I went on a ‘walkabout’ today.

A lot of schools have them to promote positive behaviour management – It’s where (mostly) senior members of staff visit lessons to see how things are going.

I was particularly excited to be visiting Year 10 lessons because I can start to put names to faces of the 140 options forms that I processed.   It’s nice to actually see the 10Q Geography group in action as I had to create it due to heavy demand for Geography (don’t ask me why!) and then had to negotiate staffing accordingly.

I think walkabouts help to raise your profile – I’ve been looking at the students’ planners and checking their books as I visit classrooms; a former mentor of mine called it ‘walking the job’ and it certainly helps me as a way of informal monitoring. If I spot anything I like or am worried about then I will pop back in a more formal setting.

I sometimes feel I don’t have time to do these things, they take me out of my office and away from the sickeningly huge pile of work but seeing the children enjoying their lessons and seeing the staff enjoying teaching (as it’s only the second week of term and they will have some energy) is rewarding and work-life affirming.

All week I’m on assembly. We now have 3 lots per day each week.Firstly there are School assemblies – run by a senior member of staff in the Hall; then a House assembly, led by the Head of House and in the Drama Studio.Because our Drama Studio is not quite big enough to fit a whole House the third type of assembly and the type I was on was a Year out of house assembly. Each day I have the 30 or so Year 11s from each House with me.It’s perfect timing because I’m holding a parents evening for Year 11 parents tomorrow. I’m talking about the year ahead, mock exams, checking statements of entry and showing a video of the recent results day (I must publically thank my husband for editing the DVD from the camcorder!).

The Video

The results video shows some celebrations with many smiling faces , it also shows Daniel, who only just made it into college by gaining 4 GCSEs at A*-C plus passing both Adult Literacy and Numeracy tests. He’s one of my successes from the intervention programme I ran last year.The video also shows Stephen who got 1 C grade and only discovers on camera, thanks to a teacher, that he hasn’t made it into college.

Going for Gold

When I talked about results to staff on our INSET day I tried to personalize the picture with stories like these. I told them that 2 out of 3 getting 5 A*-C was like getting the silver medal in Beijing. This year we had to go for GOLD.It may seem cruel but I am hoping that these tales also convince the new Year 11 to knuckle down. Certainly the group I had this morning was very quiet and focused throughout. Let’s hope their parents are on our side and work with me rather than against me to get these pupils motivated and ready for GCSE success.

For the time being I’m just going to hope that I don’t let myself down, standing in front of 300 people and being unable to get the projector to move from PowerPoint to video feed!

Well, I fooled them.

I’ve made it through my first week as Deputy Head without too many disasters.

True, there was all the Year 11s (except 1) without timetables! I still don’t know how I managed to tell the computer to print off the whole school but miss out the year 11s. It’s a mystery because that one boy had his …. Timetable fairies are out and about!

I’d forgotten that in September I’d have to field phone-calls from parents of pupils who had moved down a group. I am totally sympathetic to the cause but they have to understand that only 32 pupils at most can be in the group labelled ‘top’. I think we create additional problems in our school because all our other ‘sets’ in Years 7, 8 and 9 are mixed ability and the majority of our teachers haven’t got their heads around differentiation.

I’ve also had to sort out the mess caused by 8 students going to college for one or two days a week to study BTECs and Young Apprenticeships. Most of them miss a double PE lesson and one of either RE or Citizenship per week; however there are three of them missing Maths and either English or Science. If I was one of those parents I’d be livid and yet I haven’t heard much at all. Considering how much hassle it was to get them on the course and make it so they only missed 3 or 4 lessons I am glad that I haven’t had to apologise too much.

I am happy overall – if only the kids (and parents) knew just how much time and effort went into their timetable and curriculum.