Nadine Carroll describes her headteaching approach at Whitefield Primary School as “hands-on,” as she works alongside a senior leadership team to create a family atmosphere at the school and get involved in the wide range of weekly activities. Whilst every week is different in her busy role, Nadine provides an insight into her schedule at the school.
We start the week with a celebratory ‘nothing but the best’ assembly. Each class teacher nominates a star of the week – usually a child who has really impressed with their good manners and behaviour or attitude to learning.
There’s also a ‘reader of the week’ too and a grown up of the week, who the children vote for as they leave the dining room every day. Meanwhile, lunchtime gold medallists are awarded by the lunchtime staff. We call it Marvellous Monday!
At lunchtime on a sunny day I go down to the foundation stage where we had a big investment – they’ve got a sandpit and a twigloo. I enjoy spending time there because it gives me chance to get to know children so that I see them grow up and they identify with me as the headteacher, as somebody who knows them very well. We like to create a real family atmosphere within the school and we find it really helps our children. Their behaviour was found to be outstanding by Ofsted because they manage their own behaviour.
It’s Zumba at 9am, with a healthy breakfast and ‘me time’ for mums. I’ll drop in and sometimes have breakfast with them – I’m not up to the Zumba yet though!
Then on a Tuesday afternoon the children practice choir at about 2.45pm with our choir leader Emma Knowles, a professional actress and singer. She’s wonderful, she comes in and we sing really great songs like ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams, lots of up to date stuff that they really enjoy. They’re then joined at the end of school by the adult choir, and the whole group is called the Whitefield Community Choir. Children, staff, support staff, teaching staff, parents and ex pupils all sing together.
We hold the Fab Dads and Grandads Reading Cafe – a chance for male relatives to come in and read with their child in our library.
Then sometimes I say to children that I have to do “headteacher things,” and when I do I try and leave my door open because they like to come past my room and say hello. Yesterday I put us forward for the pupil premium awards, and I also look at the school budget. I write the newsletters for the school and make sure all the timetables are right too.
I also attend meetings about the building, meet with parents all the time and I’m on the steering group for the Liverpool Primary Headteachers’ Association which meets every month. Plus the school is signed up to the Liverpool Learning Partnership.
I monitor attendance myself every day. We phone parents if they haven’t called and find out why their child is off. In that way attendance has improved from 91.7% to 97.5%, so we have a big drive on it, talk about what good attendance is and try to help families where we can.
Then the school dog, Zack, comes in on Thursdays. He has a timetable and I look after him from 11am-12pm when he rests in my office.
On a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday it’s also the Reading Rocks Cafe, and that’s run with the school by LJMU students who are in the final year of their BA. We open up the library to families and have about 40-50 people attending each time. I always drop in on that.
We end the week with Fabulous Friday; an assembly to celebrate children’s work. Each class brings a piece of work, whether it’s English, maths, a model, art work or something on the iPad. We share it with the whole school, then they get an outstanding certificate and the work gets displayed on a custom-made board called the outstanding work wall.