☰ Beginning of term . . .

Beginning of term . . .

Posted on: April 28th 2010

For the staff and teachers today is officially our third day back at school. Before the beginning of each term we have two days of staff training. I’ve been in and out of school over the break so I managed to catch up with most people, but it was nice to see everyone safely back from their various travels. Alas no travelling for me; I’m determined to get away over the summer break. Anyhow, Monday was taken up with a very interesting “Philosophy for Children” workshop; this was a half day course for all our staff where we discussed and practised various approaches to questioning techniques for children. Many of you will know that I’m very keen to expose our children to philosophy (and by this I mean discussion, listening and wider thinking as opposed to learning Plato’s Republic). However, I also want our staff to develop various questioning techniques that we can use with all our pupils. By and large, closed questions don’t encourage our pupils to think or express themselves. All in all it was a good session and we will be monitoring carefully its success.

We then had a Senior Management Team meeting on Monday afternoon. Once a term I invite an external adviser to join our SMT meeting to act as a soundboard and offer advice and suggestions. We are lucky to have a trained school inspector and ex Head who helps us out in this regard. At Monday’s meeting we discussed our assessment system as there is a concern that it has become a little time-consuming. We also looked at performance management targets for our staff along with how we might develop our pastoral care systems further. It was a long but very productive meeting.

Tuesday morning saw all our teachers together for a meeting on technology which was excellent! Everyone had to share ideas on what they are doing across subjects using ICT (the jargon is cross curricular use of ICT). It was mind blowing. Our older pupils are coding software to make games, whilst our younger pupils are at ease in using microphones to record their thoughts about stories they have read. Children in the middle years are putting together their own films, which they narrate. It really was one of those inspiring sessions that left me feeling incredibly proud of our school. We then finished off in the afternoon with a presentation from me on our priorities for the term ahead.

Today and tomorrow are PHSE focus days. The purpose of the days is to really raise the profile of our pupils’ social, physical, cultural and emotional well being. I think we are outstanding at this anyway, but it is good for children to focus on this themselves and have the opportunity to discuss things with each other. There are many initiatives happening – in fact I’ve just seen our Form 6 pupils leave the school to help out at the local soup kitchen and I think they are back there tomorrow.

I took two assemblies this morning; one for our older then younger pupils. We spoke about why we have a holiday and what might happen if we didn’t. I then went on to explain that I write a long “to do” list at the beginning of each term (luckily no one asked me if I ever tick everything off!). I asked them to think about what they might put on their “to do” list. Olivia in Form 6 suggested that she needs to concentrate more in lessons; I didn’t let her get away with that as that is the last thing she needs to worry about. Other suggestions included following instructions more carefully, improving handwriting and being kinder to friends. All good stuff. I then asked them to think about what they might like to add to my list. That’s a tough question and I think they found it quite challenging. Based on their answers I think I should be coming to work in a boiler suit, carrying a tool box and a broom! Although Nina in Form 5 offered a very thoughtful suggestion that I should develop a strategy to ensure pupils don’t become anxious around exam times. I’m trying to get our pupils to think about the roles and feelings of other people, so I’m going to come back to this with them.

But actually I do have some personal priorities this term:

 During the term I’ll let you know how I’m getting on . . .

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