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Big school, small school question.

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by Ladykaza, Jun 19, 2015.

  1. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    I've been the head of a small rural school for a few years now. In practice this means that I teach 0.5, wear an enormous number of hats and the idea of delegating is a running joke! My fantastic staff are way too busy doing multiple jobs to take on more.

    It also means I am extremely accessible toparents.

    There are loads of things I love about my job, my school and the people I share my professional life with. My governors are very supportive as are the vast majority of parents.

    In common with all schools however I suffer with that core of unreasonable parents who are making my life a misery. After a year on antidepressants, along with other stress induced problems, I've finally had enough.

    Following a very difficult meeting this morning I have spent the time after school as a bit of a zombie considering my future. My conclusions were - because of the size of school then dealing with issues tend to be very personal.... I am usually the personal target of the abuse as I will have been involved from the start. 20 mins after this upsetting meeting I had to pull myself together and teach year 2. When things get heated or difficult it is impossible to avoid the people for a few days to allow everything to calm down.

    So, before I just chuck it all in and go stack shelves aTesco, I wondered if you wise people could tell me your experiences of working in smaller and bigger schools. I'm not foolish enough to think that the job is less hard work, or easier. I know it's just different, but I would be sad to leave this world behind and just wondered if a different type of school would suit me better.
  2. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter


    Almost. You don't say your size of school but I'm in a 210 (but not full) village school.

    I don't teach (except occasional cover). The children are fantastic and my Governors are too - but that core group of parents are there. They have affected me so much I find it difficult to interact with any parents casually - and now I am criticised for not socialising with them. I am expected to be at their beck and call (eg why haven't you replied to the email I sent at 1030pm?). Ive also been without full office staff for most of this year and cannot keep up. Because this job has seriously affected my mental health I know I need to accept defeat - it's a vocation but it's killing me
  3. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    It seems to be the same the world over cornflake. We only have 68 children.

    It would be funny if it wasn't so damaging:

    Irate parent: I called to speak to you over 2 hours ago!

    Me: sorry I was teaching, anyway how can I help?

    Irate parent: why wasn't my daughter wearing her hat at playtime......... Really.....really!
  4. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I'm afraid to say that it's exactly the same in bigger schools. The difference is - obviously - that you might not teach, or nowhere near as much (as head of a 2 large comprehensives, I always taught 4/25 hours per week).

    I did, however, find myself a participant in appalling meetings with parents, the recipient of abuse from parents and even threats (my predecessor in my first headship was attacked in his office by two masked men). I had my zombie moments, too.

    In the end, the stress was too much for me (it permanently affected my mental health, so I know exactly where you're coming from here) and I got out completely - because I was financially able to do so. I left the school in superb shape and on excellent terms, but getting out is not an option for many people, I know.

    Feel free to PM me if it helps.
  5. Ruthiesword

    Ruthiesword New commenter

    My school is 239, I rarely teach but cop for up to 4 key stage or whole school assemblies some weeks. We have had similar issues with parents in a very difficult area socio-economically. I have three senior staff who are usually the first port of call, or whoever has dealt with the 'issue'. If parents still aren't happy then I will contact them when I am able to We also have a parents code of conduct that staff will use if parents are overstepping the mark. Parents can email school, but not me direct, and I will respond back via the school email. We have gone full circle in 2 years from my predecessor who actually hid from parents, to being very visible and too easily accessible, to now mostly being a happy medium. More importantly all the staff are on board and we know we are running the school in the best way for the children, which is not always the same as the parents think. We have very high expectations, which a lot of our parents don't as they had their own struggles at school.
  6. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    You sound like you've got to a good, happy medium Ruthie, which is where I need to get to.I'd be really interested to see your parents code of conduct.
  7. Ruthiesword

    Ruthiesword New commenter

    Happy to share if you want it, just pm and I can email it over. It came from governors after a particularly nasty incident (verbal) from parents in front of children at home time. Staff really like it as do I because we can say 'please can I remind you that we do have a parents code of conduct and if you carry on *insert whatever behaviour here* then I will have to end our conversation/ ask you to leave. 99% calm down at that point, 1% have to leave and then make a proper appointment at a time convenient to school. We also quite often make these for 3pm so that they are time limited by home time at 3.30pm
  8. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Great idea for primary heads!
  9. Ruthiesword

    Ruthiesword New commenter

    Just to clarify, that's so the parents have to leave at 3.30 to pick up their offspring, not so we staff can slope off home when the bell goes ;)
  10. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    Something is very very wrong with the system.....

    I am not financially able to get out as it's just me (on the other hand no dependents either) but on the other hand, at this rate I don't think I will see 45 let alone retirement!
  11. Ruthiesword

    Ruthiesword New commenter

    Are you able to talk to your governors Cornflake or to anyone left in the LA? Or take so.e advice from union maybe. It doesn't sound like you have enough support to do your job and safeguarding applies to headteachers as well as staff and pupils. I am still very much learning that thing they say on planes about putting your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Put 'talk to someone about my unreasonable work load' at the top of your to do list for today.
  12. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    PM me cornflake if you need to talk. I can't promise answers but it helps to share. Ruthie's parent code of conduct is great and you can add pertinent bits. I laid it all out for governors at our last meeting and I have had 3 in to see me since offering practical help and support. Have you shared fully with your govs what is going on ?

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