I wasn’t able to update my weblog yesterday. I’s;m really finding it a useful and cathartic experience. I sometimes wonder if it is slightly self-indulgent but I don’t suppose anyone is forced to read it, so it’s very much up to the reader to decide if these ramblings are of any use or interest.
I have to admit to being hooked on reading Paul and Ollie's logs. I think it helps me to understand the incredible challenges people face in their day-to-day jobs in schools, which someone in my position could easily become removed from if not careful. I'm delighted to see that Angus MacRury, Headteacher at Innerwick Primary School, has started to keep his own blog. My hope is that we can gradually grow this “community”. There are a number of other people in the pipeline, including PTs, secondary heads, classroom teachers, childcare information officers, probationers and hopefully a couple of students – we do need to address the gender balance! By dipping in and out of people's blogs we can start to build up a picture of the complex nature of the interactions between leaders, teachers, students and parents ( any parents out there who would like to participate?) – which go to making up this thing we call education. I'm speaking at a conference in Milton Keynes next Saturday and I'm going to explore the contibution that such weblogs could make (are making?) to the development of more collegiate development process – thoughts are welcome.
I slept in yesterday and didn't get into work until 8.45am. 9.00am Met Mary Preston, who co-ordinates our EYCAT programme – Early Years and Children's Assessment Team. This programme enables us to assess support needs for pre-school children with additional support needs and plan multi-agency support packages for the child and the family.
10.00 am first meeting ot the Communications Working Party. This group represents staff from across the whole department. Our remit is to look at ways in which we can improve communication within the department with a view to improving our effectiveness and, just as importantly, improve people's morale and sense of belonging. I started off by listing some of the issues which had been raised through my interviews with members of staff. We agreed that there were a number of simple things we could do to make a difference in a very short time. These were: photographs and names of all staff posted on a board in the kitchen; weekly briefing given by myself to all mebers of department on a Friday morning not much more than 5 minutes but would quickly inform everyone of personnel issues and any other areas of which they might need to be made aware; 10 minute formal coffeee break at 10.00 am and 3.00am – this would be held in rotation round each of the four main rooms in the department; social committee – for a Christmas event; the creation of a staffroom; and an explicit statement of our values – I stressed a point I had made at the Primary Headteacher's meeting about the fact that status does not mean anything in our organisation and that everyone deserves exactly the same amount of respect, regardless of position. The only difference between me and someone in an admin' position is that I have a different level of accountability , i.e. the buck stops with me – I should not expect be treated any differently from the person in the admin' position.We would like to set up a small group of people with a view to developing thse values and committing them to paper. Question – should a Headteacher be able to shout at a an admin' support worker down the phone?
Straight from here into finance meeting with team from Finance Department. We agreed to cost the appointment of Finance Officers for primary school clusters. Once we have these figures we can look at where we might find the money. I' starting to get a real handle on the budget, with the help of Derek Haywood. If changes to budgets are to be made we need to give managers and headteachers as much warning as possible in order to enable them to make appropriate plans – there can be no doubt things are only going to get tighter over the next few years. The key to managing this is to be transparent with the figures as possible and explain clearly why certain decisions are being taken.