What keeps me awake at night - All that we've worked for is fading to nothing

24th January 2014 at 00:00

I haven't seen my school leader in nearly 11 months. She was parachuted into a failing institution because she had done a decent job of transforming ours from a failure into a success. One day we were planning the Easter term, the next we had a notice to say she was going to be "temporarily helping" a local school "mimic the success we had achieved". Not even a goodbye.

So an interim appointment would be made, right? Not likely. The deputy would cover the school leader and the deputy's duties would be split among the senior management team, of which I am a member.

For the first few weeks it was a real struggle to juggle everyday tasks with the additional responsibilities thrust upon us. We muddled through and kept telling ourselves it was only a temporary arrangement. Working into the small hours to cover two jobs would not last, we thought.

When our erstwhile leader did not return after Easter, however, we realised that this would be a more permanent arrangement. Not that we got an official announcement, just a wall of silence - no one had any idea what was going on.

It cannot be overemphasised how disruptive and unsettling the whole situation became. Because no firm replacement was named and because we had no real authority or resources, parents became agitated. Students recognised our lack of clout and began misbehaving. And teachers became disenchanted and lethargic with no confirmed head honcho to guide them, motivate them or answer their questions about what was happening and why. Our efforts were met with responses such as: "But you don't have any real power, do you?" And they were right, none of us did.

It's now nearly a year since our school leader left and we have finally had confirmation that she won't be coming back. Apparently, she has been such a success that they have asked her to stay.

Well, good for them. But it's likely to be temporary. Good leaders are rare so there'll be another failing school for her to turn around soon. And no one gives a thought to the place left in limbo.

Turnaround leaders may look good on paper, but in reality there is a trail of abandoned schools slipping backwards for every tale of success.

The writer is a teacher in Wales

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tes.co.uk.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now