The Christmas season is over. The Christmas production was successful, your school closed in a spirit of end of year optimism and the Chair of Governors said one or two nice things. You still have a few precious days of holiday time to enjoy and a short academic “lull” before the intense “exam season” that starts with mid-February mocks and takes you and your school headlong into the summer months.
“Lull” does not mean something akin to “rest” or “respite” – certainly not in the education sector that is both results driven and cash squeezed. The pace in the so-called lull period will still be frenetic but there will be opportunities for reflection and for considering how to address those irksome problems that you have not had time to deal with. Some of these may not fall within the remit of headteachers and chairs of governors. Some of these difficulties can be quite easily addressed. There may be maintenance issues or curriculum alterations to be considered.
These are the sorts of things that most heads will take in their stride but then there will be other things that need a bit more attention:
- there may be the long-standing issue of parents in a What’s App group making seemingly unreasonable or unprecedented demands
- the long-standing parental complaint that you thought had been dealt with looks as if it will be resurrected
- there may be the problem of a teacher whose work has been found to be below par, something that has prompted a nasty looking internal conflict
- the head of PE seems to be repeatedly upsetting the school caretaker
- relations with either local or central government may be strained
- you may also have to oversee disciplinary proceedings or a pupil exclusion
- the unscrupulous builder, maintenance contractor or external supplier who promised the earth, was paid thousands, and has left you with a defective building or deficient equipment.
If you are singularly unfortunate you may even find that you are embroiled in an unfair dismissal case.
Resolving these issues may take time that you simply do not have. There is only so much that the school secretary or caretaker can do. If you ever needed reminding, your school bursar will have pointed out that resolving such issues not only takes time but requires resources and funding that aren’t there.
Can mediation or some other form of ADR offered by ASM Plus help? If so, how much does it cost? How long can it take to arrange and implement?
Responding to the first of these questions I say “yes” and you may say “well of course he would do!”. However, ASM PLUS which has an excellent track record in education really can deliver and save you both time and money. Time spent by one of our educational team members which is costed at the equivalent of an hourly rate that is probably much less than yours, equals time saved and consequently, moderate expenditure.
This essentially means that whilst ASM Plus may for instance be conducting a one-day mediation or assisting a facilitated meeting, you are freed up to deal with your school’s day-to-day requirements e.g. teaching children, ensuring the accounts are properly maintained and dealing with day-to-day difficulties that if addressed early mean that the effects of another potentially divisive conflict are minimised. There will be lessons to learn from our involvement and these can be used by you in the context of future issues.
Aside from anything else, the time and monetary costs of a mediation or facilitated meeting will be 10% of what might generally be expended in the context of a process, protracted negotiations involving an individual teacher’s representative body or the (quite rightly) dreaded Employment Tribunal proceedings. Equally, our input could be instrumental in helping you deal with the builder or supplier.
At the end of the day teaching staff and school governors not only have to “do the right thing” for their students but they also have to demonstrate cost effectiveness and economic viability to their bursar, external auditors, the local authority and/or the Department for Education. In terms of academic attainment, safeguarding, special educational needs and related issues, schools have to ensure that they satisfy rigourous OFSTED requirements and inspections. In practice schools can only do all of this if they have time. Freeing up time by instructing ASM Plus could make differences both in the short and long term.
ASM PLUS has extensive experience and an excellent track record in resolving school-related difficulties and disputes. We could be assisting you as early as next week and being very good at what we do, we will make a difference.
An informal initial discussion with our director, Paul Sandford, will cost you nothing and commit you to nothing. Call him on 07393 654824. His phone line is open today and he awaits your call. ASM Plus could save you hundreds or thousands of pounds.
Principal Director of ASM PLUS, civil/commercial, workplace, employment, family and educational mediator and trainer with a judicial/legal background. He has knowledge and expertise in dispute resolution in a wide range of areas and disciplines and mediates online.