How to Blog For @LabourTeachers

We are always looking for contributions to this blog. While there are times when we’ll want something different, we’re always happy to be sent a blogpost that:

  1. Is by a teacher who is a Labour Party supporter (or even better member);
  2. Is less than 700 words long;
  3. Has content relevant to Labour supporting teachers (regardless of the point of view);
  4. Has not been published anywhere else beforehand.

There is more detailed guidance here. Some suggestions are here. Some advice about writing is here.  Advice for new bloggers is here. I will update this post with links to further guidance whenever I add any to the site. You can email content  to me here. It will be easier for me if you include it in the main text of the email rather than as an attachment.

Thank you.

How to use a train | @oldandrewuk

photo (10)Andrew is a teacher and editor of Labour Teachers (and writing in a personal capacity). 

So… Traingate happened.

If you’ve been in outer space for the last few days you may have missed the bizarre story about Jeremy Corbyn’s video complaining about overcrowded trains. The original video was probably the most well received bit of campaigning I’ve ever seen from him, yet somehow it all fell apart when Virgin Trains queried the details. The best description of the full saga I know of is in this series of tweets here.

Anyway, I’m not going to make a political point about it all, but the arguments afterwards revealed that there were large numbers of politically active people who don’t understand how to get a seat on a long distance train. As a non-driver, living outside of London, who takes the train to work, often on crowded inter-city trains, I thought I’d give advice about how one can increase the chances of getting a seat on a train. This is intended as a public service.

1) Book an advance ticket. On (I think) any long distance service you can book tickets online, and a seat will automatically be reserved. This is particularly useful if you are not travelling alone, or want a seat with a plug socket. It is also often much cheaper. I’ve known tickets to be a fifth of the price if you book ahead. You do, however, need to make sure you catch your train as you won’t be able to use the ticket on a later train.

2) Sit in an empty reserved seat. If a seat is reserved it will usually be marked with a piece of paper or a digital display saying which stations it is reserved between. Very often it will not be reserved from the station you are on, so it makes sense to check the reservation. However, even if a seat is meant to be reserved from that station, a lot of the time you won’t be asked to move. For a number of reasons, a lot of seats are booked but not used. In my experience there is a less than 50% chance of being asked to move if you sit straight down in a reserved seat after getting on the train just before it is due to leave, and that chance decreases the longer you wait. If a seat is still empty 10 minutes after you leave the station there is little chance anyone will ask you to move. Also, it’s a train, not a wedding, regular travellers will politely ask you to move if you are in their seat without thinking you are some kind of seat thief.

3) Be aware people cannot reserve seats by leaving bags. Seriously. Unaccompanied luggage should be reported. You usually only see bags on seats if they are left there by the person sitting next to them or by somebody travelling with them. You simply say, “is this seat free?” and people will normally move their bags if the seat’s available.

 4) Look in the window as the train pulls in. This should give you some idea of where you are likely to find a seat. Sometimes some carriages are empty and others are packed. If you are travelling with somebody else, it will also give you some idea of whether you are likely to get a seat together or not.

5) Watch out for corridor blockers.  Some people deliberately choose to stand in the aisle or in the corridor between carriages even though seats are available. This obstructs everybody else and gives the impression that the train is more crowded than it is. I don’t know why they do it. Sometimes if you fight your way through the crowds in the corridor you will find an almost empty carriage. Never assume there are no seats available just because some people are standing. I will vote for any politician who will do something about corridor blockers. Unfortunately the only solution I can think of involves guards with cattle prods, which I doubt anyone is going to propose, at least not until the Human Rights Act is repealed.

I hope this is some help.

Misguided half-truths | @dl_robin

It’s 2008. The radio is blasting out Soulja Boy – Crank That (Yeah, the dance where you got to Superman and shout ‘ohh’ lots).

The latest group of students have received their A2 results and are waiting expectantly by their laptops, tablets and phones for that critical confirmation they’ve got a place at their chosen university. Lots succeed, some fail, clearing hotlines are called, tears of sadness and joy are shed.

