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From Hampton Court to Jersey Royals

Posted: 21st March 2014 | Category: Headmasters's Blog

Being a Head means that one dons many different hats in the course of a week or two at Skippers.

A fortnight ago I was at HQ for a Heads’ Management Meeting. This took place in the old Barclays Bank building near Hampton Court. This stunning edifice is a great location which not only houses a suite of offices that acts as the hub of Bellevue Education but also sports a large high-tech room, which caters for up to 16 delegates for training purposes.

The day began with coffee and biscuits and afforded each Head the chance to touch base with his or her respective colleagues. This is an invaluable time as we all use each other as sounding boards and many a problem has been resolved by sharing one’s experiences.

Then it was down to the nitty gritty! A charming and very experienced Graham Nunn, a Reporting Inspector from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), ran us through regulatory updates and items related to the Inspection Framework…pretty meaty content, but necessary.

The rest of the day saw us discussing Lesson Observation and Work Scrutiny. We had all brought in sample books for us to analyse and check for marking, pace, coverage and differentiation. As teachers, we are always striving to improve the quality of teaching and learning in our schools and this sort of exercise standardises our practices and helps us with our focus on staff appraisal and Continuing Professional Development.

After an industrious session, I jumped in the car and headed back to East Sussex for a Senior Leadership Team meeting at 5pm, which was followed by a Cocoa Evening with the Junior School parents and children.

Moving on a week, and this particular Headmaster was in charge of a party of 40 children and staff on their annual five-day tour to Jersey.  My suit was exchanged for sports gear and the weight of ISI regulations was soon left behind as we gathered at Gatwick South Terminal at 7.15am.

We arrived in Jersey without jet lag and within hours all the children were involved in matches against St Michael’s – thus began the tour in earnest…wall to wall sport and not an academic book or an ISI regulation in sight.

Eight UK schools with 250 boys and girls aged 11 to 13 staying in the same hotel in the capital St Helier, is quite a feat of organisation. As usual there were a handful of real tourists who looked a tad taken aback by the sheer volume of children in the hotel. However, it was a tribute that the hotel staff received no complaints about any of the children – a compliment to those pupils but also an accolade to the accompanying staff.

All the children derive huge benefit from this type of sporting tour. They compete in many different sports: Rugby; Football; Netball; Hockey. They have matches between each other and all of the island schools. The tournaments are on a huge scale and the standards are very high. There is even a match on Saturday morning, where the Jersey National U13 team takes on an English Select 15 – both sides wear the national strip and this year, England won!

It is the friendships that children establish with others from different schools that is so special. It is the Friday Night Disco and the visit to Aquasplash where all the pupils interact and have fun. It is the being away from home that helps these charming young people to mature and become more independent.

Five days out of the office, and is the wife waiting with open arms? Of course, but she also has a list of things for me to do on Sunday and worst of all she has organised my desk. And right in the middle of the table is a large yellow file which I open: those flaming regulations again!

Beam me back to Jersey - perhaps I can get a job picking Jersey Royals!

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