All children are amazing, and different, and have time yet to grow.

One of the reason why the social media service Twitter suits professionals in Education is that you can trim your channel to include those other educators who also choose to post on social media on matters that interest you. I loved the ‘Parent evening’ board that ‘popped’ into my stream this week, which highlights the core drivers of those in education – those we teach are capable of amazing things, and where some don’t show that capability, it’s just that they can’t do it ‘YET’.

It’s that time of year again where at almost every level ‘Learners’ in education are starting to worry about forthcoming results. University applications have to be completed for selection for next Autumn, 11+ results and secondary schools entrance exams are under way, to sort ‘the chosen’ from the rest, and even at my own grandson’s age, application for nursery aged 1 has to be in (before conception perhaps) in order to secure the place for the toddler’s first shakey steps in a collective learning environment.

Claires Court has been pioneering a whole range of different ways of doing things for generations, and by different, I think I mean parent and learner friendly. Switching into a universal and timeless set of values has helped those of all faiths and none have greater trust in our philosophical approach to human development. Pioneering a skills & knowledge based approach to the curriculum has assisted us in ensuring that our children ‘can do’ irrespective of the challenges posed to them at each age and stage. Moving to cloud-based applications, services or resources made available to users on demand via the Internet wherever they are in the world has enabled a surefooted move into the use of mobile technologies for anytime, anywhere learning.

Many national governments have put all their faith in measuring secondary students performance by outcomes, most notable here in England via GCSEs and A levels. These 2 sets of secondary public exams both come at the end of 2 years of work for which the candidates are specifically prepared. The government has changed the style of these assessments three times since 2000, the most recent changes requiring the candidates to work smarter and harder than hitherto. The results are to be rationed, which means that if the entire cohort work harder then previously, actually their efforts won’t be rewarded with the results they hope for, because only 3%, 25%, 65% can gain the grade for which they strive.

I’m a great fan of Masterchef, mental chewing gum this time of year after a busy day at work. The wannabe chefs have to trust that the ingredients, machinery, ovens and recipes all work as expected, and where they get it wrong, ‘duck overcooked’ or ‘chilli taste too overpowering’ they know they’ve made the mistake and can learn from it. It’s true in education too; watching Commedia dell’Arte mask making on Arts afternoon with Year 9 yesterday, I was bowled over by the boys’ understanding of how their ‘new face’ will show the emotions needed for the part to be played – Animal Farm, Friday afternoon 14 February 2020 by the way, please contact me if you wish to attend.

Trust in what emotions look like goes hand in hand with effective group collaborative activity. Small gestures during rehearsals and final performances keeps events out of trouble and steers for final success. Plenty of opportunities ensures that practice not only makes perfect but makes permanent, so that as the steps get more demanding, so the footfall makes permanent. The author and performance consultant, Simon Sinek has attracted a worldwide following for his understanding on successful organisational cultures and what makes for great leadership, and I love his ‘graphical representation for the kind of people we might wish to develop – shown in my sketch below.

I guess we can all see that the individual we would wish in our team is Box 3, the High Performing / High Trust individual, and the one we want on our side is Box 1. What’s interesting is that the Box 2 person will always be disliked, whereas the Box 4 person not only can make a good contribution to the team, but can be coached and developed into the great team player you are looking for. Sinek’s experience (and mine it must be said) is that you can’t ever coach trustworthiness into a fully formed adult – inherently and repeatedly they will always let you down. The coloured arrows indicate what’s possible, the red indicating NOT. You can watch a short clip of Sinek’s ideas here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPDmNaEG8v4

The point of this blog is to highlight why setting work that is too hard and testing too often in schools at the expense of building trust and cooperation causes a failure of purpose. When the children know we are supporting them and trust that we will help them build the skills, then they will trust us and give of their best. That journey into trust along the ‘x’ axis is essential – inevitably they will then be able to take risks and build the skills they need, and move up to the position of High Performance and High Trust later on in life. In short, that’s how to ensure they ‘pop’ at the right time!

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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