Leadership Focus Nov/Dec 2011

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Issue 51 November/December 2011






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A new measure of success Predictably, the responsibility for the rioting that took place across the country in the summer was placed firmly on schools by many commentators (page 22). It’s a simplistic notion, and yet glancing through the pages of this issue of LF, I was struck by the potentially overwhelming effect of multiple education strategies on the schools, their leaders, pupils, parents and therefore, ultimately, society. The Government seems to be moving inexorably towards a focus on academic achievement as the sole measure of success, setting up what, for some, will be impossible – and inappropriate – challenges. As David Price says: “We now teach the exam first, the subject second and the student third,” (page 25). The assessment regime still focuses on academic achievement. This is reinforced by Ofsted’s new key accountabilities for schools, which naturally include ‘achievement and progress’. If a school is failing to deliver on these it is increasingly likely to be summarily ‘academised’ (see pages 10 and 15). Schools are pitted against schools in this race to ‘achieve’ against narrow criteria. Michael Gove’s paradoxical statement – “I’m not going to rest until every school in this country is as good as the best” (page 12) – sums up the muddled thinking. Parents’ expectations of schools, at least according to the groups that represent their views, are often more enlightened than the Government seems to assume. Annette Wiles at PTA-UK says: “There always seems to be a commonality of views between parents and school leaders.” Parents want to be involved, informed and given the chance to support their children’s learning (page 27). There are many more

positive ways that this can be achieved than through anonymous comments on a website (page 7). There is a huge amount of good work going on in our schools and it is vital that this is recognised and valued. BBC business editor Robert Peston’s scheme to get high-quality motivational speakers into state schools aims to give pupils a sense that they are valued for who they are, and that there are more ways than one to achieve. At the same time it reinforces the importance of working hard in school (page 41). In addition, organisations such as ShelterBox, the NAHT’s charity of the year, has motivated pupils to find ways to help victims of disasters in a practical way (page 44). And in spite of the pressures, school leaders everywhere continue to achieve for their students at all levels both because – and in spite – of the system, with new younger heads constantly rising to the challenges (page 32).

‘Parents’ expectations of schools, according to the groups that represent their views, are often more enlightened than the Government assumes’

redactive publishing limited EDITORIAL & ASSOCIATION ENQUIRIES NAHT, 1 Heath Square, Boltro Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 1BL www.naht.org.uk Tel: 01444 472 472 Editor: Robert Sanders Editorial board: Russell Hobby, Steve Iredale, Mike Welsh, Chris Harrison and Robert Sanders Leadership Focus is published by Redactive Publishing Limited on behalf of the NAHT

17 Britton Street, London EC1M 5TP www.redactive.co.uk Tel: 020 7880 6200 Email: naht@redactive.co.uk

EDITORIAL TEAM Managing editor: Steve Smethurst Assistant editors: Rebecca Grant and Sarah Campbell News and features reporter: Hollie Ewers Designer: Adrian Taylor Senior picture editor: Claire Echavarry Production manager: Jane Easterman Cover illustration: Phil Hackett Printed by: Wyndeham Heron

ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Advertisement sales: Edward Taylor Sales director: Jason Grant

Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulation: 27,577 (July 2009-June 2010)

ISSN: 1472–6181 © Copyright 2011 NAHT All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be copied or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publishers. While every care has been taken in the compilation of this publication, neither the publisher nor the NAHT can accept responsibility for any inaccuracies or changes since compilation, or for consequential loss arising from such changes or inaccuracies, or for any other loss, direct or consequential, arising in connection with information in this publication. Acceptance of advertisements does not imply recommendation by the publishers. The views herein are not necessarily those of the publisher, the editor or the NAHT.


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They can be pushy, persuasive and passive – but what do parents really want from you? BY STEVE SMETHURST

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NEWS FOCUS 6 PENSIONS UPDATE LF reports from the teaching unions’ lobby of Parliament.

6 EXCLUSIONS TRIAL Secondary school heads will be responsible for excluded pupils’ education under a DfE scheme – but this could mean responsibility with no control over alternative providers.

7 CHANGES AT OFSTED Few complaints over the proposed new Ofsted framework, but the quality of inspection teams is still cause for concern. Can the new Chief Inspector put this right?

8 BEST OF THE BLOGS The DfE website is no more than a portal for championing academies, says Warwick Mansell. Plus: it seems Steve Jobs predicted the rise of free schools back in the 1990s. 4

8 ANDREWS ‘HEEDING MEMBERS’ Delegates at NAHT Cymru’s conference challenged Education Minister Leighton Andrews. He might finally be listening.

9 NEWS IN BRIEF NCPTA gets a name change and an image boost; GCSE results ‘victory’ for academies; and autism conferences hit the road.

9 ASSURE: BOOSTING SCHOOL SUPPORT New service from NAHT will give members access to quality-assured HR, finance and health and safety support.

10 FORCED ACADEMIES: NO SILVER BULLET Pressuring schools into converting won’t bring the results the Government expects. Successful academies are those that have support of school leadership and community, says NAHT.

12 PARTY CONFERENCES: SEASON REVIEW LF rounds up the best bits from this year’s political gatherings in Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool.


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Five school leaders under 35 tell Rebecca Grant that it’s quality, not quantity, of experience that makes a great head teacher – and not minding being the boss of someone twice your age.

36 ICT IN FOCUS Out go computer suites; in come iPads, green screens and school-wide wireless networks. Sarah Campbell finds out what’s new in school technology ahead of BETT 2012.

40 SPEAK UP The launch of Speakers 4 Schools – and how to secure someone inspirational to come and fire up your pupils.

44 LESSONS FROM DISASTER ShelterBox is the NAHT’s charity of the year. Sarah Campbell learns about their work, and what schools can do to help.



15 RUSSELL HOBBY’S COLUMN Pensions are the big issue, but the NAHT is campaigning on – and making progress in – plenty of other areas too.

17 TOBY SALT’S COLUMN Teaching schools and SLEs are a growth opportunity for school leaders, says the National College’s deputy chief.

18 TEN THINGS WE’VE LEARNED This issue: hoodies make friendly teachers; surf ’s up in Hawaiian schools; and UK parents want the cane back.

20 HEADS UP Three school leaders take the magazine’s big question cchallenge by telling us about their favourite biscuits, guilty ssecrets and the biggest challenge of all... their best joke.

220 0 BEHIND THE HEADLINES: RIOTS Was the summer’s unrest your fault? Some people think so. Hollie Ewers explores the fallout from the riots.

48 WHAT’S W NEW? A All the latest books and educational resources.



O Our regular columnist visits a school that ttakes its tea breaks very seriously indeed.


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Pensions lobby unites workforce Thousands of education professionals from all the main teaching unions descended on Parliament for a day of intense lobbying about the proposed changes to pensions. The NAHT was one of seven unions, which also included the NUT and ASCL, represented on 26 October. Standing with colleagues outside the Houses of Parliament, NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby said such an impressive turnout would “let the MPs know that it isn’t just the unions making the fuss over the pensions changes – it’s actually the education workforce that is upset about them.” Teachers gathered to register in Central London before heading to meet their MPs at Westminster. By lunchtime the queue to get in snaked almost the length of the Houses of Parliament. Julie Hogan, acting assistant principal of the Woodlands Primary Phase of The Ridings’ Federation Yates International Academy, an all-through academy in South Gloucestershire, was there with NUT colleagues and had come in support of her staff. She said: “I’m really cross because


Teachers combine voices to safeguard future of profession

we’ve already got two young members of staff who are opting out of the pension because they can’t afford it. It worries me for the future stability of the teachers’ pension. If I was cynical I’d say perhaps the Government is aiming to destabilise the scheme altogether.” Concern for young colleagues was a common reason for turning up to the lobby. Sue Street, director of e-learning at Harrow High School in North London, said: “The

‘We’ve already got two young members of staff who are opting out of the pension because they can’t afford it’

changes will put off young leaders who, like me, have a big mortgage, kids, families. They might think twice about making that jump from head of department into senior leadership if they are not going to see that extra reward at the end.” Kay Gerrett, head teacher of Cedar Road Primary in Northampton, raised the issue of teachers having to work for longer. She said she was planning to show her MP the evidence brought by the NAHT that pensions are in fact affordable as they are. “I just want some answers, really,” she said. For more information go to www.naht.org.uk and click on ‘Pensions campaign’ See also www.decentpensions.org.uk

Exclusions trial prompts quality concerns The heads of 300 English secondary schools are to be made responsible for excluded pupils’ education provision as part of a Department for Education trial. These schools – rather than their local authorities – will receive funding for, and decide on, the children’s alternative provision. The intention to carry out the trial was outlined in last year’s schools White Paper. Schools Minister Nick Gibb


said: “The quality of education for permanently excluded children is so poor that scarcely any achieve the minimum level of qualifications they need to succeed. This trial is one of a range of education reforms designed to drive up the quality and academic standards of alternative education for excluded children.” Jan Myles, specialist adviser at the NAHT, said that the main concern with this direction was that even if the quality

of alternative provision is poor, the responsibility will rest with school leaders. She said: “It worries me that there isn’t sufficient state provision at the moment, leaving the market open for non-state providers to start opening free schools and pupil referral units to take the excluded children. With the Government’s new plans, school leaders will commission the service, but they won’t necessarily have control over it.”


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Sir Michael Wilshaw, the new Chief Inspector of Schools.

Ofsted shift gives hope for reform The proposed new Ofsted inspection framework will put renewed emphasis on pupil achievement, the quality of teaching, the quality of leadership and pupil safety. The NAHT was broadly happy with the direction of the proposals – which are subject to consultation ending on 24 November. However, General Secretary Russell Hobby expressed disappointment that there was no mention of quality assurance of inspection teams. He said: “It can only be right that inspections focus on teaching and learning. But the real concern for schools is the application – the quality and consistency of the inspection teams. The damage from a rogue inspector can be significant.” Russell was also critical of Ofsted’s new Parent View online questionnaire, which allows anyone to sign up to comment on a school (see feature, page 26). Ofsted will use the comments to help decide on priorities for inspection. He said that parents have the right to make their views known, but added: “The proposals for anonymous parental complaints are risky, and the safeguards against abuse fallible. Fake

addresses and Facebook campaigns can easily whip up vexatious complaints. Is it too much to ask people to put their name to them?” Meanwhile, the appointment of Sir Michael Wilshaw, head teacher of Mossbourne Academy in East London, as the new Chief Inspector of Schools was cause for optimism. Described by Education Secretary Michael Gove as ‘one of the best educators of his generation’ and by Russell Hobby as ‘undoubtedly an outstanding school leader’, Sir Michael pledged to “not only provide a commentary on educational standards but also challenge the service to provide consistently high-quality provision”. Russell hoped that Sir Michael would use his office to impose a robust inspection regime employing credible inspectors. He also asked that the new Chief Inspector recognise that excellence is not achieved by creating an atmosphere of fear that prevents risk-taking and stifles creativity. Take part in the Ofsted framework consultation at www.ofsted.biz/resources/ common-inspection-framework-2012 Parent View: www.parentview.ofsted.gov.uk

Looking for information on Britain’s education system? Unless you want to find out more about academies or free schools, Warwick Mansell doesn’t recommend you check out the Department for Education’s home page (www. education.gov.uk). The site is a championing voice for new school systems and fails to offer basic information such as a guide to school types. “The department clearly sees its job not as one of providing a neutral gateway for information on all schools, but of manipulating opinion towards a particular political vision as to how schools should be organised,” he writes. www.naht.org.uk/welcome/comment/blogs/ warwick-mansells-blog

GOVE’S SHORT-SIGHTED SPEECH Reporting from the Conservative Party conference, Susan Young is surprised that Michael Gove’s speech – a “quick, self-congratulatory whizz through differences his government has made to education” – failed to mention changes to funding, spending and teacher discipline. “I suppose it would have complicated a crowd-pleasing good news story to have talked about these,” Susan writes. “But for head teachers these will be a major issue compared with physics or teacher training.” www.naht.org.uk/welcome/comment/blogs/susan-young

AN APPLE FOR THE TEACHER Following the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs in October, US education blogger Larry Cuban dug out an old interview from the mid-1990s in which Jobs shares his views on the future of schools. His vision for government-subsidised private schools founded by members of the public who set their own curriculum has striking similarities to the free schools model. And, surprisingly, he believed technology had a limited role in the classroom. larrycuban.wordpress.com

PARENTING SKILLS “In 2007, when the Conservatives first promoted their idea of free schools, they stressed that parents would be in the lead,” writes education specialist Mike Baker. As the Government announces the latest list of schools that have been successful in their bid for ‘freedom’, Mike wonders why so few parent groups are among them. www.mikebakereducation.co.uk/blog/410/ where-are-the-parent-led-new-free-schools


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Andrews ‘starts to heed’ members Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews (pictured) probably felt he had rather a lucky escape at NAHT Cymru’s Annual Conference in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, in October. Inevitably, pensions were the hot topic, but as he pointed out: “This is a non-devolved matter and as a Welsh minister I have no powers to intervene.” However, there were plenty of other topics that the 100 delegates were well aware that he does have the ability to influence – not least of which is banding, the minister’s plan to give each school a grade to better target additional support. Anna Brychan, Director of NAHT Cymru, said: “If it leads to better-quality, better-targeted support that will raise the game across Wales, then that is definitely a worthwhile prize. But what worries us is the danger of creating a league table – and league tables encourage short-term fixes and introduce an unhelpful element of


Delegates at NAHT Cymru’s conference challenged the Education Minister – and he might finally be listening

competition.” In addition, a single grade is too simplistic to give parents and the community a proper idea of what a school is like, she said. Anna did feel that the minister is starting to heed members. “His presentation was certainly less combative than last year,” she told LF. “I think there is a recognition that working with head teachers rather than against them is a more effective way forward.”

‘The worry is that banding could create league tables – and league tables encourage short-term fixes and introduce an unhelpful element of competition’



of the charity’s services, including online file storage and a PTA-to-parents email facility.



