Our minds love to be busy, and the busier our lives are, the busier our minds are. How often have you driven a familiar route and arrived at your destination with only the haziest memory of what happened on the journey? Luckily, many of our daily activities don’t require much thought. It would be exhausting if we had to keep telling ourselves to breathe, for example, and we wouldn’t have much headspace to carry out other activities. But you can have too much of a good thing. Perhaps we would be less exhausted if we occasionally did tell ourselves to breathe.
Values-conscious schools have seen improved behaviour, increased confidence and capacity, and better spiritual, moral social and cultural education. These underpin effective learning and higher standards.
The sun is streaming in the window at the back of the hall. The school staff are smiling, suntanned and relaxed, bearing witness to the long days of summer sun. What a different energy from the one I felt in this room 3 short months ago. We are here to look forward to the coming year, determined to hang on to all that is special about this school, in the face of the challenges and opportunities of a new school year which includes the start of a 2-year re-build and whatever new initiatives Mr Gove identifies next. For me, this is the culmination of 9 months’ work supporting this school to re-define its values.
‘Are you going to offer your research on emotional resilience?’ asked my very good friend when the call for papers for the 3rd EMCC Research Conference arrived. ‘Hmm, I might’ I responded, trying to sound nonchalant and feeling slightly anxious at the thought. ‘I tell you what’, I said, ‘I’ll offer my research on one condition: that if I’m successful you come and co-facilitate the workshop with me.’
As I round the corner into the cathedral grounds at ten to 12 it’s obvious that something significant is scheduled. Outside, men in dark suits stand talking in groups, shepherded by officials. From College Street a stream of people flows towards the cathedral, many dressed in green and gold blazers, drawn as iron filings to a magnet. The magnet is Larry Montagu.
I was around when Ofsted was invented. As part of the training, we had a presentation from a head who had undergone a trial Ofsted. ‘Trial’ was an accurate description of his experience. It sounded terrible. ‘Do I really want to be part of this?’ I asked myself. In the end, I decided perhaps I might manage it with some humanity and compassion – which seemed to be missing from the account we heard. In those days schools got months of notice, which led to considerable energy being expended to get all their paperwork in order – and led to a wonderful comment by a headteacher prepared to take control of the situation: ‘We will put on our best coat for Ofsted; we are not buying a new one’. It may sound like a cliche, but it really was a huge privilege to be allowed into schools and celebrate the good work that was going on – and highlight where it wasn’t. I worked with some dedicated colleagues who were determined to do their best for the school.