Today (Monday) sees the Vernacular Curate, together with some other willing locals enter into a process that will by necessity directly affect the education of many hundreds of children over the next few years.
No, although I do teach some of the RE at this school, I am not shedding the collar in favour of an Intelligent White Board! No, I am part of a panel of school governors meeting to interview candidates for the position of Head Teacher.
This may not sound remarkable, and may even strike you as some of the 'bread and butter' of a priest's job. But think about it. Until 2006 I was a glorified carpet salesman. I am surrounded by men and ladies from business, largely, plus some who are Governors by dint of being parents. With the exception of one of the panel, none of us are trained educationalists.
I have trawled to a considerable depth through the Application Forms of the candidates in questions. 'SIP', 'CVA', SDP', SLT', 'KS1', 'NPQH', 'EYFS', 'CPD', 'APS', 'APP', 'ICT', 'SEF', 'G+T', 'SMT', and more besides; these letter are daubed all across the forms I am reading. Do I have the faintest idea to what they refer? No, of course not. Hopefully someone will (I know a couple, fret not). This said, I have interviewed hundreds (literally) of people for jobs in my time, but none for the job of Head Teacher. Barring one of us, we must all say the same.
It strikes me as odd that a crew of laity can carry this responsibility. What we bring is the most acute care for the school and the welfare and development of its children (plus, in my case, a reputation in my former world of being a very tough interviewer), and a wish to see the school flourish. Our ability to conduct an interview is not brought into question; our ability to interrogate an Application Form is not checked. Looking at it another way, clergy are not selected by the nice ladies and germs from the pews, but by some of the most experienced priests and trained laity available. Staff in carpet shops are not selected by the customers, but by practitioners in the trade. Football players are not chosen by the fans. The appointment of Head Teachers seems almost unique in this and I am wondering if this is a good thing or not. We will see.
As I put these blessed forms down for the night, with my list of canny killer questions (yes, I know the art of an interview is to allow the candidate to be seen at their best, yeah yeah yeah), I pray that this very significant chance I have to do a valuable service for a community will not be squandered by my inefficiencies and lack of specific educational knowledge. The things that we do for love ....
...prayers for the candidates too, please.