This has been my toughest year and therefore my most memorable one.
There is a wonderful Dave Allen sketch in which he sees a £10 note beneath the wheel of a red Volkswagen Beatle, he tries to get it but can’t without fear of ripping it. He then spots a café opposite and goes in, gets a coffee and waits for the owner to return and drive off. The sketch does some good tension as a variety of people (Typical Allen – nuns, priests and mothers) stop by and look to take it but eventually move on. Finally, a man arrives, gets in the car and drives off. A pleased and smug Allen rises, slowly folds his paper and goes to leave – only for the, up to then unnoticed, full café of people to charge out and fight over the £10 leaving Allen standing in the café – everyone had the same idea.
I have felt like an unfunny version of Dave Allen in this sketch this year. Slightly behind the times. This has been because I have gone from leaving a school to joining a new school. Both experiences have been disempowering.
I have said much on leaving a school this year. I think my final surmise is: Don’t resist the urge if it is there. It is there for a reason. But also acknowledge the loss – for some this may be minor. For me it was the comfortable familiarity that I could overcome any problem. The power you have in just thinking this is a very potent one – probably also what gets a lot of heads who stay in their jobs in to trouble too. I also miss the comfort of networks. Years of building up professional sanctuary among colleagues is washed away when you move distances and no longer have reason for day to day contact. Do not mistake twitter as a substitute for meaningful human contact and challenge from people who know you. Though I have found much comfort in twitter this year through affirmation from people who write and discuss about topics I care about. I have also missed nights out being shouted at by younger and hungrier senior leaders and heads. I have found the debates (which are the nicest way I can describe some of the conversations) on twitter demeaning, insulting and cold. We can all sound tough and clever in prose, even if it is 148 characters long.
I have said less on my present school. It has been very tough. But only a fool would have thought any different. What I can say is I am REALLY looking forward to 2015. I think term one is about survival; acclimatising and seeing what skills you’ll need to flourish within the new environment. Though I still think I have much to learn I can see so much potential in my school. I am a different leader already. There were moments of utter madness (I think giving my 15th speech during the Christmas play season may have been a tipping point) but it is in the madness that I have started to see the clarity.
This is what running a school is like… EMBRACE IT because you are not going to be able to stop it!
There is so much in the school year that falls into the EMBRACE IT category. I think my mind-set going into certain areas need adjustment. I am super clear when it’s SAT’s but less embracing of Camp, Parents Forum or Summer Fairs. This is because I will not succeed as a head if Ofsted judge our outstanding trips, parent links or Summer Fair over our Inadequate standards. The first rule of headship I’d say.
So, how am I going to convince Ofsted that my new school is outstanding (Another question could be – Does it matter? Yes at the moment) when there is blue all over Raise On line? That is this year’s challenge. I have always believed that aspiring to be the best is a goal worth having… It is how you get there that counts. I prefer a unified revolution rather than a bloody one. There is much to do and I hope to blog about the journey.
In particular the greatest learning curve I have taken in 2014 was taking on a school with Specialist Provision (This will be a future blog). I have gone from Rabbit in the Headlights scared to buzzing with the potential and prospects of the provision (within one term). I have been amazed at the power and resilience of the staff and children and the ability this provision can have in making you deeply principled, emotional (anger to tears) and resolute. I think it was @cherrylkd who said I’d be going on a journey. It’s one that’s just beginning I feel.
Take care everyone and I wish you all a fantastic 2015 – may dreams come true… or you get a pay rise or something.