2019 Spring Term 2

The know zone

  • Policy refresh
    ASCL's newly appointed Pay and Conditions Specialist Louise Hatswell shares top tips on making sure that your pay and appraisal policies are up to scratch. More
  • Internal data
    Ofsted is consulting on its plans for a new inspection framework, due to commence in September 2019. As part of the draft proposals, the inspectorate is proposing not to look at schools' internal data. Here, Stephen Rollett explores the reasoning behind this proposal, why some leaders are concerned and what members might do in response. More
  • Social partnership
    Colleges across the UK currently educate and train around 2.7 million people and are calling for 'a new social partnership' with students, employers, unions and governments. Kevin Gilmartin examines how this partnership can enable us to become a successful, productive and lifelong learning society. More
  • Nature nurture
    ASCL Council Member Lilian Taylor-Bell is Headteacher of Leyland St James' (Aided) Primary in Lancashire, where much of the learning takes place outside the classroom. Here she shares her school's insights and talks about being on ASCL Council. More
  • Recruitment retention
    What are your thoughts on the government's Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy: Will it help to alleviate recruitment and retention pressures at your school or college? Does it go far enough? Here, ASCL members share their views... More
  • We're here for you
    Contacting the Hotline: ASCL members who are concerned about leadership issues should call 0116 299 1122 or email hotline@ascl.org.uk More
  • Tempus fugit
    Schools obviously operate in their own unique time zones. How else can you explain why the exam season comes around so quickly, why pupils grow facial hair seemingly overnight and why it suddenly takes longer for experienced teachers to climb the stairs? More
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Schools obviously operate in their own unique time zones. How else can you explain why the exam season comes around so quickly, why pupils grow facial hair seemingly overnight and why it suddenly takes longer for experienced teachers to climb the stairs?

Tempus fugit

The start of a new calendar year is always a time of reflection, when we look at the past and what it brought us and then to the future and how we will make it better. Itís also one of those times that reminds us all how quickly time flies by, a milestone that makes you take stock.

Schools are places that, I think, remind us of the swift passage of time Ė and our own mortality Ė more than most. The nature of the school calendar means that almost every week contains an anniversary of some sort that makes me think, ďIt canít be a year since we did that surely?

Why is my hair completely grey and why canít I get up the stairs as quickly as I used to?Ē

Parentsí evenings, school productions, World Book Day, options, timetables and, of course, examinations. Soon, the GCSEs will begin; how can that be? At the time of writing, it has only just been Christmas and yet, in the blink of an eye, it will be exam season with sweltering weather.

That will last just for the actual exam weeks, of course, when we cram 200 teenagers into a large room for hours on end. As soon as this is over, the heatwave will vanish.

Then itís a few more weeks and the end of the school year appears.

Shiny bright Year 7s

The other reason I think schools make us all too aware of the rapidity with which the calendar changes is that we are surrounded by our students who, in the blink of an eye, turn from shiny bright Year 7s (in my case), into large and hairy Year 11s.

They do it without you noticing and with unseemly haste. I spend the first term of each year asking our Year 12 students why they arenít in uniform; in my mind, they are still surely only in Year 8? Year 9 at a push. Teaching is such a busy and Ďfull-oní occupation that individual days fly by, although Friday seems to come around much more slowly than Monday, for some reason. Itís probably something to do with relativity or gravity or something.

The fixed points in our calendar that conspire to make weeks and months also seem to take far less time than they should. We cut our already well-dissected year into not only days, weeks and months but also half-terms and terms, each of them helping to make very clear that time is rushing by.

These unique characteristics of the school year make it all the more important to take a breath, to stop and enjoy the moment.

Yes, there will be another Year 10 awards assembly, another GCSE results day and another Christmas disco and they will be here a lot sooner than we might like, but there will never be this Year 10 awards assembly again.

This assembly, with these children receiving these awards, with those smiles and those stories behind each and every one of them, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Savour it.

The author is a headteacher in the North West.


Want the last word?

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

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