1. Aim to be outstanding
Being graded "outstanding" by Ofsted is a cherished accolade and schools want to know how to achieve it. Demonstrating effective use of data seems to be part of it, as does clear evidence of attention to the Every Child Matters agenda. I'm impressed by the multimedia pack From Good to Outstanding from Pearson Publishing, produced in response to demand from the heads of "good" schools. Key point: 14 per cent of schools were graded "outstanding" in 2006-07, 46 per cent were "good", and many were "good with outstanding features", which strongly suggests it is worth investigating how to cross the gap.
2. Think about target-setting day
Quite a few schools now effectively close for a day to offer intensive individual daytime appointments for parents and pupils together. Although there are clear benefits, the head of one large Midlands school has stopped doing it, believing that for them it is not worth the loss of a teaching day.
Key point: schools keeping a careful check on attendance patterns find that any one-day closure affects attendance for the whole of that week.
3. Consider working in Africa
All the evidence is that everyone benefits: you, the African teachers and children, of course, but also your own school and children. The National Association of Head Teachers and Voluntary Service Overseas are running a joint 11-week placement scheme that puts UK school leaders into African schools. The Department for Children, Schools and Families is putting some money into this. VSO points out that it runs a range of placement opportunities for heads and deputies in addition to the NAHT partnership.
4. Advice to beat the bullies
Are your special educational needs pupils singled out by bullies? The learning disability charity Mencap says 82 per cent of children and young people with a learning disability are bullied. The figure is based on workshops it ran in 46 special schools and mainstream units. Some of the stories make harrowing reading, so make time to download and read the report. Mencap is responding with resources and information under the heading of "Don't Stick It, Stop it!".
5. Angel delight at Tesco
Are you sorted for tea towels? The Christmas play is with us and primary schools are looking to their supply of costumes for angels, shepherds, kings, donkeys. And now Tesco is in on the act with a full range of Christmas play costumes at reasonable prices. But it seems a shame to lose out on improvisation and venerable materials from years gone by.
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