Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Module 9 School Records and Documents

Although we have made it clear in the last eight modules that the most important aspect of a headteacher’s function is the leadership role, we cannot deny that there is also a need for a certain amount of administration to make sure that schools function smoothly and that appropriate records are kept for those who need them.

This module is a supplementary one and does not form part of the main programme. It is based on the Ministry of Education’s document “School Records and Documents” which has been updated regularly to meet current needs. It is the Ministry’s guidelines for all administrative activity for schools in Guyana. It is an extremely comprehensive guide produced by a large number of persons who wrote it and were part of the consultation process. It gives clear instructions to headteachers on how they should operate in respect of their administrative duties.

Whilst we accept that such administrative tasks are essential in keeping the wheels of the school moving smoothly, we must remember, however, that these tasks are not a means to a successful school in themselves. They assist the headteacher in keeping appropriate records to support him /her to fulfil his / her role as a leader. Alone they will not raise achievement. This is done by coaching, motivating and supporting school staff. School records should be completed, therefore, as far as possible outside of the school day and should not be used as an excuse to avoid working in those areas which will make a real difference to pupil achievement.

The primary purpose of the guidelines is to provide information to school practitioners in an attempt to enhance their competence and confidence. When the guidelines are adhered to, the system of accountability would be greatly improved.

The format of this module is different from that of the previous ones in that each unit will have a short introduction, after which you will be expected to read the appropriate sections of the guidelines. On completion of your reading, you will find a number of reflections and activities which we hope you will complete. We have provided you with a page reference from the guidelines to assist you in this process. The answers to the activities should be recorded in your portfolio in the normal way.

Individual study time: 20 hours

After working through this module, you should be:

§ aware of the existence of the Ministry’s guidelines on “School Records and Documents”
§ able to identify the key elements of the guidelines
§ able to use different documents and records as they relate to school administration
§ able to understand the need for records and be able to put them into the wider context in relation to the agenda for raising school effectiveness.

The module is divided into ten main units. These are the core aspects of “School Records and Documents” and not everything is covered in great detail. You should, however, make yourself familiar with every section of the guidelines.

Unit 1: Keeping a log of school activities 2 hours
This unit explains the purpose of and use of the school, departmental, divisional and year group logs.

Unit 2: Attendance of teachers and learners 2 hours
You are provided here with all of the necessary forms and examples of records to be kept to keep a track of the attendance of your staff and your pupils

Unit 3: Organisational Charts 2 hours
Here you will find examples of all of the main organisational charts required in Secondary, Primary and Nursery schools in Guyana.

Unit 4: Vision, Mission, Improvement and Planning 2 hours
You will find in this unit how to record your school’s vision and mission as well as the decisions you have made about school improvement and planning for the school year.

Unit 5: Pupil Records and Orientation 2 hours
This unit will help you to keep track of every aspects of your school’s pupil enrolment as well as how to provide a quality orientation for new students.

Unit 6: Staff Conduct and Orientation 2 hours
The guidelines provide you with the appropriate documents for the conduct of staff and how to provide a worthwhile orientation for new staff.

Unit 7: Timetable and Teacher Record-keeping 2 hours
Here you are shown the correct way of constructing and displaying a timetable as well as the records you should insist upon from your teaching staff.

Unit 8: Supervision 2 hours
This unit explains the supervisory schedule and the records you must keep in carrying it out.

Unit 9: Equipment and furniture 2 hours
Here you will find details of how to record, maintain and dispose of school property as required.

Unit 10: Pupil Assessment 2 hours
This section outlines the procedures to be followed for the internal and external assessment of your pupils.

Unit 1 Keeping a Log of School Activities

It is a requirement of the headteacher in Guyana that they keep a full log of all activities in the school at every level. This is not necessarily completed by the head him / herself but will be delegated in part to the various holders of posts of responsibility within the school e.g. Head of Department. The head, however, will be responsible for the main school log book.

Log books must be kept in a prescribed format and should be completed promptly and regularly. The guidelines describe who should keep the log, how it should be kept and the type of entry that it should include.

In addition, there is a reference to the document “Standard Operational Procedures” which must be conspicuously displayed in every school building so that teachers, learners and parents might be aware of its contents. The contents are in the form of directives and must be adhered to. You should make yourself aware of the contents of this document.

Reference is also made to the “Staff Instruction Book” which is used for specific or general communications to individual staff or the entire staff. This is a means of recording all communications with your staff and should be signed and dated.

Now read thoroughly pages 1 - 9 of the guidelines “School Records and Documents”.

Now complete the following activities in your portfolio. You should try to do so with as little reference to the guidelines as possible, only referring to them at the end when you should check your answers and correct them where necessary.

Activities Unit One

1.1 What is the purpose of the Circular File and who should have access to it?

1.2 Why do you feel reflections of a personal character should not be entered in the log book? How will you best avoid this?

