So says Theresa May and her words strike a chord with me, even if I don’t agree with all of her policies. With the exam ‘season’ now upon us, I think it is important to reflect on just how hard we are working in independent schools across the country within an ever shifting educational landscape.
Schools are currently tackling significant operational changes such as a major reform of examination systems and more strategic matters such as what is the right ‘type of school’ to best educate our young people – grammar school, free school, academy and so on. In the independent sector we are working hard to protect the freedom of decision making and action that we currently enjoy and use so effectively “to get on with the job”.
Alongside the academic and intellectual there is a heightened importance on developing soft skills, building mental toughness, and supporting the well-being of both pupils and staff in an age where the pressures of social media and an ever increasing demand for instant communication and transmission of information has significantly increased the impact of workload expectations, stress and accompanying mental health issues.
We could not “get on with the job” effectively for our pupils without the dedication and commitment of our staff. Teaching staff shortages have been well documented in the press and statistics show shortfalls across a wide range of subject areas, such as STEM, Humanities, MFL and the Creative Arts. We are fortunate to attract high quality staff and it is fundamentally important to us that we support their professional development. A recent joiners’ ‘post induction’ feedback process at Canford revealed that this commitment is highly recognized and much valued.
For pupils sitting external examinations this summer, I hope that that sense of purpose, intellectual curiosity and the blend of those soft skills of self-discipline, resilience, leadership and teamwork, which we work so hard as educators to instil will combine to ensure that those facing the public exam challenge step up as individuals and support and spur each other on collectively to achieve their very best.