The National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations has changed its name to PTA-UK. Chief executive David Butler said: “The name had become outdated and no longer resonated with the 130,000 PTA volunteers that we support every day.” NCPTA was formed in 1956 and has grown to represent 13,600 PTAs across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which collectively contribute £100 million to schools every year. The name change comes at the same time as an expansion

The Department for Education claimed a victory for its academies programme as it revealed that GCSE results at academies this year improved by more than twice the level of other maintained schools. In all schools, the percentage of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs including English and maths rose from 55.2 to 57.8, an increase of 2.6 percentage points. In academies the percentage rose 5.3 points from 40.6 to 45.9. However, NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby said: “Considering the time and resources

She was also impressed with the level of engagement among members. “The highlight for me was the number of members volunteering to become involved in policy development. I haven’t experienced that level of spontaneous determination to get into the debate before.” She added that many members’ concerns relate to the lack of sufficient data available in primary schools to make an accurate judgment. “He’s taken on some concerns and is happy to have a conversation about that, which is intensely helpful,” she said. For latest NAHT Cymru news, go to www.naht.org.uk/welcome/about-you/ your-location/naht-cymru

the Government has pumped into academies, it would have been frankly scandalous if they hadn’t risen to the challenge. If only Education Secretary Michael Gove could apply similar support to the whole education system, who knows what our schools could achieve?”

AUTISM ROADSHOWS The National Autistic Society is running a series of roadshows to teach education professionals tools and strategies to support children with autism. As LF went to press, places were still available at the Newcastle, Birmingham, Exeter and London conferences, which are sponsored by Axcis Education Recruitment. Visit www. autism.org.uk/conferences/roadshow2011


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Assure: boosting school support Following demand from members, the NAHT has introduced a set of new services that will give them access to quality-assured HR, financial management and health and safety support. Assure – the title of the new provision – went live in September. It provides HR, finance and health and safety support. From 2012 its portfolio will extend to include payroll and other services. NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby outlined the reasons for setting up Assure. “The first reason is that local authority services are on the decline around the country because of the cuts to local government funding, so the traditional sources of these services are disappearing. Secondly, schools don’t always have a good way of judging the quality of the services they’re purchasing.”

Russell Hobby: ‘The motive behind Assure is to provide a range of services schools can rely on.’

This is where the extra value will lie, as the cost of Assure services will be comparable with other providers. Russell said he was confident about its effectiveness: “Our advisers – who have


been at the hard end of employment law in education for decades – have critiqued its policies and products, and will also train the staff involved.” Assure will also provide an additional income stream for the NAHT, although this was not the main reason for the initiative. “The first motive was to provide a range of services that schools can rely on,” Russell said. However, he added that he did have the future security of the Association in mind. “One of the big threats to us is the erosion of facility time (time off for union duties). We need to identify sources of income rather than just raising member subscriptions. So this could help fund branch activity in the long run.” For more information see page 51 or visit www.naht.org.uk/assure


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Forced academies: no silver bullet More than 200 schools are being threatened with forced conversion to academy status as part of a Government drive against ‘underperformance’. It’s a move that the NAHT has described as ‘threatening and intimidating’. The main targets are the 200 primary schools that have been below all three of the current floor standards for five years or more. They will be forced to seek sponsored academy status for September 2012. A further 200 – schools that have been below all three of the current criteria for two or three of the past four years – are also under intense pressure to convert. NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby said: “All too often floor standards are used to threaten and intimidate school leaders. Dedicated professionals can be treated appallingly in these processes. We believe

Successful academies have gone down that route willingly.

‘The academies that are successful have the support of the school leadership and the local community’ that structural solutions such as academy status are rarely the silver bullet they are made out to be. No one disputes that underperformance must be addressed but approaches must follow sustained, high-quality, long-term support and take account of the trajectory and

plans of the school. Partners in improvement should be chosen not imposed.” The NAHT’s head of campaigns, Lesley Gannon, told LF that both school leaders and local authorities were confused by this latest initiative. “We’re seeing a lot of debate


Pressuring schools into converting won’t bring results the Government expects, says NAHT

over the criteria. There hasn’t been the naming and shaming of recent years, which we’re grateful for. But in another way, it’s added to the confusion. Compounding this, some LAs are refusing to recognise that this year’s Sats boycott simply represents a lack of data for the year. It means that some schools are having to fight a harder battle with their LA.” NAHT’s regional officers are challenging inappropriate interventions and are helping to facilitate school leaders working together, to avoid the need for formal academy partnerships. Lesley added that the NAHT was sceptical about the logic behind the ‘forced academy’ process. “We’ve said all along that it’s not a panacea or a silver bullet. Academies that are successful tend to be successful because they have the support of the school leadership and the local community. Those things don’t apply when it has been forced upon them. For advice on the forced academies programme telephone 0300 30 30 333 or email info@naht.org.uk

Membership benefits from advice revamp Members can now call a single number to access the NAHT’s professional advice team, membership support or to reach reception. By calling 0300 30 30 333 members are presented with a menu, so that their call is routed to the required service as efficiently as possible. The change allows NAHT to operate a ‘triage’ service on calls. This means it is able to make best use of the skills of the individuals working at NAHT and its team of specialists can focus on matters that require their particular skills.


“Our triage system sets us apart from other unions,” said Alastair Jenks, the NAHT’s head of member services and delivery. “We introduced it in order to ensure our key specialists are not swamped with calls that others could deal with.” Under the new system, a new ‘representation and advice’ team works together in a tiered way to solve members’ workplace issues. Previously, lawyers, regional officers and those with expertise in education management, salaries and pensions worked separately to a large extent.

The amount of information available to members on the NAHT website has also increased, with a large number of sample policies and FAQs now available at www.naht.org.uk “This is only the start,” added Alastair. “It’s still evolving. We monitor calls to see if any patterns emerge. It’s already been useful in putting together regional perspectives. For example, sometimes we can see that a particular local authority isn’t being overly cooperative, and once we have some stats, we can take action.”


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Party conferences: season review The rise of academies and a move away from ‘soft subjects’ were the two of the Conservative party’s biggest achievements during its first year in Government, said Education Secretary Michael Gove (below) at the party’s 2011 conference in Manchester. Mr Gove told delegates to be proud that 1.2 million pupils are now benefiting from the academy system. He also said the number of academies has increased five-fold since Labour left government.

The speech reinforced the pledge he made at last year’s conference to offer greater support to teachers, stating that the party needed to ‘back them on discipline’. “We need to give them a curriculum and a set of exams which are fit for purpose. And we need to make sure that they can take pride in their profession,” he said. He also promised to improve educational opportunities for Britain’s poorest pupils. “I’m

not going to rest until every school in this country is as good as the best,” he said. Mr Gove’s pledge to improve equality in education was reinforced by Education Minister Sarah Teather (above) during her speech at the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham. “We have come to expect that poverty will always go hand in hand with poor attainment, but in other countries this does not necessarily follow,” she said. “It’s not acceptable that poor children fail. That reflects badly on the complacency of the previous government, and it reflects badly on the complacency of our society. We have to put it right.” Ms Teather outlined the Government’s plans to help combat these inequalities by extending the amount of hours of free Early Years education available to disadvantaged children. The pupil premium budget is also receiving a boost of £625 million to help pupils who have fallen behind their peers.

Michael Gove: ‘I’m not going to rest until every school in this country is as good as the best’ 12

‘Aspiration, aspiration, aspiration’ was the underlying theme of Andy Burnham’s (below) speech at the Labour conference in Liverpool. The Shadow Education Secretary, who was succeeded by Stephen Twigg (below, right) in the recent shadow cabinet reshuffle, said that children are losing their way during their secondary education because ‘they can’t see where school is taking them’. He set out Labour’s vision for the future of the education system, which he said would better prepare pupils for the modern working world. “We need an alternative. A curriculum that sets high

ambitions for everyone in English and maths. A curriculum that gets young people ready for the modern world where they can expect to have around 10 jobs in their lifetimes and will need different skills and qualities to succeed. “We need a true baccalaureate – a unified programme of study geared to the needs of the 21st century, stretching the brightest, but giving all children a relevant route and a solid qualification behind them.” During the conference, Labour leader Ed Miliband also promised to cap tuition fees for higher education if he was in government.

FRINGE BENEFITS What else happened? • Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, joined NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby and journalist Toby Young for a fringe event at the Conservative conference. The debate was titled Trust at the top: How can we empower head teachers to improve our schools? • The National Autistic Society and Ambitious about Autism hosted a fringe event at the Liberal Democrat conference which examined the quality of schools available for children with SEN. Speakers included MPs Sarah Teather and Tim Farron. • TeachFirst founder Brett Wigdortz and Shadow Education Minister Kevin Brennan were among the speakers at All together now: Rewriting the story of educational disadvantage, a fringe event at the Labour Party conference.


LF rounds up the best bits from this year’s political gatherings


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Partner contacts Make sure your recruitment

policies get a clean bill of health

The NAHT is committed to negotiating a wide range of high-quality, value-added benefits and services for its members. If you have any comments on the services provided by our affinity partners, please email John Randall, the NAHT’s Head of Marketing and Communications, at johnr@naht.org.uk

SERVICES FOR SCHOOLS ETEACH Online staff recruitment 0845 226 1906 www.eteach.com Email: support@eteach.com TEMPEST SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPHY 0800 328 1041 (quote ‘NAHT’) www.tempest-schoolphotography.co.uk GL ASSESSMENT Pupil wellbeing assessment 0845 602 1937 www.gl-assessment.co.uk GL PERFORMANCE Kirkland Rowell stakeholder surveys 0845 602 1937 www.kirkland-rowell.com SCHOOLS ADVISORY SERVICE Staff-absence insurance 01623 643 555 www.schooladvice.co.uk


AVIVA Home, contents and motor insurance 0800 046 6389 www.fromyourassociation.co.uk/NAHT CS HEALTHCARE Private medical insurance 0800 917 4325 www.cshealthcare.co.uk (please use promotional code 147) LFC GRAYBROOK Professional-indemnity and public-liability cover 01245 321 185 www.lfcgraybrook.co.uk/naht Email: enquiry@lfcgraybrook.co.uk MBNA Credit-card services 0800 028 2440 www.mbna.co.uk SKIPTON FINANCIAL SERVICES Independent financial advice 0800 012 1248 www.skiptonfs-naht.co.uk Email: sfsnaht@skipton.co.uk


ROCK Travel insurance 0844 482 3390 www.nahttravelinsurance.co.uk

Eteach is the UK’s leading online education recruitment service and we offer schools and colleges a wide range of cost-effective ways to find quality teaching and support staff. For example, there is a lot noise about best-practice recruitment and what schools should be doing. To clarify what really matters and where schools should focus their attention, we have developed the Eteach Recruitment Healthcheck. To complete the free healthcheck and find out how to reduce expenditure and improve responses and results, visit www. EteachRecruitmentHealthcheck.com. Selecting the right team of specialists to assist you in the specific areas of recruitment that matter to you is important. The Eteach Premium Licence gives recruiters unlimited job postings, plus a range of additional benefits. School talent pools enable you to build a database of potential employees, attracting enthusiastic candidates all year round, whether you are recruiting or not. You can plan your recruitment and know who’s available as soon as a vacancy arises. And regional talent pools enable schools to collaborate, saving time and money. You will also benefit from our applicant tracking system, an intuitive system that makes managing applicants a simple and straightforward process.

Schools can also develop their own career site to help them look better online. This ensures a professional image to attract the best quality jobseekers, as well as improving search engine optimisation and a better ‘candidate experience’. As the preferred supplier of online teacher recruitment services for the NAHT, members can also place a one-off vacancy on eteach. com for six weeks at a cost of just £270 (includes 10 per cent member discount from £300). To find out more, visit www. eteach.com or call our team of education recruitment specialists on 0845 226 1906.


One fifth off your car insurance We’re currently offering 20 per cent off your car insurance online – that’s 10 weeks’ worth of free cover! Available to new customers who have at least four years’ no claims discount on their existing car insurance policy.* Go online at www.fromyourassociation. co.uk/NAHT to get a quote. *Proof of no claims discount is required. Offer excludes any optional extras. Minimum premium applies. Offer may be withdrawn at any time. Offer available online only.


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off car insurance

20% off your car insurance. (No running around required.) Education professionals have enough to do without having to chase round after a better deal on car insurance. So here’s a great deal, 20% off the quoted price if you’re a new customer who has four years’ no claims discount on your existing insurance policy.* Getting a quote isn’t hard work either. For a quote, just go to www.fromyourassociation.co.uk/NAHT

*Proof of no claims status is required, and minimum premium applies. Discount excludes optional covers. Aviva may withdraw the offer at any time, although quotes are guaranteed for 60 days. Insurance underwritten by Aviva Insurance UK Limited. Registered in England No. 99122. Registered Office:FOCUS 8 Surrey● Street Norwich NR1 3NG.2011 Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. 14 LEADERSHIP NOVEMBER/DECEMBER

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Our world view is changing Pensions are the big issue, but what about all the other campaigns?


his is not about pensions. They are a huge issue, but they are not the only campaign or change going on at the moment. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the other things we’re working on, which perhaps aren’t getting the same publicity.

Forced academies First among these are floor standards, generating a new word: ‘academisation’ (see news, page 10). This is as ugly as it sounds. As far as we can tell, the criteria for intervention are often wrongly applied: schools on the cusp of making great progress are being targeted and the people in charge have a strong preference for academy chains. The appropriate response is to challenge the data, seek the support of your Regional Officer and develop local solutions. The NAHT can help you to lobby on all these areas.

Assessment reform We scored a modest victory on the Bew Review, but the campaign on assessment is far from complete. We have a long way to go before reaching a framework for assessment that is broadly acceptable. Our campaign for assessment reform has undergone some reform of its own and will be plotting goals for the next few years. Increasing the role of teacher assessment and reducing the crudity of data will be foremost among them. In the meantime, you will need to put in place arrangements for the moderation of teacher assessment in writing for 2012. We must prove that teacher judgments are worthy of trust. Given the quality of marking this year in the writing SATs and in GCSEs, the competition is not particularly strong.


