Briefing for the Headmistress

(as seen by Prof Alex Warleigh-Lack)


Dear Headmistress,

Congratulations on your recent re-appointment. It is an historic achievement, and you should be proud. When you look at how so many of the other schools in the District are doing, however, you may come to wish you had rather less in your in-tray. This briefing covers some of the most pressing issues that will, I’m afraid, press upon you in the next few months and years.

First, I’m afraid that several of the most troubled schools in the area are still under special measures, and likely to remain so. Given that we share facilities with them, we will need to continue to provide support, but this may make some of the parents here rather restive. I’m afraid that the recent violence and tragic loss of life at Hellas High do not bode well. I recommend a stern word with the Headmaster when you see him next. Please do NOT ask him how much he managed to sell to the prospective parents from China at the recent car boot sale. It’s a Sore Point.

Your old sparring partner in Our Lady of Rome Academy is no longer in charge. This is good news; that unfortunate business with the court case and those ladies that might once have been called ‘actresses’, in the Nell Gwyn sense, has left him with a smaller role, but he is still capable of stirring up trouble in the staff room there. It seems some of those teachers he used to lead are tiring of him, but you may need to step in and give a helping hand to the new Headteacher. Diplomacy will be required here, as if he is to retain authority he must not be seen to be relying on you!

I know you still miss the previous Headmaster at Notre Dame de Paris. I’m afraid it doesn’t look like he will be back any time soon, so you will have to at least try to get on with his successor. The school Treasurer there tells me that they have more money than they had thought, so at least there’s some good news.

That said, there are some naughty boys who will need to be sent into remedial lessons straight away. There are pupils in Budapest High who are refusing to obey the rules, and the Headmaster there is actually breaking them too! I think you should make it a priority to bring him into line. If the trouble spreads, it could affect how the whole District is seen by those outside, and it is already very difficult for many of the pupils there to lead a civilised life.

The usual situation applies regarding the school in London. There are many in its Board of Governors who would like to leave the District, and it seems that there are also many in its Northern branch who would like to set up their own school, while hoping to remain inside the District. This makes things complicated, as you can doubtless imagine, and it might be worth having a quiet word with the Heads of Brussels Boys’ School and St Conchita’s Young Ladies in Madrid, just to see how they are dealing with ongoing similar issues.

Finally, as you know the District Board gets a reshuffle next year. It really is time that a new leadership was given to the Proposal and Implementation Oversight Panel. May I suggest that you spend a great deal of time thinking about this, and who you might like to see in the role? It is time to replace the Inter-School Arbitration and Negotiation Leader too. The incumbent has been a safe pair of hands, but do you want more of the same, or someone more dynamic? And the Public Relations leader’s time in office is up too. She’s had a very rough ride, and did well to set up the role in the first place, but perhaps there’s a need to think about how many resources her successor has, as well as who that should be? Don’t forget that this time round the District Pupils’ Assembly has a large say in the appointments too. Shall we send the Deputy Head to talk to them informally?

Finally, don’t forget to welcome the new girl. She’s had a tough childhood, but seems to be much happier now.

Onwards and upwards!

The School Secretary