I spoke to a really good friend on the phone a while back as his organisation had been asked to speak at a local event. I know him well, adopted dad. He asked about our Local Authority & Director of Education. I said that, whilst some county procedures have seemed really disagreeable from the outside the values of Patrick Leeson, director of education in Kent, are sound in my opinion. He only ever talks about improving things for children. He invites us to thank you receptions for our achievements. He's one of those people that I have avoided talking to as I'm sure I'm going to say something stupid to even though I don't know why as he's a kind man. I went for it this week though! He actually made that easier as I wanted to talk to him about improving things for children. When you start a conversation with him about that his eyes light up. I have only ever observed a passion for making the best of our children's one chance at education and courteous respect in his behaviour.
I am going to acknowledge now that Kent policy hasn't always felt kind to some. I don't have first hand experience of feeling targeted. But I have friends that say they do. I have been told some sad stories.
Patrick was given a very tough remit for change when he arrived. And a very short time frame. I have considered all of this differently since my friend Heather Leatt started working in school improvement in Lewisham. It's a big ask that job! So, so tough & so voraciously accountable.
Patrick has already delivered what he promised. Change. Which was needed. It felt a bit pacey. But it was right. I wrote this just after his appointment as director. I had just met him & listened to his first speech.
He had to deliver change and now he will deliver improvement. He has delivered hugely on the percentage of pupils that attend a good or better school. 82% good+ I believe now. He is a clever man & we should get behind him. He has been looking at the work of Saahlberg & Schumacher, & many others. He commissioned a study. Conducted in the Autumn term and shared today. All based on the capacity of the small school head. All capacity is based on necessity and therefore the mind set and skill set of the small school head is paramount. We think like the village. It takes a village to raise a child.
Since Patrick has arrived I have begun to see the undercurrent of change. He quickly involved Vic Goddard in speaking to us about change. Relationships? Leading by example? Not a small school exclusive. Vic is at the Kent County Showground at Maidstone on November 11th. So are many other great folk with a passion for improving opportunities for children in Kent. Here's the link to sign up. Come if you can.
All we can do is work for the best outcomes. This is a song I've sent Vic & a few other shining lights this week. We can only make a difference from inside the fire.
I came back from a late alarm call from school happy last night. The village pub called me. The alarm was going & no one knew what to do. The new landlord is my mate's cousin & got my number from him. I went over in my shorts & West Ham Vest. A humble state is best... Anyway now the pub landlord & I are compadres as we've stalked around the school site together. He'll always be an ally.
What's left of a village? The school? The pub? The church? It takes a village to raise a child.
Relationships are all. The overriding message from all research. From Human Scale education (contact Dr Robin Precey Canterbury Christchurch University College) to National Association of Small Schools contact Neil Short @neils46 to relationships & leading a large school & a federation (contact @vicgoddard)
To our local landlord Jason Blown The St Crispin Inn Worth, Kent :)
Working together, striving & changing lives (including ours) for the better.
Lots of inspiring stories today. Thanks for this though Karen Dodd from Shipbourne. It's just unfinished without a muppet video
I feel excited and hopeful. I believe in hopeful leadership. As leaders we must have aim, hope and belief. Over the years I have heard people in Education cynically talking about things coming around again. Well then so will windows of hope. There have been plenty of those over the years. So we must always be ready to jump through them!