I have been a teacher of English for 24 years, a Headteacher for 9 years and, at the age of 48, this much I know about how we will become a truly great school.
I have spent the last month working hard on a document entitled, eventually, How we will become a truly great school. I’ve done the opposite of Twain/Pascal (I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead) and taken a long time writing a relatively short piece; it is a polished version of my last blog.
How we will develop into a truly great school final version
It articulates the case for us all to be great teachers and then attempts to garner the wisdom of all our staff members as we try to develop the school’s structures to support us in our quest to be truly great.
Outstanding, excellent or truly great? We spent over two hours at SLT meetings this week just on the semantics…
I talked to my colleagues this morning and the main message was to focus on what really matters – improving our teaching – and ignore the chaos swirling around us. They had a hard copy of the document in their trays when they left the Hall, deposited, whilst I spoke, by Kate my PA. I’m happy for anyone to use the document as they wish…big thanks to Tom Sherrington – @headguruteacher – for the concluding creative thinking tale.
Keep smiling! At the end of my short talk, I showed the staff this Smirnoff advert from 2002:
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When we have the answer to how we change our structures to become a truly great school, I’ll share that with you too!

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This post has 8 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your planning document, it highlights many important factors in excellent teaching practice and collegiality, including the positive basic value level approach (catching others doing good). This easily leads to open and honest communication, because sharing the mutual goal allows people to communicate in a non-competitive manner.
    We truly cannot afford to stop learning, and the day a teacher thinks s/he doesn’t want to learn anymore is also the day when s/he should retire or change to another profession. But, teachers’ learning has the same problems as learning in general: it is hard (or impossible) to box in, and that is why many professional development plans are empty words. I personally think this is because of the very nature of learning, which is intuitive, creative and reflective – and thus hard to capture. I like the way your plan emphasizes the individual approach for your students as well as teachers.
    Looking forward to reading how your school celebrates the achieved amazing greatness in the end of this school year!

  2. As rational, incisive and effective approach to school improvement as I’ve seen! Can I ask what S/OLC time is? I’ve not come across that term before.
    Thanks for posting – really enjoyed reading this and will definitely be using it in my school too.

    1. S/OLC time is the time we have gained for CPD by finishing school at 2.30 pm on alternate Mondays. It means that from 2.45-4.45 pm every fortnight we run Subject Outstanding Learning Communities and whole school Outstanding Learning Communities (SOLCs and OLCs!) where we plan together. It means that we have 38 hours of S/OLCs and 25 hours of training days = 63 hours of CPD a year, minimum. Since we have had S/OLCs our results have improved significantly…my latest paper may mean that we have to change the name, but Subject Truly Great Learning Communities doesn’t have a ring to it!

      1. That’s a great idea – thanks for clarifying. I’m not surprised your results have improved following that! It proves (as if it were ever in doubt) that investment in CPD is the most important investment any school can make. Look forward to following the progress you make over the coming weeks and months!

  3. John, this is excellent. I love the openness and the way you are bringing together all these ideas so that everyone in your school is engaged with them. It’s not all fluffy OR remotely threatening – but there is an edge to it; you’re not letting anyone think there is an easy ride to come. Also, thrilled that the Bears story has found its way here too…..
    Can’t wait to hear how it all pans out.

  4. John I really enjoyed reading your planning document. For a long time I have been passionate about great teachers being great learners so I was enthused by what you had to say. I have only just come across your blog this week and it has inspired me to want to blog (having never blogged before!) thank you. Now I am interested in seeing if I can get staff and pupils to start ‘learning blogs’. ‘This much I know about great learning…’ I’m going to try it thinking about my week this week and try and share it with staff and my Year 11 students. I’m hoping the impact will be that staff and pupils have a better insight into my take on what a ‘great learner’ is. So ‘what if I hadn’t come acoss your blog…?’ well I know I wouldn’t have come up with this idea so thanks again.
    I look forward to seeing what other engaging things you share.

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