Suddenly, in what seems like a moment, it’s 2011. The 2008 cohort has finished university. The radio’s playing Adele – Rolling in the Deep and Someone Like You (On repeat…). Graduations are had, more tears of sadness and joy trickle down new graduates faces.

Then, for lots of these new graduates the sickening realisation that those 3 years amounted to nothing in the real world strikes. Their degrees didn’t further their careers or create the beginnings of one. Their degrees didn’t result in work. Their degrees were the greatest most foolhardy mistake they’d ever made or make.

I was in the 2008 cohort. I saw my peers destroyed by the fact that university hadn’t worked for them. Some of the common criticisms of this line of thinking are ‘Well, why did you even study that?’ and ‘You know there’s never work in X field around here, what were you thinking?’

They were thinking of one of the most misguided half-truths ever told: everybody should aspire to go to university.

The half-truth didn’t mean to hurt, it started off a social mobility policy aimed at getting more capable minds into university education in the 1990′s and early 2000′s. Fees were instituted and more places created to cater for demand.

University is seen as a golden pedestal to something greater. I was the first in my direct family to attend and this is true of most of my peers. For me, it elevated me to somewhere new, exciting, encouraging and supportive. My lecturers were outstanding and the modules engaging. I made friends for life. The same can be said for some of my peers. But, a large majority of them regret the experience and now work in fields that are completely unrelated to their degree – they’d describe it as a slow boat to nowhere.

Would they have been better served by completing a modern apprenticeship? Would developing a trade such as joinery, carpentry or becoming an electrician have been a better option? What about creating their own business – did they not take the opportunity?

The expectations of our society need to change to recognise that university is not always the most viable option. To do this, children need more careers advice throughout their education and young adults need the chance to see what else is out there. The stigma attached to ‘manual’ labour is disgusting and needs to be dispelled. The existing system of post 16 education needs to be revamped to include more access to a wider range of career paths and become more transparent and accessible. Some of the most financially solvent and happy people I know never went to university and they’re thriving.

University shouldn’t be seen as a high water mark: it’s simply another line in the sand.

Research hasn’t met me yet | @JulesDaulby

unknownJules Daulby is a Literacy and Language Co-ordinator in a comprehensive in Dorset.  As part of her role, she leads a specialist Speech and Language base, an alternative curriculum for students who follow ASDAN instead of a GCSE option and is responsible for whole school literacy.

I recently joined a panel at The Telegraph’s Education Festival held at Wellington College. The subject was ‘Is inclusion working?’ chaired by @nancygedge and joining me to discuss were @oldprimaryhead, @maximisingTA and @oldandrewuk.  If you’re interested the full discussion is here.

One issue which came up was snake oil practices; meaning remedies which have not been proven and an underlying message of people preying on the most vulnerable. SEND is often accused of being more susceptible to miracle cures and the peddling of wares which are not evidence based. I understand why but I’m not necessarily sure it’s true. In fact some of the best researchers in the field of education work in SEND. It stands to reason because to study learning requires students who struggle with it.

So where does this perception come from? Perhaps there is a willingness in the SEND community to try untested ideas because everything else has failed? It might be that while there is a strong foundation of knowledge in an SEN department staff are confident enough to bend the rules a little to see what might work. Or maybe, in the SEND department there are students which research hasn’t met yet.

Behaviour traits are linked to certain conditions but mix that up with a complex family life, a teacher who has his own way of working and a particular student who knows exactly how to wind up a child then research hasn’t been done on that particular scenario in that particular school at that particular time.

One practice cited during the panel discussion was a wobble board. My ears pricked up at this point as I have inherited a wobble board from my predecessor at the school I now work in. It is  popular activity with my students. They time each other, take turns and generally find it a relaxing or frustrating activity.   The real purpose of a wobble board (balance board) is about improving core balance, or to introduce it as part of a sensory diet. The aim of sensory integration therapy ‘is to improve the ability of the brain to process sensory information so that the student will function better in his/her daily activities’ (.http://network.autism.org.uk/good-practice/case-studies/why-occupational-therapy-important-children-autism).  In our school we also have a sensory room which can be used to calm or stimulate a student depending on need.

