We are coming to the end of a very busy but successful Autumn term and I would like to thank you all for your ongoing dedication and commitment to Harrow Way. In my view high quality middle leadership is about more than managing a subject or an aspect of school life. Middle leaders are enthusiasts for their subject, great managers and administrators but to be truly effective you must embrace the more challenging characteristics of leadership, which are to do with vision, strategy and a drive towards further improvement.
Donna Robinson Curriculum Leader for Computing/ICT will be joining our middle leadership team in January. Nicola Pearce will be her line manager and Nicola Gregson will be her buddy. I am sure you will make her welcome. She will be based in L3. With Katie’s promotion to Deputy Head, Nicola Pearce will be taking on the Inclusion Behaviour and Welfare strategic brief for the next two terms. Kiril and Rachel will be joining SLT as associate senior leaders and will be taking on aspects on Nicola’s work. Nicola Pearce will also taking on the overview of Year 9 with Nic Reed. Mark Warren will have the overview of Year 7/8 Monday – Wednesday and Jay Mann will have this on Thursday and Friday.
We have been approached by the LA to see if we can offer support in Geography to other schools in Hampshire while the LA Geography advisor is on maternity leave. We have over 140 Year 11’s studying Geography which is considerably above the National and Local authority averages. I am pleased to see the excellent leadership by Rebecca (Lead Practitioner, Humanities) and Kelly (Curriculum Leader) has been recognised beyond Harrow Way. As a school we already hold the Secondary Geography Quality Mark and this year we will be applying to be a Centre of Excellence.
You should know me well enough by now that I strongly believe in an integrated coherent approach to our improvement agenda. In other words, all the key parts to our job should ‘talk to each other’: our School Improvement Plan should be reflected in our Departmental Improvement Plans, which in turn should be a response to our Self Evaluation Form. I would ask that you do reflect on the documents below. Whole school summary SEF, Autumn whole school scorecard and the autumn term teaching and learning report.
Having looked at the department scorecard recently I was drawn to the section on display. During my walk around school I have been very disappointed by the lack of consistency. I would certainly have graded some departments as inadequate for this area. Can I ask you look at all classrooms in your department areas and action any changes by the end of the second week back in January?
Baroness Sue Campbell – Leadership
At the start of term I was fortunate enough to attend the National School Improvement Conference. It was a great day with some inspirational speakers – many of whom I got some great ideas from. The highlight though was listening to Baroness Sue Campbell. Sue was made Chief Executive of Youth Sport Trust in 1995 and has been Chair of UK Sport since 2003.
She started her talk with the Olympic medals table which illustrates the amazing legacy that this remarkable leader will leave. Sue said that whilst financial investment into UK Sport had undoubtedly played a role, more important was culture. In Sue’s words ‘Culture is about people and a belief’. However, she also pointed out that you can’t just impose this belief on people, you need to learn about the people you are working with and take them with you. This is what the best leaders do.
The best leaders create an environment of success that allows people to succeed. They do this by having a strong awareness of their own purpose:
“If you abandon your moral purpose, you don’t really have a purpose”
Sue talked about where she found her inspiration for success and leadership. She looked around a number of sports and successful people and got snippets from all of them, however, it was only when she really explored Formula 1 that it all became clear. This showed Sue what it really took to become world-class and she was able to distil this recipe into three clear areas. Sue related these three areas to three key questions that the most successful F1 teams were able to answer. They are great reflective questions for us as school leaders too.
- Can you eat your lunch off the garage floor?
Everybody in Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari team wanted to be world-class, including Schumacher, the mechanics and the man who swept the garage floor. Everybody knew their role and everybody wanted to do their role as well as they possibly could. As a result, the garage floor was spotless and you could eat your dinner off it. When questioned, the garage cleaner talked with passion about how he kept it so clean and why this was so important. Some questions for school leaders:
Does everybody in the team know their purpose and place in the overall success of the team? Does everybody in the team feel so well motivated and a part of the team that they want to be world-class?
- How long does it take to change a tyre?
Everybody involved in the pit-stop spent hours and hours practising their small part of the job eg taking the wheel nuts off, getting the wheel in position, removing the old wheel. Their aim? To take 0.01 seconds off the pit-stop time. They would give each other feedback about how to improve and coach each other about how to improve. They understood that the success of the team was down to everybody getting 0.01 better – the idea of marginal gains. Huge changes in performance are hard, but small changes are manageable.
Do you encourage and support everybody in your team to get 0.01 better? Do members of your team give each other feedback and coach each other to get better and better?
- How long does it take to make a decision?
Engineers would scrutinise data and make split second decisions that would mean the difference between 1st and 4th place. For example, with two laps to go, they calculated the amount of fuel they had left and concluded it was just enough to make two laps, without a time-consuming pit-stop. They did… and won.
Do you use data sensibly and then use this to make the right decisions for your team/department?
Sue talked about the importance of personal excellence, when the team are striving for world-class. As a leader, she would support this by asking questions of her team, rather than just giving instructions about what to do:
What do you do? What could you do? What stops you?
She also talked about being flexible with staff. Find out what their strengths are and use these for the good of the team.
Sue finished her talk by leaving us with a question: “Does every kid leave your school and think ‘You know what? I’m OK’”
Sue really is an inspirational person and it was a privilege to listen to her.
ALT – The Art of Learning and Teaching
As you will be aware Lily Bull has created ALT. This is a site developed by the Teaching & Learning team at Harrow Way Community School and a member of the Teacher Development Trust Network. The aim to provide a platform to inspire teaching practitioners through the exploration of the latest developments in education. We believe true continuous professional development grows amongst teachers sharing good practice in a non-judgemental way. We strive to remain at the forefront of curriculum development and whole school innovation.
Thank you again for all your hard work this term. Have a wonderful Christmas break