I thought it might be appropriate to update you about our academy life. We have now been part of DGAT (The Diocese of Gloucester Academy Trust) for 1½ years and the most discernible and valuable impact is still on the teaching and this comes from all the new opportunities staff, from across the Trust, have to work with each other. We’ve never been a school to shy away from change and learning but the Trust has brought a new and quite relentless dynamic to this learning. Whether it be joint INSETS, in depth reviews of each other’s practice or action research, we are being carried along at quite a pace and, in my humble professional opinion, in a positive direction. The word ‘outstanding’ gets talked about far too much in education (to the point where I begin to feel quite bored). For me a school should aim to be outstanding in one critical aspect- in its belief that it’s not there yet (there’s that growth mindset word again- it clearly got under my skin!). Other words that come to mind are: humility, determination, an open mind- but not readily the label, ‘outstanding.’ Now I’m not trying to hedge my bets here with an Ofsted probably due, but as I age, I find myself wanting to look beyond some of the educational claptrap that hangs like a fog between us and the big blue sky. I want us defining what we want for our children: I don’t want us sitting around like cowed automatons hankering after Ofsted approval. Too often the preoccupation with Ofsted (and I assure you schools are preoccupied by this) feels like adult pride and fear for themselves and their careers. Our preoccupation and the heart of every decision we make ought to be the children and what is best for them.
On a lighter note I was amused the other day when I asked our children what they thought defined Britishness. This is, of course, in the context, of the national agenda to promote British Values to our pupils—which are summed up by the powers that be as:- democracy; individual liberty, the rule of law, mutual respect and tolerance. We try to get these across to the children in an appropriate way and get them to understand some of the history behind them as well as how they apply to them in their everyday lives. When I asked the children about Britishness, they came up with:- independent, tea-drinking, well-schooled, creative and with a good sense of humour- not bad for a first try.