Leading by example

Well done you! However you made it, whatever you’ve done, however difficult it’s been, it looks like we finally made it – are they words from a song? It’s been a long old haul but we have now finally got across the half term line. Well done and thank you to you all. You’ve not just coped, over this very difficult period, I think many of you have thrived during this time. When the going gets tough, the tough get going – now they are words from a song (the legendary Billy Ocean is now 70 – can you believe it?).

As I reflect on the last two or three months I do recognise how hard it has been for all of us on the ground. Within our institutions, as many of you tell us, we have done remarkable things to ensure that the overwhelming majority of our children and young people get the very best educational provision. It has been difficult at times; especially when poorly informed external parties (and I really do mean individual members of the public who witness things in isolation and extrapolate from that) seem to want to throw grenades at us. However, we have not just made the best of a bad job, we’ve done a great job; despite all the challenges which exist and remain.

How and why have we done this? There may be many particular reasons but broadly today I want to talk about the concept of leadership. Those of you who know me know that I am not, when using that word, referencing those people who necessarily have a title or a position. within an established hierarchical structure. I am talking about the attributes, actions and the attitudes of individuals. Without leadership our schools and college would have ground to a halt. And we see that at a national level, without leadership our country finds it hard to see the direction of travel and we fail to get people to buy into what we broadly all expect to happen.

Leaders in our schools and college are seen everywhere you look; in the staff body and in the pupil and student body. I know there will be some individuals who ‘dog whistle’ point the finger accusatory finger of blame for everything at the management but, despite that not being true, I don’t want to dwell on that. I’m more interested in and I want to recognise, the success that we’ve had and the leadership that many of us / of you have displayed, day in and day out.

Leaders, as I’ve said, don’t necessarily have the title but they certainly have integrity, can establish a direction of travel, have exceptionally high standards, understand that they need to take people with them, have humility and don’t always expect to be right. And they are people who we can all line-up behind, knowing that they are on our side, they believe in what we believe in.

As I move around the schools and the college I see leadership at every turn. The senior leaders are doing a great job. I’m not going to pretend that they’re not. I want to publicly thank them for everything that they have done throughout this extremely difficult period. Some of the things that they have had to manage and deal with really isn’t in the job description or in the textbook but, nonetheless, our senior leaders, your senior leaders, have taken on those challenges, on all our behalf.

But, as I have suggested, leadership can be more widely seen. Many other individuals have used their initiative to find solutions to problems. That’s leadership. Many individuals have maintained the firm belief that the young people should get a high standard of education, despite the challenges. That’s leadership. Many individuals have stood firm against the naysayers and carpers. That’s leadership. Many individuals have recognised, on occasions, that they’ve not got the right answer or solution to the question or problem and have adjusted their work. That’s leadership.

Many, many of you are leaders. Many, many of you instinctively know what leadership is all about. Some of you may not recognise that you are leaders but, let me tell you, you do lead you lead well and you lead instinctively. When leadership is needed, leaders emerge. I am very proud of you. You will know who you are and you may want to reflect upon your leadership over the break – This above allto thine own self be true’ William Shakespeare.

‘Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected’. Steve Jobs

‘Strong convictions precede great actions’. James Freeman Clarke

Have a wonderful half term break.