Principal’s Round-up – 7th May 2021

Most of us are adept at seeing the big picture, but not always the detail. Caught up in the hectic pace of life, we often feel compelled to immediately distinguish what is important from what is not. The assessment is an easy one to make when we are mired in the daily grind – everything relating to task-oriented success seems significant, and everything else seems comparatively trivial. But some of what is most precious in this life cannot be measured in data, charts and formal evaluations. The truly noteworthy and influential events in our lives are often marred by hurried actions in the haste to achieve. One of those is finding time for people. To focus on the big picture alone gives permission for the cries of the wounded to be minimised, silenced and missed.

The importance of people as human beings should never be forgotten and it only takes some small action to remember. Most importantly in this is the consideration that we are all only parts of a whole, not a significant individual with influence. So, I would like to express my thanks to Hazel, Jonathan, Caleb, Kelli, Linda, Sue, Angela, Lynda, Tracey and Clare and her team for the efforts they made to assist with the preparation for the Trust wide leadership conference this week. While I was busy organising the content, they quietly just got on with making it look, feel and sound special for us. The pride in their school was evident and their work demonstrated just how great a team we are. It was humbling. I was reminded as ever that while we might think we are so capable, we can achieve so much more together than trying to act alone.

This attitude of course has its roots in the Co-operative Movement. A much more satisfying and edifying world to inhabit than the competitive and market-driven approach where to win is everything, and to serve is considered weak. That was the theme of the opening of the first day of the four day Trust conference. In my brief address, before we called upon the collective wisdom of the cooperative schools network, I reflected upon my belief
that to enact and energise cooperation effectively we need to consider three things in depth :

How to manage change – with a focus on outstanding communication and feedback. Every voice matters in a cooperative.
Understanding people – with a need to actively remove barriers in order to unleash creativity and confidence.
Recognising capacity building as an essential skill – investing in people who liberate and develop others, rather than in those who exist to measure, rank, oppress and punish

By focusing in these areas we can develop talents from any part in the Trust to realise the dividend that we have defined. We will also be actively future proofing our schools by enacting the vision of the International Co-operative Alliance and building upon the values and principles that will guide our decision making. Educational understanding is getting too concentrated, is being abused; is threatening democracy; is preserving a pattern of power and privilege that serves the needs of those who enjoy it but is not good for others. This is real, it is brutal and it is wrong. The power rests in this organisation with the collective – the people- not lone voices. We act, as Tony Benn proposed, as a sign-post for outstanding achievement. We do not behave as a weather-vane, changing direction at the whim of every DfE announcement and ‘expert’ opinion. We will develop our own destiny, and not wait to be instructed.

Of course this means that we have to be courageous to go our own way for a bit. It will be hard, but it is essential that we undertake the good work, not the bad work, to allow everyone in the organisation to flourish. By enacting the value of solidarity we never have to feel lost in the challenges ahead. The courage will be found in the power of ‘us’ It is in our gift and we can start today.