The wobble board may be used more as a game a lot of the time I imagine but whether it’s having proven impact is difficult to say. Some of my students help our site team to stack chairs. This is not a research based activity but is informed by heavy muscle work (another sensory activity) recommended by Occupational Therapists.  I found a student (who’d disappeared after walking out of class) outside stroking our school cat recently; no research told him to, but I’d never been so moved witnessing the gentleness of this angry and troubled teenager.

My audit for what works is ‘is the child learning?’ When the pupil is not, I need to find ways to return them to the learning state and I’ll try anything to do that. Sometimes, it’s back to basics: a report card asking for exemplary behaviour with detentions should they not comply, occasionally  it’s making cups of tea and often it’s five minutes on the wobble board or twenty in the sensory room.

While I agree we must not believe any old nonsense being sold to us, I do think if you are an evidence informed SEND expert, then a sense of ‘if it works carry on’ is necessary as research hasn’t met every student yet.

The graph which doesn’t fit the narratives | @oldandrewuk

Andrew is a teacher and editor of Labour Teachers (and writing in a personal capacity). 

On Twitter yesterday, I found an updated version of my favourite political graph. Here it is:

left-right 2016

It shows how voters have (on average) have placed the party leaders on the left-right spectrum in the last 13 years.

The first reason I find it really useful is because it is a common political trick for people to reframe the spectrum to fit their own narrative. Often people do this by putting themselves and their heroes as close to the centre as they can get away with, and then claiming that those they have now shifted to the edges of the graph are extreme. Given that there can never be a purely objective application of labels, if the labels “left” and “right” are to mean anything, they need to be consistent with how they are generally used, and a graph showing how the electorate use them is a good first step towards that. Of course, people still have the option of appealing to a wider perspective – a greater period of history or countries other than the UK – but at least if we can start here we can spot when somebody is arguing that everyone else in the UK electorate is marching out of step.

The second lesson I draw from this graph is that either positioning on the left-right spectrum has not been that important,  or if it is then the message is not good for Labour. Every election has been won by the party (out of the main 2 parties) that was closest to a position in the centre right. It is a fair estimate that the same would apply if the graph could be extended back another 25 years. This is bad news for Labour; we have less freedom to leave the centre than the Tories do. Of course, positioning is probably not the be all and end all of winning elections, but our recent history as a party has been to elect leaders more on the basis of positioning than competence or electability, so it really does matter if the position we pursue is not one that will help us win.

The third lesson I draw from the graph is that the belief that “all politicians are the same” is either not as widely held as people often claim, or is  not related to the ideology of left and right. Tony Blair may be seen as the most right-wing Labour leader, and may even have been seen as just right of centre and to the right of the public, but at no point in this period (beginning in the year of the Iraq war) did he ever occupy the same territory in the public mind as the Tory leaders. Even more importantly, at a time when people are still claiming Labour lost in 2010 and 2015 for being “too close” or “the same” as the Tories, the graph shows us that actually the parties were seen as much further apart at those times than they were when Labour won in 2005. The public saw both Brown and Miliband as a move to the left from the New Labour era, not a continuation, despite that being quite a common narrative in debates in the party.

The fourth lesson I draw from the graph is that from Miliband to Corbyn is not some clean break with a rightwing past. It is the latest (and probably last) in a series of  jumps to the left that Labour has made in the last 10 years, and not noticeably a much bigger one. The step from Miliband to Corbyn is not obviously greater than the step from Brown to Miliband or Blair to Brown. I should probably be reassured that this implies that, if leader at the next general election, Corbyn’s left-wing position probably won’t lead him to do that much worse than Miliband. But at the same time, if positioning is important, it seems unlikely that he, or for that matter Owen Smith if he continues to ape Corbyn on policy, can expect to do that much better than Miliband. Both will be seen as more of the same: a leader way to the left of the public.

Of course, if Labour is lucky then positioning is not as important as the graph might indicate. It may well be the case that a leader can win from a position as left-wing as Brown, or even Miliband. However, if this is true, such a leader is going to need to score highly on the other things that make somebody electable: competence; communication skills; decision-making; leadership, and being part of an effective team. I hope that as we all vote in the leadership election, we back the candidate who most clearly shows those qualities. Voting for a candidate just because they are most clearly in a place on the political spectrum that gives no electoral advantage, is just another way to keep the Tories in power.

