Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Favourite Twitter-ers of 2013

After reading this list of the 40 funniest tweets of the year I thought I'd list a few of my favourite Twitter accounts.

Fake Showbiz News

Faces In Things
Embedded image permalink

Jeremy Vine - tweets funny local news stories
Jamie Jones - nutter

Winsford News
Local news.
Salt Fair
Not just news of the local Salt Fair, but from a gentleman who genuinely cares about the town.
North West Motorway
Funny and informative with a serious message.

Lee Parkinson
Inspirational ways to use iPads
Primary Ideas
Lots of good ideas for the classroom
Ian Addison
Seems like an interesting bloke
Mrs P Teach
A dedicated teacher who tweets interesting stuff.
The Primary Head
Interesting views and opinions
Michael Tidd
Great ideas and views on primary education

Official Charts
Official news from the UK charts

Well Being
Andy Cope
Inspirational stuff

Monday, 30 December 2013

TV Programmes of 2013

For most of the year our Sky+ box has been below 10% as I've tried to watch a backlog of episodes of shows. Now that Cheers and Seinfeld have finished I want to try to clear up some more space. Here are some of the programmes I've enjoyed in 2013:

The Wrong Mans
One of the best shows of the year.

Since October 2012 I've watched Cheers from the very beginning. It was great!

Since early 2012 I've watched Seinfeld from the beginning. This was a programme I should have watched when I was younger. Fifteen years later I've caught up.

Although slow to get going, Homeland continued to be one of the best programmes on TV.

Boardwalk Empire
Another great Boardwalk Series.

8 Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown
Well funny!

This programme made me laugh and cry. Just beautiful.

The Great British Bake Off
I got drawn into this and I loved it!

Educating Yorkshire
An honest insight into high school education. Excellent and inspiring!

Fresh Meat
A great third series with more of a serious tone than in previous series.

The Blacklist
Recommended by a friend and I loved it!

The Big Bang Theory
This just keeps getting better. Always worth watching as you're guaranteed a smile!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

My favourite tunes of 2013

There have been a lot of great tunes released in 2013. I've managed to whittle my massive shortlist down to just 24 (I couldn't get any fewer).

Daft Punk - Get Lucky
From the first listen it was clear that this song would become a classic. It is, quite simply, brilliant.

Duke Dumont featuring A*M*E* - Need U (100%)
Overshadowed to a degree on its release by a stupid chart campaign after the death of a former Prime Minister, this Nineties throwback tune is fantastic.

Avicii - Wake Me Up
I've been a fan of Avicii's for a year or two. But this song is absolutely brilliant. Everything about it is cool. There are lots of acoustic cover versions buzzing around too which are worth a listen. Here is my favourite by Gavin Mikhail.

Armin van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie This Is What It Feels Like
Simple incredible vocals over an amazing dance track. This is a pop-crossover at its best. It deserves to be a bigger hit. Again, there are some great acoustic versions around, including this one by Jasmine Thompson.

Chris Malinchak - So Good To Me
Chilled out dance. This is close to being a perfect tune. Then the Steve Smart & WestFunk Remix takes it all the way.

The 1975 - Chocolate
A great rock tune which deserved to be a bigger hit.

Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith - La La La
This just gets better each time I hear it. Amazing vocals and an annoyingly catchy tune.

Charlie Brown - On My Way
A great pop tune. One of the more underrated ones of the year.

Zach Sobiech - Clouds
This song brings me close to tears. It was released at the end of 2012 and is all about the singer's battle with cancer. The words are just beautiful.

John Newman - Love Me Again
Boy this guy can sing. Love Me Again bowled me over on its release and it continues to do so each time I hear it. Simply brilliant.

Gabz - Lighters (The One)
Ultimately Lighters (The One) will be dismissed as a cheap cash in from Britain's Got Talent. But it deserves more respect. It's a great song and she performs it with cool style, despite the onesie.

Ellie Goulding - Burn (Alienator Remix)
A great bassy remix of an excellent tune. I wasn't sure about Ellie Goulding at first, but time and time again she releases some brilliant songs. This one is a classic.

Pink featuring Nate Ruess - Just Give Me Reason
Wow - this is a brilliant duet. Their voices compliment each other perfectly. It gets better with every listen.

Avicii - Hey Brother
Clearly one of the stand out tracks on the True album, Avicii has produced another smash.

