A typically time-pressed Secondary school teacher, Rob spends most evenings planning lessons, marking work, grappling with new specifications, deciphering mark schemes and pondering issues of behaviour management. In his third year of teaching English, he enjoys his work, but increasingly feels there’s just not enough hours in the day. Oh, and he’s just learnt he’ll be picking up a GCSE Drama class in September…
With a history as long as ours, it won’t come as a surprise that we’ve learnt a thing or two about teaching boys along the way. The past 175 years has taught us much about understanding boys and how to motivate them to perform to the best of their ability. We greatly value our heritage and traditions, and our school motto - ‘Supera Moras’, or ‘Never Give Up’ - still inspires our way of thinking.
We live in age where there is unprecedented pressure on schools and school leaders. The pressure of a challenging and ever-changing Ofsted framework, budgets which are paper-thin, progress measures which force us to compare our pupils with other children nationally, and some of the most academically-stretching testing expectations ever. It’s enough to make the most experienced of school leaders crumble. Set against this context, it is easy to see why many school leaders are turning to formulaic and rigid schemes of work, as well as practises that promise to drive up pupil outcomes and produce the goods in terms of pupil attainment.
When there's a push to disrupt the status quo, those that feel most comfortable within it become defensive; questioning the change and downplaying it, or perhaps even claiming there is no problem. They may go one step further and warn of dire consequences, claiming the privileged will become the disenfranchised, which they’ll argue is no better than the current system. People are resistant to change, especially if they benefit from the current norm.
Education is ripe for disruptive change, leading to innovative practices that improve learning outcomes for our students. What might have worked in the past will not necessarily have the same impact today, as the world has changed dramatically in a short period of time. It’s safe to say that the seismic shifts we are witnessing as a result of technological advances will continue to reshape our world in ways that we could never have imagined. Disruption has become commonplace in the new world, and organisations have moved from adaptation to evolution in order to not only survive, but more importantly, thrive.
I’ve always seen teaching as fun, inspirational and aspirational. Don’t get me wrong, there have been doubts and difficulties at times in my career, but even on the tough days I can honestly say that I’ve never had a dull moment. The level of creativity needed in teaching and leading a school community is driven by an insatiable passion for the people you serve. You want the best for them, and this absolute belief has stayed with me throughout my career.
Being a school leader can be stressful - this is probably stating the obvious, especially given the time of year. In the Innovate My School Guide 2017/18, four authors from different backgrounds discuss various aspects of school leadership. Here are their thoughts on wellbeing.