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04 October 2021

The Monday Briefing: Smile

The Monday Briefing: Smile

There are many ways in which schools and colleges can measure success.

Instinctively, those seeking to immediately improve their knowledge might turn to inspection reports, whether conducted by Ofsted or the Independent Schools Inspectorate. These documents give an effective summary of the performance of educational institutions across a range of criteria: compliance with regulations; the quality of students’ academic achievements; the quality of pupils’ personal development. We are proud to have attained a ‘Good’ rating when inspected last in September 2019.

Exam results, though far less conclusive over the last two years due to the pandemic, can also be a key indicator of effectiveness. Success at A Level and GCSE, with percentages of A and A* grades or the number of 7-9s achieved respectively at the forefront of websites can often be used to provide evidence of just how good a school or college is at realising student potential. A truer reading lies within the measurement of progress, where initial indicators are used as comparative measures to give a positive or negative value. Pre Covid, for seven consecutive years, the College was never outside the top 15% for adding value to grades. With a fully comprehensive intake, this is our key marker in this aspect.

Another method for measuring success may be in the extra-curricular opportunities which are offered to students. Whether these are in sporting, musical or theatrical spheres, some schools have incredibly proud traditions in enabling peak performance, which can inspire students to higher ambitions, in turn opening up career pathways. For our part, we are fully aware of our meagre surroundings, but that hasn’t stopped our enjoying recent football success, and nor has it placed a limit on the horizons of our students, who have been part of an expedition in China or contributed to Model UN conferences at MIT in the last five years.

A far less easy to detect measurement, and one which you simply won’t be able to get a handle on without visiting a school for a prolonged period of time, is student happiness. Educational establishments could win awards for providing a high standard of student wellbeing, for the promotion of student voice or for the excellence of the student experience, but such ways of gaining recognition are conducted through fairly arbitrary methods. It could well owe more to a skilled application and polished presentation, rather than by drilling down to find the true levels of contentment within a college.

For our part, this is exactly our priority: happiness - of all involved in making the College what it is.

Simply put, it is clearly apparent every day on the faces of our students, on the countenances of our staff and through the overwhelmingly positive interactions we have with our parent body.

Students who, for whatever reason, had been failed by an educational system before, are often transformed at Ealing. This process never takes place overnight, but can bring relatively quick, lasting and transformative change. Those who come to us with grievances, having perhaps refused to attend schools in the past, felt bullied by peers or underappreciated by teachers, invariably leave us with a smile, an optimistic outlook and a new-found confidence.

Teachers who want to impart knowledge without the limitations which often make the job a daily slog, find a friendly, welcoming and encouraging home here. Time, thought and commitment is given to continuing professional development. A work-life balance is valued, and praise is often forthcoming because it is deserved. Personally, it is paramount that our staff body is happy within their work - and where they need support, I have an open door policy, where a forum to discuss constructive ideas on how to improve the College is welcomed. I can see the pleasure with which staff go about their business at Ealing. It’s abundantly clear.

One needs only to look at our reviews on Google to see the positive effect which many parents have experienced when they have entrusted their children to our care. Whether they describe instances where we have worked successfully in getting students back on track following an unfortunate experience beforehand, or in their gratitude for enabling their sons or daughters to finally feel comfortable and confident in an educational setting so that they could realise their potential and fulfil their ambitions. Reading each is heartwarming, and it makes me smile as much as I hope it does those whom we have helped.

Ensuring that the College remains an institution where happiness, kindness and positivity, for all involved, is never lost sight of, will remain an absolutely fundamental part of my vision for Ealing. Excellence in inspections, academic achievement and personal development will inevitably follow.

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