Gospel of the happy staff

17th June 2005 at 01:00
Dear headteacher, do you want to know the secret of a contented staff? Follow my 10 commandments.

1. You shall make sure you are on the timetable to teach. After all, a consultant surgeon operates yet you, first among equals, do not teach.

You shall also make sure you are timetabled to teach one of the most difficult classes in the school as well as one of the best. This will ensure you maintain contact with the subject you are trained to teach and stop you going to some of those boring meetings you have to attend. At all times you shall expect high standards both academically and behaviourally from both these classes.

2. You shall cover for absent or sick teachers every week - so make sure you are put down to cover a less able and more challenging class. This will surely help teacher morale. You did not become a head to escape from your pupils, did you?

3. You should not assume that the teacher is to blame for not making the lessons "interesting" when there are problems in the class. You know only too well that life is sometimes boring too.

4. Do not make statements like "staff are not doing duties", but deal with the recalcitrant teachers. Frequent teacher absentees should be dealt with too.

5. You should not call a meeting unless absolutely necessary. Your staff deserve a work-life balance.

6. You should not talk to staff only when there are problems. You expect them to praise pupils, so make sure that you praise your teachers.

7. Allow staff discretionary absences for funerals and serious difficulties. After all, you will need them yourself too.

8. Fully implement all facets of the workforce agreement for surely you would want your staff to be teachers, not administrators. You know that they waste their expertise otherwise.

9. When you get a letter from a parent criticising a teacher, do not assume it is the gospel truth before investigating the problem thoroughly - your teacher might just be blameless.

10. You should not hide in your room with the door shut. Go and ask your teachers who is working well and who is spoiling the lessons. Deal with the latter.

Your school will be more successful for obeying these commandments. Now spread the gospel.

Jim Goodall is secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers' Torfaen branch

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