☰ 8pm, Mon 8 Feb

8pm, Mon 8 Feb

Posted on: February 8th 2010

I arrived at school just before 8am and headed straight to my office. Monday mornings are always hectic and I wanted to make sure there was nothing urgent I had to do. I then headed downstairs for my morning door duty at 8.20am. I had some nice conversations with various parents this morning; everyone seemed on good form.

Straight from door duty I headed off to the dining hall to take assembly for pupils in Forms 3 – 6. I asked if anyone had read or heard any interesting news during the past week. Abby Hunt mentioned that a dog had been rescued from a lake that had frozen over. Very sweet. Ethan Summers wanted to discuss the prosecution of three MPs and one Lord; after that I spoke briefly about the MPs expenses scandal in general. Ethan interjected that “one of the MPs literally committed suicide on Channel 4 news!” It was very funny, but I knew what he meant.

Another story I wanted to discuss was President Obama’s decision not to fund NASA’s ‘Constellation Programme’ designed to put humans on the moon by 2020. Many pupils felt this was sensible as the money is needed on earth. A very pragmatic and sensible approach I thought, and probably right. I then gave an impassioned speech about adventure and celebrating what humans can achieve. Can you believe I then got an impromptu round of applause? What a lovely bunch of pupils we have. And what an uplifting start to the week.

I didn’t have time to bask in the glory as I had a meeting with a prospective family. Very nice people – they know a few people at the school who had spoken highly about what we do. I tend not to prepare for admissions meetings with prospective families as it shouldn’t be about a PowerPoint presentation; instead I like conversations to develop organically. Of course there are things I need to mention but I never allow myself to have a talk off patter, even though I probably meet three to four families a week.

I then bumped into Mrs Habgood. We meet every Wednesday and she asked if the main item for discussion would be assessment. Definitely. We operate a very effective assessment strategy at the school: all teachers submit to Mrs Habgood very detailed assessment data each term and we use this to track pupil progress. We are looking at ways in which we can refine the system and that is what our meeting this Wednesday is about. I didn’t have my usual meeting with Mrs Fern today as she was with our Form 6 pupils visiting the RAF museum at Hendon. And actually today’s staff meeting is cancelled because of the parents’ evening tonight.

Next, Ms Milligan and I had our daily meeting. We quickly discussed admissions as we have a problem of a long list of families that have submitted forms and haven’t yet visited the school. We devised a letter that is being sent tomorrow. I think it’s really important to communicate well with all families – existing or prospective – even if it is just to let them know we can’t yet invite them to the school. We are also working on our new staff handbook and Ms Milligan is eager to pass on development of the policies to me!

My next job was to look at creating a Code of Conduct policy for our staff. Legally we need one, but I’m concerned the teachers may find it a little patronising. I did, and I don’t want them to think they need a code of conduct policy to carry out their job effectively. I then carried on reading through the guidance notes for our School Self Evaluation Form. I think I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that this has to be completed ahead of an inspection. I anticipate we will be inspected from Easter onwards, although it could happen before. I then quickly read an interesting update from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (view here).

I had a quick lunch and read the story about Ali Dizaei. I then took a call from a previous parent who is having a few difficulties with their child – I offered some help and suggestions. I then spoke to the families of the older boys we had interviewed last Friday. Then (with my cup of tea – essential) I wandered around the school. I watched some of the children play; there was one child in particular I wanted to make sure was happy and involved, which he was. I then popped into our Reception class for 20 minutes to watch their afternoon session. It was productive and lively with different pupils trying a variety of things. I ended up sitting next to Marni Salem who talked me through sounds and spellings of words using small wooden letters. I really enjoyed it.

Then back up to my office for general administration; letters and emails mainly. At 4pm I had a meeting with our builders. We talked through some general work that needs to be finished, but mainly we discussed the new library which is to be finished over our half term. We measured various books and files and then began to work out how many rows of shelves we need. I actually thought it would have made a good maths challenge for our older pupils. Anyhow, it will look really nice and the room will be well used. They left around 5pm.

I then had a quick walk round the school to say hello to various parents waiting to see teachers. I popped into the staff room and had a chat with Miss Joyce and Mrs Gormley. We spoke about how we use our teaching assistants at the school and they had some really good suggestions that I’m going to raise at one of our SMT meetings. Then back to my office for more admin. I left at gone 8pm, making sure that the evening was ok for all our teachers.

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