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Sharpen up and chuck out

So a new year begins and it is time to polish those shoes, sharpen those pencils and push off once more for new hopes and expectations, from the preparations for SATs intervention programmes to post-mocks mentoring schedules.

You can do it, whether Christmas was spent recovering from winter viruses or collating performance grades ready for summative reports. But how do you lift your department or pastoral team in time for predicted grades, self-evaluation form reviews or performance management observations?

First, you listen openly and without prejudice to my story of Davina, a friend who "cleansed" my house when I moved in. She threw rice around the house; "donged" hand bells and "chinged" cymbals into corners of "stagnant energy."

Yes, I was doubtful too, but still every new year's day, the boys and I open every drawer, cupboard, window and door in an attempt to "blow through". For 15 freezing minutes, we allow the trials of the old year to blow out and the aspirations of the new to blow in.

In a similar vein, I advise you to clear out classrooms and the departmental or pastoral base. Cleanse surfaces and files of papers relating to old incidents, which are no longer relevant. Then, in a flurry of sage-burning, allow yourself to let go of the opportunities not taken and the mistakes made.

That way, every child who enters your classroom in 2008 will be made to feel welcome and will feel empowered to chase Smart targets in an attempt to redress wrongs done and study left undone. Call an amnesty on missing course work and lost books, free of recrimination against miscreant learners from 2007.

Children always amaze me with their ability to forget the abhorrent last lesson and the harsh words spoken in tiredness and stress at the end of term. Let us learn from them and start afresh.

A happy new year to you!

Di Beddow, Deputy head, Hinchingbrooke School in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

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