One month in.

Some reflections on having been in my permanent post for a month.

That’s it. No more Acting.
No more imposter syndrome.
No more making excuses.

I am here.
It is different to before. I feel a little more empowered and a lot more privileged to have been chosen to be doing what I am for real.

But some things are no different. My vision. My aspirations. My optimism and passionate desire to make every child and adult in our school community achieve the absolute best they can.

I have been reflecting and looking back over the things I said I wanted to be and achieve as a school leader and I am glad to say that they have not changed:

Everyone must be willing to self-reflect and learn.

We don’t shout at others.

We all get things wrong and need to be able to apologise when we do.

We are all human and being in a position of authority does not mean you are better than anyone else.

Everyone needs to take time to see the reality of a situation and not fall into making judgements based on half-truths, prejudice or stereotypes.

Everyone is worthy of love.

 

These non-negotiables were arrived at after working in a number of settings over many years but I would assert that they are absolutely essential in any successful school.

And they are still what I hold true to.

My job is the best job in the world.

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Communication

Today has been a very strange day. I was lucky enough to go to Glasgow to attend the first training in Scotland for school leaders by Paul Dix from Pivotal Education. Paul was as expected; inspiring informative and very entertaining.

But I will talk about that another time. This post is about communication.

In our school we encourage pupils not to use their mobile phones during the day and where possible not to contact their parents unless absolutely necessary. There have been situations where pupils have sent a text, for example, that has caused concern to a parent and led them to phone in, only to discover that perhaps the wrong end of the stick has been got.

There are many times, however, when mobiles can be very useful, such as when we are on a school trip and the bus is due to arrive back early. A quick call home by pupils when we are half an hour away can avoid them having to stand around in a cold car park for half an hour.
Similarly, if a pupil has forgotten PE kit / inhaler/packed lunch, a quick text home can result in the parent dropping it off at reception with no fuss, instead of the pupil having to take 15 minutes out of class to go to the school office and ask them to make a call home etc, etc.

Most pupils use their phones very responsibly during the school day.

Imagine, then, how I felt when I checked my phone during a brief break this morning to see the following message from my daughter, who is also a pupil at my school:

The school’s on fire!!!!!

A hundred reactions and thoughts went through my head, including:
A massive panic about my children, our children, my colleagues.
“Someone has her phone and it is a joke”.
“I am not there so who has the high-vis jacket and is registering staff?”
“It CAN’T be a drill as prelims are on….”

After some messaging back and forth, I established that it was a real fire but that everyone was safe and soon after that school was being evacuated and pupils sent home.

I sent a message to my colleagues but did not call the school: I knew 100% that they would be fully engaged in managing the critical incident and that the last thing they would need would be me tying up their time or phone lines.

And soon emails, tweets and messages appeared from school to re-assure parents.

And I was re-assured.

Driving home tonight I reflected on how many text messages must get sent nowadays in the moments before real tragedies and how they must render loved-ones completely distraught.

Modern communication is fantastic and yet it can also lead us to over- or mis-communicate at times.

Tonight I will put my phone down and give my two a big hug instead.

I know as teenagers they might resist…. but it will tell them everything they need to know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy, healthy and doing the best they can.

If you have read my previous posts, you will know that I am fairly single-minded about my vision; to help every young person in my care to be happy, healthy and doing the best they can. If I see that children are being deprived of the opportunity to thrive I will fight tooth and nail to put it right.

I want the world to be fair, safe and full of opportunity for every single child and so when things get in the way of that, I get angry and sad.

In school, we do the absolute best we can with the resources we have to support our children.

But we also need to know that they experience a life that is fair, safe and full of opportunity when they are outside of our environment.

We know that this will not be the case if they are out drinking alcohol from a young age.

We know that this will not be the case if they are taking drugs.

We know that this will not be the case if they are engaging in inappropriate sexual activity.

We know that this will not be the case if they do not have clear boundaries.

If we as parents cannot define the safe boundaries for our children then we need to ask for help.

There is no shame in this. We end up in this parenting role with very little preparation and if we are lucky enough to have had good role models in our families, then we probably do a good enough job.

But if we are struggling to get it right, we need to be honest and say so.

As a school leader, I don’t want parents to feel that they need to struggle alone. I need them to be honest and work with me so that we can create the environment both in and out of school that will allow our children to thrive.

It takes a village to raise a child. But we will only raise that child well if the adults in the village are honest, willing to work together and able to ask for help when they need it.