Back in the days when the UK government felt that children and teachers deserved better schools than the crumbling, leaking piles that many were working in, Gill Kelly was a deputy head at a school that won a Building Schools for the Future bid. Her role was to use the opportunity provided by the BSF process to help the school make a change not just to its buildings but to the very nature of the way it went about teaching and learning in the 21st century.
Of the many things she learned from the process (much of which she has set down in her book Where Will I Do My Pineapples?!) are:
- How a school communicates within its four walls will more accurately convey the values of that institution than the ‘Our Values’ plaque in reception
- Redesigning the system without understanding the context you are working in is a hollow act and will have no lasting impact whatsoever
- Without engaging the community (no, really engaging the community and an equally open heart) you will not sustain the improvements you make
- Brave leadership requires strength of resolve, an open mind and a genuine moral integrity
- Respectful but honest relationships sustain you through troubled times (whereas respect without honesty means you don’t rock the boat but the boat is actually sinking)
- Modern leadership is about supporting networks and partnerships as much – if not more – than it is about vision and bravery working
- Saying those three magic words ‘I don’t know’ is not only fine, it should be a requirement of any head teacher’s performance management!
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