20 June 2022

The Monday Briefing: Get it Together

The Monday Briefing: Get it Together

In the blog last week, I discussed how we urge students to use the final weeks of this academic year as preparation for 2022-2023: identification of strengths and weaknesses; action points to address as a priority; time to reflect, renew and refocus for the challenges ahead.

For the College as a whole, we adopt a similar approach in that our final governance meeting of the year is largely dedicated to strategy for the next one.

How do we ensure that we consolidate all of the exceptional work which we do here?

How do we find ways to improve things further?

I’m sure, as a Principal, that I’m rare in having a stable staff in place for next year with all teachers and administrative staff continuing with us. It’s such a heartening state of affairs. The overriding impression which I take from the staff is that they are happy. A couple of surveys have been put to them in the past few weeks - one from Bellevue, and a consultation originating from myself - which have offered some judgements with regards to their attitudes towards work, and plans for integration from next term. Emboldened by the degree of autonomy afforded them, and empowered by the trust shown in them, I am sure that our approach is a sound one.

Student retention for the academic year ahead is also looking extremely healthy. The College has grown in the GCSE section over the last two years, with large year 9 and 10 classes ready to move up, as well as an enthusiastic lower sixth group. Most pleasingly, the majority of our departing year 11 students are keen to extend their time with us into A Level study. It is in their justifications for doing so that I know we are doing the right things: they feel valued here, and they, in turn, value the relationships which they have built with the teaching staff during their GCSE study; they thrive on the opportunities given to take learning at their pace and be ‘the captains of their own ship’; they can see that the students in years above them are moving on to exceptional courses at exceptional universities.

Similarly, our approach to admissions appears to be a prudent one. When I took over as Principal, interviews were often punctuated by comments pointing out the College was some kind of hidden gem, a best kept secret of sorts - which I wrote about at the time. I wouldn’t say that the College is fully renowned now, but I know for sure that giant strides have been made in gaining recognition for the excellent work we do here. I’ve learned that visibility goes a long way, and that opening a window into life at the College by showcasing what we do to a wider audience reflects the culture of transparency and trust we have in place at Ealing. I know that we have nothing to hide - on the contrary, there is so much to see and hear about in a positive sense. The more we can show, the more the outside world can gain a real sense of the truly unique environment we have created.

Reaffirming and embracing our identity is key to moving forward in the right manner. 

It’s vitally important that we recognise who we are by looking at ourselves in the mirror, and, collectively, being comfortable within our own skin. I’d like to think that we have a fairly accurate view of ourselves at Ealing Independent College: that of an Empowering, Inclusive Community.

It is in how we set out to realise this goal of such a state of being that will characterise our strategy for the year ahead.

The strategy will be based around these three strands, with their accompanying characteristics:

Empowering - the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights.

Inclusive - not excluding any of the parties or groups involved in something.

Community - the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.

To continue the drive towards student empowerment, we are looking to review the following:

-The continuation of students being able to drive their own learning through a full review of the staff-student charter, along with an effort to improve the use of our staff-student surveys to inform staff CPD.

-An expansion of opportunities available to students in order to raise confidence, widening the scope of Games/PE, Clubs/Activities and opportunities to extend learning.

-Empowering staff to enhance their careers whilst enjoying an effective work-life balance, making clear and utilising the opportunities open to all staff including offering the chance to visit a Bellevue colleague for the day in another school to widen expertise.

To further improve the inclusivity of the College through:

-The expansion of training for staff to ensure that they are fully adept in delivering to all students in the College, including those of the new intake in September 2022.

-Including all staff in wellbeing initiatives whilst widening the offering of activities and ventures as part of the CPD offering.

-Improving our approach to mental health/counselling services for students through the work of a dedicated member of staff and a widening of time dedicated to student counselling services.

A continuation of the fostering of community links through:

-An improvement of the environment of College to strengthen the sense of belonging to the community through a facilities uplift.

-Further improving links with parents in order to maximise the level of support for all involved within the College community - enhancing our Careers provision through potential links, listening to and acting upon parent voice.

-Supporting local businesses and initiatives by investing time and voluntary services appropriately.

Such a plan is geared towards the creation of a sense of unity around purpose. I know very well that incredible things can be achieved here when everyone is pulling in the right direction.

I remain incredibly excited about the direction in which we are going - I know that I work in a buoyant institution, which embraces the possibilities which change and improvement can bring. 

More importantly, I know that the staff, students and parents who are with me on this journey share that excitement.

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