Since March I have been writing a series of columns for the local newspaper under the title of A view from the Head’s Roundtable. This page on the blog is where I will update with each new column. To be honest I am clueless if they have any worth or add anything to the current debates in education. I just hoped that it would open a small window on what it is like to be a Headteacher, running an average sized comprehensive in East Sussex.
Clearly some of these are completely out of date and I hope that I have attributed them correctly…apologies to Sam and Laura.
One final point, writing between 400 and 550 words per week is bloody hard. Well actually finding something to write about really bloody hard. So hats off to the journalists who manage it week after week…especially those that don’t just swallow a Government PR line!
Trust to Transform
I spent this weekend at the ASCL conference in London, where the President, Peter Kent’s opening speech was about trusting school leaders. The question of how to transform an education system that has been held back by years of prescription and central control? Peter quoted the American educationalist Joel Klein who said: “You can mandate adequacy; you can’t mandate greatness. It has to be unleashed”.
He went on to quote he recent McKinsey report that concluded the English system is a good one and that there is much to be proud of. But, there was still needed to make the journey from good to great.
Peter then turned his attention to trust. He felt that over of the past ten years policy makers and OFSTED have used words and phrases such as ‘requires improvement’, ‘standards’ and ‘zero tolerance’, which sound more challenging than a simple word such as ‘trust’. But, those of us working in schools will tell you that trust is exactly what we need to move our education system from good to great.
Outside education the consulting firm, Watson Wyatt, showed that companies which ran their operations on a high trust models outperformed those who didn’t by over 286% (an intriguingly exact figure granted). Multi-national companies such as PepsiCo identify trust as a core aim. There is also the phrase of the ‘trust dividend’, which has been identified as the driver for innovation, customer loyalty and revenue growth
During this year’s Global Education Summit, organised by the Gates Foundation and the Sutton Trust, Australian Headteacher Paul Browning explained that schools that had created a culture of trust were seven times more likely to improve than those where trust was weak.
Clearly as school leaders if we want to restore trust within our education system then, as Peter Kent said, “We have to be the ones who will have to make the first move…We know that a culture of trust has the power to transform individual schools and colleges.”
So although we heard of some encouraging news over the conference, the establishment of an independent Royal College of Teaching and a slimmer OFSTED framework with more involvement from current school leaders we were still aware that the politicians believe that they should write the curriculum.
We therefore have to bring to an end the dichotomy between unleashing the greatest in the system through trust, while we have a system that is controlled by diktats from the centre. As Peter Kent reiterated, “Trust to Transform”.