Ofsted We have a new Ofsted framework and a new Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw (see news, page 7), who has strong views about how schools should be run. The framework has received cautious approval, but the NAHT’s view is that it is secondary to quality and consistency of the inspection team. We will continue to campaign heavily for higher-quality teams that are genuinely accountable. Speaking of Ofsted, you will probably have heard of Parent View, its new online parent survey tool (see feature, page 26). Survey results will be published online and will be used in inspections, although they are unlikely to trigger inspections by themselves. As far as

we can see, there is no way to verify that the people completing the questionnaires are parents of pupils at the school and not friends of a single disgruntled parent or student – or even hackers. This is an alarming development, especially in light of the recent recognition by Schools Minister Nick Gibb that over half of all complaints against teachers are malicious or vexatious. The advice we offer while we try to do something about this is to encourage your parents to use it, particularly the nice ones. This should overwhelm any malicious elements.

It’s a fastmoving and challenging world, but the Association can be just as fast and just as challenging

Head teachers’ pay

The new School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document means that it will no longer be possible to pay heads two salary groups above their range: there is instead a fixed limit of 25 per cent above the range. This applies to new appointments only, but it could make it difficult to reward executive headship or even, if you are at the top of your range, to move schools. A new remit for the School Teachers’ Review Body is due as soon as they appoint a chair, where we can hopefully correct some of this.

Changes at HQ Internally at NAHT, there is plenty happening too. Assure is now available (see page 9, page 51 and www. naht.org.uk/assure). In addition, we now have more than 20 new model policies available online, and stacks of new advice and guidance. From 1 December, our advice line will also have extended opening hours – 8am to 6pm – as we know you have one or two things to do between 9am and 5pm. It’s a fast-moving and challenging world, but NAHT can be just as fast and just as challenging, which is probably why recruitment is running at an all-time high too. Russell Hobby is NAHT General Secretary NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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25/10/11 12:00:29

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20/10/11 14:16:44


TOBY SALT TO Columnist Co

The start of something big Teaching schools and SLEs are a growth opportunity for school leaders


ovements that bring great change often start small and grow by learning from what works – and rejecting what doesn’t. That’s what we’re trying to do with our teaching schools programme. The scheme, which had its first induction day at the National College in early September, is starting small, with the first 100 teaching school alliances now beginning their work. The event marked the start of a development year that will be a time for schools to find their feet and work together to refine our approach for the future. The Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) role, which will be a key responsibility of teaching schools, presents a major opportunity for the school leaders of the future. Applications are already coming in ready for the first designations in January 2012. Up to 1,000 will be designated by teaching schools by the end of March. Our aim is to have 5,000 SLEs by 2014, eventually rising to 10,000. It will then be up to the SLEs to identify accomplished middle and senior leaders from a range of leadership roles such as Key Stage phase leader, numeracy leader, curriculum strategy leader, assistant or deputy head or, in the case of a federation of schools, a head of school. As long as they have the capacity, commitment, expertise or specialism and talent, the SLEs will then match them to schools that need their skills. The success of the SLE designation – and teaching schools as a whole – will depend upon the quality of the individuals involved, their effectiveness and how their knowledge is moved around schools. It will also depend upon primary, secondary and special schools involved in the alliances ensuring that there are enough SLEs available to share their expertise. The benefits of the SLE approach cannot be emphasised enough. As well as being good for the professional development of your colleagues, SLE status is also an excellent way to get your school actively engaged in the teaching school alliances at a time when you can really influence the direction.


Branching out It is also an opportunity for some of your best leaders to experience different contexts and strategies, and the pilots showed that many who did this brought other new and innovative practices back to their own schools. It’s a great opportunity to ask yourself who the really strong middle and senior leaders are in your school and whether you are doing enough to stretch them. Of course there are capacity issues, especially in

smaller schools and we need to bear this in mind, yet we know from research by Ofsted that, by working with other schools and supporting others, even the best leaders further improve their skills. And we know that middle and senior leaders provide potential for improvement through school-to-school support which has not so far been fully harnessed. It will be important during the development period and beyond that there is a representative spread of SLEs involved to help develop the approach – SLEs from all backgrounds and phases who have a spectrum of expertise, perspectives, context and experiences that they can bring to the development of the role. This is going to require a collaborative mindset. I am sure it is plentiful in the first teaching school alliances, but it will be down to school leaders to ensure that excellent leaders from their ranks are stepping forward.

It will be down to school leaders to ensure that excellent middle leaders from their ranks are also stepping forward

Scheme is already bearing fruit When the proposal for teaching schools was contained in last year’s schools White Paper it seemed like a tall order that the first teaching schools would be up and running less then 12 months later. But it’s been done. And while the stakes are high it is very achievable. By 2015, we hope that teaching schools will have made a major contribution to the school system, affecting the quality and number of qualified teachers, the quality of CPD, and will be raising standards in the schools they supported. On a deeper level, we want to see a significant shift from what the focus of responsibility for standards is. By 2015 we want to see that the teaching profession is genuinely leading the teaching profession. If we can achieve this, then it will truly be the start of something big. Toby Salt is deputy chief executive of the National College for School Leadership. The first SLE application round closes on 25 November. For more details, go to www.nationalcollege.org.uk/ teachingschools


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THINGS WE’VE LEARNED Since the last LF, we’ve learned that hoodies make friendly teachers, sports day in Hawaiian schools will be on the beach, and UK parents want the cane back Science ousts religion at a top public school St Paul’s School has demolished its chapel to make way for science classrooms, incurring the wrath of the Church of England. The school is undergoing extensive refurbishment, but has no immediate plans to build a new place of worship. Former pupil the Rev Robert Stanier, said: “If they want to have a Christian soul they should support worship rather than shunt it into an assembly hall.”

Z-design has school on track A Z-shaped school, the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton, has won the Stirling Prize for architecture. In bringing four schools together it has used a fraction of the space most secondary schools take up. The design, by Zaha Hadid Architects, incorporates a 100m running track as a central feature. The academy was funded by the charity Absolute Return for Kids (Ark).


Teachers need to be a cross between JK Rowling and Yoda Secondary school parents think Stephen Fry and Carol Vorderman would make perfect teachers. Their offspring, however, opted for Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter books and Yoda from Star Wars, in a YouGov survey. Their preferred female choices were JK Rowling and Miss Honey from Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

School employs ‘hoodies’ Staff at Greengate Infant and Nursery School in Cumbria have been given their own uniform of a purple polo shirt and hooded top with the school logos printed on them. New head teacher Caroline Hoggarth introduced the staff uniform at the beginning of term because she wanted staff to feel part of a team and to be spotted easily by parents in the playground.


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The Duchess of Kent moonlighted as a music teacher in Hull Known to her pupils as Mrs Kent, the Duchess of Kent taught music at Wansbeck Primary School in Hull for eight years. Her admission came in a rare interview, where she revealed her secret post, which came about when the Duchess moved to the area following her self-imposed exile from public life in 1996. She volunteered for the post after the head teacher explained his desperation for a music teacher.

Boarding school will be the norm in Hawaii Surfing is to become an official high school sport in Hawaii. As the birthplace of the sport and home to many world champions, Hawaii will be the first US state to introduce the sport, which was described by its governor Neil Abercrombie as ‘rooted in our culture and way of life’.

Nothing is black and white Equality experts claim the association of the colour black with witches could send a negative message to toddlers in nursery and lead to racism. Instead, they suggest the traditional black witch’s hat should be swapped for a pink one and that fairies, normally portrayed in bright and pastel colours, should appear darker to provide positive associations with dark colours. The use of white paper was also questioned, with suggestions of giving children paper and pens in various fleshtone colours to signify diversity. The proposals were outlined in Nursery World magazine.


New school ruling gets the thumbs up Children in East Yorkshire have been banned from putting their hands up to answer questions in class and instead have to raise their thumbs. The new gesture introduced at Burlington Junior School is intended to create a more relaxed classroom. Head teacher Cheryle Adams says the idea has been accepted by all the children. She reports that it has calmed the pupils down and staff have noticed a positive difference to the number of children answering questions.

Half of parents favour corporal punishment Secondary school parents think teachers should be tougher on pupils. Of 2,014 UK parents surveyed by YouGov, 49 per cent were in favour of the cane, versus 45 per cent who were opposed. Support remained high for more traditional punishments such as sending children out of the classroom (89 per cent), after-school detentions (88 per cent), exclusions (84 per cent), and making them write lines (77 per cent). Shouting at pupils was less popular, with only 55 per cent in favour.

Science is a laughing matter Stuck for inspiration for science lessons? Look no further than the Ig Nobel Prizes for improbable research. Among the winners this year is the researcher who taught a red-footed tortoise to yawn to see if it was contagious in other red-footed tortoises. And the scientists who found that you make some better decisions, but also some worse, when you have a strong urge to urinate. The awards go to research that first makes you laugh, then makes you think.


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TIM BAKER Head teacher, Charlton Manor Primary School, Greenwich, London

WHAT TYPE OF PERSON ARE YOU? In five words? Inspirational, dynamic, motivated and approachable. Most prized possession? My dad’s watch. It always makes me think of our time together. Favourite biscuit? Custard creams, but I do like Garibaldis also. Unmissable TV? Dr Who. I liked the old ones with John Pertwee and Tom Baker but also think the new ones are great. David Tennant was fantastic. My son is really into it so it gives me an excuse to buy all the toys. Top film? All the Star Wars movies. I am also a Star Trek fan and I think that the latest film was brilliant. Favourite song? New York, New York by Frank Sinatra. Best book? The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Who would play you in the film of your life? Lewis Collins from The Professionals. What is your guilty secret? I have a life-size Dalek in my shed – which I made. I now want to build a Tardis.




If you would like to take the LF questionnaire, email us at naht@redactive.co.uk



Three school leaders take up the Leadership Focus challenge to describe their leadership style and then tell us a joke

I went into teaching because I taught gymnastics and ran a youth club. I enjoyed this and was not enjoying my job as an electrical engineer, which I had been doing for 10 years. My own schooling was great in primary school but I did not enjoy my secondary experience. I couldn’t wait to leave and after fifth year (Year 11) I went to college to do engineering. My most embarrassing moment as a teacher was leading a PE lesson and demonstrating a move on the box. I tripped and fell. I thought I recovered well with a forward roll but the looks on the children’s faces said otherwise. My leadership style is ‘distributed leadership’ – allowing others to lead areas the way they think will bring about success. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s you can lead as much as you like but without commitment from the staff you will struggle. When I first talked about getting a beehive in the school there was some worry, but it was easy to find staff who would complete a training course. Now, all the staff are supportive in their own way even if they don’t like bees. It’s great. If I were the PM, I’d ensure that children at a young age were taught the crucial three Rs: respect, responsibility and reliability. I would also ensure that schools had the means to work with difficult youngsters so they always felt they belonged and didn’t seek approval from outside influences such as gangs. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but my job has changed my life. It means a lot to me when past pupils come back to visit. Tell us your best joke I went to the pet shop to buy my son a spider. The shopkeeper said that the cheapest one was £60. I couldn’t believe it. “I’ll leave it,” I said. “I can get one cheaper on the web.”


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Former business manager*, The Kingsway School, Stockport

Master, St Olave’s School, York

WHAT TYPE OF PERSON ARE YOU? In five words? Focused, fun, altruistic, caring, creative. Most prized possession? Memories. Favourite biscuit? Jaffa Cakes. Unmissable TV? Sex and the City. Top film? Back to the Future. Favourite song? It changes daily. Today, It’s My Life by Bon Jovi. Best book? Wild Swans by Jung Chang. Who would play you in the film of your life? I would have to play the part of ‘me’. Guilty secret? See previous answer – I’m a closet wannabe.

COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES I went into teaching because in my own small way, I wanted to make a difference to the lives of others. Every child should have the very best educational opportunities and as a business manager I strove to provide the best resources and experiences for students. My own schooling was one of the most enjoyable periods of my life. It was not just about learning academically, it was about learning about life, relationships, citizenship, responsibilities and leadership. School developed me as a whole person, not just intellectually. My most embarrassing moment working at a school was getting locked inside a school building late one night and setting the alarms off, to which the police responded. My leadership style is a relationship of influence: diplomatic, democratic, distributed and all about people. I strive to empower and inspire people. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s to embrace life and opportunities. Don’t wait for things to happen – make them happen. Be a catalyst and a driver for change to influence continuous improvement. Don’t have regrets or worry about mistakes. Treat them as lessons learned that make you a stronger person and improve your practice. If I were the PM, I’d increase funding for education, specifically focusing on opportunities for whole-school workforce training and development to ensure our front-line people are equipped to deal with every challenge. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but years ago, I fronted a rock band, Liquid Sky, and performed at a large UK festival. We had a music video played on a mainstream music channel. Tell us your best joke Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before. * Fiona recently moved from The Kingsway School to become a senior lecturer in education business management at Manchester Metropolitan University

Don’t worry about mistakes. Treat them as lessons

WHAT TYPE OF PERSON ARE YOU? In five words? Calm, focused, hard-working, driven, strategic. Most prized possession? My ‘IWC’ watch. Favourite biscuit? Jaffa Cakes. Unmissable TV? Spooks. Top film? The Usual Suspects. Favourite song? Beautiful Day by U2. Best book? The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Who would play you in the film of your life? Ben Affleck (I wish!). Guilty secret? Learning to play the drums without my wife knowing. I’ve got my grade 1 exam in a few weeks’ time.

COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES I went into teaching because my parents ran an adventure centre in Scotland and I loved teaching young people to ski, mountaineer, kayak etc. But teachers are better paid than instructors so I did a degree in primary education combined with outdoor education. My own schooling was in a tiny rural primary school with 30 pupils which was closed when my sister and one other pupil were the only two left. I then went to a bog-standard comprehensive that I don’t really remember, which sums it up. My most embarrassing moment as a teacher was on a ski trip with 10-to-12-year-olds. There had been two feet of powder snow overnight and the group I was leading went over a small drop where we all sank up to our waists… just as the head teacher went overhead on the chairlift. My leadership style is situational. I am an ‘adaptive chameleon’, as Goffee and Jones would say: never ceasing to be a chameleon and able to adapt to the immediate environment. There is no one effective leadership style, it all depends on what’s right in a given situation, which is what makes it so exciting. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s to spend more time listening than talking, but when I do talk to make sure I have straightforward conversations with people and only speak the ‘kind truth’. If I were the PM, I’d make sure I had an overall majority – I haven’t got the patience for all the politicking involved in being in a coalition. Controversially, I’d pay MPs more so that we could ensure we get the very best people to represent us. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I used to moonlight as a travel journalist outside of term time. I got to stay in some amazing places, the best being the presidential suite at the George V Hotel in Paris and Villa San Michele in Florence – and all for free. Tell us your best joke I needed a password eight characters long so I picked ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ (with apologies to Nick Helm).


