The best reaction to giving someone results is definitely “you’re joking.” This can be of the whole cohort, or individual students. “Read it again,” is also lovely. The traditional “YES” is also good to hear.

I am, of course, immensely proud of the individual students who have defied expectations and achieved awesome grades, leading our department to celebrate 95% A*-C grades, including 35% A*/A. I’ll blog more about what the department does throughout the year, but suffice it to say, for now: they are magic.

I’ve received a lot of misplaced congratulations. Lovely as it is, having been in a school a single year does not make these results mine.

The results are first and foremost the students’: an incredible group of young people who worked incredibly hard. Then their teachers, who have worked hard for five years to put the kids in this position. Then, I think, the Headteacher. These year 11s were also her first year 7 cohort as a new Head. The great education they have received has everything to do with the kind of school she has run and the expectations she has of the students. And of course my predecessor line manager, who teed the students up in the previous years, built a fantastic team and then supported me throughout this year.

As crucial as it is to acknowledge a job well done, we have to look forward. I’m a huge fan of American Charter Schools, some of which are operating in areas of nearly 100% of students on free school meals and sending whole cohorts of students to prestigious four year university courses. Closer to home, schools like King Solomon Academy, whose students achieved astonishing results which have the capacity to transform their life chances, provide an inspiration and benchmark for what we aspire to. Even 100% A*-C in a single subject would be a failure of sorts; students need to achieve Bs in a host of subjects in order to have the door to A-levels and thus top universities open to them. We have to learn from successful institutions and allow ourselves to dream big; to perhaps “fail” again, but to (hopefully) fail better.

fail better


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