Forty-eight and fifty-two | @dl_robin

Two groups of dienes counting apparatus sit on a low table in front of you. The first group, includes four lots of ten and eight single unit counters (They’re all Remain-yellow). The next group has five lots of ten and two single unit counters (They’re Brexit-blue…).

If you asked any primary aged child they could accurately tell you which group was larger and expand on that to tell you the numerical difference between the two groups.

If you swapped out the dienes blocks for sweets and asked a class of primary children whether they would prefer the fifty-two to share together or the forty-eight, the answer would be unanimous: the fifty-two.

The stretched metaphor above alludes to the current situation that the Labour Party faces. We’re staring at two groups of voters and we’ve chosen to share the smaller group. Please don’t misunderstand, I voted to remain and I’m aware that Labour policy is pro-Europe – but its causing a crisis in traditional Labour heartlands.

This problem is made worse by Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith who if elected has promised to ‘hold a second referendum on leaving the EU’. This is not an appealing option to the 52% of voters who voted to leave the EU, voters that if Labour is to form a government in the next general election need to win over.

Despite the pro-Brexit feeling across the country Jeremy Corbyn is criticised widely for being ‘lukewarm’ on the EU. Indeed he gave it a rating of ‘about seven and a half’ on a late-night tv show -if that was water temperature it would be tepid. These criticisms stem from the fact he refused to share a platform with David Cameron (remember that guy?) for the Remain campaign and that he has put himself above party policy by not being active enough in putting forward the pro-EU views of the Labour party.

Corbyn is known for his eurosceptic views, see here for a more in-depth analysis. Conversely does this mean that Jeremy Corbyn is more in-touch with the wider electorate than Owen Smith? Wouldn’t Corbyn’s own stance a begrudging recognition that despite its failings the EU does indeed benefit us win back some pro-Brexit votes with a little persuasion?

All I know is I’d rather share the forty-eight sweets immediately whilst leaving the door open to have a swipe at some of the fifty-two as well.

Hero worship and certainties makes a comeback | @MikeBerkoff

IMG_20150721_173141Mike Berkoff began his career in 1974, teaching in a comprehensive for three years. He was a lecturer/course organiser in Further Education for twenty three years and a senior manager in Adult Education for nine years. His main teaching was in mathematics and computer science. He is now happily retired.

For centuries individuals such as religious leaders and kings have somehow managed to hold sway over vast numbers of people. Some individuals were regarded with total obedience in certain populations. This observance at different times and in different places have certain characteristics that seem common.

It is noteworthy that often hereditary is a major part in the acceptance of such unquestioning devotion. Subjugation based on religious grounds is a bit more complicated but exhibits many of the same features as kingship. I am sure there are historians out there who can give a full and learned account of this phenomenon, so let us move on to more recent times in our ‘enlightened’ era.

Listening recently to an account of the upbringing of someone during Mao’s Cultural Revolution a theme that appeared was the total unquestioning devotion to ‘the great leader’. It mattered little that pronouncements contradicting previous statements were made. No error was possible from Mao. Of course such things have been evident in others such as Hitler, Stalin and now Kim Jong-Un. In our times in the West we had better not get too complacent. The cult of the leader seems pretty common these days. Across Europe various demagogues and populists are very much on the rise. In the US Donald Trump has a slavish following and the blessed Jeremy can do no wrong for some in our party. The messages differ but the similarities in style are very common. These include appealing to those who have lost out in the changes to our societies and economies. The demagogue will always present a set of simple solutions to complicated problems. Often these ‘solutions’ are barely more than slogans. A relationship with facts often seems pretty tenuous. Previous ‘truths’ are dispensed with and earlier statements can be claimed as ‘out of context’ or even they were not made at all. For the totally dedicated follower all this is accepted and the ‘debate’ just goes on. In other words reality is considered subservient to the needs of the leader and his/her group. Behind the great leaders are often groups of highly motivated individuals who act as a form of Praetorian Guard. Interestingly these inner circles often come from very privileged backgrounds. Opponents, especially from within the same milieu, will be denounced as traitors or closet members of opposing factions or parties. So it goes on. If this is familiar to our own party situation that is no accident. I do not claim that Corbyn supporters are the same as Trump’s or various crack pot European movements, what I do say is that there is way of operating politically that is common.