OneRepublic - Counting Stars
I love this song. The words are endearing and the tune is incredibly catchy. A deserved smash hit.

Jake Bugg - Broken
An excellent tune from a growing talent.

Lorde - Royals
Who'd have thought this would be the smash hit that it was? Such a simple tune proved to be one of the best songs of the Autumn. Excellent.

John Newman - Cheating (Freemasons Mix)
Another great vocal from John Newman, but this is hear for the Freemasons. They are finally producing new material, and this is their best remix of the year.

Eminem featuring Rihanna - The Monster
They've done it again. Immediately catchy, but a tune with depth so that you discover more each time youy listen.

Justin Timberlake - Mirrors
A great tune from Timberlake. I was glad to finally get a radio edit - 8 minutes was way too long.

Rizzle Kicks - Skip To The Good Bit
Too cool for their own good. This song has 90s throwbacks and is a grower.

Luminites - It Hurts So Good
Frustratingly ignored by the masses, I loved this when I heard it on Britain's Got Talent. I never normally watch the programme but was drawn into the final by my wife.

Imagine Dragons - Radioactive
The best rock song of the year by far.

Rudimental featuring Ella Eyre - Waiting All Night
Are Rudimental the British dance act of the year? This is brilliant.

Disclosure featuring AlunaGeorge - White Noise
If Rudimental are the dance act of the year, then Disclosure are a close second. This is my favourite from their album.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Golden Rules for running a business and how they relate to school leadership

I love this report on Richard Reed and Innocent. It describes Reed's five golden rules for running a business. Innocent has become a multi-million pound business. As I read the report I realised how his rules easily apply to running a school.

Lesson #1: Have a mission

“You need to have a clear vision and sense of purpose – it brings a massive amount of energy and direction to the organisation. It’s one of those things that costs nothing but creates so much value. In those down times, those late evenings and weekends think about the reason behind why you’re doing what you do. What’s your mission?"
I believe it is so important that everyone in an establishment buys into the school's mission. The mission should be the key reason for making any decision. 
"Google exists to ‘organise the world’s information and make it universally available’. In one sentence it explains why they do what they do, and there’s something so powerful about having such a clear sense of purpose.”

Lesson #2: It’s the people, stupid

“You need to hire good people, people make a business. Identify your business' needs and then find staff with the right skills and motivation; it really is the most important thing to get right.
It’s not about just taking people who are available it’s about being incredibly picky and choosy. Trying to get a job at Innocent is a nightmare, you have to get through so many hoops, but it’s important, because staff are integral to our business and we want to get it right."
Recruiting the right staff in schools can be hard. But it is so important that only the right staff are brought in. I would argue that it's not just about people - it's finding the right services that will benefit the children and the school.

Lesson #3: Start small, but do start

“The most important thing is to get started. We started from a market stall, Marks and Spencer’s started from a market stall, the scale of it doesn’t matter – it’s the starting that’s important. If it goes wrong, so what, you’ll learn, you’ll have a great experience and a great story to tell your friends in the future."
For me, this message applies to school when it comes to making changes. When the time is right it's important to try it and have a go. Make a start. I'm a huge believer in having a go and not delaying.

Lesson #4: Do it your way, not the ‘right’ way

“All I can say is what happened to us, that doesn’t mean it’s the right way so don’t feel afraid to start your  in a different way. There is no universal ‘right’ way to start a business, every venture is unique and every situation is different.
One of the beautiful things about setting up a business is that you can make it the way you want it to be – you can do it with your values and your own rituals.
No one can tell you how to run your business. We’ve built this business from scratch based on our values and principles.
Do what’s important to you.”
These messages speak for themselves. A headteacher should direct the school in a way that is unique to that school. Do what you believe is most important.

Lesson #5: Be open

“Be open and communicate. Test your product or service on other people and be responsive to feedback. Having people walk around the office means we have to be honest, which is great.
If you’re open to feedback people will give you wilful insight which is key to the success of your business. You’ll understand what your consumer wants better than your competition does."
In the case of schools, our consumer is the children, the parents and the community. Appreciate all feedback given - negative or positive. Act on it! Be honest and transparent as much as possible so that your consumers understand why you do things the way you do.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

NQPH Placement: My preparation

It's been a complicated process arranging my NPQH placement (for reasons not worth going into). But tomorrow I belatedly start my placement at a lovely school around 25 miles from where I live.

