Friday, 17 September 2010

It's all over now - or perhaps 'for now'

Well, last week I resigned both of my governorships. Sometimes, you just have to focus on other things and I would rather not do the role at all than simply turn up every few weeks for a meeting and then ****** off again - for me It's a full committment or nothing.
I did this with much regret, yet in the knowledge that both schools are now equipped with great leadership, great staff, great kids, great pupils and a great chance of even more success in the future.
I have really enjoyed my latest stints as governor both giving and learning (mostly about patience!) in a new environment.
So, no more entries for a while - be well and keep up the good work...

Friday, 20 August 2010

The role of students in recruitment

The NASUWT recently published some data on teacher's responses to the use of 'Student Voice', so I thought I might write up my current views on the topic.

Students are the primary recipients of teachers' practice and wisdom, teachers need to be respected by those pupils (it's earned, not granted by right of position), need to be able to communicate effectively (the meaning of a communication is the response you get) and to be able to engage students when either or both are stressed.

Why should those recipients (we would call them customers in a different environment) not be involved? I used to involve my staff in decisions about their peers and theri bosses - they had to work with them so let them have a voice.

The challenge then becomes how to engage pupils most effectively in the process and how (much) to value their input in the final decision. That might be the topic for a separate blog, here I want to stick with the principle of pupil involvement.

Obviously a teacher liked by the students but who has no technical knowledge or teaching ability would be no use, equally a teacher with the best knowledge and teaching credentials would be no good if they could not actually enage the students. Would you employ a great teacher who could not communicate effectively with their peers (or 'subordinates' if they were seeking a management role)? I hope not. Likewise someone who comes across well to the interviewers but cannot connect with the kids is likely to be a weak link.

The students have their place in the process, as I said above, the challenge is to give them the right place and weight and to equip them with the right tools to be abel to contribute effectively (and what a useful skill that will be in theri futures).

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Putting your head above the parapet

I have had a couple of conversations in the last week about the benefits and dangers of putting your head above the parapet, so thought I might share my thoughts on the subject.
Sitting back and just letting things happen whilst we keep our thoughts, supportive or critical, does not come naturally to some of us - and just as well too because if all governors did this we would end up with passive nodding dog governing bodies. So some of us routinely speak out, sometimes being deliberately provocative in order to generate debate - we 'put out heads above the parapet'.
One consequence of this is that we become targets for others who disagree with what we are saying or the way we are saying it. My experiene is that I even get arrows fired at me when I am silent, as people make all sorts of wierd assumptions about what the silence means.
The constant barrage can be tiring and ways of dealing with that are useful:
1. Remember that it is not you that is being attacked - at worst it is your opinion and that is 'just' a mental construct, not any part of your core identity
2. Regard all comments as valuable feedback - they generally say as much about the other person as about you, so what can you learn from the interaction?
3. Remember that even the strongest warriors need a rest from time to time - take time out to listen or observe
Then get back in there and make a difference, nothing was ever changed by those who sit on their hands wishing for a quiet time!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Staff or stuff

Let's imagine your, averagely performing, school has just got a windfall of £50k revenue - guaranteed for the future. How do you spend it?

I am wondering if there is any reliable research about the relationship between what I will call 'staff or stuff'?

We could spend the money on staff, teaching or non-teaching, or we could buy some kit for the school. Which i smost likely to have the consequence of improved outcomes for our pupils? Would the answer be different if it were a one-off (employment law aside)?

Thoughts on a postcard please....