Of course it will be pretty obvious that I am supporting Owen Smith in the current contest but I would be the last to claim him as beyond criticism. That of course is one of my points. If we see the people we follow as faulted individuals with strong and weak traits then perhaps we can maintain a critical and realistic view of their actions.

Has education a part to play in our reaction to politics? This is a difficult one. Let us be honest and recognise that a prescribed set of beliefs delivered in curricula across the education system would be a bit of an abomination. Pointing to various writers over the centuries who have commentated is no bad thing but in this a plurality of opinions is essential. There are a few past writers I seem to return to to get a breath of fresh air. David Hume I do find hard going but his underlying scepticism is healthy. George Orwell of course is an important writer for anyone brought up in the British democratic tradition and for a view of the absurdity of modern life Franz Kafka is a fine example of what a crazy world we all inhabit. I would always expect there to be plenty of others that can be sighted who puncture the pompous certainties we are presented with these days. Any suggestions are welcome.

Finally a (rather old) joke.

After another speech by the leader a policeman says to a passer by:

“Well what did you think of the statements just given?”

The passer by replies “I think exactly the same as you.”

“In that case I arrest you for demeaning the value of our beloved hero.”

Last Week’s Posts on @LabourTeachers (Week Ending 20th August 2016)

Here’s last week’s posts. If you are a Labour supporting teacher and you’d like to write something for us, please get in touch.

Sunday

Back to School Shopping List: Pens, Pencils, iPads? | @FlyMyGeekFlag

Before we even broke up for the Summer the back to school sales were in full swing in supermarkets and department stores across the land. I used to love the back to school shop: new pens, new notebooks and folders – all that promise and possibility for the year to come. I hated back to school shoe shopping when I was in primary school though, as my mother made me wear heavy black leather lace ups when all of the other girls got to wear sandals in the hot weather. It was so unfair! These days, the back to school shop is not as simple as pens, notebooks and shoes, as more and more schools seek to implement 1:1 device policies without the ability to fund them for themselves.

Monday

Can You Help @Labourteachers?

Apologies that this post should have appeared last night. We seem to be having one of our periodic shortages of posts, and as a result things are running a bit late.

Having spent some time thinking of what to write about, it ocurred to me that the most obvious thing is to write a post begging for more help with this blog.

All the people volunteering to write posts do an excellent job keeping the show on the road, and we have just about managed a post a day for almost a year and a half, but it is a struggle at times.

Tuesday

How Labour lost the debate on education | @jon_brunskill

One winter evening in 2013, a bright young man called Rory Gribbell was sat at his laptop, assessing his options for life after university. And Rory sure had options. His CV boasted fluency in French, a master’s degree in mathematics from the university of Durham, alongside international sports caps. Rory had his pick of the best graduate schemes on offer; he could make his fortune in the city, work for a top law firm or rise through the management consultancy ranks at whichever conglomerate took his fancy.

Wednesday

Leadership – It’s under the Spotlight | @sencotoday

We are at the start of what promises to be a magnificent season of Premier League football.  With Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola moving into the two Manchester clubs, there are two of the best managers in the world in England and the press are reminding us at every possible opportunity!

Thursday

Process and Rulebooks – the refuge of scoundrels | @RosMcM

I shouldn’t have done it but I did – I watched Corbyn and Smith on a morning TV show – for a woman in her 50s with high blood pressure this wasn’t a sensible decision!

Friday

The farce continues | @srcav

What a farce. Firstly, we have some members of the PLP deciding to challenge the leader – an easy process on a democratic party, get enough nominations and lodge the challenge. However, that wasn’t the route they took. Instead they started a prolonged period of what can only be described as bullying. One imagines because they felt they wouldn’t win a leadership election with the current leader in the ballot.

