Before taking the job as head teacher, I remember talking to my predecessor, Mrs Boffey, about the importance of ‘staying ahead of the game’. However, in the current political climate this is becoming increasingly difficult, with change being thrown at education almost on a weekly basis. The need to safeguard our values, our ethos and our way of working, is becoming ever more important.
Regardless of the nature of any proposed change – whether it be to funding, assessment, curriculum content or academisation – we need to ensure that our unique ‘Coleridgeness’ is not lost and that our children’s interests, needs and well-being are never compromised.
In dealing with change, open and honest consultation with stakeholders is vital. Last week, I invited parents to meet and consult on proposed changes for pick up and drop off. Driving this change is the need to keep our children and our staff safe. I explained that the challenge for Coleridge is to retain the ethos of openness that we have with our parent body each day, but at the same time, we have to ensure we meet our responsibilities around safeguarding.
It was extremely useful having an opportunity to consult with the parents that came along. The feeling amongst most was that the open-door policy and the approachability of our staff is part of what makes the school unique and is something which contributes to the Coleridgeness. We had a very interesting discussion, exploring compromises between the ideology of an open school, and the practicality of keeping children and staff safe.
Implementing significant change in a large, outstanding school is hard – there is often the feeling that we should not meddle with a winning formula, or try to fix something which isn’t broken. However, sometimes change has to happen, and when it does it has to be managed carefully and diplomatically. I believe that if the change is driven by the welfare of the children, and is agreed through consultation with those whom it most affects, then it is more likely that people will be receptive and supportive, and will work together to bring the change about.