More of the same... and a bit extra, I expect

26th August 2005 at 01:00
By the end of the first week of the session, you will have experienced a range of emotions.

You will have delivered your annual motivational speech to the troops, mentally registering the ratio of keen to comatose, but nevertheless enduring to the bitter end.

You will have enrolled a few children who appeared out of the blue and your heart will have sunk when you realised that you have a problem with numbers at various stages.

You will have passed the huge pile of mail through your hands at least once, trying desperately to convince yourself that more of it could be filed straight into the bin.

You will have regretted that you did not make more inroads into the Standards and Quality Report before the holidays.

One thing about working in education is that it keeps you on your toes in terms of translating government initiatives into action on the ground, and this year will be no different.

We have done as much of the business as we could in Dyce Primary on the Additional Support for Learning Act. What we would like now is the detail of how it will work at school level.

I have never seen a co-ordinated support plan but I hear it could be a record of needs, an individualised educational programme or personal learning programme, a behaviour support programme and a health care plan rolled into one.

The scary bit is that the school will be responsible for getting the various agencies around the table initially and whenever a review meeting is requested. Past problems of trying to work round the educational psychologist's diary will pale into insignificance. It sounds like a lot of work.

I was beginning to feel that I was in an emperor's new clothes situation over A Curriculum for Excellence, so I was relieved to see reference to "some concerns about the transitional phase from aspirational document to implementation" in a letter from Harry Blee (TES Scotland, July 1). So it wasn't just me.

I felt compelled to include action on implementation of the document in this year's school development plan but decided to be even vaguer than usual when describing the agreed actions, as I did not know where to start.

This will give me breathing space and hopefully someone cleverer than I will come up with brilliant ideas, with no workload implications, which I can pinch.

Anticipating the roll-out of new community schools has been like waiting for Godot. I read from the latest high quality glossy on Changing Children's Services that we are to prepare ourselves again for the extension of this approach. I am not sure where to focus practical preparation. I have decided to settle for imagining what it might be like, although I hear that becoming a new community school creates a lot of work for the head.

Dyce Primary is not in an area of social deprivation, so I think a low level of excitement over the benefits of integrated children's services will suffice.

At first, I naively thought that the move to single status by local authorities had little to do with schools, but then I realised that it will impact on us quite significantly. An approach to restructuring which will affect the jobs of people in education from director down to children's escort is bound to have repercussions.

Heads have been informed that the job of our immediate line manager is to change. That can mean only one thing: delegation. I anticipate much more work for us in the recruitment and selection process and in the procedures for exclusion from school. We will probably be phoning around headteacher colleagues ourselves in the event of a pupil requiring a second start. It could be the end of many beautiful friendships.

It looks like a year ahead for me of diarising, plagiarising, hypothesising and fraternising.

Joan Fenton is headteacher of Dyce Primary in Aberdeen

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