We had a governors' meeting last Monday, but on the Thursday before, I had an email from the Head asking me to come in for a meeting the next day. He'd been notified that the school was going to be part of the pilot for the new regime of school inspections. So at the meeting, the governors had to make a final decision about confirming our application for Academy status (the local paper, if you saw it, didn't get it quite right) and were also told about Ofsted coming.
We have made a commitment to becoming an academy and are waiting to hear if the application is successful. What it means is that it will still be a fully state funded school and won't actually change at all, but the governors, under a board of trustees (four governors including the head) will take over running it, rather than Suffolk Local Authority. The work that's been done so far - we're employing financial people, HR people and solicitors - is a revelation of efficiency. The LA has not, over the past few years, been what it used to be and has been frustrating to work with. And you don't know where you are with them, which has always been the case. You are never lied to, I'm not making any accusations, but they don't volunteer any information they don't have to. They have a lot of schools to take into account, but they don't actually say that, they say supportive but non-committal things and later you find out that you've gone away with the wrong impression, or find that all your reasoned arguments, which seemed to have been accepted, were quite pointless because an opposite decision had already been made. It is so hard to work with.
There are, however, some really tricky things ahead in the next few years, and I have to accept that this is a commitment I'm not going to relinquish in a hurry. We've got really good governors, but some of them have had other things crop up and don't have a lot of time at present. Sad to say, the wife of one of them has just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, so I'm particularly appreciative of Rog's cycling efforts this week, as he's raising money in memory of Kaz. It's a beastly illness and not that unusual - I know more women who have or have had it than any other cancer except breast. As you probably know, the worst problem is that it's often picked up relatively late, having few symptoms in the early stages and, even when the woman starts to feel unwell, the GP may well not immediately identify the need for tests; so when it's diagnosed it's already strongly established.
Our inspection is unlikely to be held this week, but could be next, or in the first week after half term. This means that, under the rule of Sod's Law, that it could well be on the day that Dilly will have her baby. Of course, that day and the next I am due to be on hand to look after Squiffany and Pugsley.
For the next few weeks, I really will feel as though I'm sliding down the razor-blade of life. I am getting extremely anxious. I'm very worried about letting the school down - I know a lot, but it all depends on what I'm asked and if they want to tie me in knots, as some inspectors do, I am afraid of letting the side down.
However, tomorrow we're going to London to view a sale at B0nh@ms. So I'll try to put all this out of my mind.
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We are quite certain that there is absolutely no question of letting anyone down, least of all the school, so you should not worry in any way.
The Ofsted teams are much much less invasive than previously, and do really look for the positive aspects of the school in not only the outcomes of teaching and learning but also its wider function in the community.
Enjoy the sale. Now that does sound interesting.
My darling, you won't let the school down. Have a little faith. You'll deal with whatever gets flung your way, with gentle humour, patience and a firm hand where necessary.
The last Ofsted was only one day and the school found it a very bruising experience. We feel that a two day inspection will be much better. I wasn't involved in that last inspection and have had pretty good experiences in the past. I don't mind a rigorous inspection, and can talk with knowledge and enthusiasm, backed up with specific examples, but if they want a narrow focus on something I haven't remembered details on, I'll be stumped. I'm good on broad detail and can zoom in, but I don't trouble to remember statistics, for just one example.
The community angle is out of the window now. As is Value Added. But they're really hot on behaviour and punctuality.
It's the Lowestoft china in Wednesday's sale that we'll be looking at. The Sage will go to the auction, but I shan't.
Presumably as govenors are volunteers, not paid employees, if something like the birth of a grandchild comes up they can't force you to attend.
No one is forcing me, but obligation has nothing to do with whether you're paid for a job. I've written to the Head explaining when I will and will not be available. Dilly is booked for delivery on Thursday week, so it's that day and the next I'm looking at, but of course she could go into labour earlier. It would suit me very nicely if either she had the baby or Ofsted comes (but not both) earlier in the week. Or the inspection after half term.
I'll go down fighting, at any rate. Thanks.
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