Glory days don't come easy - even for 'The Boss'

2nd April 2010 at 01:00

I used to be called Kenny. Now I appear to have morphed into someone called "The Boss". I am not sure how this happened but I think it could have started with our Safer Schools police officer calling me "Guv". I suppose I should be grateful he did not call me "Ma'am".

The problem is, my grandfather was called "The Boss" - even by my grandmother. He was not the happy-go-lucky character I like to think of myself as being and he was very old (or so I thought), very grumpy and extremely bossy. Not like me at all.

Other staff sometimes call me "Miss" - a habit we get into in secondary schools even when we are having a social conversation. Others have been known to call me a variety of things not quite so complimentary but don't do it to my face - well, most don't.

The point is, I have not changed and don't quite understand why I am now called something different? I wonder if it is because our circumstances have changed following an Ofsted "notice to improve" and there is now more of an urgency about what we have to do? Who knows?

Names conjure up different reactions from different people. Prior to receiving that Ofsted report I was generally known as a good headteacher and a successful leader. Now I am known as the one who survived a negative Ofsted judgment. Frankly, I can live with that and can live with whatever name people call me - but I am more worried about the legacy left on the school's name.

Once Ofsted branded the school a failure with "inadequate" attainment, we have had to fight tooth and nail to salvage our tarnished reputation. We know that reputations are easily lost but very difficult to rebuild. Yet we remain positive and optimistic.

I like to think our reputation as an inclusive school is known across the UK and, even, internationally, but it is probably true to say in our local community ours is not quite so rosy.

We remain oversubscribed, but since that negative Ofsted in 2008 the numbers applying for places in Year 7 have dropped. The confidence the community once had in the school has been eroded despite having our best exam results ever at key stage 4 and in our sixth form last summer, and being described as a rapidly improving school in a more positive Ofsted judgment in October.

Ours is also the only secondary school in our area. So if anything happens involving teenagers - even if it is in the evenings when their parents should be responsible - we get the blame.

At our school we know that it is all about our "internal customers" - the pupils, parents and staff, who are our best ambassadors. We have to ensure our children and parents know that ours is a good school. Sometimes we forget to tell them just how good we are and let those with the negative views have the loudest voice. But no longer.

I am confident that with another set of excellent exam results and with a renewed openness and transparency we will recover our popularity and will once again be the school of choice in our area. Our name will then return to its former glory and - like Bruce Springsteen - I'll be prouder of being nicknamed "The Boss".

Kenny Frederick, Headteacher, George Green's School, Tower Hamlets, east London.

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