‘You chose this over Henry V? You’re idiots! You’ve got to do an exam on this you know. Didn’t the title give it away…nothing happens!’
Our replacement A-level teacher who was furious with us for getting bored with Henry V and switching texts half way through exam year.
Circa late 90s.
And so, as I got chucked out of my Deputy’s and Business Manager’s offices for the third time yesterday morning, I stropped around the office, bored, because sometimes, when you’re a Head…there’s nothing to do.
I know what you’re all thinking:
Teachers: Typical bloody senior leader, not doing any real work. Try working at the coalface mate-you won’t be bored then.
Senior Leaders: Typical Head – letting us do all the real work. (I can’t wait to be Head)
Heads: The man is an epic failure for a) thinking he has no work to do or b) giving the game away.
Well I’m sorry but it’s true. There are times – not many I’ll grant you – but times, when I honestly think that I shouldn’t have bothered coming in to work.
Take yesterday for example. There were no pressing matters for me to sink my teeth into. I put this down to two main reasons:
- I had been too bloody strategic for my own good last week.
- This term’s data deadline isn’t until Wednesday.
The few days before the data deadline are the worst. I can’t look ahead, I can’t analyse the past and there’s nothing interesting going on in the present, due to assessments going on whilst teachers give me evils because the data deadline is in the middle of the week and their PPA is on Thursday. So I am reduced to an infinite number of little jobs:
- Authorising school orders
- Un-authorising holiday requests
- Preparing for a governor’s chairs meeting
- Creating the backgrounds for the Christmas performance on PowerPoint
- Emailing staff important messages about next week’s timetables
- Updating health and safety files
- Checking the child protection folder
- Deleting emails
- Trying to see if I can slip into the staff room for an extra mince pie without anyone noticing.
I’m not saying this stuff isn’t important – it’s just not what gets me up in the morning. It’s not stuff that when I leave work in the evening, I reflect back on, thinking: today was a good day to be a Head. No, yesterday was a day that achieved nothing spectacular, that did not move the school forward that did not develop me in any other way apart from expanding my waistline as I relentlessly gorged on miniature heroes whilst everyone else was working.
I don’t know how I should reflect on days like these. Should I accept the fact that when you don’t have a class to teach and when there is no crisis to reckon with or no master plan to strategize and put into action, the role of the Head is more caretaker than leader? Or should I jolly well find something meaningful to do?
My only consolation is that these days are few and far between: as today began with me chairing a PEP for a recently placed child in care followed by a meeting with a staff member going through their own crisis, followed by a development of an on-going behaviour issue that we had thought we’d almost cracked, the phrase ‘once more unto the breach dear friends, once more’ sprang to mind As I ended my day with my Deputy discussing twilight inset agendas, and, as I tossed the first chocolate éclair I’d had time for that day into my mouth, I thought: today is a good day to be a Head.