Today was a good day. No major incidents, no crises, no difficult situations to deal with. Just the ordinary hustle and bustle of a busy primary school.
Time for reflection. How to continue to move the school forward. We have a lot to celebrate. Significantly reduced exclusions, best KS1, KS2 & EYFS results ever. So far so good in terms of Y6 writing – we will have to wait until 10th July for the full results. Coming out of a deficit budget. Increased numbers for Reception in September.
We are, however, not there yet. There is still a long journey ahead of us and I am fully aware of how much better our curriculum needs to be, but our biggest challenge is to address the inconsistencies in classroom practice within the school. We are doing this with an intensive programme of coaching and mentoring and I am keen to learn from other Head Teachers and other schools.
If I am honest I get frustrated the teaching isn’t up to scratch. I am a firm believer that the best way to address this is through a positive approach, but if that doesn’t work I will initiate capability processes where appropriate. I also understand the difference between a ‘blip’ in performance where, for example, someone has a really difficult home situation to deal with, and someone who just doesn’t get it. My SLT and I have been concerned at the lack of understanding of the theories of Learning among some of our more recent NQTs, and we find ourselves having to re-train them.
From time to time, in some classes, expectation slips and it is my job and that of the SLT, to ensure that it is put straight back up again and remains high. Children will meet your expectations, wherever you set them!
However hard it is to deal with underperformance my job is to ensure that the children get the best education we can offer and my driving passion is to do what I must to ensure it. What I also find upsetting is that if one teacher doesn’t do their job, not only are they impacting on the children in their class but they are also making much harder work for the next class teacher. Every cog in the machine is important and if one doesn’t quite work… Thankfully, this doesn’t happen too often and it is usually repairable.
I am a passionate believer that the way to really help and support the children in the school is to ensure that they make all the progress that they are capable of. To instill in them a love of learning. To ensure that they leave us with the self belief, tools, skills, knowledge and understanding to enable them to make a success of their Secondary education. They need to survive out there in the big wide world. Hopefully, some of them will also make a difference.
One of my boys threatened another one with a brick at the weekend. The one who had been threatened slapped the other boy round the face at lunchtime today. Neither of these children are particularly tough and in fact they are both very sensitive. The macho culture on the estate dictates that conflict should be resolved with violence – hit first, don’t bother to ask questions later.
What is clear in situations like this is that there are very few positive role models outside of school for these children to learn from; understanding how to manage relationships in a non-aggressive way. We therefore try to model a different way of doing things. This can be time consuming but it is worth the painstaking investigation of incidents and the modelling of repair. We encourage children to decide on their own consequences if they have denied the rights of others. They are far harsher than we are and we often have to temper their decisions:
‘I should lose all my playtimes for a year!’
Actually, one playtime lost would be more than enough…