I have been tasked with raising standards in Science as part of a cycle of subject reviews. Science is not a subject that I feel is a personal strength of mine. So the task will be challenge - one that I'm looking forward to. I haven't any real success criteria yet as I need to determine these myself through a review of the subject in school tomorrow.

I will be working with the Subject Leader to carry out research into standards of Science in the school. As part of the process I plan to:

Meet with the Subject Leader
This is the best person to be able to give me an insight into the current standard of the subject. I hope he'll be able to articulate his vision for Science. It would be good to find out about what he believes are the strengths and areas to develop. I wonder how a 'buzz' about science is created by the school.

Meet with the Pupils
I want to speak to a cross-section of children who will be able to tell me what they like and what they don't like so much. I'd like to find out things like how they prefer to work in science, and how they like to record work.

Learning Walk
I'm hoping to look around the school for evidence of science being valued and enjoyed. It would be great to see displays.

Book Scrutiny
I hate the term 'book scrutiny', but that's what I need to do. I'd like to find out about the planning of the work, and see the progression, continuity and challenge between each year group. I wonder how the work is marked?

Finding out
I want to find out any data that is recorded for science - and how it is obtained. I have an audit for the teachers to find out their views. I hope they'll have time to fill it in.

By next week I want to have devised an action plan with success criteria based on what I have learned. I want to use Lesson Studies as a method of developing teachers. I also need to consider whereabouts the school is in working towards fulfilling the objectives of the new national curriculum. Perhaps this will form part of my plan.

I've prepared my questions, printed my staff audit, made notes on the lesson study process and printed the science pages of the new curriculum. I'm nervous as working in a different school will take me right out of my comfort zone. But I guess that's why I need to do it. As I always tell everyone else - it'll be fine!

Image: http://littlemisshypothesis.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/diy-tinted-safety-goggles.html

Sunday, 13 October 2013

My Learning Style

We all learn in different ways. I completed the Kolb learning style inventory. The inventory is designed to help you to understand how you learn best in educational settings and everyday life.

My results showed that I learn best through concrete experience and by active experimentation - in other words, by experiencing and by doing

Learning by experiencing means:

  • Learning from specific experiences
  • Relating to people
  • Being sensitive to feelings and people
Learning by doing means:
  • Showing the ability to get things done
  • Taking risks
  • Influencing people and events through action

I feel that these are all strengths of mine. I believe that I can learn best through experiences. I am able to relate to people and consider their feelings. I am a big believe in the phrase 'you don't know unless you try' and therefore I like to take measured risks. I am someone who likes to see action and think I can influence people this way.

My preferences in these types of learning confirm that I am an 'accommodating learner'. This means that I 'may want to put ideas that I have practiced into action, finding still more uses for whatever has been learned. I tend to accommodate, or adapt to, changing circumstances and information.'

People with an accommodating learning style 'have the ability to learn primarily from 'hands-on experience'. 
"If this is your style, you probably enjoy carrying out plans and involving yourself in new and challenging experiences. Your tendency may be to act on intuition rather than logical analysis. In solving problems, you may rely more heavily on people for information than on your own technical analysis. In formal learning situations you may prefer to work with others to get assignments done, to set goals, to do field work and to test out different approaches to completing a project."
The basic strengths of my learning style are:
  • Getting things done
  • Leading
  • Taking risks
  • Initiating
  • Being adaptable
  • Being practical

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Emotional Intelligence

On one of our NPQH elective days I completed an Emotional Intelligence Assessment.
According to the results, the strongest aspect of my emotional intelligence is Relationship Management. This was followed by Social Awareness.

It is interesting that my scores for self-awareness and self-management both came out as my lowest score. It appears that I do not know myself very well.

But when I looked at Daniel Goleman's framework of Emotional Competences I can't help but agree with the results of my assessment. My self-confidence can sometimes be low. My self-control can be rubbish (e.g. poor eating and exercising habits sometimes.) Whilst I believe that I am trustworthy and conscientious, I am not always very quick to adapt.

In terms of my social competences I think that I am very service oriented and have an awareness of what good service involves. I believe that I have good leadership skills and am aware of the need for different parts of an organisation to work well together. I am frequently told that I can be influential within my establishment, and a good communicator. I am good at building teams and can be a catalyst for change, when needed.

