shared the sweet treats and we cheered for our quite successful year post-Ofsted 2018, looking forward to the exciting times ahead.

My email could have been the ultimate April Fool prank. The scary thing is that it could so easily have been true. This is one of the reasons why I did not let my sense of humour run away with me. HMI could have been calling us on that Monday morning. In fact, the only reason they have not been in so far is linked precisely with the anniversary we were celebrating.

There was that fateful Ofsted judgement in February 2018. Then the MAT took us into its fold on April 1, 2018. I joined as head on April 16.

April Fools’ Day 2018 represented a fresh start for the school. The chance to recover, rebuild, grow and improve.

So far, all the signs show that the green shoots of recovery have sprouted. In fact, they are almost at the point of bearing fruit.

As we begin the summer term, I aim to demonstrate that the work of year one has set the scene for great success.

We intend to show everyone that, in spite of our funny anniversary date, we really are no fools.

  • The author is a headteacher in her first year of headship at a secondary school in east London.


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