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Headteacher organisational tips

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by way2serious, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. As a relatively new HT of a one form entry primary I am feeling quite overwhelmed by the workload. Previously I always considered myself well organised and good at time management but I feel as though I am drowning at times. Does anyone have any tips about how they organise their time or any structures they have for themselves?

    Thanks for your help.

  2. As a relatively new HT of a one form entry primary I am feeling quite overwhelmed by the workload. Previously I always considered myself well organised and good at time management but I feel as though I am drowning at times. Does anyone have any tips about how they organise their time or any structures they have for themselves?

    Thanks for your help.

  3. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Don't think about everything, otherwise you'll feel overwhelmed.
    Prioritise. What needs doing that just can't wait?
    I am a list fan. Just writing it down clarifies it for me. Think about what you want the school to be like in 3 years time?then write down how you think you will get there.
    Organise jobs into - must be done asap( including the compulsory stuff) do by the end of the term, do by the end of the year.
    Be kind to yourself, maintain a worklife balance, do the best you can but remember you're no good to anyone if you burn out.
  4. - delegate where you can and consider all the people who can help you (even the children can do some of the jobs you might find youself doing, but governors can be a great source of support too as well as staff and agencies)
    - have some shut door or working from home time (if governors allow) so you can get things done without the constant- 'have you got 5 minutes...' Have a sign on your door if shut door- EMERGENCIES ONLY
    - learn not to solve people's problems for them, when they come with an issue that isn't really at your level ask them what they think they should do about it- they are usually right and eventually they resolve things themselves
    - where you have capable staff delegate at high level (give them the aims and let them run with their own strategies)
    - even when the children come and see you about a minor issue, don't be tempted to get involved- redirect them to the person on duty or the class teacher
    - make sure your office filter all calls and visitors and give them clear critieria for doing so (i.e. no reps, refer minor parent issues to class teachers but governors and headteacher colleagues and SIP to be put straight through
    - have some times of day when, if you can, you do a school walk, then people know they will see you at some point and won't come NOW with there comment/issue/idea etc.
    - when someone phones for a meeting that isn't urgent DON'T put them in the very next free slot or you will find you have back to back meetings and no preparation time, give it a week or so and put them in
    - don't lead all staff meetings, there are many people on your staff who can do this and outside agencies
    - don't write documents from scratch- ask colleagues for models
    - ask the office to save papers up till a set time in the day or 2 or three times a week so you are not signing things every 5 minutes
    - have a business card made with your email address on it give it out ask staff and others to email you non-urgent issues, then you can proiritise and often just forward the email to someone who can deal with it
    - communicate a clear system for issues (line management) and if someone comes with something trivial remind them of the system
    - analyse carefully what is taking the time and devise solutions for each issue (make a list and ask your SIP or a friendly headteacher to go over it with you)
    - if your budget is ok, buy people in to undertake some tasks (these might be things your School Business Manager is currently doing for example but you can free her/him up to help you more)
    - check you are being realistic about what has to be done and to what time scales- many deadlines can be extended
    - be honest with your staff and explain that you are very busy and you appreciate their support
    - when you are asked to attend meetings, think carefully about whether they are value for time and say NO sometimes
    - when sent paperwork to complete ask, what's in it for the school and don't fill in anything that doesn't benefit you
    - get a good shredder and get rid of stuff (lots of paper makes me feel stressed)
    Hope there are a few nuggets in there. Sure others will contribute lots too and am hoping to learn some more things from this thread myself.

