Headteacher for a day? It'll be a cakewalk

Adi Bloom

Pupils to get a taste of life the other side of the staffroom door today as they take the places of teachers and other workers.Louisa Morgan will arrive at work today before 8am. She will stand in the playground watching pupils arrive, then she will settle down in her office with a cup of coffee, brought to her by the school administrator.

Louisa Morgan is 10 years old.

The Year 6 pupil at Broadwas Primary in Worcestershire, is taking part in 11 Million Takeover Day, a new scheme run by the children's commissioner for England. For a single day, pupils across the country are invited to take over adults' jobs, either at school or elsewhere.

At Broadwas, all 21 staff positions will be filled by key stage 2 pupils. Teachers have prepared easy-to-deliver lessons, which the pupils will conduct.

Louisa will shadow Sandra Logan, the headteacher, as she attends meetings and observes a reception class.

"It'll be fun being in the staffroom, eating cake and drinking coffee," said Louisa. "You always hear teachers laughing in there. It sounds like they're enjoying themselves."

Pupils will also take over support and administrative roles. Prepubescent lunchtime supervisors are already planning to serve themselves additional portions of chips.

Matthew Bladen, 10, will shadow the school administrator. "I'll be picking up the phone, receipting and invoicing," he said. "I'll probably have to count things.

"We're also going to do a fire drill, so I'll get to turn on the alarm, tell everyone how badly they did."

For Matthew, telling other people what to do will be one of the key perks. "I can boss pupils around, ask them to get me things," he said. "And I can tell the teachers, 'Oi, get me some biscuits'."

One aim of the day, of course, is to help shatter such myths. While pupils may assume that Ms Logan spends her day eating cake, the reality is less glamorous. "One of my first jobs is emptying the dishwasher," she said. "And the school secretary lays down salt when there's ice outside. Everyone assumes these things get done, but no one knows who does it. It will give pupils an insight into what we do."

Local authorities, for their part, are inviting children to be council workers for a day, and several Connexions services are offering pupils the opportunity to help dispense careers advice.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools has invited pupils to say what attributes they would like to see in new teachers. Indeed, another aim of the day is to let children give their opinions on the adults. Ms Logan approaches this with some trepidation. "Children are very good at summing up honestly," she said. "I wonder if they'll think I'm doing a good job."

The day will also give an insight into careers that children might like to pursue themselves. But Louisa does not think that she will be corrupted by her brief taste of power.

"I don't know if I want to be a headteacher when I'm older," she said. "But I wouldn't want my own office. It might be a bit lonely."


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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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