February 2015

The know zone

  • Sixth-form scrutiny
    How are inspectors awarding the new numerical grade for sixth forms? Suzanne O’Farrell digs into the detail. More
  • Timetable for change
    Cherry Ridgway highlights the key dates for implementing the latest set of reforms and their implications for schools and colleges. More
  • Lifting the barriers
    Twilight, half-day and regional events are bringing continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities to more people. More
  • Red Nose Day 2015
    Red Nose Day is back – a chance for schools and colleges to have fun and raise money to help change lives forever. More
  • Top tips when using iPads in the classroom
    The pace of adoption of iPads and other tablets into the classroom has rapidly accelerated in recent years. With this in mind, and with help from some tech-savvy teachers, we’ve put together some top tips for using iPads in the classroom. More
  • Perfect partners?
    Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt recently said that independent schools should do more to partner with state schools – how do you feel about this? Would they work for all schools? Where could they add most value? Here, ASCL members share their views and highlight the many successful partnerships between the two sectors that already exist. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    ASCL members concerned about leadership issues should call the Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email hotline@ascl.org.uk More
  • Pastures new…
    Changing schools is a chance to start afresh, leaving behind your misdemeanours and presenting yourself to colleagues in a new light. If only it were that easy. More
  • Efficiency drive
    Richard Newton Chance summarises the changes looming in the new financial year. More
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Changing schools is a chance to start afresh, leaving behind your misdemeanours and presenting yourself to colleagues in a new light. If only it were that easy.

Pastures new...

Making a parallel move as a deputy head ought to be a straightforward affair but if you have been somewhere for a while you may have underestimated just how easy your current situation is. Let’s just take a look at what you need to deal with.


The teachers at Hillcrest High knew that you were basically a decent person but that you were not always great at complimenting others or even that sympathetic. They were basically used to you and your emails and all but the really insecure ones had stopped taking offence. They recognised that, although you are prone to say what you think, it cuts both ways and that you prefer a proper honest conversation and exchange of views.

The staff at your new school just think that you are rude, even though you’ve dialled down your personality and management style to the extent that Hillcrest High colleagues wouldn’t even recognise you.

You used to know who’d pulled their boss’s hair in a fight and who was on the verge of a sacking for pilfering from the office equipment drawers. Unfortunately, when “What was your name again? Was it Sally…? No, Sarah…? Er…Stephanie?” comes to see you to tell you that she really needs professional development to ensure that she can make assistant head next year you don’t know whether she is potentially the answer to your problems or only the beginning of them.

Dealing with students was a doddle. It used to be gratifying to hear, “That’s Ms Smith. Don’t even bother to argue with her; you won’t get anywhere.” It is now the case that all that glib advice that you have been so used to handing out to newly qualified teachers (NQTs) is, all of a sudden, something you need to think about. Also, being continually asked, “Miss, Miss, are you from Oooop North?” in some kind of Fred Dibnah accent is not a life-affirming experience.

It also turns out that that weak teacher with the lank hair has an exact double. As does the geeky scientist who can’t do behaviour management and the grumpy site team member who wilfully obstructs any polite requests made by colleagues.

The excellent head of faculty who knew their value to the school and constantly reminded you of it is also still a feature.

You see the one tangible success of your career as the near eradication of all-staff emails (at a high attritional cost). Back to square one because the new school uses them as its default method of communication.

Are there any advantages?

You have an unrivalled chance to poach any good staff from your last job. Being an unknown quantity for a bit is fun. New challenges are available and new skills are there to be learned.

And finally there is the hugely beneficial opportunity to stop being in charge of the parent council or other potentially sanity-ruining activities.

“Ms Smith, I did read on your CV, didn’t I, that you were responsible for bike sheds at your last school?”

Plus ça change…

The author is a deputy head.

Want the last word?

Last Word always welcomes contributions from members. If you’d like to share your humorous observations of school life, email Permjit Mann at leader@ascl.org.uk ASCL offers a modest honorarium.