Review of 2016.
We didn't get on holiday abroad, mainly because I spent my money on fixing my car instead.
- Family wise, the main thing this year was my step-daughter Esther's GCSE results and she really did herself proud with the number of A*s As and only one B that she got. She also got an A in AS English Language. She's coping OK with the academic demands of A-levels, but has set her sights on Cambridge and we are worried about how much pressure she is putting on herself to be perfect. I also forced Esther to go to Wimbledon with my mother this summer. She had to get the train to London all on her own and meet mam at Kings Cross. Esther did have an amazing day despite 'not being sure that she could go' and now she's very keen to go again. A little taste of independence has spurred her on to do more. Richard now has a permanent job at a school that is hard work, but he likes the students and they have some level of respect for him. A teaching job is never going to feel permanent for him, but he's also prepared to move on if necessary. We bought a new TV because I was fed up of not being able to watch all the olympic coverage on the old CRT one, and we also bought a new sofa.
- Another personal target has been my appearance. I am not that vain, honest! I have managed to lose a bit of weight in 2016, my eczema is more under control and I am getting my hair dyed every 8 weeks or so (£££). I feel so much better about myself.
- BREXIT. I am STILL angry about it. A lot of people will write about the number of famous people who have died this year, my dad was an undertaker, this doesn't affect me at all. But voting to leave the EU was ridiculous. I think it was more stupid than electing Trump, as least the US can get rid of Trump in 4 years.
- In school a major hurdle has been the resignation of our science technician. There is a blog post in there about coping for a week without a technician: it wasn't fun. We have a new one now and she's great, luckily we really landed on our feet. However, I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't been so proactive about working out how to find a technician when the normal routes weren't working? There is a yet another blog post there about being a middle manager and not leaving everything to those above you to sort out: I learned just how important it can be to take control of your own area. The situation taught me a lot about myself and about managing an impossible situation. I was sick to my stomach and unable to sleep properly trying to work out how to deal with a situation that had no solution. It did make me realise just how seriously I take the responsibility to supporting those who I line manage. The problem is solved now though, so I now need to get with ensuring our current technician has the skills to do the job. I have to add just how great CLEAPSS are, following their documents has really helped her get to grips with the job.
- In September I also took on responsibility for key stage 4 across the school. I am finding the pastoral position a little strange. I am used to just being left to get on with things as head of science. I get upset when science related things don't go through me and to be honest I can only think of a few times that this has happened. It's not the same pastorally. Information doesn't flow through me, it flows around. I am finding this hard to deal with. However, I have patience and a thick skin and I will slowly adjust the systems to ones that work for me. Looking at it practically I am not sure I wouldn't be overwhelmed if all the information went through me anyway; while I am learning the role in all likelihood I would be a block to that information getting to where it needs to be. I am keeping a diary to make notes of the issues that crop up so that hopefully second year through things run smoothly.
- The curriculum changes are looming large still, as they have for the whole of 2016. All key stages really, but GCSE in particular. As a department we haven't had time to discuss the changes, and I don't see when we're going to get it. Which is really frustrating. It has also meant that the time I have to devote to ASE has decreased. A lot of effort goes into the marketing of the events we run and I am not up to it at the moment. I am not allowed to go to the ASE conference for all three days this January, (even though I always pay for myself), and it's going to make getting to grips with the curriculum changes even more difficult.
- I have to add the Royal Society Summer Science exhibition to the list of achievements for 2016. I found out about it at the ASE conference and the dates fell nicely inside of activities week so I entered the ballot for tickets and got some. The event was fantastic. Girls who I would never have put as being interested in science had an absolutely brilliant morning and as staff we learned an awful lot too. The only issue with the day was that we planned to go to the Natural History Museum in the afternoon, but it was on the same day as the teacher strikes so the minibus got stuck on the other side of the march and when we'd finally walked to the Natural History Museum the queue to get into it was massive so we went in the V&A instead.
- I am eternally grateful to OUP how have given me the opportunity to write assessment materials for the new AQA mastery curriculum. This has given me a great insight into curriculum design. It has made me put my money where my mouth is in terms of producing resources and has been hugely enjoyable.
- The Olympics. I just love it, roll on 2020.
- In 2016 I finished paying off my student loan.
Looking forward to 2017.
- I have always made and taken opportunities presented to me and I will continue to do that in 2017.
- In my professional life I during 2016 I made the decision that I am ready to move into management. I am enjoying Andy Buck's book 'Leadership Matters' and it is helping to give form to my ideas about being a senior leader. In 2017 I need to continue to refine and develop my understanding of being part of senior management so that if I do get the opportunity I am ready.
- My aim in 2017 would be to find that new role in SLT. But a massive difficulty is the lack of roles for someone with my experience in my area. The only job I have applied for had over 70 applicants and I wasn't selected for interview. Another post I have seen wanted someone with recent experience of schools in difficult circumstances, I haven't had this in the past 10 years. I am certainly considering just putting my CV out there and see what happens. I need to improve my linkedin profile, just in case someone is looking. I have remained on the fringes of #womened and I haven't committed to any coaching. I am not sure why to be honest. I don't want to become someone who CV builds, rather I do the job in front of me that way that works for the situation, but I am prepared to do that if that is what it is going to take. I would consider a deputy head role if AHT positions remain scarce, and I may even have to take a side step to get into a MAT to find the opportunities. I don't know what this means for my link to the big picture of science education and the ASE.
- I will join the College of Teaching. I have had huge benefits from being an ASE member and I hope that the College will be a help in the same way. I am looking forward to the networking that it will allow and I hope to get to some events. I hope that it doesn't conflict with anything else.
- Within the department we are slowly crafting a curriculum that works for our students from Year 5 to Year 13. It's been almost three years since we started, and by this time next year it will almost be over. On the rare chance we do have to meet on the first day back after Christmas I will start the discussion about how our teaching and learning strategies at key stage 4 are going to help us overcome the issues we've identified. I want to put in place something stable so that we can concentrate on teaching and learning and refining what we do. I have never believed in making great changes for the sake of it.
- I also need to work on my understanding of how my key stage 4 role (Head of Upper School) can make a difference to students and colleagues alike. I know that my colleagues are happy with my leadership in this role and very supportive, but I also know that I can do better. It is my aim to. I hope that Year 11 have a good run in to their GCSEs and Year 10 build a firm foundation.
- Esther learning to drive is the family target for 2017. I am worried about how we'll afford the insurance after she passes her test. It's going to be an extra £1000 per year and I don't have that spare. It's wrong to hope she fails her test a few times isn't it? She's also got to get that UCAS form and personal statement completed in 2017. Leaving home and going to university is becoming a very real prospect.
- Always in the year we have small treats that we look forward to. This year I want to go up the Shard; it will be expensive, but we are going to do it as a birthday present to me. We also have tickets booked to go to the paratheltics and world athletics in London this summer. I am looking forward to the Cheltenham Science festival, Fame Lab heats, the festival of physics and all the other science communication events I can get to this year.
- Richard is riding London-Edinburgh-London again this summer, or at least hopes to. I will volunteer at one of the checkpoints. Having this on the horizon is great for us as an aim keeps him positive and I can keep the conversation off politics, education and work.
- I think that this year I will have to consider marking exam papers. I want to apply to do A-level physics and I have applied to mark the Year 10 new gcse mock papers. See 2017 target 7 for the reason!