☰ 8.20pm, Thu 4 Feb

8.20pm, Thu 4 Feb

Posted on: February 4th 2010

I got into school at around 7.45am this morning, after a quick pit stop at Starbucks where I picked up a very bland cappuccino and stale croissant. I went straight to my office where I dropped off my bag and then quickly headed to the science laboratory where our Thursday morning chess club takes place. I wanted to pop in and say congratulations on a fabulous week for the chess team. I also wanted to thank John Fleetwood, the coach that runs our club. I ended up staying for 30 minutes watching our youngsters play. It is such a good game for young people and they all thoroughly enjoyed it. Mr Fleetwood is very good with the children; he is well liked and respected by the children, and he passes on tips and advice in an easy way. I can see why he is in demand. I then popped by a few classrooms to speak to teachers about including some of their children in the club.

I managed to get back to my office for 9am where I finished a few admin things; emails, a quick call to our local councillor and a call from a teacher training agency wanting to place a student (I said not this year). I then started to prepare for a meeting I had later in the morning at a prep school in Essex. They have applied to join the Independent Schools Association and I was asked to make an accreditation visit. I left NHS at 9.45am and got there for 10.30am. It was a difficult journey as all of London’s roads are being dug up “to replace London’s Victorian water mains”. For those economists amongst you, Maynard Keynes should be cheering!

The school I visited was good. The Head is relatively new and wants to change a lot of things. We spoke about some process adjustments she might make along with structural changes which will be necessary going forward. I offered suggestions and discussed what I would do in her shoes. I did pick up one really good idea: the use of school wristbands when pupils go on trips. I left the school at 12pm and got back to Muswell Hill at 1pm. I had picked up a baguette en-route and enjoyed it whilst reading a few news stories on the MPCs decision to stop Quantitative Easing (really good comment here) and Legg’s MPs expenses report (I know, I need to get a life…!).

Our school management information system problems rumble on and I had a long conversation with one of their technical guys to walk through why their system doesn’t work on some PCs with the new Microsoft service pack. He was actually very helpful and very nice and I’m confident he has fixed things. I logged their guy on to a teacher laptop and thought how quick her machine was compared to mine! It turns out mine is about the oldest in the building. Something has gone wrong somewhere.

I was back in my office at 1.45pm and started an on-line course on Child Protection and Safer Recruitment. It is a day’s course and all Heads have to complete it. I have been on so many Child Protection courses that this seems a little like overkill. The focus of the course is more on recruiting staff members and how you should go about doing this. Looking for gaps in their CV, making sure all applications follow the same format and suggestions on the questions you should ask. I managed to get through two hours – that was a lot! I’m going to come back to it. Miss Seryck, Mrs Bedi and I are already fully qualified Level 3 in child protection; this is a high level.

I then took a call from a conference organiser. They are organising a conference for SMEs which provide services to the City; boutique analysts, data suppliers, trading platforms and that kind of thing. They want me to talk on change management within the education sector. And it seems they are going to need it. I watched Channel 4 news last night and saw that the treasury thinks the shrinkage of the financial services sector will represent a long term 5% fall to government finances; Barclays Wealth think the figure is more like 7.5%. Big changes for the City. I can’t make the talk, but it did make me reflect on my morning meeting. The school I went to see is about to embark on serious change. For me, change is about being decisive, having a clear and explainable plan where you can describe the end goal and accepting that not everyone will have the same energy for change as you might. You must have momentum. And never let an organisation drift.

At 4pm Miss Vaughan popped by to see me. She wanted to talk about a child who is going through a period of poor behaviour and concentration. We agreed I would talk to the child tomorrow. I nearly always adopt a consultative and conciliatory tone with children in these situations. I want them to know we are on their side and just want the best for them.

I finished off by looking at our teachers planning for English and Maths this week. I read this in conjunction with assessment data I have for all our pupils as I want to make sure the planning reflects different pupils’ needs.

I left for home at 5.10pmPS you can now subscribe to my blog here

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