5 Things to Think About this Week
1. It's the week to beat the bullies
This year's theme for Anti-Bullying Week, November 17-21, is Being different - belonging together. The website has lots of information and free resources.
With this in mind, don't ignore the way many young people use aggressively homophobic language against any child who seems a bit different. Stonewall's School Report for 2007 says: "Homophobic bullying can affect any child, young person or staff member who does not conform to ways of behaving that are traditionally associated with being 'masculine' or 'feminine'."
Earlier this year, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers called teachers' failure to tackle homophobic name-calling "a wide-ranging conspiracy of silence".
www.antibullyingweek.co.uk; www.atl.org.uk; www.stonewall.org.uk
2. Lunch in school can benefit everyone
If you don't have a lunchtime stay-on-site policy, at least consider consulting about it. The School Food Trust's website, Million Meals, has a number of case studies of schools that keep children in school over the lunch hour. All the problems - and the policies to deal with them - are detailed, together with the very real benefits for children, staff and the community. Punctuality and learning are better in the afternoon, too.
3. Bloggers to boost your data security
Do you have lots of laptops floating around? And what about memory sticks? Do you wake up in the night wondering which of them contain pupil data and are even now on sale in the local pub? Ray Fleming, Microsoft's UK education manager, has an award-winning blog on the Microsoft site dealing in detail with many security issues.
Apart from explaining about encryption for laptops and memory sticks, he has prevailed on Ed Gibson, Microsoft's security expert, to write a very lucid article on the subject. It's Windows-orientated of course, but that covers a lot of users, and the principles are generic.
4. Strategic planning with a positive slant
Have you used "Appreciative Inquiry"? It's an approach to strategic planning widely used by managers and leaders in and beyond education. Essentially, it starts by finding and nurturing what works, rather than by looking for the problems - looking for the best in people, which is what teachers prefer to do anyway.
Adrian Osborne, the relatively new head at Kempsey Primary in Worcester, is a keen advocate. "It's really potent," he says. "One of our governors, manager of a big retail store, took it away to use it with his staff."
Adrian encountered AI with HTI Leadership, with which he did the National College for School Leadership's Head for the Future programme, but it's well documented apart from that - for example at:
5. Give your governors a shot at the title
Do you have a brilliant governing body? If so, its members should be recognised and celebrated, because they're undoubtedly giving huge amounts of time and emotional energy to the job. Next year, at an awards ceremony in Birmingham, the National Governors' Association (NGA) will for the first time be giving awards for governance in three categories - Challenging Circumstances, Support for Governance, and Exceptional Projects. The deadline for nominations is December 12. Details and the nomination form are available on the NGA website.
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at firstname.lastname@example.org.