The Other Stuff

This week the DfE finally published the 2013 Teachers’ Workload Diary Survey. Primary teachers work for an average of 59 hours per week; secondary 55 hours. Headteachers put in 63 hours per week at secondary. In response to the survey, I had the idea of blogging my diary, to show what a typical week for a secondary deputy head was like. I soon realised that this had all the makings of a vanity project, and it seemed self-indulgent. All teachers work hard, all teachers put the hours in; I’m nothing special. How could those hours possibly be worth it? Why on earth would anyone want to be a teacher?

Shaun Allison has been blogging the “bright spots” he has seen at his school. It’s my privilege to be in a similar position to Shaun, and I’ve witnessed some superb teaching across the curriculum this week. However, what has struck me more than anything is the other stuff that makes a school such a fabulous place to be.

Last week, the performing arts team put on Much Ado About Nothing. Kev Bartle has blogged before about the importance of the school production in the school experience. One day I will write about writing and directing three school shows myself. This one, however, was a triumph. Two casts, in the round, every word clear as a bell and interpreted deeply and powerfully. I have seen plenty of less impressive professional Shakespeare productions.

Many of the cast of Much Ado were also amongst the helpers braving the wind and the rain on Sunday to hand out goody bags to the finishers of the Bath Half Marathon. They do this every year, contributing much to the success of the event and to the wider community. Meanwhile, in Exeter…

Two staff were off with our cheerleading squad, acquitting themselves with distinction in the senior division against adult competition.

The previous day, whilst Much Ado was preparing for its Saturday matinee, our Young Enterprise team “Go Appy” were at a trade fair in Cabot Circus in the centre of Bristol, demonstrating their business idea of a self-created app on iPads and receiving feedback from passers-by and potential customers.

Also last week, the usual round of fixtures continued including victories for two Year 7 football teams. This week rehearsals continue for our Singfest choral concert, and preparations for the Festival of Movement for our gymnasts, cheerleaders and martial artists. Our badminton team will be representing Avon. Before half term our Dance Festival had over 300 performers. Over half term – in the holidays – our staff were with students in Salamanca on a Spanish trip and in Washington DC for history. Tonight, a French teacher was at school until 7pm meeting with parents about the French exchange. On Monday next week our Year 13 students will present their Extended Projects in a full exhibition. Today I was rehearsing with the staff band for a Battle of the Bands event later in March. On Thursday all staff will be wearing badges publicising their favourite books for World Book Day, and Year 7 will be trying to “collect” as many teachers’ favourites as possible – as befits a school featured in NATE‘s latest magazine for generating a whole-school reading culture.

I don’t think Chew Valley is unusual. Teachers up and down the country are giving their time, and giving themselves to these experiences for young people. Yes, in state schools too. That’s why the hours are worth it. I know the lessons are the focus, but (as Geoff Barton wrote recently) school is about more than exams.

The other stuff matters. It’s what goes on beyond the classroom that creates the beating heart of a school, and weaves it into a community. That’s why it’s worth it. 


2 thoughts on “The Other Stuff

  1. Just loved this, Chris! We have to remind ourselves of all this when we’re feeling ground down by everything else.

    A head once advised a group of us on the brink of headship to keep a ‘Happy Book’ of positive letters, photographs, programmes etc, to remind us of the ‘bright spots’ on particularly difficult days. By the time I left headship after ten years I had three files full, and I’m going to enjoy looking through it when I’m a little grey old lady….

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