I have been arguing for a very 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; every child a reader, every child a counter, every child a communicator and as a result every child and young person achieving to their potential. We have to improve and develop every school and people have consistently proved it is possible… and I have seen it happen in London, in York, in Leeds, in Nottingham, in Sheffield and in Guernsey. We can build brilliant provision through a systematic process of change driven by a relentless and uncompromising belief in our 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 also reaching the hardest to reach and the hardest to teach. 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! I know a lot of people tell me that it is impossible but I really believe that it is possible 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.
So how do we create great schools for every child and every community? We simply need the Government and the DfE to establish the framework within which we can all work and then local structures to hold schools to account and provide appropriate challenge and support. Then schools can be autonomous but accountable and get on to deliver the following, within school partnerships that share, network and learn together from what works...
- a clear and shared vision, values and beliefs;
- strong, disciplined, focused and passionate leadership;
- empowered, talented, trusted and disciplined colleagues;
- energetic, enthusiastic and creative teamwork;
- brilliant teaching supported by strong assessment for learning;
- effective use of homework and project based-learning to extend and enrich learning;
- high engagement and involvement of young people;
- high self-esteem and high expectations of everyone;
- powerful learning at the heart of everything;
- more time and the use of Summer and Easter schools to extend and enrich opportunities for learning;
- peer tutoring alongside early intervention and one to one tuition;
- strong, dynamic and meaningful coaching and mentoring relationships;
- positive engagement and involvement of parents and carers;
- powerful and constructive feedback to learners and teachers;
- powerful, stimulating and interesting learning environments;
- the effective use of technology and on-line learning;
- stimulating, exciting and engaging curriculum pathways that connect to the world of work and further and higher education.