Skip to main content

No vision kills creativity and serendipity, not Ofsted or SLT or 'INSERT EXCUSE HERE'



It may be the old man in me, but Jo's post last night triggered some reflections about my time at Priory School. I also found myself nodding along to Stephen's post here about JFDI (Just Frigging Do It).  Please, take the following as a story from experience.  Don't ask me how we got away with it (it had a big part to do with rising results). But, we did a lot of work around our mission.  If you're a leader, at any level, have a go at this:

1. Get yourself off site.  

In the original days we managed to get a day out of school as a team.  I used some of the department budget (don't have much budget - then get money into the dept from grants etc.).  When we weren't allowed to do that, the team took the decision to use one Saturday in the year to talk about where we were going.  Don't get me wrong, I saw it as my responsibility, as Head of Department,  to set the priorities and vision in September, but we needed a discussion.  
There were two aims in the day. The first to revisit our vision (making a video) and the second to develop vital Schemes of Work.

2. Bring objects

I like objects.  And I like notice for meetings (at least a week is needed to think). I asked the others to bring along three objects that represented what we wanted geography to feel, be, sound, taste like.  I believe that you need to start with what type of child do we aim to develop.  The qualifications are the obvious bit, but how can we encourage them to think like a geographer, measure like a scientist, write like an author?  Objects generate far more discussion that a list.  And the discussion is important.  During this we would record the main points. It's important to note that results and progress always figured (I've never understood the obsession with borderlines and attainment at the expense of progress - I hope that Progress 8 will address this).

3. Share

I always liked a video to share the vision.  I used to show it to all classes and reviewed it myself many times to see if we were still on track.  It was important to strip the vision back each year and make it simple. It's important to remember that its about the process and conversation and not the video.

4. Live it

I'm most proud of one achievement in my time as a leader, and it will be difficult to top.  I'd love to replicate it whole school.  At Priory Geography, we operated as a normal day when Ofsted came calling.  Or SLT were on the hunt.  Quality teaching and learning from lesson one of Year 7.  No exceptions.  Of course, we did a little polishing like talking over the plans, but we didn't alter them. Our view was that the planned learning sequence was more important. Of course, there was always room for improvement.

5. Put the excuses in the drawer

I had to fight each year to cover the costs etc. We gained grants and money into the department (one year this topped £22k).  No time or a Saturday? This process saved time and reduced workload, for example using Dropbox for resources, Google Docs for our curriculum documents and a wiki for the department handbook came out of this process also.
My belief is that is you have a strong vision, a bomber mission, then you can sail through the turbulence of curriculum and government changes.  You can subvert or ignore what comes in.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#GAConf22: A paradigm shift for anti-racist, decolonised teaching and inclusion

 " You can't start a fire,  You can't start a fire without a spark" Bruce Springsteen.  Well, it's been a fair while since I felt the motivation or the need to blog. Whilst not a story for now, over the past five years I've danced along the knife edge and, often, the call of the abyss has been both tempting and compelling. Certainly, my failing in both my personal and professional life have been numerous. But. This is not about me, but the people that have (re)ignited the spark to the fire in my soul. I realise that this is from the perspective of a privileged, white, middle class male view. I even have a beard. I am scared of getting it wrong on this topic. Teach me if I am wrong, it is from the position of a learner. I was looking forward to the GA Conference this year, the first face to face since 2019. I have to say that Alan , as president, and the Geographical Association's team did a fantastic job at being inclusive. The hybrid format allowed peopl

What makes a learning experience profound? Personal reflections and possible implications for classroom practice.

I have recently begun a Leadership Pathways journey.  As part of the first core day, we were asked to reflect on a profound learning experience. This got me thinking about how many profound learning experiences I have both been involved in, and how many I have been able to give to others.  Our group came up with a huge long list, but these are my five. Emotional Connected Demanding Reflective Collaborative As always, these are personal thoughts and quite mixed up.  I put them here so that I can look back on them (plus they’d get lost inside my world-cup-free brain) 1. Emotional I can’t think of a time where deep learning hasn’t engaged my emotions.  From being awe inspired to that tingle feeling when a student gets a light bulb moment.  From this-is-the-happiest-day-ever, to I-think-I’m-about-to die.  How often do we engage the emotions of those we teach?  Here, I would argue that having a safe learning environment is not always conducive to profound

The interview adventure: Lesson idea

Closing time Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. This is the first in a short series of posts around my successful appointment as an Assistant Headteacher at Patcham High School .  The job starts in September.  This post shares a lesson idea that would be worth a polish and revisit for any context.  I’m sharing these things here mainly for me to reflect upon and revisit at a later date, but also as others may benefit from the experience. The brief was to create a 25 minute lesson around the word ‘INSPIRE’ which forms the school’s mission statement.  The interpretation was open and I wanted to avoid being explicitly geography  linked.  Now, it’s impossible to develop a fully formed lesson in that time with a class that I haven’t met. It’s also not possible to teach an Outstanding lesson to such a group of young people, not least because I hadn’t marked their books.  With this in mind, I wanted to take a risk and show the type of creative stuff I lik