In the next couple of days I am going to Warwick to a conference where Keri Facer will be speaking. Keri is one of the most articulate of the group of people looking hard at what the future of education might be both in breadth and content, but also the sort of communities we might be serving and what their needs will be. We used part of the Schools of Tomorrow Framework from the RSA as a start point for the Assistant Head presentations at the interviews in May. Whilst I admire Keri’s work tremendously, I remain to be convinced by the whole Schools of Tomorrow thing, but I am going to Warwick to give others the opportunity to convince me. The more I go to these things, the more I see it as critical that a Christian worldview underpins them for them to be relevant to our work at Christ the Sower.
Far more valuable, in my view, is the work done within a school community to decide where we should be headed, and yesterday was the opportunity for all of us at school – the whole staff and governing team – to look again at the direction we took two years ago in our school vision but then to look hard at where that might take us. There is benefit in looking back, but this year we have had notable successes and it is time to stand on those and look forward.
In that sense, we are re-viewing rather than reviewing. We are re-positioning ourselves in a different place to look at the landscape in a new way. This time last year we looked at how we had acted and changed our attitudes to fulfil a strong vision written in 2012. This year we needed to start laying out the markers that would indicate to us what the school would be like if the vision were fulfilled. This was done in our usual way – lots of discussion and reporting to different groups to gain new perspectives – and contained both short term and long term perspectives. What was unusual, I think, was the high degree of unity in all our discussions. We used cooperative learning techniques to generate a greater level of agreement, and so it is inevitable that certain ideas grew more significant through the process. Even so, we got a high level of coalescence around the four aspects of the school vision – a loving community, a learning community, a growing community and a community together:
- The impact of restorative practice and a desire that it would grow to help implement the vision
- Appreciation of but need for strengthening of our school teams to create a greater identity
- Communication to the edges of our school community, thus broadening it
- Re-emphasaise our Christian values and turn them into lived life
- Taking care of each other as staff better – creating opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment of each other’s company
- Better modelling of learning by staff and leaders, as an example to the children
- A big emphasis on child-led approaches and family groupings instead of horizontal ones
- An appreciation for coaching and a desire to make it grow so we could grow as teachers
- A real longing for chaplaincy to stand up and take its full place at the heart of our spiritual development, particularly in enabling us to serve a diverse community faithfully.
On these there was a high degree of positive encouragement and wholesome agreement. The full document is here. It was a great experience, though quite exhausting. For those who have not done it before, it was especially demanding. We followed it by a thorough discussion of the core priorities for our School Development Plan, and it was really gratifying to see so much hard work result in such imaginative and well-argued plans for the future. God really has made the lines fall for us in pleasant places.