1.3 Who assumes responsibility for the log book in the absence of the head?

1.4 Give five items which are typical entries in the main school log book.

1.5 Give three typical entries into the departmental, divisional and year group logs and say why it is important that such information is recorded.

Unit 2 Attendance of Teachers and Learners

As Head, you are responsible for all persons in the school whether it is your staff or the pupils. The most basic information you will require is a record of their attendance and punctuality. This is essential as a personnel record for teachers and will be used to assess their performance and also as a record for remuneration purposes.

Such records need to be kept meticulously and are to be maintained in a prescribed format and must be made available for inspection by officers from the region and the Ministry of Education. The guidelines explain how these records must be maintained and the contents therein. Further reference is made to the requirements to complete Absence Returns and the monthly exercise of the collection of Cumulative Data of Absence and Unpunctuality. It is essential that such data is accurate and based on evidence as it may be used to deduct pay from staff in cases of unexplained or unauthorised absence.

Details are also given of how to compile and complete Pupil Attendance Registers. This information is essential not only for the head but must also be disseminated to all staff. Accurate attendance data of learners is essential and must be recorded on a daily basis not only in an attendance ledger but also on an Attendance Board. Examples of how these records must be kept are outlined in the guidelines.

Now read thoroughly pages 9 – 12 and 33 - 39 of the guidelines “School Records and Documents”.

Now complete the following activities in your portfolio. You should try to do so with as little reference to the guidelines as possible, only referring to them at the end when you should check your answers and correct them where necessary.

Activities Unit Two

2.1 Why do you feel it is important to maintain accurate records of teachers’ attendance and punctuality?

2.2 Who do you feel might need these records and how might they be used?

2.3 What do the regulations state must happen for those teachers who are regularly unpunctual or who have taken unauthorised leave.

2.4 What happens after a child has been absent, without a notice of withdrawal, for a period of three months?

2.5 What is meant by the “closing” of the register and what must not happen once the register is closed?

Unit 3 Organisational Charts

Leadership in schools is not simply about the headteacher but operates at all levels of the school. The classroom teacher is a leader in that he / she is responsible for the education, care and well-being of the children in his / her class. At each level in schools, there is someone appointed who will take control of a particular area of the school and who will be accountable to all for what goes on in that area. In secondary schools, there are Heads of Departments who are usually responsible for particular academic subjects such as English or Mathematics. In primary schools, teachers will be appointed to be responsible for an area of the school or division, such as the preparatory, lower, middle or upper division according to the ages of the children. Nursery schools will also have divisional heads for Years One and Two.

These responsibilities are given to teachers whose experience and performance merits them. The organisation of a school is predetermined by the size of that school, the number of teachers available to carry out these roles and the level and experience of those teachers. The organisational charts displayed in these guidelines assist the headteacher in creating an appropriate leadership structure for his / her school which covers all areas of the school.

In addition, we are provided with supervisory charts for all three levels of school. These show who is responsible for the supervision of individual teachers in the school. For example, in a large secondary school, a senior teacher may be on the same organisational level as a Head of Department but may be subject to supervision from a HOD if he / she teaches that subject. As head you would display these charts so that all teachers in your school were included in them. The guidelines assist you in doing this.

Now read thoroughly pages 13 – 19 of the guidelines “School Records and Documents”.

Now complete the following activities in your portfolio. You should try to do so with as little reference to the guidelines as possible, only referring to them at the end when you should check your answers and correct them where necessary.

Activities Unit Three

3.1 Reflect for a moment on why the Supervisory Chart will assist the headteacher in carrying out his / her role in relation to Module 6 Monitoring School Effectiveness.

3.2 What is the difference between a Supervisory Chart and an Organisational Chart?

3.3 Why do you think such charts are important in schools?

3.4 Check out the Organisational and Supervisory Charts for your own school and note the differences.

3.5 Name the four divisions in a primary school and state which year groups are associated with those divisions.

Unit 4 Vision, Mission, Improvement and Planning

In the first unit of Module One, we looked at the importance of creating a vision for the school. This is a key function of a leader. We developed this theme by explaining the importance of the school’s Mission Statement and how it should reflect that vision and be the embodiment of all the school stands for. The guidelines explain the requirements for all schools to display prominently the vision, mission and goals / objectives of the school. It would be helpful if you re-read the first unit of Module One to remind yourself of the requirements.

The guidelines also explain the requirements for learners to know and recite the school song, pledge and prayer.

Throughout this programme, we have reiterated the importance of planning, especially for school development. The guidelines explain how you should go about the construction of the School Improvement Plan (SIP) and what it should contain. They explain the constitution and functions of the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) which leads the plan and who should be members. Examples are given as to how the plan should be laid out and the contents therein.

In addition, you are provided with details of the Annual Work Plan which is a year’s plan of activities from January to December which the school will follow in pursuit of its mission and objectives. Proforma are provided for the Quarterly Projections of the Work Plan and the Termly Schedule of Activities and Events.

