Personal Reflection of 2016
A the end of 2016 I have taken the opportunity to reflect on my own values and beliefs and how they are consistent with those of the Trust.
I started to write my reflection of 2016 for my blog and soon realised it could be an extensive lengthy catalogue of the year’s events and still miss out all aspects that should be included. I have therefore decided to reflect on my main values and beliefs, in a paragraph, explain what has shaped them, and from my thoughts about Chulmleigh Academy Trust in 2016, why I continue to be strongly committed to the Trust, both in terms of support and expectations.
I trained as a teacher in the post-Plowden Era (The Plowden Report (1967)
Children and their Primary Schools) and from those beginnings ‘child-centredness’ was embedded in my philosophy and practice. Working within Special Education in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the Warnock Report (and subsequent 1981 Education Act) shaped my understanding about inclusion and the needs of all children. As a fully committed advocate of the Personal and Social Development movement which grew in influence in the 1980’s I worked as a co-ordinator across all schools in a large local authority influencing values and practice in schools. By the mid 1990’s I was lecturing internationally in higher education on Personal Social and Moral Education. The last 20 years on my career being in various roles in different local authorities with a common agenda to improve the life-chances of all children and young people.
So, when I talk about Personal and Social Development what do I mean? A set of educational theories often refer to the development of the ‘whole child’. I understand these concepts to mean the academic, moral, emotional, cultural, physical, spiritual, creative and social growth, development and achievement of all children of which schools have a major role and responsibility. In 2016 how do I consider Chulmleigh Academy Trust contributed to these needs and aspirations?
Pre-school – I believe that vital to good learning behaviours are good early starts. I was delighted with the progress made this year in establishing the CAT Pre-school Company. Much hard work has gone into this development by dedicated and talented early year leaders and practitioners. I have been able to see first-hand some of the work done in our pre-school settings on my visits to our schools.
Continuity, progression and transition – As an advocate of an educational systems that offers coherent provision from 2-year-olds to 16 (18) year olds. CAT this year has continued to build on this belief, which is manifested through curriculum development, professional development and common successful approaches to raising achievement. We often highlight the Year 6 Academy as an innovation supporting transition from primary to secondary education and the popularity of this approach by parents has developed progressively throughout the year, with parents making positive choices about enabling their children to be educated within our approach. However, our approach at CAT is much broader than this Y6 point of transition and there is now clear evidence showing how progression through the system from 2 to 16 is supporting continuity in learning and progress in outcomes.
Achievement and progress – The national implementation of Progress 8 is, I believe, an important step forward in recognising the real achievement and progress of pupils and the impact specific schools have on their learning journey. In my role as a Director monitoring pupil progress is something I again have held a priority for me and the Board during the year. Changes in assessment arrangements in the primary phase, I know, have been a challenge for staff during the year, however I am please this has been approached as a challenge and positive action has been taken to find a satisfactory solution and way forward. We were all delighted by the GCSE outcomes this year and a big well done to all students and staff for their hard work. These achievements are not a ‘sprint to the finish line’ in Y11 but are the result of some incredible teaching and dedication of staff over the years pupils have followed their learning journey, from 2 to 16. I have clear evidence of some great staff (teaching, learning support and administrative) doing a great job across our schools and supporting the personal and social development of all pupils.
Inclusivity and opportunity – As a believer in an inclusive society I continue to have high expectations for providing high quality education for all and the importance of education as a vital contributor to community cohesion, well-being and ‘social mobility’. Not an advocate of selection, I want all pupils to learn all they are capable of learning. The ethos of Chulmleigh Academy Trust strongly supports this entitlement for all and I have been pleased to learn during the year when parents has chosen our schools for their children because they consider they will receive good learning opportunities. Around our schools, I have a consistent message that every pupil matters and is known as an individual with a well embedded individualised approach to teaching and learning.
Under this heading of opportunity, I have been very gratified by the way volunteer staff, parents and students at Chulmleigh Community College have engaged with Duke of Edinburgh Award and 10 Tors and I continue to support such wonderful opportunities for personal and social development.
Creativity and performance – My personal view is that the strength of the creative and artistic work undertaken by staff and pupil at CAT schools might to some be overshadowed by the apparent drive for high academic standards. Of course, these are important but I do not wish to underestimate the high standards achieved in such curriculum areas as music, drama, art, and creative technology across all our schools. In total all these areas collectively support the personal and social development of our pupils, contributing to their motivation and self-esteem. Throughout the year, I have had the opportunity to visit all our school and seen first-hand assemblies, work produced by pupils, exhibitions, displays and performances of drama and music. This has added to the knowledge I have of these areas from reports I receive from leadership, school newsletters, and press coverage etc.
Self-esteem and confidence – On my list of ultimate importance is the high self-esteem of all pupils. The approach at CAT schools is to have explicit high expectation, stimulate learning through challenge, and recognise all aspects of achievement in an ethos that cares that all pupils learn – good behaviour and good learning behaviour. I continue to see the impact on the self-esteem and confidence of pupils at celebration assemblies, awards and presentation events and, on my visits to schools, the approach taken each day at each school by staff to help pupils develop these important outcomes through being valued and achievement in all aspects of learning.
Organisational and professional growth and investment – Throughout the year the changing national education landscape has provided opportunities for CAT to further secure its place as a systems leader – a leader, promoter, contributor and supporter of high standards for all children. There was disappointment when an opportunity to support school improvement in a neighbouring primary school did not materialise, though this did not dampen our ambition to support other schools where we can to ensure all children achieve good outcomes.
Our ambition at CAT is to collaborate in alliances with other schools to create a strong effective practice network that promote high standards and offers support to other schools. Becoming a member of West Country Teaching Schools Alliance led by Uffculme school was a great step forward on this ambition. This has been further advanced with our own application to be a lead Teaching School and we await the outcomes.
Investment in professional development remained a high priority during the year and there are many examples of professional growth where staff work with staff to share expertise and find solutions to educational challenges. The benefit of schools in CAT working together is a constant feature that supports professional development. I am pleased to learn about the opportunities for staff from other school to come together in professional learning activities.
To finish with a big thankyou to all staff across all our school for high quality work, to all pupils for taking the opportunities for learning and working hard for achievement and to all parents and carers for continuing to support schools in Chulmleigh Academy Trust. I look forward to 2017.