Ends and starts

Tomorrow is the start of my final term as a “principal” before I start as a “headteacher” in September. Priority no doubt will have to be a potential change of name. Having been a straight forward @schoolvp and then @al_ackof, I’ll perhaps have to look for something new.

I am returning to the mainstream world of key stages three, four and five and the associated stresses that come with them. Having managed the curriculum for a large key stage four and five provider and introducing a key stage three curriculum as a vice principal, I have spent the last three years developing a key stage three curriculum in my school that really prepares students for the next stage of their education. I do not believe in “3 year GCSEs,” nor the nonsensity of using GCSE grades in key stage three to attempt to demonstrate progress. Instead, we have developed a curriculum that prioritises the importance of having a wide body of knowledge and skills that means that students can leave us confident and as I say to our students in assembly, “ready to fly.”

There are elements of my work that I will sorely miss. As the final “community” school in the authority, we have kept a commitment to the idea that education is not limited to the school years. We have a nursery that has become more and more successful, with numbers attending increasing, and our leisure centre is open from 6 until 10. We welcome community classes into the college throughout the day and it is a shame that so many other schools have lost these aspects of provision that are so important in having the school as the centre of the community.

I was pleased with the outcome of the OFSTED report that arrived in January. Having spent the Christmas break waiting and waiting for it and then getting a helpful answer via @HarfordSean I felt it was an honest and accurate reflection of the work we have put in over the last three years.

We have no data to compare to national outcomes and so we have built a process where the focus has been upon the work that students create, the dialogue that teachers have with each other and the moderation we have with other schools. I have wondered about how often OFSTED inspectors have made their judgement about a school before they arrive, basing it upon the data. For us, as one of the few remaining key stage three schools, the inspection team had nothing and I went further to say that our tracking system was only good in asking questions, not providing answers. It worked. It is so important that schools have the confidence to assert the strength of their beliefs and do not fall into a desperate urge to try to convince through dodgy data.

We have found ourselves in a good position to make the next move and it will be an adventure for everyone involved in the school. We have built and developed the governing body and welcomed new governors on board  – I found one of my conversations about OFSTED and MOTs being retweeted and liked across the edutweeting world so clearly there are fellow travellers out there!

I have been able to listen to the words of Tom Sherrington, Michael Rosen, left the Chartered College, had minor spats with oldandrewuk, asked questions of our regional schools commissioner and am still awaiting answers from our national schools commissioner! Twitter has continued to be source of inspiration and frustration, but still useful.

Looking forward to tomorrow and the final pages of this chapter.

 

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