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one person dept in big academy - please help!

Discussion in 'Music' started by manuscript2007, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. manuscript2007

    manuscript2007 New commenter

    I'll be going back to work in Sept four days a week after being on maternity leave. However, I am going to be on my own!

    They want concerts, carol services, instrumental lesson uptake, gcse uptake, as and a2 in one year, plus extra curricular! How am I going to do this? I think it might actually kill me.

    Please help and offer advice or support or drugs lol
    I am desperate, at the minute I am dreading leaving my baby at four months old to go back, it's going to be hell. Now they're putting me under all this extra pressure I'm in tears and very worried.

    Anyone got any cracking SoW that would encourage gcse uptake ? Shortcuts for HoD admin?

    Sorry if this doesnt make any sense, I am completely in a flat spin about it all. :-(
  2. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    Can't help with SoW - perhaps others will do that, but there are published schemes out there that you could use and adapt. Better to do that than start from scratch for everything.
    Thoughts about help with extra-curricular.
    I have used parent helpers before - it is amazing what talent you can find - I've even had some professional musicians help me! One parent used to come and help and is now a peri teaching clarinet, so don't dismiss the idea.
    I've also made use of the peri teachers for ensemble (but they do require paying for the extra time) - the guitar teacher for guitar ensemble, the violin teacher for string orchestra and the singing teacher for chamber choir for example.
    I made one of the office staff my 'best friend' and with agreement from the head, she was able to take over a lot of the admin for me - especially sorting out the peri teachers and associated paperwork - always a headache!
    Use the county music service to help instrumental lesson uptake. They probably have music groups that will come in and demonstrate a family of instruments, perform some music and talk to the pupils. In the past I've also got the peri teachers to give demonstrations too. Use your good musicians too to show off their skills and use older pupils to help with the younger groups. Do you have a good pianist in your sixth form that would be able to assist you in choir rehearsals?
    What talents do you have in the rest of the staff? You may find there are teachers from other departments that are willing to get involved in some way.
    A final word of caution though - don't take too much on at first - it is always easier to increase what you do, rather than realise you have started too much and need to drop activities. Your sanity is important and you are no good to the school or your family if you are stressed to the point of tears all the time. Try to keep some lunchtimes or after school sessions clear. Give yourself at least one easy day in the week - something to look forward to.
    Hope all goes well [​IMG] Good luck!
  3. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    Some more thoughts on other things I have done:
    Take the school orchestra to feeder schools. Include solos too.
    Orchestra performs at prospective parents evening - all parents given details of instrumental lessons - not just those that ask.
    Buskers around the school on open evenings.
    Group of pupils playing every week in assembly - usually playing the hymn, but you could have intro and outro music played by them if you don't sing hymns.

