Thursday, 10 April 2014


I met a group of colleagues working in the care sector yesterday and their energy, enthusiasm and passion made me remember that, whatever you do you and wherever you work you should do it because you are passionate about it. Why else would anyone waste their time? Life should be a passionate enterprise built on relationships and the interaction between human beings.

I am passionate about learning and throughout my career I have come to realise that we can't make anyone learn; learners have to own, and to be active in, their own learning. I also know from my own learning that unless we come to understand our strengths and weaknesses, and how we might deal with them, we will never make progress. The things that stop us learning are not cognitive. It's not that people can't learn; it's that people don't want to learn what we are trying to teach them. If we invested a fraction of the energy and resources we spend on transmitting information in developing instead a love of learning, a passion for learning in people we would achieve much better results. We also struggle because OFSTED and our accountability systems are not built on systems of intelligent accountability. They fail to engage and involve learners, teachers and head teachers and as a result we risk undermining their motivation, ownership and sense of responsibility. Trust lies at the heart of any successful organisation and the chances that we will be successful in driving up standards and improving outcomes are much greater if we trust each other. Our systems and mechanisms must foster and nurture trust, autonomy and accountability: between teachers and students, between teachers and headteachers, between educators and authorities, between educators and politicians, and between educators, parents and the wider community. We also need to develop learning leadership throughout the system starting from the premise that everyone is a learner, including students, teachers, headteachers, the school as a community, the wider educational system and the community the school serves. Learning leadership involves maintaining a focus on learning as the key activity a school is engaged in; where everyone is a learner, while recognising that learning is highly sensitive to context and that people learn in very different ways. Learning leadership also recognises that everyone can be a leader and that opportunities to exercise leadership enhance learning and that we can develop leadership abilities from any powerful learning experience. Learning leadership must be supported by intelligent accountability which preserves and enhances trust among the participants in any accountability process. It also involves participants in the process, offering them a strong sense of responsibility and initiative; promoting deep, high quality learning in whatever is to be assessed: the sort of learning that has a long-term impact on standards and outcomes. Importantly, intelligent accountability also provides effective feedback and promotes insight into performance and supports good decision making about what should be celebrated and what should be changed. We must constantly and consistently celebrate good performance and challenge poor performance providing support on what needs to be improved and how to go about it. We must also build beautiful systems, processes and procedures to support our culture and our work. Systems, processes and procedures that reinforce and support the way we do things around here and naturally fit and complement the vision, values, beliefs and behaviours we are developing and fostering. Systems, processes and procedures that link all our work through golden threads to a child, a family, a school and a community.

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