I have been a teacher for 30 years, a Headteacher for 15 years and, at the age of 54, this much I know about how our school’s values underpin how we all behave.
It is hard to find a colleague head teacher who does not think that student behaviour in schools has become more challenging. Indeed, it seemed the only topic up for debate at the recent series of teacher association conferences.
The trouble is, what has become acceptable outside the school walls is, I feel, making it harder for head teachers to hold onto what is acceptable inside their schools.
Recently I spoke in an assembly about how what is acceptable in society is often in direct conflict with what is acceptable in our school. Instead of illustrating my point with examples from British society (and recently there have been many), I used the comparison of Donald Trump and Barack Obama. In one video Trump mocks a disabled reporter. In the other Obama explains to Bear Grylls the simple advice he gives to his daughters about how to live their lives: “Be useful and be kind”.
I then talked about this recent gift from my wife Louise: an Anthony Burrill print which is displayed proudly on my office wall.
I finished by telling the assembled students that we will keep Trumpisms outside the school walls.
As Seamus Heaney once said, “we are hunters and gatherers of values”. Instead of Trumpist behaviour, I shared example after example of Respectful, Honest and Kind behaviours I was sent by my colleagues the week before. I wanted to illustrate precisely what we expect to see at all times at Huntington, in every interaction we have we each other.
What happens inside our school walls will always be based on our core values of Respect, Honesty and Kindness. This principle underpins the behaviours of every single one of us in our school: student; teacher; parent; governor. It is our non-negotiable.