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Unexpected Acting Headship

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by ZestyMordant, Dec 28, 2015.

  1. ZestyMordant

    ZestyMordant New commenter

    Hi, I'm a long time reader, but first time poster looking for some advice. I teach in a very small school (not LA ). Recently we had a new head appointed. After a very turbulent 18 months and to cut a long story short, the head has now gone. The board of govenors have appointed me as acting head until further notice. It was a complete shock and I basically did the best I could to get through December. Now that I have had some breathing space and a good rest, I need to make a plan, but I feel like I don't know where to start. I have lots of admin tasks like contracts to sort, financial issues etc. Also we are a VERY fragile and worn down staff, due to the issues of the previous head. We have "projects" that haven't been started but parents have been informed that they are underway. We don't even have a curriculum, as the previous head stated that they had written a school specific curriculum and provided staff with weekly "planning". There is no curriculum and plans were found online. These issues are the tip of the iceberg. Last month I ensured that the bills got paid and staff got any overtime they were due.
    Basically we are in a mess in every possible way. I do have fantastic collegues, supportive parents, great kids and a very supportive C of G. I want to do a good job, this was something that wasn't expected, but now I have to get on with it, but where do I start?! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks :)
  2. BobDowne

    BobDowne New commenter

    I found myself in a very similar situation but was made Head from June last year so have started the journey!! Happy to help if you want to send me a message.
  3. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Was there no "curriculum" in place prior to the arrival 18 months ago of this new head?
  4. ZestyMordant

    ZestyMordant New commenter

    Yes, we had a curriculum that was based on the NC. It was quite comprehensive and although it may have been a little dated, it worked. The new head wanted to write their own to better fit the ethos of the school. As it stands now we have nothing. Although parents were told that we follow a tailor made curriculum unique to the school. In reality we are given various EYFS and KS1 plans that have been taken from different sources online. Teachers were not allowed to plan.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply :)
  5. ZestyMordant

    ZestyMordant New commenter

    Thank you, that's really kind.
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    OK, First things first.

    Which means CP and H&S. Is everything set up for these? Do you have a Designated Person for CP issues? A CP policy? H&S Policy? Is someone i/c of checking it?

    If not - and this is what I'll say every time - dig out the former one and use that so that you are at least running safely. I will add - are you an Indy School? Make sure that you are complying with all regulatory requirements. Are you a member of a SLT union? eg NAHT or ASCL. If not, join immediately. Ask them for help for the legal framework.

    Next - teaching and learning. As @Middlemarch says - dig out the former one. What the parents were told was happening under the former Head is no longer current. You can do now what you decide. (That goes too for those projects that haven't been started. You may need to ditch them in silence). So I suggest getting staff together and asking everyone what they have still from the previous curriculum that can be used again by themselves or by colleagues. Teaching needs to happen, and to a plan, ASAP. In my view you can forget for the moment the monitoring of T&L. Staff need to be trusted to get on effectively with T&L once the new/old curriculum has been agreed upon as a temporary measure. Which may or may not be a long-term one.

    Thirdly staff. It sounds as though they are on board with you, but do make a special effort to consult them, to thank them, to appreciate all that they do. Fragile and worn out may have recovered over the holidays - do be supportive and appreciative.

    Fourthly parents.
    A reassuring letter which, without saying that the former head caused problems or had left you in difficulty, tells them that the school is in good hands, that the learning is well organised, that your superb team of staff are doing their very best for the children and T&L is going ahead well.

    Fifthly an audit. What is going well, what needs to be refined, amended, re-thought, re-done.

    Sixthly - CoG. keep him/her informed about everything. And ask for help. For a start - do you have a Bursar or Business manager to deal with finances and contracts? Perhaps you should have one . .

    Finally planning for the future
    . Make sure that the ship is not going to sink under you before you start steering a new course based on your vision for the school. Which you may well not have at present, as you are a tad submerged with other things.

    Books from Amazon to help

    How to Survive and Succeed as a Headteacher


    Brilliant Head Teacher: What You Need to Know to be a Truly Outstanding Head Teacher (Brilliant Teacher)


    Successful Headteachers in the Primary School: A Practical Guide (Improving Schools Improving Teaching Skills...


    Very best wishes for 2016

  7. ZestyMordant

    ZestyMordant New commenter

    Thank you so much for your advice, it was just what I needed to see everything prioritised in order.

    After reading Middlemarch's response about the old curriculum, I went upstairs to look through my teaching "stuff" and found the curriculum binder from when I started there. We had to hand them in last year but I think I had 2 copies, so must have kept one. A good start!

    CP and other policies are another issue, as I don't think we have them. Lots of policies were " in the process of being rewritten to better fit the ethos of the school". I do know that we do have a HS policy as that was my responsibility. I can't begin to describe all of the things that have happened. Firstly, I would be easily identified and secondly I don't think anyone would believe me! So CP
    policy is a priority.

    I think that all of the staff would love to able to plan for their own class again. I was thinking about reinstating PPA as this was replaced with planning meetings as we didn't need to plan on our own due to the planning being given to us. This resulted in everybody taking an awful lot of work home. I was thinking that if everybody had their own PPA then it might help. Possibly a little extra whilst we get used to the new, old curriculum.

    Hopefully this will be a good start. I'm a little worried about staff turnover as we have lost a LOT of people over the last 18 months. Some people were here one day and then just disappeared. I know that many people were unhappy and actively looking for work, myself included. Perhaps giving back autonomy and professional trust may help this a little.

    Thank you again for the advice, I will also be hitting Amazon later :)
    yawningduck likes this.
  8. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    PM me on 31 Dec. I'll send you a CP policy, and perhaps some others. Am in the wilds of Wales away from my main computer at present.

    Best wishes

  9. Ruthiesword

    Ruthiesword New commenter

    Just wondered how you were getting on now and if you needed anything - happy to share if there is anything you need.

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