Along with some of my colleagues, I was at a conference in London at the weekend with other headteachers and school leaders from around the country. It was a varied conference, and amongst other speakers we heard from the politicians responsible for education in each of the three main parties. They were asked to speak on the same topic and were asked roughly the same questions from the floor of the conference, so it was possible for delegates to compare their policies quite directly. We also heard a wonderful input from the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, who read a selection of her poetry, starting with ‘Mrs Midas’, a hilarious yet poignant reflection on the unexpected destructive consequences of material greed. You can find it by googling the title.
We also heard from Ben Page, from the polling organisation Ipsos-Mori, who hurtled through graphs and statistics about the state of Britain today, or rather people’s perceptions of the state of Britain, at breakneck speed. One point which stuck with me was how much more afraid we are in this country of teenagers than other Europeans are. Apparently only a small percentage of us would challenge teenagers indulging in vandalism, whereas in other countries much higher proportions of people say they would do so. I wonder how we can help to break down that suspicion and fear of teenagers by what we do in schools, and how we work with local communities. It was also really encouraging to see that nationally teachers are ‘trusted’ by the vast majority of the population, second only to doctors – and way ahead of politicians and journalists, who come near the bottom of the ‘trust’ table!
When you do the kind of job I do, having the chance to spend a little time with people in similar roles and with similar challenges is so supportive, and it is really important I think for school leaders to have a full understanding of the social context that education operates in. You can’t be an effective school leader in isolation.
I was delighted to see in the Rochester on-line newsletter, Halo, the write-up of one of our student’s participation in the Prayer Book Awards – you can read it via this link: http://www.rochester.anglican.org/pdf_files/Admin/Halo%20march_Layout%201.pdf . Well done Esther!