The Headteacher: Raffle cooks up my worst nightmare

Steve Woodhouse is the executive headteacher of Bishop Wilton
Steve Woodhouse is the executive headteacher of Bishop Wilton

Don’t expect someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. It’s a common saying and one that I have always tried to follow as a headteacher.

I believe it is very important to understand the roles and responsibilities my staff have, and I now use an interesting method to help me find out more about them.

The ‘staff raffle’ was an idea that I came across when meeting the headteacher from a school in Hexthorpe, Doncaster. She had come up with an ingenious way of both rewarding her staff and investigating their roles.

At the start of the school year, she placed the name of each member of staff in a hat; each month she would pull one out and award them with a prize.

Now, this was no ordinary prize. The reward for winning the raffle was to have half a day off! The headteacher then covered for the staff member, taking on his or her duties for the half day. I knew I had to give it a try.

From the very first monthly draw, I was terrified of pulling Jayne’s name from the hat.

Jayne is the cook at Middleton-on-the-Wolds and provides wonderful school meals for several primaries in the area.

When you consider that I get flustered cooking Christmas dinner for half a dozen family members, the idea of cooking hundreds of children’s dinners simply filled me with dread.

Luckily, the first winner was a teaching assistant and I was incredibly relieved.

Being back in the classroom in a supporting role was very enjoyable and I learnt a great deal about the challenges our teaching assistants face.

In the second and third months I pulled out teachers’ names and happily spent more time teaching in classrooms. Sadly, for me, these valuable opportunities to work with the children seem to be disappearing as paperwork and government targets take over. The staff raffle has forced me to make time for the important things in school and I am most grateful for that.

Unfortunately, last week, disaster struck. Jayne’s name found its way into my hand and the kitchen is now my next destination. In preparation for the experience, I have had to undertake food hygiene training.

I am thoroughly looking forward to wearing my special clothing, which includes a rather stylish hairnet and catering hat. The children will get quite a surprise when I serve them their lunches, I will have more of a surprise if it all turns out okay.

Over the past six months I’ve taught several classes, supported teachers, supervised lunchtimes, manned the office, worked in after school club and supported children with special needs. Each opportunity has been both rewarding and enlightening.

I know how hard each member of the team works and I have a greater understanding of their important roles. Fingers crossed for my afternoon as Jayne...