I am really lucky to be part of a number of HT groups including Fleet Heads, SHARP ( I can never remember what it stands for!) and District Heads. I have spoken before about carefully choosing which frock and shoes I am going to wear to these events because I don’t want to let Tavistock down. When I first became HT I used to be really nervous because I didn’t feel worthy and felt I didn’t know as many big words as some of the other HTs. Thankfully and rightly so, I had nothing to worry about really as some people just say the same things at every meeting and my best HT friend and I even time how long it takes someone to say strategic. Believe me it can happen before the meetings even start whilst we are all in the coffee queue. On the whole though, the meetings are great because you meet people in the same boat as you are and most people are really supportive and willing to help. The lunches are usually quite nice as well which is lovely as HTs don’t get the same perks as other CEOs, we get nits as a bonus rather than pound notes!
Last Friday was my termly SHARP meeting and we had an inspiring HT from inner London talking to us about how he had turned around a number of failing schools. He was very clear that he hadn’t done it all by himself, but it was through collaboration. I loved listening to him speak because he made sense, he was inspiring and talked about the bad times as well as the good. Change hadn’t happened in these schools over night because true change takes time to embed itself into the ethos and workings of a school. He referred to the ethos of a school time and time again and the need for staff, children and parents to buy into this, truly buy into it through the bad times as well as the good. He talked about looking at the bigger picture and the true purpose of a school which is to nurture, educate and prepare children for a future that is as yet unknown. Yes children need to learn facts, information and knowledge but they also need the language to evaluate, challenge and compare.
Jobs used to be for life, but that is no longer the case and the average person will change careers 5-7 times during their working life according to career change statistics. I find that quite scary and it makes me think about my own daughter who hasn’t even started her career yet. Young people are apparently worrying about the world being a worse place now than it used to be and have low physical and mental well being. Technology is advancing all the time and we all have to learn new things very quickly not just our children. Do children really link their learning in school to the real world or do they see it as something separate? Is there a mismatch between what we think the children need to be learning and what they feel they want to learn about? Are children given enough opportunities to practise, consolidate and apply what they have learnt or are we always moving on to the next thing? I’m not going to give my answer to these questions but leave you to ponder them yourselves.
Back to the inspiring HT from inner London. He ended his presentation reminding us that it is failure and practice that leads to success and we should never be afraid of failure. Knowledge in itself is not enough, the knowledge that we acquire has to be used and we need to be critical thinkers. We all need to be in an environment where it is okay to fail and we won’t be ridiculed. We need to be surrounded by people who will work with us not against us. We need to feel safe and happy that we aren’t on our own. Our motto ‘Achieving Happily Together’ is a really good one isn’t it.