This is the start of my fourth year as a headteacher at East Whitby. The hopes and aspirations for the year are vital. The seeds that are planted in September are the ones you nurture through the year. Year on year we have as a school steadily improved, not change, change, change but building on the strengths we have and most of the time pushing in the same direction. Fact is we can’t control the outside, but we definitely can control the inside. We can’t change the “weather.” DfE and Ofsted will do what they do but we will be ready to react accordingly to that, we’ve got sun-cream, wooly hats and umbrellas at the ready.
I do however have a few wishes for the upcoming year. Ones that we will hope to fulfil in our school.
Firstly I wish for this upcoming school year that we, as teachers, act on the principle that education is not only about the mind — but that it’s about the person. I believe a school must function for the purpose of developing students as whole people, not just merely as empty minds which require regular and constant filling up of knowledge. My wish is for teachers to remember that there is more to student learning than simply pumping the mind with facts and information. That is not saying that we don’t have to teach stuff because blatantly we do and obviously that is our core purpose, but there is so much more to what we do and we ignore that at our peril.
I wish that we can get children to that spot where learning is a motivator in and of itself and that we embrace the joy that brings. Sometimes we have to engage and excite to get the children there. School should be a joy. Children should rush out to tell parents what they’ve learnt. Smiles and happiness should be synonomous with school, so I also wish that we make time to have fun! Is it too much to ask that we find time to laugh? Time to breathe, and wonder, and imagine, and daydream? Time to draw and sculpt and create. Time to rest as well as time to work.
Which brings me to my final wish I also wish that as teachers is that we remember that each person we see sitting in front of us each day is a human being, a person with feelings, thoughts, emotions, complicated baggage, issues, story, problems, joys, sorrows, hurts and pains and that we never lose sight of the humanity of the people in our schools and we never lose sight of our own humanity when we work others.
Now is equally the perfect time to revisit what you are about and to look at those values. Here are ours as a school. I think they stand us in good stead.
East Whitby Vision and Values
At East Whitby we take pride in developing outstanding teaching and learning by holding the highest expectations of all our pupils and knowing the children well. We challenge all children to strive for academic, creative, sporting and personal accomplishment within a broad, vibrant and enriched curriculum. Our students are given time to explore subjects and develop deep understanding. We celebrate perseverance, resilience and risk taking, ensuring children welcome challenge and are not frightened to make mistakes.
We encourage children to take ownership of and responsibility for their learning, so they have the confidence and curiosity to ask questions, solve problems and respond to quality feedback. Children are praised for hard work, determination and having a positive attitude. In order to create an inclusive school where everyone can flourish, whatever their background, we promote an ethos of respect and empathy, where diversity is valued and celebrated – both within school and the wider world.
Pupils are taught the virtues of kindness, appreciation and what it means to be courageous. Special care is taken to educate everyone in the East Whitby community about the needs of others and how best to meet them.
We foster open and honest communication with parents, carers and specialists and actively seek to engage with all members of the East Whitby community in a positive supportive manner. High quality teaching is a key priority at East Whitby and the relationship between staff and children underpins inspirational, supportive and effective teaching and learning.
Staff are actively involved in identifying their support and training needs and this leads to careers with clear progression. We ensure that there is a wide range of quality training available and that staff are able to learn from each other and share good practice.
It is our aim for all children to leave East Whitby as confident learners with self-belief and an abiding respect for others. We aim to instil a lifelong love for learning and a strong grounding for future success.
We promote achievement by:
- Holding the highest expectations for all
- Striving for every child to make the very best possible progress
- Being restless in our pursuit of excellence
We develop as confident and independent learners by:
- Providing learning which excites passion and curiosity.
- Embracing challenge and not giving up
- Trying our best without fear of failure
- Speaking knowledgeably about our strengths and areas of improvement
We value supportive and positive relationships by:
- Bringing out the best in each other
- Showing pride in one another’s achievements
- Creating strong partnerships between home, school and the wider community
We appreciate others by:
- Valuing and respecting the rights of others
- Making sure everybody feels listened to
- Promoting good manners and caring attitude
So take that energy and passion that we all start this new year with and make it a good one, whatever the “weather” throws at us.