Fret work

I’ve had a meeting to get an update on Special Needs matters – I’m always pretty well in touch, but haven’t had more than a brief chat this term so far, so it was good to have an update.  And I’ve arranged to go through our annual development plan with the Head on Friday.  I have to trust myself and not panic into a lot of rote-learning of facts and figures.  I don’t think I need to know all the details; or rather, I don’t have to remember them.  I go to a lot of trouble to find things out, to ask questions and to ensure what should be done is done, and then I forget the detail.

So, this afternoon, I asked him if there was anything I should address and he kindly reassured me – I said that I know where I’m good, it’s where I am not and don’t know it that a weakness may lie.  I would rather not be caught out.  He asked me an Ofstedish question and I stared horrified for a moment before rallying and answering straightforwardly – actually, the whole role-play sort of thing disconcerts me, but I did sort of ask for it.  Actually, I’d quite like some robust and specific criticism, it’s not that I am modest about self-worth but I appreciate a frank appraisal, preferably in time to do something about it.  I have various documents to re-read – like, for example, I can’t remember in the least what’s in the Head’s performance management, because I didn’t do it.  Well, I wouldn’t remember anyway.

I know how the students did so well last year and that it wasn’t a fluke, and can explain in what ways the pupils are told what the point of a lesson is, what they are supposed to be learning and why, and how to know if they’ve learned it.  That would have been jolly useful when I was at school, I can tell you.  There were, certainly, teachers who brought that across but there were only too many lessons when I had no idea what, if any the purpose was, and didn’t learn anything.  I also know how the teachers look out for difficulties a student, or group of students may have and address it – for example, when one of the governors was in a maths lesson back in the winter, a small group had a session on the use of brackets, because they hadn’t grasped it.  I know who was entered early for an exam and who wasn’t and why – not as individuals, but as groups.  I know that students should know their target grades and what marks they need to get them.

If I were asked why I’m the Special Needs governor, rather than someone else, I can explain, and say what I do and when I check on things and then leave them to it.  I can say what value we place on vocational qualifications and apprenticeships.  I can tell you what we do for our gifted students and how we support pupils who feel that they are bullied, and how we know about it.  If asked to talk by way through a financial spreadsheet, I’d be fine.  I know about partnerships with other schools and how we’re developing them further.  If asked about uniform (behaviour, punctuality and appearance are going to be looked at) I can tell them that, a year ago, the School Council asked that staff be robust in enforcing the school uniform rules.  Dyed hair and dreadlocks are okay, piercings, apart from a single earring in each ear, are not.

I know a lot.  But what if I’m asked something and my mind is blank?  I don’t know what they’re going to talk to me about, that’s the thing.

And if I’m this anxious now, what sort of a nervous wreck will I be when the inspectors actually announce their arrival?

11 comments on “Fret work

  1. Jane and Lance Hattatt

    Hello Z:
    It seems to us, even in the very short time which we have known you,that you take your role in support of the school very seriously. Whatever may be with the Ofsted inspectors, your commitment and determination to do your best for the school in general and individual students in particular is bound to shine through. Any inspector worth his or her salt will, we are certain, be impressed!

  2. Dave

    As I said during the (oral) OT exam at college, in real life if someone asked me a question about part of the Bible which I didn’t know, I would have my Bible there, and could look it up, or say ‘I’ll get back to you about that’, go home and look it up. We aren’t expected to memorise every single fact, surely. That’s what computers are for.

  3. Christopher

    Any HMIs I ever came across were unfailingly considerate and helpful. But I do remember a Head Teachers’ dinner once when the Director of Education addressed us. Driving once to Brechin, he said, he observed a signpost pointing in one direction and saying ‘Brechin 3 miles’. Pointing in a different direction the signpost also said ‘Brechin 3 miles’. Both roads led to Brechin, but by different routes. He used this to illustrate the various means by which objectives might be met, etc., and that often there was no single solution to a particular problem.

    When interviewed by the same man for my final headship a year or two after this, I was asked a question that I really didn’t have a clue about. I quoted the D of E’s Brechin story back to him. I got the job.

    I hope this helps. I expect there are signs in your area saying ‘Yagnub 3 miles’ in all directions.

  4. Blue Witch

    Let’s come at this from a different angle… why are you more nervous this time than you’ve been all the other times you’ve been involved in an inspection?

    I’m amused that all our local secondary schools have suddenly decided to tighten up on uniform matters. Years ago, when I was on the county team that supported ‘failing schools’ that was generally our starting point. If you asked me the biggest differences between state and independent schools these days it would be (a) size of classes (b) uniformity of school uniform and expectations re such (c) noise level and old-fashioned manners (eg holding doors, use of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ etc.

  5. Z

    Okay, I’ll come back to it in another post and then drop it.

    We’ve always had school uniform, BW, but a school a few miles away that is, like us, waiting for a decision on their application to become an academy has decided to go back to having a uniform. Are you saying that the differences between a state and an independent school are social more than educational?

  6. Sarah

    Gosh…. a minefield. I have sooooo many opinions on the subject that I feel I should have my own blog to air them LOL. I should put your hair into dredlocks and go for it. Hope this helps.

  7. Blue Witch

    Are you saying that the differences between a state and an independent school are social more than educational?”

    Yes. And one mustn’t underestiamte the importance of networks (and not the likes of FB either) – yummy mummies in the school car park for instance, doing deals on their husbands’ companies offering reciprocal work experience, for instance…

  8. Z

    That’s very gratifying, that the smaller class sizes and richer parents don’t make a difference to the results! Of course, in a selective school, you’d expect exam results to be better.


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