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Do most Heads really work 70+ hours a week ? And if so, is it a Good Thing ?

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by Oldcrofter, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    I quite agree philosophical - we shouldn't cancel and rearrange things . . . . but we will, or rather I will and expect most others will to as I know some of the things they really value seeing, want them to get the best opinion of my school so will go out of my way to steer them in the right direction, find them the right data, analysis and plans

  2. Let me see if I get the gist of the ofsted part of this thread.
    The data and paperwork matter, and what they actually see makes no difference to their final judgement.
    Nevertheless, it still matters that ongoing school life stops, and things are rearranged so they see the things it is desired that they see.
    So the two days are needed to change/update/disguise/enhance the reality of the school.
    ...and the paperwork can't be simply emailed off to save all this palarver.
    Seems like a lot of fuss for a label of satisfactory, or good, or good with outstanding features.
    When ofsted leave, life returns to the normal rhythmns of that school community.
    I would still vote for letting them in with no notice, like a veritable mystery shopper, and they have to work around the life of the school. If they have anything about them they should be able to make an accurate judgement without being feted in any way.
    Result, life continues as usual for everybody without the stress...and particularly the extra hours for heads, which brings me back to the thread title.
  3. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Well, when you're in Christine Gilbert's shoes make sure you do just that philosophical.

    In the meantime schools will do what they have to when ofsted come because no one wants their school to go into a category and staff to lose their jobs.
  4. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    But they DO insist. Us believing that they shouldn't and subsequently refusing to kowtow won't make them change. It'll just get more schools into categories and more people's jobs lost.
  5. MM you never come across to me as a coward.
    However many folk would agree the Emperor has no clothes, but to say it means 'off with their head'.
    I have not written here that ofsted should not rummage around a school, but if they come at short notice, then inspectors can wait in the waiting area while the head has that long scheduled meeting with a parent, or cruise a few classrooms while they wait for the subject leader they wish to speak to finishes teaching a lesson.
    Do you think students who need teaching something should be set cover so the available teacher can attend a meeting with an ofsted inspector?
    While waiting inspectors can read the vital documentation upon which the whole judgement depends (allegedly).
    From the ofsteds own guidelines:
    Inspectors should be mindful that the headteacher will need to accommodate the inspection at short notice while still managing the day-to-day operation of the school.
    So fling the doors open with a cheery smile, toss them several bundles of paperwork, and say 'Look sorry about this, but at the moment I have to manage the day to day operation of my school, I may have time to chat in about a week'.
    Thus honouring part of ofsteds own guidelines.
    Job done.
  6. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Have you ever met an ofsted inspector philosophical?

    I've met loads over the years. If any head had done what you suggested they'd be looking at a category.
  7. I worked in a school where an ofsted inspector was sent away by their team leader for making a racist remark.
    Allegedly the remark, when looking at some work supplied by the SEN department, was 'This looks like work done by a n*g nog'. I have also worked in a school where the inspection was challenged in court...and the school won.
    I have met many many inspectors of a continual 36 years in schoolteaching, and i suppose I have come to a stage in my life where clinging on to some sense of personal integrity matters more to me than kowtowing to ofsted inspectors.
    Anyway, I repeat what I said earlier, I believe no notice inspections would actually reduce workload and stress. Let them see what they see, read what they read, and label what they label...if a school has enough confidence in what they're doing then they can, or they should, have the confidence to continue.
    If you are saying that ofsteds are going to close schools down left right and centre, well it hasn't really happened yet has it?
  8. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    I've worked with enough schools in special
    Measures ( some needed to be, others where the inspector was on a power trip) to know how damaging the process is to people's careers and to their whole lives.

    I've seen enough to know that if I can avoid that for my school's staff, I will.

    I too have made a complaint about ofsted ( an inspector made a very personal and sexist remark) and had it upheld.

    I was also most voiciferous in my feedback to QA following the no notice inspection I had. I made it categorically clear what a stressful experience it was, and how unrealistic the expectations were. Apart from a single line in the report " this school was inspected at no notice by x y and z" there's nothing which is different from
    a full ofsted.

    I made it clear to QA that the regime in it's current form is unfair and unworkable at no notice.

    We've all seen reports in the press of heads leaving dying relatives bedsides to be at school for ofsted, the yes ran an article about a head who postponed her own mother's funeral. It's not because heads want to put on a show, it's because heads are terrified of special measures. They know how awful it is for the school, the community and the staff.

