A year ago I attended the Participation and Learning Seminar in Edinburgh.
The seminar was planned as part of the work of the Participation and Learning Network being facilitated by Learning and Teaching Scotland.
I enjoyed the day, and was really inspired by Alison Peacock, Headteacher of the Wroxham School, Hertfordshire. At the time, I jotted down some notes as Alison talked about practical ideas she’d tried out in her own school by creating an atmosphere of inclusion and trust. I shared some of her ideas in a blog post at the time.
When I heard that Alison was one of the speakers at the ‘Accountability, Assessment and Education for Citizenship’ HMIeseminar on the 12th of March, I was eager to go along and hear what other ideas she was willing to share. She talked about accountability. This time, though, I didn’t take notes. This was probably because those who attended the seminar were given her latest paper to read beforehand and most of what she said was illustrating the points she’d written about.
Once again, I was captivated by what she had to say and mentioned this on twitter. One of my followers asked me for more information and I offered to email Alison’s latest paper so that he could have a look. Niggling in the back of my mind, however, was the memory of the ‘chair person’ saying that the paper was still in draft form and not yet officially published. I’m not knowledgeable enough about the protocol of sharing such things, so I contacted Alison directly … and I now have her permission to share her paper on this blog – an honour, indeed 🙂
When I first read the paper, however, one small section jumped out at me – I’ve copied and pasted it here:
“……..Almost on a daily basis, we are reminded of the need to prove our worth and to enact models of leadership that hold others to account. Depressingly, this ‘top down’ model leads many teachers to pressurise their class of children in the name of ‘standards’. Parents and carers seek additional tuition outside school; all around us is the worry of test performance and ranking. Even when we self evaluate school performance, too often the measures that we use are dominated by pupil performance within the core curriculum areas of maths and English. This has led to a culture of fear in many schools where measurable outcomes, in terms of test results, dominate the primary curriculum. School league tables, safeguarding regulations and the constant prospect of a phone call from Ofsted, are enough to send a shiver down the spine of the bravest school leader.”
HMIe visits have been the topic of some of my fellow ‘twitterers’ lately. Neil Winton’s school was recently inspected and he wrote this blog post before the inspection where he briefly describes distant memories of a previous visit that did not go well for him personally. This was followed up with another post that was much more optimistic about the pending inspection, but I’m afraid I still hold the ‘shiver down the spine’ viewpoint. This may be because the primary school that I’m seconded from is about to be inspected. I tend to be made less than welcome there at the moment – they’re finding it hard to forgive me for managing to escape the pre-inspection panic 🙂
I wonder what difference it would make if the word ‘inspector’ was replaced by the word ‘mentor’ … or anything else less intimidating!
Anyway – I seem to have gone off on a tangent (yet again) when writing this blog post. Here’s Alison Peacock’s paper. It is really very readable. Listening to her talking is also very much recommended, too 🙂