The farce continues | @srcav

cavStephen Cavadino is a maths teacher (and fanatic) from Leeds. He is a member of the Labour party. You can read of his musings on maths, teaching and life at cavmaths.wordpress.com . When he isn’t teaching; writing about, or doing maths he spends the majority of his time with his family, watching rugby (both codes) and playing guitar.

What a farce. Firstly, we have some members of the PLP deciding to challenge the leader – an easy process on a democratic party, get enough nominations and lodge the challenge. However, that wasn’t the route they took. Instead they started a prolonged period of what can only be described as bullying. One imagines because they felt they wouldn’t win a leadership election with the current leader in the ballot.

When that didn’t work the papers were lodged, and the challenge formalised. But then it was accompanied by a legal challenge to keep the leader off the ballot. That also failed.

Then the cut of date was announced. 12th January. I’m not against a cut of date in principle, but both sides were urging people to sign up to vote. Hundreds of thousands of people did.  The website stated that all members could vote. People were rightly annoyed. Especially when they were told they could buy a vote for 25 quid. Many still paid up.

Then we had another legal challenge and the cut off date overturned. What happens then? Those members who paid for a vote, do they get 2 votes or a refund? Either way more legal challenges seem likely. This may have been averted by the appeal, but who knows if this appeal will stand?

Then we have the candidate who launched the bid being jettisoned by her supporters for another.

This week in a televised debate the leader failed to recognise two TV presenters from a photo. This was on the BBC and was reported as news by many edit outlets. I’ll let that sink it. A publicly owned broadcaster decided to ask candidates in a labour leadership debate to identify celebrities and this is seen as news!!! How does this affect ones ability to govern?

The whole process has been a joke and has hit the party majorly in the polls. The members of the PLP who kicked this off claimed their reason was that Corbyn made the party unelectable – a fact we’ll never be able to test now as whether he was or wasn’t this process has certainly made the party look less electable than before, and as such can be argued by the leader as the reason behind losing the next election if that does happen.

Enough is enough. Once the votes come in we need to unite behind whoever is leader and get on with providing an effective opposition. We need to stop petty bickering and we need to set out our rules more clearly so next time their is a contest we all know the score and we don’t get caught up in this nonsense surrounding legal challenges.

Process and Rulebooks – the refuge of scoundrels | @RosMcM

JpegAfter 31 years of teaching, 15 of them as firstly Headteacher, then Principal, and latterly as Executive Principal and CEO of an Academy Trust, Ros is now working independently in the sector.

I shouldn’t have done it but I did – I watched Corbyn and Smith on a morning TV show – for a woman in her 50s with high blood pressure this wasn’t a sensible decision!

When Corbyn was asked about anti-semitism in the party he resorted to the process and the rules in the party for dealing with this. I’m afraid that doesn’t wash when he was seen to be chatting and smiling with the guy who had made one of our Jewish MPs leave the meeting in tears. What it reminded me of is the headteacher who claims there is no problem with bullying in the school because they have a very clear anti-bullying policy.

Throughout my years as a senior leader I have observed that the heads and the schools who obsess about the systems and processes for dealing with everything, and hold this much higher than nurturing relationships and culture, do not run happy ships. Of course processes and rules are needed (particularly when things go wrong) but they do not construct the relationships which mean people are respected, valued and happy. You cannot have a policy which demands that people smile at each other, notice when a colleague is distressed and go that extra mile for each other.

Schools that have great culture and climate to work in have leaders who obsess about the quality of relationships, who understand that merely following due process is nowhere near enough and who role model the relationships they wish to see. These leaders do not run their schools through a series of ticklists and they understand that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’.

I was a member of the Labour Party in the ‘70s and ‘80s and I remember how the hard left clung to process and rulebook to prevent proper debate and they are doing it again. I now have little doubt that they will seize control of the party, but it will condemn us to years of opposition and irrelevance. Sadly Owen Smith has decided to get onto their territory which is just stupid.

