Head of Department's tasks on Results Day
I started my first job as Head of Department in a new school last September, and it has just dawned on me that I am supposed to be in school on A-level and GCSE results days! What am I supposed to do?
I am just hoping that the What am I supposed to do? refers to what tasks you are expected to carry out, and not that you have just realised that you are booked to be in Miami or Mallorca on that day! If it is the latter, then you just have to come clean and tell them asap at school that you won’t be able to be there.
Many schools expect – or at least hope – that the heads of department will be there on results days, although I am not sure if this is an actual legal requirement in maintained schools. I doubt it actually! There may be something about it in the closely-written pages of the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document 2015, but I’ll leave you to plough through that, not me.
However, most independent schools do indeed expect or require this, and a great many heads of department in other schools see this as part of their role to be in school for part of the morning on the results days.
Your professional expertise
The main point of your presence – apart from congratulating the students and indicating to the photographer from the local rag which are the pretty girls with good results – is to provide your professional expertise if there are any surprises.
You are not supposed to produce an analysis of the examination results, as this, formerly one of the 21 specific administrative and clerical tasks that teachers in maintained schools did not do, would still count as routinely participating in tasks of a clerical or administrative nature.
The School Teachers' Pay and Conditions 2015 says :A teacher should not be required routinely to participate in any administrative, clerical and organisational tasks which do not call for the exercise of a teacher’s professional skills and judgment,
You should contact the Union if you are asked to do this.
But you most certainly can and will give an informed judgment on that analysis.
This is where your skill and knowledge will be invaluable. You will have a pretty good idea, from mocks; from coursework; from any units that students have already sat, what the results are likely to be. But from time to time, rogue results on a wide scale show us that surprises can happen. And that’s when you’ll be needed, to give advice to the exams officer about whether or not there should be any 'enquiries about results', as the awarding bodies quaintly call the procedure by which you protest about an A* student only getting a C.
If you are unsure what this actually entails, you might like to watch this short video made by one awarding body.
For A-levels, you can also give advice to the Head of Sixth, who may be ringing universities about students who just missed their offer grades, and that’s a pretty important task that can make a huge difference to a student’s chances.
So if you can’t be there, do make sure that someone knows where to find any notes that you may leave about students’ expected results (in addition to the data that will be on the school systems), especially if there are any known issues such as a student suffering a bereavement during the exam period.
I think that you’ll find being in school on results days a very rewarding experience.