Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Now that the snow and ice has gone..

...seems to be a good time to reflect and learn.

Many schools closed, many managed to stay open and some managed both! Congratulations are due to the many staff and pupils who made it in to school, sometimes in the most challenging circumstances.

My immediate reflections take me to several issues:
  1. Did our transport providers always make the best decisions in the light of the information they, and we, had at the time. In particular, how does it happen that we were unable to contact them until 'too late' to truly consider the situation and make joint decisions?
  2. To what extent did over-zealous H&S concerns get in the way of opening our schools?
  3. How effective are our processes for letting parents and pupils know of the daily decision in such circumstances?
  4. How come schools who struggle to open only to find that significant numbers of pupils cannot get there (for whatever or whoever's reasons) find their 'Unauthorised Absence' figures adversely affected?
  5. What's the situation regarding staff who did not make it - do they now 'owe' us one or more days' work?

I am sure that there are other questions that deserve exploration - what do you think?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

An outsider's frustrations...

As a governor, who has vast experience of and expertise in leading and managing organisations, I find myself often amazed by some practices in the education sector and subsequently frustrated by the slow speed of change. It's a microcosm of the whole public sector and as en ex-employee of a privatised utility I know that things can change and will change. My experience is that the pace of change is largely dependent on the will and expertise of the change leaders.

Meanwhile, it is too easy to see and comment on only the problems.

I hereby commit myself to noticing and praising the great stuff that goes on most of the time. (Whilst also pressing for change where it is needed!)

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Schools closed for snow...

Once again some of the most challenging kids in Leeds lose a day's worth of education because their schools are closed. OK, not all schools are closed, but enough are to worry me. That some managed to open despite the challenges of the weather is surely a lesson to the others who found it too much of a challenge.

I govern in 2 Special Schools where many (most?) pupils are dependant on transport from the City Council - who have proved themselves unable to respond to the challenge today. OK the forecast was bad and there might have been a reasonable presumption of closure if there really had been the 30-45cm predicted. But that did not happen and it seems that there was insufficient time this morning to change the decision - our transport people are apparently only available from 0730 onwards! Now special circumstances require special measures and I would have hoped (dare I say "expected") that contingency plans would have been in place for either worse or better weather than expected.

Now I try not to be cynical, but it does sometimes appear easier to stay at home and plead bad weather than get off your **** and go out of your way to help some of the most disadvantaged kids in the area. Please everyone, let's do better next time.