It’s time to hone our skills. As educators in a chaotic national climate, we need to bear witness to what is happening today and its impact on our young people. We also need to walk the path of hope and possibilities. This is not easy.
Disconnection, disengagement and disillusionment are in the air. Poverty and insecurity are growing, with significant consequences for the very fabric of society. Yet how we talk and act as educators, will influence how young people see themselves today and view their future place in the world.
At a recent UCL School Belonging Colloquium, Dame Mary Marsh, one-time CEO of the NSPCC saw the contemporary challenge in these terms: ‘the biggest poverty of all is that of hope’. In today’s strange, dark and difficult times schools, wherever they are in the world, need to be places of belonging and hope. (more…)
The guests at the best bug hotels – I learn from my five-year-old granddaughter – can be ladybirds, beetles, even butterflies. While this is not my vision of luxury hotel living, her tutorial reminds me that young people are put in our path to teach us new lessons, and to remind us of what we may have long forgotten.
This blog – the last in a series of five about Belonging – was inspired by a recent visit to a school in Hackney – Cremer Randall Primary. My aim in visiting the school was to gather material for the final instalment of the podcast series, Let’s hear it for School Belonging. This is a story of possibilities told by young people, school leaders and experts from around the world, with insights from Rapper Jamie Pyke.
I have known the headteacher of Cremer, Jo Riley (no relation), for some time. She is one of the 16 headteachers I worked with during the Covid-19 Pandemic. I learned much from her and her peers about the importance of ‘compassion’ which contributed to my thinking in Compassionate Leadership for School Belonging. You can download this book for free – a (more…)
If you want a few moments of unbridled joy, watch Flakefleet Primary School, Fleetwood perform their 2019 audition for ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. Next, dip into Michele Obama’s autobiography Becoming and find out about one of her favourite schools, Elizabeth Garret Anderson (EGA), and why it ‘touched her heart’ (p.320). This exploration will give you some insights into the leadership of Flakefleet and EGA.
Scanning the leadership terrain of late, I have been trying to make sense of what is going on. Two widely different models of school leadership seem to be emerging at opposite ends of the spectrum. One is relational and compassionate and focused on belonging; the other is about command and control, with ‘zero tolerance’ of misdemeanours. Each approach reflects a different view about what motivates people in an organisation. Broadly speaking these are that people want to contribute and be part of an enterprise versus that they are unwilling to deliver and need to be closely supervised.
In the Podcast Zero tolerance or a sense of us we brought together the headteachers of Flakefleet Primary and EGA (Dave McPartlin and Jo Dibb) to talk about their leadership. The conversation is electric. (more…)
There is a curiously British aversion to talking about matters that might upset the neighbours. This feeling lurks at the back of many a staffroom, like some unwelcome spectre at the feast, or an aged parrot on the shoulder, grown weary by the passing of the years. Yet, disturb things we must. If schools are to become places of belonging, then some difficult conversations need to take place. This blog – the third in the ‘Belonging’ Series – is about how.
In 1981, I was teaching in a South London secondary school when the Brixton Riots erupted. In their wake, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher brought in senior judge Lord Scarman to examine the causes. His excoriating report pointed to (more…)
‘I belong when I drift through the wind, peaceful and calm when I belong’ is the opening chorus of a ‘belonging’ song, written and performed by children from an International School. Their belonging experiences include ‘acts of kindness in the playground… friends who keep you above the water… pride in my work … people who are willing to find out something new… being included in things everyday… a sprinkle of joy and acts of trust…’
This blog is the second in a five-part series which tracks the impact of exclusion and the power of belonging. It’s linked to the podcast series, Let’s hear it for school belonging and the UCL Press book, Compassionate Leadership for School Belonging.
In these difficult times, we all need to have a place where we feel we belong. Whether young people experience a sense of school belonging and agency will not only influence (more…)
‘You must shun (this girl) .. avoid her company, exclude her from your sports, shut her out of your converse… (she) is a liar’. So pronounced Mr Brocklehurst, proprietor of Lowood School. His venom was directed against Jane Eyre, the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Bronte’s novel.
Some time ago, I interviewed young people who had been excluded from school. They drew pictures of how they felt. One image has long haunted me. At the center is a small child looking distraught. The caption around the drawing reads:
You’re thick.. You’re stupid.. You don’t belong here.. Get out of my school… (more…)
The pandemic has brought schools’ vital role at the heart of their communities into sharp relief, says visiting professor and former Chief HMI Christine Gilbert in the first of a series of Thinkpieces published by the UCL Centre for Educational Leadership (CEL). The paper will be followed by a public online forum on Tuesday 27 April from 5-6-30pm.
Gilbert’s Thinkpiece – Coming Back Stronger: Leadership Matters – argues that the pandemic provides an excellent opportunity for the education system to build our learning from the crisis into collaborative thinking, planning and action. Schools’ creativity in managing the disruption and complexities of the pandemic provides important lessons. It is now essential for school and other educational leaders to find time for reflection on that learning.
Her Thinkpiece identifies five leadership opportunities for building a (more…)
What does it take to transform practice, culture and outcomes in the schools that need it most? Our evaluation of the Education Endowment Foundation’s Research Schools Network shows that the essential ingredient is committed and strong leadership.
This national network was launched in September 2016, and the research schools (RS) are funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to share what they know about putting research into practice, and lead and support schools in their regions and beyond to make better use of evidence to improve teaching practices.
These schools’ primary purpose is not to conduct academic research in classrooms or schools. Rather, they help schools to access, understand, critique, and apply external evidence in their own contexts through disseminating newsletters, blogs and other materials. They also provide CPD and training in their areas. In essence, RSs are brokers between the EEF’s evidence and school practice.
School accountability: why multi-year measures would be fairer to everyone and how they could be implementedBlog Editor, IOE Digital29 November 2019
School league tables produced every year by the Department for Education currently use a single year of test score data in the headline measure. Based upon how a school’s most recent cohort of Year 11’s performed on their GCSEs, schools get labelled with terms such as “above” and “below” average.
This is not a smart thing to do. It would be much better to use the average performance of a school across multiple years instead.
This blog recaps the reasons why – and then suggests how this could be done.(more…)