The notion of an ‘outsider’ coming into your school to make a judgement about the ethos and learning is a daunting experience. One can only hope that whoever the inspectors are and whatever backgrounds they come from, that they see, experience and understand the essence of what it is that makes your school unique and special.
Before the inspectors arrived I wrote a list of five imperative aspects of Coleridge that I wanted the inspectors to pick up on and for us to showcase. After the first day, it was apparent from discussions that they had begun to understand what life and learning at Coleridge is like.
Nothing could have prepared us for that moment during the final meeting with the inspectors, when the Senior Leadership Team and some Governors sat listening to their judgements. While listening I began noting down the positives being discussed, my initial five point list was quickly covered, and it didn’t stop there. As the inspectors continued and the judgement became more and more obvious, my sense of pride and achievement grew. They talked about ‘a Coleridge way’ and about how the learning at Coleridge sparkles. The vibrancy and enthusiasm of children and staff at the school were particularly highlighted. It is a truly humbling experience to hear so many positives about the school you work in and the community that surrounds you.
In September when I started out as headteacher I spoke at length to children, staff and parents about the importance of maintaining and strengthening a strong sense of community especially in a school the size of Coleridge. When Ofsted called, seeing so many parents rally round offering support (and chocolate!) and witnessing the calm dedication and tireless energy and enthusiasm of the staff highlights how far we have come. The children all spoke with pride and enthusiasm about their school, the staff, the learning and the sense of belonging that they all feel towards Coleridge.
The ‘outstanding’ judgement is a fantastic achievement especially in light of the current Ofsted guidelines which makes retaining an outstanding judgement extremely difficult. The challenge is not to sit back, but to build on our successes and continue moving Coleridge upwards to new dizzying heights.