Home from a 4 hours plus drive from the Think Tank event at Sheffield Hallam. The last few weeks had been busy as people that knew what they were doing when organising an event started send 17 page documents of questions…But this is HTRT, we’ve done small gatherings and punched well above our weight in regards to meeting key people in education. Suddenly we had over 200 HTs coming to an event in Sheffield, an event that suddenly felt bigger when I saw the delegate name tags in a box…frankly I started to panic!
Apart from the a few groans about the venue not being correct on the tickets; the fact that we started at 1030 to allow people to get to Sheffield and not bang on the advertised 9.30am; that I didn’t get the memo about the dress code; the day went well. I think we achieved what we set out to which was to crowd source policy. Anyway, the look up #HTRT2016 on Twitter if you want to follow what happened on the day.
Anyway, this blog isn’t about the day or the outcomes, but to talk about the importance of the Headteachers’ Roundtable to my sanity. Being a HT is an incredibly lonely experience. You support a large organisation and frankly deal with an enormous amount of decisions. It is not the importance of each one that is difficult, but that the outcome for each is not clear. When it is black and white, others find it easy to make the decisions. This means that to staff I will tend to float between a good HT and a bloody awful one, depending on the decision.
So meeting up with other like minded HT is like a slow intake of breath in a busy life. We face the same issues, the same pressures, the same types of odd decisions from LEAs or now RSCs. We get told to go to pointless meetings set up by people who don’t understand the pressures of the job, normally to tell us things we already know or about data that just doesn’t hold up to any statistical analysis. When we meet, as HTRT, we laugh, we hug, we don’t have to have our public face on, we relax.
The environment that HTRT creates is creative and business like. We argue, we discuss, we talk, we don’t always agree but we respect each other’s opinions and we get things done. Our influence has always been beyond our size because I think people in education trust that we are dealing with their policies and actually want to find out the impact. We do go to meetings where we are the only people there that work in a school. Rooms full of civil servants, policy makers and politicians. We get to lend our voice to the debate. Being positive, offering advice, working on our own policies, allows us to be inside the tent. Yes it is tempting to rant from the outside, but that changes nothing.
So the point of the blog? If you are a HT get involved. Ask to help and come to the meetings. The only thing we ask is that you join in, take a job on and contribute. We know it is not easy to leave the day job or take something on extra. But, what we offer is sanity, a deep breath, a pause, a conversation and a moment when you realise that you are not going slowly mad! If you are really keen you can get to organise a whole conference. Which was exciting, terrifying and satisfying in equal measures…