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Ten steps to a happier day

Headteachers can take 10 steps to immediately improve school atmosphere and achievement, Jim Bleakley, head of Heywood Community High, Lancashire, told the conference. "Meetings are a disaster area," Mr Bleakley said.

He recommends greeting every pupil on meeting, teaching with the classroom doors open, moving the senior management team into an open-plan office, making the staffroom a student-free haven, and dealing with difficult situations by doing the unexpected. "Always keep them guessing."

He also recommended avoiding a work diary that restricts access to people, encouraging students to use equipment unsupervised, abolishing the mid-morning break when most problems occur and replacing it with five-minute breaks between periods, advising teachers to vary their route to school and wearing a VIP badge.

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