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Bromley head teacher calls on counterparts to head back to the classroom

PUBLISHED: 10:32 08 September 2016 | UPDATED: 10:32 08 September 2016

Head teacher Patrick Wenham

Head teacher Patrick Wenham

Hasselblad H4D

He believes spending more time in class helps him to do his job

A Bromley headteacher has called on his counterparts to spend more time teaching after making the decision to step back into the classroom.

Bickley Park head Patrick Wenham believes pupils benefit from his time in the classroom and that contact with youngsters helps him to perform his duties as a head teacher.

A study by the Department for Education has shown heads spend just 2.8 hours a week on average teaching, with most their time (43 per cent) taken up by meetings, administration and leadership duties.

Mr Wenham said: “The head’s job can get taken over by myriad responsiblities – admin duties, regulations, marketing and finance – and you can lose sight of the core purpose, which is giving children a great start in education.

“As a head, I think it is important to stay connected to that side of the job.

“I also take part in after-school activities. I am involved in the climbing club – I trained to be a climbing instructor – and I am involved in community outreach programmes.”

“It enables me to keep my finger on the pulse.”

Mr Wenham’s career spans more than 30 years and includes time in state and international education,

He has spent eight years as a head and three years at Bickley, teaching history, maths, English, religious and general studies to children aged between seven and 13.

His wife is from Bromley and attended Sydenham High School.

“Teaching has kept me feeling like a 27-year-old rather than a 54-year-old,” he commented.

“Children of prep and primary school age love to learn, and

it is wonderfully refreshing

to tap into that energy.”

Head teachers are often seen as distant figures who have little contact with youngsters but Mr Wenham does not believe this is beneficial.

He also said he does not think being close to the children undermines their respect for him.

“I think in any organisation an important aspect is relationships and a head teacher should not be distant – he should be a human figure,” he said.

“I have an open door for parents, staff and children.

“I stand outside in the morning to meet and greet pupils, and it is part of encouraging respect.

“I encourage them to shake my hand right from two years old – they learn an important life skill, and it is a great way of building an understanding of the children and what makes them tick.

“Fundamentally, a child should respect others but know that they are known as an individual and liked as an individual. For staff, I think it adds credibility if the head is one of the footsoldiers.”

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