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Long term memory and lessons learned

Instead therefore of having the kind of long-term plans we see in other jurisdictions around the world, our schools and colleges, their students and teachers are buffeted around in a whirlwind of constant reforms all too often characterized by an oppositional and often uninformed debate from which many teachers and school leaders all too easily feel disenfranchised. Reflecting on 40 years working in the British education system this was the reason behind the question mark in the title of my book ‘Lessons Learned?’ Our entire education system has been bedeviled by a lack of long-term memory for many years. The last year has been incredibly tough. I hope that the new one will give our profession the space and courage to do what they know is right.

School Improvement that Sticks

Every child should have the opportunity to attend a school that can provide a good education, so there will always be an imperative to bring about improvement as quickly as possible. However, the pressure for this to happen rapidly can have both undesired and undersirable consequences.  We see it in schools ‘gaming’ the exam system, in pupils being ‘off-rolled’ to boost schools’ results, in schools not wanting to take pupils with SEN onto their rolls.  We also see it in the declining recruitment and retention figures.

‘Us and Them’

I witness a fair amount of ‘SLT bashing’ on Twitter, which always saddens me.  I fully understand that senior leadership is not about courting popularity, but it should involve the promotion of mutual respect and positive, constructive, working relationships. Remember:

Your working environment is up to you and the others working in your immediate vicinity. So get started changing that. As the leader, the work climate of your team is directly a reflection of your leadership.
Turn “us vs. them” into “we.”

Growing teams and building relationships...Part Two

I have tried to be supportive without micromanaging, whilst still quality assuring what we do as we are setting our own standards in each new task, process and system we create. I also plan to expose them to some of the areas of Headship that you do not experience as a Deputy Headteacher. Why do we have hidden aspects of the role? There are areas of my role I could have been better prepared for had I known what I needed to know. The 3 of us are really different but our experiences, qualities, skill sets and personalities compliment one another well.

Solving teacher recruitment requires a broad, flexible and planned approach.

Many schools only think about recruitment when vacancies occur, but this approach can often cost more money, time and effort. As schools face rising costs and shrinking budgets, planning well into the future may be the solution to managing some of these challenges. 

Instigating a system of “planned recruitment”, by forecasting likely staff turnover, along with possible changes to the curriculum, can help schools better understand the likelihood of needing to recruit for certain roles. Proactive recruiting is the key.

Is the government listening over funding cuts or are schools not speaking loud enough?

Should school leaders and those in government and those who represent teachers be making their voices heard more when it comes to the funding crisis that is crippling education in this country? Here’s one voice: “Please listen to us: it’s going to have dire consequences. Everything we do in this schools is to improve life chances of children, and they are very dear to me and that’s why I do my job, and I feel the choices I’m being forced to make will have a detrimental impact on my children and that’s unfair.”
“I’m here to do a job for our children and for our families and I’m being restricted.”

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