BLOG PAGE: A View from the Bridge
By Mr. Clayton
By Mr. Clayton
As I have been explaining over the last few months, schools are in a state of flux and we must do all we can to keep answering the question, ‘What can we do to improve?’ We must embrace continuous school improvement as a concept. It has been estimated that even for the most innovative schools there is a 5 year time lag in terms of reacting to key structural changes in society. What is essential is that we provide for the students the best education possible, but we must agree on what that education looks like. We need to build on lasting and firm foundations. We need to ensure that our foundations are rooted in tried and tested practice and also solid educational research. We need to blend what has always worked with a passion for innovation and excellence. There is lots of research and evidence out there. Hargreaves and Fullan say this, ‘What is needed is a profession that constantly and collectively builds its knowledge base and corresponding expertise, where practices and their impact are transparently tested, developed, circulated and adapted. There needs to be a continuous amalgamation of precision and innovation, as well as, inquiry, improvisation and experimentation.’ (2012). However it is important to stress that there is no one book or blog or theory that trumps all others. There is no magic bullet for school improvement. Instead, it is a major part of my role to help to filter and synthesise the best of what is out there. There are many great thinkers and writers on education at the moment who are redefining our view of education, people like, Carol Dweck, John Hattie, Daniel Pink, Dylan Wiliam, Ron Berger, Daniel Willingham, Martin Robinson, Ian Gilbert, John Medina and others. It is interesting to note that a lot of what they say marries up. The ideas and theories have a convergence that really hasn’t happened in educational thinking for a long time. We have tried to use ideas and concepts that are prevalent in best international practice to frame the way we move forwards.
In a study from 2007, Price waterhouse Coopers said this about school leadership, ‘The evidence suggests that many school leaders are too involved in operational and delivery matters and this has been, to some extent, at the expense of embracing their more strategic imperatives…But these ties to the operational space also seem to be related, based on our interpretation of the evidence, to a mind-set amongst some school leaders, which is often more comfortable with an operational than a strategic role.’ It is this mind-set that I wish to change.
As I have said we are constantly trying to improve our practice and this of course implies movement, change and transformation, ‘If you always do what you have always done then you will always get what you always got.’(Bill Clinton, Mark Twain) The transformations we make need to be planned, accounted for, sustainable and robust. ‘Adding wings to caterpillars does not create butterflies-it creates awkward and dysfunctional caterpillars. Butterflies are created through transformation.’ (Marshall, 1995) In order to achieve this transformation we need to have a shared sense of a ‘preferred future’ or a vision. This needs to be known, shared, understood and acted upon. We are building our sense of purpose around 4 key objectives, 1) strengthening teaching and learning, 2) offering teacher development and support, 3) strengthening student support and 4) building sustainable structural foundations. ‘The more leaders focus their influence, their learning, and their relationships with teachers on the core business of teaching and learning, the greater their likely influence on student outcomes.’ (Robinson 2011) We are all working together to make this happen and I want to thank everybody for helping to realise this, the teachers, the parents and the students. I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. See you all for more fun and games in 2016