BLOG: Celebrating success and embracing change

This week, our CEO Steve Docking discusses the need to embrace positive change in the education system amid a climate of criticism.

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When you open a free school the local press can be hugely supportive or you can be faced with the opposite response. There are many stories written about free schools and their failures, and academies and their failures. It is rarer to find good news stories that celebrate successes or look for reasons why system change can be a good thing. When the Key Stage 2 SATs league tables were published last week one of our schools, Oak View Academy in Winsford, was featured on BBC North West Tonight in a great story about how the school has been turned around and the pupils’ bid to raise £100,000 to fund a speech and language therapist by releasing a Christmas single.

In the same week, our outstanding free school in St Martin’s Academy, Hoole, was featured heavily in the above article another free school in Chester using a public space. Free schools do create controversy as there are some really bad examples of them, but nobody seems to report on some of the failings of schools under local authority control and how some aspects of system change make an overwhelming difference to children’s lives – as experienced by the pupils of Oak View.

The reason both schools are doing so well is nothing to do with the fact that they are academies or the system used to create them, it is because children are at the heart of everything those schools strive to achieve. Whilst sharing a shared common set of principles and values, the Headteachers in each setting use their immense personal passion to create an ethos that serves their school community so well. This is not a difficult or impossible vision and many, many schools in all parts of the country, state or private, do this everyday. However, sadly there are many that do not.

Let’s be more congratulatory about success, talk up the great and the good in all schools and drive system change through positivity rather than negative criticism. The state providing a one-size-fits-all approach to education is long gone, and it is up to us to create a bright and high-achieving future for us all. Sometimes change is a good thing and as we all stop for Christmas and have a bit of a break, let’s make a New Year’s resolution to all be more positive and excited about the benefits that change has already brought to many children’s lives.

Have a great Christmas and New Year. Keep smiling.