Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pastures new

To the school for lunch on this, the last day of term. Not that "term" has any meaning for one in the state of retired bliss, but today marked the end of an era up the road when Joe Rhodes finally took the advice of his coaevals (moi) and retired from the post of headie. It was a jolly occasion, full of old people (some even older than me and Mr B) enjoying the novelty of meeting up again in an entirely new school. There was much age-and-appearance-related banter before the official part (pictured) when Alastair Stewart put his retiring line-manager (as such people are called these days) through a variant of "Mastermind".

I amused myself during this by observing the assembled company. A former depute had turned up, looking hardly changed from the days when he handed out Please Takes with apparent joy. A certain PT had metamorphosed (it was the specs) into Gok Wan, and a former "bad girl" into a respected and much-loved dinner lady. And it seemed as if most of the company no longer worked in the school - unless I simply assumed that any strangers to me had wandered in off the street.

But I make a serious point here. When someone retires, especially when they retire after being in the same job for a considerable time, it's a big deal. Next session goes on without them, but it's still a big thing for the person retiring. Common decency would suggest that you turn out to wish them well. I couldn't help noticing all the people who for whatever reason had arranged things so that they were not there. (I excuse the staff still returning from foreign parts with a bunch of weans). It seems mean-spirited, somehow, and lacking in imagination, not to attend such a function, and I wonder if some of them will reflect on this when their time comes.

Another thought surfaced as a result of this visit: what criteria are applied when appointing a new headie? What decides who goes on the short list? Is there any point in applying to be head of the school you've been working in - especially in a small town? Does it all come down to how you fill in your application or whether you do a good interview?

And I left, happy never to have applied for anything. Enjoy your retirement, Joe - like us all, you've earned it. But I don't know about that fiddle ....

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