Departmental Management Team Meeting first thing. Main agenda item was Department restructuring. Some key points were recommended for agreement with unions and other interest groups. 1. We want to retain the positions of Head of Education and Head of Children's Services. 2. We will be recommending that we don't adopt the area split proposed in the initial document.
If this recommendation is ratified it will mean that I will have the option of applying for the post on a permanant basis. As things stand at the moment I would probably apply. Of course, there would be no guarantee that I would get the job. Nevertheless, I intend to continue to take the long-term perspective I have adopted since coming into post, regardless of what might happen in the future – anything less would paralyse the department.
A visitor cancelled a meeting in the middle of the day which left a couple of hours free. I took the opportunity to visit Ronnie Summers at Musselburgh Grammar. It was Ronnie's birthday and the staff had given him a cake and card, whilst his office was festooned with balloons and ribbons. These are powerful indicators of how Ronnie is regarded by his staff. It's never easy replacing a popular headteacher – and Terry Christie was certainly popular with his colleagues and parents. Ronnie has set about building upon that foundation and there were real signs this afternoon that the school is “moving”. We walked round the school and all classes were positively enaged in their work. Teachers were friendly and approachable and I picked up a vibe that people were starting to have more confidence in themselves and the school which had maybe dipped over the PPP building period. Ronnie has a good handle on the issues that need to be addressed in the school and hopefully we can work together to see our “flagship” (the biggest in the fleet) school, helping to enable schools in East Lothian to be at the leading edge of education in Scotland. Ronnie is particularly keen for MGS to be one of the first schools to engage with the SELS software.
Then on to Stoneyhill. What a place! It was built ten years ago and is currently being extended. I was mightily impressed with the design, layout and space available within the school. Again – kids and staff were obviously enjoying themselves in active learning. Ann Malcolm , the acting head was very patient with me – particularly as the HMIe were already in the school for an integrated inspection of the nursery when I arrived – unannounced – in the school. Now that's what I call a stressful day! Glad to hear it had all gone well but I have to admit to not being surprised – even from my very quick first impression of the school.
Back to the office to pick up correspondence and then out to Ross High for a meeting with Helen Alexander (Headteacher) and Ann- Marie Kelly (Depute). The new facility for pupils with severe and complex needs is due to be built in the school grounds but there has a been a problem with the tendering process. The parental steering group had not been fully informed and were – quite rightly – concerned about the situation. After being briefed by Helen and Ann-Marie I met two parent reps and listened to their concerns. In my dealings with parents I have always been governed by one simple rule – tell the truth – even if its not that palatable. Not that anyone here hasn't been telling the truth but an optimism about the start date for the building perhaps built up false hopes which have now been dashed. People can cope much better with problems if they understand the worst case scenario and are confident that plans are in place and that they can make their own decisions based upon that information.
Back home for a meeting with John Chirstie at 8.00pm. John and I are speaking at the BELMAS conference in Milton Keynes next weekend. We sorted out our presentation. I'm thinking of picking up on the controversy from SELMAS – it certainly initiates debate – if nothing else.