Tips of the trade: 12. Key issues

It is important to have a grip on key issues in education and their effects on the school and nationally. Spend some time reading The TES (as you clearly are). Make this regular rather than intensive. It's amazing how much you will pick up by skimming from cover to cover for 20 minutes a week focusing on the headlines, the editorial comment and anything else that appears relevant.

The same goes with surfing the net. Start at www.dfes.gov.uk, glance at the headlines then go to the various links. You are spoilt for choice here, but make sure you know your way around the National Grid for Learning's site, www.ngfl.gov.uk, at least.

You will be able to join in with topical discussions confidently, or feel happier about quizzing more experienced staff about how this or that affects your school. This will do a lot to broaden your general knowledge.

The key issues may be different at school level to those at a national level. Do you know your school's values and priorities? Schools pay particular emphasis to the head's vision. Do you know what it is? If you are facing an Ofsted inspection, you'll probably be chanting it in your sleep!

Networking is a skill you will value right up to headship. It is well worth keeping any contacts you make, especially those from teaching college, local NQT meetings or any Inset you attend. Exchange email addresses and keep in touch, regularly but not necessarily frequently. Make an effort to maintain the link. There's plenty to talk about.

John Honeybul

John Honeybul is deputy head at Rokeby school, the London borough of Newham. We pay for all tips published. Send yours to susan.young@newsint.co.uk

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