‘The education secretary is welcome to visit my school. But only when I'm telling my staff they have to work even harder...'
I'm sure I wasn't the only one who relished the idea of education secretary Nicky Morgan sitting the Year 6 Sats, as suggested by Michael Bailey last week.
It made me realise that I’d really like to invite Ms Morgan to come and see us at my school.
I’d hope she would see life in education in a fresh light: because I suspect that when she normally visits schools it’s so choreographed that she probably only sees a few children and only meets teachers who agree with her. Presumably, her minders would keep her away from what normally and actually happens in our schools.
So as headteacher of a large primary school, please let me extend to Ms Morgan an invitation to visit. But only when…
- … I have a staff meeting, and I am again asking staff to fit even more into the already crowded timetable.
- … I have 420 reports to both read and make comments on, the kind of comments which mean you need to know the children.
- … the parent I have been trying to avoid eventually collars me and verbally abuses us about our school.
- … I’m trying as hard I can to balance the budget, but finding that the money just won’t stretch as far as the children need it to.
- … I’m booking a recruitment advert for teachers for the third time, even though I’ve had no interest so far.
- … I’m chairing a reintegration meeting with an excluded child who trashes my room.
- … I’m chairing a pupil progress meeting with staff, trying to persuade them that every child will exceed "age expected achievement", even though I know this is impossible to achieve.
- … I’m attending an evening governors’ meeting and struggling to stay awake having already completed a 12-hour day.
- … the phone rings to say three teachers will be off today. Oh and four dinner ladies. (Where's that tabard?)
- … the caretaker is in hospital so I’m opening up in the morning and locking up in the evening for the next two weeks.
- … Ofsted phones.
- … I’m being chastised by my nearest and dearest for not finding enough time to eat my lunch three times this week.
- … I discover that social media has once again ripped apart the school because headlice are in Year 3 again... and Year 1... and Year 2… and…
- … I’m helping Year 6 teachers fill in their 198 Sats boxes for their 60 children [that's 11,880 boxes]
- … I’m attending another social services meeting which is too upsetting to share with colleagues or loved ones.
- … the local MP phones to ask if he can use the school to promote himself once again.
- … the local authority inspector decides to visit – “because he was in the area” – to discuss the school’s data.
- … I have a puppet in my hand, ready to take assembly.
I can only imagine Ms Morgan will find these wonderful offers too tempting to turn down.
Colin Harris is headteacher of Warren Park Primary School in Havant, Hampshire