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Blame culture Were the riots the fault of school leaders? Hollie Ewers reports on the fallout from the season of unrest


o sooner had the riots ended than the Government and certain parts of the media were hard on the heels of educationalists, blaming a lack of discipline in schools for the unrest. In a speech at Durand Academy in South London, Education Secretary Michael Gove was reported to have explicitly linked the riots with a school system that is “failing to provide many young people with the structures, values and educational opportunities that they need”. He added: “For all the advances we have made, and are making, in education we still, every year, allow thousands more children to join an educational underclass – they are lost souls our school system has failed.” NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby says heads should be flattered by the expectations placed on schools. “It seems that whenever a government has no idea how to solve a social problem, it tries to change something in schools,” he says. “Riots in the streets? Obviously the answer is military discipline and more male role models in schools! Economic stagnation? More skills and lessons in entrepreneurship! Teenage pregnancy? Better sex education!” Russell concedes that education can solve almost every problem that society


faces – but not through knee-jerk additions to the curriculum or populist measures on discipline. “Schools can be, and are, places of calm and mutual respect. Stuffing the curriculum full of well meaning responses to the latest national scandal not only gets in the way of this but creates a sense of pressure and stress that is positively harmful.” He adds that schools must be free to focus on teaching and learning, and the timetable must have space for the creativity, reflection, debate and exploration that build character. Teacher and journalist Phil Beadle also stood up for schools and questioned why no one asked whether the riots would have happened in term time. He wrote in the Guardian: “The riots are evidence that once the expert guidance and care, the moral framework, the daily routine, the discipline and the extracurricular activities provided by schools are absent from children’s lives, it all rapidly goes to hell in a handcart.” He thought the most measured and reasoned responses to the troubles had been from the teaching profession, its representatives and associated organisations. Russell agrees: “Education is a partnership between school, family and community, and it fails when any party shirks its responsibilities. Relying on schools to fill in the gaps where other

parts of society let children down is dangerous. Skills must be matched with jobs; boundaries at school reinforced by boundaries at home.” Schools cannot easily instill lasting discipline if a child’s home life is chaotic, he says. “Head teachers cannot police the streets. And it is hard to teach moral responsibility when young people see greed and corruption in our highest institutions.” Russell says the job of schools is to see that every child can read, write, communicate, add up and understand the science and technology that shape their lives. He also says that it is not all about the curriculum, and that a narrow focus on traditional subjects will restrict the contribution schools can make to a healthy society. “Lessons are learned not only from what is taught but how people treat each other,” he says. So, what have we all learned from the riots across England this summer and do we have the answers to the problems?


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Some young people are being pushed and are frustrated and angered because pure academia is not their bent

The head teacher DECIMA FRANCIS Head teacher, From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation, Peckham, southeast London HER VIEWS

Decima was travelling on a packed bus on 8 August when trouble sparked in Southwark, South London. The bus was pelted with stones and the windows smashed. As a result, she witnessed the troubles first hand. She believes the riots were a culmination of many things. “Frustration, anger, greed, opportunism, disappointment and fear – the opportunity arose and they took it.”

Head of an educational, selfdevelopment and social-fabric development programme in Peckham, Decima works with some of the most difficult young men excluded by mainstream schools. She says she has been expecting trouble for years. “Every summer I’ve foreseen it. The holidays are too long and the young people say how frustrated they are and that they have nowhere to go in the summer. If there’s no youth provision available because there’s no funding, then you get problems.” Decima says that while schools can’t be wholly to blame, she does believe the emphasis on academia in schools is leaving many children feeling frustrated and alienated. “Unfortunately, remits for schools became academia, academia, academia. That is fine if you have academic students but hopeless if the majority of people are not academic. They are being pushed and are frustrated and angered because it is not their

bent. They find the whole process of school upsetting, frustrating, difficult, very frightening and they feel stupid. Compound this with other things that are happening outside school and of course you’re going to get children who feel that there’s nothing in them for society so they might as well wreck it.” Decima feels that schools need to be more disciplined. She says that the children she speaks to say they want more discipline. “But it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t humiliate them, otherwise it creates a lack of confidence, and they then don’t feel confident talking to the teachers.” She believes schools can do a lot but that we have to rethink their structure a little bit. “I think we’ve gone too far one way and we need to bring back a bit more discipline. People schooled in the developing world have more discipline than us and are better educated and that’s not acceptable,” she adds. “Discipline just helps us to be more civil and mindful of other people. We need it. It’s not a dirty word, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s learning to understand yourself and how you work and how to work with people around you. And it earns you respect.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 24 ➧ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS 23

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The columnist WARWICK MANSELL Education journalist and author of Education by Numbers: the Tyranny of Testing HIS VIEWS

The week of the riots, Warwick blogged on the NAHT website about the disturbances and their implications. He cited findings from the Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training to highlight some of his feelings. “The research looked specifically at the situation facing ‘NEETs’ – 16-to-18-year-olds not in education, employment or training,” says Warwick. “I know that not all of the participants in the disturbances were ‘NEET’ but the report contains findings that could be considered prescient.” The research found that the young people questioned faced multiple barriers to making progress in their lives including: poverty; low selfconfidence and esteem; a lack of parental interest in their education; and above all, a feeling of failure. “The words ‘alienation’ and ‘failure’ run throughout the report,” Warwick says. “They should give anyone concerned with schooling pause for thought.” He highlights the report’s findings on the use of the current system of GCSE A*-C indicators. “We have had a system in which success has been narrowly measured and accredited, with repeated messages sent to children as to which are to be viewed as the successes, and which the failures,” he says. He wonders if schools also need to be encouraged to emphasise a wide range of subjects and skills. He says: “I think children need to have something to succeed at, and narrowing down the focus in schools reduces the number of dimensions of success. Offer more fields in which pupils can genuinely find an interest, passion and some success, and you might engage more young people.” The job of the head teacher, in the


Our system has become obsessed with grades and is in danger of losing sight of the big picture

The academy principal LYNN GADD Principal, Harefield Academy, Middlesex

way success is defined, is simply to raise the statistics, adds Warwick, but he is quick to acknowledge that there is fantastic work going on in schools. “Our system has become obsessed with raising grades almost as ends in themselves and it is in danger of losing sight of the big picture: helping all children lead fulfilling, rewarding and, yes, law-abiding lives.”


Lynn is ‘99 per cent sure’ that none of her pupils were involved in the trouble. However, she felt she had to address the riots in the first assemblies in September. “You can’t let an event like that go without commenting on it,” she says. “I explained how it may have an impact on people’s image of young people generally; and discussed their


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The consultant DAVID PRICE Project leader, Learning Futures, and senior associate, Innovation Unit. The views here are his own



fears for their own safety and what might happen in the future.” Some departments, such as drama, incorporated the disturbances into lessons. In PSHE, the staff used the riots to teach understanding of the law and the use of social media, “the aspect our students would most likely get drawn in to,” says Lynn. The feedback she has had from the children has been more of fear than anything else. “The younger children have been scared about the possibility of it happening near them. There has been no arrogance about ‘well, what do you expect if we haven’t got jobs’ and so on. Their concerns have been ‘what if this happens in my town or if I live above a shop?’” As for blaming a lack of discipline in schools for the violence, Lynn believes that for many children, schools are a haven of calm and discipline. “For a

lot of young people, schools are the only places they’ve got systems and structures,” she says. She admits she is often alarmed by the way she hears children talk to their parents, especially when she knows the children wouldn’t talk like that to staff in school. “It’s quite horrifying to hear of the behaviour of some of the children who arrive in our infants’ school. We have to modify their behaviour. They have to understand what it is to sit down when you’re asked to, or to not use particular language.” Lynn doesn’t want to be seen as saying ‘no one is parenting properly’, however, because she is aware of the huge pressure parents are under today. “To have a youngster these days is tough, especially if they’re easily affected by advertising and social media. It’s not easy for parents at all, especially having to work long hours.”

Like Decima and Warwick, David believes too many schools concentrate on academia and grades. “We now teach the exam first, the subject second and the student third – and the students know it,” says David. “If we want to prevent our kids from trashing the communities that they live in, maybe we should recognise that a valuesdriven (rather than results-driven) curriculum would be a far cheaper investment than building more jails.” Disengagement might begin in school, but the issues run into wider society, David says. In England, we don’t give our young people any sort of civic responsibilities – we simply don’t trust them. “When I work with schools that give students a voice, and give them rights and responsibilities, I see caring relationships develop, an absence of bullying, collaboration not competition, and maturity.” David suggests that perhaps if we abandoned our current ‘ridiculous’ ambition for schooling – to jump us a few places up the PISA league tables – and sought instead for it to mould a compassionate, humane, civilised, participative population, we’d perhaps consign the distressing scenes on TV to history. “Forcing these kids to learn a modern foreign language, or recite Shakespeare or Milton simply because a few academics think it’s important is naive, patronising and perpetuating the status quo of the disenfranchised learner. Meeting these kids where they’re at demands that we ask them what they want to learn, what skills will give them hope for the future, and how to re-connect them with their communities.”


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The big message that comes through is that parents are desperate to engage with schools and they want to support their children’s learning



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Parents and carers are being given a greater voice. Is this a good thing? Steve Smethurst finds out

Meet the

parents P

arental voice is about to get louder, and possibly more shrill. Not only do you have the existing statutory duty to engage with parents, but Ofsted is actively encouraging them to have more input into the way schools are run. In October, it launched Parent View (www. parentview.ofsted.gov.uk), which is an online questionnaire that will allow parents and carers to give their views on their child’s school. Their comments could also help to trigger an inspection. Launching the website, Baroness Sally Morgan, the chair of Ofsted, said: “Parents know how valuable the insight of other mums and dads can be when making choices about schools. Parent View will provide a comprehensive national platform for gathering this information. It will also give parents and carers in England the opportunity to make their voice heard when it comes to the performance of their child’s school.” The NAHT has already voiced its concerns over the fact that there is no way to verify that the person leaving the feedback is actually a parent with children at that school. The Association is

particularly cautious about the new development since there have been a number of ill-informed and malicious comments from parents on social networking sites recently. And as all school leaders will be aware, parents are an eclectic bunch. Their focus is firmly on their own children, not the whole school population. In addition, they may be pushy, paranoid or painfully shy. Some will have been traumatised by their own schooling, some will have mental health issues and some will have drink and drug problems. But by far the biggest proportion will simply want the best for their children. So, to prepare you for the wave of parental input, over the following pages we canvassed opinions from organisations that come into contact with a huge number of parents. Their comments are based on interactions with a diverse range of people from a diverse range of backgrounds. More often than not it is also backed up by research. And the big message that comes through is… that parents are desperate to engage with schools and they want to support their children’s learning. It’s good news, really. CONTINUED ON PAGE 29 ➧


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theschoolrun.com ‘As a parent you’re left thinking: “What on earth happened between 8.45am and 3.15pm?’’ ’ When it comes to the demand for more information, school leaders should probably blame their colleagues in Early Years, says Elena Dalrymple, editorial director at theschoolrun.com, a website and forum for parents of primary school children. “Parents of children entering Year One have been used to having their child at home or at nursery, where they make a note of every bowel movement, what times they eat and whenever they bump their head,” she says. The result is that when parents encounter the school environment, the lack of information they are faced with is quite a shock to the system. “No one is suggesting that any teacher could ever replicate that kind of information flow but as a parent you’re left thinking: ‘What on earth happened between 8.45am and 3.15pm?’” says Elena. “Children, especially the younger ones, can’t tell you. My child usually says: “I don’t know, I can’t remember.’ So for a lot of parents there’s a sudden information vacuum.” Elena’s message to primary school leaders is to remember that everything is new to the parents. “It’s everything from which gate to pick their children up at, to mentions of Sats. Parents won’t necessarily know what they are.” Then there’s the homework. “Parents want to help, but things have moved on since they were at school. They find their children constantly say: ‘No, we don’t do it that way. We do number hops, where’s the number line?’ Or, ‘I have to chunk the numbers.’ Most parents find the whole thing baffling, even intimidating. Even trying to help their children read is a challenge. They don’t know about graphemes or digraphs. They want to be supportive, but feel out of their depth.” Elena acknowledges that a lot of schools do support parents in these situations, but from the feedback theschoolrun.com receives, certainly not all do. She has also had feedback that schools don’t do enough to take into account that most parents work. “Schools might say the maths meeting will be at 10am next Monday. But people can’t usually take a day’s holiday with a week’s notice. People want to help and be kept informed, but a bit more awareness of the demands on parents’ time would be helpful.”

academic tradition complemented by a variety of after-school and extracurricular activities. Emphasis would be on developing character; and producing confident, articulate and rounded individuals. Modern and classical languages would feature heavily and parents would be consulted widely on any new developments in the school. Discipline would be enforced and school uniform would be smart, inexpensive and utilitarian.

