During the holiday, I watched the state opening of Parliament. Though I have always been interested in the colour, tradition and ceremony of the event, on this occasion I paid more careful attention, viewing it all through the eyes of a new head teacher. I couldn’t help but wonder what the new government might have in store for state education and for Coleridge Primary school. The constant changes imposed by the government, have, over the years, been responsible for keeping many head teachers wide awake at night!
Even just in the last couple of years, budgets, curriculum and assessment have all been directly affected by the decisions of politicians, and schools have had to display a gymnastic degree of flexibility in order to cope with the numerous changes. The introduction of a new National Curriculum and the scrapping of long-standing assessment procedures, have required tremendous proactivity and hard-work on behalf of our staff and governors in order to remain outstanding.
Budgeting, to ensure that Coleridge provides value for money and is able to be innovative and creative, is challenging at the best of times. From the cost of pencils in the classroom to the price of ingredients in the kitchen, the challenge is to make every penny count. The first education bill of the new Parliament promises to create more academies and free schools – something which will undoubtedly affect the already overstretched budgets of state schools.
At tricky, transitional times such as these, I am always impressed by the resourcefulness and drive of our school community. Children, staff, parents and governors all put their shoulder to the wheel, offering their ideas, time and support to make the school the very best it can be. Watching everybody participate in the Cultures of Coleridge Week was a perfect example of this ‘Coleridge Spirit’. On the Thursday, I walked around the school, sampling the different foods that had been cooked; watching parents deliver talks on their place of birth; and chatting to children about the information that they had learned from their classmates. Everybody was interested, engaged and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
The knowledge that our school community is so united and strong, reassures me that we can successfully navigate any change that may be coming our way. It also helps me to sleep a little better than most head teachers!