What keeps me awake at night

20th February 2015 at 00:00
Pupils are the victims in this battle of wills

Two years ago, the school I teach in got a new headteacher. It was her first post and she was keen to make her mark. Within six months, half the middle leadership team had either resigned or been told to find employment elsewhere. After 12 months, the school was a very different place: new systems, new staff and new ways of doing things.

I was brought in as part of the new regime. The headteacher had employed me and several others before she started, and told us she would depend on our support to drive through what she saw as much-needed changes.

I haven't agreed with everything she has done since, but not being used to the old means that the new has not caused me too much distress. I have spoken up for the changes I agree with and learned to live with those I don't: after all, the headteacher is the boss and she is the one who will sink or swim depending on the success of her reforms.

For other staff, it is a different story. Those who have not moved on have been extremely vocal in their dislike of how the new management has handled things and have attempted to block every change. This would be fine if it were just a battle between the old guard and the new leader, but this old guard has declared war on anyone employed by the new headteacher.

This has made the school a very challenging place to work in. Large groups of staff, many within the same departments, have spent substantial periods of the past two years refusing to talk to each other. And hostilities are often more blatant - shouting matches rage and accusations fly over the coffee machine.

In the middle of all this is a student body that deserves better. Student achievement depends on a cohesive staff working for a common good. At present we don't have that. Should the headteacher fall on her sword? Should the old guard fall on theirs? There must be a middle way: surely we can compromise for the sake of the kids?

The writer is a teacher in the North of England

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com


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