Now read thoroughly pages 21 – 31 of the guidelines “School Records and Documents”.

Now complete the following activities in your portfolio. You should try to do so with as little reference to the guidelines as possible, only referring to them at the end when you should check your answers and correct them where necessary.

Activities Unit Four

4.1 Look at your own school’s vision and mission statements and reflect for a short while on whether you feel they are being fulfilled.

4.2 Do the priorities in your school improvement plan reflect the school’s mission, vision and objectives as displayed in your school?

4.3 What are the functions of the SIAC? Do you believe your school fulfils those functions?

4.4 Of the whole school issues which must be included in the SIP, which do you think are the most important and will have the biggest impact on the performance of the school?

4.5 Why do you think it is important to create an Annual Work Plan and Quarterly projections?

Unit 5 Pupil Records and Orientation

This section of the guidelines deals with the information which must be collected, recorded, maintained and stored by the school staff about the pupils in their care. In particular, information is provided about Entry Profiles for each student which must be kept for each child, Child Development Index Cards which form part of the system of continuous assessment in each school and Pupil Transfer Certificates which must be provided when a child’s parents request a transfer to another school.

Child Development Index Cards are started when a child enters nursery school and should be passed on through each sector of education. They contain information which must be completed on a termly basis and must be made available to parents. These are the main records of a child’s performance and should be used by the class teacher to inform teaching and learning activities whether at the class or individual level.

This section goes on to describe the Student / Pupil Orientation Booklet which forms part of the orientation activities for new students and is developed collaboratively between teachers, parents and students. A list of information which the booklet must contain is provided.

Later in the guidelines, you will find a section referring to the Manual on the Maintenance of Order and Disciple in Schools which must be adhered to and made available to all members of staff. It goes on to describe the prefect system and student government. As we know, not all pupils are able to behave appropriately at all times. The guidelines explain the procedures to be used and format of the Misdemeanours Book which should be maintained to record incidences of poor behaviour and the appropriate sanctions used.

Now read thoroughly pages 40 – 44 and 92 - 96 of the guidelines “School Records and Documents”.

Now complete the following activities in your portfolio. You should try to do so with as little reference to the guidelines as possible, only referring to them at the end when you should check your answers and correct them where necessary.

Activities Unit Five

5.1 Give details of the contents of the Child Development Index Cards.

5.2 Explain why you think these cards are important and how they might be useful when a child transfers from one class to another or changes schools.

5.3 Why do you think that it is important that a child is given a quality orientation into the school

5.4 Find a copy of the Manual on the Maintenance of Order and Disciple in Schools, read it and make any suggestions you may have to improve it particularly in the context of your own school.

5.5 Describe the system of Student Government which you have set up in your own school. If you have not done so, give some thought to how you might do it.

Unit 6 Staff Conduct and Orientation

This section continues from the one on Student Orientation by reminding us that there is a document which relates to “Manners and Social Etiquette for Students, their Teachers and All of Us”. As the adults, the children look to us to provide good practice in the way they should behave. We are their role models. This document outlines how we should all do this. You should obtain a copy if you do not already have one.

We are reminded that there is a specific Code of Conduct for Teachers and all staff should be aware of its contents. It must also serve as resource material for the orientation of new recruits. It is a directive and must be adhered to by all teachers. Like the student orientation booklet, schools are required to have a Staff Manual and the guidelines give details of the minimum contents which should be found therein. We are reminded that each teacher must be properly orientated into the school and part of this orientation must be the study of all of the documentation which is provided for the purpose by the Ministry of Education. A list of this documentation is provided in the guidelines.

Following on from the induction, a system of continuous mentoring should be in place. A chart is provided to show who should carry out the mentoring according to the rank of the teacher.

Similarly to the students, records must be kept of the staff who are employed in the school. These must be up-to-date, available for inspection and passed on to the next employer / school. An example of how these staff records should be set out is given. Additionally, information is provided on the recording of staff development records and appraisal interviews.

Now read thoroughly pages 44 – 48 and 82 - 91 of the guidelines “School Records and Documents”.

Now complete the following activities in your portfolio. You should try to do so with as little reference to the guidelines as possible, only referring to them at the end when you should check your answers and correct them where necessary.

Activities Unit Six

6.1 Obtain a copy of the Code of Conduct for Teachers and read it.

6.2 Comment generally on how the teachers in your school adhere to the Code of Conduct or not as the case may be. Make some suggestions for improvements.

6.3 Imagine that you are responsible for the induction of a newly appointed Senior Teacher from another school. Outline how you would plan the induction and what would be the main elements of it.

6.4 Check out your own staff development records and update them according to the format given in the guidelines.

6.5 Look into how appraisal is carried out in your own school and make comments on how it might be improved for the school and the appraisee.