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Tips wanted - new Head of Dept

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by meggriffin, Apr 4, 2020.

  1. meggriffin

    meggriffin New commenter

    Hiya everyone, in the midst of the Covid-19 madness, I have (via Zoom) been appointed Head of English at a new school. I haven't taught at this school, but I did do a walk around before the school closures. I am now hoping to spend my time planning for a successful start - however I don't really know the best way about this! Do any of you have any tips for making an immediate impact and good impression (obviously cake!) so that staff respect me (as I am new to both the role and the school). Thank you!
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    When does the role take effect? September?
    Get in contact with the current HOD and spend time chatting to them.
    Nearer the time set up a WhatsApp group/Teams meeting/Zoom meeting or similar with the dept and as what they want and think the dept needs.

    You really don't need to make an immediate impact, you need to settle in and take time to see what is needed and then move things on gradually and in line with school priorities.

    Staff will respect you if you are decent, hardworking, fair, good at your job and take them seriously.
  3. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    I second what caterpillartobutterfly said.

    In the meantime, you could ask to see current Schemes of Work, but more so YOU can get your head around how they are presented, rather than so you can replace/redo them. Ditto whole-school policies surrounding things like marking, feedback, data, assessment, behaviour, etc...

    Good luck.
  4. catslovelycats

    catslovelycats New commenter

    Hi Meggriffin. Do you mind me asking how they did the interview process? Were you given tasks or anything like that to do remotely? How did it work?
    I agree with what has been said. September is going to be very strange because regardless of when we go back to school, there will still be the impact of covid to deal with and being somewhere new will compound that. It's important that you give yourself time to really get a feel for the team and the English curriculum. I'd say the focus should be on next year's year 11 who are going to be feeling especially vulnerable.
  5. thejudgesscoresarein

    thejudgesscoresarein Occasional commenter

    I think it’s important for you to schedule a departmental meeting in the first days back in September before the pupils return, and use the time to introduce yourself and your priorities for the year ahead. Do the teaching colleagues have set responsibilities? E.g- KS Co/ordinator etc? If they don’t, think about establishing these- give all your team a specific responsibility for the department, it’ll make your job easier!
    First impressions definitely do count, and the performance of the department in your first year in post will be critical. The next academic year will be tougher, and my theory is that students grades will be lower- given the significant gap in school learning.
  6. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    I am not convinced that allocating work in your first meeting with your new department will win you any co-operative friends. Better to ask them what they do well and what they feel about the present set up.
  7. ChocolateChunk

    ChocolateChunk New commenter

    I agree.
    Some HoD tend to want to change a system which already works very well within the school and for both the teachers and the students. If the previous results were successful by the school standards, then I would advise sticking to this.
    There will be, however, many points which could be improved if you ask the team and Line Manager for clarity about these: collection and analysis of data, choice of texts, students response to Literature and Language for each Year group and how to increase their performance for these, push for literacy etc.
  8. Robfreeman

    Robfreeman Occasional commenter

    Hi im not a HoD but im am the teaching version of a prostitute, i tend to do a couple of years move on get new experiences. In 10 years and 4 schools ive had 7 HoD's if i could make a suggestion please dont rush in and change everything. Yep immediate impact which is noticable. Also great way to throw your staff out of their comfort zone.

    Take a month, see what's working what isnt talk to us, listen you dont have to do what we suggest but listening creates the impression your approachable. The first thing one HoD did was walk in trash everything the school was using bring in completely new schemes. Result 4 resignations within 8 months.

    Also dont do the cake at the start its a nice touch but makes you seem like your trying to be our friend, respect isnt earnt through cake. Remember your the person who may one day have to put one of them on competency thats much harder if they are your friend.

    I know im not a HoD id like to be one day though.

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