The head who puts paperwork firmly in the bin

14th May 2010 at 01:00
Time is better spent engaging pupils, says leader whose online campaign wages war on excessive bureaucracy

Headteacher Kevin Bullock is attempting to launch a revolution from his 200-pupil school in a Cambridgeshire village - with his office wastepaper bin as his main sidekick.

The head's plan may seem almost too simple but it has won his school, Fordham CofE Primary, three outstanding Ofsted inspections. His crusade is to cut excessive paperwork and concentrate on engaging pupils.

Mr Bullock, who has held a number of advisory roles for the Government, has set up an online petition calling for it to REPAIR - reduce excessive paperwork and irrelevant regulations. The campaign has attracted more than 500 signatories, and counting. He is also holding seminars for other heads in a bid to get his message out.

Mr Bullock has previously worked with the Cabinet Office on the issue of leadership in education but, he said, "too much was getting lost in translation".

The campaign is rooted in Mr Bullock's own experience of being written off at an early age.

"I left school at 15 with a 250-yard swimming certificate as my only qualification," he said. "I just didn't engage. I was allowed to get away with doing very little at six, seven and eight.

"When I left school my dad said I had to get a trade, so I trained as a motor mechanic. It wasn't until I was about 18 or 19 that I thought there must be more to life."

Mr Bullock went back to school and then on to take a B Ed. Now he is a consultant leader for the National College and his local authority and a National Professional Qualification for Headship tutor. He has carried out research for the National College on what makes a successful head.

He said: "I am able to motivate children because I was not motivated myself. I'm a step ahead of them. If you can engage children on an emotional level, they can succeed and take on the world."

What stops this happening, he says, is unnecessary paperwork.

"We follow the safeguarding rules. I think some of it is daft, but I do it.

"But I don't do Assessing Pupils' Progress. It is not statutory and it has been plucked out of the air by bureaucrats, by people who would not last five minutes in the classroom, and imposed on all schools. Some schools are having two or three meetings a week to catch up with the wretched thing - all it's doing is producing bucketfuls of paper."

To highlight the issue, Mr Bullock set up the online petition, which has attracted the support of TES columnist Mike Kent, head of Comber Grove primary, Southwark.

Mr Kent said: "It's terrifying, nothing changes. Ofsted said the self-evaluation form would be far simpler but the guidance is 100 pages long, it's unbelievable. They just shuffle the paperwork around.

"You can't ignore it all, and if I was a younger head I would be stressed, but after 30 years a lot of it I know I don't need to do - and no one will ring to check."

Mr Bullock will take the petition to the next Government. But he is not counting on it to act - which is why he hosted his first seminar for 12 heads and deputies about personalised leadership.

He said: "I love headship. My motive and passion is to get involved, to make the job easier. That's where I'm coming from."

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