1. Who knows better: you or Ofsted?
There's a useful thread on whether members of senior management know their school better than the inspectors do. It's in the Ofsted section of the TES Staffroom forum. The crux of the matter is having the capacity to analyse pupil performance at a level of detail well beyond the standard data to which Ofsted has access. One contributor to the site says: "If you have your own data, you are in a hugely strong position when Ofsted comes. It is no good telling them about your policies. You need numbers".
Key point: There's good pupil-tracking and analysis software around. Research it; talk to user schools. When you've mastered it, you'll fire up the smartboard in your room and say to your inspector: "Yes, that's true enough, but if you then look here, and here, you'll see that it's not quite how it seems ..."
2. Stepping down
Do you and your colleagues know about phased retirement? It's a new way of helping heads and teachers aged 55 and over who are in the teachers' pension scheme to step down to a less demanding job - part-time, perhaps - without too much financial pain. Along with your smaller salary you can take some of your retirement benefits, still saving the bulk of them for your proper retirement. All is well explained at teacherspensions.co.uk
3. How secure are your sports clubs?
Be ready to advise parents about their children's spare-time clubs. Lots of boys and girls, particularly of primary age, are members of football, swimming, dance and other clubs. They are outside your responsibility, but you often have informal links, or share premises and grounds. Parents will ask you about them, too, and if they ever wonder about how they're run - whether the police checks are in place and so on - there's a splendid leaflet from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport called "Helping Keep Your Child Safe in Sport". It provides all the right questions to ask and it's a useful aide-memoire for your school's extra-curricular activities. See: www.culture.gov.uk
4. Send 'em off, Ref!
Support the "Show Racism the Red Card" schools competition. The organisation is a powerful anti-racist voice, tapping straight into our children's enthusiasm for football, using some high-profile role models. The competition is varied and creative, with visual art, poetry, story or film, and there are lots of prize categories. Last year, 610 schools entered and the prizegiving was held at Wembley Stadium. Register by February 29. Entries in by March 28. All the details are available at www.srtrc.org
5. Because, because, because ...
Try not to be the Wizard of Oz this week. I met a young teacher recently who used the term "the Wizard of Oz syndrome". Asked to explain, she said: "It's when your headteacher is very difficult to reach, and when you do negotiate the yellow brick road and get there, it all turns out to be a bit of a let-down."
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at firstname.lastname@example.org.