New Headship: First 100 Days

Snow Storm and School Visits: Week 2 In A Headteacher’s Journey at Willaston School

Welcome to the second instalment in my record of my first 100 days as Executive Headteacher at Willaston School. This week was a roller coaster of events, from the challenges of a surprise snowstorm to the joy of celebrating students' success. But, as with any good roller coaster, we've come out the other side with a few bumps and bruises, but also a whole lot of excitement and new learning...

Monday, January 16th 2023 (Day 6)

  • Health and Safety Inspection
  • Meeting Parents

On Monday, I had arranged for a health and safety inspection of the Willaston School site. The inspector arrived at 9am and we went on a site walk, identifying any issues that need to be addressed. The inspection was scheduled to finish by 12noon, but went on until past 3pm! Despite the extra time, it was a valuable experience and I am grateful for the inspector’s insights. I also met with parents at the start and end of the day at the school gates, exchanging smiles and warm greetings. Relationship-building remains a key focus during these first 100 days.

Tuesday, January 17th 2023 (Day 7)

  • School Closure Due to Weather
  • Preparation for Remote Learning
Isle of Man Government announced the Island-wide decision to close all Manx schools on Tuesday due to snow and ice.

I woke up to an unbelievable amount of snow all over the Isle of Man, and the government announced the closure of all schools for the day. Instead of having a typical school day, I used the opportunity to catch up on paperwork and prepare for remote learning. Dhoon and Laxey were well prepared for delivering remote learning due to our contingency plans which were developed, tried, tested and reviewed during the Covid19 pandemic. Although we hoped that children and families would get out in the snow and make the most of the experience, against a backdrop of an almost constant public narrative of “children have already lost too much of their education” – due to Covid and industrial action – it felt right to provide some kind of educational offer for children and parents to turn to should they so wish. By the end of the day, the snow was already melting away… and take-up on our remote learning package was zero.

In between working from home, I managed to get out in the snow with Gracie for an hour or so which was lovely. Check out the eyebrows on her snowman!

Wednesday, January 18th 2023 (Day 8)

  • Senior Leaders’s Meeting

Today was DESC’s termly Senior Leaders’ Meeting to which all of the Island’s headteachers are expected to attend. The agenda centred around the draft framework and proposals for quality assurance and inspection, which sounds innovative and modern.

Thursday, January 19th (Day 8)

  • Visiting My Other Schools
  • Checking on New Staff
  • Meeting with local politican

On Thursday, I made my first visit this term to Laxey School and Dhoon School. It was good to see my colleagues in these schools where my leadership is already established, and I checked in to see how my newly appointed staff had settled in (I have a new teacher appointed in both schools – Mr Davis has taken up a Y3/Y4 class teacher role at Dhoon, and Miss Holland has taken up the role of KS1 teacher at Laxey.)

Working with children in Laxey School.

The day concluded with a meeting at Laxey School with one of the constituency MHKs. We were meeting to discuss the car park barrier which has recently been installed across the car park entrance in a move to deter theft, and better manage the health and safety aspects of the car park. It was a positive and productive meeting which finished with a couple of action points I agreed to pursue. It is so good that the school enjoys a collaborative and positive relationship with it’s MHKs and allows for constructive dialogue. On this occasion it even led to Laxey and Dhoon being encouraged to pay an educational visit to Tynwald which is something I will definitely be following up on!

Day 9: Friday, January 20th (Day 9 out of 100)

  • Visiting All Three Schools
  • Celebrating Students’ Success

On Friday, I visited all three of my schools. I started the day at Willaston, greeted the children and families arriving and popped into classrooms to see the children engaged in their learning. Community Police Offer, PC Lou, called in and it was good to meet her. The school clearly enjoys a fantastic relationship with the Police and I am keen to enable this to continue. Next, I went to Laxey School for the celebration assembly, and it was great to see so much success among the pupils. After that, I visited Dhoon School for the High Five Assembly before heading back to Willaston to be a presence at the end of the day, smiling to children and families and wishing them well for the weekend.

Some of the key learning points from this week include the importance of regular health and safety inspections to ensure the safety of students and staff, the need to be prepared for unexpected events such as school closures due to weather, and the importance of visiting other schools to ensure that all schools under my responsibility are running smoothly and the newly appointed staff are well settled in. Additionally, it’s important to celebrate students’ success and acknowledge their hard work and achievements. I’m already looking forward to what next week will bring!

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