Burn-out? More like drop-out

18th May 2001 at 01:00
Phil Taylor can help you control your school stress factor. No worries.

The reason why a lot of what you hear on management courses sounds familiar is that there are only about three and a quarter half-decent ideas in that field. Fortunately, most of them can be applied to education. And very profitably - talk about value-added! So, this is Curriculum Management:

"This is an overhead of the national curriculum. You can collect a copy as you leave. Thank you, that'll be pound;250." Then we have Time Management:

"Sorry I'm late. Virgin trains, you know. Richard Branson - yes, it'd be quicker by balloon. Right, let's not waste time. That's it really. And you owe me pound;500. Thanks." Best of all, Financial Management. "You don't want to be worried with money. Use consultants. Here's my card. That'll be pound;1,000."

One of the most profitable areas must be the management of stress, although I see that some academic has recently had a lot of exposure, and no doubt made a lot of money, by claiming that there's no such thing. You come across people in pubs who make similar claims, but they are usually under the table. The professor is able to quote research and append an extensive bibliography so stress may be an idea whose time is nearly up. I think I'd better launch my money-spinning notion quickly.

Here it is then: The Taylor Index, which is an even more reliable method of ascertaining whether you are suffering from stress than asking your partner. If more than half the following statements apply to you, you are definitely, as we say in the business, "burnt to a frazzle".

* Your personal organiser keeps losing its memory.

* You hit automatic doors before they have a chance to open.

* You discover that you have painstakingly dotted all the t's and crossed all the i's.

* You accost young men in the shopping mall and attempt to confiscate their baseball caps.

* Even your artificial flowers start to wilt.

* You stop throwing your mail from the LEA and the DFEE into the bin and start trying to read it.

* You ask the caller at your front door if he has signed in at reception.

* For the third time, you ask the student teacher why he is wearing a stud in his nose when school rules state quite clearly that only small sleepers in the ear lobe areallowed.

* You catch yourself thinking that your school's position in the league tables bears some relationship to your abilities as a school leader.

* Even your emergency Mozart CD doesn't stop you fuming about Blunkett's latest interview on the Today programme.

* You catch yourself saying to your NASUWT rep: "Oh, come on, be reasonable!" * You find that you are talking as if unauthorised absence is a valid and reliable concept.

* You are surprised at the inability of secretaries, staff, students, and half the people who write to you to observe the conventions concerning the use of the apostrophe.

* You agree to buy 2,000 square yards of carpet from Edward, who has just finished a contract at the airport and is able to do you the most amazing deal as long as you sign there and then.

* You frequently talk to your computer (no, you haven't got speech recognition software).

* You put the phone down on stroppy parents more frequently than once a day.

* Your pile of unread mail, from which DFEE and LEA missives have already been filtered, becomes so huge that it acquires the instability factor of a packet of Weetabix.

* You are under the impression that key skills are to do with the education of locksmiths.

* You find yourself wondering if the Tories' education policies were really as awful as you thought at the time.

* Just for a moment, you wonder whether to apply for a course entitled:

"The Entrepreneurial Head in Secondary Schools: how to secure financial stability investment and growth to raise achievement and meet the challenges of the future".

* Supply teachers start to tell you how the school should be run and you thank them for sharing their thoughts.

* Even your technology department's love of the words "resistant materials" doesn't make you smile.

* You sting like a butterfly and float like a bee.

* You think of more than one topic a week on which your school should have a policy.

* You write a hilarious article for The TES, try to insert new words, change your mind - and then, when the computer asks if you want to save the article, you unaccountably wipe it.

If you find this amusing, you should have seen the original!

Phil Taylor is head of Stamford high school, Tameside

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