Parents of children entering Year One have been used to having their child at home or at nursery where they make a note of every PTA-UK bowel movement ‘Parents want a sense of partnership in terms of education provision’

Mumsnet ‘In parents’ ideal school, discipline would be enforced and school uniform would be smart, inexpensive and utilitarian’ Over the summer months the forums on parenting website Mumsnet (www. mumsnet.com) were buzzing with talk of educational reforms, free schools and academies, says Frances Abebreseh, communications assistant at both Mumsnet and Gransnet (www.gransnet.com). “We had heated discussions on everything from Michael Gove’s emphasis on traditional subjects and the rejection of a ‘prizes-for-all’ culture to the International Baccalaureate, academies and a discussion on the policies and personalities of the free school movement.” But amid all the political chat, ‘Mumsnetters’ also commented on their ‘ideal school’. Frances says: “Unsurprisingly, we had a huge range of responses from the practical and pragmatic to the

outlandish and fantastical.” But among the weird and wonderful a consensus did emerge. The ideal school would acknowledge differing needs and celebrate the individual strengths of each child. Staff would be motivated, experienced and nice. There would be a strong

There is welcome news from parent teacher associations. All the research that PTA-UK (formerly the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations) conducts with parents fails to flag up any overwhelming concerns about the jobs that school leaders are doing. Annette Wiles, policy and research manager, says: “There always seems to be a commonality of views between parents and school leaders – it’s just a shame that this never gets picks up by the media.” Even more reassuring is that the research PTA-UK conducts is from demographically weighted groups and not just from PTA members. But there are still areas of concern, says Annette. “There is a clear need for better communication locally between schools and parents. Parents want a sense of partnership in terms of education provision. “All our research suggests that parents really enjoy the face-to-face time, although they are realistic about how much of it teachers can afford. However, more knowledge on a regular basis about what and how their child is learning – and using technology to make that available to them – would be welcomed.” On the emotive subject of Sats, Annette feels that the NAHT’s message about how disruptive and counter-productive they are has got through to many parents. However, parents “are used to having the information that Sats provide on their child’s performance at the end of primary school and I’m not sure you can shove the genie back in the bottle,” she says.

Network 81 ‘By the time we see parents they are usually desperate for advice from anyone who can help them’ “My message is simple,” says Eirwen Grenfell-Essam, chair of Network 81, an organisation for parents of children with CONTINUED ON PAGE 30 ➧ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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PARENTAL ENGAGEMENT special needs. “Tell parents the truth. They want to know how their kids are really doing. If they’re falling behind, tell them.” Eirwen says that schools need to be aware of the limits of new technology – whether you communicate via the school website or the management information system. “Parents will see that their child is at level this or level that, but they don’t know what it means. This is especially the case for the ‘social underclass’, for want of a better description,” she says. “It’s not even a case of more frequent communication, such as holding more parents’ evenings. It’s not frequency, it’s honesty. Schools have to tell the truth and say: ‘Your child is behind the rest of the class because of X,Y or Z.’” Eirwen recalls a school she visited recently. “I went into a school where they’d been documenting all the support given to pupils for the past three years, but hadn’t shared any of it with the parents. It’s great that they were doing the work, but they have to share it with the other party, which is the parent. “Another issue we find is that schools don’t want their students to have special educational needs status and so don’t necessarily communicate problems to parents.They want to be seen as a good school, with very few children on the SEN register. “But possibly the biggest problem for parents of disabled children is knowing what’s going to be the best environment for their child: a mainstream school, or a special school? That’s normally the point at which they come to us for advice. By the time we see them they are usually desperate for advice from anyone who can help them.”

Family Lives ‘Parents want schools to come into modern society with information via email, a secure website or text message’ Family Lives (familylives.org.uk, formerly known as Parentline Plus) and the education resources company Pearson recently conducted a joint report into schools. One of the key aspects that parents wanted was the right to trigger Ofsted inspections if they had serious concerns. They also wanted ‘positive and consistent’ relationships with the school and they wanted a consistent level of detail about how their child was getting on. Claire Walker, director of policy and communications at Family Lives, adds that while parents were obviously concerned about academic outcomes, it was also increasingly important to them that their child was confident and had ‘life skills’. 30

Claire also highlights a disparity in how schools reported on their children. “Parents want a fuller, frequent picture of a child’s progress and they want schools to come into the modern 24-hour-day society with information via email, a password on a secure website, or text message.” Another issue of concern for Family Lives is that senior leadership teams aren’t doing enough to connect with ‘those parents who have poor educational experiences and will still have difficulties entering the school environment’.

ACE ‘There has to be a clear message and consistency. You don’t want children being treated differently’’ “In essence, all parents want is a good local school that meets their child’s needs – one that is safe and allows them to achieve their potential,” says Sam Murray from the Advisory Centre for Education (www. ace-ed.org.uk). Of course it’s not always that simple. Sam’s bigger message is that parents are desperate to be involved at an early stage if there are any problems. “We speak to parents around exclusions and it’s only when they are called into school that they’re aware of any problems. They want to sort things out long before they get to that stage. “Parents want feedback and information on how their child is doing – in terms of academic progress and also generally.” Sam is aware that ACE only hears from parents with problems. “Clearly, we get a skewed picture, but I’m a parent with children at school and I face these issues

too. The school never tells me when he’s doing well. We don’t hear positive things.” Another issue she wants to raise is that school leaders can be ‘quite remote’ from parents. “Parents struggle to get meetings or to make contact with those right at the top. They might get contact lower down the chain of command, but parents sometimes find that the people they can get access to are powerless to make decisions.” Obviously, this is a challenge for secondary schools in particular due to the numbers involved and it is difficult to manage expectations of parents. The challenge for schools is to ensure that each parent is listened to and treated as an individual, yet balancing that with the needs of all the different children in the school. Also linked to communication is the issue of behaviour. “Where schools are doing it well, there’s a clear behaviour and discipline policy that everyone is aware of. There has to be a clear message and consistency.You don’t want children being treated differently – it just leads to frustration,” says Sam.

In essence, all parents want is a good local school that meets their child’s needs – one that is safe and allows them to achieve their potential

ABOUT THESE PARENTING ORGANISATIONS Mumsnet (www.mumsnet.com) is Britain’s busiest website for parents. Currently, the site receives four million site visits a month and users make approximately 25,000 posts each day. PTA-UK (www.pta.org.uk), formerly NCPTA, represents more than 13,000 parent teacher associations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Advisory Centre for Education (www.ace-ed.org.uk) provides independent advice to parents and carers of children in state-funded schools. It reaches 100,000 families each year through its telephone advice lines, information booklets and website. Family Lives (familylives.org.uk), formerly Parentline Plus, is a charity that offers support to anyone involved in caring for children. theschoolrun.com is a website that aims to demystify school for parents whose children attend primary school. Network 81 (www.network81.org) is a national network of parents working towards properly resourced inclusive education for children with special needs.


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Beyond storage.


Learning Rooms


Âś6LJQ XS WRGD\ DQG VWDUW GRZQORDGLQJ P\ )5(( *UDWQHOOV /HDUQLQJ 5RRPVÂŒ SURMHFW PDWHULDOV VWUDLJKW DZD\ ¡ Roger Cole is Educational Advisor to the Gratnells Learning Rooms™ project. He is a highly experienced educational consultant, writer and speaker. Roger specialises in primary school education and developing the creative potential of children by working closely with teachers and pupils in their classrooms and schools.


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Ahead of their time M any established head teachers would normally take it as a sign that they’ve been in the job too long when they start to notice that their fellow school leaders seem to be getting younger and younger. But actually head teachers in the UK are getting younger. According to figures released by the Training and Development Agency for Schools in March this year, the number of head teachers aged under 45 has risen by 38 per cent over the past seven years. This trend looks set to continue. The NAHT now has more than 1,400 members who have taken on the role of head, deputy or assistant head and


have yet to reach their 35th birthday. But with just a handful of years spent in a classroom before such a high-pressure role, does this new generation of leaders have the right skills and experience to survive? Brian Stillings (pictured), who secured a headship role four months before his 30th birthday, thinks so. “Age is just a number,” he says. “It’s the experiences and quality of the experiences that you’ve had as a leader rather than the number of years that one has clocked up that’s important.” Here, Brian and four other young school leaders talk about their fast-paced rise to the top. CONTINUED ON PAGE 34 ➧


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Gone are the days where a headship could only be achieved after decades in the classroom. Rebecca Grant speaks to five school leaders under the age of 35 to find out what advantages their youth can bring to the role


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Brian Stillings Head teacher at Barmby on the Marsh Primary School, East Yorkshire Age: 31 When Brian Stillings became head teacher of Barmby on the Marsh in January 2010 he was – and remains – the youngest member of staff at the school. But he has no worries about managing people older than him, as he’s been doing it for most of his career. Brian took on his first leadership role in 2004, three years after he qualified as a teacher. He was made a team leader and put in charge of three teachers and several classroom assistants. This experience helped him to develop his management style, which he describes as ‘motivational’. “It’s about understanding people’s personalities and learning styles and knowing how to get the best from them,” he says. One of the biggest changes that Brian has made during his time as head is to introduce an ‘open-door’ policy to improve communication with parents.“We’ve set up a parents’ surgery, which is an drop-in service that is run by myself and the chair of governors so we can work on our statutory duty of engaging with parents. “I really wanted to involve the community from the very first day. I always try to motivate the pupils, staff and parents. The more people feel involved and the more you seek their views, the more they feel part of the team,” he says. Brian feels that his quick progression into a leadership role is due to his ability to put himself outside his comfort zone and tackle challenges head on. “I think that the governing body knows that someone at my age has a lot of energy, a lot of drive and a lot of enthusiasm,” he says. “It can be a challenging job, but I like to tackle challenges head-on. It’s something I’ve done continually throughout my career.”

Jonathan Nichols Head teacher at St Silas CE Primary School, Liverpool Age: 34 Jonathan Nichols has always been ambitious, but admits it was an element of ‘right place, right time’ that landed him his first headship at the age of 29. “I was fortunate to work alongside an outstanding leader called Jane Ngenda. I was her deputy at the time when I was progressing on to the NPQH.” When Jane was seconded to lead a school that had been given a notice to improve by Ofsted, she appointed Jonathan as acting head of St Silas, which has 210 pupils on roll. After leading the school for a year, he was appointed to the post full time. “It was a bit of a whirlwind week for me. I was appointed to the role of head teacher on the Thursday, and I graduated from the NPQH course on the Saturday.” Jonathan had been one of the 15 prospective heads that took part in the pilot group for the NPQH, and was the youngest participant on the course. Although he has had comments about his relative youth in the past – “people have once or twice told me: ‘My son is older than you,’ ” he says – he doesn’t feel his age is ever an issue. “My relationship with the parents and the community is strong.


Ultimately we are all there for the common good. It’s about me getting my views over, or the school getting its view over to the parent, but also seeing things from the parent’s perspective.” Like Brian, Jonathan has adopted an ‘open-door’ policy since becoming head, which he says has had a positive impact on his relationship with parents. “Tradition has been that the head teacher is on a pedestal and parents daren’t knock on their door. I try not to be like that,” he says. “I always try to speak to parents as much as I can. If a parent phones the school I’ll always return their call.” Even though he took on his first headship at such an early age, Jonathan maintains he still has ambitions to fulfil. “What the future holds for me I’m not quite sure yet. I believe academies are the way forward, and we’re not an academy at the moment. I suppose ultimately I would want to be the head of a bigger school, but I don’t want to move on until I feel I’ve done enough here.”

Faye Bertham Partner head teacher at Stanbridge Primary School, South Gloucestershire Age: 32 Just two months after Faye Bertham took on her first headship at Olveston Primary School, at the age of 27, Ofsted paid a visit. “It didn’t give us a lot of time to prepare, but the results were very positive,” she recalls. The school achieved a ‘good’ rating from inspectors – a happy ending to a turbulent few months. Olveston had lost its previous head teacher in the summer of 2006 after he passed away following a long illness. “He was an inspirational man,” says Faye, who originally joined the school as deputy head in 2005, aged 26. “He’d grown the school from a very small primary to a 210-place school. So I was mindful that although I wanted to do all these great things, we still celebrated everything that he’d achieved.” In the years following the inspection, Faye worked tirelessly to build on his achievements, and, with the full support of her staff, successfully remodelled the curriculum. The hard work paid off, and when Ofsted revisited in June this year, Olveston


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Someone my age has a lot of energy, drive and enthusiasm

was deemed outstanding. The success was noted by the local authority, who asked Faye to use her leadership skills to help another local primary that is currently in special measures. At the beginning of the autumn term, Faye moved to Stanbridge Primary School to begin a one-year secondment. Although Stanbridge has twice the number of pupils that Olveston has, Faye hasn’t felt overwhelmed by the new challenge. “Obviously the logistics of a bigger school are different, but actually the day-to-day job is very similar,” she says. Faye is working alongside a partner head teacher, Jan Isaac, who works at the school two and a half days a week. Jan has clocked up 17 years of experience as a head teacher, but although they are at different stages in their lives, Faye says this hasn’t proved an issue. “Our energy levels are just the same. We peak and trough at different times of the week,” she says. “We bring different skills and expertise to the role. I think we’re very well matched really.” As a young head teacher Faye says the question she gets asked the most is: ‘Where next?’ “There’s a bit of a question mark there, because I am really enjoying what I am doing at the moment and I like a challenge, like this secondment. I wouldn’t like to say I’m going to take early retirement and go and do something completely different, because I’m only five years into headship, and I feel that I’ve got a little way to go yet!”

Lisa Pearce Head teacher at Wilby CE VA Primary School, Wellingborough Age: 31 One of the advantages of being a young head teacher is that, as a mum herself, Lisa Pearce can empathise with parents. “My daughter started school this year and I’m seeing things from a mum’s point of view, which actually helps quite a lot sometimes.” It also helps that Lisa is fully integrated in the school community, having been a member of staff there since she qualified as a teacher in 2001. “It’s a lovely school to work in,” she says. “We’ve got 84 children on roll, and I love the fact that every member of staff knows every child’s name. There’s a real family atmosphere.” But being head of a small school still has its challenges.

“Sometimes it’s quite difficult because I haven’t got a specific management team to talk things through with. I’ve got a good chair of governors, and the chair and vice chair come in on a weekly basis. But sometimes, if there are certain issues about school that can’t be discussed with other members of staff, it all falls back on to me.” Staff turnover can also prove difficult. “If one teacher leaves, that’s 25 per cent of the staff gone. It’s quite difficult when you try to start a project with new staff coming in all the time, because you are really starting afresh each time.” Since taking up the role of head permanently in September 2008 – she was acting head for a year before – Lisa has discovered a passion for the managerial aspects of the role. “I do like managing the budget. Although it’s very tight and very challenging, I like to know where the money is coming from. I also love data crunching.” Although she’s happy at Wilby for the moment, Lisa does have ambitions to further her leadership career at some point. “I would love the opportunity to work in a bigger school with more pupils and staff. But I still want to have a bit of a balance of the managerial side and still be able to get into the classroom.”

