Strategies for Schools: Ten Thoughts for Turbulent Times

  1. The need to protect your own capacity to develop and sustain high levels of achievement by each student and each member of staff.
  2. To conduct a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,Threats analysis to assess your situation objectively and to consult with all your stakeholders about the school’s priorities.
  3. To avoid invitations to join projects of the  ‘how to fill the vacuum left by Local Education Authorities, or how to help us to sustain our QUANGO, or how to maintain another school’s position of influence, or how to run the system with less funding’ variety, unless they relate to schools, institutions or agencies with whom you share the same young people and families, or schools with a genuine and pressing need to which you can, in some part, respond.
  4. To remember to differentiate between the political whims and swings of the pendulum, from that which is unchanging and which will not be reversed or dropped at some future point.
  5. In consultation with the whole school community, to save costs and through collaboration with other schools and partners, to achieve economies of scale and commissioning power.
  6. To sustain and develop your recruitment by taking advantage of and developing your existing ITT Partnerships. Be ready for the training places opportunity offered by School Direct in 2012, identifying prospective employees in advance, ensuring that your school is a highly desirable employment and career destination.
  7. To secure Academy status under your own terms and to seek to consolidate your position and that of your partners’ by having a clear and unambiguous ethos and perhaps an affiliation to an umbrella organisation (e.g. Schools Co-operative Society, Faith Groups, Local Authority, Commissioning Mutual, Local Area, Trust etc).
  8. To develop closer links and collaboration with your Secondary, Junior and Infant link schools.
  9. To ensure quality in your classrooms and management systems through research, critical enquiry, dialogue and reflection.
  10. To strive, as appropriately and as far as possible, to achieve the goal of all your students, staff, visitors and friends finding your school to be a happy and rewarding place to be. 

Hegemony and Education

Education often registers high up in any poll about public concerns. We are currently in the latest, most radical and extreme phase to shake up the school system, in another attempt to ‘lever up’ results. The direction of travel is, by accident or design, likely to further widen the gaps between school performance levels and thereby provide another blow to any chances of improving social mobility. This accepted status quo also includes an all powerful independent sector which has  a stranglehold on Oxbridge places and most positions of power in society. The current wheeze of cherry picking other countries apparently successful school systems carefully avoids the published failures of such systems and the wide spread misgivings of many local people. So when will the whistle blow on all of this? It may be that our politicians are collectively deaf and blind to some of these injustices as they, after all, have done well by the current system.

In the name of ‘fairness’ and social justice I offer three questions: 1.Is it not the case that every child in this country should have easy access to a local and successful school? (by successful school perhaps a school that rates as Good by OFSTED) 2. Do we know how close we are to achieving this and what resources and policies would be required in order to do so? 3. If the over riding aim is to maximise the potential of every child in this country, surely such a system as this would provide the best solution?

  I find it hard to believe that the answers to these questions would not be: Yes, No and Yes. If this is the case, I smell a very large rat sustaining and sheltering behind this hegemony.