5 things to think about this week
Release the potential of your teaching assistants (TAs). You and your teaching colleagues need to multi-task to an almost impossible degree. There are good examples around of how a TA can become expert in a particular aspect of learning. An East Sussex TA I met had a deep understanding of early years number acquisition. And in Wiltshire, special needs assistants' knowledge of specific difficulties such as dyspraxia or ADHD is sought after by their teacher colleagues.
Key point: There's no threat to the teacher's status. The role is more of a researcher. It can bring new enthusiasm and real school benefits.
2. Help with diplomas
Are you in a consortium of secondary schools working together to prepare for the new diplomas? Be aware of the help available from the National College for School Leadership and the Centre for Excellence in Leadership. It is particularly important to know that the existing programme of support for consortia has been updated and is now targeted to individual consortia needs and circumstances.
3. Don't take staff for granted
Consider the impact of out-of-school activities, including residential trips, on your teachers' free time. Conversations with teachers reveal that although many individuals enjoy running clubs, or sports teams or residentials, and never complain, they may be inwardly resentful if they're taken for granted by the leadership. Give them a rest. Let someone else do it. And if they won't, then give it a miss.
4. Find out where the funds are
Do you have colleagues who want to take higher degrees or diplomas, but can't afford the costs? There's a TES online Staffroom thread at the moment called, "Is there a pot of money I don't know about?", where a teacher appeals for information about funding. There's a range of responses, some with information an individual teacher is unlikely to know. It might be a good idea for someone (admin assistant, TA, governor?) to start from this thread, extending on to develop a comprehensive database of opportunities and funding sources.
5. Sense from a Senco
All schools have children who can have special help - "Access Arrangements" - in taking national tests and exams. You can take full advantage of the entitlement if you are careful to work within the rules. So take a look at, and pass on to whoever is responsible, an article on the website of GL Assessment called "Organising for testing for Access Arrangements in a Secondary School". Caroline Read, the author, is a secondary Senco who has provided a detailed guide that will help you ensure all your children make the most of themselves.
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at firstname.lastname@example.org.