Take sanctuary and reflect

2nd November 2007 at 00:00
Sanctuary. What does it conjure up for you middle leaders? Some of you are thinking of the hunchback of Notre Dame swinging on the bells, while others will think of owls or donkeys maybe.

However, I am talking to you about SANCTUARY, an acronym for Sustained, Away, No school, Concentrated, Time out, Uninterrupted, Annotated, Reflective, You time, which I wish you or a member of your team to employ whenever you go on a course or to an examiner's meeting on the latest results or women into deputy headship. Resort to sanctuary: only half a day is needed but buy it out of your capitation when you undertake professional development.

When you go on a course and it is good, how do you feel? Hopefully that crusading zeal courses through your veins and you truly believe that as soon as you get back to work everyone but everyone will use the new behaviour policy; never again will you fight fire; you will plan strategically from September to July; or the CD borderline will pale into insignificance with the newly learnt peer mentoring system.

Hot off the train from London or Birmingham and still weighed down with the fantastic carvery lunch, you hit the platform running. Then you are asked for further information on the statemented child you have not serviced to parental expectations, or a member of your team is away and too ill to have set work and you find yourself running from class to class.

Break free! Book yourself, as part of your in-service training application, at least half a day's sanctuary. Say you will not be in until lunch time because you are summarising key action points from the course; you are unavailable because you are working from home, planning the presentation you want to make to the pastoral group about the new academic tracking system you wish to introduce. In that time - just a few hours - you will truly make effective use of what you have learnt the day before.

Di Beddow, Deputy head, Hinchingbrooke School, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

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