1. Refresh your understanding of the new performance management requirements.
The new PM regime has to be in place this school year. Specific things to check include making sure the governors are up to speed with their part in the process. Be sure, too, that all members of staff know how PM will affect them. Assure them, particularly, that the protocols for classroom observation are designed to be fair and supportive.
Key point. The PM cycle is planningmonitoring and supporting reviewing. The most important ingredient is the planning meeting, because everything else arises from it.
2. Check that you are setting an
example on access for people with disabilities.
The Disability and Discrimination Act dispels the myth that "disability" covers a small minority of people. It includes, therefore, dyslexia, epilepsy, learning difficulties. The Act says you have the duty of making "reasonable adjustments" for pupils with disabilities. Most important of all, though, is what the Act calls a "can-do" approach.
All your team should be positive, keen to make things work for all your children. There's no place in an educational establishment, of all places, for "What can we get away with?"
3. Are any of your colleagues cut off from routine communications?
It's a common complaint of part-time staff, for example, that they miss out on announcements and developments. Every visiting music teacher can tell of arriving to find everyone has gone to church or on a trip to Alton Towers. And in many schools cleaners and lunchtime staff are quietly resigned to being entirely out of the loop.
Someone on the senior team just needs to be aware of the problem and devise ways round it. Or is it a symptom of deeper management failings?
4. Are you ready for
By the end of 2008, ContactPoint, the title of the proposed national children's index, will operate in every authority. It's designed to ensure that any agency working with a child can see at a glance whether and which other agencies are involved. Schools need to know about this, and how the common assessment framework (CAF) relates to it. It's important to be positive about what might seem like extra work.
If you really want to bring the message home, get colleagues to log on to the Victoria Climbie inquiry website (it's a difficult read) and remind them that the new procedure is to prevent anything like that from happening again.
5. Start of term. Is everyone safe and well?
Six weeks is enough time for deaths to occur, marriages to break up, serious illnesses to strike. It's also long enough for babies to arrive, engagements or lottery wins. Cast around carefully among staff and children to find out what's gone on, and be ready to do the necessary.
Start of term is busy, but colleagues and children are more pleased by your genuine personal interest than you might imagine. Where are your priorities?
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at firstname.lastname@example.org