Cathy Hunter Principal at St Nicholas’ Primary School, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland Age: 31 Cathy Hunter’s very first teaching job was a coordinator role. “Before I finished college I saw an advertisement in the paper for a job at a school called St Nicholas’ Primary. The job was a one-year post for a PE coordinator, so I applied and was successful. I was one of the lucky few who came out of college with a job to go to.” That was nine years ago, and Cathy has now risen through the ranks at the 143-pupil primary to become principal. “Because we’re a small team, everyone at the school has to be able to wear a lot of different hats,” she says. “But as a teacher, you need that constant challenge. If you get too stale in your relationship then education becomes boring.” After working in various roles, including leading ICT, KS1 and assessment, she decided to apply for NPQH – known in Northern Ireland simply as PQH – in September 2009. “I decided that PQH would probably be a good path for me. I enjoy the challenge of leadership, I enjoy working in and leading a team.” She was accepted on to the course in February 2010, by which time she was acting vice principal at the school. So, by the time the current principal announced she was leaving in May this year, Cathy was fully prepared for the position. Because Cathy was already familiar with the school before taking on the role, it’s been easy for her to identify areas where changes are needed. Most changes have been minor, but one in particular has had a significant impact on school staff. “I’ve changed the times of the school day so we now have an hour on a Friday to meet as a team,” she says. “Before that we didn’t often get time to speak as much as we would have liked to.” Cathy’s advice to anyone who wishes to progress in a school leadership role is to find a good mentor. She cites the two previous principals of St Nicholas’, Esther Brady and Bronagh McVeigh, as her mentors. “I’ve been lucky to have worked under two very strong women during my time here. Both were strong leaders and I learned a lot from them. If they hadn’t put me into coordinating roles, and into management roles, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”


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ICT in


focus Hawes Side Primary head teacher Michael Shepherd demonstrates the school’s green screen.



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Schools are gaining confidence in harnessing technology to radically change the education experience and inspire their pupils. Sarah Campbell reports ahead of the BETT show in January


nyone who has been to the annual BETT education technology show at Olympia in West London will know that you don’t just go for a look round. You go to interact, network, play, learn, share and come away with new ideas, business cards – and a heavy bag, sore feet and a lot of branded stationery. Since the first show 13 years ago, BETT has expanded to welcome 700 exhibitors and 30,000 visitors a year. Last year, the organisers added a conference programme and the show has finally outgrown its home at Olympia. This January will be its last in West London and from 2013 it will move to East London’s capacious ExCel exhibition centre. The demand for workshops, seminars and other opportunities to share knowledge at BETT is an indication of a growing confidence among schools in the way they use technology. Suppliers and local authorities report an increasing desire to challenge traditional LA purchasing and internet connectivity arrangements. The closure of government agency Becta has encouraged schools to look to each other for assurance on the quality of services and providers in the absence of government certification and guidance. Tony Sheppard, harnessing technologies manager at Northamptonshire County Council, sums it up: “A few years ago I used to divide schools into three groups. A third were confident and knowledgeable with technology. A third needed some support but had good expertise in some areas. And the remaining third needed a lot of advice and guidance.” But now the proportions have changed, he says. “More of the middle third have moved into the top end, CONTINUED ON PAGE 38 ➧


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although you’ve still got a similar batch of schools at the bottom. For some it’s because they haven’t quite grasped the difference technology can make. A lot of them have grasped it but don’t have the capacity to make the most of it, especially small primary schools.” This group still takes much of its lead on technology from LAs. John Smith, IT manager at Settle College, a mixed comprehensive and specialist technology school in North Yorkshire, has a degree of scepticism for technology solutions endorsed by his LA. This dates back to an unsuccessful attempt to swap virtual learning environment (VLE) provider from Moodle to Fronter. After a couple of years the college has gone back to Moodle. “There are many schools for whom Fronter fits,” John says. “But just because it works in one school doesn’t mean it will work in another. The lesson we learned is: don’t always rely on what the LA says. And don’t be scared of being the odd one out.” ICT consultant and former head teacher Anthony Hunt, of Gatehouse Partnership, welcomes this kind of independent thinking, although for him it doesn’t necessarily mean a rejection of LA support – rather not slavishly following technology trends. Take word-processing: children need to learn it, Anthony says, but do they really need to be taught on Microsoft Word? There are plenty of programs on the market that are written specifically for children, are attractive, easy to use – and cheaper than Microsoft licences. “Word processing is a skill, like learning to drive. Once you’ve learned to drive one car you ought to be able to drive any other.” In the same way, all word-processing programs have a way to format text. So how do schools choose providers in the bewildering, ever-changing education technology market? Becta used to help to some extent. For example, if a product had Becta endorsement, buyers knew it should work in an education setting. But since its abolition, how are school leaders to know what’s good or bad? The answer: they turn to each other, in LAs, clusters and online. Forums such as EduGeek (www.edugeek. net), where education technology specialists share ideas and ask advice are a legacy of Becta, says Northamptonshire’s Tony Sheppard. “Becta was very proactive in getting people to share with one another.” The British Educational Suppliers Association says that by 2013, half of all pupil time in nearly half of all schools will involve ICT – and in 10 per cent of schools that will be 100 per cent of pupil time. Here, LF speaks to three people keeping their pupils on the crest of the ICT wave.


ICT used to be seen as a discrete subject that needed its own room. Now it permeates the curriculum Michael Shepherd (below) Head teacher, Hawes Side Primary School, Blackpool “The children at Hawes Side are very excited by the use of technology. It’s a currency they’re used to dealing with and we’re very keen to ensure that their

learning experience complements the technology outside school. Each class here has its own blog, for which we use WordPress, right down to Reception. Blogs are brilliant for making sure the parents are fully in touch with what the children are doing in school. We’ve got a very keen, very techie team. Myself, my deputy, the IT coordinator and our school business manager meet each half-term to plan the strategic development of ICT. We also work with an ICT group of pupils, who road-test and evaluate equipment and tools. They love it. We had a green screen studio installed at the beginning of last year. We were lucky with that: we offered to be guinea pigs for a technology company that was trying to get into education. The studio is not very big – it’s a cupboard really – but we tell the children it can be anything they want it to be. We’re also experimenting with QR codes, the little black and white square patterns which, if you scan with a smartphone, take you to a web page. We use them on wall displays and on the parents’ newsletter, so when parents scan them they are taken to a relevant article on one of the school blogs. We do have an ICT suite. I know a lot of schools have moved away from that, but when I came here six years ago they’d just had a new build and the staff still seem to like it for teaching basic computing skills such as word processing. At the time it was built, ICT was seen a bit like science, a discrete subject that needs a separate room. Now of course it permeates the curriculum.”


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GETTING TECXITED IN NORTH LONDON Secondary schools in Haringey, North London, have put themselves at the cutting edge of technology with a room full of the latest gadgets and software, which they have called the ‘Tecxitement Room’ (pictured, left). Located in Heartlands High School in Wood Green, the room is for the use of 15 out of the 16 secondary schools in the borough, whose staff can book it for lessons, presentations, film-making and creating stop-motion animation. The room has been funded through the borough’s £214 million Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project, which was unaffected by the Government’s cuts to the scheme. The money has been spent on a green screen, video editing equipment, projectors, computers, software, iPads and hardware such as large keyboards and magnified screens for children with special needs. The design for the room was a collaboration between pupils from the schools involved and RM Education, Haringey

If we don’t embrace social networking, children are going to be way ahead of us Beth Smith College librarian, Catmose College, Rutland “The college has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but within school we use Radiowaves, which is a safe social network. Students sign up to be ‘reporters’ for the site, and can post updates, pictures and videos about school life. Everything is moderated by school staff, Radiowaves staff and also trusted students. About a quarter of the students are enrolled, in the past six weeks we’ve posted more than 110 articles, and the total number of articles on our site has just hit 1,000. It’s a very student-led process. People say that young people don’t read and they don’t write any more, but they do – they just don’t do it in the way we expect them to. Their way of reading and writing these days is on Facebook and MSN. If we don’t embrace it and keep up with them, then they’re going to be way ahead of us. Radiowaves gets the children motivated. We had one young man who really lacked confidence in writing and talking. About this time last year he broke both his arms and wasn’t at school. Knowing that he liked

BSF’s ICT partner. The name ‘Tecxitement’ was the winning entry in a student competition to name the room. It will be funded under BSF for two years, the idea being that during that time any outdated equipment can be replaced. Simon Garrill, head teacher of Heartlands, says: “Often schools will buy ICT and within a couple of years children will say: ‘I’ve got a better one of these at home.’ The point of a room like this is that it gives them access to equipment they haven’t seen before. It inspires them, and it inspires teachers as well.” Krista Mitchell, assistant head at nearby Gladesmore Community School, is looking forward to using the room. “Not only is new ICT a motivator, but it engages different types of students. Those who find it more difficult to express themselves through conversation or writing are sometimes the most articulate when you ask them to present something in a cartoon format, for example,” she says.

sport I suggested he did write-ups each week on the Leicester Tigers and Ashes games for Radiowaves. I then got those reports linked to the BBC News School Report website. As a result he and another student were invited down to the BBC one Saturday to work on the sports website. It really built up his confidence.”

Some parents are more comfortable contacting school via the website Tim Handley Class teacher, Woodlands Primary School, Norfolk “My class, 4H, has its own website, www. mrhandley.co.uk. Parents and pupils can go on it to find out what’s happening day by day in class. Every few weeks I also provide information on how parents can extend and support their children’s learning at home: activities for maths and English, for example, or links to websites. Lots of the children’s work goes on the website too, and some of the children do additional pieces on their own initiative just for the site. It also provides a way for parents to contact me in addition to phoning me at school, because they can leave comments and my email address is on there. I’d much rather a parent email me at 6.30pm telling me about a problem that their child had during

that day so I can deal with it first thing the next morning. Some parents are more comfortable contacting school online, particularly parents who have had a bad experience of school themselves. Last year we had about 30 parents communicating online with us – this year we’ve been able to convert that to them actually coming into school to do activities with the children. Many parents said they wouldn’t have done if they hadn’t felt comfortable engaging with us online. This year I’m focusing on getting the children to share their work. Normally, parents will see work at parents’ evening at best three times a year, by which time the children aren’t as enthused about it. But if we share the work straight away, the children can show it off. It celebrates the children’s achievements, which is very much in our school ethos.” Further information Tim Handley, Beth Smith, Michael Shepherd and Tony Sheppard will be running sessions at BETT, which takes place 11-14 January 2012 at Olympia, London. www.bettshow.com Useful links Settle College www.settlecollege.org.uk Moodle moodle.org Fronter frontersupport.com Gatehouse www.gatehousepartnership.com EduGeek www.edugeek.net Besa www.besa.org.uk Hawes Side School www.hawes-side.org.uk Catmose College www.catmosecollege.com Radiowaves www.radiowaves.co.uk Woodlands School www.woodlands. norfolk.sch.uk Tim Handley’s website www.mrhandley.co.uk


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Will Butler-Adams, chief executive of Brompton Bicycle, at Frederick Bremer School, northeast London.

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I believe in comprehensives. There had to be a way to get inspirational speakers into them

up Speak A

ll hell was breaking loose in the news in mid-July. The News of the World had been shut down, the Murdochs were facing questioning from MPs and the media world was on the brink of its biggest upheaval since the 1980s. Robert Peston, the BBC’s business editor, was a constant presence on television and radio, from the Radio 4 Today programme first thing in the morning to Newsnight late in the evening. How Robert found time in the middle of this, on 15 July, to travel to Maidenhead to do a talk about the credit crunch to children at Altwood CE School as a test event for the new Speakers 4 Schools scheme, only he knows. But it shows just how seriously he takes the programme. Robert set up Speakers 4 Schools (see box overleaf for details) because he believes that state schools should have access to inspirational speakers, people who are senior in their field. The seed of the idea was sown in 2007 when Robert became what he describes as ‘the visible face of the credit crunch’. “Because of this I started to get invitations from schools to do talks for their students. But almost all of the invitations came from the likes of

Westminster, Eton and Harrow – the fee-paying schools. I got almost no invitations from the kind of school that I went to: Highgate Wood in North London. I’m a great believer in comprehensives and I just thought this wasn’t fair,” he says. “I wondered why schools like mine don’t approach people like me, and it turned out the reasons were time, confidence and absence of the right networks. Was there a way to make it easier to get inspirational speakers into schools?” Through his job, Robert has developed an enormous network of contacts, so he asked people to volunteer to do one talk a year. “I thought we could put their names online so schools could see them. If they were visible it would no longer be a challenge for schools to get to these people – that was the point of it,” he says. He started working with Richard Lambert, the former director general of the CBI (and now a Speakers 4 Schools speaker), who was on the board of the Education and Employers Taskforce, which now administers Speakers 4 Schools. The scheme had its official launch in October, and 700 speakers have committed to giving talks, CONTINUED ON PAGE 42 ➧ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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The Speakers 4 Schools programme has signed up 700 high-profile, inspirational people to give talks in state schools. Sarah Campbell reports on the scheme’s launch


20/10/11 14:57:55


completely free of charge. But when the organisers started to try to get schools on board, many were expecting to have to pay. “It’s depressing,” Robert says. “The taskforce did some research that found the attitudes between fee-paying schools and state schools were very different. When a public school invites someone in, it’s seen as an honour for the speaker. But state schools expect to have to pay because they see it as an honour for them to have the speaker come in.” One of the newly signed-up speakers is Will Butler-Adams, the chief executive of Brompton Bicycle, the company that makes the innovative folding bikes. He turned up – on a Brompton – at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow, northeast London, in October to give a talk to Year 8 and 9 children. He told them about his company,

engineering in general and how he got where he is today. He was a hugely engaging speaker, riding his bicycle in the hall and flicking water at the children to demonstrate the waterproof qualities of his new Brompton-designed cycling jacket. He even swore – relatively mildly – on a couple of occasions. The children loved him and at the end he was mobbed for his autograph.

If I can make them see what’s possible after school, they might see why it’s important to learn all this stuff

“I really enjoyed it,” he told LF as the children filed out of the hall. “I know swearing is a bit risky, but I do it to bring them to life and make them listen. I like speaking at schools because I have a massive chip on my shoulder about the average punter thinking an engineer wears a boiler suit and has a monkey wrench. I try to change that view.”

