Skip to main content

5. Things to think about this week

1. Safeguard sensitive data

Data security is a hot issue. Many people in a school have to work with and share pupil data, and protection procedures need to be tight. Make sure everyone is following all the rules and guidelines. As last week's story in The TES involving a lost computer memory stick shows, this is an area where senior leaders can find themselves exposed by other people's mistakes.

Key point: Becta, the educational technology agency, has a website page on "Data handling security guidance for schools", updated on August 27, which will soon be supplemented by good practice guides.

2. Effective response procedures

How well equipped are you, emotionally and mentally, for when things suddenly go pear-shaped? Are you the in-control head who says: "I try to walk to a problem. It is never as bad as at first it seems," as quoted in Critical Incidents: effective responses and the factors behind them, a National College for School Leadership research report? The paper, by primary headteacher Michael Mander, looks at how school leaders respond to the day-to-day nasties - a violently out-of-control child is the opening example - offering useful analysis and advice.

3. Sing your school's praises

Did BBC TV's Last Choir Standing competition make you think your school choir is at least as good as those featured? Many certainly are, and you can showcase them in other arenas - the BBC's Songs of Praise School Choirs of the Year competition for example. Entries for 2009 close on October 27. Blue Coat School and Music College in Coventry won the senior contest this year, with the gospel choir from Twyford High in Acton, west London, a close runner-up.

Anyone who still has to be told why school choirs are important should hear Twyford High's head, Alice Hudson, speaking to the School Music Association's October conference on the positive outcomes of singing in school. The conference programme (on the SMA website) looks irresistible. Ms Hudson is just one of many contributors: Steven Sproat, on the virtues of the ukulele, is another.;

4. Test the water with cadetships

On a cruise ship this summer, I met a smart, young engineering officer cadet who had come from a Cambridgeshire comprehensive. After some research, he had decided that a cadetship with Pamp;O was an attractive vocational, post-A level alternative to university. He was just completing his third year and about to pass into a guaranteed job as an engineering officer.

Do schools know enough about this route? Perhaps not. Debbie Baldie, assistant manager of the Pamp;O cadet programme, says there is a shortage of engineering cadets. "Being an engineer at sea isn't something people necessarily think of," she says. "But it's an excellent way of being paid to train."

It certainly looked that way to me.

Merchant Navy Training Board,

5. Get away on a limited budget

Review the costs of the forthcoming year's planned trips and residential breaks, especially totals for families with more than one child. Not all teachers are sensitive to this. They sometimes home in on venues they know when they could research better value alternatives. The Youth Hostel Association, for example, is currently advertising a programme of key stage 2 residential activity breaks starting at pound;30 for two all-inclusive days.

Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you