Tuesday, 25 March 2014


I have been arguing for a long time that we must create great schools at the heart of every community so that everyone can have what people have told me is simply a dream; great outcomes for every child and young person...

But not, as those who are passionate about Academies or Free Schools would have us believe, through takeovers and the slow demise of unpopular and unloved schools. We have to improve and develop every school and all over the country there are examples that prove it is possible. You can build brilliant provision through a systematic process of change driven by a relentless and uncompromising belief in people; the teams in our schools, the parents and carers they serve and the young people who lie at the end of the golden threads that connect to everything we do. This agenda isn't simply about reaching the so called 'gifted and talented' or the 'academic' but understanding that every child can learn and succeed. This agenda is about educational excellence and if we get it right we will achieve our dream; a great school at the heart of every community!

Headteachers and governors already understand that no-one will be offering increased public expenditure over the next decade and that the era of plenty is over. We need to understand that the key to achieving this is building a culture of excellence alongside a strategic plan that builds on and draws from what we've learned over the last ten years and that can be financed within the shrinking schools budget. We must also stop grumbling about things, recognise how fortunate we are and get on with it!. We should welcome the removal of the bureaucracy we've all struggled with, welcome and positively engage with the reviews of so many aspects of provision and practice, welcome the increased challenge and competition we face on a fair and equitable basis, network, share and learn from the very best practice we can find wherever it is, ensure that we harness new technologies and join cooperative and collaborative networks so that every school's resources can be focused and targeted on the journey ahead. 

And nothing is impossible here! Many people I know share this compelling vision of a great school where every young person is a reader, writer and counter by eight, a brilliant little learner by eleven and becomes an independent learner following their own personalised learning programme through secondary education and on into college, university, the world of work and adult life. To drive this challenging and ambituous agenda we must develop learning leadership, assessment for learning, learning to learn strategies and the powerful use of new technologies alongside a relevant, rewarding and engaging curriculum offer underpinned by new models of intelligent accountability and supported by a strong commitment to workforce development, effective advice and guidance, mentoring and coaching. This must crucially be connected to and listening to the voices of young people and their parents and carers. Surely this isn't much to ask... so let's get on with it!

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