Coping with the inevitable changes in life

TESS starts the session with a new column, alternating weekly between a primary and a secondary headteacher's views

I am delighted that a primary headteacher will share this column with a secondary colleague. Is this parity for primary and secondary headteachers? What a good start to a session!

Hopefully this column will give you all an opportunity to share the joys, concerns and issues associated with our work. Am I delighted to be the chosen one? Well, in a moment of weakness I agreed to take on this onerous task and to do my best. At this stage I have that thought which is common to many primary heads: "I need to say 'No' more often."

Let's start with who I am. I am the headteacher at Queensferry Primary in Edinburgh. Having many years of experience teaching in both the west and east of the country, it would be fun to think that I know more than a few members of the profession across Scotland. I invite everyone who cares to, to send me details of issues they would like to see aired here.

So off we go. We are at the start of a new session with the inevitable change which is a part of our lives. Probationer teachers and the associated tasks filled the end of last session for me and will be a major change in staffing for most of us. Everything seemed to be happening at the last possible minute.

We all receive so many glossy leaflets about a range of topics that I found myself wishing for the one which would tell parents all of the new things which were associated with having a trainee teacher. Issues such as the benefits of having two teachers teaching a primary class; how the curriculum will be shared and managed, and much more.

Will one teacher be class free for 0.3 or will our newest teachers take small groups in this time to learn how to teach mathematics, for example, freed from the organisation of managing the whole class at the same time? How will we keep supply teachers who are covering the remaining 0.3? Will they disappear early in the session when a post becomes available somewhere else?

I have so many questions and I spent a substantial part of the last two weeks of last session answering, as best I could, questions like these from parents.

However, it is special to welcome these very enthusiastic new members of the profession into a post which is excellent from their point of view. I'm sure this is a topic which we will return to later in the term.

It was not so easy to bid farewell to a very good first year teacher, who had had a difficult last few weeks of last session wondering what was in store for her. She met one of our new teachers and looked more worried by the day. This story had a happy ending. She moved on to a post nearer to her flat in the city and was last seen wandering around the school with a big smile on her face.

Are your stories of last year's beginning teachers different? Are the problems around the country similar? I'd love to hear some details.

"Parity" is not the word which comes to mind when I think about the new post of business manager, which is no doubt named differently around the councils. Secondary schools will have one per school while many primary schools share one. We can only guess how this will work but look forward very much to this different type of help.

I await a postbox full of interesting ideas of topics for discussion in this column. So it is over to you.

To send your views to Sheilah Jackson, e-mail week: John Mitchell, head of Kilsyth Academy, North Lanarkshire

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