What NPQH doesn’t teach you

school-network-4The role of a Head Teacher is rich and varied. I would say that it is the best job in the world but you have to be prepared for a role that is complex, eventful, uncertain and memorable. My last week was one such week:

Sunday night (5.00-8.00pm)

Three hours of Twitter to support the Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL) campaign to highlight concerns about education funding. Search #WhatWouldYouCut for details.

I usually aim to get in to school each day before 7.30am to do some work before everyone else arrives; this sets me up for the day. As usual, my plans are waylaid as three different members of staff, who also arrive early, catch me ‘for only 2 mins’. I enjoy the fact that people will drop in and talk about things that are on their mind.

I start the weekly Staff Briefing where I get the chance to thank people for key aspects from the previous week and go through the week ahead. It is also a great way to provide a timely reminder of key practices.

The briefing always finishes with birthday cards for those staff with a birthday that particular week and a bottle of wine for the staff Star of the Week, nominated anonymously for a random act of kindness. The recipient was a Business Studies teacher who came into school on her day off to support her colleagues as we had an exam board moderator in school. This is a great way to share small stories that influence the culture of the school.

Meet Tyne Tees reporter/cameraman to do a piece on concerns about the National Funding Formula (NFF).

Teach a lesson with one of my Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) groups – it’s always great to spend time in class with the students. Best part of the week!

I always do the dinner queue as this enables me to memorise as many names as possible … but also causes delays in letting students through. I need to do better. New best part of the week!

After school
I accompany two girls’ football teams to another school for a tournament – this takes me back to my days as a PE teacher. This is now the best part of the week!

Meet with middle leaders in one of our cluster meetings. We review a leadership article and discuss the implications for our practice in school. This is a fantastic opportunity to engage colleagues in research and reflective practice. New best part of the week!

Meet with a selection of Northumberland’s School Forum to prepare the response to the ongoing consultation in to NFF. Not hugely enjoyable but very necessary as this is going to be shared with all Northumberland schools.

Rest of the day
Various meetings during the day, culminating in our weekly Senior Leadership Team meeting. It is always good to meet with SLT colleagues and plan ahead.

I conduct a lengthy interview with Hexham TV in respect of the NFF: see https://www.facebook.com/Hexhamtv/videos/1660707917559016/#Northumberland . This time I get to say everything I want to. It goes out via Twitter and I hope many people see it.

Weekly 1-2-1 meeting with a Y10 student. We use the time to catch up on his week and how things are going in his life so that he is in the right frame of mind for school. He is a fantastic young man. Newest best part of the week!

Second cluster meeting of the week – discussions are just as good as yesterday.

Spend an hour and a half walking around school visiting classrooms – I sometimes think students believe this is all I do! It is great to see so many engaging lessons going on. Best part of the week, for sure!

After school
Year 10 Parents’ evening. It’s always nice to wander around speaking to parents whilst they wait for their appointments.

I receive a call from Ofsted to say that we are to undergo a no-notice inspection following a ‘qualifying complaint’ that raises ‘significant concerns about safeguarding, pupil behaviour and welfare’.  The HMI tells me he will be with me in 5 mins as he is just around the corner.

The inspection team of two HMI and an Additional Inspector arrive shortly and we begin the inspection immediately. I barely have time to email staff and let them know what is happening.

The team from Ofsted were excellent; very professional, sensitive and calm throughout. Staff and students were superb and the day progressed very well. The end of day feedback was very positive and commended the school on its approach to safeguarding, pupil behaviour and systems to support pupil welfare.

Whilst the outcome was very positive it is difficult to reconcile the fact that the nature and content of the complaint remains unknown to me. I understand the need to keep the identity of the complainant confidential however the secrecy around the actual concerns raised is wholly unacceptable. Is this the future direction of schools? Are we always to be at the mercy of potentially vexatious complaints? As you might imagine, I am pursuing this with Ofsted.

Early morning meeting with my Deputy Headteachers to review the week and look ahead.

Governors Disciplinary Hearing to review a permanent exclusion. The hearing lasts over 3 hours and is emotionally charged but civil at all times. These hearings are never enjoyable as the decision to permanently exclude is always taken as a last resort and only after we have exhausted every other avenue.

I am meeting every member of staff for 30 mins for 1-2-1 discussions about their perceptions of our school. These meetings have been informative and fascinating in equal measure. This afternoon I carry out my last two for the year. I’ll interview all staff again in 3 years time.

This really is the best job in the world even if it can sometimes leave you desperate for the weekend!


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