New Headship: First 100 Days

A Whirlwind Term Comes to an End: Weeks 11 and 12 In A Headteacher’s Journey at Willaston School

Join me on a whirlwind journey through Days 51 to 59, as I continue my adventure juggling the demands of not one, but three schools. From visiting consultants to Irish musicians, from Parents' Evenings to cross country championships, and everything in between, it's a non-stop ride of paperwork, meetings, and the occasional well-earned beer. Get ready for another glimpse into the busy, challenging, and rewarding life of a Headteacher…

Monday, March 27th (Day 51)

I received a message first thing in the morning from the Head of School at Willaston saying that she wasn’t feeling great and wouldn’t be able to come in. I decided to spend the day at Willaston. We received a good selection of applications for the vacant TLR posts due by lunchtime. In the afternoon, I had a meeting with the Head of Manx Family Action before meeting some parents to discuss site security and safeguarding. I finished my day with a meeting with the senior teacher at Willaston.

Tuesday, March 28th (Day 52)

The Head of School still wasn’t available at Willaston, so I decided to spend another day there. In the afternoon, the Y6s visited a local secondary school to watch their senior students perform in a production of SIX, which was reportedly excellent. I spent most of the day catching up on admin and paperwork, overseeing site developments, and working directly with children. At one point, three situations required staff intervention simultaneously, so I had to jump into action.

Wednesday, March 29th (Day 53)

Although the Head of School was back at Willaston, I spent my morning there to catch up and debrief. The Manx Folk Awards were happening, and a group representing Dhoon School was taking part. Mid-morning, I received the great news that they had won both classes. I was so proud!

Dhoon School enjoyed success at the Manx Folk Awards, winning both classes! Huge credit to the children and their teacher Mr Cross.

In the evening, I attended the first of two parents’ evenings at Laxey School. It was successful, and to my surprise, the parent governor dropped off Burger King Double Whopper flavour crisps as a snack.

Thursday, March 30th (Day 54)

Laxey School’s Year 6 students visited the Manx Parliament, Tynwald, in the morning. Channel 5 TV show “Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out” was filming them for an upcoming episode. The pupils took part in a mock debate imagining themselves as the Island’s politicians, a fantastic learning experience about Manx politics, and an amazing opportunity to film for a TV show. I headed to Isle of Man Airport to pick up Gareth Morewood, who we brought over to do two days of development work at Willaston School. While waiting for the plane to land, we heard that the plane was having difficulty landing due to low-lying fog and was being diverted to Belfast!

My FlightRadar tracking even had the plane turning around and heading back to England!

But eventually, Gareth landed safely, and we headed to Willaston for professional 1-2-1s with each member of staff to discuss individual children and classroom dynamics. We ended the day with a staff twilight training session complete with Fish and Chips.

Friday, March 31st (Day 55)

I visited all three schools today, starting with Willaston for the Celebration Assembly. Today we said “goodbye” to Irene who has worked at Willaston School for many years – we wish her a long and happy retirement!

Irene Elson retired today after more than 4 decades working for IOM Government.

Then, I left Gareth with the team there to continue the developmental sessions while I zoomed first to Laxey for their Celebration Assembly and then to Dhoon School. I returned to Willaston for a Parent’s Workshop that Gareth was leading.

Gareth Morewood leading a parents’ workshop at Willaston School.

It had been a great couple of days with Gareth in Willaston School, and we saw in the weekend in Isle of Man style!

A Friday evening beer with Gareth Morewood.

Monday, April 3rd (Day 56)

Today was a Dhoon-based day, which felt like the right choice as I didn’t manage to be at Dhoon as much as planned last week due to staff absence at Willaston. Unfortunately, due to the weather, we had to postpone our planned fundraising welly walk for the second time! We’ll try again after Easter – third time’s a charm, right?

In the afternoon, I had a productive meeting with the Dhoon HoS and EYFS teachers from Dhoon and Laxey. We reviewed our implementation of the New Development Matters Guidance/Curriculum, discussed Tapestry, and made a final decision about which verified phonics programme to bring in for next September.

I finished off my day at St. John’s School for the Isle of Man NAHT Branch Meeting, where we discussed updates on a range of important issues.

Tuesday, April 4th (Day 57)

Laxey School held two “Play and Stay” sessions today in Reception, and both were well-attended.

In what was starting to feel like a never-ending cycle of Parents’ Evenings, it was Willaston’s turn this week, so I ended my day there to make sure I was around. The format at Willaston is slightly different to how I run them at Dhoon and Laxey, but I’ve decided the model at my other two schools is better, and so there will be changes for Willaston, but that’s for another day.

Wednesday, April 5th (Day 58)

It’s a wet start to the day, and with that comes news that the Isle of Man Primary Cross Country Championships are postponed. With a team from all three of my schools taking part, my first job of the day is to let the staff and children involved know.

I based myself at Laxey School for most of the day and had a couple of staff attendance meetings in the afternoon. I did manage to call in to Dhoon for a couple of hours in the afternoon before heading to Willaston for another Parents’ Evening. It was a long day, but I’m glad I managed to see all three schools today.

Thursday, April 6th (Day 59):

It’s the final day of the Spring Term! I opened my day at Willaston School and enjoyed the celebratory Assembly. From there, I headed to Laxey School – our assembly was a little different today, with visiting musicians from Ireland who were on the Island for the Shennaghys Jiu Festival and agreed to perform for our children. It was a wonderful opportunity to expose the pupils to live music. This is a performance I saw repeated when I headed up to Dhoon School in the afternoon.

The final day of term saw deadlines aplenty for termly assessment data to load up on the system, safeguarding returns for DESC, and purchase cards to be signed off. Amid the whirlwind of paperwork and admin, the three newsletters – one per school – were published too.

It has been an immensely busy end to the term, and the curtain falls on my first term as Headteacher of three schools. It is possible, and the more I do it, the more I learn, and the more efficient everything becomes. But I can’t deny it has been exhausting and hard-going – as well as positive and enjoyable! Its truly an honour to be entrusted to do this job, and despite the tiredness it brings, it is a privilege and I consider it to be the best job in the world.

But now, it’s time for a beer. Cheers to a successful term!

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