Principal’s Round-up – 5th October 2018

Today is World Teachers’ Day. A time to give thanks to all our great teachers, because none of us would be where we are without the time and dedication teachers have put into helping to shape our lives. Teachers should be held in the highest esteem as professionals, not denigrated in social media and other quarters, blamed for not solving all of societies ills. I have never met a teacher who did not want to do a good job, or want to be a thoughtful professional who learns from others to be the best they can be. Students in this college are lucky. They have teachers who genuinely care for them; who spend more time than they have getting it right; and who are passionate about their subject. I have said before that we have all the answers within ourselves to be a high performing school. We should be trusted to be our own critics. However, with increasing degrees of control, direction and accountability from faceless apparatchiks, I am reminded of the quote by Theodore Roosevelt in his 1910 ‘citizen in a republic’ speech (excuse the use of solely masculine descriptors). It certainly helps me to bat away unwanted, ill-informed interference.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Your efforts and passions were certainly appreciated at the recent Open Evening. I had a great deal of feedback about the enthusiasm of the teachers and also the students who spoke alongside me, or who were tour guides and helpers in Faculties. Of course we would not have been able to run the event without the superb work and attention to detail put into the preparation by technicians, cleaners, caretakers and Jonathan Wates. Thank you to everyone who made the evening so successful.

In my Open Evening speech I was able to talk about the standards expected of Tavistock College students, and in particular, that to be a Tavistock student they needed to be prepared put effort into being strong: strong in mind (academic acumen), strong in body (making good choices about exercise and diet), and strong in heart (compassion and kindness). We know that some young people find that harder than others, and we must continue to pay attention to our co-constructed classroom strategies for disadvantaged students (FIRST) and the top tips for SEND. But the aim is to get to access those strengths, not to make excuses when they fail. These are mediated strategies and to be outstanding we must always remember that parents matter. Without the engagement of parents, the efforts of students and teachers will never be enough, so we all continue to build excellent relationships with our parents.

This week we welcomed back the wonderful HumanUtopia team. Students in Y10 fully engaged with the ‘Who am I?’ programme, and we now have 47 more Heroes to join our Y11 Icons and peer mentors. We also launched our Leading Life to the Full programme for Y8 supported by Virgin Health and surrogate parenting for Y11. Thanks to Neil Hosking for all his work. Collectively, these programmes, which run across all year groups, are helping us to bring to life our commitment to be a happy healthy school through objective 3 of our college improvement plan.

I hope you have time to reflect at the weekend on what a great job you do on a daily basis, and that you feel proud of your achievements.