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Health and Safety

For my sins, and recognising my 'previous' in the field, I am nominated H&S Governor for 'my' two schools. I have spend part of the day producing an aide memoire of topics that need to be picked up in my ongoing discussions with school staff in order that I can report to the FGB on how well the school is doing. If you want a copy then please email me.
I'm always cautious of H&S, one of my favourite jobs being that of "Elfin Terrorist" - those H&S people who try to use it as a frightener and want to stop you doing perfectly sensible things. They forget that risk in an implicit part of life and of managing H&S; it's about reducing risk to an acceptable level not eliminating it. (It seems that we are expected to produce a risk assessment for 'tripping over rocks on the beach' when we take our pupils to the seaside. Well, I have better things to do with my time, as do our staff. Next thing, we will have to think about the Hazard and Frequency for a seagull sh***iing on their heads - probably a greater hazard than rocks on the beach and it has certainly happened to me).
Anyway , the point of this rant is to encourage all concerned to get numerate about risk - whenever a hazard is identified you need to ask "How frequently does this hazard materialise?" and "What, specifically, will be the consequences when it does?" No more of this subjective High/Medium/Low, let's get numerate.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

You cannot teach anyone anything!

You might know that I make a living in the field of 'personal development' - that means helping individuals, teams and organisations 'do better' by helping the people find out what really turns them on and then to get on with it! This seems to me to be so much like what we ought to be doing in schools - let's help pupils become intersted in learning, let's help them find what gives them a buzz and then fit the learning opportunities around that.
This may sound like heresy, but I don't believe that anyone can be taught anything; the best we can do is find oppoortunities for them to learn, the 'teacher' role is one of finding and creating suitable learning opportunities for everyone and then facilitating their learning.

Anyway, what prompted this post was a recent reading of The Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz). I have these on the wall in my 'office' (well that's what the taxman thinks my garden shed is!):
Be impeccable with your word - Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Don’t take anything personally - Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Don’t make assumptions - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Always do your best
- Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

In these changing and challenging times, these seem especially appropriate...

Friday, 18 June 2010

An Inspector calls

Well, we had Ofsted in at one of 'my' schools this week.
Our lead Inspector was a 'fully signed up' HMI with considerable experience of Special Schools and it really made a difference - we didn't have to explain the challenges of running a special school catering for, inter alia, medically dependant PMLD pupils!
We have been advised that 'our self-assessment was accurate' - code for "Good with some Outstanding features" - so BIG congratulations to everyone involved and a relaxing weekend while we wait for the written report.
The current framework is more rigorous in examination of how well Governors understand our statutory responsibilities, especially regarding safeguarding and community cohesion. In our case they were also very interested to explore our approaches to parental engagement, especially for hard-to-reach parents.
We thought the school was Outstanding for Safeguarding, but they downgraded us to Good - then when we asked for specifics on what needed to be in place to achieve Outstanding we didn't really get much help, the Inspector found it hard to articulate the gap! Being told that 'we rarely award Oustanding for safeguarding' was something of a consolation although the cynic in me wonders if this is a rear-orifice covering stance just in case anything goes wrong subsequently (vide Haringey!)

Anyway, a good week and one that has thrown up some positive and welcome suggestions for improvement - the relentless drive for improvment continues.

Friday, 11 June 2010

A positive approach

My friend Chris Edwards is known for his relentless pursuit of brilliance. In a recent blog he says:
I recognise of course that some colleagues feel that they are on the barricades; feeling beleaguered, disillusioned and worn down by the relentless and uncompromising pressure that never goes away. I also know some colleagues are sick of, and turned off by, our optimism, positivity and constant search for the outstanding, the exceptional and the brilliant. But, so much of what we do here in Leeds is world class: so what can't we achieve together if we aspire to excellence in everything we do; and build on, and learn from, what is working really well.
I too recognise all of this - and remember that us governors do it all for free. Not that money actually helps resolve the feelings but those who are very well paid to handle all the change would do well to occasionally remember that there is an army of volounters out here who handle all this change in our spare time with little organisational support.

To those who feel that there is too much optimism around, I ask "What would you rather have - downtrodden pessimism?" It is well kknown in psychological circles that optimism, even in the face of potentially overwhelming odds, is more empowering than pessimism and that the most valuable outlook is one described as 'pessimistic optimism' - fundamental optimism whilst recognising that the world does not always deliver what we want and so we need to do some contingency planning.