So what have I learned? I need to be more reflective about myself. I need to be more confident in my own abilities.

IMAGE: http://www.kartikvyas.com/articles5.html

Work-Life Balance

I love this blog post about Work Life Balance by Ezzymoon. It has got me thinking about what my own personal work-life balance policy would be.

Mine is pretty similar, but for family reasons, there are some differences:

  • Arrive at school by 8am and leave between 5 and 5.30pm.
  • At the most, work 2 hours on Sundays and have the rest of the weekend to spend with family and friends.
  • Work no more than 2.5 hours each night at home during the week. (I tend to do this late at night after having enjoyed some family and chill out time).
  • Do not reply to work emails outside of working hours.
  • Spend at least 20 minutes in the staffroom each day eating lunch and socialising.
  • Have a conversation with at least 3 different adults per day during working hours.
  • Go to sleep by 11.30pm each night during the week.
When I become a headteacher I will insist on my team setting themselves their own limits. How can we teach children to have lives if we don't have lives of our own?

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Idea for a model of school leadership

Our NPQH tutor talked with us about school leadership models. I was intrigued by an idea that she says is in place in a school somewhere in Bolton (but I can't find it anywhere on the internet).

The clearly defined roles of the leadership team relate to aspects of the private sector. 

For instance:

  • Quality Assurance - This would relate to the quality of the teaching and learning. This person would take responsibility for ensuring that key standards are met and are consistent at all levels of a child's education.
  • Product Design - In this case the product is the curriculum. This team member would have responsibility for the design of the curriculum, ensuring that it meets a design brief (decided by the children?). The product would need to be innovative, current and exciting in order to suit its target market.
  • Communications and Marketing - This is all about communicating with key stakeholders and the community. Marketing may include a effective website and ensuring that parents are involved.

What other business terms could be used to define roles within a school management team?

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Stubborn Donkey

One of the themes that we discussed on our Effective Partnerships course was 'the stubborn donkey'. Here is the video:

The video has some key messages. 

  • We realised that to help people move in the right direction we need to find the right motivation. There will always be some resistance to new ideas, but involving the team in planning and developing that idea will make people want to take part. 
  • It is important to take a step back and consider a different approach if something is working.
  • You need to constantly need to review progress - you can't wait until the end before realising that something is not working as you wanted.
  • It is important to have fun and value your team!
It's amazing what you can learn from a stubborn donkey! But then I found this!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Partnerships in School

We considered all of the partnerships within and involving schools. It's amazing to note how many there are - and we have probably missed lots!

It makes you realise that the key thing that headteachers must get right in school is partnerships. Unless partnerships are strong, unless they are productive and unless they are valued, schools just can't work.
“Two worlds together are a lot stronger than one; because there is always another world that they can rely on.” Student's poem inspired by Connecting Classrooms, Nova Hreod College, Swindon (from here).

Key partnerships within the school are between pupils, teachers, parents and governors.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Snippets of advice

Earlier I posted about ingredients for an outstanding lesson. Here are some great practical ideas I wanted to share from The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher: 1. This is a brilliant book and is definitely worth a read.

The average attention span for an adult is about twelve minutes. If you are expecting children to listen for any more than that, you are being over-optimistic.

Plan for 'awe and wonder' in your lessons. Build it in as a habit.

You won't possibly have time to keep changing every display continuously, but have a plan to change each display board on a rota basis. Good display boards send out powerful subconscious messages which say, 'this teacher knows what she is doing. She is worth behaving and working hard for.'

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to collect in the books open at the right page, ready for marking. You will save yourself up to a third of your marking time because you are not flipping through each book trying to find the right page.

Let's ram home the importance of plenaries. Have you ever asked someone about their holiday? "It was superb. Lovely apartment right by the sea. And we went to the most fantastic fish restaurant on the Wednesday." And then, guaranteed, you will get this, "But it clouded over on the last day and the flight home was delayed by forty minutes." Your lessons are a bit like that holiday story, in that people will remember the highlight and the last bit. So, please don;t ignore the plenary, it will be one of the bits they are guaranteed to remember.

Make a note in your mark book when you have found out two things about each child, so that you can be sure you haven't missed anyone out. This will allow you to have mini-conversations whenever you meet these kids out and about.

