by Tim Carroll, Vandyke Upper School headteacher and chairman of the Leighton Buzzard Headteachers’ Group
The New Year started with lurid newspaper headlines and contributions to the letters pages about an argument over hair-style that caused a student to miss school. Apparen versy I then had two heads of luminously coloured hair to contend with. Again, both situations are now resolved even though valuable time has been expended in achieving resolution.
And then it snowed! I just happened to be taking assembly that morning and was disappointed that some students seemed surprised at my carefully prepared presentation contrasting Daleks in Dr Who with what it is that makes us human (the answer of course is that we are not programmed robots but can feel empathy for others and exercise “free choice” so must take responsibility for our decisions).
It turned out that some students had genuinely believed I would be telling them that they could go home because of the snow! I can see that my Dr Who story by comparison seemed somewhat of a let-down!
Snow certainly causes more than a frisson of excitement in school and changes the course of what would otherwise be a normal day. Most students of course respond well to a covering of snow, nevertheless snowy days do not exactly make any headteacher’s heart leap with joy.
If it seems from all this that school-days are incident-packed, all-action and filled with excitement and controversy, I must disabuse you of this. School days may be fun and certainly are busy but they largely run like the Swiss railways. That is, efficiently, reliably and on time.
In the course of a typical week we have 1550 lessons taught by 80 teachers in 73 classrooms. That requires some planning and it takes more than an unusual haircut or a dusting of snow to knock this juggernaut off track.
Bells ring, teachers emerge, students arrive and off we go until the next bell. Just like clockwork, it all seems just to run itself.