I remain optimistic that our schools and children have great futures. Our task is to help release the brilliance - "watch where you walk, for you tread on my dreams"

Thursday, 10 June 2010

So much going on!

Well I guess we should have expected the new government to have a few different ideas; what we may not have expected was the rush of both ideas and implementation.

I find myself wondering how to deal with the various changes that are due to happen soon. Does it matter to us that the GTC is to go, that the primary curriculum is going, that there is to be yet another review of SEN, that there is to be another route to academy status...all this while our school is in the midst of a major relocation of part of our provision.

Ot's all about priorities - we can only do so much at once, and for me 'the move' has priority as it affects our current pupils and is time-critical. Nonetheless our GB does need to be thinking about the various other issues so we will need a discussion fairly soon. Do we discuss actively or do we 'acknowledge and park'?

Personally I just LOVE this sort of environment - uncertainty, change, lots ahppening arre all features of where and when I work best. I need to remember to keep all governors informed/involved...there will be too much for one person to handle so this is a great time to find out what turns people on and let them loose.

Monday, 7 June 2010


Am I the only governor who is slightly peeved by Micheal Gove's decision to write to headteachers about his plans for academies?

Any decision to apply for academy status is VERY strategic and hence the clear responsibiity of the Governors - so it would have been polite to write to Chairs, or at least copy us in on the correspondence. Let's hope this is an oversight and not an early indication of the new government's respect, or lack of it, for governors.

As for the content, it would be good to be able to get an unbiased appraisal of the pros and cons of the latest opportunity- just about everything I read has its' own agenda.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Developing your skills as a governor

I was recently asked the following question by somoene from SGOSS:

"Which of your existing management skills have you found most valuable in carrying out your school governorship... ...and which have your developed or added?”

I don’t think I have added any (after a 30-odd year working career at the most senior levels that might not be surprising) but all of the following come immediately to mind as having been used and hence developed:

Change leadership, coaching, stakeholder relationships, policy formation, influencing, negotiation, facilitation (of meetings mostly), leadership, Vision/Ethos/Values co-creation, financial strategy, meetings management, delegation, giving and receiving feedback, performance management, Emotional intelligence, patience, teambuilding, motivation, risk management, communicating in writing and verbally, presentations, workload (time) management, diplomacy...


Friday, 23 April 2010

Should we pay teachers delayed because of the volcano?

OK so I have followed this debate having been caught up in it myself. Before getting to the question of whether or not to pay I recall that, of the several people I knew who were stuck in the South of France, some of us got our rear ends into gear and made our own arrangements whereas others resigned themselves to an extended holiday while 'the powers that be' sorted something out. I decided that I wanted to be back for starting the first day's work with a new client who is paying me (and would not have done so had I not turned up, no matter how understanding and sympathetic they were) - I wonder if the others were in the same predicament of 'no work, no eat'?

Individuals make their own choices about where and how to spend their holidays and, as in the rest of their lives, must accept the consequences (both positive and negative) of those choices.

I have expressed the view elsewhere that I would like to see some guidance (not instruction) from the LEA. Given how little discretion we have over pay matters it seems odd that in this delicate situation we are faced with the prospect of teachers on the same site (co-located schools) or even in the same classroom (partnership working) being treated differently.

If I were issuing that advice, it would be more or less along the lines of - these were extraordinary circumstances initially outside the control of the individual; we recognise that different individuals faced different challenges in getting home and that making your own way home from the south of France is less challenging that from Mexico; we also recognise that some individuals will have incurred considerable expense to get home and that this may or may not be covered by insurance - this cannot be a matter that schools can get involved in as individuals made their own decisions regarding the type and extent, if any, of their insurance cover. Any staff member being absent leaves a hole that needs to be filled and schools may have incurred considerable unplanned additional expense in providing cover (Question - to what extent is this covered by the school's own insurance?)
In these extraordinary circumstances we propose that paid leave of absence be granted for up to five days and that unpaid leave be granted for any period beyond that during which staff members are unable to return to work because they are stranded abroad.
As always, any individual cases suggesting different treatment will be considered on their individual merits.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Making a difference

Isn't it nice when you come away from a meeting having made a difference.

