5 things to think about this week
Are you a headteacher leaving this summer? Try to make a clean break and not leave anything behind that might become an irritation or an embarrassment. So don't accept an indifferently executed portrait of yourself for the school hall, or donate an annual handwriting prize and expect to come back each year to present it. Both of these are real examples I've heard about, by the way. Above all, please don't accept an invitation to be on the governing body. (Yes, that's actually happened, too.)
Key point: There's only one good reason ever to go back, and that's for a former colleague's retirement. Even then, best to do it quietly and privately.
2. Learn to be a governor online
My niece's husband has just been elected a parent governor. He's on the mother of all learning curves, and has eagerly grabbed my offer to act as a private hotline. It's really important that governors know their responsibilities, and yet it's difficult for many of them to attend training sessions. The web is one answer, and the GEL (Governors East Learning) online package from the Eastern Leadership Centre is being taken up by an increasing number of authorities - 16 so far - beyond its East of England base.
3. Lap up laptop technology
Geoff Staniforth, director of behaviour and attendance at Ashby School in Leicestershire, writes to share his enthusiasm for using software to record and track pupil behaviour. Without it, pupils can get away with continuing low-level disruption lesson to lesson because teachers don't have time to write everything down. But, says Geoff, when it's just a matter of a quick entry on a laptop or a PDA, the record builds up. "They will be logged every time and consequences follow," he says.
Key point: Geoff points out that it's equally easy to log good behaviour, and Ashby has seen a 400 per cent increase in staff giving positive rewards.
Ashby uses Bromcom's "e-behaviour" (www.bromcom.com). Other products include "PARS" from Tasc Software www.tascsoftware.co.uk and SIMs "Lesson Monitor' www.capitaes.co.uk
4. Make your mark early
The website for Enterprise Week 2008 (November 17-23) has just gone live. Last year, 38,000 pupils took part in the Make Your Mark Challenge that starts the week off. There's huge interest in enterprise and creativity in schools at the moment, and this is an ideal focus for it, coming just at the right time a couple of months into the new term. You need to go on the website now, do preliminary planning up to the end of term, then hit the ground running in September.
5. Take a reality check
Before you're carried away with your Building Schools for the Future (BSF) vision, hypnotised by that architect's model in the entrance hall, read the article "Grand Designs" in the latest issue of Report from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. It's a dose of reality from people with experience. Incidentally, if you're a long way down the list for BSF, I hope you're more optimistic than the head I met recently, who said: "I think we're Wave 15. By then I assume we'll get our windows cleaned."
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at firstname.lastname@example.org.