Thursday, 31 December 2009

Babysitting or education?

A post in another forum where I am active raised the very delicate subject of the role of school/education for those very few pupils who are multiply disabled - PMLD/physical/sensory in the same individual.

Examination of the extremes sometimes throws light on the less extreme and so my challemge is to discover the most useful role for schools for this small number of pupils. These people will never be able to participate in society in anything like the same way as the rest of us; they may end up spending the rest of their (often all too short) lives in residential care with 24 hour support.

So do we just babysit, and if not how can schools make the most effective contribution to these people's futures?

Friday, 18 December 2009

Working for the Local Authority - or not?

We have the chance to bid for a significant chunk of work (6 figures) being offered for tender by our LA. It's right up our street as it involves training an external workforce in much the same ways as we train our own staff. So far, so good.

But the topic rasies some interesting govrnance topics that I continue to explore.

The work is similar to but not delivered to school staff and so probably outside the scope of a School Company. We cannot sensibly enter a legal contract with the LA as we are formally part of the same legal entity and so will need to persuade them to handle it a different way.
How do we ringfence the risks associated with the contract so that it does not jeopardies school finances?
As the work is strongly related to what we do but not directed at school pupils, can we legally do the work as a school anyway?
What governance arrangements woudl need to be in place?

Lots of interesting questions - especially when you consider that the work could be considered as of our community cohesion or extended services offering.

Were we a 'private' school we would not even be havng to ask these questions. Perhaps there need to be better/easier arrangements to let community schools operate in the way we would like.

Friday, 11 December 2009

The roller coaster of change

If you have been following this blog you will know that one of my schools is going to have to move one of its buildings a couple of miles away from its current location. Those few of us that have been involved so far have been up and down the change curve, in depression and delight, in fear and fancifulness - all natural, and almost inevitable, responses to imposed change. Now I know that it is important to 'take control' as much as possible and avoid a feeling of 'being done to'. We had managed to get to this point.

Now the game changes - the proposal is in the public arena for examination by parents, other staff, other governors, etc - each of which is startinjg where we did 3 months ago; each of which has to go through their own process of denial, despair, resistance, depression before starting to see a way forward. Each individual moves at their own pace and our role as leaders is to help the progress along its' way, to be supportive, to acknowledge the pain that people will be going through and to help them move forward constructively.

Too often it is easy to forget the journey that we pathfinders made and to expect everyone else to be up to speed instantly; this is where we can lose people if we do not recognise the need for time to heal the pain of loss before taking a newe direction It is also too easy, especially for those of us brought up in the rational world (engineers, chemists, etc) to fail to recognise the affective issues that come into play. Whilst moving from Site A to Site B might seem like a perfectly sensible and practical thing to do, for many of the people involved if affects them much more deeply than our left-brain thinking might suggest. We need to work with the heart as well as the head and that takes time...

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Performance Management - thoughts on targets

If you have not already done it, then the pressure is on to complete your Head's performance management before the end of term. Setting targets is a challenging task for both the reviewers and the Head - for what do we set targets, how tough should they be?

For me this also raises the interesting territory of 'Lead' and 'Lag' indicators - improving teaching and learning (if we can find a way to measure it!) being a Lead indicator that leads to improved outcomes/attainment, a Lag indicator.

Early in ther implementation of targeting sytems we often end up with lag indicators (cohort performance, staff attendance, etc) whereas as they become more sophisticated we can move to the Lead indicators that we believe will eventually produce improved performance. This might be regarded as a shift from management to leadership.

...and how tough? My guidance, and I have facilitated the implementation of PM systems all over the place, has tended to be "deliverable, but only just". They need to be challenging enough for yor Head to have to think differently but not so challenging that they don't even try because they are obviously undeliverable. So improving pupil attendance from 80% to 95% in 1 year is likely to be undelliverable, whereas to 85% could be a real challenge yet achievablke with a following wind.
This in turn leads to consideration of success criteria. If everyone's targets are all delivered, then they were not tough enough. I accept that soemtimes a target might not be delivered; the trick here is to satisfy myself that a serious effort has been made and that unexpected factors intervened to inhibit delivery.

What do you thinnk?

Friday, 4 December 2009

What a result!

This week we have had the (very) nice ladies from Ofsted digging and delving, observing and commenting and all the rest of the stuff they do.
Whilst there has been some understandable stress and not a little digging out and representation of data, it has all been worth it. Despite Ofsted raising the bar since we got a Satisfactory last time, we got a GOOD.

Congratulations to everyone at the school - although the leadership team have worked thier whatsits off over the last couple of days, it is the consistent hard work of everyone in the scchool over the last couple of years that have really made the difference. Well done everyone.

As Chair, I had about 45 minutes with them on day 2. They were especially interested to establish how well we knew our statutory obligations regarding Safeguarding and also Community Cohesion. So now we all know!