Like, I suspect, many of you, I spend a lot of time in meetings where I represent either my school(s) or governors in general. Sometimes I sit there wondering "just how is this discussion helping our children?" and am not averse to asking the question very specifically (and sometimes pointedly!). I have too little time to spend jaw-jawing for the benefit of bureaucrats when I could be sunning myself on a beach somewhere, or something rather more useful than that.

So how nice to come home last night having spent two hours seemingly making a difference, being listened to (because that's what makes the difference) and feeling enthused. Here in Leeds we have a difficult year ahead with the demise of Education Leeds and the creation of an integrated Children's Services Directorate. We must not waste time in meetings that could be better spent improving the chances of the pupils we serve; we must give no quarter to self-serving bureaucrats; we must challenge everything and everyone to do better for less; we must not give in to procastination or indecision. After all our kids have only one chance and their future cannot wait for yet another round of internal politicking before life-changing decisions are made.

Do you spend too much time discussing and too little acting? If so, change it now - thoughts never changed anything, only action can do that.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Keeping meetings on track

OK, here we go with Part 2 - tips for keeping your meetings on track.

  1. Start on time - if the meeting is not quorate then deal with items that do not require a decision. People will soon learn that your meetings start on time and will be there.
  2. Indicate when the meeting will finish - and stick to it!
  3. (I have been known to write a copy of the agenda on a flipchart so that each item can be crossed off as it is completed - a very good visual reminder of how much has been done/is still to be dealt with).
  4. Separate approval of the minutes from any Matters Arising (not on the agenda - remember my earlier tip). 
  5. Use language that moves you to where you want to be "Are we agreed that these are a correct record?" or "Does anybody wish to challenge these mimnutes as a corrct record?"
  6. Positively lead Matters Arising - draw attention to what you have already put on the agenda, if someone who was absent from the last meeting asks for an explanation of an item then volunteer to do so after the meeting.
  7. Remind governors how the time is going - especially if things start to drift - remind them that there are another 'n' items, some of which are more important than discussing 3 month old minutes...
  8. Do not let anyone read out their reports, we are assuming that people have read them, ask them for a brief summary of key points (of course you briefed them in advance about this) and if anyone asks for details on delegated matters then encourage the relevant Chair to brief them afterwards.
  9. One of my favourite phrases is "Does anyone else feel that we are now going round in circles?"
  10. Go out of your way to 'invite in' the quieter members of the team - create space for them to have their say.
  11. Give very clear signals when it it time to move on - "OK, so that's dealt with Item 4 let's move on to Jenny and Item 5 on School Uniform; our challenge here is to decide what to do based on the report that you will all have read"
  12. Before you finish review all of the actions to which various people have committed (if you are really organised you could have a flip on the wall for "Next Steps" - who has agreed to do what by when...)
  13. Thank everyone for their patience and understanding - it's often the only thanks us governors get!
  14. Finish on time - if for no other reason than out of respect for individuals' other committments - and remind people of future meetings.
No rocket science then, and it's worth thinking about how the meeting will work as well as what will be discussed. There is a lot more I could say but this is just a short blog, not a thesis on meetings management!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Keeping your meetings focussed

How often have you attended GB meetings that went on for hours, lost track of what they were supposed to be talking about, got stalled while people read the papers...?