    I managed to get at least 50% of the school taking instrumental lessons - but my middle school of 400 pupils is probably much smaller than your Academy.
    (I've bowed out of permanent teaching now and have passed the baton on to someone else - but the level of interest in Music in the school is still as strong as ever.)
  4. First, remember that no-one thanks a martyr. I'm sure it suits the school to think that they can have a top rate music department with one 0.8 teacher, or perhaps they just don't really care that much. Either way, you need to structure your department around what you can do, not what they want. The important thing that they need to realise is that achieving many of these things takes time (sometimes several years) and money. I suspect that they do not want to give up either of these things but they must realise that good departments do not happen magically.
    To Concerts, carol services etc. I would expect a 0.8 teacher (on their own) to do two lunchtime rehearsals and one or two after school. You will need time to do all the department duties and I would be wary of taking on more. This would suggest a choir and a band or two. For concerts you are probably going to need more than that (carol service sorted though) so getting any peri teachers to take an ensemble on could be useful, although I have found that the attendance dwindles if they don't teach all the students involved. Keep an eye on that. As a previous poster has said, that will cost money. So be it.
    Instrumental lesson uptake. With the former you can (if you like) play the numbers game and it is often easy to encourage takeup of guitar, drums and piano. However that will not help out your ensembles in years to come. If take up of ensemble instruments is low you could try getting the school to subsidise the lessons wholly or at least partially for some students. With that, you can achieve some degree of control over what is learned. Good luck.
    GCSE uptake is more tricky because it relies a great deal on the status of music in the school (probably not at its height), the number of options (made more difficult since the Eng Bac) and the attitude to music lessons in KS3. The first and third of these will take time to bring up and you will receive precious little support in the second. Try to get ahead of colleagues, keen to defend their own subjects, peddling nonsense such as, "You do a lot of music outside of lessons, so why take it for GCSE?". With regards to a SoW, I have found that it is the enthusiasm and skill of the teacher rather than the lesson content which leads to good uptake. Teach them whatever you think through which you can communicate passion, enthusiasm and musicianship.
    Shortcuts for HoD admin. As my boss could tell you, I specialise in these [​IMG] The simple answer is to do what you can and when you get into difficulties call out for help. There seem to be pressure points in the life of a music department at the beginning (admin) and end (concerts) of terms. Try to get the school to give you some admin support at those times. Do what you can do and then stop. Don't stay at school every night until 6.00 and worry until the next day about work undone.
    Finally just remember that it's only a job and you have a baby which will need your energy and support - that's what's important. I would suggest planning what you think you can do in year 1, 2-3 etc and what support, financial and otherwise you require from the school. Then present it for discussion. You might be surprised at their attitude. If you receive a brick wall, turn your back to them and tell them to look for the cape (superwoman reference) as you head for the Jobs section of the TES!
  5. Hi
    Where are you based manuscript? If you are in the south west or could persuade your school for a day off you are more than welcome to come and take as many resources as you need. We offer GCSE, Btec and Music tech level 2 and AS/A2 level 3. One of the secretaries deals directly with the peris as they are self employed and that takes away a lot of the strain. We may be able to help with arrangements to. Drop me a line if I can help. cheers. yarrow.
  6. Hi manuscript,
    I totally agree with musotim's suggestion of writing down what is do-able over the next few years; to add more weight to your argument, it might be worth either outlining exactly how much rehearsal time is needed to prepare for performances, and / or drawing SMT's attention to the current output of other 0.8-departments in your area. Unless I'm being very blonde, how can they expect you to teach KS3, 4 and 5 in four days per week? It sounds completely impossible, even before you throw in extra-curricular!
    As a previous poster mentioned, KS4 uptake will increase if lessons are enjoyable and motivating - which means you being happy and energetic. Yet another reason to prioritise your own sanity! I hope things improve for you.
  7. First of all, to deal with one or two points already raised. Admin, you should NOT be doing any - you are protected against this under the work load agreement. Cover - you should NOT be going any for the same reason. PPA time, you must NOT be asked to use this for anything other than what you need to use it for - meetings included.
    Secondly, I am a .67 running a music department in an accademy. I do three concerts a year and a carol service. I DO have a sixth form, which comes in handy. I have an orchestra which rehearses once a week and two choirs and that's it! I will not take on any more. The choirs both rehearse at lunchtime.
    My emphasis in extra-curricular is on students putting music together themselves. I try to make concerts last no more than 90 minutes plus an interval - no one wants to sit through endless violin or vocal solos. I do include student run ensembles including rock bands - they are something I don't have to spend time on.
    However, the most important thing that I do that keeps me sane is that I have very simple schemes of work in which I plan the whole year for KS3 and KS4. That way, whatever else is going to happen, I know what I am going to teach in the classroom - and that's the most important thing, isn't it. Get that right and the rest will follow.
    I think you have a good argument to say that there will be no extra-curricular music (except lessons) for the last six weeks. Give yourself a break.
    Finally, you MUST speak to your union representative NOW about your concerns. You have the right not to be put under preassure and the school has a responsibility towards you to look after your physical and mental health. You should not be unduly stressed by unreasonable work load or expectations.
    My advice - get the teaching right and then build up the ohter things slowly, and at your own pace, setting reasonable goals.
  8. Hi!
    I went back at exactly the same time as you will be doing. If you want to get in touch email me at berksmusic3@aol.com I might be able to help you through it!
  9. manuscript2007

