Logo lark is a National obsession
Last term we became an accredited Leadership Development School for the National College, meaning that I'll be helping to train future headteachers.
This came as a bit of a surprise, because I'm hardly flavour of the month as far as current school leadership and management practices are concerned. In fact, I spend quite a bit of my time showing why many of them don't work. Nevertheless, our School Improvement Partner, who recommended us, recognises how well our school works, and there should always be room for an alternative view.
That is certainly how our first trainee feels. After spending several days in my school, he's been delighted - and a little surprised - to find that you don't have to run around monitoring your teachers with a clipboard every five minutes. Neither do you have to scrutinise (what an ugly word this is) their planning every Monday morning, or insist they feed masses of irrelevant data into a computer to find out how their children are performing.
He has discovered that if teachers are let off the leash, they'll have time to develop inventive, inspiring lessons, and they'll spend far more time simply enjoying their job. The children will benefit, achievement will be higher, and morale in the school will be lifted significantly. I shall be fascinated to see how he eventually runs his first school, and whether he can survive the pressure that heads experience attempting to make them lead their schools in the currently prescribed manner.
After signing up with the college three times because it seemed to have lost the first two electronic applications, I eventually received a 22-page document about working in partnership with it. I put aside the 98-page Ofsted manual on writing your Self Evaluation Plan and the 56-page guide to filling in your Financial Management Systems Audit Form, and settled down to read it.
The first page told me I would be "inspiring leaders to improve children's lives". Naturally, it hadn't occurred to me that headteachers might be influencing children's lives, so that was helpful.
Next came a page with a big blank green square. "Visual Identity Guidelines" was written beside it. Perhaps, I thought, I'll be required to send a nice photograph of myself.
But no, "visual identity" refers to the college logo, and, lucky chap that I am, I can now use it on my headed notepaper. This is in line with the current practice of putting a logo from a relevant body on your school notepaper when you achieve its particular goal.
"Healthy School" status? Add the logo! An "Inclusive School"? There's a logo for that, too. I recently received a letter from a school with so many logos there was hardly any space to put the writing.
There are five full pages telling me how to use the college's logo. I'm advised to employ the full colour version wherever possible, but I must observe the exclusion zone and minimum size rules. I can use the black and white version if I subscribe to the Ned Ludd school of printing and technology.
It is important, I'm told, to give the logo "room to breathe", and I must never use it in a size less than 40mm in width, or 252 pixels if I use it online.
On dark backgrounds it is best to use it in a light colour. Like, um, white. Then I'm shown what happens if you get it wrong, with a helpful diagram showing the logo a bit skew-whiff. If things are still not working out, I can phone their "Marketing and Communications Team".
This is my first taste of the National College, but it does make me wonder whether its priorities for expenditure are actually in the best order.
Mike Kent is headteacher at Comber Grove Primary, Camberwell, south London.