Well, here are a few tips that have worked for me in keeping meetings focussed (and not just governor meetings, I use these tips in my 'professional' arena as well:

  1. It all starts with planning (Remember the 6Ps - "Proper Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance").
  2. Well in advance of the meeting, go through the previous minutes and follow up any actions - is a report-back needed? If so put it on the Agenda. Try to avoid Matters Arising by having any follow-ups as specific agenda items.
  3. Establish what other Reports (Committees, Working Parties...) are needed and brief the reporter to provide a short written report to which they can speak at the meeting (I do not like verbal reports, althought they are inevitable sometimes).
  4. Circulate all FGB members a very rough draft agenda asking for additions/amendments
  5. Omit "Any other Business" - if it's not important enough to raise beforehand then it's not important.
  6. Finalise the Agenda by deciding how long each item might take, who will lead it and what the point (Discuss, Decide, Information) of the item is; write a sentence or so about each item explaining what it's there for - so now people have more of an idea what will be expected of them.
  7.  Put at the top of every Agenda "To speed progress and improve the discussion, we will expect all papers to have been read in advance of the meeting" and do not give time in the meeting for those who have not done so!
  8. Put at the bottom of every Agenda "How have we helped improve the chances for our pupils during this meeting" - and discuss it; this will help focus people on what really matters (and it's generally not the trivia that too many meetings get bogged down with!)
  9. You might want to do the Clerk's job for them by getting all the papers together - it's a good way of finding out how organised everyone is (HT included - they are the professional who knows well in advance when the meeting is and ought to be well prepared!). No paper for circulation 7 days in advance = not on Agenda.
Try these tips, it's a bit of a hassle at first but the message soon gets through and your meetings will go more smoothly.
Look out for the next post on the meeting itself...

Thursday, 18 March 2010

A successful governing body meeting

Well, I have just come back from a great FGB - we covered all the business and finished early. Now those two points are not the real indicators to me, they real indicators are that the Committees are working - dealing with the day to day business of the school (OK, month-to-month, we are strategists after all) and they have all the delegated powers we can legally give them so decisions can be made where they need to be made.

The FGB can thus concentrate on the key strategic issues - for us at present they are responding to a Good Ofsted judgement and dealing with the forced move of one of our sites. It was so good that the CEO of Education Leeds took time out to speak with the FGB - whatever he said the committment was evident from the moment he accepted our invitation.

A good evening.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Governance across different institutions

As well as a school governor, I am also a Trustee/Director of a smallish creative arts charity/company in Bradford (Artworks) and the relationship between governing a school and a charity has been exercising my grey matter recently.

Both roles are fundamentally strategic yet both offer the potential for (or should I really say 'risk of'?) dipping deeper into management and detail. The challenge that we talked about in Artworks is how to find out enough detail to be able to make meaningful strategic decisions yet not interfere with the operations of the organisation; isn't this exactly one of the challenges that we school governors face?

In schools this might be by visiting the school, spending time with pupils and staff ina structured way - no visits 'just to see what is going on' but always with an agenda to find out about something specific. In Artworks we are exploring attaching each Trustee/Director to one or more areas of work or projects (link governors!)

In Artworks we have just created a 15 (?) item balanced scorecard that lets us see the key performance indicators on one sheet of A4 - what is the education equivalent of this?

I have been looking at The Carver Model, a way of using policy to both empower and constrain 'the executive' (HT) and I wonder how these principles might apply to school governance.

It seems to me that far too often school governance is seen as amateurish. The recent DCSF proposals for compulsory trainig for Chairs is a good move IMHO, and with more Academies (whatever we might think of the concept), Foundations/Trusts, etc., it seems that we really need to be making governance much more 'professional' with the disciuplines and rigours that would be second nature in a £multi-million business. If I ran a £multi-million business I woudo not be happy with a bunch of enthusiastic but unntrained amateurs running it, why is this OK for schools?

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Governance models

Just come back from a really interesting discussion about possible models of governance for special schools in our LEA. We were very clear which is the cart and which the horse - physical provision first, then figure out how to govern that provision most effectively.