Carol Dweck distinguishes between what she calls a 'fixed mindset' and a 'growth mindset', born out in her final test. She gave the children a test of equal difficulty to the first one: those who were praised for their intelligence showed a noticeable drop in their results, whereas those who were praised for effort increased their score by 30%.

10 Ingredients of an outstanding lesson from Jackie Beere

I recently read Jackie Beere's book, 'The Perfect Ofsted Inspection'. Included in the book are the ten attributes of an outstanding lesson. This is just a very quick summary - the book is well worth a read.

First impressions are so powerful. Engagement from the start of the lesson is vital.

Challenge and Feedback
Having high expectations of individuals with various needs requires accurate assessment of potential barriers to learning, then having challenging targets that make the child aim higher. Oral or written feedback that is specific and positive and that guides students to make progress in their learning journey is crucial.

Asking questions is the bread and butter of teaching. Use questions to develop learning and help students to make progress in their thinking. Good, open, engaging questions promote thinking at the highest levels are the basic tools of teaching.
I like the Plenary Review Grid.

Independent Learning
Spoonfed students who have not developed research or thinking skills and who have been scaffolded through their learning may not demonstrate real progress.

Embed the teaching of core skills in all lessons
This means taking every opportunity to connect classroom learning to the real world, modelling expert core skills and correcting mistakes relentlessly.

Progress for all
Make sure you know where the attainment gaps in your classes are and that you plan every lesson to help those pupils make extra progress.

Use assessment to support effective learning
Effective feedback that supports continuing progress, based on accurate assessment is a crucial aspect of outstanding teaching. Feedback must be focused exactly on what the student has to do to make progress. Clear, focused advice about how to progress must be evident in scrutinised books and oral feedback.

Subject expertise and progress in the subject
Good and outstanding teaching combines strong subject knowledge with effective teaching of the skills needed and a thorough understanding of what pupils already know. You and your students must be very clear about how to progress in the subject.

Behaviour for Learning
The leadership of the school must ensure that behaviour in the classroom and around the school is conducive to students thriving in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Rigorous consistency
Planning engaging, challenging tasks that relate to the real world outside of school is the best way to ensure positive behaviour. You will also need to establish a consistent, relentless approach to a classroom ethos that has zero tolerance of any disruption of learning.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The exams aren't getting easier...

It's A-Level and GCSE results season at the moment. Here's a great analogy I learned from The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher which I read recently.

"It almost seems like a yearly rite of passage now for teenagers and teachers together to pick up newspapers or turn on the news at the end of the summer to find that exams must be getting easier because more kids are passing them.

Let's apply the thinking to another industry to prove how faulty it is. The principle of 'Kaizen' or 'continuous improvement' has existed in car manufacturing for decades. Have you noticed that the quality of cars keeps improving?... Nobody seems to be arguing that we're lowering the way we measure car quality. Other industries seem to accept, without question, that methods have improved.

So, have our media colleagues ever thought that maybe, just maybe, teaching has improved significantly over the last few decades and pupils have been responding to it? We know many headteachers across the country who tell us that the new teachers joining the profession are arriving better prepared and equipped than ever before to face the rigours and challenges ahead."

Friday, 16 August 2013

Improving Standards

I recently read Jackie Beere's book, 'The Perfect Ofsted Inspection '. There are some real gems of advice given from the head teacher of a large primary school which will help to drive standards of teaching and learning.

  • Spend time together with your staff wisely through giving them time to share good practice and generate good ideas. Regular mini-Teachmeets will help with this.
  • Give teachers opportunities to plan together, prepare and assess together.
  • Give the middle leaders time together to share the strengths and weaknesses in teaching and learning in their phases.
  • Engaging the skills and knowledge of the support staff about the children they work with is vital. "Identify what the targeted group of children are finding difficult and then working on the issues and measuring the impact."
  • Make sure that teachers are given time to watch each other through a buddying system based on their strengths and development needs. I hope to introduce 'teaching trios' this year.
  • Take your pupils and staff to other schools to observe teaching and learning.
  • Always allow your staff and pupils to take risks together and make learning exciting! Let them make mistakes and learn from them!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Courage and Resilience

I recently read Jackie Beere's book, 'The Perfect Ofsted Inspection '. I loved the advice given on courage and resilience.

