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I am just a boy, standing in front of an orchestra and asking for what is just out of reach.




So, I went on a few 'thinkles' to try and sort what I was going to write about for this story.  One in the Beacons with my boy, which included his first mountain, and the other just now. A 13.1 mile run through the South Downs.  I my stumble on this one, but it's been a really rubbish 18 months and I've let many people down.  I won't write about those issues at school, but it's made me realise all sorts of things.  So, I went to my go-to film when I'm feeling down: The American President.  What struck me was this: I'm too busy keeping my job that I'm forgetting to do my job.
Coupled with this, I've had trouble with the womensed thing and this had made me feel uncomfortable.  I remember my mother telling me that if she didn't believe in God she would have killed herself long ago.  She was left in the hospital and then married a man (my father) that physically and emotionally abused her for years.  I wouldn't piss on him if he were on fire. I have four siblings and all five of us have had issues.  One of my sisters gave birth when she was just 15.  The father died when my niece was 4 years old and seeing her stood as the coffin went into the ground is an image that will stay with me forever.  That sister went on to gain a 1st class degree and is acing her chosen career.  My other sister is 14, doesn't go to a mainstream school and battles with both autism and 3X chromosome.  My brothers have has similar journeys.   
I could add other layers about where I grew up. The Manic Street Preachers wrote a song: A Design for Life.  Basically, if you were my generation growing up in the South Wales Valleys, the expectations were low.  Amongst this, all I've ever wanted to do is make a difference.  My mother may not be a public figure, she would consider herself just a carer, but she is the reason I get up every morning and try to make a difference to the lives of young people. When I made some stupid choices and ended up with a criminal record and my dream career in the Royal Air Force cut off from me, she was there to pick up the pieces.  She taught me that it isn't what you are that define you but the choices that we make.  My mother did that for me, the most inspirational leader I've ever met.
I don't put this here for sympathy: there are people who battle with far worse demons.  I put it here (much for the first time) to make a point:  It is my actions that define me.  I just want to make a difference. I believe in public service and the thought of making money for people just isn't me.  I look at the Nolan principles of public life and they ring true: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.  It really isn't about me, it's about breaking the mould. It's about getting over it and making shit happen.
I realise that I've been aiming too low: so how can I change the lives of all children everywhere?  How do I make people understand that it's not about bowing to Ofsted or the Ministry, but developing a strong vision that is focused on the teachers and young people?
I used to aspire to Headship, but now I realise that isn't enough.  I almost got a job the other day that I wasn't qualified for. That coupled with 'fuzzy logic' and a slow-burning but life changing Google Teacher Academy has realised that I can do more than that.  I've been coasting and forgetting to do my job. Something has reawakened in me.  The trouble maker.  The boy who can't and won't understand those that give up.  The boy who knows he has to fight the fights that need fighting instead of those that can be won.
Some one I admire and respect sent me this quote:
'A (person) who wants to lead the orchestra must turn (their) back on the crowd.' Max Lucado.
The orchestra is the school.  The crowd starts with Nicky Morgan.  What is the next thing that will try to kill the orchestra?  What is the next thing that will prevent them from playing?  Whatever it be, I'll be stood in the way.  Because, and here's the thing: when the orchestra is in full swing, two things happen.  The first is that the conductor isn't the focus on the crowd.  The second is that the crowd are inspired.  Schools should be leading the charge, not suits in Whitehall.  I don't want to be a Head for my own ambition - trust me I'm more than happy coasting.  I want to be a Head because my aspirations for teachers and young people exceed what they think is possible.  And I believe that it can be achieved. I'm not a label, I'm a leader.
At the end of the day, we need leaders at all levels from all walks of life and from every ethnic background.  I don't see the person, I see the leader they will become and it's my job to ensure that they are able to do their job.  After all, they are far more proficient leaders than I.  I'm not a hero, I have an unshakable belief in great teaching and great teachers and their ability to change the lives of young people.  School really are the only vehicle to improve social mobility.  Those that think we should focus on rigour and exams need to get on a different bus. My school didn't get me to where I am - they failed me and my siblings.  My mother and the lesson I learned in the Air Cadets got me here and school need to change.  
Any fool can criticise and every fool does.  But who will step forward to actually make the difference?
If you've got this far, I thank you.  I realise that I was wrong.  I don't write for me: I write for the young people and teachers who need me in their corner, taking on all comers so that they can focus on the job in hand.
I'm disappointed in myself.  I crept back into being an underachiever.  I've allowed who I am to define me instead of my actions.
The next thing I'm going to do is apply to become a trustee of the College of Teaching. I haven't got a chance in hell, but (like running 175 miles this month) I'll never know what could happen if I don't. 
Oh, and next time, I'm going on a shorter bloody thinkle!

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