KEEPING THE MAIN THINGS THE MAIN THINGS
Last week the Senior Leadership Team took the new members of staff who joined in September for drinks. We do it every year to find out how their first half term has gone. What they like, what they find hard, what they would change; things from their old schools, or that they’ve seen before, that they would like to introduce at FBS etc. It was good to hear they all love it here! They think our boys are great, they have bought into the vision and ethos and feel supported. They look forward to coming to work and say it is everything we told them it would be! We also had a really good discussion about setting and mixed ability teaching, and how we can work on improving boys’ punctuality to lessons as they travel between the two buildings.
The big thing they have found hard to adjust to is the frenetic pace of the school. There is so much going on and so much to do and remember to do all the time. It is a hundred miles an hour with no let up throughout the half term. So over the weekend I gave it some thought. A bit of it is that they are new and being new anywhere can be overwhelming. It is like learning to drive and you’ve got three peddles and two feet and you think how in the world am I going to do this? As time goes by, it just begins to click and you get it. But I also thought it was important to think again what the priorities are. To nail the ABC of FBS
For classroom teachers, there are 5 things: 3 habits and 2 foci. The habits, which should now be automatic, are nurturing enterprise skills, incorporating Christian values and beliefs and developing literacy skills in their lessons. The two foci are differentiation and ownwork. All boys should be set meaningful ownwork regularly. We had a brilliant staff briefing yesterday led by our Teaching and Learning team on teaching to the top and then scaffolding the learning for the rest of the class; teachers need to ask in every lesson, ‘is the cleverest boy in front of me being really challenged and stretched’.
For Heads of Department there are 3 Ms. Make sure all of the above is happening. Meet all deadlines. Monitor closely Year 11.
Form Teachers need to remember CUE. Conduct Cards, Uniform and Equipment.
Heads of House have two things. 1. Don’t let anyone or anything get past you and follow everything up: every boy needs to realise that they might just as well work hard in lessons, wear the correct uniform, behave well at break and lunchtime because if they don’t they will have to face the consequences. 2. Don’t let any boy fall off. That is, put support in place to help all boys achieve our high standards and expectations. Some boys come with lots of baggage; we have to be there for them and give them every chance.
The Senior Leadership Team need to Lead and Manage. Lead by making sure the School Development Plan is happening; we really are driving the school forward. But we must stick to the plan. Don’t introduce new ideas and initiatives that will just overwhelm people. We know where we need to go, we have set out how we are going to do it, so let’s just do it. As managers, we must make sure we hold the departments we line manage to account.
Support Staff play a vital role in taking the noise away. Facilities are all in place, photocopying is all done, the internet works, communication is clear, the website is up to date and informative.
There are key documents we all have to know and constantly refer to. The School Development Plan, Staff Handbook, Self Evaluation, Calendar and Weekly Headlines that outline the week ahead.
Governors must Understand, Support and Challenge. Understand the areas they are linked to. Support their departments. But also challenge. Particularly me as the Head!
As for parents, you need to Know, Engage and Challenge. Know what your son is doing and how he is performing. Check conduct cards, google classroom, progress marks; read the Head Master’s bulletin, check the website and bags for letters. Engage: attend school events, Friends of FBS events, parent consultations. Be as involved and supportive as you can be. And Challenge us. Come to Headmaster’s Coffee mornings and bring your difficult questions. Email in your concerns to teachers and Heads of House. Attend Governor Q&A sessions. Keep us on our toes. Do it constructively, remembering all the time that this is all our school.
Finally, all of us – parents, teachers, support staff, Heads of Department, form teachers, Heads of House, governors and boys – need to keep remembering and reinforcing the 3 big ones. Standards! Standards! Standards!
So, look again at the blog. And with all else that is going on, keep in focus the part(s) you need to play. If we all keep the main things the main things, FBS will be something special.