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Talking shop;Problems;Questions amp; answers

Former headteacher Sue Mulvany gets to the heart of issues that concern you


I have been teaching for three years now and love my work. I am used to teaching the Reception year curriculum, which I have taught since graduation, and I believe I have done a good job in helping to make this area one of the school's strengths. Recently, the headteacher told me that he was thinking about placing me in key stage 2 for the next academic year. I already feel nervous about the prospect and it's beginning to affect my teaching. Can I refuse to do as he asks?


Well, I suppose you could refuse but it might not do you any good. The bottom line is that the headteacher is empowered to deploy staff as he or she thinks fit.

You are quite right to be concerned about the proposal if what you've told me is all the information you have been given.

Before you get to a stand-off position however, you need to think a bit more about the pros and cons of the proposal and be prepared to ask a few questions and enter a dialogue with the head. First, you can't say the head isn't giving you enough notice. However, if the intervening time is not spent constructively, preparing, training and supporting you, then the length of notice will only serve to escalate your anxiety. If that were the case then you would have been put in an invidious position.

Second, the head may be doing your career a big favour in the long run. He may have identified your potential and want to give you the broadest experience base he can. You'll be glad of that in years to come. Third, you need to find out what year he has in mind for you. There is a big difference between the curriculum in Year 3 and Y6. If you are prepared to have a professional conversation with your head you may well come to an agreement about your career development, which might include a staged progression through KS1 and into KS2.

You would benefit from experiencing the reality of curriculum and child development and be well placed to take advantage of promotion opportunities. Remember the old adage: "If you can teach Reception you can teach anything".

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