It can’t have escaped your notice that earlier this week it was World Storytelling Day. As a leader, the only story you need to be telling is the one about you – who you are, what you stand for and why your school is the best party in town.
There will come a time when we’ll all look back and ask ourselves, how on earth did we allow it to go on for so long? Ofsted have been around now for over a quarter of a century and still the debate rages on about their role.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Sir Francis Bacon may well have been on to something here. In the late sixteenth century he inadvertently defined what the three key qualities of a really good leader are.
As critical as I am of the inspection process in England, I am entirely at ease with the fact that inspection is here to stay. Indeed, I’d be concerned if it were ever abolished. An independent inspectorate is essential if we are to continue to have faith in our education system.
Two particular tweets caught my eye last week. One was from Ofsted and the other a leading academic. The Ofsted one was in relation to them wanting to do some good by conducting research. The other was based on research about how Ofsted do more harm than good. I had to read on.
I finally set foot in the impressive National College for School Leadership building for the first time last week. Despite opening its doors in 2002 I never got to go there. I was a headteacher in the capital at the time and Nottingham seemed far too provincial. The NCSL was eventually closed down in 2013 when it was taken back by the DfE.
During the past two decades as a headteacher I’ve seen well over a thousand year six pupils pass through. In my present school, where I’ve been the head for eleven years, the current cohort weren’t even born when I first arrived at the school. It was especially poignant therefore to see them on their way at their leavers’ ceremony earlier this week.
One of the things that we’ve done really well across our trust has been the curriculum. And now I fear for it because Ofsted want to get their hands on it. With their relentless pursuit over the years of teaching, outcomes, standards and compliance, the curriculum has been left alone by and large.
Until not that long ago I didn’t really have a clue how to run an ITT partnership. So I did what I usually do when stuck and turned to others, namely leaders from within the trust. We locked ourselves in a room for days on end, determined that we wouldn’t come out until we cracked it. We did and we created Central England Teacher Training.
We’ve had the inspectors in. The new term was barely three hours old and we got the call. So in they came – days two and three – and they were all over us like a rash.
The chances are you may not have heard of the Whole Education Network. It’s been going strong for several years now and grew out of the RSA in 2010. If you haven’t come across them yet, then you really should have, so read on