Thursday, 22 October 2009

I started the day early at Allerton Grange High School with a small group of headteachers who chair the Families of Schools meetings...

I wanted to talk to colleagues about the issues, the opportunities and the challenges facing us over the next couple of years around budget, 21st Century Schools, Children's Services, OFSTED and the elections. And our need to focus on building brilliant universal provision while dealing with increasing primary numbers, primary and secondary standards, the National Challenge schools, attendance, behaviour and special educational needs. I wanted to stress the importance of people, partnerships and relationships as we work to take advantage of the opportunities this huge agenda and the rapidly changing landscape will bring.

The Family of Schools chairs are an amazing group of colleagues doing brilliant work with children and families against a background of worklessness, poverty, disadvantage and ill-health in our increasingly highly mobile and complex communities... always remember that 25% of our children live in the 10% worst and most deprived bits of the country. We talked about the characteristics of brilliant provision and how schools could maintain their focus on standards with so many intiatives, so many pots of money to chase, so many consultants and experts, OFSTED and DCSF expecting so much more and so much constant change. We agreed that the key is to maintain a focus on quality and to nurture passion, enthusiasm, determination, persistence and patience while being able to phone a friend when help was needed. We talked about the importance of developing confident, self-critical and reflective practitioners who understood the learning process and working positively with colleagues from Social Care, Health and the voluntary sector to support families and build healthier and more sustainable communities.

We talked about the many challenges we all face but what was deeply encouraging was that, alongside their passionate commitment to their children, there was a total focus on ensuring that their children were exposed to rigorous, pacey and brilliant teaching to ensure that as far as possible they all became literate, numerate and had the necessary social and emotional skills to succeed. It was a brilliant start to the day with some great colleagues and we need to do more of this; to talk more, to share more, to network more and to celebrate more.

We talked about the challenges that lie ahead and the need to be more creative and more collaborative and to stop the merry go round of meetings, bureaucracy and things that made no difference to children and families and focus on those we know do.

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