Kia ora koutou
Hasn’t the weather been glorious! I hopped into my car yesterday and the gauge showed 30 degrees. Of course, the temperature dropped as soon as the car started moving. But it felt good to be enveloped in heat generated by the sun. The downside... the already brown grass at school.
Here is a link to my latest article: Enough is enough! The ‘Traditional Education versus Modern Learning Environment’ Binary which has been generating lots of great discussion on social media and the number of reads is in the thousands. The article begins:
“As the principal of a Modern Learning Environment, I have ignored the constant disparaging of Modern Learning Environments long enough. Why have those of us who lead these environments largely kept quiet and allowed it to continue as a mostly one-sided conversation? Well, partly because we have our heads down, and are getting on with the work of leading our schools to ensure they meet the needs of all our students. We want our “works” to speak for us, not our sound bites. We are simply more focused on ensuring our children learn and grow into intelligent, well-rounded citizens who are well prepared for the future they will face than with answering our critics in the media….”
I hope you will take the time to read this article because I imagine that for some of you (especially those new to the school), the constant disparaging in the media about Modern Learning Environments must chip away at your trust that our school will provide a good education for your children. The thing that I think keeps everything safe for parents at Amesbury School is our school’s focus on evidence and data. We continually collect data and look for evidence of the impact of what we are doing and we make changes as a result. We have a culture of continuous improvement and responsiveness – continually responding to what the evidence or data tells us and making changes as a result. We fail forward fast. If we notice something is not working in the way we expected it to, we are quick to make changes. Of course, this is a learning journey and we don’t always get it right.
I think we are also responsive to what parents tell us. I can point to numerous changes that we have made in how our school operates as a result of conversations with parents and feedback form them – both through formal consultation processes and informal channels. Next year, when I publish information about our plans for 2018 (annual charter), I hope that many of you will, in some way, see your feedback and suggestions represented in the action plan. The plans also very clearly reflect feedback from students as well as teachers.
One of the terms I often use, which is probably not generally used in relation to schooling, is “faithfulness”. I believe that we need to be “faithful” to the voices of parents, students, teachers etc. If we ask for feedback or if we are given unsolicited feedback, then we must consider it with an open mind and it must inform the narrative of our school in some way – even if it is to simply confirm what we are already doing. I know some of you have expressed concern from time to time about not wanting to be “that” parent. However, we really do welcome your feedback – we need it if we are going to keep getting better as a school. Please do ask questions (sometimes there are really good reasons why we do what we do and sometimes a question can make us realise there is a better way to do something) and do let us know what you are feeling or noticing. If you don’t feel that you are being heard by staff, make contact with me and if you still don’t feel you are being heard, contact the Board of Trustees – that is what they are there for and I certainly trust their judgement.
However, you don’t have to wait until there is an issue. I am happy just to chat. You know where I am.