  5. bnm


    First of all, the first year is the worst because everything's new and you're still finding out how things work and are (probably) working your way through cupboard loads of stuff (or computer files) left by the previous HT.
    Next, find out exactly how you spend your time each day. Write down now everything you have done today. Go through the list and put a tick next to those things that have moved the school forward. Look at the rest of the stuff and ask yourself why you were doing it. Some things you can get rid of instantly, others you may need to build routines or systems in to take them off your list.
    Don't try to perform to what your perceive the expectations of others to be. It doesn't always have to be YOU that does assembly, staff meetings, corridor duty, sorting behaviour issues, child protection issues, health and safety issues, seeing parents etc.
    Decide on one key thing you want the school to improve at over the next year (eg raise standards in maths). Decide what you need to do tomorrow to make it happen (eg set date to meet with subject leader, do work scrutiny, analyse data in depth).
    End each day with a mental list of your achievements of that day. Be ruthless and make those achievements be about the important things and not the little things.
  6. Wow! You are all amazing - thank you so much for all your excellent advice. I am working my way through it gradually!
    What sort of timetable of monitoring and evaluation do you use each term - I want to be thorough but don't want to overwhelm the staff!
  7. 2 monitoring rounds for lesson obs- drop ins across 1 week AMs only for maths and English
    Agreed 'benchmark' monitoring of other curriculum areas
    3 book scrutinies maths and English (1 per term)
    Agreed 'benchmark' monitoring of other curriculum outcomes termly
    Termly pupil and parent questionnaires on a single focus
    Termly data tracking for English and maths and review meetings with teachers
    Attendance data termly
    SDP and SEF update termly
    I am trying to organise monitoring for TAs twice a year also- but struggling to fit them in. However, they deliver lots of intervention and we really need to monitor impact.
    Find out what has been done historically and develop it.
    Interested to know what others do too.

  8. Similar, all lesson observations, PMR objectives are recorded centrally within the same system twice a year.
    Objectives include Prof stnds, T&L and SDP projects and school priorities. All automatically link back to updating our self-evaluation so the SEF is a dynamic document in our school.
    Questionaires, surveys, attendance, benchmarks evaluated termly and analysed within same system to again inform SEF.
    Sorry its nothing new particularly, just organised well.
  9. bnm


    When we develop the next year's SDP (ususally around June time) we sit with the next year's calendar and put in when all the monitoring and evaluation is going to happen. It means my diary is pretty filled up for the whole year, but it also helps to ensure my time is spent on the important stuff. I find being really specific about who when and how a development is monitored and evaluated means this process actually happens.
    We use a whole range of observations, data scrutiny, work scrutiny on a regular basis, based on SDP priorities, with time built in to have the planning meeting about what we're going to do as a result of our findings.
  10. Thank you - that is really interesting. You all sound very structured and organised - bnm your yearly plan linked to your SDP sounds a very good idea to keep focused and driven. I seem to start with good intentions but then lose momentum. I am also quite recently out of the classroom and have been a bit timid about putting too much pressure on the teachers. However, I have been frustrated this term that things I had asked them to do or thought that were in place aren't being in done.
    Sorry another question, but what do you do if staff don't hand records / info / etc in when they have been asked or don't do what you have asked them. I have a friendly relationship with my staff which I don't want to spoil and I am finding it difficult to get the balance.
    Thanks for all your comments.
  11. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    If you let them get away with it they will. If you don't get paperwork on time chase it up and continue to do so until you get it.
    Make it clear that failure to meet deadlines is a disciplinary matter, hopefully you won't have to go down that route.
  12. Tosha

    Tosha New commenter

    I assume you have a large turnover of staff!
  13. Tosha

    Tosha New commenter

    Maybe you should take long walks in the country or talk to children on the odd occasion(without a questionaire)
  14. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    I teach. Regularly. Not because I have to, because I want to. For 2 days a week I am in the classroom and i release my staff to do the things they need to. I do playground duties. I eat lunch with my children. I'm out on the yard before and after school. The staff would walk over coals for the school. They are extremely loyal and supportive. And no, there isn't a large turnover at all. Supply teachers are all eager to come back too. So your point is?
  15. I would believe his point has been overturned, but can I ask why do these threads always end in an arguement. It started so pleasantly offering advice on how to be more organised in your work day and once again another thread breaks down into turmoil. We sound like children.

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