I have been a teacher for 27 years, a Headteacher for 12 years and, at the age of 51, this much I know about my first response to the White Paper.
At the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.
Know your core purpose. The core purpose of your school is crucial to motivating your students and colleagues. I call it a core purpose rather than a mission statement because the latter is a little too corporate for me. Whatever we call it, I have a much better chance of leading a successful school if all members of our educational community know why, on a school day, they get out of bed in the morning. A core purpose unites people; a core purpose sharpens our focus on what really matters; and sometimes a core purpose can help a Headteacher make the most difficult of decisions.
Educational Excellence Everywhere. I get teased dreadfully about my obsession with our school’s core purpose, to inspire confident learners who will thrive in a changing world. But, in the week of the publication of the most alliterative Education White Paper in history, knowing yourself and why you do what you do is all you have to guide you through such turbulent times.
It’s laugh or cry time… I was speaking to North Tyneside Headteachers last week when the technology let me down. I built up this video extract of headteacher Stuart Simmonds and his deputies as they debated their mission statement, only for the clip to freeze irreparably. So, for those colleagues at Slaley Hall last week, and anyone else who knows we cannot take ourselves too seriously right now, here’s a wonderful lesson in school leadership (BTW, I often sit in SLT meetings and have out-of-body experiences when I begin to sound way too like our Stuart…).