We covered federations, Joint Collaborative Committees, trusts and foundations, whether we will end up with one school on several sites or several schools, how we formalise the relationships between a school and other (mainstream) schools whose sites we share on a partnership basis.

Then we looked at a list of factors to take into account when evaluating the possible options - this is an incomplete list, so any additions wil be very welcome, they are not in any order of ‘importance’!

a. To what extent is the proposed model already understood and operating?
b. Budgets – would the overall budget go up or down, how would they be managed across multiple sites...?
c. Management complexity – how would the model impact on leading and managing across multiple sites with a wider or smaller geographic spread?
d. How complex would the process of transition be and would the end-result be worth the pain of transition? Factors such as creating and embedding a shared ethos, integration of ICT and other systems, curriculum, teaching and learning would need consideration.
e. What would be the implications for employment practices, such as place of employment, mobility of staff between sites, the possibility of creating a shared 'Supply Pool'?
f. Are any of the models more or less supportive of outreach potential from the SILC?
g. Do any facilitate or hinder Best Practice sharing?
h. What are the implications for relations with Wedges/AIBs or whatever?
i. How do the models impact on community cohesion/connection?
j. What about transfer of existing and application of future school Funds?
k. Will the models hinder or help parental engagement?
l. Will the model impact on the size of GB needed and, if so, how?
m. Do any of the models impact on the potential to manage one or more EduLeeds contracts – HHTS, EOTAS, etc...?
n. What are the implications for support services, be those from within EduLeeds or externals such as the PCT?
o. What will the public perception be of any change and how ‘sellable’ would a change be?
p. Would there be any differences regarding relationships with host schools for Partnership?
q. What about the opportunity to formally collaborate amongst the GBs (of either multiple Special Schools and/or mainstreams) and form joint committees?
r. Would the governance role be different for different physical models? Some might suggest more strategic, some a more tactical approach
s. What else???? I am sure I have missed somethings...

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The end of Education Leeds

So, the LA have decided (well, technically they will vote on it next week but we all know what the answer will be!) that children in Leeds can be better served by an integrated Children's Services Directorate within the council and that, as a consequence, the highly successful Education Leeds will cease to be.

Some will say that is a good thing, others will disagree. Whatever, the decision is clear and our efforts will be best spent making the new Directorate into a greater success than we have already had. Let's look forward with both hope and expectation that whatever is formed will be flexible and responsive to the strategic needs facing the city, avoiding getting bogged down in the bureaucracy that so often becalms local authorities. Those of us with the privilge of being both connected and independent have a valuable role to play in reminding councillors and senior officers what it is really all about - "the children, stupid" to paraphrase Bill Clinton. Whatever happens, they must be uppermost in our thoughts and plans - not politicking or Politicking or empire-building or change-fearing.

Let those of us in schools just get on with our jobs, the powers that be will be making things happen that will affect not only our own but especially our pupils' futures - we need to keep part of an eye on that but most of our attention on the day to day work of giving our kids the best education we possibly can.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Made a difference today...:-)

A whole day of governance - reflections?

I spent most of the morning in a workshop about reshaping 'behaviour provision' - how do we best support the wide range of pupils with a broad spread of inappropriate behaviours? General concensus that it needs to be much more child-focussed with 'total care' including family support; what will really make the difference is early whole-family intereventions that call on a range of professionals from several agencies. The challenges are several - to get the various agencies truly working in partnership, to get some acute support while the chronic services available via CAF get into gear, to to decide how to commission and deliver local support so that the pupils can stay in their local community while being helped, how much (if any) provsion to make centrally for the most difficult cases...
We saw some good practice from our own authority and from others, not least Sheffield. What we need to do is get quicker at making change for the better - as I said this morning, we are working in a messy arena that changes all the time so we are unlikely ever to find the 'one perfect solution' so we need to make change and learn as we go.

