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Department politics

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Crowbob, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Honestly? One of the perks of being a HoD is to pick the bits you want to do. Obviously, this should be done with some idea of balance and fairness. I would be surprised if you went to a school where HoD did not pick the KS4+5 that they wanted and left themselves bottom sets and KS3 alone. Sometimes this is necessary, but you would be naive to think that it would be radically different in a different school.

  2. Ok, thanks for your reply. I am just shocked as in the school I trained in a few years ago the HoD was very good and took lots of challenging classes like bottom set yr 7 and 10. Obviously this was balanced with top sets in other year groups but she certainly wasn't a HoD to 'pick the best bits' as you say. I find it very disappointing that that's why people get into these positions and are willing to give themselves an easy ride at the expense of their department and other people's professional development. Especially when they have so much gain time at the end of the year they have time to do external exam board marking in school hours that they are getting paid for whilst those of us with 5 KS3 classes spend every minute marking KS3 end of year exams (I had 360 scripts to do) with no gain time and no help. Seems ridiculously unfair.
  3. HODs vary massively, my previous HOD very much lead by example taking difficult classes himself to offset the fact he was a physicist so had to teach A-level and the high sets at GCSE. This often meant that apart from those classes he had lots of voc classes and low set KS3. Current HODs tt for next year has top sets in 10 and 11, 6th form despite no teaching experience and fairly high KS3. If you feel you have had an unfair deal then you need to challenge it, that said you may not get A-level teaching if you have no experience of it as they are risky classes to give to an inexperienced teacher, too much at stake for the kids. Also challenge things like report and exam data deadlines if you're heavy in a particular year group so you can get some help with this. As a dept we have in the past just split the scripts between everyone in the dept regardless of the groups they teach as some teachers had say 3 sets in Y7 and it was just too much.
    So yes there are HODs out there who will take their fair share and others who won't, it's the luck of the draw. I have never in 6 years of teaching had a top set in KS3, which my HOD told me was a back handed compliment as he knew I would keep them in line but also balanced the fact that I had either top set 10 or 11 and AS and A2 because I'm a shortage specialism.
  4. Our Head of Science is pretty good at sharing the more challenging sets, although she does tend to give out those back-handed compliments too so some of us do get slightly more. However, the Head of biology hogs as much A level as possible with very few other people getting a look in (and these other people are experienced A level teachers). Just one of the reasons I'm leaving....and having already seen next year's timetable at my new school I'm impressed by the "fairness" of it.

    If I loved the school it wouldn't persuade me to leave, but if it was just one of a long list of grumbles then I would think otherwise.
  5. Thanks for both your replies. I will have to see how things go over the next year, although I'm not massively impressed with my timetable for next year. I understand that I'm not a long-time established member of the department, however I do have A Level teaching experience and was asked about it at interview and I'm not an NQT so don't regard myself as 'inexperienced.' I taught some this year for a coursework module and the students have all done fine so am a little annoyed at not being given any at all next year. Anyway, thanks for your response.
  6. i've had 3 HODs and none of them have taken bottom sets or more than one KS3 class.....
  7. I am a HoD and try to work things out as fairly as possible and - with a single exception in 9 years - have never ever tried to hog a good class or good timetable. I try to ensure that everyone, myself included, had a variety of classes, abilities, behaviours and ages. Everyone in my department gets the chance to tell me about their year when we do our yearly review and I take note of who's had what classes. Generally speaking, I try to make sure that people have 2 top sets, 2 middle sets and 2 bottom sets and then fill in the other classes as best as possible. I don't actually write the timetable though, so I don't get the final say!
    I do think it's part of the HoD's job to make sure that every teacher is motivated and provided with professional challenge; we are line managers responsible for helping the careers and professional development of those in our departments (in my view, anyway). This year, I had 4 bottom sets on my own timetable and 2 other sets; I didn't originally but swapped a few classes around so individual staff were comfortable and happy with the sets they were teaching.
    I don't agree with 'cherry-picking' classes or kids. For anyone.
  8. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    All well and good when there is enough to go around. In a small department (like music) with only limited KS4&5 it is not possible to be so equitable.
  9. I work in an English dept which offers three A Level subjects with two classes for each in Yr 12 and Yr13, that's twelve classes so there is plenty to go round if certain people didn't hog things to themselves.
  10. Thanks for your reply, it's heartening to know that not all HoDs are so selfish. I am concerned about my own professional development as one of my performance management targets was 6th form based. Not sure how I'm supposed to achieve that when I haven't been given any! I don't necessarily disagree with people being able to request some classes that they want but I don't think some should have all top sets and four A Level classes whilst others have none. I just feel annoyed with myself for trusting people to give me a fair deal without having to kick up a fuss like other people do. We even have p/t members of staff who refuse to take KS3 so the whole timetable has to be changed to accomodate them. Needless to say they have been in the dept a long time so just seem to get their wishes granted. It has also shaken my confidence as part of me feels they are not giving me anything decent as they think I'm not capable, despite all my lesson observations with HoD and SLT being good or outstanding.
  11. FollyFairy

    FollyFairy Occasional commenter

    Who wrote this PM target? You or your HOD? Either way, your HOD should be supporting you reach that target or it needs to be renegotiated, especially as you need at least two successful PM to move into threshold terrority.

    don't feel like this - though easy for me to say! Not a reflection on you as a teacher, but your HOD as a manager and leader!

    I am very cynical - but very few people can be trusted in the educational setting! 'Love many, trust few - always paddle your own canoe' is my motto!
  12. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    I know of a HoD who only teaches top sets and A level without exception. If there are any "mixed ability " groups in any one year group because of non-departmental reasons then the sets are slewed in such a way that the HoD gets only the brighter and better behaved pupils. This has been the way things are done. No feedback to the dept from any Middle leaders' meetings, no agenda forthcoming for departmental meetings, let alone any discussion regarding teaching groups or groups for next term. So it would appear that there are some HoDs a little worse than yours.
    In your shoes I would pursue the lack of development for you re 6th form teaching especially as it was part of your performance management targetting. Is there any chance of team teaching or module teaching for you in 6th form?

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