Life at the top
How a school head fills the day
ANYONE who knows a head teacher knows that it isn’t your regular 9-5 job. No two days are ever the same and there is always plenty to keep those leading a school on their toes – from unexpected challenges and difficult complex issues to the fabulous joys, shared successes and high points of helping pupils navigate their way through education and childhood.
John Crofts is headmaster at Glebe House School in Hunstanton, a small independent co-educational boarding and day school for children aged four to 13 years. Here he talks us through his (un)typical day at the office.
5.45am Wander into the kitchen, make my first coffee of the day and switch on the TV and watch the news headlines – reassuringly dull; Brexit, latest gaffe by Donald Trump... and a positive weather forecast for us. Grab a quick shower and pour a second coffee to take downstairs to my office – no travel issues for me!
6.30am In office. Already others are on the move; minibus is leaving to do pickups and domestic staff are arriving. Check emails, sifting out the junk that seems to arrive overnight and pick out the late night concerns of parents and colleagues. Pleased to hear from our former Australian gap student coming over later in the year – can we catch up? Absolutely!
7.10am Pop out to meet with the groundsman, still slightly misty, but sun is breaking through. Then down to the kitchens to speak to the cook about problems over packed lunches. Read through revisions to health and safety documents and add a couple of thoughts. 7.55am Join boarders and house parents for breakfast – more coffee. 8.15am Outside to greet children and parents. Already quite warm and spirits to match.
8.40am Assembly. Always good to have pre-prep with us and sharing who got Rufus Bear and Mr Eagle, including pictures of what they got up to over the weekend. More presentations of certificates and awards – they do make you smile when they come up to receive them. 9.10am Off to teach religious studies to Division VI, a sparky bunch.
9.45am Meet Lisa, one of the front office team, in the office – no pressing matters, but a couple of phone calls to return and am I happy with the readings proposed by the school chaplain? Please tell her ‘yes’. Make the calls and do paperwork until morning break.
10.50am More coffee and staff meeting; environmental week arrangements, exams, individual pupil issues; slightly over-running, but worthwhile.
11.20am Meet with the director of studies about September’s timetable. Make phone calls about summer holiday programme and fill in gaps. Check emails and respond.
12.35pm Join Division VIII for lunch – meatballs and toffee cream tart are well received by the children, but a salad and apple for me. 1.05pm Latin activity in my study before two lessons with Divisions lll and V.
2.45pm Go over to pre-prep to chat with colleagues and children over break before doing show and tell with reception – they are so keen – need to develop my questions about pink horses!
3.35pm Catch up with the school business manager about recruiting a nursery nurse and funding for the Paris trip.
4.00pm By now it’s Bridget in the front office. Catch up on things that have cropped up, punctuated by children ‘signing out’. Good to see a member of the parents’ committee and share thoughts on recent and upcoming events.
4.45pm ‘Do you want a coffee?’ says the head of PE; signal for a chat about matters in general. 5.30pm Boarders and others meet for ‘cooked tea’, offering a chance to chat to our Australian gap students.
6.00pm More emails – again sifting through the ‘junk’ to find the relevant, more of the former than the latter!
7.00pm Lovely evening, so I decide to go down to Snettisham Pits to watch the sailing activity. Good to see such enthusiastic, if rather wet, children.
8.20pm Back in school, check on ‘lock up’ and look in on boy boarders before a last check on emails and send an update to colleagues on up-and-coming matters. 9.15pm Upstairs to the flat and a glass of red!
John Crofts, headmaster at Glebe House School in Hunstanton
Question time: John Crofts with some of his young charges