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'Every day feels like Friday, every Friday feels like the end of the term' : restarting 'the worst school in the country' : an autoethnography

By Jonathan Clark

Abstract

This research paper details an autoethnographic investigation into a tumultuous year in my professional life that affected my identity and personal existence. I became the manager of a failing inner city secondary school for boys identified as having emotional and behavioural difficulties. The school had been deemed as being in need of `Special Measures' for several years and had at times been colloquially labelled as the worst school in England. I recorded not just my experiences but also my most intimate thoughts and feelings about what I experienced during the academic year 2002 - 2003. This was achieved through the production of a reflective journal that was nearly 300 pages long on its completion. The thesis is drawn from the contexts surrounding the school and its population as well as from the data I recorded in the journal. On finishing this paper I still do not understand how a school can be allowed to degenerate into the lawless and uncaring environment I encountered in September 2002. What I have discovered during my research is the importance of humanity, compassion, respect and equality when attempting to recover a school that has been disregarded and left to rot. I have been shocked and challenged by the physical, cognitive and emotional demands made by working in the environment described in my thesis. The journey of myself through the year in question can be genuinely described as harrowing. My fervent hope is that this research can help avoid what happened at Osbourne occurring in any other educational establishment. My reflections on Osbourne have helped me reach the conclusion that at the moment I simply cannot leave the school even though I am exhausted by it and my health has suffered. I cannot trust the school to anyone else at the moment; we have been through too much together. As I think this paper will demonstrate, I have given myself to the school

Publisher: 'University of Sheffield Conference Proceedings'
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:3573

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