Monday, 7 April 2014


At the end of yet another term I am struggling to balance the negative, destructive and short sighted approaches and outpourings from the DfE and OFSTED, with the outstanding things I see every week in ordinary schools where ordinary teachers working with ordinary young people, are achieving extraordinary outcomes.

These experiences and the compelling research and evidence about what works, alongside a lifetimes' experience of building brilliant provision where people have told me that things were impossible, have convinced me that if academies, free schools and private schools are the answer to educational excellence we've asked the wrong question! If you read the McKinsey Reports, analyse the PISA data, review the research evidence about 'what works' and listen to people like Ken Robinson, Dan Pink and Tony Wagner it is increasingly obvious that we need to develop skills, character and knowledge in all our little learners and all our bigger learners.

The challenge as always is how we do it. We need to work together to share ideas and strategies and to continue to think team and to build co-operative, collaborative approaches that inspire young people to really understand what they are capable of, to dispel the nonsense about genius and to help them reach their extraordinary potential. It's important that we all understand that colleagues in schools across the country are already releasing the magic and have transformed the learning landscape through the powerful use of collaborative school improvement approaches and through using brilliant programmes like Every Child a Reader, Every Child Counts, Musical Futures and Learning Futures. We all know great schools that have created a culture of excellence built on passion, persistence, self-belief, determined, focused and deliberate practice and hard work. Great schools where this is balanced by a focus on compassion, equity and a belief that every child can achieve and can be successful!

Throughout my working life, people have told me that things are impossible; that we can't get every child to read by the time they are seven or eight; that we can't get every child to be a brilliant little learner by the time they leave primary school and that we can't get every young person the equivalent of 5 good GCSEs including English and maths by the time they are sixteen. I simply don't accept any of this because across the country these things are already happening in authorities, in schools and in classrooms where colleagues are releasing the magic. Success doesn't come in can'ts, it comes in cans.I do believe that every school can be a great school, that every child can be successful and achieve and that we can create great teams doing the extraordinary with the current people. We simply need learning leadership, beautiful systems and intelligent accountability to support us as we change the culture to focus on passion and compassion and get people to believe; to believe in themselves and to believe in our children and young people and our colleagues.

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