Those three words… a lens on your work.



“Those three words
Are said too much
They’re not enough”

Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol


When I asked people on Saturday to sum up their school in three words  I didnt know what I expected. I was blown away by people’s responses.  I’d like to say a massive thankyou to everybody who tried to sum up their school in just three words. I’ve old-school word-clouded everybody’s words. This would probably make a great starting point for people to start that talk in their schools.


This was something we as a school had done just over a year ago.

As part of our trust we had an enquiry in to the work  our school does and the wonderful @GaltVicky asked my deputy and I to do just that, to define what three words summed up our school.

Fact is we couldn’t do it. We sat there ‘ummming’ and ‘errring’ but what was clear is we didn’t really know what our words were. What that really meant is we weren’t  clear about what we were trying to achieve and if we didn’t know you can bet nobody else did either.

So we set about finding out what we were really about. We talked about it (occasionally it got a bit heated) , we got staff, children and families to share their ideas and the things they felt were important qualities of our school. Then we discussed even more. We filtered, we sieved, we honed. Weirdly finding the right words had become really important. the process had made them valuable. That they belonged to everyone made them precious. Finally we had found them…Our three words…the words that summed up what we wanted school to be about, what we valued.




Here are our words. Handily it also creates an acrostic for CAN.

These three words immediately began to act a lens on the work we were doing in school. They began to guide our choices , frame our actions, focus our discussions. They began to become the key threads in our classrooms. As a surprise to us they stripped the gimmicks out of our classrooms. They focussed our energies and our work. It helped us say no to things. It meant that the work in our classrooms became more authentic and real. We have begun to sweat the small stuff because we have clarity about the big. Most importantly we know what we are trying to achieve.

Everybody owns the words. Children aspire to the words. Our most recent enquiry confirmed they were embedded in our classrooms and in our work not an add on but as a core element of our work.

So a question… Do you know your three words?

If not, why not? You know what you need to do.




1 thought on “Those three words… a lens on your work.

  1. Pingback: What I learnt from picturebooks…My Top 10 tips for leading a school. | Being Brave! a first time headteachers blog.

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