A little late to the party on this one but having read a few tweets this week that really rankled me I thought I’d put a few thoughts into words.
When you take up a position of leadership you need to accept a few facts- one of the most important is this. Those that you claim to lead will judge you. In fact even someone with the flimsiest link to education or your school will feel that they have some divine right to judge you. It does not matter what your privilege, right or destiny. They will judge you in the pub, the street, the classroom, the chamber, on social media and at the supermarket checkout. Learning to live with this daily weight has become a big part of how to handle school leadership. Head teachers need to accept judgement very early in their career. What concerns me is how volatile the landscape has become; how quick some are to attack, criticise and condemn certain schools. Sometimes there are real issues worth debating and knowing about but increasingly I just see and hear vitriol with little evidence or foundation. This is not a prog or trad thing… This goes across the education sector.
This is why I have developed a respect for @Miss_Snuffy. As a head teacher you need to have clear vision for what you believe in and you have to live by it, through thick and through thin. This is easy when the sun shines and all is going well. It is a whole other level when under constant attack and scrutiny especially when you are passionate and outspoken about your leadership and vision (And why wouldn’t you be?). There is much I do not believe I agree with regarding Michaela but this much I do know. I haven’t visited – so my judgements are just uneducated opinions. I wish others would bare this in mind before they make sweeping statements. There is a real sense of pride in the school from staff and therefore I imagine pupils. Having pride in your school community is one of the greatest assets a school can have. It builds confidence and aspiration- it is addictive. Building a sense of pride or privilege through education is the right of every community. The attacks on Michaela are now very tired and embarrassing. In fact some are very concerning in their ignorance and arrogance. As it is so often in School Shaming scenarios they are made with little evidence by people who have never had to run a school or even teach a class. The school has established its place and therefore we can only learn from it. I am now at the stage where I know what I think works but open enough to have that challenged so I can openly reflect. I am still not convinced that education alone is enough to ensure a child’s equity of choices in later life but there’s little except money that can be a better determination… and education is free. Therefore, I really like the motto: Private school ethos – no fees. This seems to get up the noses of so many but until all private schools are abolished I’d say there is much merit in this because it challenges the privilege of money through the determination of purpose. Should this not be the pursuit of every school? I think you can do this in a variety of ways but rather than attack schools for trying to achieve it I feel it is time to embrace the variety in our system and learn from it through curiosity rather than resentment.
I genuinely believe that if all sides in the great education debate focussed on the outcomes of the variety of systems we run and openly looked at what this meant in the long term then we would move our education systems forward.
The problem is politics are too wrapped up in the process with ministers proclaiming certain successes and preferences. If only head teachers could come together under the banner of pedagogy – or school leadership – of all types and celebrate our differences and look at the evidence of our practice on the ‘day to day’ level rather than have to listen to people with no experience or skill in running a school tell us what we need to do. I have 16 years’ experience in running primary schools. I am fortunate enough to say all have been deeply challenging, terrifying at times, with many successes as well as low points that hurt to recall. It is through sharing these aspects within our school system that I believe we will create a better education system in this country – rather than a divided one.