    manuscript2007 New commenter

    Hello everyone, thank you so much for all your support - I'm feeling better about this already. All your ideas are brilliant but some of them won't fly at our place at all.
    eg - parent helpers - unfortunately not. Peri teachers - local music service is hideously inconsistent in quality and the majority of the ones we have had are not exactly driven to succeed or inspire, it's just a cushy little day job. same with instrument uptake really
    I will definitely appeal to staff in other depts to see if they fancy running something - this could work well. Possibly some students would like to run their own groups too.
    we don't have much of an orchestra so can't take it to feeder schools. Everything that costs money will mean a battle on my hand i think, as cuts are being made left, right and centre.
    Yarrow - unfortunately i'm nowhere near you but would love to pick your brains more - which syllabus do you teach?
    tea and cake - ks 3 will be on a rota with other practical subjects. ks 3 will now have one term of music per year - i think. it's a double edged sword - they might really look forward to having music then, but how will i ever prepare them for gcse on that amount of lesson time?
    Maybe i should change to edexcel - currently doing the new aqa for the first time and i don't like it much tbh.
    madmusic - i will be emailing you soon! - mine is manuscript@hotmail.co.uk.
    thank you all for offering to help. please keep the ideas and support coming, i really need it at the mo! I know I am a good classroom teacher, deliver fun and interesting lessons on good topics - I have worked my bum off at that school and I suppose now I just have to work a bit smarter now too!
    off to read up on union stuff.....
  10. Don't work in a one person dept.
    Terrible decision.
  11. manuscript2007

    manuscript2007 New commenter

    It's not my choice Smirk, read the original post and you will see that. Even if I decide to move on, I will have to work in a one person department for the time being.
  12. I am always amazed by what schools expect of one man shows.
    It is not possible. With cutbacks the only way to relieve the pressure is to become more senior, reduce your teaching hours and increase your salary.
    If you are going back four days a week then that is 80%- for me teaching only, say 15 hours, no extra curric which should be paid extra in any case. Maths teachers don't get paid for marking homework, but they can do their marking whilst drinking beer at home.
    The only way to tackle this situation is
    1. see the union and the HT together and realistically set out what the school expects- like no concerts on your own.
    2. Long term get out.
    Divorce (if you are married) and depression are the dangers you risk if you do not deal with this situation.
    My hair only stopped falling out when I quit a one man dept and went elsewhere. Do not underestimate what the stress can do to you.
  13. Smirk is right
  14. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Yes, but what happens when you have a personality clash with the other music teacher? That is more stressful.
    I am sole-teacher (we get no responsibility extra pay - is that the case in England?) but have 2 wonderful visiting instructors so don't feel too lonely! It is hard work but I set my own courses and only do what I have time for.
    Deep breathing, confident speaking and being well prepared is important! [​IMG]
  15. Once upon a time a music teacher working alone in a school could count on a music service that provided much extra curricular.
    In some boroughs- Barking and Dagenham or Grays-Thurrock- this still exists. In others- like most of Essex or Southend- it does not. Every school is an island and the music teacher must somehow magic up a symphony orchestra, decent GCSE results and a massive choir all by himself.
    More often than not they expect rehearsals at weekends and the music teacher to work night and day at the same time there is an army of assistant HTs doing diddly squat. And no budget for music. We live in a puritan country so paying for music is a bit of a no no, n'est-ce pas?
    If you can, get out and go somewhere else. Preferably without a cloud over your head. Difficult but not impossible. Work crazy for a year then get appyling for everything going.
  16. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Smirk, with all due respect
    the world contains more than the south of England.
    Again, this is not always the case and as teachers we have the right to say "NO" when bullied into a corner - difficult but not impossible.
    I think OP is looking for constructive advice and I feel that to say "move on" is not that helpful, just my opinion.................[​IMG]
  17. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    And I don't know of any Maths teachers (or any teachers) who drink beer whilst marking - that is unprofessional and I hope none of my own kids' teachers would do that
  18. Fortunately I don't live there any more but I was speaking from personal experience.
    Essex is a large county with a population of over 2 million and a lot of schools. I have experience with schools all over the county dating back to 1976.
    Some bits of the county have been 'chopped off' like Thurrock or Southend and so many schools have opted out of county control.
    How this compares with elsewhere in the country I have no idea whatsoever.
    Look up Essex Music Services on
    Then look up Thurrock music services on
    Or Barking and Dagenham on
    The difference is astonishing evident in how the website is organised.
    Often the same people working everywhere but having worked for all three areas they are on different planets.
    Southend used to have one of the best youth orchestras in the SE of England. Now it is a shadow of its former self. Ditto Southend Boys Choir. Southend is veryhappy with a few grammar schools getting together and doing good quality stuff while the Southend unitary authority does diddly squat.
    Being optomistic and realistic are not the same thing. Being positive won't save you from depression, marriage breakdown or worse. Everyone is hanging onto their jobs for dear life at the mo, but rats on a ship no went to jump. Sometimes it is better to be on the dole than in a shtty job.

  19. And spell properly.
    Know when to jump.

    I am drinking water with syrup whislt marking.
  20. manuscript 2007, is your HT divorced perchance?
    Any idea why that might be?

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