Chris's botty blog stands test of pupils' cheek

15th December 2006 at 00:00
Head who bares all joins growing army of bosses writing online diaries "the physio has identified an issue with my piriformis muscle, deep in the backside," Chris Curtis wrote candidly in his blog earlier this year. "It also explains a lot of the vague aches and pains in the sides and back of my legs."

It is not unusual for a blogger to reveal intimate details on the web, but Mr Curtis is one of a new breed: headteachers who find time to write online diaries.

More than one in 10 now dabble in blogging, according to a survey of 360 heads conducted by the Association of School and College Leaders and the publishers Emap.

Where most would shy away from exposing themselves to the ridicule of pupils and staff, Mr Curtis is more than happy to share his family news, hobbies and sporting injuries with the world.

Anyone from the school caretaker to the troublemakers in Year 9 can visit the 48-year-old's site and find out about his passions for orienteering and astronomy. They can also keep up-to-date with his physiotherapy treatments.

Mr Curtis, who runs St Bede's school in Redhill, Surrey, does not know any other heads who dare to write a blog. "At other schools I have worked in, I would have been more wary of writing anything personal," he said. "It's not an issue here: the pupils are interested in me as a person and we treat them the same way.

However, he has received some stick from a handful of his 1,700 pupils.

"Some will come up to me and say it's the most boring thing they have ever read; others tell me they thought it was interesting."

Mr Curtis find adding to his two-year-old blog is a great way to relax after a hard week. "It's like therapy," he said. "I don't generally write about education, although I occasionally mention overwork."

Primary heads have also picked up the idea and encouraged other members of staff to follow suit. Penny Cox, head of Holy Trinity CE primary and nursery in Richmond, Surrey, finds it a good way of improving communications. Many of her staff also write their own blogs, but their subject matter is based around school trips and life in class.

"We wanted to be a more open learning community," she said.

Professor Stephen Heppell, an academic who has specialised in online education, believes hundreds of headteachers write online under pseudonyms.

"I'm sure a lot of heads are keeping blogs," he said. "I would say it was more like six out of ten who are doing it. There will be some who are writing promotional blogs about their school, and others just writing general news.

"But it's a tough job, so there must be many writing anonymously in order to ventilate."

Mr Curtis' blog can be read at Put your own stories on 'The TES' blogs at


If pupils want to see pictures of Angus MacRury in a dress (right), they need only log onto his blog. Mr MacRury, head of Innerwick primary in East Lothian, proudly displays the photos taken during last month's Children in Need event, when he donned a size 12 skirt and blouse.

"The children thought I was mad," he said. "The sight of me in a skirt will be their lasting memory of primary education."

Unfortunately, most of the blogs produced by heads who identify themselves are less entertaining. Many consist of announcements to parents and pupils that they could have included in newsletters: exam successes or parking arrangements.

Heads are also gaining confidence in their computing skills through blogging. The ASCLEmap survey found that nearly three-quarters of heads felt confident using technology, that five per cent had created podcasts and that 65 per cent were comfortable creating material for websites.

But they have a long way to go if they are to catch up with such classroom bloggers as Frank Chalk, whose online rants have provided the basis for a book, and Henry Walpole, a fortnightly columnist with 'The TES'.

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