Part 2: What Would You Do As Headteacher?

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What would you do as the headteacher?

I have used the following scenarios from an ASCL training course I attended four years ago. The INSET focused on discrimination; employment law; appraisal and salary, following the Equality Act of 2010.

This is a short blog-series (Part 2/2) for Headteachers: What would you do? You can find part one here.

To be used for professional development purposes only.

 Photo Credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Compfight cc

Scenario 1

Staff room: Your deputy headteacher comes to and says that she was in the staff room and heard the head of languages ‘having a go’ at a new member of staff. There were several other members of staff there. As far as she can decipher, the issue was about some return or other. The head of department was threatening the new member of staff, that she ‘can forget a decent appraisal if you do not improve your performance’.

  • What do you do?
  • What can / can’t you do?

Scenario 2

Outside the PE building: An assistant headteacher told you that the boys PE staff are making remarks with a fairly broad sexual content, to a new member of the girls PE staff. Your informant says that as far as she can judge, it is ‘just banter’; but some other female members of staff were looking very concerned.

  • What do you do?
  • What can / can’t you do?

Scenario 3

Staff briefing: A member of staff is organising the school sponsored walk is encouraging staff participation and finishes with: “We want anyone who isn’t fat or crippled to be there. Oh, but I don’t expect you to be there Grandad!” he adds, laughingly looking at the oldest member of staff.

  • What do you do?
  • What can / can’t you do?
Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc

Scenario 4

Your office: A long-standing member of staff is approaching 65. He is desperate to go on teaching and everyone knows that teaching is his life. Unfortunately, it is clear that he is not as good as he was. In fact, if he were a younger member of staff, you’d be starting to initiate capability procedures. His head of department has been ‘tempering the wind to the shorn lamb’ is he puts it, and not drawing attention to these difficulties in his performance management.

  • What do you do?
  • What can / can’t you do?

Scenario 5

A member of staff has a child with a severe physical disability. She is often asking for time off work. You pick up that some other members of staff are beginning to object to this.

  • What do you do?
  • What can / can’t you do?

Answers on a postcard

If you would like to respond to any these scenarios, please leave a comment at the bottom of this blog.

I am happy to include some options alongside each scenario to guide you …


8 thoughts on “Part 2: What Would You Do As Headteacher?

  1. Comments from @RealMrsBolton
    Comment: Firstly investigate the issue from both perspectives, ascertaining communication or training issue or both. Deal with ‘inappropriate conversations in a public forum’ and the expectation that this would happen in a less public arena in a different context i.e. supportive approach. Challenge why it was okay to ‘have a go.’
    What stress/pressure is the HOD under?
    How can this be alleviated?
    Equally, are there any issues in the relationship between the 2 members of staff?
    Monitoring issue, on going in case of competency?
    Can’t do- approach either member if staff in the manner of the incident!

  2. Comments from @RealMrsBolton regarding scenario 2:
    Discuss incident with students and staff separately. Reinforce expectations and respect issue. Discuss implications of comments in terms of ‘perceived sexual harassment’ and potential for further action. Reinforce consequences of ill thought out comments taken out of context. Discuss decision with ‘observing’ PE staff. Proceed to disciplinary stage if students have ‘history’ of such incidents. Can’t do proceed to full-blown disciplinary procedures without the specific allegation form member of staff directly involved?

  3. Comments from @RealMrsBolton regarding scenario 4:
    Comment: Difficult one as my instinct would be to support the long serving member of staff but balance that with the needs of the students in the classes taught. There is an issue there which needs sensitively addressing. Offer to support the member of staff directly by shared planning of lessons/delivery? Some team teaching? Observations of staff who use a more contemporary methodology. Ascertain if he wants to develop his own pedagogy further? Some training issues identified? Put these measures in place for a given time period, if nothing changes, implement competency procedure?

    Can’t wade in and sack him! I’m really interested on your thoughts on this one!

  4. Regarding scenario 4 and replying to @RealMrsBolton I would consider:

    1. CPD solutions if applicable.
    2. Reduced timetable and redeployment; intervention classes.
    3. Look at other skills and perhaps use this as building blocks for retirement plans. Can he support other staff instead of students?
    4. If he plans to continue teaching, support the member of staff towards retirement, but not at detriment of students’ education. Headteachers should be creative and not impulsive to get rid.

    1. Great comments Ross, thanks. I did think of offering some team teaching to support older member of staff but hadn’t thought of reduced t/t.
      Feel more confident about tackling such issues/questions at interview now I feel my instinctive answers are along the right track!

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