Last year I wrote about the deepening sense of confidence that I knew God was imparting to us as a school. The metaphor was all about new opportunities and picking up your confidence and running with it.
We have certainly seen much of that this year, though with much more to come, as anyone contributing to the enterprise is keenly aware.There have been some really strong areas of growth and delight, summarised in the super SIAS report and the overall growth in the quality of teaching, but it was tempered with the disappointing language of the OFSTED report, and not as much progress in every class as we had hoped for.
Perhaps a better metaphor this year, especially for those who are leaders, when there have been encouragements and discouragements to be faced is the need to work what we have done through the whole school. Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God being like the yeast worked through the whole dough, in order to get every part of the mixture affected by the goodness of what he would achieve through us. This occurred to me the other evening as I was making my very first loaf of bread ever! 2011 saw the first cake, 2012 the first bread loaf. I am not a fast learner when it comes to baking, but it was progress, nonetheless, and the kneading of bread to ensure the yeast gets everywhere into the dough is a really helpful metaphor for us. At some stage last year, in September, I think, I said to teachers that it was not enough for just the most able teachers to make progress. All of us as teachers had to progress if we were to ensure that all children gained from what we were intending for the school. The first implication of the metaphor is that we work hard, at all levels, to ensure that all children progress and learn from all of us all the time. Part of kneading (see how expert I suddenly am!) is the need to collect the bits that have fallen off the dough, to use up all the flour and leave nothing to fall away. This is an accurate description of what we need to do. There is a lot of “gathering in” to be done of those who are weaker or disaffected as learners, those who are idle, those who fall away for whatever circumstances (often to do with their families). This is the task of this year, and underpins the work of the next two years’ development planning. Consistency and thoroughness, accuracy and craftsmanship will have to the watchword, whether in the skills and knowledge we teach children, and in the deep quality of our pastoral care for children.
So if you are part of the Christ the Sower community, do not be surprised if this requirement for thoroughness in care and learning, and craftsmanship in teaching is something I might be heard to mention occasionally…. Work the yeast into the dough, whatever it is you do, whomever you serve.
Happy – and hard working – new year.