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New role advice...

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by rehaank, Aug 30, 2019.

  1. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter


    I posted the same thread in the SLT forum but got no responses so was hoping I could yield some reasonable advice and guidance from here! I've copied and pasted the same thread below:

    I'm starting a new school/sixth form in September and, unlike my previous school, it is overtly more challenging in respect to standards, attitude, behaviour and results.

    I will be the 'Lead' Deputy Head and Safeguarding/CP lead, primarily in charge of the SLT. There are 3 other deputy heads, each taking responsibility for KS3, KS4 and KS5, in union with the AHTs.

    At my prior school/sixth form, as DH / AHT I lead wholeschool T&L and behaviour. However, there were not many behavioural 'issues' or challenges per se and so, while I have experience, I would still like to seek some advice for this new role and what I should be prepared for.

    I hope to help make significant improve standards in the school/sixth form, and any advice or guidance would be much appreciated!
  2. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    As you mention behaviour as being the area you feel you lack experience in, I would say to find out:

    - if there is a clear and fit for purpose behaviour management policy
    - whether the students understand it
    - whether it is consistently enforced
    - whether the students feel it is consistently and fairly enforced
    - what training is in place for staff to manage behaviour
    - what are the key triggers for poor behaviour? what are the common factors? (e.g corridors? after break? homophobia? students with low reading ability?) how can these be mitigated?
    - how is data collected on behaviour issues? what does the data tell you? which are you target groups? (e.g. looked after children? girls? boys? a particular minority group?)
    - how do students feel about the school? are they proud to be students there? what makes them proud? how can that be celebrated? if they aren't, how can they begin to feel pride in their school and therefore themselves?
    - how involved are parents in the school?

    To be honest, I doubt you could improve standards and results unless behaviour improves.

    Good luck!
    strawbs and rehaank like this.
  3. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    Thank you for this, this has helped me evaluate my vision clearly in my head and I've been able to use this to draft my 'vision' which I'll need to present next week, I appreciate this!

    The main issue is indeed the behaviour (and apparent lack of respect for learning kindled by failed attempts of previous SLT), and by tackling this everything else will follow.

    And thank you - this will be a very challenging experience but I look forward to it!
  4. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    Not sure if this is what you are after and I've deleted it several times already but I worked in a school for my whole career that was considered challenging and one approach over those 30 years did resonate and, in my opinion, improved matters.

    We moved to a 'choice and consequence' philosophy and the points @rehaank makes are key ones to consider. I also personally used a system to improve the respect for learning that was well received.

    Choice and consequence was introduced to combat low-level disruption but involved everyone following it consistently - particularly those who had good discipline as it provided the basis to ensure students got the consistency. The choice was part was to catch both positive and negative behaviour with consequential rewards and remedial action for each. In a classroom situation students misbehaving in a minor manner would get two warnings (a 'C1' and a 'C2') that if addressed had no further remedial consequences - the positive one being a better learning environment, a 3rd incident would get a 'C3' and required the student to return at break or lunch where the teacher would talk to them and ask why they had needed to be given 3 reminders and to work out what they'd like to see in the next lesson. If a 4th is required then the student would be sent to a senior member of staff and a standard letter sent home. If this happened a number of times in a week then an after school detention run by SLT was the consequence.

    Our reward system built up points for positive behaviour and I used it to reinforce respect for learning by, when asking questions, if a student did not know the answer asking them to nominate someone in the class who they thought would...if that person got it right they got a 'point' but, crucially, if at the end of the lesson the original student could then answer the question they also got a 'point'. The brighter students were receiving respect from their peers for their knowledge and the weaker ones wanted them to get it right so they could also get the 'reward'. Points could be spent in a rewards office which stocked pens and other useful bits and pieces but also other items voted for by the students - queue jump vouchers for the lunch queue were popular!
  5. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    Thank you for this, this is an interesting idea and could be something to implement into the lower years.

    I am currently enforcing a strict 'zero tolerance' policy, especially with the GCSE kids, attributing more gravitas to their actions, with more dense consequences.

    3 strikes seems too lenient, for now, but I do like the 'reward' concept as that is an important part of student morale; can't turn the school into a dictatorship!

    Hopefully, by tackling behaviour, I can then tackle the teaching quality but this is all going to be very arduous it seems! Fingers crossed for next week!
  6. install

    install Star commenter

    I would tackle poor behaviour by promoting Sixth Form Prefects and image eg Head Boy, Head Girl in both Yr12 and Yr13, and encouraging letters of application from the Sixth Form.

    I would also encourage Student Surveys about the subjects they are studying and any issues they feel they face. It may be tricky but they need to have a voice which maybe they don't have at the moment.

    I would also involve staff far more with the Sixth Form and make it a School Priority in every way eg Sixth Form Asssmblies, Sixth Form Help Study every Monday, Sixth Form Trips, Sixth Form UCAS Form Day etc.

    Finally, I would find out who the best Sixth Form tutors and teachers are and get their input on how to improve Sixth Form motivation and resilience. It would be tempting to also make the Sixth Form tutor groups smaller eg a ratio of one tutor to 10 students to get a more of a business-like approach in place.

    Good luck!
    rehaank likes this.

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