School improvement is complex. We all know that. Turning a school round is not easy and it takes time. An awful lot of time. We are only as good as our previous twelve months – a slight dip in attainment, perhaps a difficult cohort or a stubborn long-term staffing issue and, bam – on a bad day we could end up in a category. It can feel like it could happen overnight.
Last Thursday morning I had the pleasure of being a part of Digital Shoreditch in London. The title of my #ds15 talk was ‘Why changing the world is child’s play’. I was telling the story of the creation of our community-based social enterprise Ballot Street. In particular, I was bemoaning the national testing system and th
I probably shouldn’t be writing about this as I’m sworn to secrecy. It’s been a strange few days, all rather furtive and under the radar. On Monday evening I attended a pleasant SSAT Reform Dinner in London held under the Chatham House Rules. I must admit, I had to Google what it meant but now that I know I’m not meant to write about it, I won’t.
Not far from where I live lies the Shropshire town of Ludlow. It’s known for many things – food, medieval architecture, a castle to name but three. But what many people don’t know is that it is the UK’s first Cittaslow town. Cittaslow is a movement that originated in Italy as a rally cry against all things fast-produced. It has since evolved into a cultural trend known as the ‘slow movement’.
It shouldn’t take you too long to read this post. A little over four minutes should do it. That’s precisely how long I had to make my pitch at a recent RSA Engage speed-networking event. Hosted at the impressive Impact Hub in Birmingham, the eight fellows invited to pitch had four minutes each to get their product across to the audience before rounding it off with three ‘asks’.
Finding the time to read governmental reports is something I’m not good at. So I made a big effort over the break to get to grips with one that I’ve been carrying around with me since its publication last Autumn. It’s called Cracking the code: how schools can improve social mobility.
During the past 12 months I’ve been fortunate enough to present at a number of conferences up and down the country. One of the pleasures of being part of the conference circuit is that you get to listen to the presentations of the other speakers.
Last week I had the pleasure of working with a group of leaders from Schools of Tomorrow. It was the first morning of their inaugural year-long Leadership for Tomorrow development programme. If you’ve never come across the Schools of Tomorrow network then you really should.
One of the first tasks that needs to be done when taking on a special measures school is to recalibrate the compass. They are heading in the wrong direction. It’s not that teachers aren’t working incredibly hard or lack the pedagogical know-how. It’s simply a question of them doing the wrong things.
One thing I’ve learnt during my time as a headteacher is that compromise is king. Back in the day as a new headteacher I naively always saw compromise as a weakness – that staff would see me as being a lame and indecisive leader if I didn’t insist on doing things my way.
Being a headteacher of an academy only a few miles from the Trojan horse schools in Birmingham means that I have taken more than a passing interest in the recent developments. It has made me re-visit our own Articles of Association to ensure that we do not find ourselves in a similar situation, especially now that we are a multi academy trust.
I am currently scratching a seven-year itch. It was in 2007 that my current school came out of special measures and I can’t wait to get stuck in to my next one, seven years later. On 1st July, we sponsor a nearby primary school and so we begin again the journey of transforming a school from special measures to outstanding.