Tuesday, 5 January 2016


Another year, another set of opportunities to make a difference and change the world. Wouldn't it be interesting if you could create great schools simply by changing the name, the governance and the leadership team, but it flies in the face of the evidence and the research.
I have spent the last twenty years working with schools on their development journeys and I have seen ordinary people achieve extraordinary things time and time again. Ordinary people whose passion, determination, persistence and hard work against the odds has achieved the remarkable. Of course, we know that the world is changing and increasing numbers of schools are finding themselves below the new floor targets and in a category... the new negative, tougher and simplistic inspection regime means more notices to improve and more schools in special measures. The role of local authorities has also become increasingly marginalised as 'the champion and advocate for the child and their parents and carers'. And in their place we have so called 'outstanding schools' and 'super headteachers' at the heart of school improvement, system leadership and innovation and change.

Against this strange background of new Academies, free schools, milestones, floor standards and a constant stream of announcements about cuts locally, regionally and nationally, we must remain positive about the things that matter. Wherever I have have worked, ordinary people, passionate about learning and teaching have transformed the learning landscape and achieved outcomes that no one ever believed were possible. After all, we know what it takes too build brilliant...learning leadership, beautiful systems and intelligent accountability... it's all about:
  • shared vision, values and beliefs; 
  • strong, passionate distributed leadership; 
  • a culture of high expectations; 
  • celebration of achievement; 
  • high self-esteem; 
  • inspiring teaching in brilliant learning environments; 
  • assessment for learning and the powerful use of data and information; 
  • a strong outcomes focus to deliver not just academic and technical excellence but happy, healthy, safe and successful young people; 
  • a coaching and mentoring culture; and last but not least 
  • intelligent accountability. 
We all recognize that there is still much more to do to achieve brilliant outcomes consistently across all our provision, but together we can establish strong, dynamic and creative foundations for building learning excellence. We need to continue to create world class learning hubs and centres of learning where we nurture and support innovation and creativity. The key to the future is to create a collaborative and cooperative network of brilliant learning places supported by a learning platform where we can share great ideas and enable colleagues to learn together. We must above all continue to question, to challenge, to dream, to imagine, to experiment, to explore and to discover.

We must also learn to listen... to parents and carers, to communities and to faith groups, to businesses and to our colleagues in further and higher education... but most importantly we must learn to listen to our children and young people. Tom Peters said...
"Leadership is the process of engaging people in building the future,
creating a legacy of excellence and making a difference"
... whatever it takes!

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