This is what I will look for from all members of my team:
"Being creative means breaking the rules - finding new solutions and pushing back the boundaries. This takes courage and confidence as it may go wrong."
Teachers can't be outstanding if they play by the rule book alone. They have to try something different - it will make them unique. 
"It feels good to be familiar and comfortable but exceptional teachers enjoy pushing themselves outside their comfort zones and helping students to do the same. Being ambitious for your classes means having to try new ways of working, particularly for groups of children that don't learn easily."
Teachers who try something different will be remembered by their pupils. Their lessons will engage, excite and motivate. The children will learn.

"Courage helps you to be resilient. You need to be courageous to want to take advice and to seek out feedback from leaders, pupils, parents and colleagues about your performance. You then need the resilience to act on feedback."
For this reason, it is important that feedback is fair, consistent and encouraging.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Embedding the habits that will make the difference

I recently read Jackie Beere's book, 'The Perfect Ofsted Inspection '. The first chapter is about embedding a vision. 

There are a lot of tips about embedding habits that I found really helpful. These are based on suggestions from a headteacher of a high school in Kent. Here are my favourites:

  • Create a culture from which achievement can grow
  • The physical environment is crucial
  • Nobody learns (or teaches well) if they are unhappy
  • There is no contradiction between order and discipline and a belief that being at school should be full of laughter and joy.
  • Ofsted success is based on replicating during inspection the good practice that occurs all the time, not on attempting to introduce last minute changes.
  • Recruit, develop and promote outstanding staff and let them get on with it.
  • Create a system that links CPD to individual classroom performance and personal need as well as whole school priorities.
If my school can follow these pieces of advice then it will be a clean, happy, disciplined, high performing, forward moving school. What more could I want?

Friday, 9 August 2013

Growing the vision and culture with everyone

I recently read Jackie Beere's book, 'The Perfect Ofsted Inspection '. The first chapter is about embedding a vision. 

We are asked 'What is your school famous for? What is your head's vision for the school? What are the key priorities for improvement? Which are the underperforming groups and what is being done about them?'
We are told that everyone in the school needs to know the answers to these questions - everyone! At first I thought this would be making sure that the school's mission statement and vision are clear and appears where ever appropriate. 
"No matter that the vision is expressed in a slogan on the school badge, no matter how many times you have repeated it, the vision isn't embedded until it runs through the school like the lettering in a stick of rock."
It reminded me about a motto that I heard once - "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen." The speaker explained how clearly the motto is understood by everybody working in the hotel. It was evident in the way the staff spoke to its customers. It was clear in the decor of the hotel. It could be tasted in the food. The motto tells of high standards and, in particular, high standards of customer service.

That's what I'll be looking for - a simple message that will be shown in everything that we do.

I recently saw this mission statement on Twitter and thought it was brilliant(!):

The author is right - every school has similar aspirations - so what is special about our school? Our message, our vision, our culture needs to be clear, and everyone should be part of it.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Building a Vision

On my NPQH course so far I've learned a lot about embedding and building a vision for your school.

I found the chapter 'Embedding Your Vision' in Jackie Beere's book 'The Perfect Ofsted Inspection', therefore to be useful. The book is well worth a read.

She describes eight strategies:
1 Growing the vision and culture with everyone
2 Embedding the habits that will make the difference
3 Embedding the seven habits of highly effective teachers and pupils.
4 Getting middle leaders to buy in
5 Ensuring effective performance management and continuous professional development
6 Engaging with the whole school community
7 Rigorous self-evaluation
8 Using the self-evaluation form to produce a live school development plan

Over a series of posts I'll reflect on some of these strategies.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Budget Meeting

One aspect of headship that I find daunting is the budgeting process. I've been told different things about what to expect: everything from, 'you don't need to worry about it - the authority will help you balance the books' to 'it's the worst part of the job'. Over the last few months I've tried to get involved with the school budgeting process as much as I can.

As many schools are, due to certain changes in funding, our financial figures haven't been quite as straightforward as they could be. So it was interesting to watch the head, bursar and finance governor go through each budget code, discussing the predicted spend and if it needed to be reduced or increased. The authority's budget officer amended the figures as suggested and then gave a final amount at the end.

The process was logical and considered, and it made sense. Of course, though, the budgeting meeting is the easy bit, I guess. The hard part is staying in control as the year goes on.

When I'm a headteacher I would want to know the finances regularly so that I am sure of our position. I can do this through regular meetings with a business manager and my finance governors.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Great British Food Festival

Today we visited the Great British Food Festival at Walton Gardens. We had a really nice day, sampled some amazing food, bought some great souvenirs to bring home and we managed to avoid the rain!