Then on to a meeting of the Traded Services Forum, where I represent governors amongst a meeting of officers looking at how to get better at contracting for and delivering services to schools. The bit that interested me the most was about safeguarding for contracted staff. The contracts specify that relevant staff will be ISA registered and CRB checked, but it seemed that there was no audit of the quality of the assessments of the Disclosures; it seemed that, in theory at least and who knows about practice, a particular disclosure mioght be treated inn different ways by different contractors - so us schools have no idea whether or not a contractor has 'passed' someone inappropriate. I hope that we persuaded the powers that be of two things 1) the need to give contractors guidance on their 'filtering criteria' 2) the need to explicitly audit compliance.

All in all, a good day, working with people whose hearts are clearly in the right place.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Governance matters

I have just been reading a really interesting publication about governance in the Arts.

What struck me was the effort and serious thought that had been put into developing models of governance, understanding the relationship between governors and CEOs (Head Teachers), trustee/director training, the role of the Trustees/Directors and a host of other topics that rarely, if ever, get aired in my governing bodies.

How long do you spend discussing these strategic issues about the role and processes of governance?

Saturday, 13 February 2010

To act or to act?

Do you sometimes find yourself on the edge of creating a real humdinger of a fuss about how you feel you are being treated, whilst at the same time knowing that to do so would risk alienating the very people who could help you out?

I am there now - 49% wanting to get the media and everyone else involved, yet 51% still winning the internal battle. What really bothers me is the risk that the legitimate feelings (for feelings are always legitimate, even if the actual objectives events are different to what you think) of being ignored, the dismal history of how this particular incident has been handled and the grossly inadequate processes for finding a solution get overlooked when, and I sincerely hope it is when not if, a solution to our current challenge is found.

It is far too easy to say "it's all OK now, there is no point in raking over old ashes"; well that's just putting your head in the sand - the value of post-mortems should not be to find and blame/punish the guilty, but to disccover how to do things better in the future. I would never want another school to go through what we are and hope that I can find a way to stimulate an appropriate review when this is all over.

Monday, 25 January 2010

On moving from one site to another.

I have blogged before about the challenge of moving off one of our sites becasue of building work at our host school. Things develop...

We are into the statutory consultation and the proposed new host school objects - not that they do not want us but they have other plans for the land we hoped to use and/or their objection is a negotiating tactic to get some 'sweetener' out of the LEA.

So where do we go now? Will the LEA just ignore the objections? Can they find some sweetener - although to sweeten the proposed host but not us would be annoying at least! Is there a Plan B?

The cynic in me, and some of our staff, would argue that this is a conspiracy by the LEA to have the move fail and thus force a less palatable alternative onto our school. My view tends to support cock-up rather than conspiracy theories and in that context the belated action on this has got in the way of a thorough and creative appraisal of options.

Where we go now is currently baffling me - any thoughts very welcome!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Snow days...

Right, I am going to be short and controversially provocative here...

Some schools of which I am aware have had all week off, which of course means that (by and large) the staff have spent all day at home being paid.

Just how unreasonable is it to ask how we recover that paid for time? One might expect that much of a teacher's PPA will now be up to date, for example.

Our pupils have lost 5 days' of education, how do we catch up? By extending the school day - using the time that teachers no longer need for PPA? By extending the term by a week?

Any ideas welcome.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Wishes for 2010

Here's to a wondeful 2010 during which Ofsted become more supportive, The Lamb Enquiry recommendations are effectively implemented, funding for schools remains adequate, our school move goes without a hitch, behaviour management finally gets sorted out, thed future of the individual SILCs becomes clear, pigs fly...

...and all governors are valued by all stakeholders for their unique contribution.

Remember that we can and do make a difference by challenging and supporting, by constantly seeking improvement, by knowing what we know and what we do not know, by getting trained up on the latter, by thinking beyond the current boundaries, by caring and loving, by keeping the faith, by being creative, by having a vision for our school - and in lots of other ways.

Happy New Year to everyone...