Why should I care?

22nd December 2006 at 00:00
Joan Fenton is the retiring head of Dyce Primary, Aberdeen

Dear Santa, You may think my present list rather odd when you know that I have been in my job almost as long as you have been in yours, but I would like a few useful guides under the Christmas tree to help me get through the rest of the session.

The first book is titled How to Be Corporate. I believe it is part of the Smiling Through the Pain series.

God knows I have tried for the past few years to be enthusiastic about joined-up working, but we never seem to get past the talking stage and on to the action part.

I see the same faces at the endless round of corporate meetings, hear the same upbeat message about being actively engaged with other services, then go back to school and still find it difficult to get anyone to return my calls.

I am hoping that this book will be in language to which I can relate and that it will contain absolutely no mention whatsoever of voids (empty council houses to you and me), because I have already heard everything that it is possible to know about gathering statistics on them.

What I now need is explanation of why I should care about them, and what the hell it has to do with learning and teaching. The same applies to painting lamp-posts, collecting dog dirt and cutting down shrubs.

How to Spot the Difference Between an Aspirational Target and A Big Stick may not yet be widely available but could be sourced locally. I am hoping that this book can provide some clarification about the concept of "agreed"

when it refers to attainment targets.

We have always worked on the understanding that our targets were based on reality - the past and projected attainment of our current pupil population, with all of its inherent capacity to change dramatically, following an unexpected influx of low-achievers andor non-English speakers.

It would appear that we have been going about this all the wrong way. We will now have to take an entirely different approach to target-setting ...

la Kate Bush - "just saying it could even make it happen".

So that we can be recognised as a leading council in northern Europe by 2010, someone else's idea of reality comes into play when "re-negotiating"

aspirational targets, once the attainable ones have been collated across city schools and thrown out.

The last book is called How to Get Through a Meeting with an Educational Psychologist Without Leaping Across the Room and Strangling Her. I am looking for some pointers on how to remain impassive while being forced to listen to how she favours the consultative model of engaging with the school.

This amounts to her being almost willing to accept our identified priorities, talking knowledgably about children she may never have set eyes upon, and then advising on how we can write an action plan, along with other agencies, to help the child's learning or behaviour.

In fact, it is rather like a car mechanic listening over the phone to your description of a malfunctioning vehicle, diagnosing the problem and then telling you to trot along to Kwik-Fit for help.

I would also like a crate of Chablis to quaff, as I have decided to hang up my TESS pen and lie on the settee for even longer at weekends.

On second thoughts forget the books - just bring the booze.

Happy Christmas.

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