Listen up at the back!
While we reserve the right to make the decisions (particularly because we are, ultimately, responsible for the outcomes of them), and want our professionality to be respected, we really do listen to the valuable opinion of ‘stakeholders’.
This week I met with a small but well-informed set of parents in a ‘round table discussion’ on school’s response to what is known as adverse weather. As a result of comments made by them, and in emails contributions, I will be changing the wording of some elements of our published scheme of working. They asked that I clarify authorisation of late arrival if a sibling’s school is opening later than us. So I will. And other points raised will be similarly explained.
I have been partly responsible for whipping up a little passion and idealism in our pupils, partly around School Council but also linked simply to them having a mind and speaking it. When one pupil decided to propose some environmentally-aware action she was not content to be told ‘no’ on the first request. She came back with a really coherent political and ethical argument. I admire the commitment and I have yielded to her request and told her (and her mum) how much I admire and respect her campaigning. School visitors will shortly see the outcome of her talking and talking to me until I agreed with her request.
Four Year 6 pupils have spent a good slice of each day’s playtimes with me (at their own choice) this week to discuss their request that they be allowed a ‘den’ to play in. They have not been put off but have responded positively and thoughtfully to every point I made, to every objection I raised. They ‘got’ the legitimacy of my issues and sensibly argued back, and conceded where it was obvious they had to. Five days later they are nearly there – I am just one sticking point away from conceding to their request (and possibly causing myself a lot of difficulty with colleagues and other pupils). They have moved me from a straight out ‘no’.
Colleagues have argued the case for staffing increases and supply cover. They are well-aware of financial pressures but critically aware of risks from under-staffing and the pressures on colleagues from the same. And so we have covered absences we previously haven’t, and are about to advertise to refill a vacancy we have run with for half a year.
Governors considered the normal range of issues at their committee meeting. While they recognise there are sensible and practical limits to what we can, they are still keen to continue to improve, and so small steps forward in site security will happen, and communication and challenge over school meal quality will continue.
The Local Authority, through the Schools Company ‘LearnSheffield’, offered us access to a website audit tool. This highlighted things we should improve to ensure full annual compliance and an up-to-date set of information. Reports, Policies, Strategy documents and links have been reviewed and improved as a result.
If we were rigid, unsympathetic and un-listening none of these changes might happen. We won’t promise to always agree with an opposing or even a novel view but we will continue to listen and consider.
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