Today I spoke to another headteacher who has been sacrificed to the Ofsted gods, cast adrift, thrown off the boat as the pressure beats down. She was finished, tired, fed-up, just plain disillusioned and even worse sad.
The ongoing pressure of constantly balancing the impossible year on year, being asked to do more with less and less finally took its toll. This was not the job she signed up to.
I know many primary headteachers who are teaching almost full-time and then doing the day job. (They are not heads in small schools either). Headteachers facing the prospect of or in the middle of a staff restructure because there is no money. Headteachers cleaning schools at the end of the day. Headteachers increasingly filling the gaps where Children’s Services have disappeared. . Headteachers where inclusion is the core of their beliefs finding it becoming an impossibility due to the inadequate funding. Vision and personal morals increasingly compromised by the reality of the job.
This is not why they signed up to the job.
So this is a blog partly driven by frustration. As a head of a small coastal primary school, the challenges you face are huge yet your voice feels practically non-existent. Finance, budget, recruitment, SEND all massive issues but ones which you feel you have no power. So that was the motivation to provide a voice for the average school. The school doing their best in challenging circumstances. (I should write that as the first sentence in my SEF). I have at times been outspoken.(I’m OK with that). I’ve more often been ignored (often when you post something that doesn’t agree with someone elses narrative). That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t shout out. Sometimes people are afraid to shout out. The thing we must realise is that every person’s voice needs to be listened to. Some people seem to wield blocks and mutes on twitter as a way of shutting down debate, clearing their timeline of dissenting voices. Thing is if we only listen to the voices that agree with us we don’t actually get a real picture.
Some will tell you these things aren’t happening. If anyone that says funding isn’t an issue then I cordially invite them to visit and come and look at the challenges first hand. To come and have a real discussion. (pretty sure they won’t though)
We can welcome Ofsteds change in focus (I actually agree with big chunks of it) but we equally need to be honest about the potential this framework has in creating massive workload while it talks about reducing it. The proof as always will be in the pudding.
I will for the present keep being a ‘Crap Umbrella’ (as in bouncing away crap rather than a rubbish umbrella) and creating a climate and environment where our teachers can teach because I still love the job and our school. I am fortunate to have good people who help me see the wood for the trees (So grateful to our trust, they know who they are).
My expecto-patronum is currently working well and chocolate definitely helps.
We do however need some honesty and some solutions from the top.