I enjoyed three days in other schools this week, firstly in my role as governor and then representing ISI as a compliance team inspector. In both these roles I’m always learning and sharing in the best ideas grown in other settings. This week was no exception. I’m grateful for the opportunities to play a part in the process of setting high standards in other schools and enjoy the chance to “get under the skin” of a school, particularly when it turns out to be very different and rather lovely as happened this week.
Absence from one’s own school gives the team a chance to step up and run the show and I am blessed with a good team whom I thank for their extra work this week.
Time away also affords the time for reflection and I have been giving a lot of thought to the changes of the last few weeks in the landscape in which we operate.
Living and working in this part of England has changed and as a school leader, now more than ever, I have a responsibility to help our pupils, parents and staff to be certain about our own direction of travel whilst around us things get more uncertain or seem perhaps diminished by the election upheavals.
So what is the direction we take? Firstly, our focus is on excellence both inside and outside of the classroom, on every child achieving what is excellent for them, having time to reflect and to feel proud and to have the resilience to learn from mistakes. Secondly we do everything we can to strengthen our community at St Michael’s and our place within the community around us and as citizens of the world.
Politically of course, our staff room has a huge variety of views, just as our parent body does. My own sense is that the rhetoric that we have heard from some politicians over the last six weeks has not modelled sophisticated and respectful discourse. Eloquence, honesty, integrity, determination, vision: these are the qualities our pupils will need for professional success.
So to question, analyse, develop points with evidence, research, present accurate facts are all skills which we engender in our pupils and on which will continue to place strong emphasis.
Of course there has been much debate nationally this week, not only about politics and policies but about those who seek to disrupt democracy and everyday life through violence.
As a staff we have debated what the proper response should be to the increased terrorist activity in different parts of the UK. No one, not even our “new” prime minister, can guarantee that people in the UK can be totally safe. We have on our curriculum for the older students the study of how radicalisation takes place. The new reality of being a UK citizen is that there are a very small number of people who are filled with hate, which they say is justified by their religion.
The indiscriminate violence is baffling and bewildering. We recognise that for some children it causes anxiety that is real and will need support.
We teach children to respect and show kindness, to understand how persuasion works and how to keep themselves safe without eliminating all chances of risk.
We all know that terrorism is wrong, that hate eats people up, that caring and sharing is powerful and that our mission must be to keep a strong, core, moral framework at the heart of the experience of being a child.
We have a duty to keep everything as normal as possible even if there is more change and more risk to deal with and emerging from our thinking and planning and talking is a sense that alongside academic excellence, the emotional wellbeing of our whole community will become a strong strand in our development plan for next year and we will look outwards to those who have already developed this focus to train us and work with us on this.
As you head towards your weekend together can I commend to you the performances of “Guys and Dolls” being put on the 20th June
It will be absolutely amazing. Don’t miss it. Go online and get your tickets. Take your friends, take your neighbours and show them what excellent talent we nurture and showcase at St Michael’s.
And while we’re on the subject of amazing I would like to congratulate the huge number of children who have won scholarships to their senior schools or into Y7 at St. Michael’s.
I am so proud of the pupils and staff at this wonderful school.