Questions, myths and realities

Apologies about the lack of the blog last week: like many humans, I am creature of habit, and I always write the blog at the start of Friday morning (having largely planned it in my head on the journey in), but sometimes events get in the way, and last Friday was one of those days when more pressing things had to take priority.

This week was naturally dominated by Prospective Parents Evening, and whilst there is the love of looking around the resplendent school – the privilege I have every day – I always have that inner-frustration of not being certain what questions I might be asked. I was discussing with my eldest child’s best mate’s dad last weekend about the merits/demerits of simply going to the local secondary school compared to commuting across town to another school, and what measures would need to be in place to make either of us consider another school. He doesn’t come from an education background at all, and I was trying to explain that open evenings ought to be a reassurance process having made the decision already, rather than a constant marketing and sales pitch. For the large part that is true: for example, the parent on Wednesday that wanted to ensure that he had met the SENCO, and then triangulated that conversation with me later in the evening. Equally, schools have to spend a lot of times fielding information from other sources, whether the reality or not; for example, on Wednesday, I was told by a parent that a member of staff at another school had said  that we had an increase in unqualified teachers since I came to the school, the reality is that we have actually had a decrease – interesting gap between myth and reality.

On the key issue of student progress,  I said on Wednesday, we can always do better in terms of helping students make more progress, but I have equally never believed in using huge numbers of artificial qualifications that mask the reality of student progress. The vast majority of students will perform well in true GCSEs and vocational awards if we get the covenant right between staff, students and parents. For me, doing enough robust qualifications, with a suitable vocational route for some students, should be at the heart of education, not simply trying to fill “buckets” in the Progress 8 curriculum with artificial equalisations.

In terms of Wednesday night, it was great to be able to show how we are investing in students learning, and celebrate our school, its students and staff, and our successes.

Finally, could I wish safe travels to the Year 11 students and staff going on the Auschwitz trip this weekend; it will be an emotional visit for all those attending.

Have a good weekend

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