5 Things to think about this week
How do you pay for your ICT equipment? Cash down or an annual lease? Peter Hicks, head of Broadclyst Primary in Devon, says: "We lease everything except teachers." That may be an exaggeration, but Broadclyst certainly does more leasing than most, which is how, for example, it can have a computer "super suite" (in fact, the Year 6 classroom) that would have cost pound;250,000 to equip if the school had paid for it up front. So why doesn't everybody do it? Usually, it's caution. You're committed to your annual lease payments, which means if pupil numbers fall you could be in trouble.
Key point: What matters is how you use the equipment. At Broadclyst, ICT drives and supports learning, which makes the school successful, drawing in pupils and keeping the budget healthy.
2. Where the real dangers lie
How dangerous is your playground? Not very, probably. Seventeen children were killed in playground accidents in the 20 years up to 2000, and some of those deaths involved vehicles. The other big parental fear - abduction by a stranger - is also rare. Each case is one too many, but the lesson is that we really need to look elsewhere - at smoking and under-age drinking, for example - for bigger risks to children. The Royal Society of Arts report, "Risk and Childhood", presents the facts that correct misconceptions around childhood dangers. You could use it to add substance to PSHE discussions, as well as in work with parents and governors.
3. Software tracks truants
Keep up to date with attendance trends. A Staffordshire student support officer pointed out to me recently that good attendance isn't so much a matter of running high-profile, whole-school initiatives, but of using good software to identify rapidly the pupils who are staying away. Then you can tackle them individually with a strong student support team. His school uses "Sims" e-attendance from Capita, with analysis by "Target" from TASC Software.
4. Put someone on doughnut duty
Sorry, but I just have to give a plug for National Doughnut Week, which runs from May 10 (a fortnight tomorrow). If your staffroom isn't regularly re-energised by the arrival of that wonderful paper bag full of doughnuts - courtesy of whoever had time to buy them on the way in - then it's time it was. Buy from a baker who's agreed to donate 10p for each doughnut to The Children's Trust, the national charity that works with children who have multiple disabilities and complex health needs. But if you're bothered by doughnut-guilt, you'll find other ways of helping the trust.
5. Take Brighton line to revising
Take a look at a revision website being set up as a private venture by teachers at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College, and see if your exam students might be interested. They know many students just don't know how to revise properly for exams. The expectation is that they will develop content and exchange ideas and resources. It's in early days, but it needs student interest if it's going to grow.
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh (firstname.lastname@example.org).