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Day in the life of a Harold Hill headteacher

PUBLISHED: 18:00 20 September 2014

(L-R) Students Lucy Stevens, 8, Deborah Mushonga, 8, Isaac Wright, 8, Head teacher, Malcolm Drakes, students Leo Mbata, 8, Kane Painter, 8 & Elizabeth Ositelu, 9 from Broadford Primary School in Romford, London on September 17, 2014. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

(L-R) Students Lucy Stevens, 8, Deborah Mushonga, 8, Isaac Wright, 8, Head teacher, Malcolm Drakes, students Leo Mbata, 8, Kane Painter, 8 & Elizabeth Ositelu, 9 from Broadford Primary School in Romford, London on September 17, 2014. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

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Malcolm Drakes tells the Recorder about a typical day. He has been headteacher of Broadford Primary, Harold Hill, since 2011

Ideally, the day starts at 5am with a run through the country park, which sets me up for the day.

By 7.15am I’m at my desk to write the daily message for staff outlining the different activities and events that will be going on.

One of the best features of this job is that no one day is like another. From filming scenes for The Voice, [Year 7 pupils made the final] setting up for a pantomime, welcoming a visiting sculptor or speaking to construction workers building additional classrooms, there is always something to look forward to.

At 8.30am I am on gate duty to welcome the children into school. The challenge is to make sure that you know the names of all the children coming through the gate, as well as their younger siblings!

This is always an interesting time as the children have very exciting bits of news to share with you: teeth that have just fallen out, a new baby brother, a pair of super fast shoes or photos from their family holiday. It is also an invaluable opportunity to meet parents informally. I can quickly answer any questions or concerns they may have, as well as occasionally ribbing them about the weekend’s football results. We find that some parents may not have positive memories of school, or find the idea of talking to the headteacher quite intimidating.

Our aim is to make Broadford as welcoming as possible so that all members of our school community are able to come and talk to us.

During the remainder of the school day – aside from the assemblies and play times – my job is to make sure that the staff have what they need to do their job to the highest possible standard.

As headteacher you can make things happen, which is a responsibility I thoroughly enjoy. In the last three years we have been able to create an early-years play area, build an exercise and adventure trail, create opportunities for outdoor learning and install a full size beach volleyball pitch.

Any time spent in my office is regularly punctuated with visits from the children. There are rewards to hand out, facts they want to amaze me with, an iPad they want to borrow, a concern that we have run out of footballs and then those who just pass by for a chat. Another feature of my job is building links with the community. Our choir – led by our deputy head – is now a regular performer at sheltered housing venues around Havering.

Our pupils gain so much from visiting other settings in the community. They have been really touched by the way that pensioners in sheltered housing respond to their singing, which helps them to realise the positive role they can play.

It often only feels like five minutes have passed and it is time to go out at 3.15pm to say goodbye to the children as they make their way home. Then we may have staff training or meetings that can’t take place during the school day.

For the children, there are the after-school clubs that are provided free of charge.

By 6pm we’re all finished and it’s time to go home.

All of my staff and I are very conscious that there isn’t a day to be wasted at school.

We are all incredibly fortunate to have jobs that give so much satisfaction every day and enable us to go home knowing we have made a difference to the life chances of a family or child.

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