Sugared pill sticks in throat

31st October 2003 at 00:00
Congratulations! You have been chosen as one of the first lucky cohorts of schools to receive the special treatment of the leadership programme!

That was the message my local education authority gave to me and the other fortunate headteachers in the first tranche of a Department for Education and Skills initiative designed to focus on primary leadership. Whoopee. You could almost believe that the LEA inspectors really believed that we were being given the chance of a lifetime. The chosen few selected to sample the delicacies of uncharted knowledge in school leadership.

For those lucky enough not to have been specially selected, the leadership programme provides opportunity for the leadership team (literacy and numeracy co-ordinator, deputy head and head) to attend meetings, visit other schools, perform observations and generally fine-tune their monitoring skills. In this spirit of "excellence and enjoyment" we will then spin our new-found expertise across the school to achieve miraculous test results.

Sounds good? Think again. To begin with there are problems with whom we're administering this medicine to. The leadership team described bears little resemblance to our senior management team in school. Our organisation is conducted on a year leader basis rather than through a hierarchy of subjects. This in itself is an objection. Hadn't I heard that literacy and numeracy were no longer to be heralded as our sole crown princes? Wasn't the joy and magic of one or two other subjects to be allowed to share the throne?

And as for the medicine. As a school struggling in a deprived part of a leafy shire, we are drugged up with solutions, remedies and antidotes. We have tried so many alternatives to bump up our scores that none has run for longer than two years.

But we're in good company. The leadership programme meeting starred all the heads who are singled out for everything, due to our evident incompetence in the leadership and management field. Is it purely coincidence that so many schools from the same area are represented? Or am I always suffering from dej... vu?

Did we exit inspired and fired? Glum conversations from the car park suggested there was little enthusiasm.

No one believes that the selection is random or a positive affirmation of the success of our efforts so far. We know we're in the dunce's corner and no spoonful of bravado is going to help this medicine go down.

The author is head of Queen's CE junior school, Nuneaton. Send your Sounding Off contributions to We pay for those we publish

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