The place was absolutely packed today!

Here are our favourite people of the day:

Castro Grill
We Are Castro hot dogs.

Well worth a look!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Leading Change for Improvement

Today I attended the NPQH module, 'Leading Change For Improvement'

We talked about stages of grief that staff members may go through whenever changes are put in place. This Simpsons video sums them up in a funny way:

Tuckman's model of change was used as a model for how to work through change in schools.

When I am a headteacher I hope that this process may look like this:

The main thing about this stage of the process is to work together to agree common goals. I hope to pull people in the same direction by involving them in the goal setting process and giving them ownership.

Like in the video, I want to avoid 'arguing' and have the 'right sort of arguing'. This means that the storming session will set roles and responsibilities that will help us to achieve the goals. Our common goals will be our guiding principle to help us to achieve what we want, without straying off at a tangent.

This is when we'll try things out. We might make changes and we might rethink some of our strategies. But we will continually refer to the goals that we want to achieve, and the roles and responsibilities of everyone in the team.

Sometimes changes take days. Sometimes they take years. But an important change must perform well and if we can get the three earlier stages right, the school will perform.

I loved this quote from the day: "Relationships are the key to change." This is completely right. There has to be happy, healthy, productive relationships within the stakeholders for the change to work.

I'm not too sure about the message in Resistance to Change. But I imagine that I will bear this in mind when I am first appointed in a school. Maybe some members of the team of staff that I take on will be resistant to change. Maybe over time I will be able to bring in new members of the team that will work with us on our goals.

Sunday, 17 February 2013


I live by To Do Lists. I've always been a fan of Toodledo. However, on getting my Nexus 7 at Christmas and discovering that Toodledo doesn't have a compatible Android app, I've been forced to look at alternatives.

For me, there are some criteria for any to do list tool:

  • It must have a website version, a compatible Android app and an iPhone app.
  • It must have recurring tasks.
  • It must 'feel' right.
I eventually settled on Producteev. This seems to meet all of my criteria. I like the way I can create different workspaces, so my home tasks don't appear at school. Although I don't take advantage of the facility, you can collaborate with other users. Adding subtasks and notes is easy too.

It could be improved by allowing tasks to repeat from the completion date, not just from the due date. But for now I'm happy with it.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Monthly Review: January 2013

After a lovely long Christmas holiday it was quickly business as usual!

On my way home after the first day back at school I hit a pothole and damaged my car. I burst a tyre and damaged my alloy wheel. Luckily my brother was able to repair the wheel and he found a tyre that we can use. It inconvenienced me, but it ended up costing nothing. The borough council were sent a letter explaining that I would be seeking compensation for damages but I didn't need to pursue this after all. I'm sick of all the potholes around at the moment. I have been reporting them all online. I live in one unitary authority but work in the other. One contacted me within days to say they were investigating the potholes I had reported. The other has said nothing.

I had another day out of the classroom on my NPQH course. It was a good day but I'm concerned that I've done absolutely no additional work for the course. I need to get on with this.

I hate snow. We had too much of it this month and it lingered for too long. I don't want to say any more about it.

I've been given the all clear from my consultant, so my knee is on its way to full recovery. I have got to keep up with the physio.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Smart Teachers Blog: New Year, New You (On Paper)

Excellent advice for keeping your CV up-to-date here at the Smart Teachers Blog.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Monthly Review: December 2012

Chilling after Ofsted
Well sort of. The relief after the inspection was clear on everyone's faces. However, there wasn't time to hang around as we had Christmas plays to prepare for. Much of the time this month has been spent working on our performances. We performed this one.

Christmas shopping
I really enjoyed Christmas shopping this year. I think this is because I'd actually already chosen my wife's present. She's notoriously difficult to buy for but this year I knew what I would get her before the end of November. Wicked tickets!

Nights out
This will make me sound really old. I don't go out that much any more. To go out three nights in a row is something I've not done for a long time. But just before Christmas I did - our work Christmas night out, a Christmas jumper night and our Christmas Curry! Brilliant times!

A special Christmas
After a difficult few months we were looking forward to a special Christmas with our little girl who is 20 months old. She loved her presents and it was amazing to watch her growing up before our very eyes!