Head to Head with Headteacher of Carwarden House Community School
Speaking to the Education team, Headteacher, Jarlath O’Brien gives us an insight into his life at Carwarden House Community School.
Your current title / role
Headteacher of Carwarden House Community School
Brief career background
I was variously a quantity surveyor, an organic chemist, an auditor, a labourer, a postman and a warehouseman before reluctantly becoming a teacher. Since then I have worked in a comprehensive school, an independent selective school and three special schools. I write regularly for the Times Educational Supplement and my first book, on children with learning difficulties, is due to be published in 2016.
What does a typical working day look like?
I get to school for about 7.30am where I, our deputy headteacher, school business manager, our site manager and my PA will work through the issues to be resolved, such as staff absence or a frog that’s been liquidised in the swimming pool filter, so that the day can run smoothly for our staff and students. Staff briefing follows that every morning as we recognise that poor communication kills organisations. It’s time then to welcome the students and I, along with the other senior leaders, are visible around the school as we firmly believe that the start of the day sets the tone for the rest of it. I’ll spend some of the rest of the day in meetings, on or off-site, but will do break and lunch duty at every opportunity as I can talk to most of the students in that time. I will also walk around the school during lessons once a day, often in the middle of doing some really dull paperwork. Bus duty ensures the students leave school safely. Getting home for dinner, bath, story and bed with my children is a non-negotiable which means that I then start work again once they’re asleep.
What did you have for dinner last night?
Pizza and salad.
What was the last piece of music you listened to?
The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room by Flight of the Conchords
What was your favourite and most hated subject when you were at school?
Favourite = PE, English, maths. Most hated = art, music, DT, history, geography. I disliked most of what I studied at school.
What is the best thing about your job?
Being a small part of an incredible team of people that commits to never giving up on children that others have written off.
If you could change one thing about the current education system what would it be?
I would abolish the Ofsted grade of Outstanding. It has become a goal in itself for misguided school leaders and there is strong evidence that it is harder to achieve for mainstream schools if your intake has low prior attainment. There is a clear need to distinguish between schools requiring special measures or a notice to improve, but parents just need to be reassured that their child’s school is good enough. It would also make redundant the parasitic consultants offering to carry out crass Mocksted inspections or turn you into an outstanding teacher if you spend one day in an airless hotel conference centre with them after parting with £300.