Cultural ties…

This has been a hard week for the children in the support group. One of them, who had been doing well back in class, has been very disruptive again lately. He poked his head round my door one morning at breakfast club, looked at me with a wry smile, and asked if he could return to the group as he wasn’t managing and didn’t want to disrupt the other pupils. I was very impressed with this maturity!

However, his return to the group has caused ripples in the order of things and there has been a battle for the position of ‘top dog’. This has, in turn, resulted in the previous ‘top dog’ having a complete meltdown and temper tantrums again. The social positioning is so important to these children. It reflects the culture out on the estate where your position in the pecking order is central to how you behave and how you are accepted. It also will effect how much, or not, you are bullied outside of school.

When this spills into school it can be very hard to manage as tempers flare and the staff and other members of the group try to mediate. The staff do an incredible job but at times the cultural imperative is just so strong that there is little that they can do other than involve parents and carers, which is what they did this week, with varying success.

The rhythms of the term are re-establishing themselves and the Senior Leadership Team are back on track with their monitoring timetable. This week we were looking at topic books. It is very revealing looking at books. You can see the expectations of the members of staff and how the children feel about their learning. It is clear what we have to do to improve even further. It is also striking how little language our children have, how they are limited in the linguistic structures that they use and just how important it is that we continue to try to develop these.

I also had the first part of my own performance management this week. I love the opportunity it gives me for reflection with an external partner. We spent much time discussing the OFSTED report, which has now been published. It has left me feeling somewhat numb. A bad dream. It has changed nothing. The ‘development points’ were those we already had. My challenge, our challenge, is how to reassure the community that this is the good school that we know it is.

There are some very inspirational Head Teachers out there and I was fortunate enough to spend Friday with three of them. It really made me think about what I do and how I am doing it. It also amazes me just how different schools are from each other. Each has its own feel, its own shape and personality. As a Head the school becomes an integral part of you. When I show people around my school I feel very vulnerable and I am always thankful when others allow me into theirs. It is a real privilege.

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2 Responses to Cultural ties…

  1. Read your blog. Moved on from headship 18 months ago after 23 years in 5 different schools. Just thought I’d let you know you’re not alone. I’m still on NAHT committee where I live and in this tiring time of year those of us who have the time try and help those reaching the tiredness threshold in school. Sounds like you had a good meeting with the other heads, they’ll have got as much out of it as you did.
    As for OFSTED, you seem to be doing everything right. Keep doing it and the improvements will come.
    Enjoy all the end of term stuff. Ironically I found these a real pain and just another part of the job before I left, and now these are the things I miss at Christmas.

    Best wishes.
    Phil W

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