As a dean there is always something to do. Lately, I seem to have been spending some time on truancy. What this boils down to is checking up on the patterns of truancy, and where they are becoming excessively predictable, getting the truancy service involved.
At school we can check up on whether kids have turned up or not. Then, if they don't turn up, and their guardians don't ring, we can ring them to see what is happening. When we do that we are taking on the parents responsibility - it is their job to ring us. If we ring too often, we find that they never ring us because they think they can wait for us to ring them. Some guardians are so anti their responsibilities, when they hear it is the school, they just hang up.
Then, having done that we can't do much more - there is no facility in school for leaving the school grounds, so we have Truancy Services. They don't have a whole heap of resources, but they do have a van. so they will go round to the kids house, and seek the reason for the absence. Sometimes that means they will then deliver the child to school. Other times they end up having a chat.
Truancy have strong links with the police and CYFS. If the child is being prevented from getting an education by the family, other agencies are likely to become involved. There is a grey area around the fifteenth birthday where it is hard to force a child to get educated, and after their sixteenth birthday, it appears there is no compulsion to education.
As a dean it is my responsibilty to make the chain of actions begin. The form teachers need to ring home when kids are away, but I think this just doesn't happen. When this doesn't produce good reasons for absence, then the office sends a letter, then truancy gets involved. If only it were that simple. As the first part of the chain doesn't function, all the rest of it seems to wobble a lot. And I end up having to make decisions based on a mess of unperformed actions! As I was told this morning - don't slay yourself.
Yesterday was our school celebration day, were we celebrate the fact that we exist. We have a liturgy in the morning, then some quiz competitions and a singing/haka competition, and in the afternoon we have sports. Its all interhouse competition stuff, and was pretty okay yesterday. (Which is kindof strange, as the kids didn't get into athletics at all, but got into yesterday. You'd think if they hated interhouse competitions, they'd hate them all.)
I was asked to run the netball, on the basis I have something to do with the most junior netball team in the school. We have a staff member who is rather work shy, and he is always looking to pass things on. This was one he passed on. I don't mind - but also don't see the point. I don't have access to any of the gear, so all I end up doing is asking the sports co-ordinator to get me stuff, which he could have done himself.
The funny-ish part was that I was expected to referee. Now since I have been a manager for the said very junior team, and I have been to two games, I have now seen two games of netball in the last ten years. In the past I did have a ref-ing qualification, but that is fairly null and void now. So I didn't want to ref cos I don't know the rules anymore. I got some kids to do it.
Now, although they do indeed know the rules, they won't blow the whistle. They give these weak pathetic peeps, and the basketball kids don't even notice. So the rules aren't being kept because the ref isn't keeping them, as opposed to not knowing them. I did do some refereeing yesterday, and although my lack of rule knowledge did show, at least they knew I was there.
So which is worse? A ref who know the rules but isn't listened to, or a ref who doesn't know the rules, but has some control of the game?
Last year, for some reason that no-one knows, I ended up doing no professional development. Considering I had been out of teaching for about 10 years, this was insane.
So when they started looking for people to do various things at the end of last year and at the beginning of this year, the main word I used was yes. So I am signed up for Walk by Faith, which is a course for Catholics and completed will get me accredited in Catholic schools, and a deaning course for new deans, a biology cluster (I do think that name is really very silly) and a junior science course and a literacy leadership course. As well as the usual things that happen to me like biology field trips, and school camps, and the things that the school does like the combined Catholic school celebration, liturgies, deaning obligations, it all adds up to me not spending a whole week in front of my classes Far Too Often.
Last week was biology, this week had a day for deaning stuff and another day and a half for literacy and next week has a deaning course day. So I have pulled out of the literacy leadership thing. To do so, I had to tell the deputy principal.
I'm not very good at this kind of thing, where you tell someone that you are not going to do something. "No" is not a word I use enough, and the DP is not very good at hearing it either. So I am very proud of myself to sticking to my guns and not going to the PD today. I had to say I would not go three times before he believed me. Today I wrote my reports, I developed some resources, had a meeting with the principal and finished the marking pile. It was a really useful day.
I am so proud of me!
There is a saying that "You should take one day at a time, but lately several days have attacked me at once". Yup, yesterday was one of those days. I have been trying to get to a meeting with other deans for two days now, and so far I have had no luck. Yesterday got bombed by a parent coming in - she has been threatened twice by our students, so that had to take priority. Its just kids saying my mum will bash your mum, rather than students threatening her directly, but it is still totally out of line. And a student assulted one of his class mates in front of me, and another student altogether had to be suspended, so there was the paperwork for that. And then there was the usual stuff to do at home. I need to write a song for an assignment I have due for professional development, so that was the final relaxation for the night. It is pretty easy to write lyrics, if I actually open my mouth and sing. I'm not saying they are much good, but they are there, so they can certainly be improved. The song can't be too awful, its sticking in my mind. Therefore, it must be singable. Next trick, is I have to record it.
anyway, I suspect today might be as busy as yesterday, so I'm off to get a jump on it.