Tales from the Head’s office

Having retired as a primary head teacher & following the suggestion of my dear friend Paula I have decided to write an occasional series about the highs & lows of my headship career. It spanned 13 years & included 3 schools. I hope you enjoy my tales!


Overture & Beginners please!

This first post starts at the beginning of a new school.

It is regarded by many educationalists that primary schools offer a better experience for children up to the age of 11yrs. I’m inclined to agree with them.  I was the head of a junior school (7-11yrs) with far too many spare places. Our partner infant school (4-7yrs) also had too many vacancies. Both schools needed to do better regarding results so an amalgamation to form a primary school was a good idea. One of my ambitions as a head was to lead a primary school so I applied for the job. I was appointed at the end of March 2005 in readiness to open the new school in September 2006. Those 18 months were to prove to be some of the most exciting, frustrating, exhilarating, depressing, wonderful months of my career

Now when I say new school I don’t mean NEW school but the junior school tarted up a bit. It was to have 4 more classrooms, a new nursery, new admin rooms & a nicer staffroom. Our original plans were soon assigned to the bin because money was extremely tight. As head designate, I was involved in all aspects of the building work to be done. I even had my own hard hat!

‘Amalgamation’ is actually the closing of two schools & the opening of a new one. The closure of a school brings an end of an era for staff & parents. It is an end to a history that may be very long & certainly has a myriad of memories. It may also be accompanied by confusion about the necessity for undertaking this ‘primary’ project. Invariably one school is happier about the prospect than the other. In our case the ‘new’ school was ‘at the juniors’. The new head was from ‘the juniors’ so it was only natural for the infant school community to feel very raw about it all. The journey we undertook to help ease that feeling will be covered in other posts. Suffice to say we had to take every opportunity to involve the infant staff, parents & children in the revamp. I was also determined to get the new school ‘on the map’ even before it was opened. So we had a grand ‘cutting the ribbon’ to kick off the building work.

Once the work got underway, the infants would come over in small groups to look at the emerging building site, to oh & ah at the big crane & to laugh when the fire alarm was triggered yet again by an over enthusiastic driller! It was during these visits that the infant staff could see how the junior staff were being affected by it all. As the work was going to take a year & the new build bits were in different parts of the building, I drew up a ‘map of evacuation’! It showed the position of classrooms as each phase was completed & the changing of rooms required for the next stage to start. Teachers are notorious hoarders but this military operation did provide an opportunity to get rid of years of worksheets & workbooks. If the end of the world had been announced we would be ready to move in less than an hour!

I decanted my office to a space in the corridor near a Year 6 class. The reason given was so I could be near the telephone which was now in the library which was doubling as the school office. The children seemed to think there was an alterior motive though!

…and so we set off on this adventure. My temporary office was my home for about a year before all the building & fru-fruing was completed. The stage was now set for lots of adventures & mishaps that I’ll be sharing with you here! In the mean time, we were up, up & away!

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  • I have a lot of friends and family that are or have been teachers at one time or another, and I am always amazed that the things they have to do. A friend who used to be a headteacher at a junior school told me once that her next goal was to project manage the build of her own house, as she felt she had so much experience of managing builders from her teaching days. Really interesting, thank you.

  • Fascinating reading. I’m looking forward to the next installments.

    i’ve been involved with school mergers in the last couple of years but only from on specific point of view. it is reallly insightful to see the story from someone who has to have a good knowledge of the whole picture

    Thanks for sharing this.

  • Chris Caselton


    As chair of the building sub-committee for our governing body , I too am facing the exciting/challenging prospect of a new school build. We are replacing our current 100 + year old buildings with a brand new school – works has started and will now continue for 18 months. I think our head is also experiencing the ‘challenges’ this project brings. As a chartered QS I am also enjoying being on the Client side instead of having to do stuff – roll on Sept 2011

    • Do let your HT know that I’d be delighted to help in anyway I can. Ours was a very successful project. I’ve just become a gov at a school where it went badly wrong!
      Good luck & thanks for stopping by!

  • ooh, exciting stuff, looking forward to hearing the stories.

  • New beginnings – I love them and like Madmum I love a bit of construction too…. great pic btw xxx

  • How exciting, I love building works, but then I was a Facilities Manager in a past life

  • It sounds exciting! Did the year 6’s think you were keeping an eye on them?? 😀 Jen

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