“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” says Eddie.
(Proverbs 20, verse 5)
As part of our CPD and wellbeing programme, we conduct Exit Interviews to gauge the opinions of staff who are departing our school. I will be on the receiving end of this process next week as I take part in this process for my own exit interview. From an analytical point of view, this will be the best evaluation of a process that I have introduced and championed. I will now truly get to see if it is a useful developmental process for the member of staff and the school.
Exit interviews are a unique chance to survey and analyse the opinions of departing employees; who generally are more forthcoming, constructive and objective than staff still in their jobs. Each exit interview is discussed at senior leadership and is a chance for all staff to give some constructive feedback; to leave on a positive note, with suggestions for improvement. This form is designed to identify possible CPD needs and improve staff wellbeing at the school.
Having just successfully led our school through Investors In People re-designation, I was pleased to hear that IiP are now offering a wellbeing framework for institutions to work towards schools ensuring teachers are ‘healthy, happy staff, who are more engaged, motivated and productive’. I will be researching this very soon, and looking to read where I can build upon ‘exit interviews’ as one small part of the bigger picture.
In this article:
In this article, you will meet Eddie. You will read the questions I asked him and a snapshot of the answers he provides. I am particularly honoured to share this with you; because Eddie is an inspiration to me – and I believe – to the profession. This is why, with Eddie’s blessing, I have decided to share his story with the world. Below are the questions asked and the answers provided:
When I’m 66:
*Not all questions/answers are listed below.
- How many years have you worked at the school? = 16 years.
- Please describe your reasons for leaving? = Retirement.
- What is your new role/place of work? = Setting up a partnership link between our school and a school in Ghana.
What Went Well?
- Can you describe any CPD you have been given that has helped you work in (your) role? = Assessment and child protection training in school.
- What achievements are you most proud of during your time at school? = In 2009, I achieved my best ever set of examination results. 98% A*-C. I am also very proud of my tutor group.
- What works well at the school? i.e. department, year team level? = Great teamwork and ethos in the Maths department. Leadership say ‘yes’ more often. He spoke highly of the Principal and shared how the mindset of the school shifted from pre-2004: “the child is the most important person in the classroom”, to post 2004 when the current Principal arrived: “the (good) teacher is the most important person in the classroom.” Suddenly, there was a culture-shift and staff were working more and more for each other.
- What professional advice would you give to a new member of staff? = Proverbs 20, verse 5. Be ready to jump into hot-water. Teaching is a hard and noble profession. Be ready to learn; open to critique.
- How would you summarise this school with your new colleagues? = It’s one large family!
- Who has been a source of help and encouragement for you? = 1. Ex-head of department; 2. current head of department; 3. a colleague who I have worked with for the past 16 years. We have seen a great deal of change for the better. (*Note, this school was the first ever Tony Blair academy.) Eddie also named some key members of staff who had supported him, in his time of need.
Even Better If?
- What did you want to achieve at school, but did not manage to? Why? = I led whole-school numeracy and a Tottenham Hotspur project. I would have liked to have shared this with staff at INSET (many years ago).
- What doesn’t work well at school and why? = The time available to deal with parents has significantly changed over two decades. There is less time available to make contact and more contact needed.
- What will you miss least about school and why? (Eddie didn’t actually answer this. He just spoke about more and more positive stories!) Eddie spoke about teaching in great detail. To have an open door and be open to feedback. Of particular interest to me, was that he had been observed 3 or 4 times this academic year and that his feedback was same=same. (*Note to self and to those who are appraisers)
- What should be the school’s top priorities and why? Numeracy, literacy and staff wellbeing. Why? Do I need to tell you why?
When I’m 66, I just hope I have as big a smile as Eddie does!
Eddie, you are a true gentleman and a great teacher. Interviewing you was an inspiring story to document and to share. You are a real story about all the positive aspects of all-things teaching. I do not doubt for a second, the thousands and thousands of lives you will have changed for the better.