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New headteacher: getting to know your school during coronavirus
Your first term will be different under current circumstances. Download our template letters to help you introduce yourself to staff and parents. Then, use our checklist to help guide you through your next steps.
Make your introductions
Record separate videos for staff and parents
Usually, you'd introduce yourself face-to-face with a presentation to parents, assembly to pupils and briefing for staff. Under current circumstances, you'll be doing the same thing, but virtually.
In these videos, you'll want to:
- Introduce yourself
- Praise staff/parents (depending on the audience) for their support to pupils during lockdown
- Provide parents with details of when they can ask you questions, for example by inviting them to drop in to a video live stream. Get ideas from other headteachers on how they're keeping the school community connected during closure
See our welcome letter below to get ideas on what you might cover in your video.
Don't address your plans for school improvement at this stage. Focus on the present and reassure the school community during this unsettling time.
Record each video and upload them, e.g. to YouTube (make it private so only staff/parents can see it). This will allow your audience to access the video when they can, rather than having to be present for a live stream.
Download our template introduction letters for staff and parents
Follow up your video introductions with a letter to reiterate what you discussed.
Template letter to staff:
Template letter to parents:
Get up to speed on the current state of play
Do your research before asking questions
Don't jump straight in and ask your senior leadership team all the questions you have – you want to minimise the extra number of meetings they have to attend.
Carry out desk research on the areas in the checklist below and then meet with individuals to fill in the gaps.
Meet individually with key staff
Set up virtual intro meetings with individual key staff (rather than group meetings) to:
- Help you get to know them
- Give everyone the opportunity to speak and to discuss their thoughts
- Reduce the burden on your deputy/assistant head
Have a clear set of questions to ask – send these to staff members before meeting with them, so they can prepare.
See our checklist below to find out which key individuals you should meet.
Download our checklist to help you:
- Focus on the information you need to know right now
- Know where to look for answers
- Find out who to speak to about certain topics
Lorraine Petersen is an education consultant. She was previously the chief executive officer of nasen (which promotes the education of young people with special educational needs), and a primary school headteacher. She is also a governor at a special school in the West Midlands.
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