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Head for a day!

Brought to you by Joseph Lever, Year 8 student, Highgate School

Earlier this month a year 8 pupil named Joseph Lever got the chance to run his school as head teacher for a day (thanks to a very lucky draw in a raffle!). This is how the day played out in Joseph’s own words…

Finally, the day arrived.  The day I had been waiting on for many weeks – I was going to become Head of Highgate School for the day. The Head, Mr Pettitt was taking my place as a pupil in Year 8!

I walked into school on a beautiful summer’s day dressed in my suit and tie instead of my school uniform.  Everyone else was arriving in sports gear or short sleeves and shorts.  I walked to my office and greeted Alice, my secretary for the day.

Alice gave me my schedule, starting with a briefing from the Head’s balcony to the entire teaching staff of Highgate, just over 120 teachers! Setting aside my nerves, I read out the staff briefing and was reassured by the round of applause that followed at the end.

I then went to observe a classics lesson which, ironically, I should have been at as a pupil.  During the lesson, I took notes on the pace of the lesson and the teacher’s and pupils’ strengths.  This included reviewing Mr Pettitt’s work as a pupil in place of me.  I have to admit this was pretty impressive!

Returning to my office after the lesson I was bombarded by pupils asking various questions; the most frequent one being, “Who do you think you are?”.  “Any more lip from you,” I joked, “and you’ll be in detention all next week”.

I was given my own Head’s email for the day and so, back at my office, I logged onto my computer and checked my emails. I received a number from various teachers asking for a pay rise as well as their own office! My favourite e-mail came from the maths department, as they asked if we could install their very own Mr Whippy ice cream machine!

After a few more meetings I sat in on a session to discuss the logistics of senior pupils moving to American universities.  This looked at what grades they would need as well as special admission requirements and was very interesting.

Next, it was time to meet with the Bursar of Highgate School to debate with him about the sheer number of pay rise requests.  We then went to meet the head groundsman to discuss the maintenance of the school playing fields.  He asked me to help him with the painting of the white lines on one of the school cricket pitches – which meant driving his tractor! It was a lot of fun, although he wouldn’t let me go very fast.  Next it was off to the kitchen to talk to the head chef about preparing the school meals.

I spent quite a bit of time walking around the new junior school which has been completely transformed since I was there a few years ago, with brand new buildings next to the school dining hall.  I saw many faces I knew, as well as teachers who had looked after me as a Highgate junior.

One of the magnificent new buildings has a lift that takes you to the roof, which is the very highest point of the school.  From there, we saw wonderful views including the school playing fields and buildings around us in the heart of Kenwood. It was a great end to the day!

It was a simply amazing experience; an opportunity to step into the Head’s shoes and see exactly what he gets up to.  Perhaps most surprising was quite how busy his schedule is and how much he covers in the course of a single day. I loved the experience, but I’m ready to go back to being a pupil!


About the author

Joseph Lever is a Year 8 student from Highgate School.

Follow Highgate School on twitter: @Highgate1565