We are getting to the angry season again. This time last year, you will remember, we closed the school as we could not ensure that we would have enough teachers to staff the place. Those of us who did turn up got a lot of work done!
This time round, the unions haven’t got the mandate to have a day of strikes (their members don’t want to lose all that pay, presumably), so they are having instead “action short of a strike”, which title has all the epistemological force of a wet haddock. This time it is a workload-related issue (interestingly, pupils or children are not mentioned once in the NUT/NASUWT joint statement) and although the opening sentence declares against the government, its effects will be principally against heads and principals. Particularly the latter, as there is growing evidence that academies are accruing to themselves some of the organisational and managerial freedoms denied maintained schools, that are having a very detrimental effect on the workforce.
As a leadership team, we have gone through the proposed actions with a very fine toothcomb, checked each “instruction” to ensure that as a school we are neither unjust nor vulnerable and have addressed any remaining concerns seriously. The consensus with those teachers I have talked to so far, seems to be that if school leaders are fair and open in applying existing legislation, are supportive of teachers in their development and workloads, and stick to the 1265 legislated working hours, then anyone taking industrial action in such a school might not be noticed.
If this industrial action, however futile, challenges me or my headteacher and principal colleagues to develop their teachers properly and treat them with justice and kindness, where’s the problem?
On a happier note, the Year 6 children are all back from the Quinta. The coach rolled into the car park at half past four yesterday afternoon and amid squeals of delight and a great deal of hugging and grunting over suitcases, parents and children were reunited…
We know them MUCH better now than before they left. Their interactions, likes, foibles, maturity, friendships and intro/extroversions are all laid bare for us to see, understand and shape. Everything they have learnt and done is of use. Everything counts, even when not really enjoyed or understood at the time. Many of them have come back much more grown up from the opportunities they have been given. Because all our reactions are a choice in life, those who chose to learn, learnt, and those who didn’t, did not. It will be fascinating to see the effect of this over the next few weeks. The “discipling” of these wonderful children in Year 6 can begin.
This is a good place to say a heartfelt thankyou to those 5 teachers and support staff who shepherded and looked after the children on this adventure. They, more than anyone, have made it the success it has been. I am proud to work alongside them.