The headteacher column with Steve Woodhouse

Steve Woodhouse, Executive Headteacher of the Wolds Federation.
Steve Woodhouse, Executive Headteacher of the Wolds Federation.

This week I’m writing my article from one of my favourite places, Albufeira. Located in Portugal’s Algarve region, Albufeira is a popular tourist resort that many of you will have visited.

I have been coming here since I was at primary school (holidaying in term time too, controversially!) It’s an ideal break after what has been a very demanding spring term.

Steve Woodhouse, Executive Headteacher of the Wolds Federation.

Steve Woodhouse, Executive Headteacher of the Wolds Federation.

Being a headteacher of three schools brings with it many challenges, one of which is the more frequent meetings with Ofsted.

I have been ‘lucky’ enough to have five visits in the last eight years, an unfair ratio when you consider they work on a three-year cycle.

Beswick and Watton Primary was visited a few weeks ago; I can’t mention the outcome yet as the report hasn’t been released. However, I was pleased that the inspector only stayed for one day.

I am leaving the Wolds Federation at the end of the summer term. It has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make.

The positive relationships you build with pupils, colleagues and parents are difficult to leave behind, but I feel it’s time for a change – for me and for the three schools.

I have been in the federation for five years and enjoyed the vast majority of my time there.

Together we have achieved a great deal and I know the schools are in a good place as we move into the final term of the year.

Deciding to change jobs is never easy. Change itself is often daunting and part of our role as educators is to help children develop resilience, and understand that change is necessary to just keep up with the world’s development. I wasn’t actively looking for a new job, but sometimes you can’t help but notice when an exciting opportunity comes along.

Over the past few years, I have visited Holme on Spalding Moor Primary several times.

It has always struck me as a welcoming, purposeful environment and I have developed an affection for it.

When I heard that the current headteacher was retiring, I couldn’t help but look around again and subsequently apply for the position. The school has the potential to return to outstanding and I relish the challenge of taking it there.

The best of the gruelling interview process was the meeting with the school council.

The children were so enthusiastic and had prepared some thought-provoking, challenging questions.

The overall interview process passed quite quickly, but waiting for the phone call on day two felt like an age.

My wife and I went for a walk, checking the phone to make sure it still had a network signal every few minutes!

When the Chair of Governors called to confirm that I had been successful, I felt both relief and excitement. The start of a new journey in September was confirmed, but until then, there is plenty still to do in the Wolds Federation.

How do you let your staff know that you are leaving? How do you explain to the children? I don’t suppose it matters so much if you don’t have a close working relationship, but I do.

I have assembled teams of people who I have great respect for, people who I trust and enjoy sharing my time with. I called a meeting and put off the news until the very end. A stunned silence followed and I left the room to let the news sink in – I was emotional myself.

I will miss the Wolds Federation but I know it has a bright future ahead; we are proud of all that we have achieved.

For someone, it will be a new challenge, just like Holme on Spalding Moor is for me. Undoubtedly, the best news is that I will still be in the Pocklington Post’s catchment area, so you can’t escape from me just yet...