Principal’s Round-up – 26th March 2021

Imagine what a different world we would live in if we all worked together towards a common good. With all that takes place in our professional lives, it can be easy to overlook the fact that we are part of something bigger – a collective. Sometimes, when we are confused, resisting inevitable change or just tired, we naturally focus on short term tangible gains for ourselves without worrying about consequences. Other times, we may discard the planned change because it seems like “hard work”. If that is how you are feeling, I would encourage you to look again at our values, especially solidarity. When you know you are serving a greater cause, there is little room for fear and doubt. And we are serving a greater cause. No one should be left behind. 

With this in mind, I was delighted to be able to share the details with you about our future within Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust. It feels that we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to embrace all that is good for young people, our staff and community to move forward together. It is an exciting time and one we should all feel privileged to be part of. Our new ways of working, and the new roles we have established, are already enabling a positive impact to be made.  As a connected and cooperative Trust we can support young people by working together in everyone’s interest; we are less isolated, have a wealth of career and professional development opportunities …and more than that, we have now created that sense of togetherness that we aimed for the first time round, and missed the mark. Our parents now have a potential network to take the lead in their children’s educational experiences; our teachers, through Learning and Teaching Co-operatives and communities of practice can take control of their own pedagogical constructions; our support staff have a greater role in the running of our schools; and we have leaders who can really embed the values that are so challenging but important to us. Tavistock College is already benefiting greatly in exciting, essential, and multi-dimensional ways and the chances seem endless. So, to enable me to work across the Trust along with other talented colleagues, Tristan is stepping into a new Associate Principal role. I know you will support him, trust him and be guided by him over the next few weeks to work with him in the same way you work with me. 

During the time that our asymptomatic testing tent was in operation, I was rightly proud of the work we were undertaking and of everyone involved. Whilst it is certainly helpful to have the hardcourts back in action, there is a strange sense of loss now it has been removed. As I watched it being taken away I felt a little sad. It took me a while to realise why .Over the last 12 weeks the tent operation has presented an interesting leadership study on the cooperative values in practice. All of these values were, on a daily basis, exemplified and met by those who worked, cleaned, reported, organised and undertook voluntary tasks. There is much that can be transferred into our work. In the tent, we saw no shirking of responsibility, complaint or complacency. Instead we saw a great deal of support, understanding and compassion, and of course, outstanding leadership from Nick. 

The progress made this term especially with the relational policy must now emulate the same behaviours we saw in the tent. As we reflect upon our actions, seeing through the eyes of each other is critically important . Children are not there for our convenience to be taught: they are in our school for everyone, no matter what your role, to become good versions of themselves. For that they need outstanding role models. The very best leaders and teachers in Tavistock College understand this and make good choices every day. The best teachers understand their role in motivating and engaging young people, and maintain the highest expectations. The very best do not lose these approaches in a desire to simply turn up expecting all children to behave in the same way to their subject offer. If we accept our role in shaping learning, we must constantly explore our students’ thinking to interpret their behaviours.  This does not mean at all that low standards are acceptable. Our job, collectively and incrementally, day by day, is to make sure they succeed by actively teaching and modelling our values and investing in building relationships. 

As we are in the 125th year of ICA  I continue to be inspired and strengthened by the movement and the possibilities it affords us in schools. I was privileged to link back into the Cooperative Schools Network this week and look forward to drawing upon this as we take our cooperative identity forward. Much of the influence of the cooperative movement affects the choices we make and the behaviours we choose. Influence by Cooperative Group published employee behaviours, I have included below some guidance and expectation for our work together.