I despaired this week at Owen Smith’s NHS plan – his emphasis was on process for delivery not outcome. The Labour Party needs to understand that what the people need is great outcomes from the public services regardless of how we deliver this. When we need treatment if the most efficient way to deliver the best treatment is in partnership with the private sector then that is what is required.

The Labour Party is sick at the moment. It is sick partly because leaders at all levels are more concerned with process than outcome. In developing policy the party must move away from the arguments of the last century and focus on the outcomes not the process.

But the real sickness currently is that the leader is either completely unaware of the culture and climate that has been created as a result of his inability to lead, or worse he is aware but is using that last refuge of the scoundrel in claiming he is merely following process and rules.

Leadership – It’s under the Spotlight | @sencotoday

FB_IMG_1455044019064-1@sencotoday has been a SENCo in a large secondary school for the last six years.  He began his career as an English Teacher and has since completed numerous jobs within schools.

We are at the start of what promises to be a magnificent season of Premier League football.  With Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola moving into the two Manchester clubs, there are two of the best managers in the world in England and the press are reminding us at every possible opportunity!

As a SENCo who will be developing in a Senior Leadership position in September, I have been reading and watching a lot about Management – and being a football fan, I have been looking at some of the best managers and analysing how a winning mentality can correspond to a school environment.

Pep Guardiola has said this week that his first job at Manchester City was to work with the players to ensure that; “each of my players {..} be a good teammate – this is the most important quality.”  This approach needs to be clear within a school.  Every day, we need to find ways to support each other, support our staff and support our students.  Talking about team work is easy – there is always the dreaded question at an interview, but Guardiola has taken this thinking to a new level: “We are here to help Manchester City to become a better club over the coming years”.  This is what senior staff need to strive at within a school environment.  We are here to work for the school, to make teaching and learning better and to ensure that we pull together for the school; this is what ultimately benefits the students.  By each teacher taking responsibility for their lessons, we all add to the school, to its reputation and to its effectiveness for everyone involved.  Middle and senior leaders need to support their staff to deliver this and to ensure that they are clearly aware of what the priorities are and the ways that all staff need to deliver these.  The key message here is communication.  Here a coaching model can work to support teachers in Teaching and Learning; ideas can be clearly shared and teaching and learning can be discussed.  A coaching model is excellent and equally beneficial for both the mentee and the coach.

If Guardiola is seen as the best manager in the world at the moment, then Ferguson can be seen as one of the greatest managers ever.  His book ‘Leadership’ has the simple blurb: “My job was to make everyone understand that the impossible was possible. That is the difference between leadership and management.”  Again, the focus here is communication, but how do we ensure that we lead without managing?  Middle leaders need to be empowered to lead their departments and support their staff; the job of the Senior Leadership Team then becomes to support middle leaders to make decisions that develop their staff, their departments and their students.  This makes the Line Management Process much easier; it allows senior staff and middle leaders to discuss issues, brainstorm ideas and develop a solution focussed approach.  Middle Leaders are the best placed people to lead their departments; they know them and work within them every day; by giving them the power to lead, we give teaching staff power – they are able to influence the way that the department is run and the priorities it faces.  Ferguson based his managerial career on this idea – empowerment by achieving the impossible; I am sure that the Manchester United fans have missed this idea over the last few years.

When Jose Mourhino was at Chelsea (for the second time) he was clear that he was never happy.  He said that he was never happy, even when he has won a title; and I am sure that he is still the same!  He always wants more.  He always wants to achieve at a higher level.  This is what we should strive for every day, in our classrooms, in our schools and in our jobs.  Mourhino makes his players want more – to never rest on their laurels.  OfSTED have been in – great, but where do we go next?  How do we improve?  How do we develop?  Schools are areas where being at the top of your game is key.  Development is at the heart of what we do with students, it must be at the heart of leadership and school development.  The winning mentality of Mourinho needs to be understood at all levels of a school, and Senior Staff need to direct schools in this way.

GCSE Results are released soon and, like the Premier League Table, we will celebrate for a short while and then it is back to the business of development.  I want my Senior Career to be filled with these moments – the celebrations and the forward planning.  This year, I want all four cups…