Here is an assignment for my Emerging Senior Leaders course at the Cabot Learning Federation.
Every pupil should wake up in the morning and want to go to school. Once at school, they should know how to respect themselves and the people they share their school with (peers and staff) and know why it is important to do so. As a result, they focus in class and are motivated to accelerate their learning. The learning experience for pupils should be partly curriculum based and partly skills based, tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual pupil.
Pupils should be proud of their school and want to express that pride through engaging in enriching extra curricular activities such as sport, drama and music. Pupils may choose to contribute to the success of the school by volunteering through a structure that provides student leadership positions such as peer mentors and house captains. In turn, these pupils provide the positive role models for the younger pupils to aspire to, and kick starting the process of contributing to an outstanding school.
At the end of their secondary education journey, pupils should have the skills, knowledge, experience and confidence to prepare them for their chosen pathway into adulthood, whether that be higher education, work based training or in full employment. Outstanding education means this outcome is achieved for every pupil. I intend to outline some fundamental principles that are required to create a positive learning environment in which pupils can be inspired to achieve and flourish.
The partnership between the school, parents and the wider community is essential in creating an environment that breeds success. I believe that an outstanding school should seek to become an active part of the community. It can do this by facilitating the use of its sports facilities, library and other amenities to those that live in the community. In the evenings, it can be used to provide adult education classes, thus improving the life chances and raising the aspirations of all of those in the community and not just the young. Regular events should be held to develop and nurture community cohesion.
Parental involvement has a significant impact upon pupil attitudes to learning, pupil achievement and standards. Communication in all directions needs to be clear, concise and easily accessible. This will help prevent misconceptions occurring and allows problems to be addressed and resolved quickly and efficiently. The use of social media (such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging) could be used to great effect to help engage parents with the school and their child’s education.
High quality teaching and learning is an essential factor in developing the motivated and happy learners being described at the start of this article. Lessons need to be engaging and challenging for all of its pupils. Middle leaders should be encouraging their staff to be innovative in their planning, challenging them to improve the format of their lessons every time they repeat a unit of work. An effective assessment for learning policy needs to be combined with pupil tracking systems that are thorough and individual to each and every learner, with intervention strategies ready to be implemented when a need is identified.
Behaviour management in class should focus on positive behaviours and rewarding those appropriately. The relationship between staff and pupils needs to be positive, which relies heavily on the emotional intelligence of the staff and the developing social and emotional skills of the pupils. All members of the school community should treat each other with the highest regard and the pupils should be given the support to develop these essential life skills.
The choice of curriculum should be relevant to the cohort of pupils that the school has. It needs to offer a range of choice to allow pupils an opportunity to lead them in a direction that suits their strengths, interests and skills. Every qualification, whether it be academic focused or vocational, should be of high quality, ensuring that the desired outcomes are achieved. In addition to broad and varied curriculum content, schools should make time available to develop the skills required for pupils to be able to learn. Such ‘learning to learn’ programmes aim to equip pupils with the confidence, competence and emotional resources they need to be successful in a world that doesn’t exist yet. The use of emerging technologies needs to be embraced by all staff members and where possible and appropriate, embedded into the curriculum for the pupils to engage with.
The challenge for all schools isn’t just to provide the highest quality of education possible for its pupils, but to do it with an ever increasing restriction on financial budgets. Efficiency needs to be improved, while at the same time continuing to improve school standards and raising levels of achievement. I feel that this can only be achieved by collaborating with other schools. Leaders in education need to have support from experienced leaders from the financial sector, to ensure budgets are set appropriately, adhered to and maximise the potential for learning.
Steve Munby, Chief executive of the National College of School Leadership identified that the quality of school leadership is second only to teaching and learning in terms of the influence it has on young people’s progress. To ensure that every pupil in education gets the very best experience possible, there is a need to develop the very best leaders and share their knowledge and experience across the system.
The developing network of teaching schools across the country will see many benefits to the education system, which will ensure that the highest possible standards can be achieved more consistently. I believe they will accelerate the quality of leadership across a wide a range of institutions, allowing more schools and academies to develop their capacity in a more time and cost efficient manner. A 2010 Ofsted report on national support schools showed how national leaders of education and national support schools actually develop leaders as they support other schools, thus reinforcing the cycle of improving the quality of leaders and teachers in education, in striving to achieve outstanding education in the 21st Century.