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First 2 days = INSET!

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by SJ26, Oct 27, 2017.

  1. SJ26

    SJ26 New commenter

    I'm due to begin my first headship after Christmas and have noticed that the first two days of term are INSET.
    This feels like a golden opportunity on one hand but I want to be sure that I use the time wisely and efficiently.
    I keep running through ideas like:
    Sharing my vision (obvs not for two whole days.... Poor staff)
    Team building... Maybe doing forest school as a staff....but January (brrrrrrr)
    Preparing for the impending Church inspection.
    Creative ways in which we address Ofsted concerns (school is in RI) and use TIME to get to grips with how to turn certain things around or enhance them.
    Additional planning time for teachers.
    Ohhhhh, there are so many options.
    The thing is, I can't really go in and tread all over the current head's toes to go and find out what would be beneficial for them.... Unless anyone else has a suggestion about this?... The current head has said that the school is very much his until the end of term.... Although I am having a bit of a handover so will do my best to find out from him then too.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. Marshall

    Marshall Senior commenter

    Your last comment about the head saying it's his school until the end of the term says it all really. It's not HIS school it's everyone's school but particularly the children's
    Definitely share your vision but what is everyone else's vision / what do they want / need - school is a team and it seems like their voice needs to be heard.
    This is fundamental - before anything else - forget Forest Schools for the moment.

    SEBREGIS Senior commenter

    As a normal classroom teacher (or as close to normal as I get) could I make a suggestion?

    Allow your staff to spend as much time as possible getting properly ready for the start of the term. It takes time to settle in after a holiday, find where resources are etc. But it goes a bit deeper than this.

    Get them to look over their lessons they have planned for the first couple of weeks, but make sure they have time to include the schools 'non-negotiables' like support for PP students, establishing the marking policy, including things that the department feels it needs to change to improve. Otherwise, these tend to get forgotten about.

    My experience of INSET days is being talked at a lot and then having to work late to pull together resources to actually teach with. So the first lessons the students get are often a bit wobbly, or very much the same as last year. Being able to sit down with my team and sharpen the first couple of lessons would be really helpful. A vision is a great thing to have but you have to allow people time to incorporate it effectively in their lessons.
    SundaeTrifle, SJ26 and sabrinakat like this.
  4. Sundaytrekker

    Sundaytrekker Star commenter

    One thing I did when faced with three Inset days at the start of my headship was to meet each member of staff individually for a brief chat. I asked them what they felt were strengths of the school and what they would like to see developed. I also asked about their career so far and future aspirations.

    It depends on the size of your staff, of course. I found it valuable and they said they appreciated it.
    SJ26 and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  5. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Definitely share your vision for the kind of school you want to create and where you see things heading. (Very possibly more or less the same as you did when you were interviewed?)
    I wouldn't bother with team building, other than providing bacon rolls for breakfast, because your staff are very probably already a team and it's only you who are new.
    Preparation for an inspection, Ofsted or Church schools, will simply tell your staff that you are an inspection tick box type head, who spends all their time worrying about what inspectors will think. Maybe leave this until a staff meeting a couple of weeks into term?
    Lessons ought to be planned and sorted out, but some prep time to get rooms and displays ready is always appreciated by staff and will let them know you care about giving them time to do their job. Maybe have a timetabled compulsory tea-break in the middle of the afternoon, with cakes, as your team building exercise?
    As @Sundaytrekker says, meeting with staff individually is fab. Staff need to know you see them as individuals and care about what they do and where they are heading.

    Like @SEBREGIS though, I'm not a head (just heading that way) so am posting from the point of view of what I'd like a new head to do and how it looks to the staff.
    SJ26 and sabrinakat like this.
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    .... unless the staff are muslim, Jewish &/or vegetarian... :)
  7. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I was going to say something along those lines. I remember a new head spending time "sharing her vision" and we all thought - "Well what does she know about us, the children and the parents - what a load of twaddle!"
    I'd say use it for listening rather than speaking. It's not an ideal way to start your headship imo, you'd be luckier if term started with the children in and you could watch the school in operation before deciding what to do. But you'll be getting things done through these people so start finding out about what they have to offer you.
    SJ26 and Sundaytrekker like this.
  8. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    Could you ask the SLT to set the agenda and take the lead for at least one of the days? They'll know what might be useful, and being more of an observer may be a good way to get to know the staff.
    SJ26 and asnac like this.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Quorn/Soya alternatives?
    SJ26 likes this.
  10. asnac

    asnac Established commenter

    Be totally positive. Staff will be worried, both about you and about the impending inspection. Your first words could make someone decide to stay or to leave. Show by words and actions that you're there for the staff as well as the other stakeholders.
    SJ26 and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  11. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Occasional commenter

    Personally I’d do the first morning on setting the vision. You can introduce yourself and your background and vision then work as a whole staff to rewrite the school vision if you feel it needs doing. A good opportunity to invite and include governors too. Could the second morning be time for literacy, maths leaders to do the same for their subject? Hour to hour and a half each? You could then give the afternoon on each day as PPA time but make yourself available for staff to make one to one 10 minute appt slots to discuss their role at the school and what they really want to do and get their hands on to move forward?

    Also having been in an RI school avoid talking about doing things for OFSTED. Talk about how we need to do things for the good of the children and that OFSTED will then recognise this as good. I know this had a big impact on my previous school as staff were fed up of hearing about doing things for OFSTED.
    Marshall and SJ26 like this.
  12. mms1

    mms1 New commenter

    As a new head going in (I was one last year!) I'd be generous with the time given for prep, this has two benefits; 1 teachers need time to get their nests feathered and will love you for it; 2 given that you are new you will need time (months not weeks) to get a feel for what you've got and therefore build more reliable foundations to your vision. I'm not knocking the shared vision planning as an INSET but it may be more useful to do something around strengths and areas for development. That way you'll get some collective feedback on where the school feels it is and also some idea of their direction of travel. This, with your input, will help you create a vision that has basis and origins familiar with the staff and parents. I am very new to headship and others with more experience may have better advice, my only qualification is having been where you are and slightly regretting giving a day to vision planning when I barely knew the school.
    SJ26 and alexanderosman like this.
  13. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I heartily agree @mms1 . Setting the vision on day 1, I wouldn't, but it depends on what sort of head you are planning to be. If you are a "my way or the highway" type then go for it, if you believe in a collegial approach you've got to get to know the school first.
    alexanderosman likes this.
  14. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Occasional commenter

    Interesting last two posts I’d not considered. I guess it’s about judging the situation you are in. We did update the vision as a whole staff, governors but then I’d got the position six months before I started, had best part of 10 days in school and appointed some new teachers when staff left in the interim so knew the school well and resetting the vision worked well. Can see how it might not work though too. I do think staff will be wanting to get to know you and your way of working soon though.
  15. Snorkers

    Snorkers New commenter

    I definitely agree about listening rather than telling. How about asking your staff to tell you what they think an excellent school looks like, and then perhaps asking where they think the school falls short. You could use that to feed into your SEF - particularly identifying the easy wins to implement.

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