Time to change direction – bravery or foolhardy
I have now been substantive headteacher at my school for two years, prior to this I acted as headteacher through a very difficult period of time of change for the school. It took a great deal of thought before embarking on the job as headteacher of a school that I was already working at. With the staff all behind me and the vision of where I could take the school I jumped on board and set the school on a brand new journey.
It has not been an easy ride. My second term as substantive head ended with an RI judgement from OfSTED but with reassurance that what I was doing would reap rewards and would take the school to good.
As time wore on I realised that the thing that was holding us back was the inconsistency in the quality of teaching. I believe wholeheartedly that teachers don’t set out to fail and invested much time and effort in my staff. This did not pay off for some and over the past year this has meant that a high proportion of my teaching staff have moved on.
The inconsistency in teaching led to a legacy of pupils not attaining the highest grades. As a school where pupils enter “average” we were not managing to get enough children make three levels progress. This has ultimately led to a second RI in July. On the record OfSTED said we had not acted quickly enough to eradicate inconsistent teaching but off the record, knowing the school context, both inspectors agreed with what we had done and the timescales in which we had acted.
With all the changes that have taken place and the state of flux that we find ourselves in regarding the removal of levels I now find that I have to be braver than I have ever been before. Sticking with the old levels is not an option as doing this will mean that standards will not be high enough, expectation would be too low. Jumping into the unknown is a hugely scary concept. HMi made it clear beyond any doubt that it is my name on the inspection report for the last two inspections and on the letter she was writing following her visit. Implicating that the next 18 months would make or break my career.
If I get is wrong I am on the way out.
It is sad that, for someone who is hugely passionate about what I do that it now throws me into the dilemma of playing the OfSTED game.
Unfortunately the OfSTED game seems to be lacking in rules anymore. I rule believe that at present OfSTED have not yet got to grips with the no levels and neither have many schools.
I am not one of the heads waiting to see what happens and acting according to hearsay and trend but I do find myself having many sleepless nights worrying about the direction to take.
There are some very tough choices to make and very little support to encourage the change.
I have acted on all the advice I have been given over the last few years and that has not had the impact quick enough. I believe that it will over time but short term fixes plaster the cracks and does not embed true change.
I don’t know about all the other heads out there but I am not surprised that schools like mine do not attract people when recruiting and nobody in their right mind would take on my role.
It will be an interesting journey ahead. Fingers crossed I will still be here to tell of success in two years time.