Chvalšiny Primary School and Kindergarten
Status: State Primary School
Interviewee: Mgr. Petr Holba, school principal
Country: Czech Republic
Do you anticipate being fully engaged in employment even at the age of 65, while maintaining a high level of work capability?
Certainly, if we're discussing the continuation of my current role without the need to transition into a new position, and if my responsibilities don't demand the incorporation of entirely novel elements like ICT, then yes. I foresee that by the age of 65, around 15-20% of my tasks may involve new aspects, while the remainder will consist of routine tasks and responsibilities that I can delegate.
To be candid, I find it challenging to envision entrusting a surgical procedure to a surgeon who is over 70; that would indeed raise concerns.
Do you anticipate being able to sustain your physical capabilities at full capacity for your work demands?
Physically, I'm confident that I can manage, as my role entails minimal physical exertion. I predominantly sit for most of the tasks. However, the potential challenge could lie in the mental aspect. Aging can bring about forgetfulness and, more significantly, a sense of complacency in performing well, even after three decades in the field. So, from a physical perspective, I believe I can maintain my current approach. Nevertheless, I'm uncertain about how agile my mindset will remain.
Have you considered strategies for preserving your work capacity?
Currently, I haven't actively started planning for it. My focus is more directed towards anticipating how things will be in the upcoming year or two. I'm setting my sights on my work trajectory for a maximum of three years ahead. The education landscape is experiencing such rapid transformations that attempting to strategically plan every aspect would likely result in significant portions becoming obsolete, rendering the effort futile.
Do you have a personal plan?
No. Of course, I plan and expect some things, but it's not on a strategic level.
Do you have a plan for your school as well?
Yes, I do. I'm adopting a five-year horizon for this approach. Extending it beyond that time frame appears counterproductive due to the substantial turnover rate within the education sector. Allocating resources to individuals who may not remain part of the team in just a couple of years lacks practicality. I have a remarkable group of staff members who I'm committed to supporting as long as my tenure lasts because I am keen on retaining their talents. Consequently, I'm dedicating extra time to nurture these employees and crafting strategic plans that encompass longer-term objectives for their growth.
Conversely, within our team, there are individuals who I anticipate won't hesitate to depart from the education sector if faced with a crisis situation.
Do you address these trends in your strategic planning?
We ensure the expertise of our staff remains up-to-date with European and global trends through continuous professional development for our teaching team. Another pivotal aspect that significantly impacts the efficiency of our school revolves around cultivating a harmonious environment and fostering tranquility in the workplace. This realization crystallized for me only after I assumed this role and began supervising an all-female team. Consequently, beyond managing technical aspects such as robust training, practical application, and effective teaching methodologies, I've progressively become deeply involved in nurturing a cohesive workgroup. We organize team-building activities beyond the school setting every year.
My aim is to instill the sense that returning to work after the weekend is an enjoyable prospect. If any resistance becomes evident, I now understand that regardless of providing high-quality training daily, their tenure might be short-lived. The mental well-being of our educators holds immense significance, given the substantial pressure arising from students and, in contemporary times, from parents as well. Ensuring our teachers feel secure within our environment and are greeted with a sense of positivity throughout the hallways is a priority for me.
What is currently affecting your ability to work the most? What are the reasons that have led to these problems?
Currently, our foremost challenge stems from the implementation of the new Framework Curriculum, which has brought about a substantial increase in workload. The previous curriculum revision took place in 2016, involving a significant amount of administrative tasks.
In essence, this new curriculum serves as the strategic blueprint for our entire school's educational structure, impacting all educators. Notably, a seventh teacher competency has been introduced—digital literacy. This addition requires that first-level teachers incorporate computer science into their teaching approach, necessitating the creation of personalized plans within the school curriculum. This endeavor has posed considerable challenges for many. For instance, within our context, I find myself with two teachers who are expected to adapt smoothly, while conversely, two others are apprehensive to the point of considering resignation if they are required to teach computer science.
For context, our school curriculum spans a daunting 700 pages, which highlights the extensive overhaul it requires. However, the task extends beyond mere document revision; it entails devising a comprehensive strategy.
Furthermore, we've recently become participants in the children's literacy and mathematical literacy programs. Teachers engaged in these programs must not only design new activities, but also fulfill reporting duties, undertake travel, and undergo training. I've noticed that, post-COVID, many teachers have not yet regained their pre-pandemic pace of work.
In the Czech Republic, the Minister of Education changes every four years, but lately this frequency has accelerated to three months. With each change comes new legal amendments and strategic shifts. It has become a challenge to incorporate these dynamic shifts into a long-term plan, which I typically envision within a span of 4-5 years. Prolonging this outlook appears impractical from my perspective.