What I've learned

29th August 2003 at 01:00
Headteacher Jane Dyer took over a challenging school, and found listening was her strongest suit

It was very exciting to get the headship here three-and-a-half years ago.

The school was in challenging circumstances and we needed to refocus the educational agenda with the staff, the children and the community.

The buildings needed refitting, and visual impact became a symbol of change. The rooms are now bright and vibrant, and pupils are engaged with teaching and learning.

Staff and children would stop me in the corridor and talk about how they wanted the changes to be and how excited they were. It was marvellous - like going into a new land.

ICT was very high on the agenda, and we now have interactive whiteboards in every room; that gave us the pace of change in the lessons.

One of the main challenges was making sure staff felt supported through these changes. For me it was creating trust and expertise within the school.

We knew we were going to change things quickly. Team building was very important and I'm greatly indebted to the staff, who really went along with it. We lost very few staff in that time, which is a testament to them. And any changes were largely because the school has grown so much - from under 500 to more than 800 this September.

Teamwork applies to the kids as well. Never underestimate the power of the children. Recently we had a very good Ofsted report and the inspector commented on the children's pride in the school.

The experience has taught me that you have to pick your way through the education agenda, seek the best and learn from it. I'm very lucky - I had tremendously good support both within the school and externally.

You have to ensure you keep to your agenda of moving things forward. But the most important thing is to listen. If you actually listen, there's such good advice and support out there. Some people say it's a very lonely job, but I find I'm incredibly well supported.

Jane Dyer is head of Havelock School, an 11-16 mixed comprehensive in Grimsby. She was talking to MartinWhittaker

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