Just a short post this week, in part because it’s been manic here in the ‘engine room’ at Claires Court. Those that have studied the art/science of Leadership in Education* will know that the most successful approaches long term don’t start or end with a clear desk. I’ve been ‘architecting’ lots of things this month, a new induction day for Year 7 in partnership with the National Trust with a little help from some new friends at the Sea Cadets for example. Whilst I am delighted to have some existing excellent staff in new roles, and some promising new colleagues with diverse experiences to bring to the mix, there lots of support for them going on, less ‘fun’ induction at Cliveden, more ‘Baptisms of Fire’ joining the team here at Claires Court.
Yesterday, at the Senior Schools Speech Day, Tod Muil and Camilla Slais (head boy and girl) gave a truly remarkable movie presentation, with live voice overs, celebrating the last 12 months of activity here. Their film will appear here -> FILM <– though not actually with me at the time of writing. Perhaps even more impressively, Todd Lindley (also Year 13 and a school councillor) welcomed Lord James O’Shaughnessy to the event with a speech of good humour and impressive delivery, recalling for this former pupil of the school a number of weaknesses seen here back in the late ’80s, including perhaps blaming me for losing his Biology book rather than himself.
In their words, indeed in the actions of so many other of the leading school pupils in serving so well at the event, they make clear that Claires Court is about permitting their pupils to have a voice and to exercise that voice as effectively as they can.
Today, at Senior girls, I spotted some ‘speed dating’ going on, a process by which Year 7 were able to meet with and interview Year 11 on a 1:1 basis, asking who they were and what they did, getting to know them better. By the time I entered the hall, the event was well underway, and both sets of girls were completely engrossed. Year 11 had obviously regressed a bit, finding perhaps some memories they had on starting at Senior Girls; essentially, and really quite quickly, the girls were getting to know each other in a kind, supportive and friendly way.
Lord O’Shaughnessy summarised yesterday the approach to Character education schools ought to adopt, remembering quite well just how close our community was here back in his day, which was it must be said ‘BG’ (Before Girls). His words were simply – “The Americans summarise it as Be Kind, though I perhaps prefer the concept of Do Good“. Little did his Lordship know that he was shortly to be immersed in the work of the Sixth Form leadership, Andy Giles and Steph Rogers (Head and Deputy Head teachers). As Mr Giles made completely clear the Sixth Form motto takes this move to Character Education to a perfect conclusion: “Aim High, Be Yourself, Make a Difference”.
Amen to that.
*Harvard Business Review specifically looking at Leadership in Education, published Autumn 2016 – https://hbr.org/2016/10/the-one-type-of-leader-who-can-turn-around-a-failing-school