Why does it always seem to be that when I’m really exhausted and have lots on my mind that I can’t sleep and find myself up and fully AWAKE in the middle of the night?

This has happened at the beginning of term, this year and last, and now – having been at school until 9.30pm with Open Evening and having to be back at 7.30am for a Senior Leadership briefing – I really should be fast asleep at 4 o’clock in the morning. You have to forgive the typos but proof-reading is not going to be my strong suite at this hour.

Worst still, of all the things that I could be doing, I’m doing the one that’s not going to make my day go any more smoothly! Although there is a school of thought that suggests that the process of getting things down on paper (or just electronically) clears the mind and allows the brain (and therefore the body) to rest.

Open Evening was a resounding success. It’s easy in a year where exam results have gone up (however small the percentage increase) and in a school where we’re already oversubscribed by 5 to 1; yes that’s 650 applications for 125 places.

Pupil Voice

I had relatively few responsibilities this year. I’ve introduced subject ambassadors –pupils in Year 10 who work with the subject leaders to ensure that pupil voice is heard in matters of the subject.

For Open Evening the ambassadors had been to a subject team meeting and contributed to the planning of displays, presentations and handouts given to parents. Their job on the night was to talk to as many Year 6 pupils as possible and talk up their subject and the school. The feedback so far is that they did it incredibly well.

On show

So what difference did the ambassadors make to the Open Evening ethos?

Well firstly they were there! In the past, some departments have shied away from having pupil helpers. I believe that pupils sell the school; they have an open, honest quality that makes it more likely that parents will believe them when they say good things about the school. They are able to relate to the Year 6 pupils in a way that staff will never be able to.

Secondly – they’d helped decide what was on display. So fewer exercise books (pristine from just a few weeks of work and regular marking) and more course guides and schemes of work (unbelievably) showing how the subject developed over the Key Stage 3 and 4 curriculum. More about successes and the fun factor (GCSE results and trips out) and music (mostly calming although Design Technology was, ironically, playing heavy metal at one point).

Their next job will be to canvass opinions from Year 7s as to how the first few weeks of term are going and then they’ll be helping me as we start on selling their subjects to the new Year 9 as they prepare for the new round of options.

Work Related Learning

We have such a strong prefects and pupil officer regime at our school that I’d felt the pastoral deputy was getting it all his own way! The subject ambassadors will be a link to the curriculum side. I hope to see them fully working alongside the teachers and am committed to seeing that they don’t end up relegated to just putting up displays or helping out with some aspects of ICT within departments (where the Head of Department doesn’t know how to use PowerPoint or the interactive white board!).

There has been a big development of the enterprise curriculum over the past few years that I hope staff can appreciated that developing the presentation skills and the experience of talking confidently to adults is one that will hold our pupils in good stead for their futures.