Sunday, 1 July 2007

What are they (we) like?

Here's a few things I have been storing up about headteachers.

A friend is working in a school on the edge of London. It's quite a hard school to work in - I think the neighbourhood is pretty poor and some of the children's behaviour is difficult. But the headteacher is well-organised, the school runs pretty smoothly, and things are generally managed well.

Right at the end of term the headteacher calls the staff together. She announces that she has decided to resign.

Some shock and disappointment.

Why is she going?

Well, she tells them, she would like to be an Ofsted inspector next.

The school has an Ofsted coming up soon.

"Because of the children here," she continues, "we can't ever get better than "good" in Ofsted. Their achievement won't ever be good enough to get an "outstanding". And to be an Ofsted inspector, I need to get an "outstanding".

So I'm leaving before Ofsted come to inspect."

What a great send-off.

I'm moving on because none of you will ever be good enough to allow me to advance my career.

A couple more things that cheer me up because they are so ridiculous.

In any given meeting, headteachers will: interrupt, whisper, make jokes, get up when they feel like it.

Over coffee the same people will complain about how they and their staff are ground down by the constant disruption of children, rudeness of parents, etc.

Last time I spent a day with headteachers looking at the subject of family support, a particularly crazy one practically held the floor, interrupting every few minutes and telling the trainer how he didn't know anything about "the kinds of families we work with", how unreliable they are, they never come to appointments, they can't be helped.

After she'd gone slightly beyond the point where I wanted to say something, but not quite to the point where my inhibitions about confrontation in a meeting are overcome, it was the coffee break.

When we came back there was an empty chair at the table.

She'd gone.

Last one.

Since I became a head I spend probably far too much time emailing, in meetings etc. I used to spend more of the day trying to keep up with the children. Now I feel a bit like a distinguished visitor when I am out in the garden or playing in the main room.

It hasn't been that great for my physique either. Yesterday a four year old, glint in eye, ran up to (into) me and put his hand on my stomach.

Asked - "What's in there?"