HOW IT WORKS David Cameron, Michael Gove, Arabella Weir, Sebastian Coe, Hugh Dennis, Peter Tatchell – and of course Will Butler-Adams and Robert Peston – are just a few of the 700 speakers who have volunteered to give one talk a year (see the full list at www.speakers4schools.org/speakers). Speakers 4 Schools aims to match schools to speakers according to the topic they’d like to explore, rather than schools requesting specific people to speak. All state secondary schools in the UK are eligible to apply, and this will be extended to primary schools as the scheme grows. To put in a request, go to www.speakers4schools.org and click on ‘apply for a speaker’. Once you have applied, the administrators will get in touch to match your needs to an appropriate speaker. This may take a few months depending on speakers’ availability. The service is free of charge. Its running costs are met by the Education and Employers Taskforce. The website was set up by graphic design agency Muira.


Will says his own education was ‘goldplated’ – he went to Rugby – but adds: “I was told by my teachers pretty systematically that I was crap at most things. Education wasn’t easy for me.” He proved his teachers wrong by getting a first in engineering from Newcastle University, but the memory of school stays with him, which is why he is keen to fire up pupils now. “If I can make them see what’s possible after school, they might see why it’s important to learn all this stuff. But they need inspiration.” Frederick Bremer School’s assistant head, Nigel Bell, was impressed with Will’s talk, and with the reaction of the pupils. “Speakers 4 Schools is a very good idea because teachers don’t always have huge amounts of experience outside the classroom. Anything that can get kids out of

the classroom and into the world outside is good, but equally, anything that brings the world outside into schools is valuable too. “I briefed the kids about listening carefully and thinking of some intelligent questions, which they actually did.” One asked about Brompton’s investors, another about employment opportunities, and one about working conditions for Brompton staff. Nigel is now planning to organise a trip to Brompton’s factory in Brentford. The value for him wasn’t only in the business-studies or engineering aspect of Will’s talk. “A lot of was he said was very good advice,” Nigel says. “One child asked what Will would look for from a potential employee and he replied ‘passion’.You can’t beat that. There are hundreds of thousands of kids coming out of school with the same sort of qualifications and they need something to make them stand out.” He found Will’s advice resonated with him personally, too. Will described how his initial involvement with Brompton came from a chance conversation with a Brompton employee on a bus. He said opportunities come floating past you all the time – you just have to be the type of person who grabs them. Nigel says: “Those sorts of things are good for anybody to hear.”


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Ready for the new 2012 Ofsted inspection framework?

Ofsted’s new inspection framework, which comes into effect in January 2012, has placed school improvement at its heart. While the number of inspection areas has been reduced, it’s clear that inspectors will need to drill deeper into your school data within those areas.

“The quality of self-evaluation is a good indicator of the calibre of the school’s leaders and managers and of the school’s capacity to improve.”

Ofsted September 2011 Draft Framework document

GL Performance can help you prepare for a successful data-rich inspection by offering a comprehensive, integrated portfolio of selfevaluation products and services. Our portfolio helps you to capture, report on, analyse and interpret your school data, ahead of your inspection. With the introduction of the new Ofsted framework comes the opportunity for parents to report their child’s school or headmaster directly to Ofsted via its website. Engaging regularly with your parents through our Kirkland Rowell Surveys and having your results contextualised is now more important than ever. Our robust, high-quality solutions are already enhanced to reflect the new Ofsted inspection framework and include: • Kirkland Rowell Surveys* • Schoolcentre • GO 4 Schools • Interpretation & Analysis Services GL Performance offers a high degree of flexibility so that the appropriate school improvement package can be put together to match the specific requirements of your school or authority. To discuss how our resources can help you prepare for your next inspection, contact us on:

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A division of the Granada Learning Group ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011 43


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Customdesigned family tent

Disaster relief organisation ShelterBox is the NAHT’s charity of the year. Sarah Campbell finds out about the huge difference it makes to the lives of families in distress all over the world – and how schools in the UK can contribute

Lessons from disaster W

hen an earthquake struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti in January last year, Cath Ormerod, deputy head teacher of Astley St Stephen’s CE School in Manchester, realised that she needed a way to explain what was going on in the news to the children. “A lot of them thought that what had happened in Haiti could just as easily happen here in Astley. They had no idea that Haiti was so badly affected because of its location on a fault line, and also because of its poverty and political situation,” Cath says. The online resources she found on a website called Young ShelterBox (www. youngshelterbox.org) helped her to explain and explore the situation through discussion, poetry, music and other practical activities. This site is an outreach initiative


Waterproof groundmats

Thermal fleece blankets

from disaster relief charity ShelterBox, which sends large green boxes full of survival equipment to communities all over the world in the immediate aftermath of disasters such as earthquakes and floods (see ‘Factbox’, page 46). It is also the NAHT’s charity of the year. Young ShelterBox grew out of the charity’s schools project, which was set up in 2006 to organise ShelterBox volunteers to speak at schools. Emma Nicholls is project manager for Young ShelterBox and says that the website was designed to ‘give teachers and youth leaders new tools to give children a deeper understanding of world events’. “Young people are the humanitarians of the future,” Emma says. “ShelterBox is in a unique position to share what it has learned about the world with young people, and it’s our responsibility to do that.”


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Durable plastic box

Stove Water containers and purification

Cooking equipment Warm hats and gloves

Mosquito nets

Tool kit Children’s activity pack

Cath adds: “What ShelterBox does – provide immediate help in disaster situations – is very tangible for the children. Other humanitarian organisations such as Oxfam do an incredible job, but I find their structure and work is complex so it’s not as easy for the children to grasp.” The partnership with the NAHT began when NAHT President Chris Harrison saw Emma give a talk to school leaders at a Cornwall branch meeting. He was immediately struck by how much the ShelterBox concept resonated with children. “They like to be able to make a difference – either to their own communities or to communities around the world. You only have to look at the response schools make to Children in Need and Comic Relief,” he says.

HOW YOUR SCHOOL CAN HELP ShelterBox typically responds to a disaster once every two to three weeks, and often these receive little or no media coverage. The NAHT is urging members to consider sponsoring a box – either in full or in part. Once you have made a donation, you will be given a number for your box, which you can then use to check via the Young ShelterBox website (www.youngshelterbox.org) where the box ends up being deployed. Note that this could be several months after your donation. There are three ways to donate. Whichever one you choose, please ensure that you mention the name of your school. • By cheque: please make payable to ‘ShelterBox’ and send to ShelterBox, Water-Ma-Trout, Helston, Cornwall TR13 0LW. • By phone: 0300 0300 500 • Online: www.shelterbox.org/donate.php To find out more about ShelterBox visit www.shelterbox.org or call 01326 569 782. For teaching resources and fundraising ideas visit www.youngshelterbox.org



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So Chris decided to make ShelterBox the Association’s charity of the year – as has Steve Iredale, next year’s President. The goal for this year is to raise the profile of the charity, and to get 10 per cent of UK schools to each sponsor one green box (see panel, page 45). Chris says that last year his school, Oulton Broad in Lowestoft, Suffolk, split the funds from its Christmas collection between a local children’s hospice and ShelterBox, with the local Rotary club matching what they gave. It was enough to sponsor a whole box. Astley St Stephen’s had a non-uniform day to raise money for a box, which, Cath says, went to a family in Pakistan after the earthquake last year. But the ShelterBox work has had a wider effect on the school’s

curriculum. On the anniversary of the Haiti quake, the school held a special assembly. Since then, the school has held regular ‘Window on the World’ assemblies for which the children make suggestions of issues to examine. They have looked at the tsunami in Japan, the Arab Spring and equality of access to education in some African countries. “That has come directly out of the experience of looking at Haiti,” says Cath. She adds that the ShelterBox activities have made the children more aware and curious of the world around them, actively and independently following news of Haiti in particular. If Astley St Stephen’s is harbouring the ‘humanitarians of the future’, perhaps your school is too.


GIVE ME SHELTER James Webb is a Young ShelterBox project officer. He also volunteers with the ShelterBox Response Team and has been on deployments to Haiti, Benin and Colombia. Here, he talks about his first experience in the field

James and a fellow volunteer (in ShelterBox shirts) with a beneficiary family in Haiti.

“Haiti has been our longest and biggest disaster response, with more than 28,000 boxes distributed. We have had teams there since the earthquake. “I was sent out in April last year. I flew from to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, then from there I got a UN flight to Port Au Prince. It was a very small aircraft filled mainly with representatives from UNHCR, the refugee agency. I didn’t travel with the boxes – we had thousands of boxes going to Haiti every month: by air via Miami, some by ship, some flown into Santo Domingo and taken over land. “Even before the plane landed I got a sense of the destruction. Flying over Port Au Prince, all I could see was tents below. Twenty minutes of driving round the city was enough to make me realise it was completely destroyed. “I was there for two and a half weeks. Boxes were arriving constantly so we were having to get them through customs, find out which UN warehouse they were in and arrange all the paperwork to get them out. Many areas had not yet been reached so we were also doing a lot of assessment – seeing how many tents were needed and whether we were the right charity to help them at that moment. “The families were so grateful because many had been living in the most horrible conditions. But it was equally gratifying to see how central to their lives the tents became. We would go back to check on camps and the transformation of making the tent from a shelter into a home was incredible. One family had a TV in there, wedding photos up, and there were children’s toys on the floor. “We slept in ShelterBox tents on a field hospital site. We were getting up at 5.30am and returning to base at 7pm and had one day off. As a result, I was so busy that the enormity of the whole thing didn’t sink in until I was on the way home. What really affected me was that no matter what these families had been through, they found a way to carry on. You’d be driving through a camp and see schoolchildren kicking a football around. One night our translator took us to a salsa dancing class. Like the family with the wedding pictures in their ShelterBox tent, they found a way to make a home amid the destruction around them.” Find out more about volunteering at www.shelterbox.org/involved.php


ShelterBox responds instantly to natural and man-made disasters, delivering boxes of aid to families in need. It was founded in 2000 by Tom Henderson OBE. He noticed that the aid response to most disasters was in the form of food and medicine, while little assistance was given in terms of substantial emergency shelter.

193 Disasters to which the charity has responded since it was set up.

70 Countries in which ShelterBox has operated.

100,000 Boxes sent to families so far.

180 Volunteers in ShelterBox Response Teams all over the world who deliver the boxes to families affected by disaster. These dedicated individuals undergo intensive training through ShelterBox’s International Academy for Disaster Relief www.shelterboxacademy.org

150 Volunteers on hand at ShelterBox HQ in Helston, Cornwall, to pack boxes, usually at short notice.

£590 The cost of sponsoring a whole box. This includes equipment, transport and storage during its journey.


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Advertisement Feature

The benefits of financial guidance in tough times Like unwelcome heavy rain on school sports day, the turbulent global economic events of the last few years threaten to derail our best laid plans. These continue to be difficult times for personal finances, with the steep rise in the cost of living – known as inflation – pushing up our food, clothing and petrol expenses. Yet beyond the day-to-day headache of higher bills, it’s important not to neglect your medium to longer-term financial aspirations. Pensions Dispute The ongoing dispute about teachers’ pensions is a good example of this. On October 4th, the Daily Telegraph reported that teachers and other public sector workers approaching retirement could be left up to £7,700 worse off over a decade, if the proposed change to the way inflation is applied to public sector pensions – from the Retail Price Index to Consumer Price Index – goes ahead. Such a difference in pension could have a significant impact on the quality of life you enjoy during retirement. It means you may need to be more reliant upon your existing nest egg of savings and investments than you anticipated. In the meantime, is it working hard enough for your future?

Impact on Savings With savings, the Bank of England has kept Base Rate at the historic low of 0.5% for 31 months and counting. Building Society Association statistics show that this has severely reduced the level of interest rates available from deposit-based accounts. During the first six months of 2008, when Base Rate averaged 5.17%, the average rate on an instant access rate was 2.46%. For the first six months of 2011, the average instant access rate was just 0.30% – over eight times less rewarding. Add in the effect of inflation, and your savings may actually be losing value in real terms. Investing your money is another option. The risks are generally greater, but so too are the rewards. However, recent stock market volatility – which has dominated the headlines throughout

July, August and September – may understandably have left you feeling less sure if this is the right way to achieve your financial goals. Investing should always be considered a medium to longer-term commitment. Although market falls do occur in the short-term, from time-to-time, historically markets have recovered strongly in the subsequent years (though past performance is not a guide to future returns). By investing to achieve your financial objectives a few years down the line, you can potentially benefit from the long-term rewards on offer.

Benefits of a Review Whatever your financial circumstances and future objectives, NAHT Personal Financial Services – provided by our

carefully chosen partner, Skipton Financial Services (SFS) – can assist by holding a no-obligation review of whether your existing savings and investments are best placed to meet them. If they feel you could be making more from your money, they can research the entire marketplace to offer recommendations suited to your individual needs and appetite to risk and reward. If you have not heard from your existing Financial Adviser during these turbulent times you may be worried about how your investments are performing. However, SFS offers a unique, market-leading investment proposition – Monitored Informed Investing (MII) – where your investments are continually monitored by SFS in support of delivering you above average returns over the medium to longer-term.You will also receive regular quarterly written updates of how the MII Core Funds you are invested into are performing (those funds having been initially agreed with you following a comprehensive risk and reward assessment). This is an exclusive proposition which no other Adviser can offer. Please note that the Funds available through MII are not like a bank or building society account as their value can rise and fall and your capital is at risk. SFS charges a fee for the products they arrange for you. Any SFS charges, initial and/or ongoing, will be disclosed to you in writing before you make a final decision. The tax treatment of investments depends on your circumstances and may be subject to change in the future. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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20/10/11 14:25:30



The latest products, books and teaching resources Where Will I Do Myy Pineapples?