    I'm not prepared to put staff through that for the sake of my own " personal integrity". The staff at my school know what I stand for. I always think it's wise to pick your battles.
    One solitary head " standing up to ofsted" is a fool, not brave and they run the risk of ruining lives in the process.
  9. You have constructed a good case, but within your points there remains for me the worm of disquiet. If one stands up to ofsted one is a fool, but how would a person who postpones their mother's funeral be described? Not as a fool I agree, but a hero? A realist? A defender?
    The assumption that for not dancing the etiquette quadrille apparently demanded by ofsted means you go straight to special measures...no passing go, no £200...and to avoid that you even have to crawl off a sickbed, or as you said, even sidelining the funeral of your own mother. Have we really come to that? Is that assumption right? Sheesh.
    The judgement of 'special measures' is not the closure of the school is it? As far as I know it is not a cut in funding either. It would elicit some newspaper articles, but so what? If the staff, the families, the students are satisfied...if the exam results are realistic wherein lies the devastation?
    I repeat....I am not for banning scrutiny, but let it happen, bring it on, it can be on our terms as much as ofsted's...if they introduce a regime of no notice inspections are we not robust enough to cope?
  10. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    I'm guessing you've never been in special
    Measures. I haven't, but I've supported schools who have, and I have friends and relatives who have. It's hellish and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
  11. I referenced this earlier...I taught at a school that was put into special measures, but we thought it was a flawed inspection (aren't they all??!!), challenged it in court, and won...or at least the inspectors conceded the day before the hearing. I am not so green thatI I don't know the impact of special measures, but it doesn't follow that you will be put into special measures if you don't kowtow to inspectors as night follows day.
    One good idea is to put the blimmin inspectors on the back foot...it always amuses me when I am inspected that I insist that all observers in my teaching space remove their shoes, as I, and all the students do, because we work on a clean carpeted floor. If they object I ask 'How can I expect my students to remove their (outside) footwear if I tolerate you wandering around with your shoes on?'
    If they refuse I stop the lesson.
    Job done.
  12. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    I wonder what the statistics are for overturned SM cases. Particularly post 2009 with the changed emphasis onto data and safeguarding. It wouldn't take much for an unscrupulous inspector to skew a safeguarding issue if you peed them off.
    certainly 2 schools within walking distance of my house have received NTIs over very trivial safeguarding issues when the rest of their reports have been good. One of which has already come out ( now good with outstanding features without any big changes in staffing or structure) in just over a year. The message is that the school's whole reputation rests with the ofsted inspector.
    The answer would of course be to not pee them off in the first place.

    Maybe it is cowardly but I would not want to be a head, having to face the teaching staff and the parents, explaining that we were in a category because I rubbed the inspector up the wrong way.

    Anyone in their right mind wants to show their school in the best light possible.
  13. You wouldn't be put in a category as a result of "rubbing an inspector up the wrong way". A poor category would be awarded because a pathetic little ego hadn't been massaged, not because your school is bad.
  14. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    The end result is the same. I've watched close friends go through what can only be described as hell after this. Not something I want for myself or the team of superb teachers I work with.
  15. He is going home to heroically protect everybody by constantly updating ofsted paperwork.
  16. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    How charming. Whereas posting a load of expletives and abuse to a bunch of complete strangers at 5 am on the morning on here is perfectly normal.
    Welcome to TES Patrick Hassell.
    I wonder if the esteemed councillor for Fishponds knows he has a namesake on here?
  17. We need to keep some perspectiive and compare our workloads & pressures of the job,as well as the benefits, with other professionals. Many people face all sorts of pressures in other walks of life and don't have strong unions or policies and procedures in place to protect them. I could trade workload comparisons all day with you eg having to read 300+ reports every year, having to attend late meetings, being available on site in hol's for builders etc. Our role and job description is different for a good reason and a little professional respect both ways goes along way. The public at large hold a dim view of us as a profession already and we should me mindful of this.
  18. Teaching is not a 'profession', and we are not 'professionals'. The word is slung in to every debate to obscure the issue, it is meaningless because most individuals decide what the concept of professional is on the spot in ways that appear to give their position validity.
    if we are 'professional' then reflect on our working conditions (prefabricated huts and leaking roofs anybody?), our wages, our public standing, our autonomy, out authority regarding the nature of education.
    I would tend to trust and accept without question the decisions and advice of my dentist (who works two days a week and has a boat in the isle of wight), but folk don't extend the same respect to me or my fellow teachers.
    Accept the fact that we are workers, and proceed on those terms, don't obscure the debate with a meaningless word like 'professional'.
  19. WinifredHoltby

    WinifredHoltby New commenter

    I think many do. I worked 10-12 hours (sometimes 14) a day in school and then time at home. However, you make choices. I know one who works at least 70+ a week but hardly any of it in his own school- most on committees, advising other schools; a systems leader looking for an OBE or a knighthood whilst Rome burns. I know another who works that hard almost entirely in her own school and it is an amazing school. However, they both choose those hours. Running a large school with an intake of 350+ in Y7, working with governors and the LA is a lot of hours. Some delegate more than others, some take on as much as possible themselves, some can not stop. I know one whose family go on holidays without him- I think that is a signal that you have gone too far.
  20. WinifredHoltby

    WinifredHoltby New commenter

    Like you, I have supported schools in Special Measures (3 of them). They had many common characteristics: very high levels of current social deprivation; were in small, insular communities where there was a history of ingrained poverty and poor housing, high unemployment, addiction and crime; old shoddy buildings with awful facilities and infra-structure; falling roles to the point that year groups were between 50-100 (all secondary schools); structural budget deficits, weak senior leadership and teaching staff who were ground down by constant criticism of their failure to get better exam results; chaotic systems because of constant change trying desperately to find ways to make a difference; a high percentage of parents who could not give a toss and never actually chose the school , just didn't fill an admission form in so the LA allocated them the school and they then only ever bothered with the school to storm up shouting the odds about how unfair the school was to their child.
    A Special Measures designation does nothing, absolutely nothing to help schools like this. It demoralises staff even further, they are always 'blamed' in the report, it demoralises the community and any belief they had in the school and the more supportive parents choose a different school which in turn exacerbates the culture, the budget deficit issues. Rumours circulate of closure and staff leave, with few if any applicants for posts. Teachers come under even more scrutiny by the weak SLT. None of the problems that are causing the difficulties are addressed. In each of these schools the RSC has been unable to find an academy sponsor. They should each have been closed- they were not saveable. One was closed but the LAs refused to close the other two and they are still in Special Measures with new, weak SLT, staff dead on their feet and even smaller numbers on roll. So far the DFE appear to be allowing them to be run into the ground and die a slow death. Meanwhile, children attend these schools and this is their experience of education.
    A Special Measures designation is a terrible thing to do to an already very vulnerable school. There should be another way.

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