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What To Do When Your School Faces Closure

The management of closure is an unenviable task. I learned several lessons which may help others: * Plan every minute of the crucial days. Include a press conference and have meetings for everyone.

* Involve your senior management team to greet visitors, talk to pupils, talk to staff and to field phone calls.

* Involve the office staff. The phone ring and rings. You need a rota of people who will read a prepared statement and keep notes so you can decide which calls to return.

* Vultures: don't let them upset you. One letter I had didn't even sound sorry: it simply asked when a van could collect our classroom furniture!

A colleague in the same situation told me she put everything straight in the bin.

* Beware your former pupils' association. I wasn't prepared for this one. My deputy and I watched with amazed fascination late one evening as a 27-page fax came through detailing every gift presented by an old girl during the past 30 years and asking for them all back. Words did sometimes fail me.

* Outplacement counselling. Ask your governors to provide at least two days of counselling for staff. Some of mine needed considerable help with drawing up a CV, quite apart from the emotional stress.

* Finally, ask for support for yourself - you'll need it. I shall always be grateful to the colleagues who listened and offered advice out of genuine friendship and sympathy, with no ulterior motive. So many people have assured me that it's not my fault but the guilt and distress will take a long time to fade.

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