5. Things to think about this week

18th July 2008 at 01:00
1. Consider off-site solutions

Are you working hard to keep pupils from truancy or exclusion? Secondary schools are increasingly looking for outreach centres where children can learn for some, or all, of the time without coming into school. Church halls, community centres and disused shops on estates have all been pressed into service. The most creative solution of all, for my money, is one adopted by Hesketh Fletcher High in Wigan. It got the housing department to provide two council flats for off-site learning. Everyone wins, because keeping local teenagers off the streets hits targets in every council department, not just education.

Key point: Two approaches make initiatives such as this work: the creative use of wise and experienced support staff, and technology that keeps pupils linked to the school curriculum network.

2. Reimburse for resources

On the last day of the year, gather the staff who are leaving, tune your guitar and sing to them the lines: "I'm comin' home, I've done my time. Now I've got to know what is and isn't mine ... ". The point being that teachers sometimes think their carefully built up resources are their personal property, when in fact they belong to the school. So, have a clear and agreed policy about the ownership of resources, and make sure everyone is reimbursed for things they buy for work.

Key point: The eye surgeon who operated on me some years ago had bought the necessary kit with his own money, out of frustration. But he never doubted that it belonged to the eye hospital.

3. Summer school for teachers

Draw your teachers' attention to the National Union of Teachers' information technology summer schools. Available in Sheffield and London, they are aimed at upgrading teachers' skills in digital imaging, using smart whiteboards and publishing. They would be good continuing professional development for colleagues who have just been recruited or promoted to jobs where this expertise will be called on.

Key point: The courses are open to all qualified teachers (not just NUT members) and the biggest attraction of all is that they are free.

- www.teachers.org.uktrainingSumSch-08-Home.php

4. Get a grip on confiscation

It is that time of year when teachers feverishly search their desks for confiscated items they feel they should return. The 2006 Education Act supposedly reinforced teachers' right to confiscate, but according to Dai Durbridge, an education lawyer, it actually confused the issue. If his article in 'Legal Expertise', the free e-bulletin, does not answer your questions, it is because some are essentially unanswerable. He does, however, give some sound advice and flag up the right warnings.

- www.teachingexpertise.come-bulletinslegal-expertise

5. Co-ordinate holiday access

Be clear with everyone about access to the school during the summer holidays. Some teachers like to come back as soon as term finishes to tie up loose ends and throw out things. Others prefer to forget it all until the last week of the holiday. If there is no co-ordination, you will face flak from site and administration staff. You need to think about access in the holidays, especially if you are new in leadership and this is your first end of the year. Get the right people together and sort out the best possible compromise. Then forget about it and enjoy your own break.

Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at gerald.haigh@btinternet.com.

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