Welcome Back

First proper day back yesterday, first staff meeting yesterday.

Welcome back. I hope you’ve all had a restful break and are ready to get started on making Leafy Green Primary the best in the area again. We have some new staff starting this term. You may have had the chance to speak to them on Friday, if not, introduce yourselves and show them how much of a team we are. Remember we are a school, not a collection of individuals.

As you know (new staff, make sure you know about this) we had a bad Ofsted inspection last term, and we lost our ‘Outstanding’ title. We now have ‘Requires Improvemnt’. This is disappointing. The parents look at this and decide whether to send their children here or not. If they don’t, and our numbers drop, then there will be job cuts. We cannot afford to keep staff numbers up when we don’t have the income to support it.

Our children are kind, clever and well behaved. They deserve the best. Make sure you give them the best. Our KS2 SATs were the lowest we have ever had – most of those children were the brothers and sisters of children who did well in previous years. They should have done well too.

But something stopped them doing well. Our school is the same, our ethos is the same, but something has changed to prevent them getting the results they deserve. Why? What is it? It can’t be the children, they just learn what you teach them.

I had an awkward meeting with the Governors last term. I had to explain why we got an RI. I wanted to support you, to say that we have very good teachers here, but the Ofsted result makes that difficult. Now we have our lowest KS2 results.

I have another meeting with the Governors on Wednesday. I’m going to have to explain why we did so badly in the KS2 SATs. What am I going to say? What, exactly, can I say to them? They look to me for answers, and I don’t have any. I can’t explain why you didn’t get the children through the SATs as well as you did in the past.

Don’t say it’s because of the new tests, we’ve known about them for enough time, and the children were taught the curriculum since 2014, so you knew what you had to prepare them for. Don’t tell me it’s because of the new scoring system. It doesn’t matter how they grade them, we shouldn’t have got such low results. What happened? What went wrong? I want to know.

As I said, I have to meet with the Governors next week. I need to explain this to them. I expect you all to send me an email telling me why you think we got such low results in the summer. Give me something to tell the governors next week. I need these emails from you by Thursday at the latest, so I can prepare what I’m going to say to the Governors, how I’m going to defend you.

I’ve got the results from the last few years here, along with the expected scores we should have got. The scores we should have got, but didn’t. Take them away, read them and tell me why we didn’t get good scores this year.

I’m worried we’ll lose our good reputation and numbers will start falling.

I’m worried about YOU.

Right, I’ve said all I can, you can finish preparing your rooms. Make sure they look good for the children tomorrow. Thank you.

And to the new staff, welcome.”

Well, this is going to be fun…

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3 Responses to Welcome Back

  1. Brian says:

    I am not sure whether this was a copy of a letter, a summary of the day, a quotation from a briefing from the head or your interpretation.

    I am assuming (however hard I try not to) that this was a speech from the head intended to motivate. Surely it would be clear from the Ofsted report why the RI was given. Surely the reasons would have been made clear to the head.

    The word “you” seems to appear freuently whereas the word “I” appears rarely and only to illustrate that problems that the staff have caused the head.

    If this was indeed a motivational speech, it is probably one of the worst examples of leadership I have ever witnessed. Maybe the tone of the thing with the clear message that the staff are lacking may give some insight into the root dause of the issues that resulted in RI.

    Surely the leader should have a handle on things and should be supporting the staff in resolving the issues. Surely the leader should be analysing the various data to identify root causes “with” the staff.

    If I have misunderstood the thrust of the thing then I am sure you will ignore my ramblings.

    If not, good luck. I feel your team will need it.

    • Sadly, I have to say, this was indeed a speech by the head.

      ‘Motivational’ is debatable, but it was certainly designed to make it very clear that poor results can be laid solely at the door of the teaching staff. I’m part-time, and I’m supply, so I am slightly removed from this, but it was pretty brutal.

      The staff who were there last year looked utterly browbeaten, the new staff baffled & horrified in equal measure.

      Although not verbatim, it’s as accurate a record of the speech as I can make it.

      I’m going to see how things go, whether this was just the head ‘losing it’, or whether this is par for the course.

      It is, I agree, utterly devoid of any insight into her role in regards to the results, and shows a distinct lack of leadership.

      I also think the demand for an explanation of the results is designed to intimidate, not the need to feedback to the Governors at all. As you say, any meeting regarding either Ofsted or the SATs will have already taken place.

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