Feedi Feeding Fe din ng ffrenzy renz enzy zy o ov over ver healthy he ealtthy d desserts esserrts

Gill Kelly Crown House Publishing £8.99

These T h heese iice ce llollies ollies aare re tthe he h b bra brainchild ainchild i d of Z Zoee M Meredith ereedith i h an and nd Sarah Sara ah Smith, Smitth, two two mums mu ums who wh ho began begaan making makiing them the hem for for their thei h own n ch children. hildr ldren. T The They ey n now ow w supplyy tth the he ic ices ces tto om more orre th than han 100 0 schools scho oolss ac across crosss tth the he U UK. K K. Z Zoe oe and d Sa Sarah arah h designed d deesign i ned them theem tto th ob bee a healthy e hy alt aalternative tern rnativ t ve d dessert es esssert r and nd p pr proudly roud dly cclaim laim a m th that hat a the they hey ar are re m made aad with i h real rreeall fruit u t juic juices u cees and nd h ha have avee n no o aadded d dded d preserv preservatives r e vat ativvees or o sugar. su ugaarr. The Th he lollies o s come o e in tthree e fl flavours o s and d each a onee contains o a s fewer w than a 660 calories. a i Zoee says: ay ““Parents r t have a limited m d control o r o overr their e tteenagers’ n ge ’ diets e during r g thee school c o day a sso itt has a to o bee thee school’s c o responsibility p n i y to ensure n r that h their t e students t e s are re given iv n a healthy h l y choice.” o e www.realfruitfrenzy.com For stockists call 01273 446 440

This book is based on head teacher Gill Kelly’s experiences of building a new school from scratch through the Building Schools for the Future project. The title comes from a member of staff’s panic about where she would ‘do her pineapples’ as part of a still life composition. It’s just one example of the anecdotes and humorous stories used by Gill as she reveals the pressures, strains and major changes involved with not only building a new school, but with creating a new learning environment, while at the same time trying to keep people, the community and education at the heart of the project. With handy checklists of ‘Do’s and don’ts’ at the end of each chapter, the book is useful for quick reference also. This is a great little book for school leaders.

Understandingg Challenging g g Behaviour in Inclusive Classrooms Colin Lever Pearson £19.99 Why do some children behave the way they do? This book aims to help you understand their actions, and provides ideas and strategies to help prevent them occurring. Each chapter includes tasks, tips and information boxes. But what makes this really useful is the case studies, which focus on children from infants to sixth form. The author has more than 30 years’ experience of teaching in challenging schools and draws on this to give advice on how best to deal with specific situations.


Useful U sefu ul P PowerPoints owerPo ointss Preessen PPresent.Me nt.M t Me is is a website w bssitte that web th haat allows allo llow ws users use serss to to record reeccorrd and an nd sh share haree Po PowerPoint oweerPo oint presentations presentations. s. Fo For or ex example, xam mp ple it allows allow ws tteachers, eaccherrs,, ttrainers rain nerss and d students sttudeentss to record reccord d themselves the emsselves u using sing a web webcam bcam tto om make akee sp split-screen plit-sscreeen videos vid deoss alo alongside ongssidee their Pow PowerPoint werPPoin nt slides slides. s. It’s ideal id deal forr tea teaching achiingg rem remotely moteelyy aand nd ena enabling ablingg sstudents tud dentts to o ccatch u up po on nm missed isssed clas classes, ssess, orr forr stu students udeents to sha share are homework. hom mew work. A Alongside lon ngsid de tthe he abil ability lity to rrecord eco ord and d share sha are p presentations, ressenttatio ons,, Pre Present.Me esen nt.M Me in includes nclu udes a num number mbeer of aarticles rticcless that thaat sharee the th he website’s webssite’s experience exxperien nce and d knowledge kn now wledge on on how how w to o create creeatee inspirational insspiraatio onal presentations. pre esen ntattionss. D Different iffeerent ex examples xam mples off ho how ow PPresent. ressentt Mee is bein being ng u used sed d in edu education ucattion n ca can an be viewe viewed ed o on n th tthe he sitee at at present pres present.me/education esent nt.me m me/educatio e/e /ed duc ucatio t on For a free download go to: media.present.me/infopack/PresentMe_Info.zip

It’’ss ttime It’s It iim me tto op put ut down d own some some roots ro oots Nation National Na nal T Tree reee W We Week eek (26 2 N Novem November-4 mb ber-44 Dec December) cember)) celebr celebrates brates t s tthe st start tart off thee winter th t tree-planting ttreee-p planttingg season. seaason n. Each EEaach h year, yearr, up p to t 200 200 schools, schoo ols, along alon ng w with ith t Tree Tre T ee Council Coun unccil member mem m mb beer organisations organ g nisat s tion ons – such u ass voluntary vvolunt u tary r bodies bod b die iess and a d local lo ocal a authorities, aaut th horritie t es, 8, 8,000 ,000 00 ‘t ‘tree treee w wardens’ aard dens e s aan and nd m many aanyy ot o others the herrs – sup support uppor ort th tthe he in initiative nitiat t tive ve b by inspiring n i g people eo e to o plant a o onee million l n trees. e Tips T s on n how ow to organise r n successful cc s tree planting tr n ng activities c it s aree available a b o on tthe w website, b e ass is a poster o r to advertise v ti aan event, v t which w h can a bee downloaded, o n ad d and n which w ch allows ll w for o local o information n r at n to be aadded. d Forr extra t ttree-related e a d resources, es r s check h k outt the W th Woodland o a Trust us site i b below o ffor aactivities, v e w worksheets k e and d sapling sa in p packs. k www.treecouncil.org.uk/community-action/ national-tree-week www.naturedetectives.org.uk


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Feadon Fe ead don on FFarm aarm rm m Wildlife W ild dliffe C Centre entrre Feaadon Feadon n FFa Farm arm in PPortreach, ortrreacch h, Cornwall, Corn nwaall, iss a ggreat reaat choice cho hoicee for f r educational educaation nal ttrips rips i s an and nd ac activities ctiv t vities i involving invo ollving aalllll th things hinggs to od do o with h nnature, atu ure, wild wildlife dlilifee an and d conservation. o e a on Itt is llocated a d on n thee north o h Cornish o s coast, coa oast, t and nd options o op ption ons ra range an ngee ffro from om day ay eexcursions exccurssion o to o week-long weeeek-lo k on ng p pac packages ckkaggees and nd inc include nclude u experiences exxp perien ences e like ke tthee w wi wildlife ildlif d fe safar safari f ri aan and nd fe feeding eeed ding n session sessions, e ons, tthe hee ‘rock o k pooling o n and n ssea sshore o aadventure’, e u thee wild l bird and bi a d falconry c r experience, e e n , and d the h reptile re i and n w wildlife d encounter. c n r Alll visits s can n bee customised s m e d depending e i on p pupil p age, g aacademic d m and n p physical s a ability, b y and n aare ssupported p t by National N ti a C Curriculum ic u w worksheets r h t and n gguides d tto complement o p m n each a activity. ti y Certificates e f at of completion c m e n are re also ls aavailable l le for o every v y pupil. u www.feadonfarmwildlife.co.uk

Stamping Sta SSt amping o out utt st stigma tiiggma New Ne N ew tteaching eacchingg re resources esou urcees aimed d att challe challenging engin g ng tthe he words used use ed to to describe desccribee people p peeop ple with with h mental meentaal ill-health illl-heealth h an and nd le learning earn ning disabilities dis d sabilitiees ha have ave bee been en issue issued ed tto o scho schools ools in ffive ivee bo boroughs orou ughss in the no north orth h west weest of England. Englland d. Developed Deveelop ped byy tthe he Fivee Bo Boroughs orou ughs g Partnership Pa artneersh hip p NHS NHSS Foundation Fo ound datiion Trust, the the Sticks Sticcks and d Sto Stones onees school sc choo ol resource reesou urcee packs paacks aree ideal ideeal ffor or use in PPSHE SH HE and ccitizenship itizzensship p lessons, le essons, and d aree av available vailable in ttwo wo o for formats rmaats – on one ne fo for or K KS1 S1 and an nd K KS2, S2,, and d an another noth her forr KS33 an and nd K KS4. S4. The pa packs ackss co contain ontaain information, in nforrmattion n, lesson plans, pllanss, activities acctivitiess and d materials mateerialss to o help heelp teachers te each herss dis discuss scusss th the he issue issues es aand nd stig stigmas gmas as associated ssocciateed w with ith h mental m ental hea health alth and d lea learning arning d disabilities, isaabilitties, as well ass ex examining xamiining som some so me off tthe he h hurt hur hurtful urtful words wo ordss used ussed to to describe desccribe others. For downloadable copies of packs go to www.stampoutstigma.co.uk/schools-andemployers or call 01925 664 002 for a printed copy.

Help H elp p ffor or b bullied ulllieed girls girlls gi Frieendssh Friendship hip p an and nd O Other ther t W Weapons ea apons aimss tto oh help yyoung oun ng ggirls irls cope cop pe w with ith th b bu bullying. ullyin ng. Full of group activities actiivities i and and numerous num merrous photocopiable pho hottoccop piable re resources, esou urcees, tthe he boo book ok p provides rovvide des a com complete, mpleette, ready-to-use ready-t e y to o-u usse gro group roup p curricu curriculum u culum um tto oh he help elp pp primary rim imaaryy ssch school ho oo ol ggirlss build bu d cconstructive o onsstru ructiv t ve and and d fulfilling fulf u fillin l ng friendships frriendsh e ships p by buil building u ld ding critical r c kknowledge w d e and d friendship r d i su survival i skills, l ssuch h ass resolving e lv g conflicts o i s directly, re l using u g technology e n o and d social o l media m i ethically t c y and nd responding e o d assertively se iv y to o bullying u n behaviour. be a u T Thee book oo iis based a d on n thought-provoking h g - o k g discussions, i u o , engaging g gi games, m , strength-discovering r g - c e n exercises, x c es and n confidence-boosting o fi n - oo i fun n with t h hands-on d o aactivities. v e T The book o iss byy Signe g e Whitson h o and n p published b h by JJessica s Kingsley. n e Reader offer: to buy a copy at a discounted price of £16.99 (RRP £19.99), please go to www.jkp.com or call 020 7833 2307 and quote ‘WHILEA’

Invisible Teaching Dave Keeling and David Hodgson Crown House Publishing £12.99 This enthusiastic and activity-filled book aims to promote a positive and focused classroom atmosphere by turning regular teachers into brilliant ones via the concept of ‘invisible learning’. The authors believe their book can encourage both students and teachers to engage and develop through three main areas of energy, openness and focus. There are more than 100 tried and tested activities to help achieve the secrets of invisible teaching, which require the reader to challenge themselves and be brave enough to try something new.

Improving p g Classroom Performance Stephen Chapman, Steve Garnett and Alan Jervis Crown House Publishing £25.00 This is the first bookk from Dragonfly Training, which provides training courses for teachers. Put together by three of the company’s trainers, it offers hands-on teaching approaches and practical strategies suitable for teachers with varying degrees of experience. The book begins by highlighting Dragonfly’s six key principles for improving classroom performance and getting the best results, which includes encouraging students to create their own teaching materials and using ICT ‘to the maximum’. The ideas for engaging, inspiring and motivating are based on the trainers’ own experiences in teaching as well as common sense and other reports.


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Scholastic café culture Some of the best ideas come out over a cuppa, but one school has turned coffee and doughnuts into a discussion forum that underpins the way it’s run


and the youngest get plenty of input from TAs and other staff. They might talk about behaviour in the classroom, for example, but Tony says the café concept is also useful at the start of a new curriculum topic. “We find that children who struggle in some areas may shine in others. We can use it to put the children into groups for units of work, or to find out who they work well with,” he says.

And that’s not all. Candidates for jobs at Water Hall are likely to find themselves in a café situation. “It means we get staff who really get us. We listen to their values and pick up on little things we can ask about in the formal interview later,” says Tony, recalling one café where a prospective teacher mentioned Every Child Matters. In the formal interview, Tony and his colleagues asked her more about this and were rewarded with a 30-second silence. “I shouldn’t have said that, should I?” the under-prepared candidate eventually replied. Tony adds: “The cafés underpin everything we do. Everybody gets a voice

here. When you get a TA who’s said something in the café and then sees something happening in the school as a result, that’s worth a million ‘well dones’.” The World Café isn’t the only unusual thing about Water Hall. The school is also big on Kaleidoscope, a type of colour therapy. But forget your image of Milton Keynes’ leafy suburbs and concrete cows – this school sits in a highly deprived area, with parents reluctant to set foot inside this shiny new building. As you might suspect, Tony and his team are trying to address that as well. “We couldn’t get parents through the door so we went out and met them in the pub. We got about 25 of them there, bought them a pint and sandwiches and talked to them. “When they went to school they were bullied, and they thought their children went to school to be bullied. We’re working to change that perception. Schools can be scary places for parents and that makes them not confident.” Therefore, Water Hall is working on what might be its trickiest bit of transformation yet: encouraging parents to come into school, to use the facilities and ultimately to do some learning themselves. It’s a slow process. “We haven’t cracked it yet. We’re looking at how to welcome them and enable them to take on learning. We can’t do it to them – if you do that, it’s not sustainable. We’re working on it,” Tony concludes. Resistance, you suspect, is futile. What does your school do that’s out of the ordinary? I’d love to hear about it for the next column. Email me at educationhack@gmail.com


Ask enough questions of any school and eventually you’ll unearth something unusual. But with Tony Draper, the head teacher of Water Hall Primary School in Milton Keynes, I discovered something entirely unfamiliar just 30 seconds into the conversation. Water Hall is unusual in that it has a ‘World Café’. This isn’t somewhere to grab a quick tea or coffee, but a venue that facilitates discussion and which gives an equal voice to every pupil or staff member, depending on which group is using the café. A room is set up as a café, complete with tables for four (with tablecloths) and a handy supply of doughnuts and drinks. Participants are given a core issue to pick over and start to think about the types of questions they could ask and the underlying assumptions. After a while and lots of scribbling down of ideas, three out of four people move on from each table to form new groups. Each table’s host introduces the newcomers, runs through what came out of the previous discussion and gets it going again. After the third round of this everybody goes back to their home table to talk about what they’ve learned from their discussions, and to come up with further questions and ways forward. Tony, a member of the NAHT’s National Executive, says: “In the staff cafés, you often get questions coming to the surface that you haven’t even thought about. The whole room is involved – teaching assistants, cleaners, office staff – all their voices come through. It’s very different from a traditional staff meeting: everybody has a say, everybody feels ownership.” Pupils have their own cafés. The older children manage with minimal adult help


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