5 things to think about this week
Heads say that some teachers don't always correctly mark children present or absent. Apart from the implications for the accuracy of the school's performance figures, it has been known for parents to receive mistaken phone calls about their child's supposed absence. John Gregory, assistant principal at Minsthorpe Community College near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, says the answer is to run a low tolerance policy. "You have to pursue it rigorously, without ever letting up. You can't leave it to chance."
2. How welcoming are you to parents who arrive unannounced?
It can be difficult, particularly in secondaries. In some cases, parents might be sent away to make an appointment. At Colmers School and Sports College in Birmingham, every parent who arrives is seen by a member of the pastoral team. "It's a matter of making it a priority," says Jo Pavey, deputy head. "If there's no one else available, I'll see them. Very rarely would any parent not be seen within half an hour."
3. Plan for your retirement
Eventually you will retire: perhaps not for 40 years, but are you planning ahead? The heads' and teachers' associations all have cautionary tales of people on the brink of retirement or beyond who realised too late that they should have made better financial plans. The earlier you sort things out, the more treats you will be able to give your grandchildren. Under the telling headline "I should have thought about it earlier", the Association of School and College Leaders is running a series of seminars for people coming up to retirement - which means any time in the next five years. Open to non-members. www.ascl.org.uk
4. Would you like to win pound;15,000 for your school?
The Ashden Trust, one of the Sainsbury trusts, makes awards to schools for their energy policies. One is pound;15,000, the other is pound;5,000. Last year's winners were both primaries - Woodheys in Cheshire and Seaton in Devon. Entries this year close on December 4, but you'd better put your skates on because the entry process is demanding.
Details and a form at www.ashdenawards.org
5. Meet your Year 7 parents
This is the time of year when the parents of children new to secondary school are anxious to know how things are going. So how do you deal with their concern? Two schools I know run "How's my child settling in?" evenings, one giving five-minute appointments, the other allowing half an hour.
Send your suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at firstname.lastname@example.org.