March 2013

The know zone

  • Level heads
    The courts may have their work cut out coming to terms with the complexities of legal agreements regarding academies. Richard Bird investigates... More
  • Fiscal focus
    In tempestuous  nancial times, it pays to focus on a few, pragmatic aims while the storm of cuts, initiatives and other upheavals rages on, says Sam Ellis. More
  • A golden opportunity?
    Of all the issues facing schools and colleges, accountability continues to be the thorniest and least understood by government, says Brian Lightman. More
  • Lead vocals
    Quotes from Robert Jarvik, Tom Peters, Thomas Edison, Ken Blanchard and Robert Allen More
  • Reviewing the Situation
    As Fagin contemplated his future in Oliver! he wondered how he might ‘win friends and influence people’. Today’s school leaders will recognise some similar dilemmas. More
  • A baptism of fire
    Linda Rodham became head of Wellfi eld Community School in Wingate, County Durham in January 2012 and found herself under pressure from the word go. More
  • Degrees of separation
    Do you welcome the government’s proposal requiring new teachers to have at least a 2.2 degree, or do you think it could restrict who enters the profession and that it could have an adverse effect on future teacher numbers? Here, leaders share their views. More
  • Simply Brilliant!
    The Brilliant Club widens access to top universities for outstanding students from non-selective state schools. More
  • Adding value
    Headaches, often associated with stress, are suffered by us all at one time. Usually characterised by a constant ache on one or both sides of the head, mostly, they are benign, and more simply irritating and disruptive to our daily life. However, when a headache persists, or is accompanied by other symptoms, you should seek the advice of a GP. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    The antidote to common leadership conundrums... More
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As Fagin contemplated his future in Oliver! he wondered how he might ‘win friends and influence people’. Today’s school leaders will recognise some similar dilemmas.

Reviewing the situation

It was not long ago that we were all making New Year’s resolutions, although for teachers most of our plans and promises start straight away and not just in January.

Whereas everyone else is resolving to change on 1 January, while recovering from the excesses of the night before, considering what they
are going to do di erently, what they are going to give up, and what they are going to take up, school stffa are making their resolutions w with clear heads.

Most New Year resolutions are based upon one of the following  five things:

  • to lose weight
  • to get fit
  • to stick to the budget
  • to quit smoking, drinking...
  • to take up a new pastime or learn a new skill

All of the above will strike a chord in schools, whether for the staff or the students.

But, as Fagin says: I’m reviewing the situation. A school leader’s got a heart, hasn’t he?

I have too much to do and there is insuffcient time in which to do it all. I will resolve to make technology work for me. If a spreadsheet or database will work it out then I shall use it (or rather ‘enable it’). If I ‘blog
it’ or ‘tweet it’ then it saves on having to produce that lengthy newsletter. If I email the information or share it on Google Drive, I don’t have to hold a meeting; I will go with the technology.

But, is this really the best way forward? Shouldn’t I be talking face-to-face with colleagues, collaborating, and learning from communicating with others? Can you see someone’s expression in an email or can you fully detect a changing mood in an online chat? When
we decide to invest in more and more new technology are we guilty of not asking, what is the purpose of implementing this new technology? “Because it looks impressive” or “All other schools are using it” are not good enough reasons.

I think I better think it out again. I’m reviewing the situation. Can a school leader be a villain all his life? All the trials and tribulations …

I will resolve to stop worrying – worrying about a deficit budget and about trying to recruit a physics teacher who can teach violin and run Duke of Edinburgh trips and about knowing that the inspector may call any day now and about having to close half the school after a chemistry experiment went slightly wrong. Worrying is surely a weakness, especially in leaders. Worrying is not a productive emotion.

But, wait a minute, is worrying a weakness or a strength? By worrying I am assessing the position, examining the issues and weighing up the alternatives. Because I worry I am able to think in a pragmatic way. I have a team and in that team there are creative thinkers who can balance my practical approach and together we can  nd the solutions.

I think I better think it out again. I’m reviewing the situation. At my time of life I should start turning over new leaves? I will resolve to “enjoy the moment whenever I can”. It may be witnessing a colleague get a real buzz after teaching a great lesson, being in a classroom when a student grasps a new idea, skill or vocabulary after struggling for some time, watching the 1st XI beat our local rivals in a cup match, listening to the school band’s wonderful performance in the concert or just spending time with my family, and of course, just as Fagin did, checking
what’s in my pension pot.

I think I better think it out again…

  • Mike Hodgkiss is a deputy head in Essex