Tuesday, 8 January 2013

William Booth Primary School

In Nottingham again this afternoon talking to HMI at William Booth Primary School about the schools' journey out of Special Measures. Our friends from OFSTED are carrying out a best practice review of local authorities support for schools presumably to look at what is needed to fill the increasingly barren middle tier. 
Funny though, reviewing the journey this great little primary school has been on, you realise that school improvement is not rocket science and the strategies needed to take a school from inadequate to good to outstanding are really simple. The McKinsey report was right about the scaffolding schools need at different stages on the journey and also on the critical importance of passionate, sustained and committed leadership at all levels throughout the school. However it is obvious when you visit schools that a positive, creative, imaginative culture is at the heart of every great school and that we need to create a culture of excellence and link it to a determination to constantly learn and improve. We also need to create 'beautiful' systems that reinforce and underpin the culture and are connected to a persistent and unshakeable belief in what can be achieved through hard work. These systems must be based on trust, respect and intelligent accountability that is deeply rooted in research and evidence about what works. 

So there you have it: the keys to success lie in brilliant leadership, beautiful systems and intelligent accountability! Simple really. I don't understand why everyone isn't doing it!

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that you are, at least implicitly, differentiating between the people and the process skills needed for success - one might re-label them as management and leadership.
    I think that we need inspirational leaders who know and can articulate the challenges in a way that engages staff, leaders who are brave enough to take the tough decisions (the children cannot wait, nor should they have to, years to bring a substandard teacher up to outstanding), leaders who KNOW how their school works and will stand up for what they know to be right and appropriate, leaders who challenge themselves and their staff and their pupils and their supporters to do better, leaders who know that people not systems deliver great learning outcomes.
    We ALSO need managers (and I am making a deliberately crude distinction) working alongside those leaders, who know how to collect analyse and use data about the school, who ensure that Policies and Procedures serve the pupils rather than just being box-ticking, who can create structures that ENable great outcomes, whose brain perpetually carries the question "How is what I am doing helping our pupils become better learners?" and who are brave enough to stop or change what they are doing if they can't find the answer to that question.

    Thanks Chris, a very timely piece.


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