I have just a made a rather frightening calculation: since joining Bennett in 1996 I have attended forty-two open evenings, and personally presided as head at eighteen. After this year’s round it will be forty-five and twenty-one respectively. As I write we are preparing the school for the first of this year’s evenings, when parents and children, mostly in years 5 and 6, come and look at the school and talk to teachers and others about what kind of school this is, and whether they want to become members of our community.
Open evenings throw into sharp relief the difference between the ‘feel’ of being a headteacher, on the one hand, and being anyone else who works at the school on the other. One of the nicest things which has happened to me this term so far was to be ‘interviewed’ today by two wonderfully articulate year 7 boys. They were doing the interview in order to write an article for a forthcoming edition of the school magazine entitled ‘A Day in the Life of a Headteacher’. One of their questions was ‘What does it feel like to be a headteacher?’ As I thought about the question, I told them about some of the wonderful things that the job involves, and the tremendous sense of pride you get at the school’s achievements, and those of individuals or groups of individuals in the school. But the flip side of that is the overwhelming sense of ultimate responsibility you have for almost everything that happens, and showing the school to visitors who may become the future generation of Bennett students makes you feel that responsibility very acutely. The two boys did also ask what job I would like to do if I weren’t a headteacher – I have to say I was quite stumped by that question, because there really isn’t much else I would rather be doing!
Anyway, having just returned to writing this blog posting from a walking tour around the school at 4.30 to see how the preparations for tonight’s evening are going, I feel more proud of what the school is achieving than I do anxious about everything not being exactly right. I am increasingly overwhelmed by the incredibly positive and willing attitude of so many teachers and others who work here, and the extent to which they subscribe to the ethos of the school and want desperately to make their contribution to making it even stronger. It really is quite humbling at times. And tonight, in particular, there are many who are really keen to present this to visitors, sharing the school’s pride in what we are achieving. If you happen to be one of those visitors tonight, I really hope this comes across to you.