Part-tribute to Sir Ken Robinson, and part-reflective, in this post we consider the answer to the question 'How do you grow a school's culture?'
The real-life story of Makana (pronounced McCarner) spans several hundred years. Its impact on world history and the freedom of a nation is immeasurable. Meaning ‘gift’ in Swahili, Makana’s legacy to the world is one that must never be forgotten.
As teachers up and down the country are bracing themselves for the inevitable bout of ‘flu that will take hold the minute they wake up on Saturday morning, let’s celebrate the fact that 2018 has been another cracking year.
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.
Have you ever experienced what it feels like when you get several hundred like-minded people together and lock them in a room for the day to see where the magic can take you? And that during that day you get to dream about ‘what if…?’ and get to ask really powerful questions like ‘why can’t our schools be like Disneyland?’
I’ve become a tad obsessed with values lately. This is a good thing, I think, although it does preoccupy my thoughts to the point of probably being unhealthy. I even found myself driving round the block on the way to work last week so that I could listen to the end of Radio Four’s ‘Thought for the Day’. Not good and I had to have a quiet word with myself.
Despite the title of this post, it doesn’t feel like a victory. But in the end, it all came down to this: Either I continue to inspect and work for Ofsted, or I blog. It seems I can’t do both.
As I sit on the train on my way to a meeting in London I spot an article in the Metro that claims that ‘Women are the real task masters’. Apparently, according to a well-known skincare company, us men can only manage 19 tasks a day compared with 26 for a woman.
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.
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.