We all know that working in schools is tough. There are battles being had in so many areas – SEND, budget, recruitment, that other one beginning with O – that it can seem like an uphill struggle (probably because it is!).
But the last few weeks has really highlighted to me the importance of having a strong and supportive team, who feel trusted enough not only to make the right choices for their children but also to challenge appropriately when it comes to wider decision making.
I’ll cite just three reasons that make me a lucky headteacher.
Number 1. When I’m not there, people pull together to pick up the slack.
I am very lucky to be a proud parent. When my wife had our second child a month or so ago, I was able to enjoy parenthood without the worries of what was going on at school. The whole staff, lead ably by the leadership team made sure that they dealt with everything that came their way. And we all know what it’s like in schools – never a dull moment. Even when I came back, slightly bleary eyed and powered by coffee, they only updated me on things I needed to know. Things that were in hand were kept that way.
Number 2. All staff know that they can challenge anyone if it gets the best for the children.
I’m no expert. I make as many mistakes as the next person (probably more!) but I always try to do what I think is right. What I love about my staff is that they are not afraid to ask the question ‘why’. It’s always done in a professional way, and it allows discussions to be opened up and for decisions to be made collaboratively that move the school on. Being challenged makes me think. It prompts me to think about why we do things in a certain way. Sometimes we make changes, sometimes we don’t, but we always work towards creating more clarity.
Number 3. They are not afraid to have a laugh – often at my expense!
At least once in one part of the day or another, I can guarantee that someone will make me laugh and lift my mood. Sometimes it’s a random passing comment and sometimes it’s something bigger. Takes this week for example. In my infinite wisdom (and significant sleep deprivation) I decided to cook pancakes in assembly. I was prepping at lunch time and the team having their lunch in the staff room couldn’t help but help out. And by help out, I mean make a joke out of the things I kept doing wrong. The scales not working, the cooker taking a week to heat up or the use by date of the sugar! To sum it all up, a ‘to measure or not to measure’ poll put up on twitter to settle our friendly debate. I can laugh about even more now knowing that I won!
The long and short of it – despite it being a tough job, and despite sometimes feeling low, a great team can always pull you back around. I’m lucky to have a great one who make my job easier and more enjoyable that it might otherwise be. #teampalacewood