A year of some frustration, of celebration, and of moving on to new things. Pretty much like most other teachers then.
The best moments of 2014 include the following:
1. Seeing the first year group successfully develop through the year seven curriculum that I had instigated. The congratulations must go to the team of dedicated staff who have worked incredibly hard over the past two years to bring to life the principles we established when our key stage three was first discussed. We had seen students coming to our key stage four lacking the skills and understanding that we wanted to have in place to ensure success and aspiration. We planned and put in place something that suited our need. I was lucky to have a group of people who wanted to be part of planning an alternative approach. Watching the students develop through the first year of the project and embark with confidence on the second year, and seeing their excitement about learning compared to the students who joined us from their traditional route in years nine and ten have left me in no doubt that we have done well for our students.
2. Teaching Latin. As part of the approach embraced by our key stage three team, I took the opportunity to take more risks in my own classroom and set challenges for my students throughout each project. Not only did students demonstrate that extended writing and confident use of technical terminology was an expectation by all students at all times, they also embraced new challenges. The work we undertook arising from our class text of “Aquila” led to conjugation of Latin verbs, exploration of the evolution of language and whole class teaching of new vocabulary. I loved it, the students loved it and it lasted.
3. Moving to my first headship. Whilst sad to leave the developments at my previous school, I had felt for quite some time that I needed to establish myself in a role where I could be confident that leadership decisions were ones about which I could feel wholly committed. I believe it is essential to build a consultative and open approach to school development and am keen to develop this further. Involvement of all staff in moving a school on? Absolutely. Expensive management consultants? No thank you.
4. Moments of collective support. It is clear that the staff at my new school have faced a challenge over the past couple of years. To see support from each other to each other developing over the last half term is testament to their willingness to move things forward and also I hope something to which I have been able to contribute. I do not want to be in a school where SLT are not trusted. It is an area into which I have put a lot of effort and I am committed to it continuing.
Wishes for 2015:
1. The end of the free school programme. Poisonous and underhand. Opaque and partial. This strategy has led to local instabilities, but more significantly, a national blurring of educational priorities where structures and organisation are seen as more important than good teaching. A desperate situation now exists for education and we need to re-establish a grip.
2. A thorough review of the effectiveness of examination boards. The perception that teachers were the root of the problem in “gaming the system” led to a shift of focus away from the alarming inaccuracies and incompetence of examining boards. I have never had such little faith that any of my students will have accurate results. Having also seen specific students’ examination papers from last summer, I can not see how the poor organisation and lack of effective checking can continue to be tolerated.
3. Developing the professional respect towards teachers. Teachers taking control of their classrooms. Teachers allowed to teach and develop without the creative manacles of unimaginative monitoring and checking approaches.
4. Clarity soon about the GCSE and A level regime. I have got a school full of children who will embark upon them. They do not deserve to be let down by poor implementation.
5. Proper accountability for MATs and academies. It’s chaos out (t)here and too many leaders have taken the golden shilling rather than stand up for their students and staff. Reading the EFA on the Cambridgeshire school made me want to weep.