1. Start now on your 2008 secondary curriculum
Secondary schools begin teaching the revised curriculum (launched in July) in September 2008. According to John Gregory, deputy principal at Minsthorpe Community College in West Yorkshire, the time to start detailed planning is right now.
"In the first week of term," he tells me, "I sat down with the head for two and a half hours to plan out a process of consultation for staff, governors, parents and students, which will lead us into a curriculum we can take forward from 2008."
Key point: The timetabling process for September starts in spring - and, as the timetable must serve the curriculum (rather than vice- versa), there is no time to lose.
2. Check the quality of your target-setting
You might be encouraged to know that Ofsted has been thinking about it too. Some schools, they say, are not as good as they should be at ac
hieving a balance between setting realistic but challenging targets. So, from this month, the all-important online self-evaluation form (SEF) will include the question "How effectively are challenging targets being used to raise standards for all learners?"
* http: ofstednews.ofsted.gov.ukarticle143
Key point: As with everything on the SEF, hard evidence will be required to support your answer.
3. Keep one step ahead of your attendance figures
They may look fine now, but they usually tail off as the term goes on. In August, Kevin Brennan, Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, wrote to children's services directors underlining the Government's commitment to improving attendance, so expect attention from the authority and Ofsted.
If you have a good ICT-based attendance system, use it to catch overall trends early, then home in on who is staying away, when and with whom. This will give you an "audit trail" of evidence.
Key point: Children who are not in school are certainly not involved in your Every Child Matters agenda.
4. In primary, look at your financial controls
The Financial Management Standard in Schools (FMSiS), already in place in secondaries, will start arriving in primary and special schools this year. Experience tells me that some primaries, with limited financial expertise on site, may (perish the thought) have allowed some financial shortcuts to creep in. Do not be caught out, your authority will be on the case.
The FMSiS website is good and the National Association of Head Teachers is running a practical course on the subject.
Key point: Money is a pain to deal with, but it pays to handle it well.
5. Think about security now you have new people on board
Is everyone aware of the possibility of walk-in thefts, for example? And (a new one on me) do you post a school floor plan on your school website? Or boast about your new ICT provision? Hertfordshire is just one authority that advises against it. Read their advice at l http:www.thegrid.org.ukschoolwebsafetyschool.shtml
Key point: You think you know who your website is for. But once it is up and running, anyone can access it.
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at firstname.lastname@example.org