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Advice for new Head

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by retroleftie, Jul 6, 2014.

  1. I really wish you could see my FB account! If anyone could make anything of the few things I've written on there, let alone my completely innocent family photos, then good luck to them! I feel very confident that this would never happen. Looking at it on balance, the pleasure I get from FB and the opportunities it gives me to keep in contact with friends and family far and wide far outweighs any miniscule risk. Anyone in a position of responsibility who puts anything compromising on FB is really just stupid, and I'm not that.
  2. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    I really like the Day Book idea too.

    Although I have no school links on my FB, deleting it has been something on my mind for a while. What holds me back is that I keep in touch with friends on it and I like the 'wind down' of catching up such things provide for me for my wellbeing.

    Further advice:

    - Value and respect those who are honest with you, even if you may not like it. Better is honest open blatant 'opposition'/ blocking, than those who gush to your face, yet are subversive. Welcome feedback to you privately and directly;

    - On that note, don't trust the 'gushers'- they'll gush to anyone- weak or strong;

    - Don't make the assumption that all of your SLT will hold to account/ challenge in the way you would/ to your expectations. They may need explicit role modelling and significant development, particularly if you're taking over a school where poor practice and unprofessional attitudes have been the norm for too long- that/ those SLT member(s) is/ are as much part of that poor practice;

    - Know all HR policy and follow it consistently;

    - For key HR linked conversations, ensure that ones you've asked to occur happen, if they're part of stages of a process. I learned the hard way: I trusted and delegated a DH to have a conversation with a staff member, yet when I referred to this later, the staff member told me she had had empathy not challenge, which meant I couldn't then pursue a process;

    - Have a witness to tricky conversations with staff or parents;

    - Keep your Chair of Governors privy to key things going on in more regular updates than the scheduled wider Governor meetings;

    Most importantly, be a brave and courageous leader when it comes to doing what is right for the children. Expect the best of your team, however don't be surprised or disappointed when some don't live up to these expectations. Not all are in it for the children/ right reasons.

    Remember too that the only way to have something happen in your way is to do it yourself. Consider that delegation will mean things are potentially done differently.

    Good luck. It's the best job in the world.
  3. Also...make sure you find out about your local head teacher networks, primary associations in your area and join them. Try to make links with people who you can go and visit, share ideas and just understand. Remember sometimes although those shoulders will definitely have to grow broader they seem to change size as stuff goes up and down so be kind to yourself and don't think you're weaker because of it. One week you can take stuff and another you can't-it's normal! Don't beat yourself up about it. Definitely pick up the phone to HR, county advice AND to fellow HTs. I have made mistakes (not just in first year)re brooding about things which obviously then grow bigger especially with weekends in between. Sometimes there's a temptation to withdraw and not talk-DON"T do that. Talk stuff over with another HT you trust. Often just that phone call and sharing they will even have had the same stuff happen and immediately you'll feel better. I had a particular horrible weekend worrying, phoned a colleague the following Monday and he'd had a pretty similar situation that week too-wish I'd done it sooner and had a nicer weekend! Make sure you do go and seek that inspiration, mull things over with other people, drink tea/coffee and BREATHE. Sometimes it seems like maybe you just need a good moan but often that passes and good stuff happens too. GOOD LUCK
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    It has a couple of other advantages, if you get into legal procedures

    It is not a "relevant filing system" as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998, as information is not arranged by person but by date. So you cannot be required to produce it in response to a DPA request*.

    It is "contemporaneous notes" that can be produced in court or tribunal*.

    * as I have been informed by the legal eagles on retainer to the school

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week
  5. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    TheoGriff- interesting distinction- I like it very much!!

    I do keep notes of all, however this is a good summary book. I do keep my work diaries.

    I used to keep a spare diary to detail parent conversations when I taught some children with 'variable' parents. If nothing else, it did pick up some trends/ cycles.
  6. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Some have never known that in the first place. Look after the staff, and the staff will look after the pupils. After all, the staff will be following the example set by the headteacher. If a headteacher can't or won't see that, I'd be asking what they're doing in the job.
  7. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    The 'Day Book', of which Theo speaks, is one of the most powerful items of self-protection that you could possibly keep. Keep it as Theo suggests: rule off immediately beneath each entry and put everything into it - even quick conversations where someone just 'pops in' to ask you something.
  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Yes indeed, although that works both ways if courts/Employment Tribunal are involved. Although the "contemporaneous notes" may not have to be disclosed to a DPA request they usually would have to be disclsosed in legal proceedings iif asked for and the other side could trawl them looking for evidence to support their case, so bear that in mind when writing in the Day Book.
  9. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

  10. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Yes - avoid the temptation to write anything "jokey" to cheer yourself up after a difficult encounter and especially avoid drawing cartoons...
  11. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Absolutely, MM.

    And also avoid any abbreviations of a dubious nature! E.g., GLM = good looking mum or FLK = funny looking kid.

    See: news.bbc.co.uk/.../3159813.stm
  12. scientist555

    scientist555 New commenter

    Really like the idea of the Day Book too.

    My only worry about using it would be that anyone could potentially say that it is merely the person's point of view that wrote in the book, whereas an e-mail to a member of staff summarising what you have talked about gives them the opportunity to respond.

  13. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    The idea of the Day Book is that it is a contemporaneous, factual record. Not the place for opinion - just a record of who you met/spoke with, date and time and what was said. The contemporaneous nature of the record, with each entry ruled off to avoid accusations of tampering or later additions, is very important. Remember at all times who the audience for this record would be.
  14. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter




    In other words - be honest and totally professional at all times. As you would anyway in your role as Head.

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week
  15. scientist555

    scientist555 New commenter

    Hi Theo,

    Just to clarify I'm not a Head and I was interested in the day book in my capacity as a middle leader.

    Really interested in the day book and have ordered one on Amazon and hope it will last the academic year!



  16. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Good gracious! Do they actually call them that?

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week
  17. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    I really like the day book too and will be starting one on the 1st Sep.

    I was going to buy mine from poundland!
  18. I agree - I use my FB account for family photos and keeping in touch. The only comments about work say how much I love my job and how great the school is
  19. scientist555

    scientist555 New commenter

    Haha - no they don't, I just ordered an A4 hardback lined book [​IMG]

  20. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Yes, those are best, hard back, because it shows when you tear out a page. Or rather, it will show that you haven't.

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.

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